About Me

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Denver, Colorado, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Star Wars Silhouette Guide

We recently played Star Wars: Edge of the Empire for the first time. It was great fun, and the system has a lot of potential for future play.

I've seen some confusion about silhouettes from some folks. In SW: EotE, the silhouette is the abstracted size of the object/creature in question. It ranges from zero to ten. There is no separate scale for starships versus people; this is an exponential scale.

Here's a brief description of each silhouette, along with some examples.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Post-play thoughts on Numenera

I ran the Beale of Boregal, which is a pre-built adventure in the core Numenera rule book.

Well, I say that loosely, because I'm pretty much incapable of running a pre-built adventure. So there were some changes. The basic frame was there, but I changed a bit of the flow - and added quite a bit of story with a couple of the minor NPCs. For instance, I had one of them mentally possessed and speaking in "tongues" (actually a forgotten language) - the party figured out some key vocabulary through trial and error and the results helped drive the journey and the eventual conclusion.

Yea, I just can't leave well enough alone.

So how about the game itself?

Worth it?
Spoiler: Yes.



Monday, June 2, 2014

Pre-play Thoughts on Numenera

But first, let me take a selfie: My last Stellar RPG playtest was interesting. There's some good in there, but there's also a little bit of awkwardness in a couple of areas like covering fire that I must find new ways of addressing.

After a bit of writer's block on that, I decided I needed to play some stock games again to get exposure to new ideas and see if that sparked some extra creativity.

I've obtained a couple of new tabletop RPGs to try out, and the first is one I'm sure most people (that would read this blog) have heard of by now: Numenera. I've always been a fan of Monte Cook's work, at least since 2e D&D's A Paladin in Hell and speaking of hell who can forget the slaughterfest that was Labyrinth of Madness?? It was the Tomb of Horrors for 2nd edition (not counting the actual 2e Return to Tomb of Horrors which ironically wasn't really the Tomb of Horrors of 2e).


Numenera: Less tombs, more horrors.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Age of Mythology

This is a little bit of an older game now (which makes me feel even older), but we recently blew the dust off of it. The results were surprisingly fun.



The game is based off the (also now old) computer game, Age of Mythology. However, there isn't really any connection beyond the name and some theming elements. While the computer game is in the RTS (real-time strategy) genre, the board game is decisively euro-style resource management.

Each player has their own board, in which they gather resources and possess terrain. The terrain is generic - mountain, hill, forest - and each tile of terrain comes with a resource type. When collect actions occur, those resource types determine what each player gets.

Also on each player's board is their city, or buildings, area. Resources can be spent on houses (which enhance production), or defensive buildings, or extra income buildings.

The overall goal of the game is to collect little red cubes, called victory cubes. This can be done either winning the first battle in a round, or meeting one condition at the end of the game: largest army, most buildings, or built the wonder (a tribute to the wonder victory in the RTS version).

Yes, an army can be built, but combat is as far away from the RTS version as possible. When attacking another player, a small selection of units are picked secretly from the other combatant, and once revealed, they attack in 1v1 combinations that results, more or less, in an overglorified rock-paper-scissors match. There is a dice pool mechanic here, so that even if player A has a rock and player B has paper, player A still has a chance to win.

When I first bought the game, I was a little put off at how different it was from the computer version. However, I've come to enjoy it quite a bit in its own right.

My favorite mechanic is the card deck. Each turn players get to perform three actions. However, their hand has more than 3 cards each turn. At the beginning of each turn, players can select "permanent" actions, such as Build, Recruit, or Explore. These are weak cards, but guarantee the player gets to do something he wants to. After picking those, the rest of the hand is filled out from the random action deck, which is a unique deck to each race in the game (Vikings, Egyptian, and Greek). These cards are all more powerful than the permanent actions, but of course might be drawn at a completely inopportune or non-useful time.

I really like gambling mechanics, and this one works well. Players inclined to gamble can sometimes execute a powerful win strategy, but of course at times will end up passing or performing a weak action because they can't use their cards effectively.

Probably the one carryover strategy from the RTS game is early resource production. It pays off to build houses and get terrain tiles as early as possible. The game is limited time (about 10 turns in a 3 player game) so spending the first 2 turns on heavy resource gain is most effective.

This game won't likely be everyone's go-to game to play, but it has some great positives for anyone that likes resource collection and management games. Anyone looking for the next Axis & Allies is better off looking elsewhere.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Playtesting today...

Finally doing another Stellar playtest later today - this one focused on ground assault. I've prepared three characters for the players, as the creation protocols are not yet ready for them.

Still, while working through the fledgling process, I've already realized there's some things I don't quite like. It was a sort of character creation playtest on my own.

Mostly, I do like the Background Ratings approach, but I think instead of trying to be vague I should just go ahead and specify the background itself. For instance: Academics, Military, Criminal Enterprise, etc. It seems more relatable that way.

I also need to think more about how characters without the Ground Assault skill will perform in combat. I'm content with a trained military guy being better in general combat, but from a game design perspective, the other characters still need to feel useful, since combat is a reasonably large part of most RPGs. I could come up with alternate approaches for each major grouping (engineers use turrets and droids?), but something tells me that won't work out well in the end and ends up creating massive number of class-equivalent mechanics. Too unwieldy.

For now, though, I just gave every character some ground assault training, because the point of today's test is to see if the ground assault rules hold up mechanically.

Meanwhile, here's an inspirational image about the future of space travel.


photo credit: AGeekMom via photopin cc

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