Category Archives: Gaming

#RPGaDAY 25 – Favourite RPG no one else wants to play

I’m taking Autocratik’s RPGaDAY topics out of order. My favourite RPG that no one else wants to play was also one of my convention purchases, Blue Rose, designed by John Snead, Jeremy Crawford, Dawn Elliot, Steve Kenson and John Snead.

Welcome to the world of Blue Rose, a fantastic reality where brave women and men, gifted with arcane powers, live and work side-by-side with intelligent animal companions. The heroes of the peaceful Kingdom of Aldis strive to uphold the ideals of fairness, justice, and equality, while protecting their homeland against its aggressive neighbors.

From the free Blue Rose Fast Play Rules download.

The Blue Rose RPG and two companion books.

The Blue Rose RPG and two companion books.

It was the first game to use what become the True20 system, based on the Open Game License from Wizards of the Coast; a sort of d20 light. But what really draws me to the game is the setting. If you aren’t familiar with the genre of Romantic Fantasy, John Snead offers some good background. I was drawn in by the artwork and opening fiction, and then started reading the novels cited in the inspired by sidebar; series like Mercedes Lackey’s Heralds of Valdemar and Vows and Honor. These stories feature societies of high ideals, and heroes who work as part of a larger effort, against aggressors without and corruption within. They feature magic, psychic abilities, intelligent animals, and romantic connections among characters.

Some criticize the heavy hand with which liberal social ideals are venerated. I heard them called “wish fulfillment rather than fantasy.” But to me, there’s something powerful about the emotional weight of the stories, with their emphasis on connectedness and hope, honor and sacrifice.

I’m not sure d20 is particularly suited to this kind of storytelling. The game does implement a light and dark nature attribute for characters, as well as a corruption mechanic for those who dabble in foul sorcery. But I have yet to actually play it. I still cling to the hope that someday, I’ll find a group of fellow romantics who will indulge me.

 

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#RPGaDAY DIY edition: Build your own gaming table

Thanks to Autocratik for this series of RPG discussion prompts. And to my friend Tyler for his inspiring responses on his blog, Held Action. And for prodding me into reviving my own blog.

I’m going off-script today with my own topic: build your own game table. It isn’t often that I get to talk about gaming and woodworking in the same breath. I made this table because I needed a big surface that was lower than a normal table, but a higher than a coffee table. I also needed something inexpensive. Here’s my solution.

This table can easily be knocked down and stored when not in use. It’s built from one 4×8 foot sheet of plywood and a couple 2x4s. I built this to be comfortable for folks sitting on a couch or easy chair. You can adjust the dimensions to suit your needs.

Legs and table top cut from single sheet of plywood.

Legs and table top cut from single sheet of plywood.

I picked a sheet of plywood with a good side and a patched side. I had the home center make the cut to separate the legs from the table top, and then had them cut the top to width. The rest of the cuts I made with a jigsaw.

Two-by-fours fit into vertical notch in legs.

Two-by-fours fit into vertical notch in legs.

I used a simple edge-lap joint; grooves on each side of the 2×4 that lock into a vertical notch in the plywood leg piece.

The legs and braces assembled.

The legs and braces assembled.

Here are the legs and braces assembled. It’s surprisingly sturdy.

Table height was select to work well from low chairs or couch.

Table height was select to work well from low chairs or couch.

This photo shows the height of my table, which is 24″ (half the width of the plywood). It’s low enough that people in easy chairs or on a sofa can see the table easily.

Some useful accessories: elastic tie downs, acrylic sheet or gaming mat.

Some useful accessories: elastic tie downs, acrylic sheet or gaming mat.

I used some elastic tie downs to keep the table top from sliding around too much. More recently, I picked up a sheet of acrylic, under which I can place maps or grid paper. I have a preference for wet-erase markers, and they work nicely on the acrylic.

I also picked up a couple large pieces of craft felt to cover the table, which was a nice surface until the cats got to it. I didn’t put any finish on the table, but I’m considering adding some paint (to cover the food stains).

#RPGaDAY 26: Coolest Character Sheet

Thanks to Autocratik for this series of prompts. And to my friend Tyler for his inspiring responses on his blog, Held Action. And for prodding me into reviving my own blog.

My pick for coolest character sheet is Mouse Guard. The sheet has all the information a player needs for playing the game. On one side is the important character and roleplaying information, and on the other is reference information about the conflict resolution system. The sheets are well organized and attractive, as well as very functional.

MouseGuard-CharSheet-1MouseGuard-CharSheet-2

The sheet is available as a download, along with pregen sheets filled out for the main characters from the Mouse Guard books.

Wiz-War progress

The last couple months have been busy, but not without some small progress on our Wiz-War project.

Wiz-War board sections with base color

We got a couple coats of a dark base color on our seven board sections. Yes, seven sections. We’re making two auto-warp path sections (quarter-circle arcs) to connect the two sections across the gaps.

Also, I made a small test section so we can avoid major painting gaffes. We also have a large number of wall sections and doors to paint.

For our minis, NatureBoy selected six Reaper Miniatures. Assembling and painting metal minis will be a new adventure in and of itself. Here’s one of the minis, “T’Kay, Reptus Cleric” (14096).

That’s all for now. Hope to have more posts soon.

Northeast Wars photos

newars2009-StormTrooper  

NatureBoy and I had a good time at Northeast 2009. Here are some cell-phone pictures.

We were greeted by the non-nonsense presence of the 501st Legion – Vader’s Fist. Trooper TK-3220 was an imposing sight (and very shiny).

On Saturday afternoon, we played Wiz-War with GM Earl; the same great guy who introduced us to the game at Carnage last November. Here are some better shots of his game.

Northeast Wars 2009 - Wiz-War

 

The Magic cards have Wiz-War game card labels adhered to them. Earl decided to use some of his many “commons” as the stock material. He even color-coordinated the Magic cards with the Wiz-War card colors. Very nice.

Northeast Wars 2009 - Wiz-War

 

On Sunday, we played a couple games from the lending library. I can’t remember what this one was called, but I think it was from ThinkFun (Binary Arts). Two players, playing land or water, take turns laying cards to make paths that connect the sides of the garden. It simple, and fun in a non-taxing way.

newars2009-pathgame

 

This game was somewhat more involved. In fact, it was the best tic-tac-toe variation I’ve tried. And the game was beautiful. On a player’s turn, she places a marble and rotates a wooden square 90°.

newars2009-Pentago

 

And the final game we played was a homebrew Transformers RPG based on D&D 4e. The game consisted mostly of three combat scenes, with seven players and a GM. Some fun; some tedious. But the GM was good and the rules were well-thought-out. And we played using transformers! 🙂

newars2009-Transformers

Northeast Wars – day one

Can it really have been over a month since my last blog post? BW asks “What are you? Some sort of blog slacker?” I guess so…

NatureBoy and I attended our first day of Northeast Wars 2009 today, and had a really nice time. For the morning session, we split up. NB was very excited to play a round of HeroScape, which was a big hit last year. I played my first Prime Time Adventures, this one set in the Firefly/Serenity universe.

Beloved Wife came to collect us for a lunch break, then brought us back for an afternoon Wiz-War game with the the same gentleman who introduced us tot he game at Carnage in November and inspired us to create our own Wiz War set. We had a good time chatting about the process of building the set and I got some new energy to get working on our set again.

I worked had over the past couple weeks on the convention booklet, doing some cartography, simple artwork and the book layout. I am quite pleased with the result.

Here’s the cover of the con booklet (with artwork by Melissa Benson):

NEW2009-Cover

And here’s a map of the conference venue that I did:

Inn Map 2b

We’ll be going back tomorrow for more fun.

Exalted, Challenge System style

NatureBoy had a couple of friend for a sleep-over last night. Given the Wii and DS excitement, the homemade pizza, and adolescent male I-haven’t-learned- to-use-deodorant tang, they have been having a good time.

ExaltedSecondEditionCoverI had a really good time, too, because my friend Josh came over to run a one-on-one game of Exalted using his rules-light Challenge System. I’ve played a couple of games of Exalted with Josh and some other friends, both with the Exalted storyteller rules, and with the Wushu Exalted variant.

Josh’s Challenge System worked well to give some structure to the situation resolution and narration. We told a story that would make good “pilot episode” for my character, Ju-Fei. We established his background as a decadent young merchant noble, covered his exaltation, the transfiguration of his longtime friend into a probable nemesis,  and concluded with his setting out from Nexus in a familiar direction but with an unknown destination (walking off into the sunrise).

I’m hopeful that the story may continue at some point, and maybe we’ll get another player or two into the game. Josh is an excellent storyteller; his descriptions are rich, his characters nuanced, and his storylines cohesive and compelling. I hope my characters are a good fit.