Monday, 10 December 2007

RPG Podcast Review

If you're getting into RPG podcasts, it's worth your time to check out RPG Podcast Review, a blog about various RPG podcasts. Doc Holaday writes something about every edition of each podcast so you can get the opinions of a third party about the episode - just in case you don't trust the podcasters themselves to give you an accurate overview on their own sites.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Some thoughts on Agon

I've nearly finished reading through Agon and wanted to put down some thoughts on it.

From the beginning the first thing that struck me is the format of the book. The cover art really captures the mood of the game. It's epic, Greek, legendary and imposing. Even the interior art, done in the style of classical Greek art, forced me to think about the game in ways other than the typical fantasy setting. Even though it's all line art and B&W, nothing is taken away from it.

Great concept. Agon articulates why we go for characters that level up and level up and level up. We do it for the glory. We do it to become legends. Gaining points for these things is a nice way to focus it. It's better than "experience" because that implies an endless journey, whereas the protagonists in this game are aiming towards something. They have a limited playable life and they need to make sure that retirement is a comfortable and glorious one.

I don't want to say much about these because it's probably been done to death on The Forge. What I will say is that the mechanics facilitate the competitiveness well. Success breeds more success. Failure breeds more failure. There's almost a death-spiral in this game, as well as a life-spiral (perhaps a glory-spiral is a better name). The GM's budget is great too. I had never thought about this idea before, but now I'm keen for it. The GM doesn't actually have limitless resources for obstacles. They must all be paid for from a pool of strife points.

Overall, I like what I've read. I'll put together a game for my gaming group and try it out. I suspect that it will give its best return in campaign play, but I won't know until I play it.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Initial thoughts on Burning Wheel

So I'm on the road at the moment (the joys of multinational employers) and I have Burning Wheel (Revised) with me. It's been a good read. The rules are a clever combination of simple and expansive. On the one hand, the core mechanic is simple and easy to remember. On the other hand, there are rules for everything. Stacks and stacks of options for how to do things. I like it. Still, it makes for a complex series of page flips to get it right, but the indexing is good enough to let it happen quickly.

The mechanic that earns the game its big reputation is the Duel of Wits. There are two kinds of things to say about it. The first is that there is even a mechanic for this at all. The second is whether or not it works.

So, should we even have mechanics for this? Do we need mechanics for social interaction? Damnit, yes. Yes we do. It helps the people who have weak roleplaying skills. It forces players to actually go with the strength of the character rather than the force of personality of the player. That's right, there are roleplayers who have forceful personalities - and they can't play well at all. They just shout their way through the scenario and merely force themselves into a series of powers or abilities. At least with a social mechanic this kind of play is locked out.


The second one is about whether it works. To be honest, I don't know. I need to play it sometime. That just hasn't happened yet. But it will. So if you're into Burning Wheel and you live in Brisbane, drop me a comment and we'll hook up for it.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

IPR Delivery

My employer makes use of an internal instant messaging system. This is today's Conversation of the Day.

Reception: Hi Andrew, i have a Parcel at reception for you.
Andrew: From whom?
Reception: i think from the United States
Andrew: Does it have the company name on it?
Reception: Indie press Revolutions
Andrew: Totally
Andrew: Frickin
Andrew: Awesome
Reception: :)

My IPR games arrived, double wrapped to prevent rain damage (like my copy of SOTC). I'm stoked.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Storn Cook's Gaming Artwork

I wanted to point you in the direction of a great gaming artist, Storn Cook. From what I've seen, his passion and interest in gaming art is largely focused around character sketches. I've browsed through his collections just to get inspiration for NPCs. There are a few times when he has written up stats for them as well, so it makes it easy for me to lift it into my games.

Official Website

A Sons of Kryos thread with plenty of pics

Recent works on photobucket.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Indie Press Gang

So Fred Hicks has put out the call for volunteers in the Indie Press Gang and I'm considering it. There's a bit of a thread about it, mostly between Fred and I, on the IPR forums. I have some doubts about how popular it will be in Brisbane, but the plan I want to follow will begin with GenConOz. If the Indie Games On Demand (IGOD?) event is a success, then it will be easy to run some indie games events in the second half of the year, perhaps one every quarter. Prior to that, the network of contacts is still a little slender.

So I'm going to trawl through a few Australian RPG forums to fish for the indie gamers in the Brisbane area. I might see you there. If you have any suggestions for forums, drop me a line and I'll head on over there.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

More goodness from IPR

Well, in case you don't already subscribe to the IPR podcast or e-mail, you should know that there is a new episode of The Voice of the Revolution. Go download it and listen to the goodness therein.

In other news, now that my semester has finished I've put my order in for some more games. In no particular order, this is what is currently en route to me.

The game of competition and high mythos in fictional ancient Greece. The author claims that its his competitive take on D&D but I have the feeling that it could be run very nicely in the Xena world, or even in an epic sense as 300.

Burning Wheel: Revised
I've heard many good reports about this award-winning game. Who could resist? Too many people are drooling over Luke Crane at the moment for me to ignore this.

Brick Battles
I have a moderate-sized chunk of Lego at home. If this means I get to actually use it as a wargame, then I'm sold straightaway. I hope the rules are simple enough for me to introduce my nephew to another great wargame. So far it's just been Star Wars Miniatures, but there's still time. You can download this one if you don't want to pay for the print version.

Mechaton: Giant Fighty Robots
This game is a mystery. I have no idea what it's about. Must be some kind of political intrigue... I'm especially amused by Vincent's other game: Kill Puppies for Satan. I heard him talking about it once and was sold from the moment I heard the title. Anyone who's been through the Jack Chick years knows why this is funny.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Not My Oscilloscope

I like a good dose of steampunk. It just makes everything seem more obvious. I found a post about a home-made oscilloscope on the Brass Goggles blog. It's a great blog about anything and everything to do with steampunk. If you're running a steampunk game and are looking for inspiration then take the time to look through Brass Goggles.

The other reason I wanted to put this post up is that the "Mr A Smith" who built it is not me.

Or is it...?

Friday, 2 November 2007

Peril Planet

Whilst browsing around the other day I found Peril Planet, the website of Nathan Russell. He's got a handful of his games available for download on his site. I plan to put my thoughts about them on this blog in about a week or so. But in the meantime, go see the site!

Monday, 29 October 2007

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

The Sky Pirates - SOTC play report

Had a great game of Spirit of the Century last night. We introduced another gamer to the world of story RPGs. Hi Vaughn. Welcome to the revolution.

In brief the story concerned Madam Bergerac, a French artefact collector who had invited members of the Century Club from London to Paris to witness the demonstration of her new artefact. By the time our heroes land in Paris, Sky Pirates had raided the zeppelin that Bergerac had sent for them and during the confusion, one of the crew - a Sky Pirate in disguise - made off with the artefact.

The mastermind was suspected to be Baron von Sturm, the mysterious German inventor. Had he stolen it? Perhaps. If so, why? Bergerac was a well respected collector of antiquities and artefacts! It is clearly an outrage that her property has been taken from her. Our heroes went in to investigate.

I won't spoil the story, but there were plenty of scenes for sneaking around castles, making quick escapes, and trying to cover tracks amidst plenty of deception. Suffice it to say that Spike Spiegel, Jack Venturer and Calo Maxwell lived to tell the tale.
Lessons that I learnt from this game were many, but here are the top three:
  1. During character creation, make sure that your aspects support your skills. It's hard to invoke them if they don't relate and that means you get to use them less. SOTC characters are very focused on a few key areas. It's the theme of the character, the schtick that makes it worth reading about.
  2. Start the flow of fate points and it won't stop. As soon as the flow dries up people hoard them, so give them plenty of opportunity to spend and earn them.
  3. Be careful of dead scenes or slow scenes. If the characters seems lost about what to do, start making the clues bigger. If the clues threaten to get too big, just send in the ninjas.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Fred Hicks' Cool Threads

That's right, I have Fred Hicks' wardrobe! The side effect is that Fred is now nude.

Alternatively, this is a pointer to an entry on Fred's blog. If you want to see the forums that Fred watches because they have Evil Hat threads on them, this is the link for you.

You can see Fred's comments because he usually goes by the nickname of iago.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Indie Games at Gen Con Oz

After swinging loads of comments around on the GenCon Oz site and the Forge it seems that there are at least 5 people (myself included) who are ready, willing and able to run some indie games at GenCon next year. I think I'm the only local in the crowd at the moment. Thanks to the rest of the tentative volunteers. If you want to find out more, leave a comment and I'll point you in the right direction.

I'm also waiting for a response from Brennan Taylor of Indie Press Revolution about how to manifest the Indie Press Gang there. The Indie Press Gang is a group of volunteers who help promote indie games at cons and other gaming events. Not only do we get the privilege of teaching folks some cool new games, but apparently we also apparently get a free t-shirt. Ooh! Anyway, if you're interested in helping out, let me know.

Indie gamers of the world, unite!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Campaign or One-shot

When I first cut my teeth on RPGs, it was all about the campaign. Well, more specifically it was about levelling up the characters we played. There was nothing quite like getting the extra points (just enough, more often than not) to go up a level. All the stats changed! Many a character sheet was covered with eraser marks and fresh pencil.

But this year I've become more interested in the one-shot game. The kind of game that lets me start and finish it in a single session, and also the kind of game that lets players come and go as their schedules permit. The joy of levelling up is largely gone, and this means that the players (including the GM) have to make the game amazing in other ways - by actually doing cool stuff rather than laying out the stats like some kind of measuring contest.

So my "levelling up" games are alone on the shelf, being ignored for young upstarts that leap and clamour for my attention. Now all I need to develop are the skills to pick up the rules of a new game quickly!

Saturday, 13 October 2007

GenCon Australia

Barring something unforeseen, I'm going to GenCon Australia next year. The plan at this stage is to run a few indie games during the four days, probably on the Saturday. There'll be at least one session of Spirit of the Century, one session of Don't Rest Your Head and hopefully a session of Burning Wheel. Well, it's a hope, at least.

There are a couple of other people I've bumped into on The Forge who seem just as keen to fly the indie flag, so we're going to team up somehow and make an underground effort to put these games out there.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Spirit of the Century - Game on!

My next game of Spirit of the Century is pencilled in. Do you want to play? Then drop me a comment and let me know.

Call for Roleplayers

This is a call for Brisbane roleplayers to join a Spirit of the Century campaign set in London of the 1860s rather than America in the 1920s.

Our heroes, mere Decarions in the Century Club, will be confronting threats from mad scientists, dark forgotten spirits and even Martians as they strive to keep the world a safe place for all humanity.
All kinds of science, pseudoscience and mysteries are available and real in this world. The worlds of Jules Verne and H.G. Welles are the every day for these characters. To express your interest, submit a comment to this blog entry and include your e-mail address. All comments on Divine Trauma are moderated so I will take your e-mail address from the comment and then delete the comment.

But I don't know how to play!
That's OK. The rules aren't tricky and there are a few other people there who can help you use the rules to do what your want your character to do.

How often will the games be?
About once a month. But if you can't make it to one session, that's OK. In Spirit of the Century, people don't get penalised for having a real world life.

Do I need my own Fudge dice?
No. I have the GMs pack of Fudge dice. But if you like your own dice, by all means bring them along. They make great tokens.

How many players are you looking for?
My ideal group size includes a GM and four players. However, somewhere from three to six players (inclusive) would be great.

Isn't Spirit of the Century supposed to be set after the Great War? What are the phases that you will use for character generation?
The same phases will be used, with the following changes.
Phase 1 is from birth (1st Jan 1841) to 1854.
Phase 2 is the Crimean War.
The rest is largely the same as per the rule book.

I want to know more about Spirit of the Century.
This is an entry on Fred Hicks' blog that lists almost all of the forums that Fred watches for SOTC threads. Fred usually goes by the nickname of iago.

Do it now! The world needs heroes.


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