Monday, October 31, 2016

Four Frightening Games to Play on Halloween

Happy Halloween, boys and ghouls! It's that terror-rific time of the year when the air gets colder, the leaves start to change colors, and people embrace the horrific and macabre.

In honor of this spooky season, I thought I would share four games I personally feel are ideal to play in celebration of this die-lightful holiday. I'm sure you'll find all of these to be absolute monsterpieces.

I also apologize for the awful puns.

1. Betrayal at House on the Hill
Designed by Bruce Glassco and published by Wizards of the Coast under its subsidiary Avalon Hill, Betrayal at House on the Hill is a semi-cooperative adventure game where players investigate a creepy mansion, experiencing one of fifty randomly determined scenarios. Players can end up being transported to an alien world to be experimented on by extraterrestrials, chased through the halls by a hungry werewolf, or fighting a race of evil plants. Betrayal at House on the Hill can be a little bit unbalanced at time and some scenarios are a little lackluster, but the game does a wonderful job at capturing the magic of the more campy horror films of yesteryear.

2. Dead of Winter
Published by Plaid Hat Games, Dead of Winter is a semi-cooperative game where each player leads a small faction of survivors living within a colony during the zombe apocalypse. The players will have to strengthen the fortifications, venture forth into the nearby town to gather supplies, and fight off the living dead if they wish to survive through the harsh winter. However, players will also have to remain vigilant because there might be a traitor lurking among them. Dead of Winter masterfully replicates the tension found within a zombie film, where both the danger of the walking dead and stressed relationships between the living create a suspenseful experience. The added element of the Crossroads Cards, which force the players to make difficult situations throughout the game, is just icing on top of the cake. 

3. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Based on the party game designed by Dmitry Davidoff, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a quick bluffing game where player are inhabitants of a small town menaced by a pack of hungry werewolves. Each player receives a secret role, some of which are the lycanthropes. The game is divided into two phases, with the townsfolk attempting to figure out who are the werewolves and execute at least one of them. One Night Ultimate Werewolf is great when you need a game that can handle a large group of people, but won't last several hours. I also highly recommend downloading and using the free app. It will take on the role of moderator and make things run a lot more smoothly. 

4. Fury of Dracula
Fury of Dracula is a deduction game originally designed by Stephen Hand set eight years after the events of Bram Stoker's Dracula. The game has one player take on the role of the titular vampire as he travels across Europe, massing an army of the undead, while the others play hunters attempting to find and destroy him before he succeeds. The current edition published last year by Fantasy Flight Games does a solid job at cleaning up the rules, streamlining combat, and adding a few new mechanics that make the game even better. I suggest picking up the 3rd Edition before it gets too expensive due to FFG losing the publishing rights when they split ways with Games Workshop. You won't regret adding this one to your collection. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tiny Epic Quest - Kickstart it Now!

Tiny Epic Quest is the latest entry in Gamelyn Game's Tiny Epic line of board games. This sandbox adventure game is obviously inspired by the video games of yesteryear, specifically the Legend of Zelda. Players will control a group of elven heroes who will explore a fantasy land, complete challenging quests, and fight vicious goblins in order to earn victory points. The one with the most points at the end both wins the game and saves the world. 

I really liked the previous two entries in the Tiny Epic line, especially Tiny Epic Galaxies. Gamelyn Games manages to take these really entertaining games and fit them into pocket-sized boxes. Tiny Epic Quest seems to take that to the next level, and I can't wait to get it into my hands.

Those looking for a cool looking adventure game that can easily fit inside the pocket of your bag should give this Kickstarter a look.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Jack Chick Returns to the Dark Dungeon

*Blows dust off the blog*

It's been a very long time folks. Nearly three months by my count. Life's just been kicking my ass this year and I've been trying my hardest getting it back in working order.

I didn't expect to write a post today, but when I heard this piece of news I knew I had to say something.

Jack T. Chick, the fundamentalist christian cartoonist that wrote numerous comics called "Chick tracts", died this past Sunday at the age of 92.

This is the man who wrote Dark Dungeons, the unintentionally hilarious comic that depicted Dungeons & Dragons as something evil. That it was a tool for satanists to corrupt the innocent youth of the world, teach them magical spells, and drive them to commit suicide if their characters died within the game.

I wish I was making this up.

Dark Dungeons is a relic of a strange time in the hobby's history, a moment when some people actually believed to be dangerous. This little comic was made to fan those hate-fueled fires, along with stuff like John Coyne's novel Hobgoblin or the made-for-television film Mazes & Monsters based on the Rona Jaffe book of the same name.

Today, I find it hard to muster any amount of hatred for this piece of exploitative propaganda. I might not like the person who created it and find the majority of his beliefs to be utterly deplorable, but I can't help but find some strange merit with this particular piece of work. It's like this weird, cultural landmark for the hobby, giving us something to laugh about and make snarky references towards.

However, I might also just be reaching for something positive in all this so I won't default to negativity in this incredibly awkward situation. You'll never know.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Sasquatch Game Studio Giving New Life to Alternity

Click HERE for the Official Announcement Article

Earlier this week, Sasquatch Game Studio announced they will be releasing a new science fiction role-playing game in 2017. The most intriguing aspect about this announcement is what it will be titled: Alternity.

Those with a keen memory will recognize this as the name of another science fiction role-playing game published by TSR in 1998. Following the company's acquisition by Wizards of the Coast, Alternity was discontinued in 2000. While certain elements of the game would later be used in d20 Modern, specifically the DarkMatter and Star*Drive campaign settings, Alternity itself has pretty much laid dormant for over a decade.

Until now.

This latest iteration of Alternity will not be a second edition, but a new role-playing game that simply draws inspiration from the original game. It will be a modular toolbox like the previous version, allowing Game Masters to mold the mechanics to fit the specific brand of science fiction they're trying to achieve. They even have the original designers, Bill Slavicsek and Richard Baker, working on this version.

I'll admit, Alternity was before my time. While I have managed to read the rules and thought the Control Die + Situation Die approach was pretty cool, I never actually used it for a campaign. However, I would love to see what Sasquatch Game Studio has in store for us with this new Alternity.

How about you? What are your thoughts on this announcement? Excited, cautious, or a little of both? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Four Questions of Character Creation

Everyone has their own process for creating a character. I'm not talking mechanically, but how they approach crafting the elements that make the character something more than a simple bundle of stats. Some like to write long, detailed backstories, while others prefer to start small and build upon that as they play the game. Some begin with a concept, but others like to be inspired by the mechanics.

There is no one true approach, each working better for different people.

That being said, I thought it might be nice to present my own preferred method for constructing a character's flluff. I like to call this method the "Four Questions". This little questionnaire helps me develop a handful of basic pillars I can use as a foundation for the character, allowing me to build upon it while playing said character. The Four Questions are:

Before delving into the more specific aspects of a character, you should figure out her most basic concept. Think of this as the elevator pitch for this imaginary person, capturing her most important elements in a simple sentence or two. It should be clear and precise, getting your point across in as few words as possible.

Your character didn't spring forth from thin air, fully formed and ready to explore ancient tombs in search of priceless treasure. They had to originate from somewhere in the campaign's setting, a location with a interesting atmosphere and culture that more than likely left a last mark upon the character.

Every character should have something important they are working towards, explaining why they've decided to become an adventurer in the first place. You have the classics, such as avenging the lost of a loved one or restoring the prestige of her long-tainted family's name. This goal can be literally anything, but should be something that will take many adventures to obtain and should be driving force for the character.

There has to be a reason why the character hasn't obtained their goal yet. Maybe she doesn't know the identity of the assassin who killed her loved one, just that he had an extra finger upon his right hand, or possibly the only way for her restore said prestige is to hunt down and kill the dragon her ancestor failed to slay many years ago. This is where you give the GM a very blatant hook to use within the campaign, something to draw them into the story the group is attempting to weave together, making the challenges just a little bit more personal.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Find Your Path to the Stars - Paizo Announces New Roleplaying Game

Looks like Paizo still has some surprises up their sleeve. Yesterday, Creative Director James L. Sutter published a blog announcing something completely unexpected. Next August, Paizo will be releasing a brand new roleplaying game.

The Starfinder Roleplaying Game will be based upon upon the Pathfinder rules, but designed with the science fantasy sub-genre in mind. It'll be backward compatible, but ultimately a stand-alone product. The rulebook will contain numerous new races, classes, equipment, and other elements suited for the far-future version of their Golarion campaign setting. Sutter described the default setting as follows:
"Starfinder is set in Golarion's solar system, but far in a possible future - one in which the gods have mysteriously spirited Golarion away to an unknown location, and refuse to answer questions about it. In its place, the cultures of that world have evolved and spread throughout the solar system, especially to a vast space platform called Absalom Station. Gifted access to a hyperspace dimension by an ascended AI deity, the residents of the system suddenly find themselves with the ability to travel faster than light, and the race is on to explore and colonize potentially millions of worlds. But there are horrors out there in the darkness..."
The Starfinder RPG Core Rulebook will be released in 2017 at Gen Con. Furthermore, a monthly Adventure Path will support this new product, offering quality adventures along with interesting rules and setting expansions. However, Starfinder will be released under the OGL, meaning third-party support will be possible.

Strangely, Paizo has also announced they will not be hosting a full public playtest for Starfinder. The reason given is that it would be very difficult with something of this sheer scale. That being said, they will bring in key community members to give input over the next few months.

Personally, I find myself cautiously optimistic about this product. The words "science fantasy" immediately warm the cockles' of my heart and I'm curious to see what they'll do with the mechanics. However, I'm also nervous that Paizo might be going down the same troubled road that TSR did, splitting their customer base in two. I'm also worried about mechanical bloat, but that's really nothing new with d20 games.

How about you, dear readers? Are you excited for Starfinder? Are you cautious like myself? Do you think this is a Harbringer of the End Times? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

5e Musings - The Bard College of the Mountebank

Not all bards are connoisseurs of stories. There are a handful use their abilities for a much more nefarious purpose: deceiving the foolish individuals that inhabit the lands in order to gain fame, glory, or great wealth.

When you join the College of the Mountebank at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with disguise kits, forgery kits, and one gaming set of your choice.

Also at 3rd level, you learn enhance your carefully woven deceptions with just the right word or phrase. When making an ability check to deceive or persuade a character, you may spend a bonus action to expend one of your uses of Bardic Inspiration, rolling a Bardic Inspiration die and adding the number rolled to your roll. You can choose to use this feature after you make your roll, but before the DM determines whether the ability check succeeds or fails.

At 6th level, you develop a mystical knack for disguising yourself, allowing you to assume a variety of unique masks to enhance your deceptive acts. As an action, you can magically change your appearance. You decide what you look like, such as your height, weight, distinctive features, etc. However, you cannot change your size and your statistics remain the same.

This change lasts 1 hour or until you use this ability again. You revert to your true form if you are knocked unconscious or killed. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (a minimum of once). You regain all uses of this ability after you finish a long rest.

Starting at 14th level, you can empower your spells to make them harder to resist. When a creature within 60 feet of you makes a saving throw against an enchantment or illusion spell you've cast, you can use your reaction to expend a Bardic Inspiration, rolling a Bardic Inspiration die and subtracting the number rolled from the creature's roll. You can choose to use this feature after the creature makes its roll, but before the DM determines whether the ability check succeeds or fails.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Beyond the Hylian Wall - Races

Several weeks ago, I presented a concept for a Legend of Zelda campaign using the Beyond the Wall rules. Today, I thought I'd post a VERY rough draft of the races that players can eventually use once they discover them within the world.

These races are based upon the suggested rules for non-human characters presented in Appendix II - Optional Rules on pg. 24-25 of Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures - Core Rules. Currently, I have yet to actually test any of these at the table. Feel free to offer suggestions or alternatives in the comments.

The Gorons are a humanoid, rock-eating race that dwell in the mountains scattered throughout the land that used to be Hyrule. They are physically imposing creatures, possessing a height and size almost double that of an average human, and develop rocky growths on their backs as they age. Most Goron clans have a friendly, brotherly culture that is fire and passion. Gorons receive the following traits: 
Goron Vision - Gorons may see in any light. So long as their surroundings are not pitch black, they can see as well as humans in full daylight.  
Strength of Stone - Gorons have an endurance far beyond the other races, and therefore have hit dice of one greater die type than their class would suggest. For example, a goron rogue has d10 hit dice instead of the usual d8.  
Clumsy - Gorons are not the most graceful individuals. Gorons may never have a Dexterity score higher than 10.

The Kokiri are a cautious and secretive race native to Kokiri Forest. They are a child-like people, looking like a human adolescent with slight, pointed ears. The Kokiri are generally seen as a peaceful people who hold great reverence for nature, especially the forests of Hyrule. Kokiri are a very rare sight in the world, with most humans believing them to be only a myth. Kokiri receive the following traits: 
Unaging - The Kokiri maintain their youth for their entire, long lives. Some Kokiri believe they will live forever as long as they remain in their forest home. They automatically resist all forms of non-magical disease and poison and cannot die from natural causes.  
Small Stature - Being small hurts in a fight. Kokiri may never have a Strength score higher than 10, and may only use weapons which do 1d4 or 1d6 damage. 

The Zora are an aquatic race who inhabit the lakes and rivers of Hyrule. They are generally covered in silver scales, giving them a pale blue sheen from a distance. Instead of hair, a large number of Zora have rear-hanging caudal extensions of their heads shaped like a dolphin's tail and large fins upon their arms and legs. They are a very territorial race, fiercely protecting the waterways they call home.
Amphibious - Zoras possess the ability to exist both within the waves and on land. Zoras can breathe both water and air.  
Child of the Water - Zoras are at their best when in the water, allowing them to show off their natural grace and skill. Zoras receive a +2 bonus to Strength and Dexterity ability score checks while fully submerged in water.  
Water Dependent - A Zora's body requires regular submersion in fresh or salt water, growing weaker when they do not. Zoras who spend more than 1 day without fully submerging themselves in water suffer a -1 penalty to all ability score checks. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

5e Musings - New Race: Goblins

Art by Steve Prescott
Goblins are a race of diminutive creatures that are incredibly destructive and vicious. Most other races view them as the humanoid equivalent to cockroaches, lurking upon the fringes of society, scavenging to survive, and being very problematic in large numbers.

Most goblins spend the entirety of extremely short lives among their own tribe, but a small few have decided to venture forth into the larger world, driven by their disturbing curiosity and thirst for power. The majority of these meet untimely ends, but a small few manage to survive, with a tiny handful falling in with strangely accepting groups of adventurers.

Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and your Constitution score increases by 1.

Age: Goblins mature much faster than humans, reaching adulthood around age 12. They age noticeably faster and rarely live longer than 40 years.

Alignment: The majority of goblins tend to be greedy, capricious, and downright cruel. Most goblins tend to lean towards Chaotic or Neutral Evil.

Size: Goblins are roughly 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall and average 40 pounds. Your size is Small.

Speed: Goblins are small, but surprisingly quick. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision: Because of your race's tendency to inhabit dark caves and underground tunnels, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Stealthy: You gain proficiency in the Stealth skill.

Nimble Escape: Goblins are quick and sneaky creatures. You can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on each of your turns.

Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and Goblin.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Beyond the Hylian Wall - A Legend of Zelda Campaign Concept

I dare you to look at this picture and not have that
familiar theme pop into your head.
The Legend of Zelda franchise holds a very special, nostalgic place in my geeky heart. During my childhood, I spent countless hours sitting right in front of my television with a controller held tightly in my hands, exploring the realms of Hyrule while saving Princess Zelda from that porcine asshole Ganon. Although I've had my problems with certain entries (*cough*Skyword Sword*cough*), I still consider myself a fan and will always give the latest entry a shot, wanting to feel that same sense of adventure once again.

Recently, I've had a peculiar itch to run a mini-campaign based upon the franchise using the excellent Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures

The campaign would exist in a version of Hyrule where Ganondorf defeats the Hero of Time in the final battle at the end of Ocarina of Time, takes the remaining pieces of the Tri-Force from Link and Zelda, and uses the power of the completed Tri-Force to transform himself into the Demon King Ganon.

Now possessing immense power, Ganon begins to terrorize the land, leaving utter destruction in his wake and crushing any form of resistance he can find underneath the heel of his massive boot.

In a desperate move to save what little remained of the kingdom of Hyrule, the Seven Sages use their combined power to seal Ganon and the completed Tri-Force in another plane of existence. Although they succeed at banishing the Demon King from the world, the kingdom is beyond repair.

The campaign would pick up after a century has passed, with the current inhabitants existing in a Dark Age. The Kingdom of Hyrule is no more, the once mighty city is now a crumbling ruin and the royal family has all but vanished. The few bastions of civilization that managed to rebuild themselves after Ganon's reign of terror exist as independent powers with travel between them being incredibly rare. Very few people have ventured forth beyond the towering walls that keep them safe from the dangerous creatures lurking within the surrounding wilderness.

Those of you who are familiar with the Legend of Zelda Timeline will recognize this as a slightly altered version of the "Fallen Hero" Timeline. I feel using this series of events will lead to a version of the world that better fits the structure of a role-playing game. This version of the Timeline has no new Hero, suggesting Ganon succeeding at defeating Link threw off the cycle. Thankfully, this leaves space for the party to take Link's role with relative ease.

Players will create characters as described in the Core Rules of Beyond the Wall. At first, the only available race will be Human. The characters would all be residents of a small town who choose to leave for one reason or another (probably not under their own volition). Later in the campaign, the players would come into contact with the other Zelda races, "unlocking" them as racial options for new or replacement characters. I'm thinking the unlockable races will be Gorons, Kokiri, and Zoras. Possibly Deku Shrubs and Gerudo as well.

The focus of the campaign would be a simple one. The players would explore the fallen realm of Hyrule, delving into the depths of the crumbling dungeons and temples of the past. They'd also learn Ganon's presence is slowly leaking back into the world, possibly heralding his return. The party would then have to discover a way to keep him sealed away, possibly discovering the reason why the Hero was never reborn.

Since I will probably not have a chance to use this concept for the foreseeable future due to a project I've been working on (which I hope to reveal very soon), I thought I'd jot down my thoughts so someone else can use them if they feel inclined to do so.I might post the mechanics for the four races that players can unlock if anybody is interested. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

In Memory of a Fallen Gamer

R.I.P. Logan. You will be missed.
Nearly two weeks ago, I received a message that felt like a vicious punch to the gut. I learned that a close friend of mine by the name of Logan Masterson had passed away the previous afternoon.

My initial reaction to this horrific news was to not believe it. Part of me hoped this was some kind of morbid April Fool's Joke, that he'd show up at our FLGS the following Monday, revealing this dark ruse for what it was. Unfortunately, deep down inside, I knew this wasn't a joke...

I only knew Logan for about a year, but I quickly grew to care about him. He was easily one of my favorite people to game with. Name the game and he'd give it a try, and he was down for just about anything as long as it would lead to an amazing story in the end. Same was true when he took the seat behind the Game Master's screen. 

He also helped me through some pretty tough times this past year. He helped me deal with that mental asshole known by most as Depression and encouraged me to not give up on my own creative endeavors. I'll greatly miss the times we'd spent in his garage or office, talking about numerous geeky topics (mostly comics, gaming, and music), simply enjoying our break from the hectic nature of the outside world. 

Knowing I'll never see my friend again is still a concept I find incredibly hard to accept. I'll never make the trek up to our new FLGS to see Pepper, the orange car he named after the Marvel character Pepper Potts, sitting outside with him standing under the tailgate rolling up a cigarette again. I'll never get the chance to run Mage: The Ascension for him, which was his favorite game and he believed that I'd do a fantastic job with. I'll never get to talk to him about our gaming projects and so much more. 

Most importantly, I'll never get to tell him how much I cared about him and thank him for being apart of my life. I just hope I left as big of an impression on him as he did on me and I hope this post does an adequate job at honoring his memory. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Breaking Point

You can only put so much pressure on something
before it finally breaks...
Last Monday, an incident occurred with one of the players in my Savage Worlds campaign. One player, who I'll be calling "Harry" for the purposes of this post, has been a thorn in my side since the campaign began. He made every session a frustrating experience & I dreaded seeing his face each time I sat down at the table. The only reason he lasted as long as he did was the fact that he came as a packaged deal with another player who's presence I actually enjoy.

That marginal toleration came to a breaking point last Monday, and I unfortunately broke. Harry, being his annoying self, slapped an NPC who almost sacrificed herself to save his character, actually slapping the wound she gained performing this action (magic can be a dick like that). I swear I stared at Harry flabbergasted for a solid five minutes, trying to figure out why he'd do such a thing.

Turns out, his reasoning was rather stupid. His justification for the action was the NPC, a 35 year old witch & mother to one of the player's characters, was the party's only ride back into town. This character used a magical shortcut to save his character (a 10 year old middle school student), and he felt the best way to respond to that was to slap the wound she received as hard as possible. Shortly thereafter, he went into a misogynistic diatribe before calling me dumb for not understanding his actions.

That's when the metaphorical chain shattered, and a few different paths to handling the situation presented themselves. The first path was the emotional path, the to that would have felt good, but would have caused more problems than it solved. This path would most likely involve some choice words & a punch. The second path was the less cathartic path, but much more level-headed in nature. This path would involve me remaining calm and informing Harry that he is no longer welcome at my table.

Thankfully, I went down the latter path.

Now, I'll admit this caused me to lose an additional player, but yesterday's session felt so much better. I was no longer having to deal with Harry's shenanigans, letting me focus on the other players so I could make sure they were having a fun time. I'll miss playing with Harry's friend, but I'm okay with making that sacrifice for the health of the group & the campaign.

I'm sure I'm not the only GM who's had an experience like this. We've all had a really problematic player, one that slowly kills all the enjoyment you derive from the game like some humanoid tumor. While some will cut that tumor out as soon as possible, others (like myself) tend to let it fester for far too long, bottling up that frustration until the cork finally pops off. The quick flood of negative emotions is usually what causes someone to punch the offending player or flip a poor, undeserving table.

The key to not doing that is learning how to quickly barricade those explosive emotions, and letting them out in a more focused stream that's more productive. This usually manifests as either you leaving the table to calm down, probably ending the session prematurely if needed, or removing the problem player if things cannot be reconciled. I'm not going to lie, there will be repercussions for these actions (like losing another player who chooses to stand beside your own, personal Harry), but they are easier to manage than the ones resulting from a player punch or a table flip.

Have you ever experienced something like this? Have you ever had a player that was so problematic that you were eventually pushed past your breaking point? How did you handle it, and do you have any tips for those who might have to deal with it in the future? Leave your answers in the comments below.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

5e Musings - Simplified Encumbrance

Making encumbrance work seems to be a strange goal of mine. Throughout the past few years, I've been tinkering with several alternatives for different systems. Since I'm not getting more into 5e, I figured I should try my hand at doing one for it as well.

Here's the result of my brainstorming. Characters have a specific limit to the number of significant items they can carry without being negatively effected. This amount is known as the character's Carrying Capacity.

Carrying Capacity is equal to 1/2 the character's Strength score (rounded down). A character can carry an amount of significant items equal to or below this amount without any problems.

A character carrying a number of significant items passed this amount, up to double her Carrying Capacity, is Encumbered. While Encumbered, she drops her speed by 10 feet. Carrying a number of significant items equal to or greater than triple her Carrying Capacity will make her Heavily Encumbered. Like before, her speed is reduced by 20 feet, but she also suffers disadvantage on ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws that use Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution.

Now, I'm sure you noticed throughout the above text that I used the term "significant items" several times. Instead of every item counting towards a character's Carrying Capacity, only a specific few do. The following items are considered significant enough, but Dungeon Masters may add or subtract to this list as they see fit:
  • Armor, Weapons, & Shields
  • Magic Items
  • Bundled Items (Ammunition, Coinage, Rations, etc.) 
  • Containers (Backpacks, Quivers, etc.) 
Let's take a look at what this might look like at the table. Lauren's character Althea has a Strength of 15, meaning she has a Carrying Capacity of 7 (1/2 of 15, rounded down). She can carry 7 items without a problem, becomes encumbered when carrying 8 to 14 items, and heavily encumbered at 15+ items. 

Like the Simplified Ammo rules I posted a few weeks ago, the main goal of these rules was to abstract the mechanics in order to make their application at the table much easier. I believe only focusing on specific items and basing the amount you can carry on 1/2 a character's Strength score achieves this pretty nicely.

With that being said, I acknowledge utilizing 1/2 Strength does seriously hamper those characters that happen to have lower Strength scores. Those wishing to relieve this can make the number of significant items that can be carried easily equal to the character's Strength score instead.This will inflate the later numbers a little, but that might just be a necessary evil. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Doom that Came to Pandemic

Debuting at Gen Con 2016, Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu will be a Mythos-themed version of Matt Leacock's popular cooperative game. The designers heading this project are Leacock himself and Rise of Cthulhu's Chuck D. Yager.

Very few, concrete details have been released about Reign of Cthulhu. However, we do know what the basic premise will be. Instead of playing CDC agents attempting to cure several diseases spreading across the entire globe, you will take the role of investigators trying to seal numerous portals throughout Lovecraft Country while battling insane cultists.

Imagine that Arkham Horror had a weird, yet surprisingly kinky one night stand with Pandemic, and this game was the aberrant spawn of that freaky moment in time.

This just proves to me that Z-Man Games knows the secret to separating me from my money. Take one of my favorite board games and add a heavy dose of Lovecraftian goodness.

What do you guys and gals think? Are you excited for Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu? Are you apprehensive, and if so, why? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

You Can't Forget the Classics - Wizards of the Coast Releases OD&D in PDF (Again)

Yesterday, Wizards of the Coast made the PDFs for the original edition of Dungeons & Dragons available again.

These are based upon the Original Collector's Edition released in 2013. For $9.99, you will get all three books contained in the original box set plus the Reference Sheets booklet.

I'll admit something here: I've never played OD&D. I came into the hobby with 3.5, and my experience with older versions of the game have been rather limited until very recently.

However, I've always wanted to give the version presented in those three, white booklets a try at some point. This might be the perfect opportunity to do so, allowing me to check that off my gaming bucket list.

Those interested in purchasing the PDFs can find them at D&D Classics. $10 for a piece of gaming history is a pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

5e Musings - Simplified Ammo

The tracking of ammunition is very similar to the management of encumbrance in Dungeons & Dragons. They're both rules that should be used do to the effect they'll have on the adventuring lifestyle. However, I can count the number of groups that actually enforce these rules as written on one hand and still have fingers left over.

The most common reason for this is it tends to bog down the actual gameplay with a particularly boring level of bookkeeping, especially in regards to encumbrance.

This inspires people such as myself to attempt to create alternate ways to implement these rules that do away with the negative aspects while maintaining the interesting elements.

Today, I'm going to present a house rule for ammo tracking that's inspired by the Ammo tag from Dungeon World.

Instead of tracking individual pieces of ammunition, players will purchase a specific bundle based upon the weapon being used. Bows use a quiver of arrows, crossbows use a case of bolts, and a sling uses a pouch of bullets. The price of these bundles match the prices for the ammunition listed in the Player's Handbook (pg. 150).

Each bundle has a numeric rating of 3, abstractly representing the amount of ammunition the character has on hand at the time. As long as the bundle has a rating above 0, the character is considered to have ammunition for the appropriate weapon.

Every time the owner of the bundle rolls a natural 1 on an attack roll with the appropriate weapon, she will lower the bundle's rating down by 1. When this rating hits 0, the character has run out of ammunition and must purchase a new bundle.

I believe this rule does a good job at keeping the actual tracking process incredibly simple. All you need to do to see if you have ammo left is look at the rating of your bundle. Furthermore, you only decrease that rating on a critical failure instead of every attack roll means you will not have to worry about it too much during the actual session.

However, there is still an annoying wrinkle that I have yet to iron out: magical ammunition. There's a part of me that wants to air on the side of caution and just keep track of it as normal due to most characters rarely having a large amount of it at a time, but another part of me wants to keep things uniform. Maybe one could have "magical bundles" with a much lower rating to represent the rarity. I'll come back to this when I find a satisfying answer to this situation.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

WoTC Delivers a (Late) Christmas Gift - A New SRD for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

Wizards of the Coast finally did it.

They finally released a System Reference Document (SRD) for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons under the OGL (version 1.0a).

This is a very positive development in my book. I've been begging WoTC to release something like this since Day One. I wish they would have come out with this sooner, but that's really just me picking some nits out of the situation.

I've been flipping through it over the past few minutes, and I'm happy to see so much content presented within it. I'll admit, part of me worried the Basic Rules would be turned into the SRD, but I'm glad that's not the case.

Anyway, feel free to click the link above to check out the PDF of the new SRD.