My "Lunchtime After Ragnarok" campaign has resumed after a too-long hiatus. We had to hit pause for a variety of reasons ranging from too-busy work schedules to the birth of a baby, but as summer wound down we down we finally got back to the table. As before we're playing over lunch in Kenneth Hite's The Day After Ragnarok campaign setting using the Savage Worlds rules. We usually get in 1-2 games a week, each lasting 45-60 minutes.
One of the good things about Dungeons & Dragons next-generation inspired publishing hiatus is that it gives other games a chance to shine. While I doubt gamers are suddenly diverting all of their D&D 4th Edition buying power toward other games, I do hope (and anecdotally this seems to be the case) that it gives folks a chance to try something new.
One of those new thing's that's generated a fair amount of buzz has been Margaret Weis Production's Marvel Heroic Role-Playing, which is a Cortex-infused take on the superhero genere. I bought the core rulebook early in the summer and paged through it. Based on that initial glance, I liked what I saw, particularly with how it handled the superhero tropes of particularly solo vs. duo vs. team match-ups, but I give it a more through read-through.
The Unknown Regions is the final sourcebook for Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars: Saga Edition Role-Playing Game. The book serves as a placeholder for all the books left unpublished, and promises to carry players to the unexplored corners of the Star Wars galaxy. It does this by venturing into The Unknown Regions to explore what fans know -- the Chiss, the Rakata and the Sorcerers of Rhand -- and plenty that they don't.
The Unknown Regions details eight worlds created just for the book, introduces a planet generator that game masters can use to make their own, and debuts creature generation rules to populate them. Since Scouts are essential to exploring these brave new worlds, they get a variety of feats and talents, and because no final frontier should be without its dangerous challenges, the book re-envisions "Hazards" as Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition-style threats that require a combination of brawn and skill to defeat. The end result is a tool kit that gives players everything they need to continue their adventures beyond the last book in the Star Wars Saga Editions line.
I backed the Numenera Kickstarter today after I had a moment of panic over breakfast that I'd missed the deadline. The kickstarter for Monte Cook's far-future science fantasy role-playing game has four days left to go, and has hit the amazing total of $338,450.
That's just ... huge. The kickstarter has broken all of Monte's stretch goals and yielded an impressive line up of game materials. You can read about them on his web site. Of course, the question now becomes ... can he deliver? Given his track record with Dungeons & Dragons, Arcana Unearthed, and Malhavoc Press in general, I'm confident he will. Or at least, I'm confident in the print materials. I'm not so sure about the character creator; that strikes me as being more complicated than he might originally have anticipated (just look at how long for D&D to get a worthwhile character creator).
In the real world, our gaming group's seen numerous weddings (and will see yet another this fall), but in the game world our heroes never got hitched. Until tonight.
Ultima IV is one of my favorite computer games. Released in 1985, it was the first computer RPG that I truly lost myself in, spending hour upon hour chronicling its expansive world. The setup of the game -- that you're an every day person drawn into the world of Britannia, and set on series of virtuous quests -- remains unique to this day, but what really got me was the multi-character parties. At a time when I was in love with Dungeons & Dragons, Ultima IV let me assemble a party of warriors, wizards, rogues, and tinkers and then use them to explore dungeons, towns, and ultimately the Abyss.
And now it's returning. Not the Ultima I knew -- I doubt many would want to play a game with its cutting edge 1985 graphics -- but a new game inspired Ultima IV's DNA called Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar. CNN has an article explaining the new game, which is based on a free-to-play model for PCs and iPad.
Skill challenges were the best thing to emerge from our Dungeons Dragons 4th Edition mini-campaign, and when we started playing Star Wars: Saga Edition, we pieced together our own version of the rules. We based them on 4E's examples, the skill DCs established in Scum and Villainy, and personal experience. The end result created some of the most memorable moments in our campaign, including the heroes' disastrous attempt to escape a proto-star nebula.
Galaxy of Intrigue formalizes these ad hoc rules by creating a Skill Challenge system for Saga Edition that improves the 4E iteration in every way. The source book introduces new feat and talent options for skillful characters, nine new species (including the Bith, Defel and Neimodian), an entire world dedicated to intrigue, eight mini-adventures, and the "The Perfect Storm" campaign.
One of the great challenges in running a campaign in your 30s and 40s finding the time to game. Our group's been lucky in this regard as we've been able to pick schedules that worked for most of the group, and still let us game on a weekly basis.
For most of our 16 years as a group we've followed a weekly schedule -- first Mondays, then Fridays -- that was role-playing game heavy. Originally we played all Dungeons & Dragons, all the time, but as our appreciation for board games grew we split the schedule to one board game session for every three RPG sessions. Or something like that. We found it was hard to stick to that schedule because people's time got crazy, and suddenly we were sacrificing board games in the name of advancing the campaign.
As we enter our late 30s and early 40s, we've found the schedule must change again. Weekly RPG sessions are no longer possible given folks work and home schedules, so we've switched to biweekly games. The plan is to alternate RPGs and board games on a weekly basis.
Tumblr is one of those sites I find myself stumbling across time and again, but never lingering on. I suppose that's by design; it's meant to be a platform for quick hit updates, somewhere between the microbursts of Twitter and the full-on blogging of WordPress.
Pandemic is Z-Man Games' globe-spanning game of viral infection in which 2-4 players travel from city to city trying to prevent local outbreaks from turning into full-blown pandemics.
The game is played on a map of the Earth, with major cities connected by highways and flight paths. At the start of the game, color-coded cards keyed to the cities are drawn from the Infection Deck, indicating which metropolises have seen virus outbreaks. There are four viruses in all; the goal of the game is to cure the viruses before the planet succumbs to rampant disease.