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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG


Ultima Forever Returns to the Paragon Path

by Ken Newquist / September 6, 2012

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.

Galaxy of Intrigue

by Ken Newquist / September 5, 2012

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.

Game Day: Changing Times

by Ken Newquist / September 2, 2012

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.


by Ken Newquist / August 29, 2012

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.

RPG Lessons from Cloverfield

by Ken Newquist / August 27, 2012

 CloverfieldI've played in a few RPG sessions, mostly one-shots, involving giant rampaging monsters. They've been disappointing because they focus on killing the monster, which reduces this huge lumbering horror to litte more than a 40-story sack of hit points.

At the opposite extreme are monsters who can't be defeated (and I'll admit to unleashing one of these in my campaign; a CR 35 horror that destroyed the city of Stoneheim in the World of Greyhawk). Those can be equally disappointing for players because characters (especially high level ones) think they can defeat anything.

Then again, maybe that's missing the point.

Fantasy Flight Games Announces Star Wars RPG, Launches Beta

by Ken Newquist / August 23, 2012

 Edge of the EmpireA year after announcing they secured the licence, Fantasy Flight Games released details on their upcoming Star Wars Role-Playing Game and launched a beta test.

There's not much in the way of details about how the game is played. Based on the beta FAQ, it apparently uses custom dice like Warhammer Fantasty; the beta book apparently includes stickers you can put on your own polyhedral dice to emulate the final dice.

Necessary Evil: Explorer's Edition

by Ken Newquist / August 22, 2012

 Explorer's EditionAliens. We always knew they were out there, ready to invade our planet, enslave the population and strip mine its resources. But we also knew that if they should try it, Earth’s greatest superheroes would rise up and save us.

We were wrong.

When the V’Sori came they slaughtered our super-powered defenders just as easily as they did our armies. Now our cities are conquered, our people are terrorized, and the job of saving the world has fallen to the most unlikely of people: Earth’s super villains.