Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dragon Warriors

I have just bought the new Dragon Warriors edition and I was surprised to find that it is actually quite an attractive book. Usually Mongoose books might be charitably described as "fugly".

Then having a look at the credits I see this is actually a product of James Wallis's new publishing company that is being printed and distributed via Mongoose. That would explain it then.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

D&D 4e: Surrender or Die!

An unusual situation arose in a game last week. We discovered that the Intimidate skill allows you to make an Intimidate roll to force Bloodied opponents to surrender. This significantly shortened fights and actually made the game more interesting that just stomping over piles of corpses.

I'm not sure if it is meant to be so powerful but I do think it works better than the old Red Box morale rules where the GM had to dice to see if the monsters wanted out. This way the morale collapse of the monsters is actually player initiated unless the GM things the encounter is hopeless for the monsters.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Paizo Pathfinder Beta

I picked up the Pathfinder playtest at GenCon UK and I have found it quite intriguing. I actually quite liked D&D 3e and while I respect the 4e design a lot, the baby went out with the bathwater for a lot of play styles.

Having seen a lot of the new ideas in 4e though it is quite hard to go back to 3e and I hope that Pathfinder is going to square the circle here by having a more flexible, less combat-orientated and prescriptive games system while fixing flaws. What kind of things do I mean? Well the rest tendency, dead levels and avoiding classes with too many one shot powers.

I'm reading through at the moment but it is difficult because so much of it familiar I keep tending to skip read.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Albion's Ransom

Finally read through Albion's Ransom and was disappointed to find that a decent police procedural runs out of steam and has no real conclusion. It almost says "Find out what happens in Part Two!".

It is also too full of the author giving us personal details, I don't care whether he's a pagan or not. I don't need to know credentials to know that the detail of the pagan rituals and ornaments is far too trainspottery and the history is through the lens of fantasy.

The scenario is strongest when dealing with the trivia of a missing person investigation and actually I want to play that part of the game. Everything else is just tired and totally within the comfort zone of any White Wolf scenario published in the last decade.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bliss: Ignition Stage

Finishing Solipsists has made me want to read all the other indie games I have piled up in the unread section. The first one to grab my attention is Bliss Stage. It's a pretty unusual premise, an alien invasion sends all adults to sleep and then their robot servants invade the earth through dreams and begin a warm of extermination.

PCs are a ragtag group of children struggling to survive the apocalypse and strike back via stolen alien technology.

I kind of like the way the players construct the premise of the game (something we've been doing with Burning Islands) and setting up how they exist as a group and how they have managed to strike back at the invaders.

At the moment the interjections from the personas are not working for me. For example there is one interjection that the Bliss GM is there to bring about consensus not to rule things in and out of bounds. It's a good point but it is one worth making explictly.

Hunter: The Vigil Quickstart Rules

I'm having a look at the Quickstart rules that were being given out round about free RPG day. I was thinking of buying a copy but I am now starting to think again as I can't help but think that the investigation stuff is handled a lot better in the Gumshoe system games.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Stunning Eldritch Tales

Currently reading this pulp inspired collection of adventures by Robin Laws and loving it. I am disappointed that he has managed to write the "right" Lost scenario that I have been struggling to do for a while.

In fact probably the only problem so far is that all the scenarios are pastiches. Trail of Cthulhu should also get some straight ahead horror scenarios.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Solipsists

I am currently reading and really loving the new indie gem Solipsist. It is reminding me of everything I loved about Mage First Edition but with fancy new narrativist rule systems.

This game really seems to capture the essence of what was great about early Mage and it is kind of inspiring a Carnel article.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dara Happa Stirs

Mongoose put out paperback book shocker! Now that's what I call proof of a faltering economy. This book so far brings a welcome look at the lands of the Yelm worshippers and a great opening to the scenario/campaign that occupies the second half of the book. Dragonewts make excellent patrons. However I still feel that the RuneQuest rules and the Second Age don't really mix.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

4e Minions

One of the interesting features of the new D&D rules is the addition of the goon-like Minion monster class. However one thing that was bugging me was that there are no rules in the DMG for converting a standard monster to a minion. However it seems that it's pretty easy, Minions don't have optional feats and do one point of damage instead of rolling dice.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Keep of Shadowfell

Billed as the D&D 4e starter pack this module comes in a card folder and doesn't skim on the components. There is a full colour map or two, the quickstart PCs booklet and the scenario and quickstart rules in a separate colour magazine style booklet. The only disappointment is that the covers of the scenario booklet are ordinary paper rather than heavier weight paper. Rips and tears in the cover seem inevitable.

The PC's booklet has four archetypal characters in a pregen fashion which is a little less flexible than I had imagined. The rules are different again from Star Wars Saga and definitely make the game a lot less flexible in genre than 3/3.5e was. This is tricky because Star Wars has a defined genre convention whereas D&D has not really done that previously. Well of course it's had its inherent narrative but this edition seems to place the game with both feet in the action adventure genre.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Anauroch: Background that tells a story

I have just come across a delightful quote from this Forgotten Realms scenario.

After years of being lost, the Book of the Black came into the possession of the Dark Diviners of Windsong Tower, who retrieved it from the Fane of Shadows in 684DR.

Normally Capitalised Nouns in Fantasy Prose drives me nuts but these names are so well chosen I actually think they are rather evocative. After all, when reading this sentence do we have a vision of Windsong Tower? Is a place of airy galleries? Are we thinking chains and pits? Are we thinking that maybe the Dark Diviners wear black robes? It is great when a mere sentence can set off a whole chain of thoughts.