Tag Archives: Tabletop Gaming

MTAC 2015: ‘Shadow of the Demon Lord’ Panel with Creator Robert J. Schwalb

The Middle Tennessee Anime Convention is in full swing this weekend, and Outright Geekery was there covering all of the cosplayers, news, and panels from the show.

After finishing a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, Robert J. Schwalb’s table-top RPG ‘Shadow of the Demon Lord’ is  set to hit store shelves very soon. But, before you get your hands on the game itself, we’ve got you chance to learn everything you need to know about this upcoming RPG directly from the creator himself. Continue reading MTAC 2015: ‘Shadow of the Demon Lord’ Panel with Creator Robert J. Schwalb

IDW Games Bringing POWERS To Tabletop Gaming

IDW GAMES SET TO ADAPT POWERS INTO A SERIES OF TABLETOP GAMES
AWARD-WINNING COMIC SERIES COMES TO GAMING IN 2015

IDW Games is on the case! Get ready to hunt down the city’s super-powered serial killers in a new line of tabletop games based off the Powers graphic novels. Powers, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, is an Eisner Award winning super hero noir series that was recently adapted for television by PlayStation network. The Powers game line will include card, board, and dice games each focusing on different situations and characters from the series.

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IDW Games to Make ‘The Godfather’ Tabletop Games

IDW ENTERS AGREEMENT WITH
PARAMOUNT PICTURES TO PUBLISH

THE GODFATHER TABLETOP GAMES
THE FIRST RELEASE WILL BE THE GODFATHER CARD GAME DUE OUT THIS SUMMER

IDW announced it would release a line of The Godfather tabletop games ranging from quick-to-play card and dice games to big box strategic board games. Paramount Pictures’ The Godfather is widely recognized among the most revered films of all-time.

The Godfather GamesThe Godfather is more than a movie, it’s an icon,” says IDW’s Director of Business Development, Jerry Bennington. “We plan to give players as many options as possible when it comes to gaming in this rich environment. From quick dice fun to intense big box strategy this will be a line of games truly worthy of the name The Godfather.”

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IDW To Release Tabletop and Card Games Based on ‘Orphan Black’

IDW TO RELEASE ORPHAN BLACK TABLETOP GAMES
CARD AND BOARD GAME DUE OUT IN 2015
On the heels of Orphan Black #1 being announced as February’s top-selling comic, today IDW announced it would release a series of Orphan Black tabletop games. Up first will be a deductive card game scheduled to be in stores this summer. The games will feature characters from the hit show and will further enrich the tension and unpredictability fans have experienced through the first two seasons. Orphan Black returns to BBC AMERICA for a highly anticipated third season on April 18th at 9:00pm ET, with the season premiere also airing across all AMC networks channels – AMC, IFC, SundanceTV, and WE tv in the U.S. and across Bell Media’s Space, Bravo, CTV, and MTV channels in Canada.

Wizards of the Coast Releases Free Player Companion for New ‘Encounters’ Season

Wizards of the Coast is excited to kick off the start of the D&D Encounters Elemental Evil season, which comes on the heels of the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion—a free PDF download chock full of player options, new races and spells for adventurers to get ready to unearth the deception this season.Dungeons and Dragons 2014 Logo

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IDW Games Bringing ‘Fire & Axe’ Back to Game Tables

LAUDED VIKING GAME FIRE & AXE TO COME AGROUND IN MAY 2015

FIRE & AXE: A VIKING SAGA INVADES TABLETOPS WITH BREATHTAKING NEW ART, BELOVED MECHANICS, AND EXCLUSIVE PRE-ORDER BONUS MINIATURES

idw-games-logoIDW Games and Pandasaurus Games announced today that Fire & Axe will land in game stores this May. Fire & Axe pits players as Viking warriors, racing to pillage, plunder, and conquer their way across Europe in an effort to bring glory to their clans. Fire & Axe has long been out of print, and has developed a cult-like status in the marketplace, this new edition features updated art and more than 90 brand-new sculpted miniatures, including exclusive minis that will only be available by pre-ordering this title. Continue reading IDW Games Bringing ‘Fire & Axe’ Back to Game Tables

Card Game Based on ‘Chew’ Comes with Issue #1 Variant

CHEW: CASES OF THE FDA DUE TO HIT STORES IN MAY 2015
ALL PRE-ORDER COPIES OF THE GAME TO INCLUDE EXCLUSIVE CHEW #1 VARIANT COMIC

idw-games-logoToday, IDW Games announced the official release date for the first in a series of CHEW tabletop games. CHEW: Cases of the FDA will be available in May of 2015. This fast-paced, high-laughs card game features art by Rob Guillory, including a brand-new box cover, as well as text by CHEW creator and writer, John Layman. IDW Games tapped designer Kevin Wilson (Descent, X-Files, Arkham Horror) to create an appropriately over-the-top card game worthy of the CHEW name.
Continue reading Card Game Based on ‘Chew’ Comes with Issue #1 Variant

IG-88’s ’57 Chevy

We’re celebrating the release of Marvel’s Star Wars comic this week here at Outright Geekery. With the building excitement for Episode VII, there’s quite a bit to still get excited over between now and this December. This is something that I’m excited to see soon:

Back in August of last year, Fantasy Flight Games announced Wave 6 for the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game, calling it Scum and Villainy. In this wave, the players are given the opportunity to abandon the Rebel Alliance or the Empire to play purely as the criminal organizations, pirates and bounty hunters which inhabit the Star Wars Universe, in this third new faction. This faction has its own ships and upgrades, opening up new builds, styles of play and game tactics. Continue reading IG-88’s ’57 Chevy

Game World Building 101: “Hello. My name is Destrine Star’Rune, and I’m an Elven Alcoholic.”

NPCs are whomever we make them. The possibilities for the range of intelligence, humor, psychological issues, and so on are endless. Yet again and again we see characters that are stereotypes.

Swillbinge the Dwarf just downed his tenth tankard of ale. Five more and he’ll start to feel it, but he’ll be too busy mumbling in his heavy Scottish accent to care.

Thugg, the Half-Orc in the party, is right there with him though. Those nine mugs of ale were needed to wash down the entire turkey he just consumed (bones and all). Without the party’s help though he wouldn’t have the intelligence, or good graces, to pay his tab.

Klepto McBardy, the Halfling, is finding it all great sport. His songs and tales are filling the room with laughter…while his nimble fingers fill his pockets with “things he’s keeping safe”.

Only A’loof’n Pr’tenshus remains unamused. The Elven wizard barely glances up from her heavy tome as the party finds itself in a tavern fight with the highlord’s minions. With a reluctant sigh, she closes the volume and rolls initiative.

Even if I hadn’t identified the characters above by race, could you have guessed correctly based on their description? I bet you could. So why do these generic NPCs (or, worse, PCs) keep appearing?

We could start pointing fingers, at Tolkein and others, for making things this way. But, unless you’re playing in Middle Earth, who dictates the standard? It’s the DM’s world and it’s up to each of us to decide what works.

Try taking a step back and examining the mechanics of the race. Dwarves have darkvision so it makes sense that they evolved (or were created) in an area with no light. That fits the tradition of a race that lives in caves and mines. Such an environment also fits their stocky build; their low center of gravity helping them on shifting slopes.

But how are they making all this ale they are supposedly so fond of drinking? Not many barley fields a mile underground. And the Scottish accent? Well, there’s no “Scotland” at all but it sounds like it. While the DM might have to use an Earth accent just to keep things consistent for himself, why couldn’t the accent sound African or Spanish or pretty much anything but bad Gaelic?

Halflings? One of my worlds keeps the idea that halflings are socially clever and great with growing things. But, while some are farmers of the traditional sort, many others are farmers of a flower used to make narcotics. Using their agricultural skill, and a societal bent toward Evil for a change, the halflings rule a drug cartel that few want to cross. The halflings can be as clever with ways to deliver pain to their enemies; a swerve on the stereotypical Halfling creativity.

Of course, the whole point is to avoid stereotypes altogether. Not all Halflings should be good-natured Rogues or, for that matter, sadistic drug lords. In our own world we seek to eliminate racism and racial stereotypes. The same enlightened approach should be employed in the game world. But, just as there is a basis as to why certain characteristics are associated with humans on Earth, so too can we craft some basis for it on your game world.

The suggestion is to step back and look at the big picture of the world you want to create. Then focus in, designing your races’ nature in a way that fits that view without simply repeating the same old tropes.

You know who can often be the most helpful in this design process? Non-gamers.
Those who don’t play RPGs, and are not even lovers of fantasy movies and books, can have a very unbiased perspective on the whole thing. When you mention “elf”, they don’t think of Galadriel and Legolas. They think of Ernie, making cookies in a tree. Their thoughts, even if they don’t know how to apply them to a gaming situation, might just spark some creative ideas of your own.

Any way you go about it, you will benefit from a game world that feels a little bit fresh, even to longtime diehard gamers. It’s also a bit of a challenge for you as a DM, and that’s a good thing too. The end result is a more vibrant world that still adheres to any game mechanics you use but provides a setting your players are intrigued enough to explore.

“Who ordered the roast basilisk with honey served on a pine plank?”

(shrugs) That’s for you to decide. Maybe that’s a cultural delicacy for the humans in this town? The half-orc isn’t sure. He’s too busy calculating probabilities of success on the party’s next dungeon crawl. Orcs are renowned for their math skills, didn’t you know?

(co-written by R. Currence and Michael N., aka Navarre)

Game Building 101: Downtime and Level Advancement

In a campaign world, the higher level a character (PC or NPCs) is, the less he or she represents the size of the population. For example, it may not be hard to find a 3rd level Fighter in the local town, but if you find a 15th level Fighter, she’s a pretty big deal.

So why is it that in most games (including my own), PC characters rise from 1st level to 20th level in usually a few months to a year of in-game time? Even if downtime is included, it is a random “Okay, you have two months of downtime. Tell me what you want to do.”  Then the game picks up the next session, incorporating some things from the downtime but not having too much effect on the overall game.

The PC says he’s going to research a spell and make a few wands, maybe even build a small wizard’s tower. It happens and, other than a few incidences for flavor, everyone jumps right back to the plot, probably leaving the tower behind.

Part of the reason this happens is because, from a meta-gaming standpoint, the game is too often about the plot. The DM has worked in his secret lair for weeks or months to craft the game so, clearly, the PC is there to defeat the overlord Ensydious Tyrent, not grow petunias in his back yard and take care of his son, Little Jimmy.

Players usually follow the same mindset, which might be part of the reason most PCs have parents and siblings (albeit missing or recent converts to Tyrent’s cause) but rarely have children or even spouses. Who has time to care about a family when there’s a +5 Dancing Sword out there with your name on it?

So the campaign speeds along as PCs jump from one adventure arc to the next, with a smattering of downtime thrown in to add any semblance of realism. Soon enough, the world is saved, the PCs are 20th level, and one of the party even had a single birthday during all that time. While the PCs are probably far above the norm, how does one account for such incredible level advancement in such a short amount of time?

Let’s try a different approach, one that makes the story about the characters and not only the plot. What if the campaign takes, say, fifty years of game time? I think it makes much more sense for a 1st level character who’s 20 years old to be 70 when he finally hits 20th level, not 21 years old.

It should be noted, of course, that fifty years is a long time to a human but “last Tuesday” to an elf. So one has to consider why all elves aren’t in the upper-teen levels as compared to humans.

Maybe the answer is as simple as, while the elf can have a lot of adventures over the course of her life, it isn’t simply the actions that matter. Wisdom is a reflection on our experiences, not the experiences themselves. Elves take longer to reflect and learn from their experiences because their perspective of time is so much different than that of a human.

Over the course of the PC’s fifty years, they will have varying periods of downtime. I will also suggest up front that the term “downtime” should be renamed. The name suggests it’s the less important time used for less important things, ie “not the adventuring job”. But just because a soldier or police officer is on leave doesn’t mean what happens in his daily life isn’t just as important to the entire scope of his life. So let’s call these time periods “intervals”.

The first adventure arc might encompass, for example, levels 1-2. Then the characters might have an interval of 3-5 years where they are doing other things. Whether they are running businesses, working their 9-5, starting a family, or whatever, these things matter.

Likewise, the rest of the world is moving on as well. When the adventuring party reconvenes (for whatever plausible reason) they reencounter the bartender at that first tavern where they all met (and had a brawl because that’s what taverns are for). The barkeep, Bart Ender, having seen years ago that tavern work is dangerous, quit bar tending. Bart went to trade school and got his private security license (with a minor in business management). Five years later Bart is the owner of “Behind Bars”, a security firm that maintains safety in taverns across the region; mostly by keeping an eye on any character found sitting at the shadowed table in the corner.

Maybe a PC has met a fine woman and they now have a three year old son. But the spouse’s father recently passed away, the mother-in-law has moved in, and she is quick to argue that no self-respecting father would go hunt renegade orcs and leave their wife and child at home.

Often, in comics or movies as well as games, these sort of things aren’t included. Part of the reason is that it is, actually, a challenge for Peter Parker to justify his adventuring ways when he has a wife (or if he had a child). But that is exactly the sort of thing that Parker has always done, even where it concerned his Aunt May. And, not only did he still put on the tights, but he is a more layered and interesting character for it.

During the intervals, the DM could have a session or two to cover events and RP that occur during the interval. The PCs are likely split up during this time so it may require shorter individual sessions. But the goal of the game isn’t to get to the end as much as enjoying the entire thing from top to bottom.

Work with the player to help them develop their life; the life they would try to live if they didn’t suffer the call to action that all heroes must suffer. If the PC’s time is spent researching then give them extra ranks in that Knowledge. If they decide to help the city watch patrol for those orcs then you likely don’t want to give them levels, as that would unbalance the group, but they certainly earn ranks in Spot, Listen, and Survival.

Each PC gains some number of Skill points, distributed based on their activities. They also gain RP connections to other NPCs that might prove useful during the adventure arcs. A good DM can easily incorporate the interval activities to the adventures themselves.

Then, after a couple weeks of real time as the players and DM work on the intervals, the PCs will be able to have a more realistic feel to the passage of time when the party gathers once again as Ensydious Tyrent’s forces are spotted in the western marshes. Peace has been a pleasant reprieve for the party but destiny calls.

It should be noted that the DM might have to take a different perspective on how their campaign is organized. A game with impending doom just around the corner doesn’t leave time for many breaks from the action. But, again, I assert that doesn’t have to mean 20 levels of non-stop adventure.

For all the things Frodo Baggins did during his trip from the Shire to Mordor, the time involved still wasn’t enough to account for 20 levels of advancement. If you look at Frodo from when he started to when he reached Mt. Doom, that arc might have been only five levels or so.
So think of these arcs as mini-campaigns that, together, comprise the breadth of the PC’s life. If the focus is on the characters living in a vibrant world, they will find no end of plots (which may even ultimately all connect together).

This cycle of adventure/interval repeats over the lives of the characters. Fifteen years after that first meeting at the tavern, the party now owns their own town and land. But those fifteen years have been enough time for Bazterd Tyrent, son of Ensydious, to grow up and seek vengeance against the party for killing his father years ago.

Decades later, the party (now Lords, Arch-Mages, and all-around heroes) meets in the flying crystal castle of their Fighter’s cloud kingdom. Maybe they will enjoy stopping by the Auld Lang Syne (formerly Bart’s Tavern) for one last drink and reflection on their fifty years together.

Someday, the elves and dwarves in the party will sadly move on, after the funeral of their less-long-lived comrades, still holding much adventure and intervals to come. But that is another story.

Extra: It should be noted that the Pathfinder SRD has information on the use of downtime.

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/other-rules/downtime

The rules seem rather too convoluted to provide the sort of story flow I am suggesting. But the concepts might be useful to a DM in handling the mechanics of events during the intervals.

(co-written by R. Currence and Michael N., aka Navarre)