Making Sandboxing Relevant

Friday, 21. January 2011

We can all play in here right? (Flickr, Katmere)

Christian makes a very good point over at Destination unknown, regarding sandbox play.  A truly unattached style of sandbox play can be very distant feeling and is difficult to make work well unless your players are very motivated to get out and do their thing. (This varies a lot with me, sometimes it does and doesn’t work well.)  As gaming is hopefully about entertainment, in order to keep people interesting your game play styles need to vary.  I typically use a semi sandbox style when playing and it usually has pretty good results.
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Equipment costs and Advancement

Thursday, 6. January 2011

Yes, this stuff is very expensive for good reason! (Flickr / Laenulfean)

Looking through some posts today, Red has an interesting one on the price of plate mail and why it may or may not be expensive.  The point of interest seems to be the change in prices from Basic through 3e, and then a huge drop coming into 4e.  I will argue in this case that it’s not the time, expense and rarity of the material that determines cost in this case, but rather how much player advancement is affected by it.. and how much it is factored into the characters base level of effectiveness.
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Carol of the Bells – TSO

Saturday, 25. December 2010


Carol of the Bells
Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Merry Christmas to everyone!

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M.B. Movie Trailer

Friday, 17. December 2010

I’m sure while everyone was at least somewhat amused at the old Mario Brothers movie as kids, acid reflux comes with remembering those movies. This is seriously what really needs to have happened. Hat tip to Dueling Analogs on this one.

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WotC Character Builder: Missed opportunity?

Thursday, 4. November 2010

Critical Hits has an interesting article up on the new updates to the D&D WotC character builder. Allow me to say that before I begin that I’m not even really a 4th edition player. I still like third, although I do own the books for 4e.. the changes really don’t interest me. (3rd has its own problems, but that’s another article.) Some of these changes really strike me as anti business. I won’t recap the entire argument but just add a few of my thoughts here. There is a lot of meat in the comments (probably more than the original article), so make sure to take a look at them as well.

I’m well aware of what Wizards is trying to do here.. that is create a secondary recurring revenue to their main income stream of selling books and games. It’s really a solid strategy for any business, particularly if your secondary brings a lot of value. Value of course, is the issue. Because of that, I believe that the implementation of it is piss poor and a turnoff to owning the game itself. Now, they have done some good things, encounters is a good simple way of spreading game play but it could be magnified with some proper effort.
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Every JRPG Ever

Tuesday, 2. November 2010

Every JRPG Ever Good stuff of a flow chart! And not that far from the truth either. Located by Geek with Curves

Not to say that we’re anywhere near immune to that in the states however. We have our own repetition..
Revisions every 4-5 years from producers
Stacking overcomplicated combats
Microsoft trends towards ridiculous looking outfits
Exponential decrease in sequel quality
Chasing pop culture trends

Any others that I’m missing?

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Nocturnal

Thursday, 14. October 2010

Since last week we discussed timekeeping throughout the daytime by use of the sun, it would only figure that this time we move towards the evening.  The ring dials appropriate counterpart is known as the Nocturnal and works on quite a bit of a different principal.  Since there is no sun to work off of to measure rotation and the moon is highly variable, we have to use the stars. The only downside to this if you’re not entirely familiar with your constellations, you’ll need to figure them out (or at least 3 of them.) to properly use the device.

The Nocturnal

In this case our reference point is Polaris; the north star.  Since the other constellations rotate around this on a yearly basis for us, by using their position in the night sky we can accurately determine the time.  Polaris is sighted through the center hole and the other reference constellations.. Cassiopeia, Ursa Minor and Ursa Major are clocked around the outside of the nocturnal.  The time is indicated in the local mean time and needs to be corrected for local time.

Some of the smaller models tend to be accurate within 15 minutes, but apparently the full sized models (Which used about an 8 inch disk.) could tell time within 2-3 minutes. With accuracy like this, it is no wonder that mechanical timepieces took such a long time to catch on.  In addition, based on the position in the sky, the ships latitude can be determined as well, which is typically based on a scale off of the back of the instrument.

Of course, I would be remiss without including a similar Project to demonstrate how the device works.  Like the other timepiece this one is best made out of card stock.   This is also “slightly” more complicated, requiring a rivet with a hole in it to sight the north star. It’s also worth noting that many cities probably have too much ambient light to really make this work, so you’ll need to head out into the country or someplace thats darker to easily see the stars you need. Happy hunting!

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Justice for all?

Wednesday, 13. October 2010

It’s an interesting question to see how most storytellers implement justice for player characters. Players have a tendency of killing everything in sight that might or might not be an opponent, and then usually walking around like they own the place. When questioned about the carnage, a simple response of “We saved you all” or “They were the enemy.” tends to get them off mostly scott free, particularly if you’re in some sort of authoritarian society and are friend with those in power.

Likewise, a similiar situation exists if you’re running campaigns of forces of good versus forces of evil. Picking off the opposing side is usually the right thing to do. These are fun campaigns to play from time to time, but also can get stale relatively quick.

A more interesting problem is that of settings in semi-modern or modern setting with a good amount of forensics to determine who did what, and a government that wants things relatively calm. Do you have them argue it out in court cases, or simply on the run? They’re going to have to do a lot of work to stay ahead of authorities, particularly of they did a good job of stepping on toes.

Futuristic settings can vary wildly as well. In an outlaws type setting, nearly everyone is charged with something or another and virtually everyone friend and foe is on the run from someone. It’s a feature of the setting. In anything less than this, the players are going to have to work real hard to stay ahead of those that would seek to bring them to justice for havoc caused.

How do you handle such situations with your players?

(On a side note, I’ve been absolutely killed this week in between work and travel trying to keep up with everything.)

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Concept Ships & Sci-Fi in general

Monday, 16. August 2010

Looking around last night, I found a great collection of sci-fi ships, aircraft vessels and the like at Concept Ships.  Definetely check it out, very cool collection of art.  From what I can see a lot of it is Japanese and Anime inspired in terms of design, but the layouts for nearly all of them are excellent. The added bonus of this is that old school fantasy is already somewhat defined in the audiences head.. where as science fiction really needs some added illustration to picture everything clearly. The defineable gap of what each individual person pictures is even wider in that particular case.

The other thing I was thinking of was the very limited amount of actual Sci-Fi RPGs out there in general. Don’t get me wrong they are out there, but for the most part, the main stream market of is seemingly dominated by fantasy.

For fantasy, there is of course the various iterations of D&D, Pathfinder, Exalted, Reaper, Palladium and Tolkien now. There is Warhammer fantasy. I’ll throw World of Darkness in there as well because even though it’s a modern setting it really backtracks and has very good support through medieval times. Most stores carry at least some of these titles, where as the following seem to be very niche. You really have to ask for them.

On the Sci-Fi side, you have Warhammer 40k, Battletech (And associated mechwarrior if you like role playing), Heavy Gear (Dreampod 9 games in general for that matter.) There is also Star Trek and Star wars, both of which are cults within themselves. There is also the equally ancient pair to D&D.. Traveller. WoTC made a brief attempt into generic fantasy with Alternity but from what I can see it didn’t make it particularly far. I think it’s due to the utter genericness of it in general, without attempting to put any particular spin in Sci-Fi. It’s as if it was expected it would succeed just on the companies laurels itself.

The science fiction type systems that did seem to be prevelant in the minds have a good dose of fantasy crossed in. Rifts, GURPS and the like. Perhaps its just clever advertising on part of the sellers, or just that there is enough overlap that you can do nearly anything with them.

I suppose my question then is modern culture simply hooked on fantasy lately, or has sci-fi always been sort of in the backfield at least when it comes to gaming?

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Pondering Poison

Friday, 30. July 2010

Blackrazor has reminded me of how much I hate the old school rules of instant death for poison.  Yes, the attack damage is often more lethal than the poison particularly to lower level characters.  Still, something dosen’t quite sit right with it.  While there undoubtedly poisons out there that are lethal, even the ones we do consider “extremely lethal” often take their very sweet time to meet out the ultimate results in death.  A few examples below.

Coral Snake- Delay of several hours before the venom takes effect, but the results are potentially neur0muscular paralysis, death occurring when the lungs fail. This may get more hazardous because it is apparently no longer profitable to produce anti venom through the FDA licensing process. Awesome.

Black Widow – Cramping, Abdominal pain, Perspiration, Nausea, etc. Death is rare.

Sea Wasp - This one does kill them as quickly as possible, just to prevent it from tearing up the jellyfish. Death occurs within 4 minutes, assuming you get it badly enough. Excruciating pain, and shock/drowning occurring as well.

King Cobra - Large amounts of toxic venom injected, typically death occurs within 30-45 minutes. Lethality rate on this one is actually pretty high 33-66% depending on treatment.
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