System Selection: Heavy Gear

Thursday, 30. December 2010

Heavy Gear, 2E

Moving along to one of my more perennial favorites, Heavy Gear. It’s always good to be able to stomp around in mid sized gasoline powered mechs in the desert. The setting is pretty harsh, and there are a lot of ways to die if you take it as a role playing game rather than a pure tactical simulation. The system has a inherent simplicity within it, so it makes picking it up or running a game very easy. You can quickly focus on game play and the storyline elements, or run complicated tactical scenarios because of this without an entire manual of character sheets. It likewise plays very quickly, so everyone can get in on the action.

General Setting: Terra Nova, a desert planet in the future a couple jumps away from Earth. Left abandoned during hard times the colony survived and flourished. When Earth returned to reassert its control, the people of Terra Nova fought off the invasion using gears, smaller gasoline powered mechs. There is plenty of other vehicles, but the gears are what makes the system what it is.
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Errant Beta Live

Monday, 20. December 2010

Errant cover

Greg Christopher creator of Synapse has decided to toss his hat into the D&D OSR ring on the off chance you haven’t been following.¬† The entrant in this particular case is Errant.¬† The systems are quite different¬†however they¬†have a couple of the same flavor elements that marry them in a similar fashion.¬† Both are of course, free for the plundering however any feedback you can provide is quite appreciated.

The main immediate similarities are that of a simple gaming style, familiar statistics and a couple of old school classes.¬† Of course, claims of old school D&D being simple is somewhat of a nefarious misdirection.. old school was a byzantine labyrinth of rules and regulations.¬† Errant really is simple however, staying true to it’s predecessor Synapse.¬† The game retains¬†the original¬†6 statistics of STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS and CHA.¬†¬†Actions that aren’t tied to anything specifically¬†are resolved through a simple stat check.

Major differing points are relatively in depth character creation for an OSR game (Gifts and some character customization in skills) and taking another leap for the time frame.. actual character motivations other than raiding dungeons for loot and fame.  Spell casters in this set are also very specialized and themed versus the generic wizard or mage.  Notably absent however is the cleric or priestly class, with the Paladin filling the holy mans void.

The books artwork is rather light versus some of the major producers, but filled with good quality pieces that have been donated.  The location of each piece is rather well themed and fits in well.  The books character creation and rules flow rather well and is condensed into a neat 80 pages.

Rather than making this review overly long, I will suggest taking a look at it if you’re interested.. (and even if you aren’t~)

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System Selection: Dungeons and Dragons

Thursday, 9. December 2010

The Traditional Red Box

Moving along in our commonly available systems, we move into one of my favorite old school games; Dungeons and Dragons. Technically speaking, I could probably make this a 5 part post considering all of the versions of it out there and maybe even more if I consider revisions. In the spirit of going with what is commonly available at the stores however this really needs to only tie into 2 editions… 4th edition and Essentials. Bashing the game for its inadequacies is as old as time itself and yet it still manages to hang in there with the best name recognition out there.

Game System: 4th Edition & Essentials. Technically they both use the same system although essentials is a bit of a step back in simplicity and game nostalgia with the available classes. It’s also a good opportunity to correct all the errata that 4th generated. Love it or hate it, I think it plays very similarly to world of warcraft with its abilities and style.

General Setting: Vanilla fantasy with a modern theme, although a tremendous number of well defined settings are available: Darksun, Forgotton Realms, Al-quadim, Ravenloft to name a few. The settings a quite different from each other and you should be able to find a setting style you like with a little bit of looking. If you’re into custom worlds, that is essentially fully supported through templating.

Detail Focus: Combat, Adventure and Exploration. The original game themed somewhat in the reverse order, 4th and Essentials are very much a fighting game at heart. The system is designed to be used with miniatures and is a miniature tactical combat simulator. Abilities and classes are well defined as is their role within the group. D&D is very well setup to be a team game, with everyone covering each others weaknesses and playing to their strengths.

System Difficulty: Moderately difficult (6 of 10.) Dungeons and Dragons is a game of rules and abilities… and there are a lot of them to learn. Even at a basic tactical level it is very helpful to have someone showing you the ropes until you figure out what you’re doing. This is particularly important since you’re supposed to be working as a team.

Kid Suitability: Moderate to Well. Depends on their age…how well they are able to grok what they are supposed to be doing. The team aspects and elements work well for kids in my opinion, as roles are pretty clearly spelled out. The setting is not particularly horrific or flowery and plays well as it’s supposed to… epic fantasy.

Cost: $20 to get started for essentials. More for 4th Edition which you’ll probably be picking up eventually.

Other Notes: I haven’t played a whole ton of 4th Edition as I’m more of a 3rd edition guy. Wizards of the Coast owns this, so it’ll be interesting to see what direction they take the game as far as online support and how long the current edition sticks around. Most schisms in this game focus around the various editions.¬†Love it or hate it, the game pays to be somewhat familiar with as it’s been around forever and is widely played in one form or another.

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System Selection: White Wolf

Thursday, 2. December 2010

It’s nice to be able to talk about all sorts of obscure as well as ancient systems and their tweaks, but what if you want to get a game and play something right now?¬† Well, you are limited to what you can get off the shelf or at your local hobby shop.¬† With dwindling numbers of hobby stores, if you’re really lucky (like myself) you might only be able to get whats available at your local book store.¬† Fortunately however,¬† they are carrying more and more.¬† So, over the next while I’ll be looking at commonly available games, as well as their flaws and perks.¬† You might think I’d start with Dungeons and Dragons in this case, but actually I’m going to start with White Wolf, simply because I think it gives character details the emphasis that are required to get players somewhat excited about them from the get go.¬†

Game System:¬† White Wolf – Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Changeling, Wraith.¬† I am gloming these all together because they’re all World of Darkness settings, even though they have vastly different focuses.¬† The various groups tend to hate each other as well so it can make for some pretty interesting role playing if you have a mixed group.

General Setting:¬†Wold of Darkness – Alternative contemporary, but can also be alternative historical given the number of resources available.¬† This makes setting up games rather simple as you can simply look around your area and “White wolf-ify it” as in make it dark and sinister.

Detail Focus:  Mystery, Intrigue, Drama, Character relations are all major driving factors in white wolf games.  These games are very heavily based on actually role playing and the character generation and notes reflect it (as does the character sheet!)  There is a lot of complicated interpersonal relations that get played out that drive the plot.  Combat although important is a small portion in comparison.  The game certainly can be a combat game, but the system is rather abstract compared to others out there.

System Difficulty: Simple (3-4 out of 10) with a major Caveat.¬† The system in WoD is very simple to learn the mechanics of and you can be up and running in a day pretty confidently.¬† Caveat – Tons of customs and behaviors need to be learned to play your character effectively.¬† You’ll either be riding the learning curve with a storyteller or more hopefully have a group and storyteller that will be along with you to help you “ride the lightning,.”

Kid Suitability:¬† Rather Low.¬† The setting is very dark and sinister, and if you aren’t getting the life sucked out of you, ripped apart, tortured, turned into a ghoul etc (or doing the same to others) you are doing something wrong.¬†¬†Not something I¬†would teach to kids although teens are going to get into it for¬† those very factors.¬†

Cost: 35$ or less if you find it used gets you started on a particular journey.

Other Notes:¬† While I don’t play this a whole lot, I love the concept and settings as well as the simplicity and role play focus.¬† I am back in second edition with these games however, and I understand there have been at least 2 more revisions since then.¬† Not a huge problem, but apparently a lot of what was considered canon within the¬†settings¬†have been changed which makes for some interesting schisms.

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