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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Firing for effect!

Wednesday, 29. December 2010

Struck! (Flickr / ThisParticularGreg)

All to often in martial training one is given a generalized target to work with such as the head, torso, outer leg, etc.  While at a basic level this approach acceptable in order to further our training we need to proceed further.  Rather then generalizing, we need to be thinking head for instance.. we need to be thinking nose, left orbital, left temple.. base of jaw.  The study goes further than that however.. there are a lot of additional components. Intended effect and reaction, type of strike, angle of  attack and knowing what surrounds your target is equally important.

Specific targets are aimed at within the body for specific effect.¬† I’m not talking about the obvious such as simply poking someone in the eye.¬† What happens when the hips are displaced backwards from a low punch, or then the a leg is driven outward from a strike?¬† Where does the body move and what openings does it produce?¬† Study of body movement in such cases are important because it guides what your follow up strikes are going to be.. and equally¬†important where they are not going to be based on your expected reaction.
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Game Breakups

Monday, 27. December 2010

NZ Quake - Martin Luff

I’ve read an awful lot of listings lately with various game breakups and for whatever reason, I can’t relate to too many of them. Typically I’ll bail early if I’m not too happy with how something is working out. This is after all, supposed to be entertainment in some form or another. I think I seem to be a major culprit lately in that I have a tendency to get sidetracked by about 600 different things and then have a problem getting back on track to game.

In this case, it’s Christmas gifts, hobbies (a little knifemaking and leatherwork) working on side projects that relate to this blog, finalizing how I’d like to handle a podcast here as well as how to fit it into my schedule, and hopefully another project that I am about to launch here sometime in the new year. Of course, there is plenty of cleaning up from all of that mess to eat up my time as well.. when work isn’t keeping me busy with travels.

Its either that or if its not me.. then everyone just gets busy with real life and has the same problem. Summer and winter seem to be the real major contributors to this. There are either bunches of vacations, activities to make use of the good weather or family is in town in the case of the summer. Winter however is similarly nefarious. Lots of winter plans, hunting seasons, vacations and family and of course planning for the holidays proper all take their toll.

I suppose this somewhat leans into hoping and trying to get around and game more for the new year. Fortunately, entertaining aside (which is of course required) it’s a relatively cheap hobby.

What sidetracks you from games?

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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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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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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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Thematic Music – The Warriors

Thursday, 16. December 2010

The Warriors
The 13th Warrior
Jerry Goldsmith

Also known of course, as “Eaters of the dead.” Too bad they thought such a movie title would be too scary/repulsive and not sell.

Io there do I see my father
Io there do I see my mother and my sisters and my brothers
Io there do I see the line of my people back to the beginning
Io, they do call to me, they bid me take my place amung them
In the halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live.. forever

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MMO & RPG Crossover

Wednesday, 15. December 2010

WoW - Lich King

There are some interesting questions posed at Beyond the Black Gate¬†regarding MMO and RPG crossover.¬†¬†If you’re too lazy to go look, the specifics are regarding setting customization, rules customization, and character development driving the game.¬† The assertion is that MMO’s will get there eventually, simply because there is so much money involved. World of Warcraft is a good one to pick from since it’s currently the giant, however it doesn’t have all the distinguishing features of some of the other MMO’s.

Now admittedly some of these have already happened efficiently in games.¬† Neverwinter nights with it’s GM’ing tools did a pretty good job with rules and setting customization, within a limited frame of what the tool set could do.¬† NWN 2 improved on this in some ways and fell away in others, namely the ease of using the GM tool when it was released.¬† Rules tweaking.. not so much so.¬† Some of the physics and other mechanics of the game could be programmed however in Second Life from my understanding.

As far as MMO’s, City of Heroes/Villains has a pretty good generator for making custom adventures.¬† The tool offers a lot of flexibility in setting up an adventure from dialog to various combat scenarios as well as, however it doesn’t really allow for the setting “mood” changes that¬†a GM can impart.¬† The genre is that of an action superhero game and its hard to shift that dynamic to anything else.¬† Moreso, the game has the standard MMO drivers to continue playing, which I will address below.

For rules customization there has been something that you could tweak spur of the moment.. but to instantly adopt something, you’d really have to look at some of the more “classless” games, such as EVE.¬†¬†¬† True, it’s impossible to implement anything at more than a¬†newb level, but that’s possible to change.¬† Final fantasy was able¬†to implement class games, but as mentioned it requires a lot of outside input to make it happen.¬†

Character development driving the game?¬† I think it’ll never happen. Never ever.¬† At least not in the sense of character development¬†being “further developing the character in terms elements unrelated to pure¬†advancement of power or other advantages.”¬† Play in MMO’s revolves around¬†3 concepts:¬† entertainment, social circles,¬†and¬†character advancement.¬† If you remove the MMO element?¬† Well, then you can put some character development in, but from what I’ve seen otherwise it is mutually exclusive.

I think at best that this is something that can be filled partway, but the real crossover of why people enjoy role playing games.. the same reasons that Al mentioned aren’t going to be fulfilled anytime soon.¬† I’m going to leverage that character development as one of the main tabletop advantages, and something that it will keep the crown for a long time.

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Art Styles in RPG’s

Tuesday, 14. December 2010

Art of HG Vol1 (DP9, S. Jackson Games)

As we look at any reference book for games, you see a continuous evolution of the rules, for better or for worse.  Along with this in most cases, is an evolution of art styles between one edition or another.   If you look further from one game to another, the styles are wildly divergent from intense black and whites, to anime, to themes that fight right into movies.  Does the art style of a particular game influence your style of play?

I think it definitely influences how consistently the game world is viewed from player to player.¬† Along with that, it¬†sets a tone for the style of play within the game world itself.¬† This isn’t to say that it can’t be deviated from, but the set idea of the game comes from its artwork.¬† If it’s say, dark and gritty then it’s hard to get the mind out of the idea that the setting is in fact the same, even if it is in reality less serious.¬† Likewise if the art has a lighter feeling, it takes a little work to get into a darker mood.¬† White wolf and Heavy gear would probably be my 2 examples there, anime art always has a little bit of a cartoonish feel to me.¬†

Likewise, we¬†can also look at art between editions.¬† D&D is the most obvious¬† in my case, so I’ll use that as an example.¬† It spans from the classical art in first and second edition, moving into a very Tolkien feeling in 3rd and 3.5, finally to a somewhat cartoon world of warcraft feeling in 4 and essentials.¬† I think this ties more into what the public acceptability of popular is.. but generally invokes the feeling of an epic fantasy from all of them.¬† The styling just dictates the flavor of epic fantasy.¬† I think the flavor in this case changes more from one setting to another.. looking at Greyhawk or Darksun or Ravenloft. It seems to me that affects my perception of the play style considerably more.

Does anyone else find there is something of an expectation based on the art styling?

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Thematic Music – Fear Factory

Saturday, 11. December 2010

Fear Factory
Donkey Kong Country

An amazing track, it’s surprising how much good sound came out of the old SNES games. Good ambiance, fits well into games.

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