ProFantasy Software

Wednesday, 20. April 2011

CC 3

Someone sent me a nice link to some mapping software earlier today, and I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts or experience with it.  The companies name is ProFantasy and they have an entire product line.

The flagship program is called “Campaign Cartographer 3” and seems to be about the best put together piece I’ve seen so far for the purpose. It’s available digitally and you can get the physical product as well if you prefer although it will cost you a little extra money.

Thoughts at a glance
Heavy Duty software
Entire selective suite of software
Priced for it’s capabilities (meaning expensive for more than 1)
Very good looking maps with a variety of products
Modular, with most building off the main software
campaign cartographer)

Anyone have any experience that they could comment on this?

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Established Character Destiny

Friday, 18. February 2011

(Flickr / AZAdam) - Pere Lachaise Grave

I like having somewhat detailed characters within my games.    At least, starting with a little bit of details.  Background, family, connections, training and schooling, so on and so forth.  It doesn’t have to be incredibly long, but a couple of paragraphs works wonders in establishing some connection between the character and the player as well as making the involved.

Modern characters though, can take some serious time to put together, particular if you are thinking of doing anything over the equivalent of a level 1 character.  There is perks, feats, disadvantages and flaws and an entire other number of considerations that go into a character that can make them take some serious time in getting together.  As opposed to say, a an old school basic D&D character which you can put together in 5 or 10 minutes and get rolling.

Now of course, the downsides to being long and my thoughts…  Are we establishing a destiny for the character in the process?  Is it simply assumed that this character is going to be great or at least worth something simply because the time spent in the character creation?

The older characters you could simply crush without too much remorse and it would be a fast re roll to the them up to speed as the character concept is finished.  The characters had no real expectations of surviving (particularly at level 1) just as it might be in say actual combat for us standard mortals.

Newer characters of course, you have some pause.  Simply because of all the time invested, that you don’t pick them off on a casual basis.  Of course, maybe that’s just myself.  What are your thoughts on the matter?

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No D&D in… Prison?

Thursday, 27. January 2011

Alcaztraz (Flicker, Tim Pearce, Los Gatos)

This is an interesting one related to D&D. Hat tip to Geeks are Sexy for pointing it out. Well, “weird” may be more accurate but it’s still worth pointing out. The seventh circuit court of United States Court of Appeals has ruled that

“After concluding that the popular role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons (“D&D”) represented a threat to prison security, officials at Wisconsin’s Waupun Correctional Institution took action to eradicate D&D within the prison’s wall.”

Go ahead, read the link at Geeks if you don’t want to read the entire brief, then come back here and comment!
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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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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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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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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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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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