Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Kickstarter Shoutout: Gaslight Victorian Fantasy for 5e

I just wanted to give a shoutout to a project on Kickstarter.  The project is called Gaslight Victorian Fantasy and it is by Battlefield Press, Inc.  This is a weird Victorian urban fantasy setting.  There is an OGL version (which I'm not sure is in print) and a Savage Worlds version.  The current Kickstarter will update the setting and stats for D&D 5th edition.

Victorians were into some weird crap.
The setting reminds me of the book Anno Dracula by Kim Newman,  in which vampires take over Victorian society.  Of course, there are also rules for pixies, werewolves, and others.  At minimum I will use this to add beast men to my 5e games.  However I would love to run a weird Victorian game along the lines of Fallen London.  I am currently loving the 5e rules and I love the fact that companies are using them for different settings.

If you like the idea of Bobbies chasing alchemists through foggy alleyways, then check this project out.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tolkien and Magic Items

I have a confession.  I have not read all of The Lord of the Rings.  When I was a teenager I only made it 100 pages into The Fellowship of the Ring and I never finished it.  As an adult I finished The Fellowship of the Ring and read two-thirds of The Two Towers.  During this time the Peter Jackson films were coming out, so I saw those and never went back to finish the book.  My current summer project is to finally read through The Lord of the Rings.  I am currently 50 pages into The Return of the King.

Any of you grognards remember this adaptation?

During my re-read of LotR I am fascinated with Tolkien's treatment of magical items.  Magical items have become common and cliched in a lot of fantasy rpgs.  I know that I am guilty of passing out magic items like candy in my Pathfinder campaign.  In Tolkien's writing, magic items have meaning.  For one thing, they are rare.  There are not a lot of rings floating around in Middle Earth.  Each item has a whole legend written about it.  Also, they are imbued with power.  People feel the power around these items.  Just looking at one fills people with awe and wonder.  In my next fantasy game I will copy Tolkien and have rare magic items that actually mean something.  Now back to my book!

Monday, July 11, 2016

#RPGaDAY is coming in August 2016!

Last year I participated in the #RPGaDAY event.  I had a great time posted about rpgs.  How it works is every day there is a question related to the tabletop rpg hobby.  You respond to it and post it with the hashtag #RPGaDay.  This year the event will happen again in August.

This year the event is hosted by BrigadeCon.  For more information check out their site.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Adventures in Play-by-Mail Gaming

The summer drags on with heat and tedium and I look for new gaming pursuits.  I am joining a play-by-mail game.  For those who do not know, play-by-mail is just what it sounds like; opponents playing a game by submitting their turns through the mail.  One of the first play-by-mail games was chess, as it is easy to write down a chess move and send it to an opponent.  Soon, more complex games were played through the mail.  The board game Diplomacy was played with nations mailing their turns to a referee, who would then adjudicate the moves and mail the results back.  Later on, games were designed for the play-by-mail format.  A play-by-mail game could accommodate many players at once, and the game rules were taken care of by a moderator (often a computer).  Play-by-mail exists today, although many companies use email for turns and some are experimenting with browser based games.

What do you get from the play-by-mail experience?

I love all types of games.  I play rpgs, wargames, board games, and card games.  I enjoy them all.  I love to figure out strategies of conquest and then implement them on the battlefield.  I love to match wits against an opponent who is trying their best to beat me.  Play-by-mail offers the chance to engage in games with many opponents.  Play-by-mail games can offer huge simulation games where  opponents control various nations at war.  Because the game is moderated by someone else, I only have to focus on my strategy.  They also have a temporal quality to them.  Orders are submitted and then I have to wait to see the results of my planning.  The wait time brings about anticipation.

The game that I am trying is Duel II.  The concept of the game is that you own a stable of five gladiators and each turn you fight them in the arena.  You decide which warriors to fight, how to equip them, and what strategy they should adopt in the ring.  You fill out a turn sheet for each fighter, slip it into an envelope, and send it off to the company.

A turn sheet for Duel II.
One of the reasons that I chose Duel II is that the company that runs the game still uses actual letters and sends your turn results in the mail.  Many play-by-mail companies have moved to accepting turns by email and emailing you the results.  I wanted to have the tactile  experience of filling out a sheet, as well as the thrill of ripping open an envelope to see my results.  Electronics and computers have provided a lot of innovation for gaming, but there is something special about holding a sheet of paper and inking a plan of action.

Recommended Resources

Reality.com is the company that runs Duel II.  They run two other play-by-mail games which are wargames that take place in the Hyborian age and Forgotten Realms.

Playbymail.net is a website devoted to play-by-mail games of the past and present.  They have a list of active games and the publish a free pdf magazine, Suspense and Decision, that is dedicated to the play-by-mail hobby.

I will bring more resources to your attention in the future!