Monday, January 30, 2017

Rolling Wednesday: Misprinted Dice

Today's die is a weird misprinted six sider that I found at my local game store.  I was digging around in the bin of single dice and I found this red d6 that captivated me.  I really liked the color and the design.  When I started to roll it while gaming I noticed that the die had some problems.  One side was blank and it had three pips embossed on two sides.  Also, one side bulges out.  I'm not sure what I will do with it.  I like the red too much to get rid of it.

It's unique.

From one angle it appears to be normal.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Rolling Wednesday: A Huge d12

This is a twelve-sided die that I took from a copy of the board game Global Pursuit.  I usually don't like to split up components from a boxed game.  However, this d12 was too enticing and I can always replace it with a regular d12.  The twelve-sided die has such an awesome look to it and yet it is one of the most underused dice in role playing.  Whenever I have an opportunity to roll a d12, particularly for damage, I make sure to use this giant dodecahedron.

Now that is a barbarian hit die! 
Next to a U.S. quarter for scale

Monday, January 23, 2017

Witch and Witchcraft Reading Challenge: The Good, the Bad, and the Undead

The Good, the Bad, and the Undead:  My first review for the 2017 Witch and Witchcraft Reading Challenge.

The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison is the second book in her urban fantasy "The Hollows" series.  I reviewed the first book, Dead Witch Walking, back in 2015.  Dead Witch Walking set up the series as it ended with Rachel Morgan severing her official ties with law enforcement and becoming an independent runner.  The Good, the Bad, and the Undead starts with her working on her own.  Rachel is a witch who lives with her vampire roommate/business partner.  They run Vampiric Charms, a private investigation/bounty hunter firm located in Cincinnati.  In this book Rachel has to track down a killer who has been targeting ley line witches.

Harrison adds more depth and background to all of her characters in this book.  We learn more about Rachel's history as well as the world of the Hollows, where vampires, witches, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures exist alongside humans.  One of the strengths of this series is how Harrison explores the practical and legal matters that have arisen because of this arrangement.  For example, I like how demons are not held accountable for their actions in court, since when a pact is made with them that are compelled to complete it.  Thus they have a status similar to weapons.  Another thing I like about the book is the humor and levity.  The fun parts help to keep the story moving along quickly.  I enjoyed the book.  My favorite parts of these books is Harrison's world-building.  My only criticism is that the main mystery is solved but its solving felt anticlimactic.  I would recommend this to fans of urban fantasy.

Gaming Inspiration

This book and series is great inspiration for anyone running an urban fantasy campaign, particularly one in which supernatural creatures exist in the open.  Harrison provides some fresh takes on familiar creatures.  Vampires exist in living and dead versions.  The rules for dealing with demons  is explored more in this book.  These rules are perfect for any game that features demonic pacts.  If you need some fresh takes on urban fantasy, particularly with how legal and bureaucratic issues would intersect with the supernatural, the Hollows series is a great place to look.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rolling Wednesday: A Random D20 From My Collection

Here is a random twenty-sided die from my collection.  The good old icosahedron, probably the one die that is most associated with role playing games.  The D20 is a fun die it that it is ball-like and rolls well across the table.  I like the critical hit and critical fail mechanics that are now associated with this polyhedral.  I do think that most D20s are biased and prefer to land on certain sides.  However, I think that this is part of the metagame as players have their favorite and cursed dice.  Hurrah for the D20!

You rolled well!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Mini Review of BattleTech: The Animated Series Episode 1

What the heck?  There was a BattleTech cartoon?  I am going to have to go on an old man rant for a little bit.  When I was a kid we didn't have all of this fancy streaming and on-demand programing.  There was no simulcast anime.  You were stuck with broadcast tv and whatever cartoons happened to showing.  I remember watching an episode of Voltron on the Spanish station even though I don't speak Spanish.  It was the first time I had seen vehicle Voltron in years.  If I had known about the BattleTech cartoon when I was a kid I would have been all over it.  Mechwarrior was my favorite computer game.  I owned CityTech, even though I never played it.  Alas, this show was put out in 1994 and was off my viewing radar at the time.  Thank heavens we now have the internet.

Go House Steiner
I recently watched the first episode of the BattleTech animated series titled "The Gathering Storm."  I will try to keep this spoiler free.  The series involves the Clan Invasion storyline of the BattleTech mythos.  The series opens up with one of the clans invading the planet of Somerset.  Major Adam Steiner has a brother on that planet as it is his homeworld.  He needs to acquire a jumpship so that he can lead a lance of mechs to go liberate Somerset.  That is pretty much the setup of the show and the series.

The animation is standard 80's style, similar to GI Joe in quality.  The series came out in 1994 so I would have thought that the animation would have been a little better.  When mechs are battling they switch over to computer animation.  Today it looks cheesy but in the 90's I'm sure it was impressive.  The first episode has plenty of mech battles, one of which is in space.  We see mechs use jump jets and learn the importance of tactics.  The only thing they don't reference is heat built-up, which is slightly disappointing since heat management is a critical part of playing BattleTech.

The politics of the Inner Sphere are nicely summarized and explained for the viewer.  I never really bothered with the backstory when I played Mechwarrior but I feel like the show gives the viewer enough to understand the universe.  I am pretty shocked that a BattleTech cartoon was ever made.  It will probably be the closest we get to a big screen Battletech adaptation.  If you are a BattleTech fan who hasn't seen it check out the first episode.  If you know how to use the internet you can find it, although the video quality won't be the best.  Here's hoping for more rpg cartoon adaptations.  I say the next one should be Shadowrun!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Rolling Wednesday: Bucket of D6

For today's Rolling Wednesday I present a bucket of six-sided dice.

What can you do with a bucket of d6?  What can't you do!  You can use them to play Tunnels & Trolls or Shadowrun.  You can use them for wargames such as Warhammer 40k.  You can play some dice games like Yahtzee or Farkle.  You can build towers and buildings with them.  D6 are my favorite dice and I could have fun just grabbing a handful of them and feeling them run through my fingers.

So what have I done with this bucket of dice?  I used them in my psychology and geography classes. I ordered a block of 200 six-sided dice off Amazon specifically to teach my students to play Liar's Dice.  Liar's Dice, also know as Perudo, is a bluffing game that was featured in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and was a minigame in the video game Red Dead Redemption. 

Pirates playing the easy version.

Using Liar's Dice in the class was enlightening.  I created a powerpoint which would explain the rules.  This was a good exercise in teaching rules to a large group.  I decided to simplify the rules by dropping the rules for wild dice and calling the exact count on the dice.  I had justifications for using the game for each subject.  In psychology the students would play the game and look for psychological signs of bluffing.  In geography the game would be introduced as a South American game and used as a cultural artifact for that unit.

The next step was to figure out how to get 33 students engaged in the activity.  I picked up some cheap plastic containers and plastic cups.  I also found a simple paper copy of the rules and made copies.  I made sure that each container had 25 dice, 5 cups, and a sheet of instructions.  I could put five students in a group, give them a container, and they were ready to go.  During the activity I would rotate and sit in with each group, playing a round to make sure that everyone understood how the game worked.

How did the activity go?  It was loud.  Students shaking dice in cups makes a lot of noise.  Most of the students did have fun, which was essential.  Educators are often told how important standards, grades, and test scores are that they often lose sight of whether students are happy.  If students can associate your class with having a good time then they are more likely to pay attention and learn.  I definitely encourage the use of games in the classroom to promote fun and learning.

Liar's dice is a great game and all you need are a bunch of six-sided dice and some cups.  Here are some links to the rules:

Liar's Dice on Wikipedia
Liar's Dice rules

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Quick Spoiler-free Review: Wicked Fantasy Factory #0: Temple of Blood

I have been itching to run some Pathfinder games while I await the release of Starfinder.  I told my gaming buddies to have some 1st level fodder characters ready to go and whenever we had time I would run a campaign.  I have tons of 3.5 and Pathfinder material sitting around the house so I grabbed a module off the shelf for some gaming.

Wicked Fantasy Factory #0: Temple of Blood

This product is a 16 page adventure.  It was published by Goodman Games in 2007.  The cover on my copy states that the book was released for Free RPG Day in 2007.  The module is currently available in PDF from drivethrurpg for $2.  I acquired my copy for free.  The module is stated for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and on the back cover says "Requires the use of the Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook."  I ran the adventure using Pathfinder and I made no conversions to the stats.

The Wicked Fantasy Factory line touts itself as extreme gaming, going for a cross between Gauntlet and Mortal Kombat.  At the beginning of the moduel there are some suggested house rules to bring some extreme flavor to your game.  The most interesting one is the rules for finishing moves.  Each character is encouraged to design a finishing move that they can use on opponents.  There are also some rules to make combat with henchmen easier, changing how main villains work, and describing characters.

The module involves a series of kidnappings.  The player characters will be charged with finding the missing persons.  The adventure is a short dungeon crawl.  There is plenty of combat and a couple of puzzle-like challenges.  There is boxed-text to read to the players followed by descriptions of the areas as well as maps.  I appreciated the "E-Z Stat Blocks", which gives the bare bones stats for NPCs.  Hit points, attack bonus, damage, and a few other stats are listed for adversaries in an easy-to-read format.  Full stat write-ups are included later in the text, but I really appreciated being able to quickly find initiative and to-hit numbers without being distracted by useless skill bonus.

When I ran the adventure it ended in a total party kill (heh heh).  However, I would not hold this against the module.  The author suggests having a party of 4-6 characters with a healer and fighters.  I ran a party of 2 characters.  With more PCs and some adjustments the party could have easily survived.  I enjoyed running the adventure.  It is short and full of action.  The players get to crawl around a subterranean environment and hack things to death.  Temple of Blood has the tropes of an old D&D adventure while injecting a dose of modern video game hack-and-slash elements.  The art matches the tone of the book with black and white illustrations of adversaries and fighters defeating them.  This is a good introductory adventure for a campaign and I think it was a great Free RPG Day offering.  For $2 as a pdf I think that this is a good budget advenutre.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rolling Wednesday

Welcome to the first installment of Rolling Wednesday, my weekly dice-themed post.  This first post will showcase these Panzer Kids dice that were given to me by Peter Schweighofer, author of the Panzer Kids wargame rules.

These six-sided dice have a silhouette of a tank on the one side and say "Panzer Kids".

I  recently used them during our playtest of Star Trek Adventures.  Peter sent me these for free, along with a scenario for Panzaer Kids.  The Panzer Kids wargame rules come in basic and deluxe versions. Peter also created Operation Drumbeat, a solo u-boat game that I have been meaning to try.  Let's take another look at the dice.

Thanks again, Peter!  These dice are guaranteed to get some wargame action soon.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Geek Goals for 2017

Play Boardgames!

I love boardgames and I have a big stack of unplayed games.  My goal for 2017 is to play 5 games that I have not played before.

Play Solo!

I always buy boardgames that are solo games or have solo variants with grand plans of playing them. However, entropy often wins and I never pull them out.  My goal for 2017 is to log 10 solo plays of boardgames.  The number of different boardgames doesn't matter as long as I log 10 solo plays by the end of the year.

In addition to that, my goal is to log 5 solo plays for rpgs.  This can be done using Tunnels & Trolls, Mythic, or those solo adventures that rulebooks used to include to teach you the rules of the game.

Play Pathfinder and Other RPGS!

Our group is good about trying new games.  I know that we will play new systems this year.  One thing I would like to do is try Pathfinder again, although this time I would like to start the campaign from first level (my other campaign used converted Hackmaster characters and had some balance issues).  My goal for 2017 is to have a Pathfinder campaign ready as a backup game.  Whenever we can play and nobody has anything ready I will pull out Pathfinder.

Read More Comics!

Just like games, I have a habit of buying tons of comics and then letting them sit neglected in the closet.  I do like comics, and I need to enjoy what I have.  My goal for 2017 is to read an average of 10 comics a month.  I also need to follow some good advice I read and if I am not reading it I probably shouldn't be buying it.

Write More Blog Entries!

I want to increase my blog output.  One technique that I will use is a weekly themed post.  I have seen other blogs do Succubus Sunday, Miniature Monday, etc, and I will incorporate a themed post into this blog.  My idea is Rolling Wednesday, and I will have a dice-themed post every Wednesday. At the very least, I can post a picture of a different die in my collection for every Wednesday in 2017.  My goal for 2017 is to have  dice-themed post every Wednesday.

Anything Else?

I would like to spruce up the appearance of the blog and make it more visually appealing.  This is not my strength so I will have to do some research and/or look for some help.  Also, I need to use the advice my mom gave me, "Things should be used for the purpose they were designed for."  Games are meant to be played, books are meant to be read, and miniatures are meant to be painted.

I look forward to 2017 as a year filled with opportunity.  May you meet all of your goals this year!