Saturday, 7 July 2012

Item: One grovelling goblin

A somewhat vague summary of my attempts to play Aye Dark Overlord! And as an experiment (And because there is really no other way to summarise it), its in character!

You just can't get the help these days. I sent those miserable goblins to get me the plans for my latest Death Star and they completely failed to retrieve them! Naturally they needed to be punished and so I questioned them to find out what happened. They fed me some mad cap story that included and was not limited to one of them cutting the bridge on his fellow goblins, a massive snow storm apparently leaving them disorientated, them finding themselves unable to get into the fortress holding the Plans and them trying to get a zeplin to get in, one of them apparently abandoning the others to go fishing and another that went off with an attractive elf woman! Eventually it became clear which of the goblins was to blame for the failure. She managed to convince me once that she wasn't responsible but by the end there was nothing she could do against the accusations. According the the other goblins she had been planning to use items of power against me! Naturally she was then executed.

/but some of my colleagues in the Dark Overlording business have been reporting simmiler problems with their goblin minions. Perhaps its time to invest in orcs. I'll need to ask my Grand Vizier what he thinks...


My master was not pleased with us today. We had been tasked with taking some papers to his lawyer friend in the next room but we weren't able to. Totally not my fault though, despite what the others said! One of them blamed me for the big tree that randomly grew in the corridor that blocked us but it wasn't me because I saw the Iron Man make it crow with his super science and he was being helped by one of the others! Really, a lot happened when trying ot deliver those papers. One of the other goblins tried to claim that the reason he had gone off was because he had been following a hot elf woman into a cellar with slimy walls but I knew that wasn't true because he'd actually been in the slimy cellar with an ugly old man. The one of the other goblins said that he'd also been seen down in the cellar not only with the old man but with the master's dog. Master wasn't happy to hear that, especially when it turned out one of the other goblins had been playing with his water soluble sword. Master got so angry at that goblin he was executed. The rest of us were spared though. Just as well, because it definatly wasn't my fault...

To Follow - an overlook at Aye, Dark Overlord! that will hopefully make more sense than this summary!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Why I like.... music in games

It has to be said, music can really set the scene for action or a certain mood. Even if its just burbling away in the background it has a subtle effect oh how you view or react to things. Heck, it even works on boardgames!

Recently, I was playing the Battlestar Galactica Boardgame (with Pegasus expansion) with a group of friends. One of these friends had his laptop with him and a playlist of the soundtrack form the TV series. So while we played, he set it off playing in the background. It wasn't intrusive or get in the way of play, it just added another dynamic and made the boardgame feel even more immersive. There were even points where people who knew the series said that we should skip to certain tracks when we were being massacard by Cylons or when we airlocked someone (in my defence, he was actually a cylon infiltrator!) Actually having the soundtrack in the background made that particular experience more nerve-racking as I worked out how I could garentee the attack and get the hidden Cylon off the ship.

Another time I have personally experienced the use of music in gaming was when during the finale of my Vampire: The Masquarade campaign as my lovable bunch of lunatics headed into a raid and attack on the main Sabbat base. I wanted it to be especially epic and so even asked one of my players to bring along a set of speakers since he ones on my laptop weren't great. Wired them up and plugged in my MP3 player and with just a quick choice of playlist it helped enhance the entire escapade. We even had lucky timings with the music. One example was when one of the party (they decided to split up to attack form multiple points) and his little raiding group were surprise attacked by one of the lead Sabbat. hey had already been winding their way through pitch dark corridors, and the music had been appropriate to heighten the tension. Just as the Sabbat lead attacked the music shifted in a sudden spike and it just fitted so perfectly with the action. IT doesn't always happen, but when it does, it is worth it.

There are times when I wish that life had a soundtrack, and when I get the chance to do just that, it makes things just that little but more awesome. It also helps justify my large collection of movie and TV soundtracks... you know... just in case.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Why I like.... Random generators

Not blogged in a while so I thought I would talk about something I find useful and sometimes invaluable to creativity and planning: random generator sites.

Using random generators doesn't mean you're automatically lazy or uncreative. They're great for giving you an idea to start off with that you can then adapt. They're also great for role playing games, and especially GMs if you need to create an NPC or random object quickly.

Two of my favourite generator sites are Chaotic shiny ( and Seventh Sanctum (

Let me give you an example of what can be made with random generators....
(all of the following information and settings are created entirely by Chaotic Shiny's various random generators)

 The city is slightly below average and built around a central bridge on a river The Economic Base:is crafting, primarily textiles. the economy is strong and stable. Main attractions are fountains and lavish temples and the city is famous for spies, cavalry and merchants. The nearest Tavern: not far from the entrance, but hard to find. The government is one elected official with a major Influence being local politics. There is a low amount of corruption.Guards find bribes insulting, the Locals are amicable and crime average levels. There is a strong Religious Influence. The streets have very odd names and the buildings are close together. Notable locals include: The alcoholic guard captain who is rumored to be involved in several prominent assassinations. She has many allies. Rumours say that she loathes mages. She can usually be found in a certain tavern. There is also the lecherous royal who recently had a sudden change in alliance. He has been quickly gaining enemies. Rumours say that he holds a grudge against other royalty. He can usually be found at a party. The wealthy mercenary who has a family closet full of skeletons. He has been rapidly losing allies. Rumours say that he has had incidents involving warriors. He can usually be found near the outskirts of the city. A very wealthy criminal who frequently speaks against the establishment. She has many allies. Rumours say that she has strong feelings for minor nobility. She can usually be found at a party. The disgraced mage who has a family closet full of skeletons. He has few open allies. Rumors say that he has some problems with wizards. He can usually be found near the outskirts of the city. The spendthrift criminal who is associated with allegations of bribery. She has more enemies than allies. Rumours say that she is easily irritated by guild leaders. She can usually be found in a certain tavern. The seductive scion who is an open heretic. She has few open allies. Rumours say that she is careful around military officials. She can usually be found at a friend's house. All people to possible find later. You find and walk into The Dancing Wench inn. It is overall of shady quality, large with above average cleanliness. The drink and food is overpriced, though the quality is good and decent and the food variety is above average. The drinks variety is far above average. Room pricing here is fair, though the room size is fairly small. Also, all the rooms are fully occupied. There is a healthy crowd in though the noise level is quiet and subdued. Most of the crowd are shady-looking and 100% of the dark corners in the bar are occupied. About half the patrons are drunk and about half are openly armed. The most notable patron is the harried-looking elf sitting at the bar. The bar's menu is carved on a sign behind the bar. The bar tender is annoyed and glares in your general direction. The house special is light yellow-green with many bubbles and some ice. The drink smells heavenly and tastes like licorice. Its non alcohol. You go outside.The city is getting ready for Kreessavea, a joyful holiday celebrated on the third full moon of winter. It is associated with a loss, magical abilities and a case of mistaken identity. Traditions include public and private decorations, contests of strength, affirmations of relationships and contests of cleverness. In the crowd, you spot an unattractive, sullen man who is wandering aimlessly. He comes over to you. He tells you how you. need to prevent the escape of the spy without the knight ruining everything or the gods' wrath cannot be prevented.

Fun, isn't it? The city, the tavern, the holiday, even the man in the crowd and his quest were all created using random generators. They're great for adding flavour to games or for just giving you a point to work from. What if the party decided instead of going to the Tavern, they wanted to investigate the disgraced mage? That could open up a whole new kettle of fish. Of course, you can't just rely on random generators to do everything - besides, players are just as good at coming up with random madcap things for you. But if you're needing flavour for your game, a character or something on quick notice or are even just struggling to come up wit ha name for your character, random generators can help you out. At the very least, they can give you amusing ideas. After all, who doesn't want to read a book entitled "Muscular System of the Bugbear and the Centaur: Unexpected Similarities"  or meet a statuesque race that have tentacles instead of hair and have only a single eye,  short lifespans and have an efficient government? (Seventh Sanctum generated).

Something to try out, you may surprise yourself.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Battlestar Galactica: the Board game

Rightio, you've had the summary of my first play through of Battlestar Galactica the board game, now time for some reviewing.

First impressions
As I said in my summary I know next to nothing about Battlestar. As such while my friend has spoken of it with glowing praise and lamented he rarely gets to play it, I wasn't much interested. (sorry friend!)

Very pretty. The artwork is very nice. Depicting the ship Galactica flying through space with different rooms inside (as well as a sort of admin shuttle thingy) its well laid out and instructions are easy enough to read and follow. I do like the design of the fuel, food, moral and population discs at the top of the board. Its a clear indicator of how screwed the humans are, as well as making it easier which resource you want (and don't want) to risk.

Character creation
Very simple: pick a character card and that is you. You get a little token that you place on the board of your character that you can move. Sometimes you even get to fly space ships. Each character card has on it a different skill set that are used to indicate which skill cards and how many you draw at teh start of each turn. Each character has two bonus abilities and one flaw. One of the bonus abilities can be used throughout the game while the other is a one off and usually pretty shiny. The flaws range from having to discard two skill cards from your hand to use a room action (due ot 'terminal illness') or discarding your last card if you are only left with one in your hand (because you're an 'alcoholic'). Loyalty cards also indicate if your character is a cylon, sympathiser or just plain human. Sometimes you can even be a sleeper agent, which is fun.

Game mechanics
Each, or most, crisis cards. Better with larger groups, we played with four and it worked well. At the start of your turn you draw your prerequisite skill cards. You then get one move and/or one action. Moving lets you move to different areas on Galactica or fly around in space. The action turn lets you use a room's action ability, whether that is firing Galactica's guns or sending someone to the brig. Alternatively, you may choose to activate the action on one of the cards in your hand, such as repair or give someone an executive order, letting them perform either two actions or move and then perform an action. After this is done, you draw a crisis card. These range from food shortages, to riots, to a strange visitor to holy-hell the-cylons-are-attacking-aaaaaarg! You can try to negate the effects of these crisis cards by playing your skill cards. If you can, the crisis card will tell you a score you have to reach and which coloured cards you must use to reach it. Each skill card is colour coded depending on its type (engineering are blue and piloting is red, etc) and has a number in the top corner ranging from 1 to 5 - this indicates how much that card is worth in the check. However, in a check if a card is submitted that is not one of the colours needed for the check it adds to the total score needed to be reached in order to pass. For example, a strange woman has arrived on Galactica. If we fail to make the check, we will lose 1 moral and the current player will be sent to the brig (from experience, I know that it is really hard to get out of the brig once you're in). The check we need to pass is 9 on yellow politics and green leadership. Two cards are drawn from the destiny deck (a mix of two of each skill card for added potential jeopardy and to help mask the moments of hidden cylons that might be trying to sabotage), then clockwise from the person who drew the crisis, everyone who wants to or can adds cards to the check, face down. The last person to add is the person who's go it is. The cards are the revealed. they manage to make a total of 13 over their cards, though two red cards bump the difficulty of the check up to 12, so they still pass. Some crisis cards force one of the two leadership players to decide action to be taken for the crisis and some allow you to make a dice roll on a d8, rather than make a check. Crisis cards also can move Galactica up the jump track, allowing you to make jumps to get to the final planet where the humans win, and the cards can activate cylon ships that are nearby.

If you know Galactica, I think you will really quite enjoy this. Especially if you try to think of each turn as a different episode or something. Plenty of things to make in jokes about. If, like me, you are not a fan, then its a highly enjoyable board game set in space with evil robots that everyone keeps calling toasters. Defiantly look it out if you can. There are also expansions to the board game, one of which apprently involves an airlock....

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Item: One space ship, slightly battered

A vague summary of my first playing of the Battlestar Galactica board game.

I would like to say now I know NOTHING about Battlestar Galactica. Other than its in space. And you fight robots. And they sometimes look human, just to confuse you. As such I can't remember the names of all the characters we were playing, so I shall refer to them by their roles. If one of the guys from today would like to fill in the blanks for me, it would be appreciated!

It began in the middle of battle. A cylon base star was baring down on us and had raiders deployed. Our crew consisted of a pilot, a military guy who was his father and our admiral, an engineer and myself, a scientist and the president. It could have been worse - I wasn't the one with control of the nukes...

EDIT: Thanks to a fellow player I can now identify the characters! Pilot = Lee Adama, Admiral = William Adama, engineer = 'Chief' Gylan Tyrall, scientist = Gaius Baltar

We fought back against the cylons, eventually managing to jump away to a different planet. Suspicions and tempers were frayed as we faced crisis after crisis, eventually somehow losing all but one of our scout ships. Things got worse when we faced food shortage after food shortage, causing the crew to lose faith in their current president. As such, when the engineer ran for office, he easily took it. The scientist went back to staying in the lab. After a few more jumps, the food shortage was still a problem and fuel wasn't looking healthy either.

More crises were faced and the admiral and pilot spent an awful lot of time in sick bay due to these. The engineer president attempted to try and solve the food problems but ultimately failed. The scientist was then revealed as a cylon sympathiser and thrown in the brig. As such, he was unable to help when a large cylon fleet complete with two base stars attacked. The pilot fought valiantly, taking out many raiders but many ships were damaged in the skirmishes.

Then we were faced with a new horrific discovery - the engineer was a cylon! After shooting the Admiral in the back as the cylon fleet arrived and attacked, he fled back over to his side to help coordinate their attacks against us. Galactica took damage as the base stars fired on us and we were boarded. Our plucky pilot managed to destroy one of them while nuke saw to the other. We managed to jump away to a new planet, away from the cylons.

After a lengthy stay in the brig, the scientist-president was released and immediately helped out with the boarding parties, aiding in fighting them back. This was done successfully, however more crises hindered the remaining crew. Once the boarding parties were well in hand, repair work to the ship began and not a moment too soon - a new cylon fleet attacked. With most of the vipers out of commission there were very few ships left to defend the civilian ships and take on the hoards of raiders that were screaming in. Luckily, we had an awesome pilot who took on the ships valiantly. But even he was soon overwhelmed and his ship destroyed. Luckily, he was rescued and moved once again to sick bay (it was like a second home to him by this point). Before the cylons could turn their guns on the remainging civilian ship or us, we managed to jump away. We were almost at our final destination.

But it was not meant to be. Out in deep space, that final jump to escape used up the last of our fuel and we could find no way to gain more. We were drifting in space with no way to escape the cylons if they attacked us again and even then our other resources were severely diminished.. We had lost the fight and with it, all hope of escaping and defeating the cylons.

To follow: Thoughts on the Battlestar Galactica Board game and play system.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Mutants and Masterminds

Okay, so I posted the summary of my solo game of Mutants and Masterminds and I have to say it was good fun.

First impressions
As a fan of superheroes and comic books, the initial summary I heard of the game was intriguing and the more I heard the more I wanted to play. After getting hold of the pdf of the rule book I was even more hyped about playing. Definitely lots of reminiscing about favourite heroes from this.

Very very pretty. There were times I felt I was reading a comic book rather than a rulebook. It was also fun playing "spot the superhero homage"; there are defiantly a fair few scattered through the book for those that know their heroes. Nicely laid out and not hard to follow.

Character creation
Little bit number crunchy - defiantly have a calculator on stand by or lots of sheets of paper. After that, its pretty straight forward. You can follow the templates given for generic types of superhero or splash out and make your own or even attempt to recreate your favourite icon. You start with basic abilities which you can raise or lower depending on your character (though you're a super so you're probably going to raise them). Next you move onto skills and there is a huge range to chose from to develop your character further. Then you get powers. Its amazing when you get to the powers section how you start looking and working out what powers belong to which heroes you know about but that might just be me. All of this is bought using the same power points pool so you see what I mean by number crunching. But if even a number noob like me can get it right, you shouldn't have too much to worry about.

Game mechanics
Only one d20 needed. You roll and then add the appropriate modifier. For example, the hero Ghost Shot is trying to sneak up on a demon. She rolls an 11 on the d20 and adds her stealth bonus which is 5, giving her a total stealth of 16. The demon rolls a 14 and adds his notice bonus of 5 to give him 19 and therefore spots Ghost Shot before she can shoot him in the back (which no doubt will resolve in a huge fight). Its a simple mechanic system that is easy to get the hang of. Ranks on powers are something you need to remember to keep an eye on when using them though, especially in combat.

Its fantastic game and system that I would be happy to play again or even run. A few of my friends have expressed similar sentiments. Defiantly something to pick up and have a look at and possibly try, especially if you like comics, superhero movies or just like the idea of flying around and saving the day. Or conquering it. After all, what is a world without supervillians?

Item: One superhero

A summary of my first foray into the role play game Mutants and Masterminds.

First, the main character: Superhero Ghost Shot, a mystical warrior with the ability to turn herself unsubstantial and invisible and fly, however her main ability is to fashion different spells into mystic arrows which she fires from  her bow. And she's a damn good shot.

The story began on any other day. Ghost Shot, in her civilian identity was enjoying her lunch break from work with her cousin. Her cousin was doing her usual thing of expressing concern about Ghost Shot's hobby of choice, since she is the only person who knows her secret identity (Its going to happen when you share a flat and you then get them to sew you a costume). Three masked guys come in and start waving guns around the cafe, declaring that its a stick up and to hand over any valuables. Ghost Shot waits until two of the thugs approach their table and then -whilst she is leaning down under the table on the pretence of getting her purse- she summons an arrow of mystic binding and jabs it in the nearest thug. The man falls down ensnared. However, the two remaining thugs grab hostages - an old woman and Ghost Shot's cousin - to force the super in the room to give themselves up. Clearly not one of Ghost Shot's better plans and she panics, not sure what to do next lest she get people killed. The bound guy eventualy breaks free and points his gun at Ghost Shot, identifying her as the super that got him. As soon as the other guys dropped their hostages to point their guns at her, she lived up to the 'Ghost' in the name Ghost Shot. Panic ensued and civilians escaped while Ghost Shot dealt with the thugs with judicious use of ghosting and a few more binding, paralysing and mystic blast arrows. Then followed ghosting back to the apartment to scream into a pillow for a good few hours at nearly getting her cousin killed and blowing her secret identity, both of which were thankfully safe however.

The next day while at work (furniture restorer for an antique dealer), there was the sudden sound of explosions, screaming and evil laughter from outside. Ghost Shot realised from her studying of Arcane Lore that the laughter was that of demons. A quick stop to get changed into costume and she ran out to fight them. Distracting one demon from his civilian target she failed to notice the other demon that charged her. Luckily, heavy application of protection spells helps. Quickly taking to the air, she starts to shoot at the demons with mystic blast arrows. Out of nowhere a guy on a motorbike charges one of the demons and hits it with his bike. He is then immediately knocked out by the demon. Ghost Shot manages to take the demons out, but not before one of them roared for back up. Quickly, Ghost Shot took the unconscious biker into the safety of her work and leaves him there, flying out to confront the demons. And is almost immedatly whaled on and sent crashing into a nearby window by said demon backup. She does her best to take them out whilst being beaten up by the demons. The last one left standing starts to roar for more re-enforcements when he stops. The biker from before walks up and orders the demon to sit, which it does whilst also being assaulted mentally. Ghost Shot then shoots it in the face with a mystic bolt, knocking it out. The two then decide to work together to deal with the rest of the demons. Ghost Shot takes to the air and finds one lone demon, which she takes out in three shots. It calls for re-enforcements just before it goes down and before the biker reaches her position. The pair decide to set up an ambush for the remaining demons, Ghost Shot in the air to pick them off with her bolts while the man acts as decoy. Their plan works and the demons are defeated. Ghost Shot asks the biker what his name is, to which he tells her he hasn't got one yet before driving away on his motorbike.

Thus ends the first adventure of Ghost Shot, mystic warrior! Here's hoping there gets to be more adventures.

To follow: Thoughts on the Mutants and Masterminds game and system.