Saturday, 31 May 2014

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1 in game terms

... And as this relates to gaming...

It shows the wide remit of the setup and also how to narrow things down when moving towards a finale. Buffy would often follow that pattern, getting more focused as the Big Bad and the plan become apparent, and games often do this naturally, when the players figure out a major threat and stop jumping on all available adventure hooks.

Planting MacGuffins in advance in what appear to be standalone MOTW adventures is a time-honoured tradition, and this does it with some left over for next year.

And getting a bit spoilery:

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. season one

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has unsurprisingly been confirmed for season two (with a miniseries for Agent Carter as well) so the foreshadowing in Beginning Of The End will pay off. Yay!

Very much a season of two halves - pretty neatly divided by those towards the end that got comic cover style posters and those that didn’t, although I’d include the Joss Whedon pilot, T.A.H.I.T.I. and some others among the essentials.

For those who drifted and might consider looking back now it’s all out there, all kinds of spoilers below...

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

D&D is F2P

Basic Dungeons & Dragons - 5th edition, 4 core classes, all 20 levels, in one PDF, Free To Play.

Which is a pretty interesting move.

Now advertise it - put the website link and QR codes in your adverts in comics and the like, get it somewhere that (somewhat geeky) kids will see it.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Mutants, time travel, and more

X-Men: Days Of Future Past was great fun. Got me thinking about a game, always a good sign.

Lots of inventive use of characters, their powers and their motivations. Some massively over-the-top, but that’s to be expected really. It has a classic “showing what just one power can do in the hands of someone smart” scene for Quicksilver, as well as more for Magneto who always gets these. Like First Class it again makes me want to see a Michael Fassbender As Magneto As James Bond movie, and now also a Mystique solo. I wouldn’t be surprised if they planned at least one of those.

One of the most accurate adaptations of a specific story in the modern superhero movie era (on the level of Captain America: The Winter Soldier) apart from trading Kitty out for Wolverine.

(One thing it didn’t seem to have is a direct reference to the original comic’s famous wanted posters cover. Considering how many homages to that I've seen, these are just a few, that really surprised me. The scene shown in the second part’s cover more or less makes it in...)

(Also: ooga chaka ooga ooga. And another trailer ahead of it, Edge Of Tomorrow, also suggests that it covers a little of the same ground.)

Driving back, we discussed the possibility of a mutant-only or otherwise restricted-origin supers game and how someone usually makes an exception because the genre normally encourages special snowflake PCs (see also “can I play a werewolf?”) and games with classes and the like offer structure to avoid that....

And we talked about how time travel can affect settings, as this example demonstrates nicely. It features an active in-universe retcon of specific events which are even shown in flashbacks - is this a first for superhero adaptations? And it also shows at least three of the ways to stop a potential setting-changer becoming a recurring issue, like this Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode so helpfully summarised recently.

Oh, and there’s a teaser for the next one at the end of the credits.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Gunman's Law

Stewart Wieck creates and Andrew LeBlanc illustrates an RPGfriendly Western shooting game. Okay, might hafta back them folks.

The Three

Okay, trailer for a book at the top of Empire Online today, you have my attention.

I may never get around to actually reading your book, but I may swipe the blurb and handouts for ideas.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Force For Change

In other artists using their powers for good news, JJ Abrams helps launch Force For Change, a charity drive for Star Wars fans for UNICEF. With a contest to be in Episode VII. And meets a new non-CGI alien. That little video makes me happy three ways.

Spreading the word

Neil Gaiman on visiting Syrian refugee camps in Jordan with the UNHCR.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Mary Anning

Normally random historical events marked by Google Doodles inspire Doctor Who plot hooks, but today I make an exception.

Mary Anning, our greatest fossil hunter, was born 215 years ago today.

And where dinosaurs are involved, my gaming thoughts tend more toward Primeval. (And Timewatch.)

The Natural History Museum hails her (and displays one of the huge fossil skeletons she unearthed) as well as a great many other fossils and artefacts likely to summon anomalies.

And she’d make a perfect educational Celebrity Historical for the show, alongside other figures in the history of paleontology and evolutionary theory like the ringleaders of the Bone Wars, and of course Darwin...

We have a full figure painting showing her in suitably heroic manner holding her pick, and as the Guardian article above shows we might - might - have a photo of her back. Abby waiting to get her autograph just out of shot.

Monday, 19 May 2014

D&D 5 covers

Here we can see the three core books - none of which have dragons on the cover, strangely, leaving those for the Starter Set and the Tyranny Of Dragons adventure series.

Very dark-but-still-colourful, rather Dragon Age. Scenes of action and danger rather than characters posing.

The representative PCs on the various covers aren’t all white guys, which is nice too.

The most visually interesting points are that they’ve gone for full art, dispensing with the WODish “photo of a spellbook” styling of 3 and 3.5 which carried over slightly to 4 with the parchment spines, and the small D&D logo at the top with the full Dungeons & Dragons title off to one side on a small red flash... that looks oddly like the R. Talsorian Games logo...

Edit: the previously unreadable cover subtitles can be seen here and proclaim D&D “the world’s greatest roleplaying game”. HMPH.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

You're gonna need a bigger Cretaceous...

Largest ever dinosaur discovered in Argentina. Sadly for those hoping for Godzilla it was (like most of the real giants) a herbivore. Still, hard to get something seven storeys high back through an Anomaly.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Cartoon Action Hour: Dark Brigade, and Fat Goblin charity bundle

Dark Brigade, the “G.I. Joe Vs. Universal Monsters” setting for Cartoon Action Hour by Eddy Webb is back for the new edition, with proceeds going to Eddy and Michelle after Eddy was laid off by CCP.

Also currently running: a charity bundle by Fat Goblin Games in aid of FGG owner Rich Hershey looking after his wife with Crohn’s and their children.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Avengers Eventually Assembled

Well, it only took a year and a half and another film, but I finally have all of the Avengers in 6” figure scale including Black Widow, who they didn’t bother to make last time. Grr.

Now I just need to get the right Iron Man.

And finish that custom Coulson figure.


Monday, 12 May 2014

How much WEG Star Wars mattered

To the Expanded Universe, roughly this much.

I was there when it was first announced, and my potential players went “oh yeah, I remember those” in a vague way.

I was there before that as well, GMing its direct antecedent Ghostbusters.

I was there when someone went “count 4+ successes instead of adding all the dice up” and created Shadowrun and then Storyteller.

I largely used the WEG version just a couple years ago, although I did use the count-successes tweak, and ads/disads as well, and looser Force powers.

I still think the printed stats for the main characters are too much, though. Still, can’t have everything.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Star Wars Episode VII: The Ancient Fear

Possibly, apparently, according to AICN. Works for me... suggests it might link in to the original sketchy plans for a third trilogy... and might even explain why the Sith want revenge! (This still bothers me, okay?)

Sunday, 4 May 2014

May the Fourth be with you

About time I discussed the return of Star Wars, I suppose, after the first cast and crew photo from Episode VII....

Of course I’m excited, and also nervous, seeing one of my formative myths passed on to my generation, and going with a blank slate rather than a story we knew in broad strokes already. (And to see Attack The Block hero John Boyega front and centre, along with Coen star Oscar Isaac and near-unknown fellow 48 Hour Film star Daisy Ridley. And Andy Serkis, the one addition to the cast I successfully predicted, being uncanny like that.)

The Expanded Universe is now essentially apocrypha, to be used for ideas like the Marvel movies use the comics. There will be new movie-verse novels and comics and such, as well as the Rebels TV series. (It starts with a Rebels prequel novel by John Jackson Miller, writer of the Knights Of The Old Republic comics starring Zayne Carrick which is the most consistently fun Star Wars series in a long time. Seriously, check out the first three years.)

I was there from just about the start (the West End Games RPG and the Dark Empire comics... and indeed the earlier Marvel comics, Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye and the Han Solo novels, which were retroactively brought in, giant green rabbit and all) but I’m happy to give the new films a fresh start. Movies need them, really.

This is also why the last time I ran a Star Wars game I set it centuries in the future, to have the freedom to put the PCs in starring roles and make up what we felt like, even with big EU fans at the table. As well as using concept spaceships and monsters from various designers, naturally.

So on the whole I’m looking forward to it. Cautiously.

Friday, 2 May 2014

The World Of Darkness MMO details leak

Looks like we have screenshots and a playtest manual (covered by NDA) for The World Of Darkness MMO as it stood in March, just a month before its cancellation. This is entirely personal opinion based on looking at the article, which discusses the manual, as well as the images.

Visually, it looks great, as might be expected. The grime, the graffiti, and the not-too-intrusive controls.

Just a few example characters as this is a playtest, but a full game would have had at least as much avatar versatility as EVE does these days. (I would love to see a Nosferatu subset for avatar creation.)

That shot of a hunting vampire perched on top of a streetlight is particularly cool.

In terms of gameplay, this is clearly a partial playtest as it concentrates on a small subgame. It’s all about what vampires can do (the only thing mortals get to do is become vampires) and focuses on using human/ghoul NPC proxies to control territory and attack other vampires’ holdings.

Humanity is more about how well you preserve the Masquerade than how humane you are, although of course violent attacks drop it. The threat of permadeath which concerned me is restricted to vampires with Humanity 0, and it sounds fairly easy to keep it higher than that - social players hanging out in Elysium should be able to keep it high enough that other PCs attacking them is actively discouraged. So I could see different playstyles existing side by side and rarely interacting, which could have worked to let the social chat side and the PVP fighters not get in each other’s ways.

No clan weaknesses yet, but the hunting systems includes going after specific people for specific kinds of blood so I could see Ventrue easily being tagged with a restriction there, and broods (in place of guilds) involve Blood Bonds and betrayal, which might have had a specific effect on Tremere.

Like the MET LARP, the card game VTES or the boardgame Prince Of The City, it looks like it simulates one particular playstyle, in the case of this test night-to-night territorial conflicts. To get the full Vampire feel, it would have needed a wider variety of things to do, NPC conflicts and adventures as well.

Looks fun, though.