Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: Paper Sorcerer

Paper Sorcerer, developed by Jesse Gallagher, displays just how far a game can go on a unique visual aesthetic and a classic format and feel. It offers some additions to traditional dungeon crawl that other games could stand to lift, and it deserves considerable praise for that. It is, on the other hand, not a perfect offering, and I want to talk a bit about the minor points where it falls short. I have not finished the game, so some elements of the story are still a bit unclear to me.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: Broken Age, Act One

Okay, let’s start this thing off right. If you’ve heard anything at all about Broken Age by Double Fine Productions, it’s a safe bet that you’ve heard it’s the Second Coming of classic adventure games. There are some gaps in my knowledge of adventure games: from the end of King’s Quest, I went on hiatus until The Longest Journey (which didn’t really speak to me), and off again. So Broken Age is kind of the Third Coming of the genre for me.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Postmortem: Three D&D Sessions

Over the past three weeks, I've run three sessions of D&D 5th edition. Across all of these sessions, there have been eighteen different players (Kainenchen played in all three, though very little in the last case; our son was uncooperative). Ranging from people who have played 5e since the earliest public playtests, as I have, to people who had never remotely considered picking up a twenty-sided die with intent before the day of the session, it's about as great a range of players and session types as I've ever run.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thorin's Dragon-Sickness: A Roleplaying Challenge

Thorin Oakenshield:  I was blind, but now I begin to see... the Arkenstone! One of them has taken it from me... One of them is false.

I'm sure I'm not the only one here who dreams up mechanics to suit scenes in movies. In this case, I was watching The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies, in which (among other things) Thorin succumbs to his greed, which is explained as more than mere cupidity, but a sickness caused by the long presence of a dragon; the dragon's greed becomes contagious, passed through the gold. We see the rest of Thorin's Company recognize what's going on and try, with varied arguments, to get through to Thorin and remind him of the noble, heroic ideals he once possessed. It's a common problem in Middle-earth, as well as other settings.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dakrah's Familiar, and Posting on Tribality.com

Image by Dawn McLaughlin

Yesterday, I released my first ebook, a short story entitled "Dakrah's Familiar." It is available on the Kindle bookstore for $2.99. If you follow me on G+ at all, you probably spent a lot of yesterday hearing about this, because it's a really big deal to me. I've added a Page to this blog, linked just below the About Me gadget, with my published stories and links to reviews. As of this writing, there's one very kind video review by The Basics of the Game. I am incredibly excited for one of my stories to be out in the world, and simply giddy with delight at the cover art that Dawn McLaughlin created for it.

I also wrote my first post for Tribality.com. For... however long it takes, I'll be writing a column over there that goes through each of D&D's classes and examines how the class has changed from edition to edition, much as I did in this blog with the Ranger and Druid classes. Yesterday's post was the first in a series on Bards. Once again, if you follow me on G+, you probably heard about this yesterday, but I beg your forbearance. Tribality is packed with great material if D&D 5e is of any interest to you.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

D&D 5e: Another Batch of Magic Items, and One Condition

This isn't my first post of magic items for 5e, though it is the first since the release of the DMG. As I've discussed before, I love some of the new levers we see in 5e magic item design. The magic items of the DMG are, by majority, the traditional range of D&D items, like you'd expect from the core book. They cover their bases, but I don't think they take a lot of risks here. Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat start to push a few more boundaries here, with magic items that custom-fit the plotline that rewards them. This immediately endows them with a greater sense of lore and connection.

Monday, December 22, 2014

LARP Advice: How to Be a Great NPC

This post is directed toward players in LARPs that have NPCs who are not full-time members of Staff. That includes both folks who are volunteering for the whole event and never play a PC, and folks who are doing just a few hours' shift backstage. There's probably a lot of regional variation in terminology here as communities develop their own jargon, and as newer games decide that changing their predecessors' jargon is the hill they're going to die on. Just to make sure we're all on the same page here, I'll brave the shoals of tedium and explain a bit more.