Triumphant(Hopefully) Return

So… it been a few months since we recorded an episode, and a lot has happened since then. We had a baby back in June, which is fantastic, but has drastically affected our time for Tabletop RPGs.

Shortly after the birth I was made the Asia-Pacific Regional Coordinator for the new D&D Adventurers League, which was exciting, and my health has been poor for a while but a few months ago it got drastically worse.

I’ve since begin to get better, and I have stepped down from the D&D AL RC role, and life is adjusting to the new addition of a level 1 human. So thoughts return to our little show here.

Obviously the the changes in our gaming lifestyle are going to affect the podcast, mostly in the form of less Actual Play episodes, and probably less appearances from Melissa, But we will definitely continue to produce episodes with some increased levels of Steve ramblings.

So stay tuned for some new episodes soon, and Never Stop Gaming.

Steve

 

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Star Wars Special

This coming Sunday is May the 4th, otherwise known as Star Wars day!

TTR will be releasing a Star Wars day special with a look back at Star Wars RPGs over the years and an actual play recording of the Star Wars Revisited game that ran at SydCon 2013.

Convention wrap-up – EyeCon 2014 – Part 1

So another Con has come and gone.  we had a lot of fun at EyeCon this year, Here are some of the highlights from the games we played:

From Star Wars d6:

  • Dead Bothans are the intergalactic standard unit of measurement for danger
  • When someone gives you a crate of alcohol to deliver, it is not enough to simply trust it contains alcohol. It must be thoroughly verified.
  • You probably shouldn’t shoot people who are on your own side in a shootout, even if they have been blackmailing you.
  • Your captain can command you to do anything. ANYTHING.

From Star Trek Fiasco:

  • Raising Gorn (in a farm. I had a Gorn Farm) to fight in an arena, and then nursing him back to health when he lost. he got ice cream.
  • Playing a big tough Klingon who had a schoolboy crush on an Orion (non slave) girl.
  • why is there an illiterate Klingon who is also the quarter master?
  • You know you’re in trouble when even your split personality is trying to kill you.

From Three Musketeers game:

  • Whores
  • Fart jokes
  • Saving a bar wench(who was also a whore)
  • More whores
  • Ship of whores. I called it The Good Ship Blowjob.
  • For The Glory(hole) of France!
  • STDs are not Pokemon. you don’t have to collect them all.

stay tuned for highlights from our Cold War Cthulhu game.

Never Stop Gaming

Steve

The D&D silence is deafening

As I type this, the D&D Next playtest has ended, and D&D 4th edition has essentially ended with the cease of publication of Dungeon and Dragon magazine. The only new products that are coming out of WOtC are novels, PDFs of old edition modules, and D&D encounters modules that by every opinion that I have read and experienced are terrible.

The barebones info that is being drip fed is, in my opinion, completely inadequate for a product of this scale. this should be the biggest release of any RPG product in the last ten years, but WOtC is treating it like they are embarrassed about the whole thing, and would rather people not pay much attention to it. they have spent ten times as much effort promoting their attempt the brush over their big rewind of the Forgotten Realms story with their The Sundering event.

The most unforgivable aspect of this whole thing is that we don’t even have a release date to look forward to. The longer we go without a firm date to look forward too, the more people will forget about the whole thing. And when you have such an active competitor in the same field, as they do with Paizo and Pathfinder, every day we go without something to look froward to is a day you loose customers to a company that is actually releasing products and support players in a way that WOTC never even dreamed of.

Never Stop Gaming

Steve

 

Non-Combatant

I spent my recent long weekend at PsyCon Nøught, a Sydney Pathfinder convention. normally i don’t attend the Pathfinder conventions because they clash with the other RPG conventions in the area. but this one did not, and we have been playing a fair bit of pathfinder since i started running one of the monthly game days, so i volunteered to run some games, and I have discovered something about myself in the process.

I am very very bad at running tactical miniature encounters.

I have always suspected this, but never has it been so spectacularly on display. On other tables characters were dying left and right, and my players were barely getting scratched. I sometimes encountered this when playing 4th edition D&D, but it was never bad to this degree. Some of my players didn’t even get hit in encounters that probably should have almost killed them.

i have always been a story focused GM, i believe the story is more important that the combat. yes, combat is fun. but it was never why i played D&D or any other RPG. i think both D&D 4th edition and Pathfinder are very combat oriented games, and that has led to an increased importance of combat. if you look at a 4th ed character sheet, there is almost nothing that is not combat related, and so combat becomes the focus.

I really enjoy running D&D, but if i can’t give my players a complete experience, then should i be doing it?

I think the answer is yes, I will keep running it, and i will work hard and practice running encounters so that I can be a better GM and provide a better gaming experience to my players.

Never Stop Gaming

Steve

 

Convention Wrap-Up – SydCon 2013

Another SydCon has come and gone, and a lot of fun was had by all. Or at least by me.

I played three games this convention:

New X-Men – Marvel Heroic Roleplay

A Fist Full of Ghost Rock –  Deadlands Reloaded

Lights Out –  Paranoia

New X-Men was fun, it was my second time playing this system and I’m starting to like it. the dice pool system is quite intuitive, although it did get quite bogged down when the big combats started. the story was quite good, with the main x-men being captured and the younger members having to free them. although i was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to play the big name characters. we managed devised a truly horrible punishment for Sebastien Shaw by paralyzing him and forcing him to mentally do his taxes (without using the number 7), while we dealt with some weird clones of combined X-Men. my only complaint about the game was that our GM was quite uptight, i don’t think he was used running convention games and needed to chill out a bit. he was definitely put out when the players started to go running in different directions  doing wacky silly stuff like con players normally do, and a Con GM needs to be okay with that.

The second game was Deadlands Reloaded. I’d picked up the explorers edition of this a while back but never got around to playing it, and it was a ridiculous amount of fun. it could almost work as a straight western if you wanted it to , but the wackiness did come around and it lends itself well to a convention game. players like to do big ridiculous things in con games and there was plenty of opportunity to do so.

Paranoia was… Paranoia. Like those old TV adverts for The Matrix, you cannot be told what Paranoia is, you have to experience it for yourself. The really stand out thing about this game was that there was nowhere near enough death! not a single player used all their clones. i think the GM was trying to run a more straight and serious version, that i think left a few people disappointed. Mel particularly wanted to play, as she is normally the one running Paranoia, and ended up being disappointed when her every attempt to get her character killed was thwarted by the GM.

the highlight of the con was running Star Wars with Mel. We decided to break from the mold of her last few Star Wars games and put players right in the middle of the original movie, playing the main characters. hilarity ensues. We hadn’t tried to co-GM before, and it worked out really well. Mel took all the scripted stuff and ran combat, while i did all the Improvised storyline when the players went off the script, and most of the Talking NPCs (Mel wanted to do Vader 🙂 )

we were really glad how willing people were  to go off script and try their own thing. Darth Vader was kill several times, most often by capitol ship weaponry, and Yoda was brought in very early in one game. the highlight was probably Luke going to the dark side, but the other players had already sabotaged the Death Star’s hyperdrive so it exploded with Luke and Vader onboard.

so there goes another Con, now the waiting game begins…

Never Stop Gaming

Steve

 

 

A Colourful Background

Playing an RPG with an established setting is quite common, but how much background is too much?

I recently started running Legend of 5 Rings 4th edition, and I found myself completely overwhelmed by the raw amount of history that is available in the setting. This is not a setting I had ever been in contact with before, having never played the RPG before and never touched the CCG. There was so much history that it was just too much. I had to stop reading and just disregard huge chunks of the martial.

It was going to be hard enough just getting used to running (or playing) in this world, where the social rules are so different from the normal western fantasy world, without trying to keep in mind that the current Emperor is involved with a deadly blood feud, with the man that killed his grandfather because of a skirmish 500 years ago against a clan the had betrayed their brothers and sided with with an enemy clan who are now allies against the rising darkness that seduced the last emperor and started an rebellion that has now retreated across the plains to enlist the aid of the blah blah blah blah.

I like background, and really prefer to play in established settings, but I think it’s the feel of the setting that is important, not the individual documented events.
It reminded me of the first time I tried to play a D&D campaign in The Forgotten Realms. Everybody was talking about Elminster and Drizzt and Waterdeep and The Time of Troubles like I was supposed to know who and what they were. At the time, playing Baldurs Gate was the limit of my FR exposure so I knew a little of what they were talking about, but soon every place we went had centuries of history that we were supposed to know.

And that’s just being a player. How is a new GM supposed to be able to effectively run this game if there is the prerequisite of reading 40 novels? In L5R is was not so bad for me, since my player did not have any experience with the setting either. But if I had been running for anybody else with some familiarity with the world, there would have been constant corrections of “No! He can’t do that because that family is sworn to protect the…… etc.”. How is a GM supposed to create a a story when the world is already so full of story that you can’t make your own without stepping on someones toes? How are you supposed to run a compelling game for somebody that knows ten times more about the setting that you do?

Flavour in background is good. But to much established story stifles a GM’s creativity. So if you are one of those players that knows more about a setting that your GM does, please heed this advice:

Don’t be a dick. They are running a game for you, so cut them some slack. Don’t nitpick and don’t metagame every situation you find yourself in.

Never Stop Gaming.

Steve.

Setting and System, What is One Without the Other?

I’m a guy who likes to play a setting in the system it’s made in, even if i don’t particularly like the system. But how tied to a system is a setting? Obviously it is possible for you play in any particular universe without using whatever system the writers/publishers/licence holders choose, but is there a real advantage to using a setting specific system? and what, is any, is the advantage of using a generic system?

The existence of generic systems like GURPS and Savage Worlds make is possible to play in any setting that exists, or that you can imagine. and there are easily modifiable system like Hero, that, while they are not made to be as generic as others, are extremely flexible.

I’ve been neck deep in the Legend of the Five Rings (4th edition) books for the last few weeks, learning the system and the setting in preparation for running some games. I really like the system, its simple where it can be, gets more complex where it has to be, but not in a bad way. and i think it’s perfectly made for the setting it supports.

That’s the crux of the arguument right there. it’s made for the setting. this system was created to fit this particular setting and had subtle elements and nuances that suit it. they started with the setting and built a system to support it, and facilitate your game actually feeling like you are living and playing in your chosen setting.

That’s if you’re lucky.

The other side of the coin is learning a new system every time you want to play in a different setting. a system that, while made for a setting, may not actually be any good. it might not be a good fit for that particular system, it might be clunky and slow, it might be overly complex, it might just have one thing that it get’s wrong that effects the experiance as a whole. but sometimes, it just not right.

So, the question is, do you perservere with a system that you don’t like/doesn’t work, or do you begin the process of converting a setting into a different system.

If your chosen setting doesn’t have an RPG to convert from then this is even more work, but work you would have had to do anyway. so it’s s moot point.

But, if you have a setting, for example Eclipse Phase, a very well fleshed out setting, with some very unique aspects, is it worth the work to try and replicate the aspects of that setting into a generic system when you already have a custom built system for it, albeit a slightly clunky one.

The generic systems themselves are exactly that. system without setting. and you need setting. you don’t have a game without a setting. even if ti’s just “present day” or “Sydney in the 80’s” or something equally simple. and chances are you will have to bend some rules to make it work in your generic system, either in the setting or in the system. even with all the extra books for GURPS, you still have to bend the system rules to re-create a Mutant City Blues game.

I do like generic systems for somethings, but generally I will choose a setting specific RPG’s over generic if it’s available. especially if there is a current or at least fairly current system.

Never stop gaming.

Steve

Taken From us to Soon

The Marvel Heroic RPG is no more.
I’m just going to copy and paste my comment from the MWP blog:

Disappointed about Marvel, but it wasn’t the best lineup of books. I think focusing in the crossover events was a mistake. team based books, like Avengers, X-Men, etc, supported by Adventure/Event books perhaps would have been better. when i saw that there was three supporting team books for just the Civil War line i was immediately worried how many more there would be for every other Event that came out. And some like New Avengers/Runaways don’t have the long history or large readership to support the sale of a book focusing on them. The info in 50 State Initiative should have been in the main Civil War book, and the Premium book, with the core rules included was misguided and wasteful. The fact most of the books never even got to the store shelves would not have helped things either. Sad to see this go, it was a fun system and had the potential to exploit years of great comics history.

Never Stop Playing.

Steve

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