The Return of the Sixth World

If you haven’t noticed, for some reason the old FASA Corporation game Shadowrun has been having something of a renaissance of late. The pen and paper rights are still with the folks over at Catalyst Game Labs, who are about to release a return to form with the new Shadowrun 2050 Core Rulebook. which is just around the corner; while the video-game rights seem to have fallen into two different camps, with Cliffhanger Games currently working on an in-browser MMO version of the Sixth World set in the recent late 2050’s era of the 20th Anniversary Edition. In the other camp is the original creator of the whole Shadowrun shebang, Jordan Weisman and his crew at Harebrained Schemes. These guys have raise over one million dollars via an amazingly successful Kickstarter campaign. Their game promises two fully explorable cities, turn based tactical combat, deep character development, rich layered missions and story-telling, riggers, deckers, mages, trolls, street samurai, a kick ass soundtrack and all the rest.

I strongly encourage anyone and everyone that’s a fan of this game/setting to hop over to their page and contribute at least $15 or more. This minor donation will get you the following:

  • A Digital Downloadable copy of the game, DRM free on PC
  • One totally sweet, exclusive desktop WALLPAPER for your PC, Mac, tablet or mobile device.

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I’ve personally only played the pen and paper game a couple of times in my life, and that was over a decade ago. I can tell you that it was one of the most inventive and original settings I’ve ever laid my eyes upon; and while the mishmash of Tolkien inspired fantasy and Gibsonian Cyberpunk may seem jarring and silly at first glance, I can assure you that it’s a helluva lot of fun to play in and especially run. The setting screams sandbox and the premise (PCs are runners looking for work), allows exhausted GMs to easily create scenarios and missions without a ton of prep time. I’ll be breaking out my old 2nd Edition book soon, for a trip down memory lane, and to flex my D6 dice pool muscles a bit.

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Old School Dungeon Mapping

Below is the first snippet of the first level of the dungeon called Grimrock. If you’re unfamiliar with the newly released game Legend of Grimrock, then head on over to http://www.grimrock.net/blog/ for official details.

Grimrock Level 1 in progress
I’m gonna need a lot more graph paper…

I’m currently running the game in “old-school mode” which turns of the auto-mapper and forced the player to map each and every nook and cranny by hand. I feel as if I’ve been instantly transported to the mid-nineties, playing games like Eye of the Beholder, Dungeon Master, Menzoberranzan, etc.

I’ll save a proper review for those that have actually finished the game…like the kids over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

For now, I’m just basking in the glow of my computer monitor, mouse in one hand, pad of graph paper in the other.

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DIY gaming tables vs. high-end boutique tables.

I’ve had a hankering to build and/or purchase a proper gaming table of late. What with my Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay game currently on hiatus (we’ve wrapped up the recent story-arch and the current player characters no longer have any reason to stick together), this has allowed me plenty of time to obsess over the other more peripheral aspects of gaming, such as where I want to actually host games in the near future. Most recently I’ve had my players meet at the local university library, where we’ve taken over a conference room in the basement for 5+ hour sessions (long I know, but we only get to meet maybe once per month).

Now this was a relatively large group for 3rd Edition WFRP (six players most of the time), which tends to run best with around 3 or 4 player character, due to the room needed for cards, dice pools, and handouts…plus the fact that the 3rd Edition..with my group at least, tends to lean toward dramatic storytelling more-so than previous editions (subjective, depending upon who you ask).

Regardless, this little detail has forced me to consider downsizing the number of players per game for future sessions, and in turn has allowed me to entertain the idea of hosting games at my house..which while very comfortable, isn’t massive. Our dining table seats four comfortably, with barely any room for dishes other than four plates and silverware. So two options present themselves to me. Invest in a dedicated pre-made gaming table, or build my own.

My price range is around $100…which is a damn shame because that pretty much discounts everything made by the folks over at Geek Chic. If you haven’t checked out what these guys are up to, and you’ve got the money to burn, then by all means, have at it.


The Hoplight coffee table. Probably the closest to my price range, but still about 10 times more expensive than what I can afford.

I could skimp and buy a crappy plastic and felt card table, but let’s be honest, there’s nowhere near enough room for 3-4 players, a GM, character sheets, dice, drinks, etc.

Alright…so that about does most of the options for premade/store-bought tables…so hows about the DIY route?

There are literally dozens, if not hundreds of different DIY game table ideas on the web. My preliminary Google search turned up the following hits:

With a piece like the one above, you can use it with an existing dining table. It just raises the dice rolling and miniatures/maps area above the drinks and character sheets area. I’m thinking that this, combined with a simple folding card table, could be perfect for my needs.

More to follow…

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Sheesh I’m awful at this…oh, and some stuff about games!

So since my first couple of posts, I’ve kinda laid down on the job and forgotten I was even running a gaming blog…but now I’m back!

I’ve had the pleasure of participating in a couple of different games since my last post.  I’ve created a character, a human bard (of Cheliaxian origin) for a friends Pathfinder game. He’s running the adventure path Council of Thieves , and though we haven’t really started yet, I’m stoked to get back into a D20 D&D game. Come to think of it, I haven’t ever really played in a 3.5 game before. The last time I rolled stats for anything similar was probably a 3rd edition half-ogre gladiator for a buddies Forgotten Realms game back in the 90’s.  Excuse me whilst I dust off my old man dice.

In addition, I’ve been happily running (GMing that is) my own game in the form of a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (3rd Edition) campaign of my own design. That is, I’ve cannibalized a couple of the pre-written scenarios to fit into a story-arch that fits in all the PCs nice and cozily….well, cozy in a driven to insanity and overcome with corruption kinda way…i.e. the Warhammer way.

But really, the BIG news is that Wizards of the Coast have announced that they are prepping for a new D&D edition release. The rub is that it’s not really a new edition at all, but instead a set of rules that will seek to unite ALL PREVIOUS EDITIONS of the game under one roof. That’s right, with this new “edition” you should be able to run everything from the Keep on the Borderlands (Type 0) to the Ruins of Undermountain (Type II) and back again, and without having to pull out a different rule book. Sounds impossible right?

Here’s what ole Mike Mearls (senior manager for D&D r&d team) had to say to Game Informer about the new release.

http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/01/17/what-is-the-next-dungeons-amp-dragons.aspx?PostPageIndex=1

Some excerpts from the interview that I found most interesting.

Players can pick their own style and complexity within a class. Think of it kind of like having a $10 budget to spend on lunch. Some people will go to a restaurant and buy a $10 lunch special. Someone else might spend that $10 by ordering a few different things off the menu, rather than a special. Someone else might take that $10 and go to the grocery store to buy all the ingredients for a recipe they like. The idea is to put everyone on the same scale, but then allow people to burrow into the level of detail they want.

We actually went back and played every major edition of D&D and used those experiences to help narrow down the absolute core elements of the game. If you removed those elements, it’s not D&D. Our list includes the six abilities, classes, levels, hit points, Armor Class, and a few other things. In many ways, the list creates the shared language that links the editions.

Of course, the most important element of D&D is the DM. We found that across all the editions, the DM was more important than the specific rules. Supporting DMs and giving them the tools to create the campaigns they want is an important goal for the project.

It actually sounds like what we’re most likely will get is a core book (or set of core books, PHB & DMG) that give us a simple set of core rules (i.e. the list of commonalities, Hit Points, AC, etc) that if used by themselves will mimic old school Original Dungeons & Dragons (OD&D or Type 0)…so no Feats, no Multi-Classing, etc. The core books will probably also feature oodles of optional “tack-on” rules for expanding the game to include things like multi-classing, feats, powers, etc…in case the GM and players want to play something more akin to recent incarnations (3.5, Pathfinder, and 4th edition).

I for one am STOKED! This will allow me as a GM to run any adventure/campaign setting from any era with little to no conversion! So I can start my players in the Keep on the Borderlands (Type I), then move to Ptolus: City by the Spire (Type 3), then onto a modern Dark Sun game (Type IV), and then onto planes hopping (Planescape Type II) and Spell Jamming (Type II)…woot woot!

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The Rest From The Past

Some other games I’ve had a chance to play, albeit briefly:

Vampire: The Masquerade

The 1st Edition, though my group only played it a handful of times, I owned the core book for years and picked up a couple of expansions here and there. In all it was a clean, simple system that seemed fantastic for anyone not familiar with role playing games.

RIFTs (Palladium)

What can I say about RIFTS except that it’s a bold concept that just never caught on with my gaming group. I think I played, perhaps two sessions…ended up creating some kind of Technomancer character, which seemed really cool and original at first…then I met the rest of the party. One guy was a dragon….yup, a dragon. Not a half dragon or a baby dragon…a full sized dragon. Needless to say, half way through our first game, I didn’t feel as if my lowly technomancer really had much to contribute. In hindsight, the problem probably had much less to do with the game and more to do with party balance and gm decisions. Nevertheless, RIFTS still maintains a loyal following and is till being published by Palladium books after all these years.

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Out With The Old

Games I cut my teeth on:

Dungeons and Dragons Basic (1991 black box with red dragon on cover)

HeroQuest (Milton Bradley/Games Workshop)

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition

Above are the three games that I hold solely responsible for introducing my young mind to table top gaming back in the early 90’s. Specifically an older cousin that had gotten into gaming during his time in the military (if you didn’t already know, gaming is HUGE in the Army) ran me through Zanzer’s Dungeon after picking up a copy of the 1991 Basic Set at Toys R’ Us during a weekend of babysitting me. Within a couple of years, a circle of like-minded friends had started up a relatively regular AD&D 2nd Edition game that lasted throughout my later years in middle-school and most of high-school.

We played most of the campaign settings associated with 2nd Edition; Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, & Ravenloft primarily, not to mention the occasional home-brew.

While 2nd Edition wasn’t the best rpg available at the time it was familiar to me and my group and above all else very easy to come by. There were no friendly local game stores in our town (or anywhere else nearby) and the only decent bookstore (a Walden Books no less) for miles just happened to stock an impressive selection of the then current Dungeons & Dragons catalog.

I sadly sold most of my older 2nd Edition books to my FLGS not long ago; primarily to make some room on my ever-shrinking game shelf…but I did happen to snag pdf copies of most of the core rule books and several campaign settings for future reference. I’ve actually been considering revisiting our old stomping grounds of late. Perhaps resurrecting 2nd Edition under the guise of Paizo’s new Pathfinder game, or maybe even going straight old school and using the various online resources by and for grognards, such as the fantastic 2nd Edition site run over at Dragonsfoot.

HeroQuest was not as popular with our group, and we almost NEVER used miniatures in our games, primarily due to not being able to afford the expensive metal minis that were prominent at the time (lookin’ at you Ral Partha), but HeroQuest has remaind on my shelf for all these years…eventually absorbing another friends core set and several expansions. It has remained a touchstone inspiration in the quest to create the perfect dungeon delve and the components have since those early years, found their way into various other games at my table. I might also add that I didn’t make the HeroQuest/Warhammer Fantasy connection until getting back into gaming just a few years ago.

What were your “gateway” games? Did you happen to play any of the above, and if so, how do you feel about them now?

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On games and gaming

So, a recent post from Zak over at D&D With Porn Stars inspired me to start up this little blog to both give me a more modern and progressive place to put my notes down regarding this little hobby, and to contribute to the hobby in a way that only blogging can. So I offer up this blog as not only a repository of my own thoughts and opinions, but as a democratic forum for all to share, discuss and argue (from time to time) their own points of view.

To start off I’d like to give a rundown of what I’ve played, am currently playing, and would like to play in the next few posts. Seems appropriate for those that might be scouring the interwebs for various gaming sites and want to know whether or not this is the blog for them. Be forewarned however, I do/and will have a tendency to go off on tangents that may be very loosely related to games and gaming, but I hope readers will find inspirational nonetheless.

Watch this space for updates!

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