A few random thoughts on gaming #Bloodbowl #DND #RPG

I am so looking forward to the end of the Holiday season and a resumption of a regular gaming schedule. I have some plans. I also have some things I am tinkering with. Bottom line is it is all cool.

Bloodbowl

I received my new Skaven team for Xmas. I have already gone out and done the primer and base coat on them while on the sprue. I have a plan for them. The Desert Rats. I will give them all Arabic names (maybe from the Arabian Nights.) I plan to paint them in all desert colors.

I know that the Skaven are not necessarily the strongest team. They lack the power of other teams. But I have played brute teams and it is not the way I want to play. I will be resigned to some early beatings while I try to accumulate experience. I think that is the smart way to play them. Even borrow a little from the Run’n’Gun offenses and worry less about stopping other teams and more about scoring as much as I can. Who knows how it will turn out but it should be fun.

D&D

The boys game resumes this coming weekend. I am looking forward to taking them to the next step in the challenge. I think that the next chapter in Storm King’s Thunder will provide them with a good mix of action and role playing.

My Denver game finally resumed a couple of weeks ago. Viper acquitted himself well. Sniping and was able to unleash the big play that made it possible to take down the enemy spell caster. We also leveled up so Viper will be able to do even more in that role of locating and taking down the spell casters. I am looking forward to our next session.

Role Playing

My brother was in town for the holidays. We were talking about a few different things role playing among them. He is talking about possibly moving to my state. Which I am really looking forward to the possibility of his joining my various role playing ventures.

We were also talking about some RPG related things like podcasts and videos. Enough that if things work out I might put together a game specifically for him. It would be a way of creating a structure for a story podcast. It would be a pulp type adventure with some twists. I have already begun thinking a little about how I would craft this campaign: what rules set and how to capture the pulp feel.

As you can see I am still thinking about gaming even during the Holiday hiatus. There are so many things gaming related in my life. I keep them going and enjoy them as much as I can.

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Immersion, that is the weekend plan #DND #RPG

This will be the weekend of role playing and generally geeky pursuits. I plan to immerse myself, and let my Geek Flag fly!

Warcraft

I never played the game, nor do I plan to start. My son and his buddies have also never played it, and I do not think they plan to play it. But, we are all familiar with the general concept of Warcraft. It is a fantasy world, not unlike many D&D settings. It utilizes many of the tropes of D&D.

Which meant that when the timing of the opening weekend of the movie was the same day that we are playing D&D I thought it would be cool to combine the two. I plan to take the boys to the movie in the morning. And then return and play D&D. I have hopes that it will inspire a little better role playing and immersion for the boys.

I know the reviews have been pitiless. Crushing the movie in general. But I do not generally care about reviews when it comes to movies like this. Because I am going to be entertained and enjoy the scenes and scenery, not for great drama.

D&D

Like I said, after the movie we will head home and play. I hope to continue my use of the available tools. And put into more of the ideas I have learned in the last month or so from watching Critical Role, and articles from TheAngryGM.

This will also be a test for one of the boys who took some time off to figure out how to be more respectful and enjoy the role playing instead of screwing around. I expect a certain amount of teenage ADD. But this had reached the point of no return so he ended up taking a session off.

Pathfinder

If a Saturday spent watching a movie and then running a game was not enough, Sunday is my Pathfinder game. It has been a little extra time between games due to scheduling changes. Which means I am more than a little bit excited about the game.

On top of that, I will have the challenge of playing a different interim character. Viper was taken prisoner by the Deck of Many Things last time. Which means that I will be using one of my backup characters for a session or two while the party tries to rescue Viper. That will bring some additional challenge to the session.

There you have it, two games and a movie that is purely aimed at geeks like myself. I could barely ask for more. Except of course spending Sunday night with Game of Thrones to top things off! Yep that Geek Flag will be flying high this weekend!

Pondering a modern dilemma #RPG #DND

Friday afternoon I got into it on Twitter with the AngryGM about online purchases versus going to your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS). It got pretty heated back and forth. I think mainly I was viewing it as an interesting discussion while he was focused on winning his point. That is not what is important. What is important is the discussion itself.

Here’s the thing. I am not a model ‘buy local’ consumer. I don’t buy books, I borrow them from the library. I don’t buy music, I borrow it. I prefer to get electronic copies of things I will be using a lot, like game books. And when I see an outstanding offer like the Pathfinder bundle I talked about a few weeks ago I go ahead and get it rather than buying the hardback copies of all those books, either online or from my FLGS. I know that I am not the model for buying things locally.

But that is not my point. If I want to learn about a game, especially a new one, I do go buy it at the Gamers Haven, my FLGS of choice. I know that if I want to just browse figures, supplies or other game books I can just pop into the store and check it all out. And I do make it a point to try to buy things from the store when I can. For example, one of my monthly treat purchases will be to get Curse of Strahd from the store next week.

This argument/discussion we had last week happened because I saw a tweet from someone stating that they saw no reason to pay $50 for a book at the store when he could get the same thing for 10-15$ less online. And I responded, probably a little too harshly, that I hoped they would be happy trying to find other gamers or more supplies when their local store closed. And Angry called me out. He said he could get any supplies he needed or wanted online. And he could always find new gamers online. So why spend that extra money to the FLGS?

My biggest point was that most people learned about games and in some cases how to play games by going to the FLGS. And that the game companies were terrible about producing games that were easy to introduce on their own. That the FLGS served a necessary bridge there.

I granted that it made little economic sense to pay that extra money for that service. If you look at it purely in terms of economic value, the FLGS occupies a disappearing economic niche. But I don’t think that is the only role of that store. When I buy at that store I pay for the knowledge and expertise of the staff. I pay for the space where I have the option to play. I pay for the ability to browse around and look at a variety of products. I know there is an economic term for that added value, even if it escapes me at the moment.

Now maybe I am sympathetic because I have been frequenting the same couple of stores for close to 3 decades now, buying things from the same people over 2 stores. So I am vested in the success of those FLGS. But I still think that the staff at the store provides a value that makes my extra cost worth it.

Let me take a moment to discuss what I get when I go to my FLGS, which will help prove my point. And contrast with some experiences I had with my favorite local bookstore and record store. First, the store has what I want, or they can order it, this is not a big chain store that always carries the same inventory and anything else is hit or miss. I could say that for the book and record stores I frequented in my youth. Second, the staff is very knowledgeable about their products, able to describe a game, explain how it works, or even provide a demonstration. Not something you will ever get online or at a big chain. And the local record and book stores definitely had that for the most part. Third, the game store provides a space where people can play their games or watch others play in order to see them in action. Definitely not an experience you will get in a big chain. To some extent you could skim a book or hear part of a record in the bookstore but this is more something that is unique to the hobby. Now there is a growing trend online where companies will have recordings of people playing their games so you can see them in action; but obviously, you cannot play the game yourself.  Fourth, because there are like minded people playing your games there you can find people to play with; or post on a bulletin board where you can post a request for other players. No way to get that in a chain store. And yes there are online forums where you can locate gamers in your area so the online experience is not a total negative here.

What all that boils down is that if you are paying the markup (where there is one) to buy at your FLGS you are paying for 2 things you cannot get online. The staff knowledge, and a game space. Now the staff knowledge can be a toss up, not every staff has friendly people, or knowledgeable. And for various reasons, not every store will offer space. So those elements are not guaranteed at every FLGS. Which means that it makes perfect sense to take the approach that the FLGS is passe. And I understand that approach. But I think that is more a case to open an FLGS that makes your purchases worth it, rather than shut them out of the economic chain.

All that being said, I do have to point something out. The original Monster Manual, sold in 1978, was priced at $9.95 and was 112 page. If you calculated the straight inflationary value that $9.95 becomes $36.16 in current dollars. The latest Monster Manual for 5th E is $49.95 and at 350 pages is nearly triple in size. So you are paying $13.79 for more than double the content. Some might say that some of the content in the book is fluff, but there are at minimum stat blocks for over 400 different creatures, by comparison, there were 350 monsters in that first Monster manual. And one could easily argue that the quality of the new books is much, much higher. So in economic terms, you are getting a better deal with the new books than has been previously available. Paying that suggested retail value instead of an online discount does not mean that you are getting an inferior product.

Seeing it through, building up, it’s the most fun #DnD #RPG

If I really think about it, the thing I enjoy most about a lot of the ‘gamer’ hobbies is when I get a chance to build something. From building a character from low level. To assembling an army or team. Heck, the only video game I really enjoy is about building something. That is what I enjoy doing in the hobby. For some people it is the game itself, the battles, the interaction, but for me it is the building.

Which is probably why I go back to role playing so much. Because the build up is really an integral part of role playing, at least for me. I love coming up with a character to start, and then gradually acquiring the stuff, and skills, to become what I want that character to be. And in a good game that never ends, I am always tinkering. In my Pathfinder game I have a document where I write down what Feats and Skills I will improve next, as well as what magic items I want. I remember in one Shadowrun game I played I drove my GM nuts with all the tinkering and planning, figuring out new tech items to buy, skills to improve. And it is fun when the DM asks if anyone can do something, expecting the answer of no, and you can say yes, my character has that skill covered, or the magic item to counter that bad guy.

And in this current setting for the boys I am beginning to really get into that part of it. Sure I had to alter things a little after the last session. But I have a plan, and I am enjoying writing the adventure that will take the players to that stage. And part of this is what I talked about yesterday. I am slowly building out the overall setting from the small village they started in. With each arc of the campaign they will learn a little more about the world around them and increase what they know of the world. Which is a fun exercise for me.

When I was into table top miniature games the thing I enjoyed most was constructing a force or an army. Getting an army book or rule book, deciding how I would construct the force. Buying the desired miniatures, and then assembling and painting them. And then playing the game almost became secondary. Which is probably one of the reasons I enjoyed the Blood Bowl league I was in a few years back, because that game and style lend themselves to that idea of developing a team from a starting point, who gets what skills etc.

If I go really far back, I can remember when I used to buy little army men and tanks and build model airplanes. I remember my interest and goal was in assembling an order of battle that would resemble a historical unit. Playing with them was fun, but trying to create that force was more interesting. Most of my friends probably thought I was weird when I talked about orders of battle etc.

And when it comes to video games the only one I have ever really enjoyed is Civilization. Which is the ultimate building game. Game play interested me far less than being able to build that successful Empire.

If I had more time I might turn this into other things, crafts. But that is not really where my interests lie. I prefer the more intellectual planning to the actual building.

So if you asked me what the ‘gaming’ hobby means to me, what do I really like about it, it would be the chance to build something. To create worlds and characters out of nothing. To construct armies from a few figures. It is where the real joy of the hobby comes from.

If only I had one or 2 more nights a week #RPG #Gaming

I did some more painting this week. I really dig painting these Skaven. And I am pondering some new schemes and ideas there. Plus I am enjoying the first ‘official’ new Star Wars book written for the new canon. So much so that I wish I could maybe get into one or more of the new Star Wars table top games. It really boils down to not having enough days in the week.

I got in the ink on the Skaven this week, and then did the two leader types, that I will use as the character types when the boys run into them.

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Painting these, and the lizards, and looking at all of my Empire figures does give a little twinge of ‘gee it would be fun to go to the store and engage in some Age of Sigmar games’. And on top of that I kind of wish I could get at least a few adults together to run a different D&D game for them as well, in addition to the game with the boys. Not that I want to end the game with the boys, that is actually fun, and it is fulfilling to watch the boys grow and get better at the games. It just would be fun to run a different style of game.

I have enjoyed reading Aftermath, the first book of the new ‘official’ Star Wars canon. It has so many plot threads in it, so many ideas to spin off into a role playing scenario. Or to use as a focus for a set of table top games. Games that I have not played, but judging by their popularity are actually quite good. Of course table top games are a different monster, that requires money on top of time, I couldn’t just use what figures I have.

I love my life and routine. And I really enjoy what gaming I do. And the writing and planning for those games has been a great diversion. But what I wouldn’t do for an extra night or 2 that I could use to go to the store and play games with my old buddies.

For now, I will continue to enjoy what I do have. And be happy that I have these fun hobbies that I have. And enjoy the fact that I can share them with family and friends. Still, it sure would be fun to add to that, without sacrificing any of my other time that I have for work, family, solo time.

Realized that not every idea will work

A while back I had this idea. What would it look like if you tried to push a Zombie Apocalypse in a D&D campaign. I mean the basic visuals are cool: characters that are already used to killing with hand weapons getting to deal with zombies. Or big monsters being swarmed and brought down, like Ogres, or giants or even a Dragon. That would just be cool.

But the deeper I get into the fantasy worlds, reading the Forgotten Realms books and playing the games, the more I realize that just wouldn’t work. For one simple reason: Clerics. When you have an entire character class whose power is repelling and/or controlling undead there just doesn’t seem to be much point to an zombie invasion. They would be stopped in their tracks, and even destroyed. It would be cool, and part of the idea could still be used by an invasion of a Necromancer, but the horror element goes away.

The other idea I had was of playing a Paladin more as a Jedi Knight. Not necessarily the cliched goody two shoes type of Paladins out there. Or some sort of super holy avenger type. But instead a reserved, diplomatic type, who does his best to solve problems without battle. I’m not giving up on this, but have to find the right type of game for it. The boys just don’t grasp the subtle pieces of that kind of Paladin. And the game style of the Denver game doesn’t allow for someone who tries to avoid battle. I might still get there with this one.

The point is that as a DM, I have to be like a sponge when it comes to ideas. Ideas can come from everywhere. But sometimes the sponge needs to get squeezed out a little in order to work properly.

Thinking about this does make me miss my old group, because I felt a lot freer to try different ideas there, even if I didn’t always keep them going. One of my favorites was in a Savage Worlds game where the players are Super Villains in a world where an invading Alien race has killed off all the Super Heroes, so it looks to the Villains to lead the resistance. In that game I chose to play the Kurgan from the Highlander movie, that was a lot of fun. But the game just couldn’t keep up momentum, and life pulled me out of it.

Seized with inspiration from an excellent game

Many years ago (2 decades or so) I intermittently played in a D&D game run by my friend Mark. This was a heavily house ruled, long running game. It made the stereotypical hack & slash game seem tame by comparison. Mark was a firm believer in allowing players to buff up their characters within some vague realms of reason. Because that just gave him a reason to buff up his monsters. He was the first (and only to this day) DM I ever encountered who gave monsters classes and requisite abilities that went with that. I lost touch with Mark about 18 years ago (for what in retrospect is a silly reason that I won’t elaborate on.) Anyway I recently reached out to him, and he invited me to join his recent Pathfinder game. I played in my first session Sunday.

Continue reading “Seized with inspiration from an excellent game”

This is my page, there are many like it

I have been using Tumblr to talk about my gaming. But decided that I wanted the versatility of a true blog if I intend to do more blogging about my gaming. So this is where I will record game specific things. Like the stories of what happens in the D&D campaign I run, or games I play in.

I will still use Tumblr, and try to figure out a way to have these posts go there automatically. And Freerangegeek is still my personal blog, where I may talk in general terms about gaming. But this is where I will get more granular, get into specifics. And since it is a blog it is better suited for long form text than Tumblr.