Friday, February 27, 2009

Free loot! - from Adventure the Card Game creator K.R.Bourgoine

Wowzerz! Presuming it's really him, K.R.Bourgoine himself read my short (but sweet?) review of his very cool card game, "Adventurer the Card Game"...and he liked it!

As he states in his comment on the blog entry, he's going to send me the refer-a-friend bonus card "Crown of the Immortals" just for doing the writeup here....sa-weetness!


So, maybe it's time for me to do some more product reviews. I mean, free loot rules!

Look for a review of the newest, baddest, costliest, Alienware gaming PC coming soon. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"The Complete Guide to Role-Playing Games": a book by Rick Swan

I found this tome in a local used bookshop, and figured I'd snag it just for some fun easy reading of some quick reviews of various RPGs thru the years. This book is dated 1990, so it covers tons of games up until that point.

The book is by Rick Swan, who has also written some 2nd edition AD&D supplements ("The Complete Barbarian's Handbook", among others) and various modules for Dragonlance, Spelljammer, Al-Qadim, Planescape, Forgotten Realms, and even some Marvel Super Heroes.

I have yet to get much into this book...just browsing a few entries covering games for which I have a particular fondness. At any rate, the format looks pretty nice, including for each game entry: a game title, a # of stars rating, complexity rating, publisher info, a game review/synopsis, buyers notes, and suggested supplements. The game order is A-Z, and there is a nice subject index grouping the games by genre.

Here's just a brief summary of a few reviews Swan has given for some of my faves:

AD&D
****

1st and 2nd editions
This is one of the more lengthy reviews in the book, from what I've seen. A good portion of the entry deals with 2nd edition, possibly due to the fact that Swan contributed to many of the settings in that edition. Regarding AD&D in general, he writes "A role-player who's never experienced AD&D is like a board-gamer who's never tried Monopoly or a kid who's never played baseball." - Now that's some solid marketing...I like it.

Boot Hill
***

1979 edition

Rick writes "fire order is crucial; slowpokes don't last long in Boot Hill." - Nice! He also recommends Lost Conquistador Mine as "not only the best of the Boot Hill supplements, it's also the best Western adventure ever published." - Now, I only have the original box set, so I can't comment, but he sure makes me want to track that one down.

D&D
***1/2

1974, 1977, 1983 editions

This one is kinda tough to cover fully, as the different revs (OD&D, Holmes, Moldvay/Cook/Marsh, Mentzer BECMI, RC) all have their unique coolness, and could warrant an entire book to that discussion alone. One biggie though: Swan skips right over my all-time fave 1981 Moldvay/Cook/Marsh B/X edition. Major points lost from me on that one, Rick...ha! However he makes up for it with this gem (discussing folks who claim that D&D is too simpleminded, illogical, meaningless, abstract, juvenile, etc): "These grouches completely miss the point. Complaining that Dungeons and Dragons is an unrealistic RPG is like saying that chess is an inaccurate wargame. We're not talking about delving into the social structure of medieval Europe here, we're talking about tossing fireballs at lizard men and swiping gold pieces from ogres." - Agreed...simple (and sometimes silly) counts too.

Gamma World
***

1st and 3rd ed

He says "the third edition is the one to buy." - I personally totally disagree. 1st, 2nd and even 4th are much better, IMO...leaning on 2nd as my fave, although 1st ed was my 1st copy back in school. I do like this line by Swan though: "It's a bang-up job by designers James Ward, David James Ritchie, and Gary Jaquet; that is, if you don't take your nuclear holocausts too seriously."

Top Secret
***

1980

Swan advises "Top Secret is good, but Top Secret/S.I. is better." - I personally have only played the original. However, I have heard this same opinion of the 1987 sequel from other gamers, so maybe I should give it a go someday. There is quite a bit of the S.I. source material, mods, and such floating around my local area game shops and used book stores, so it wouldn't be tough to snag some. Actually, I might even have a little bit of the S.I. stuff in piles of geekgoodies, but I know for sure I only have play experience in the original. And even that is pretty marginal XP.

Tunnels and Trolls
***

1975

In his Suggested Supplements section, Swan comments that "With its simple rules, Tunnels and Trolls is a natural for solo play, and the solitaire T&T supplements are among the best of their kind." - I personally love the fact that T&T has such a huge amount of Solo/Solitaire mods published. I have a pile of them, and they are very nice for a gamer who has limited resources as far as grouping goes. I just recently have been able to play some real PnP D&D (4e) with real people at a real table so I am literally (and figuratively) "geeked" about that. But, prior to my recent gaming, solo mods...true "solitaire" mods were all I really had with which to get my game on. So I applaud Flying Buffalo (notably Rick Loomis) for this portion of the fantasy RPG genre. I only wish more game systems and other genres would follow suit. Sure there are a few solo/solitaire TSR D&D/AD&D modules in the mix, but IMO not enough.


Well that's really all I've checked out so far. There are over 150 games reviewed by Swan in this book, some more lengthy than others. I don't have a real grasp on how I regard the author's reviews yet, and how much faith I'll put into his advice, so I will withhold that judgment until I give the book a fair shake.

Thus, I will be reading some more entries, to see his take on some more games that I have played, but more interestingly some that I have yet to try, or even yet to hear of. First in that list: Macho Women with Guns. Sounds hot!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Introducing my 5 year old son to D&D (baby steps)


OK, it's not officially D&D as we know it (neither 1981 nor 2009), but it's a start.

So a little while back my son and I got our gaming groove on with Crossbows & Catapults. That was amazingly awesome! We then started mixing in some other figures (minis) into those battles, including some D&D miniatures, some WALL-E bots, and even a grinnin' thumbs-up'n Captain America. Fun!

Well, my son and my 2 year old daughter love my dice collection. She calls them "Daddy's ice" and it makes me smile every time. They also love my D&D minis collection.

So, it only made sense to start prepping my boy for some D&D gaming, in one form or another. I pulled out some minis (Dungeon of Dread series was the first bag I grabbed), their stat cards, and some dice for us to do some very simple battles. We really only used one combatant each this first session, just top keep it simple and for him to learn the basics of rolling for initiative, moving his guy, taking a swing at me (or a slash, kick, bite...as things progressed he got pretty creative).

Our first showdown put his Deathjump Spider against my Giant Centipede.



I just wanted to find the simplest and most evenly matched minis for the first fight. It was a very even match, and kinda just went back and forth, not much of a fight to be frank. So we dumped out the bag of minis and I let him pick his guy for the next one. He chose the Gargoyle. I chose the Drow Spiderguard.



I snapped a couple pics of the action, most of which were horrible examples of photography, so those are pretty much scrapped. I only have the first pic above as any sorta artsy take on our battlefield. The blurry parts there (on purpose...ha!) are his Gargoyle, my Drow, his red gem Gamescience d20 and d10 (I kept the damage dice to d10s to keep things easy this first session as well), and my blue gem Gamescience d20 and d10. Yes, I do love the Gamescience dice...really, any precision dice I really dig. Just feels right to a gamer from back in '81, ya'know?

I took some pretty crappy videos with a Flip video camera sitting on the kitchen island counter top, but those need some serious editing to be useful at all for a demonstration of our session. Maybe I'll get around to that. Maybe I'll just shoot better vids next time. Dunno.

Anyhow...we did really simple battles: initiative, moves, attack rolls (with juicy descriptions!), damage rolls, and hit point reductions. We never healed, and we never used any special character powers at all. The only special attacks that took place were ones that we just plain made up. One fun example was my son's flurry of "claw, claw, double-kick-to-my-temples, bite, tail-smack"...that was fun (for him). I let him roll 6 separate d20 attacks on that one (he hit with 3 of them), just to end the fight (my Drow suffering a horrible fate) before I would have surely beaten him. I know it wasn't the best education in good sportsmanship for him, but it was a lot of fun, and that counts too. Before that final attack chain, he was down to 1 hp, so it was pretty darn dramatic. Hey, he could have missed on all 6 dice - been there, done that.

My funnest attack was swinging around to his backside and attempting to slice off his Gargoyle's tail. I missed. Doh! He rubbed it in with the comment "critical miss!"...I've taught him well.

Anyway, it was a total blast and it was so much fun just to see him start to get that wide-eyed thing going, like we all did when we first rolled a polyhedron..."back in '(insert your roleplaying starting year)!"

More sessions to come, increasing the numbers of combatants per side, variable damage dice, healing, powers, strategy...but not letting it get too "rulesy."

BTW, if you've never seen a 5 year old (he turned 5 y.o. two weeks ago, BTW) roll a d20, you're missing out on major heaping of awesome. I can't wait to DM something for-real-real for him (and his sister) somewhere down the road. But for now: "baby steps."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

'80s themed Birthday Bash (with pics! - one of them quite shameful)


(Ok, so this post is waaaayyyy behind. Three months almost to the day. At any rate, I'm behind in most things these days, so here's a little catch up.)

I turned the ripe ol' age of 40 last week. (keeping in mind that "last week" is last week, 3 months ago)

My wife threw me an '80s party cuz...well...cuz she flat out rocks!

So here are a few pics. I'm only posting a couple shots, mainly to protect the innocent (the rest of the crew may not want their mugs pasted here). Maybe more pics will follow in a future (past) post. I can't believe I'm posting a shot of me in full '80s gear, but hey, if I'm gonna "reveal" myself, it may as well be disguised in:

* a mullet wig
* a Member's Only jacket
* an Atari t-shirt
* a skinny tie
* a pair of Vans (sorta)
* some smooth shades
* rubber gel bracelets

and...wait for it....

* zebra-striped spandex


Ah well, all shame aside, here ya go:

"Oh the humanity!"


Here's a shot of the "Table o'Eighties" which was a very popular stop for the partygoers:


And here's one of my gifts (didn't even know they still made that crap):


There are many other better pics, but they are on my sis-in-law's camera, and I'm not sure when I'll get a digi copy of those, so for now, these will have to do.

Anyway, I hope I brought a smile to your face today with these...or at least sparked a memory or two. I had a perma-grin on all night during the bash, and felt like I was 15 again (God knows I sure acted like it...ha!)

Oh yeah, my fave part was watching everyone's faces trying to figure out how I had MTV from 1983 (yeah, not quite Back in '81 but the best I could do) on my TV all night. I found some sweet files on teh internets that had about 4 hours or so of actual MTV footage from 1983, commercials and all. This video footage is now pretty much all over the interwebz, so you can find it pretty easily. If you haven't watched it yet, it's well worth a viewing...and a "right-click, save-as". Mark Goodman was the VJ during that timeslot, and it was freakin awesome to have as the backdrop and soundtrack for my 40th b-day bash.


So...there ya go.

/shame_off

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Adventurer - The Card Game": simple yet fun



Adventurer - The Card Game, by K.R. Bourgoine.

So I snagged the "Limited Edition" of this sweet card game a while back (sometime early last year, IIRC) and only got to play a couple times before I packed it up in a moving box (we moved to a new house). At any rate, this is a very cool card game that has some expansion packs/decks and some very cool designer cards. I have the "Shade the Trickster" card, designed by Gary Gygax, himself. Here's that card:



Oh and here's a fave of mine...wonder why? Oh yeah, cuz I like vampires...right? RIGHT?!?!?



Ok, well enough of the "goodies"...how does it play? Very funly (yes, I just made that word up).

All seriousness aside, it's a very fast play, and you can dork around solo or bring along up to 3 friends. It's an every hero for themselves "dungeon crawl" though, so leave the teamwork at the portcullis.

Basically you have 4 stock heroes to choose from, a deck of dungeon cards (loot, baddies, traps, etc), a pair of d6s, and if you bought the Limited Edition version you get an extra card. In fact if you snagged any of the designer cards, you obviously have those to use as well.

So pick your hero, then go hunt down the Vamp, Count Lordrac! BTW, (per usual) you'll need a "stake" to defeat him. For heroes, you have this crew to choose from:

Princess Aeria - can unlock a locked door
Izgar the Goblin - can pass any collapsed area
Lalliard the Wizard - can open any Magically Locked Portal
Macal the Swordsman - can jump past any Failing Floor


You draw cards and act on those as needed. If you encounter a baddie, battle ensues. It's basically a roll-off, but you can use items to help, including your weapon.

If you defeat the baddie, you get some loot (weapon, locked chest, key, etc). You can also find mad lootz just by drawing them as cards. You can equip an item to use in your next battle, or use healing potions, etc.

You may also draw a card resulting in a trap...yikes!

Baddies include skellies, zombies, ghasts, etc (undead), along with 3 vampire brides ("ambushes!" which prevent you from running away from their massive undead cleavage... err... badness), and then the big boy himself, Count Lordrac. As noted above you will need a stake to beat him for real-realz. If you defeat him without a stake, he gets shuffled back into the deck, and you're back on the trail to find him again (preferably this time with a stake).

Anyway, I won't go all into the rules here, mainly because they are posted on various sites, including the main product site and it's forums, and frankly because it's been a while since I played it and I'd hate to botch it up too much in a simple post like this.

The artwork is somewhat reminiscent of "back in '81" (or thereabouts), and old timers will most likely dig it. I sure do. Here's a shot (from the main site) of some other cards in the deck:



There is a simple little promo comic here, and a user/player's Gladitorial Variant ruleset, which is approved by the game's creator himself (here's his response).

There are also two newer expansions ("Portal" and "Chaos") to add to the main "Castle Deck," along with some additional designer cards. For $55 you can get the whole lot:

Complete Adventurer Bundle One of each item:

* K.R.Bourgoine’s Adventurer Card Game
* K.R.Bourgoine’s Adventurer: Portals Expansion
* K.R.Bourgoine’s Adventurer: Chaos Expansion
* Gary Gygax Guest Designer Card #1: Shade the Trickster
* James M. Ward Guest Designer Card #2: Warden’s Pool of Darkness
* Chris Clark Guest Designer Card #3: BlunderBuss
* Tom Wham Guest Designer Card #4: Slooch the Cleric
* Lodrac’s Twin Hero Card
* Extra Count Lodrac Card


The main ordering page is here.

Back when I got mine, there was really only the main Castle Deck (LE) and a few of the designer cards (Gygax, Ward, Clark). I think I paid $20 or so for my stash...not bad. I'd like to get some more of the extras, but first I think I'll try to find my lowly basic set (Castle Deck), somewhere in one of those boxes in the basement.

Ugh, I hate the after-move effect, but it can lead to some serious dungeon crawling treasure finding on it's own. Heck, just yesterday I looted my old OD&D OCE white box (little brown books) set down in those basement depths of doom! What will I find the next trip down there? Stay tuned...

Monday, February 9, 2009

a Dragon on the Freeway!


Is that Mornauguth? Gorbash? Beryllinthranox? Vermithrax? Norbert? Or is it just some generic Romanian Longhorn?

Regardless...ZOMG!

So a week or so ago, according to some traffic signs, we had zombies on the loose! And now a freakin' Dragon!?!?

All seriousness aside, when I saw this awesome (chainsaw) carving in this dude's truck bed, I just had to get up close and take a quick snapshot. I had a tough decision: snap a pic or grab a d20?

Granted the quality sucks, but bear in mind, it was taken with my phone, through a (embarrassingly) dirty windshield, on a dreary winter day. So in the end, it is what it is.

I still dug it. I was giggling like little dork when we finally reached the off ramp and came to rest at this stop light. Fun stuff.

Now that dude should sell those as minis, eh? That would be some serious tabletop coolness:

"You walk through the portal and into a massive cavern. Directly in front of you, perched on a stone throne, is an enormous behemoth...a massive Green Wyrm."

(DM operates crane to lower dragon carving onto table...THUD!!!)


"Roll for initiative!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Crossbows & Catapults: WALL-E, D&D, and Marvel style

So my son and I decided to take our typical Crossbows & Catapults battle and mix it up a little bit. We broke out the standard C&C set, but figured we'd get some new warriors into the ranks.

My son's all-time fave movie, ever-ever-ever-forever-ever, is WALL-E. Just check out the t-shirt. That's nothing. He has several t-shirts, socks, shoes, a backpack, a lunchpail, cups, plates, silverware, an alarm clock, and darn near all of the related toys and video games that have been produced to date. He also draws the absolute coolest sketches of him (WALL-E) and the whole gang of "reject-bots." He really does. I'll have to scan some and post them (proud Daddy, of course).

Anyway, so we gathered up some alternate plastic figs to use in place of some of the normal Knights and Orcs in the C&C set. He decided that the little plastic dudes from his Bag o'Bots were perfect for the job. He was right.

These things are actually pretty cool, as they are basically WALL-E (and friends) versions of little green army men.


Here are the "new" commanders WALL-E and Beautician Bot (the fig looks cooler than it sounds... let's go with the official name: PR-T...ha!), as they usurp the old leaders:


Here's a couple shots of some of them on the battlefield:

My camp:

My son's camp:


I also decided to grab a few quick vids of the action. These are pretty bad quality, primarily because they were captured using my (old) digital camera, and secondarily because my memory card was so full that I had to keep finding a pic here or there to delete, and then try to get a quick vid in...ah well.

Regardless here's my loving son informing me that due to his awesome shot at my tower's main gate, my fearless leader (perched atop the tower) just "catched-ed on fire!":

video


And here's my boy performing his patented "WALL-E Transformin' Bad Shot(s)":

video


He did redeem himself, however, with this totally lopsided assault:

video


After I gathered up my beaten and abashed battalion, we took it to another level entirely, and broke out some D&D miniatures and a little game piece from a Marvel Memory game. Enter the new-new leaders, my Hook Horror and my son's Young Silver Dragon (both from the Dungeons of Dread set), along with his 2nd-in-command, Captain America!



"Hey Cap, you think you guys are gonna win this round too?" From the looks of the two-thumbs-up and that goofy grin, I'd say that's a "YES!"


This is so much fun!