Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Question

There has been a lot of posts about game balance lately so I am going to taking the lazy way out and pose that question here.  Is game balance an important part of your game?  But I also want to see what your answer is as a player, not just as a GM.

Since I am a player right now I'll answer from that side of the screen.  As a player nothing would be more boring for me to know that all the encounters were balanced for my/party's level.  I like that challenge of figuring out way to get around or trick tougher opponents or be tricked into thinking "oh, these guys will be cake" and charge.  Then find my ass on a silver platter.

If you've played for any length of time, when the GM says its this monster you can dial up the page of the Monster Manual in your head and have a good idea of its HD, AC ect.  So the players can assess fairly quickly if they plan on chopping away or sneaking away.  But I love the challenges where I know I am way outnumbered or out powered and finding away to defeat that foe.  One of the simplest examples I can think of is there is a bridge over a wide creek.  But there is a troll guarding the bridge.  If you can guess at his riddle then you may pass unharmed.  Wrong answer and he eats your head.  Why not just cross the creek the bridge spans?  Because there is a small army of orcs and ogres that aren't in the mood to talk and will just shoot things at you until you are chum.

As a GM it depends on the group I'm running.  If I have a newbie group like I was running earlier in the year I would run balance, but challenging encounters.  I want them to learn the game and adjust to the threat levels of different monsters.  I may put a big bad monster over yonder and if they stray to close I may have it scorch someone to show death is a very real possibility in the game and I'm not afraid to use it.

Old time gamers, I don't worry about game balance one bit.  I throw in critters I think make sense for the adventure.  If could be they only get half way through and encounter something they have no chance of defeating, but then return when they are a little stronger and take it on again.  Plus the old dudes I play with are very good at circumventing/manipulating/influencing a bad situation in their favor.  I think they would get very bored if I level the playing field.

So whatta ya think?  Go game balance or no game balance?  That is the Friday question of the week.

Other blogs the are talking about this same subject:
Beedo of Dreams of the Lich House  
And Mr. 2000cp himself, Erik of Tenkar's Tavern

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Crapping Yellow Ink on My Desk

Or its really close to getting a ball bat up its backside.  A couple days ago I noticed when I was printing there were yellow dots here and there on the page.  Hmm, I did not like that.  I did a nozzle cleaning thing.  Did a head check.  Printed again, still specks.  Well, it says the ink was very low in the yellow cartridge and I have another.

Plug in yellow ink cartridge.


Big, yellow diarrhea streak through my page.   What the hell.

Clean head and nozzle and alignment.

Swoosh, printer shit itself again.  It was streaked with about a one inch of yellow ink with globs that dripped from the page.

Contacted Epson through email.  It's Christmas after all.  They got back quickly with suggestions that I do what I already did and had already put in my email to them.  Thanks for reading Epson.  One of my favorite answers was I was not using official Epson paper.  I didn't know Epson made toilet paper to wipe up the crap its spread across my documents.

Opened up my printed to check out the inside.  There was a pool of yellow ink at the bottom.  I tried to sop it up, but it just kept coming.  I'd taken the cartridges out.  I had no idea where it was coming from.

After a an hour of dabbing and dobbing in a space I can barely fit my hand the yellow ink was gone.

Recheck the ink cartridge.  Do another clean and alignment.


Big, yellow diarrhea streak through my page...again.

I was reading about my printer and it seems to be a fairly common problem.  I've had it since June of this year.  It worked like a charm.  Was my favorite printer until it started crapping yellow ink onto my desk.

 So as of now I got no printer.  I am guessing Epson is going to be less than helpful.  It is still under warranty, but everything I've read they just want to send you someone else's piece of chit.  I guess we'll see.  Or I may just have a post about the new printer I just bought.

Monday, December 24, 2012

NGR Indiegogo

Zzarchov over at his Unoffical Games blog has an Indiegogo campaign in progress.  He's releasing his 2013 version of his Neoclassical Geek Revival (NGR) system and I think its one of the more original systems out there.  What makes it different is his interesting way to handle encumbrance, his sub-system of awesome points and powers (known as slices of pie, Johnathan Bingham should approve).  And that's just a few of the very cool twists he puts into his game.  If you've never had the chance to check it out throw in $5 for the PDF or if you trust me when I say its a very cool system and worth the space on your gaming shelf go for the print version.

The very cool thing about this campaign is Zzarchov has already done the work.  It's done.  So you don't have to wait for all these extended goal products that seem to bog down the release.  And, this is no surprise to me, if the project fails to fund, Zzarchov will provide anyone who wanted to donate a free PDF version of NGR.  You cannot lose.

If you've been involved with Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaigns or this is your first, you can only improve your gaming knowledge and coolness by getting involved.

Click to go to NGR Indiegogo page.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Question

So the world hasn't ended yet.  I know it was supposed to be today, but never did figure out what time it was coming around.  And if its supposed to be at 6pm is that EST, CST...ect.  If I had planned better I would have taken the day off, but since I didn't and the world hasn't got to bits I need to go work.

So let's say the Mayan's were wrong, which I think they are.  I mean the calendar for them ended a lot sooner than today.  Wonder if they had that day figured out.  Anyway so the world will not end for most of us today.  I'm hoping all your good gamers out there find yourself safe and sound and ready to get some gaming goodness.

So now the world is not ending, what game are you hoping to get into this year?  What gaming goal, if you have one, would you like to accomplish?

I've said it before, but I'd like to get into a few more games on Google+.  I think I found a VTT that will work well.  And goals I'm setting out to accomplish this year, get the Manor back into a somewhat schedule production and get out Starter Adventurers.  If I can do those two things I will be happy.

It's Friday, the snow is blowing like crazy outside, the dogs are acting up, I got a full schedule of annoying people and we have our company Christmas party today.  If the world is supposed to end it better fricking hurry up.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Locks, a Unexpected Element to Your Game

Sometimes I enjoy getting fiddly with aspects of gaming.  Right now I am enjoying the idea of lock qualities and complexity.  A while back a wrote a quick post about lockpicks and locks, there I broke down locks in five simple levels of complexity.  Then I had an example of a lock maker...cause they don't make themselves.  I'll use Frower as my lock maker example and game stats will be in italics

Frower of Ellon
 Lock maker for 15 years.  He has three styles of locks he makes, the simple catch lock which is a simple lock that keep out the curious, but not those who are determined.  A good thief can make do and sometimes manipulate this kind of lock with household items or...gasp...jimmy the lock.  It is a cheap lock and comes with two keys.  This would be considered a simple lock that provides no penalty and on failures the lock in not likely to jam. 

Frower makes a more complex three tumbler lock.  This lock take some skill to release.  He makes the lock chamber large enough for needle traps.  Where as Frower will now build the trap in he knows how much space to leave to allow that addition.  This kind of lock comes with two keys also.  This lock would be considered a difficult lock and give the player a -10% penalty.  However, if the player has been successful with Frower's locks in the past there will be no penalty. 

Both these locks are fairly common and known to thieves in the city.  They look for FE engraving above the keyhole.  A few of the more skillful thieves have copies of the keys that will open the locks.  A single key may open 10% of the doors in the city without ever having to use a lockpick.  Frower cannot make an endless combination for his cheap locks so he has a set of five different sets.  For the standard set of locks he makes 10 different combinations.  More combinations cost him time and money.  If people wanted real security they would spend a little more on a complex lock below.

Frower also does special orders for more complex locks.  In these cases he must have the container in the shop to shape the lock.  These locks are unique and difficult to pick.  More often than not a clumsy attempt to pick this type of lock will result in a pick breaking off inside the lock, thus jamming the mechanisms.  These locks take more time to fashion and Frower can add simple traps to the locking mechanism.  One key for each lock.  This would be considered a complex lock providing the picker a -20% penalty.  

Why go into this much detail over locks?  I like to add sub game to my game...sometimes.  If there are a few thieves in the party they enjoy this kind of detail.  If the don't like it I toss over my shoulder for another time.  The main reason I like it is it adds more possibilities to urban adventures I already love.  I can think of a dozen plots that could involve a lock maker.  Having details like this can add an an unexpected element to your game. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Gaming

Holiday gaming is always interesting.  My Monday night group will be taking time off until next year.  This Wednesday Trey has something planned for the Weird Adventures adventuring squad, Go Team Victory then I'm not sure how much we'll play.

I hope to use the time to play in a few Google + games and I plan on running a couple adventures in the next few weeks.  I've been wanting to get more involved, but struggle to find the time.  I've been spending most of my free time on the couch with Ivy watch cooking shows on YouTube.  I'm not a cook, but I really enjoy watching them.  Also I have a thing for those gold digging shows, Gold Rush Alaska, Gold Rush Berring Sea, Goldfathers and so on.  It's interesting how much time and money goes into finding the smallest nugget of gold.  I think they spend twice as much digging the stuff out. 

What I am hoping to do this holiday is sample a few of the many games available.  And try some other systems.  In the grand scheme of things though systems are not really my concern.  Just sitting down and playing is my goal. 

If any of you have suggestions of cool games coming during the holidays, let me know.  I've joined a bunch of the Google+ communities and try to follow along there, but it gets noisy and don't follow up on all the new stuff. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cancelled Due to Weather

Game night went off without a hitch.  Actually we didn't play.  Fantasy Grounds was being particularly shitty tonight.  Most night we have a few issues, but dial it in.  Tonight, it wasn't having any of it.  And in the group we have one computer programer, one military computer information guru, one electrical engineer and one...I'm not sure what you would call it, he makes sure your cell phones work.  We'll call him God of the Signal.  Between all those electronically , computer literate masters none of them could get FG running.  Out of the group I am by far the least helpful and I guess never intend to be.  My contributions were, "Turn it off and on."  Or my favorite, I blamed it on the goddamn Harn weather chart.  Rewind five minutes before crash.

"Fantasy grounds is working great tonight."

"That new broadband you got Rob is making a huge difference."

"Everyone on Skype sounds great."

"What's the weather doing?"

"Light rain coming out of the south.  This is the third straight day of rain.  Everything is muddy."

"Damn you Rusty (Battle Axe)."






Half hour later.


Goddamn Harn weather.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

4 Shades of Sleestak

Who knew sleestak came in such a variety? 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Question: To Drug or Not to Drug

It's Friday and this is a good thing.  A very good thing.  My question this Friday is this, going to the tavern and getting imaginarily sloshed before or after an adventure seems like a staple of gaming.  But how often do drugs enter the scene?  Do you have the thieves guild running drugs like in Thieves World, where brick of Krrf are sold away from the eyes of the city watch. 

Do you use drugs in your campaign?
If so, is it illegal and what are the consequences?

I've never went into detail for that kind of thing in my campaign I've hinted at it.  I've come up with a few concoctions and blatantly ripped off Krrf to use in my game.  Justifying the legality of it  is sometimes difficult without infusing modern day reasons.   Because I've never went into detail with the drug running I've never only thought about the reason why its illegal.  The main ideas that surface are guards getting hooked on the stuff and not staying at posts or getting involved with criminals and turning a blind eye to certain activities.  Or peasants loosing work due to being drug sick.  So I guess in my world what little I have thought about it ties to the productivity of a person and not so much the health.

Anyway, I'd be interested in how and if others make room for drugs in your campaigns.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Game Night, Game Fight

I've been trying to post about our game night session on Monday and haven't been able to complete the blog so here it is.

We beat up more Vikings and our spy ate a sandwich. 

The end.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Double Stak Sunday Poem

Red and orange sky, a promise sign
Forlorn groups huddle in shallow caves
Unhatched eggs wait as elders bend from time

The gods of pylons aid in our fight
gods of light we banish you from sight
blessed is the black
blessed is the dark
blessed is the ever night

*No apologies are given for crappy poetry on sleestak Sundays.  I put it in the title.  It's your own fault you read it.

Late Night Stak

Oh yeah, this sleestak is ready for fight.  Bring it on.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Villians, Part 9

Morgan sopped up the blood with the altar cloth given to him by the faceless man.  Runes of some sort were sewn around the edge.  Shotty work.  Looked like a child's rag playing at evil.  A man and a boy hung over him with their throats slit, hands tied behind their backs, slaughtered like pigs.  Hardly his concern.

When the altar cloth could hold no more blood, Morgan left the cabin with it balled in his red hands.  He held it in front of him as he walked carefully along the path only he knew towards the small cave where the faceless man lived.  The winter wind chilled his blood soaked clothes, but the fresh air removed the coppery stench from his nostrils. 

The cave was small, he'd walked past it hundreds of times through the years never paying it much attention.  Nothing adorned the entrance.  Morgan didn't know how the faceless man moved around inside.  Didn't care.  Give him the cloth and get back to work.  He wasn't one to indulge in bullshit spiritual matters.  Or matters of any kind except those that put food on his table and coin in his pocket.

He stood outside the cave aggravated and cold.  He held the cloth near the entrance hoping the faceless man would take his damn relic and never appear again.  The blood began to freeze on the hair of his arms and hands before he heard a rustling sound from inside the cave.  Morgan scowled and said nothing.  His words meant nothing.  Why waste the breath.  His time had already been wasted.

The faceless man's elongated body contorted out of the small cave entrance like an large thin insect.  It's head looked like a bag of skin.  No features.  It crawled forward then stood to its full height which was two heads taller than Morgan who was considered a large man by most.  The skin around its head vibrated slightly as it bent closer to the clothe.  Morgan would have guessed it was pleased, but who the fuck knew.  It reached out with elongated fingers that had extra joints and grasped the cloth delicately and draped it over its head.

Morgan grimaced.  He turned to walk away, but he only got a few strides when he heard the thing hiss, "Wait."

His hand went to the long knife at his side.  Enough of his time had been wasted and he wasn't about to play servant to some faceless cave dwelling god.  He'd take his chances with filleting the skin from its body.  Old gods tend to have an inflated sense of power and importance.  They were scattered across the land always scrapping for any crumb of awe.

"Your payment," the thing said under the blood soaked cloth.

Morgan snarled, "Payment is you fuck off and stay in your cave."

One of the creature's hands reached into the darkness of the cave and brought out a long golden chain.  Morgan's attention strayed to the golden chain that looked to measure the length of a horse.  It coiled the gold chain around it hand and offered it to Morgan.  "Payment."

His hand stayed on his hilt and he snorted.  Morgan reached for a dangling loop of the chain and pulled it towards him.  He braced himself for the creature to pull him closer and shove him into the dark of the cave.  Instead the creature let it fall to the ground as Morgan collected his reward.  The boy and his father from over the ridge whose blood soaked that cloth ended up being his richest victims.  Morgan figured with just a section of the chain he could buy a new horse, buy a keg of ale from the market, a woman for a few nights and a new knife.  A new knife made from Scarred Steel. 

Morgan looked up after a short while of thinking of all the things he could buy and saw the creature completing its transformation.  He knew the old gods could change their form.  Their original forms always seem so horrific.  It changed in size and looked human as it stood naked in the cold valley.  When it removed the cloth it appeared as the boy and began walking toward the ridge where the boy's family lived along with ten other families.

Morgan shoved the gold chain into his vest and walked toward town deciding what to buy first.