Saturday, September 7, 2013

Savage September

I try to limit my promoting of things here but in the interest of cheap gamers everywhere I felt like I should mention this one. It's Savage September on DriveThruRPG and they have some nice setting books for Savage Worlds on sale for five bucks. This includes Weird War II and Interface Zero.

No I don't know any of them personally or work for them or get free stuff from them or anything else. I just like Savage Worlds and I also like good deals, so there you go.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Updates on the Big Two

Not a lot of playing time this week but I did have time to watch the videos from Paizo and WOTC talking about the year ahead for Pathfinder and D&D. They're interesting so I thought I would share.

First up is Paizo here. It's about an hour long.

I like a lot of what I'm hearing with this and those adventure paths sound pretty cool. They have a demon invasion path, an Egyptian desert mummy-themed path, and a barrier-peaks-homage-of-some-kind path. Clearly I am going to have to get to know the campaign world and take a look at these.

I'm going to have to look into the miniatures too.I haven't been looking at the Pathfinder mini's line and it's probably time to do so.

They come across as a solid team who know what they are doing. I am more interested in playing the game because I like the people running the company and I like how they are handling it. Maybe there is a sweet spot for an RPG company where they are big enough to handle their business but not so big that they go corporate and things start to get drowned out by the bland.

Then we have WOTC here, and it's only about 20 minutes.

It's also pretty underwhelming. There's about 5 minutes of RPG discussion then we get mobile/video/computer games talk, neverwinter MMO talk and videos, lego talk, and then the Sundering video. I know Next is still in development but could we talk about the Sundering adventures for a bit, at least? The "Kre-O" stuff is a trinket, a toy that has nothing to do with the actual game and it gets as much time as the game does! At Gen Con could we not focus on the tabletop game and leave the details on the electronic stuff for PAX?

Watching these two in sequence just highlights the contrast in approaches: Pathfinder MMO gets about 30 seconds out of an hour long discussion. Neverwinter and the rest get roughly a quarter of a 30 minute presentation. I've been digging into Next quite a bit recently but stuff like this is disappointing, and then the PF stuff looks many times more interesting on top of that.

No wonder Paizo is on top.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pathfinder at Animefest: The Tower Adventure

So I finally got to play some Pathfinder over the weekend. The local Pathfinder Society was running games all weekend so I picked out a 1st-level pre-gen (they're all based on the Pathfinder iconic characters), started playing, and joined the PFS in case I make it to some other organized play stuff in the near future.

Coolest part: I finally got to play alongside Apprentice Blaster instead of running the game - that made it even more special.

Table size was six and we were the last two to join. the boy picked out a Fighter and I took a Monk - partly because I rarely see them in play and partly because it's been years since I played one. As it turned out we had an interesting mix in the party as the other four characters were a Bard, a Gunslinger, a Druid, and another Monk! If I had realized this I probably would have taken something else but I've never been too worried about party balance as a player and with six I figured we would power through things anyway. besides, I had a concept in mind and it was for a monk, so there's a good chance I'd have stuck with him regardless.

Soon enough we were in the big center-of-the-world city for Pathfinder when word came that an earthquake that morning had revealed an ancient tower, collapsing one side of it to allow access to whatever riches might lie within. That's really all the reason a group of broke low-level adventurers need to head out of town and that's exactly what we did.

The silliness started up early as it turned out that half of the other characters were a band, led by the other monk whose name was Lil' Jimmy, whose character illustration was quickly doctored up to look like Jimi Hendrix, and who spoke with a French accent for no adequately explained reason. The alleged talent in the band was with the bard named Lil' Zeph, who also had a French accent, and who was played as female and male at different times which I am pretty sure was not a deliberate choice, but who knows? The gunslinger was their roadie, the fighter and my monk joined up as security, and the druid was just a fan.

That's just kinda how it works out with a con game sometimes, but I did laugh a lot.

I've always thought of a tower as an inverted dungeon but the tower in this adventure had one trick I have (unbelievably) never seen before. There are stairs inside the tower but there is also the option to climb up the collapsed and now open side of the thing if the party can't get to the stairs (some are behind locked doors) or doesn't want to use them (monsters). It's been quite a while since I've been impressed with basic dungeon geometry but I really liked this one.

The other surprisingly effective innovation was the 3D model of the tower shown above. It's pretty simple compared to some of the 40K terrain I've worked on and with, but it is surprisingly compelling as a player to  see that there are only 5 levels to explore, then later only 5-X levels left, and then a sense of accomplishment on reaching the top with the party intact. It also keeps you very aware of the height as you make those climb checks. I really liked it and I'm going to have to think about that kind of presentation for the future.

We entered the tower and worked our way up over the next few hours. It took a little while for the party to gel and there was the usual talking over each other you see with a new group but we had a solid DM who knew the rules and gave us time to work things out but reeled us back in when we went too far astray. Some of the combats were a little hairy and half of us dropped to zero HP's at least once. My personal trial was when I triggered a trap and was pinned to a door by a spear fired through my back, then as the other monk was pulling me off of the door, it opened and I took two more spears from the front - that was a very painful round.

We did manage to talk our way past a potentially nasty situation involving water, electricity, and animals thanks to the druid. The DM later mentioned that he had killed entire parties in that encounter when they handled it badly and I believe him - but it worked out for us.

In the end we had a big dramatic fight with a leader and his animal companion on top of the tower that got more dangerous as the fight went on. The big finale came as the other monk and I dangled over the edge of the thing and Blaster's fighter bull rushed the enemy over the side - a really nice finish to a good run.

Everyone seemed to have a good time and it was a memorable run.

I went and looked up what people thought of the adventure afterwards and a lot of people seem to regard it a slightly above average adventure. The main complaints are that it's mostly combat and there's no real plot?! I don't get that! In my view it's a perfect introduction to the setting, the PFS (both in-game and out-of-game) and it doesn't need any more plot than "you're broke and there's a dungeon - go". Considering it is specifically designed to bring new players in to the PFS as 1st level characters and I think it accomplishes that spectacularly. If you're interested it's "Master of the Fallen Fortress" and the Paizo page is here. I haven't read it yet, I just read through the comments.

I had a great time and Blaster did too. We had hoped to work in another session but the timing didn't work out. Red was interested too but he only had one day at the con as he had to work. We will be looking for another chance though.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Things I Learned at Animefest

It only took an hour to pick up our badges - after an hour long drive to get there. 
  • Did you know Robin is apparently a girl? I saw one male Robin and 4-5 female ones.
  • The one male Robin was part of a full Teen Titans lineup that was posing for pictures including a pretty impressive Cyborg and a very green Beastboy.
  • I saw one male Loki and 3 female Loki's. Some of them were pretty interesting.
Heck, there are at least 3 Robins just in this picture!
  • Every con I've ever been to has included Star Trek costumes. I was a little worried about this one, but within a couple of hours on our first day I ran across a trio of young ladies sporting TOS uniforms. I suppose they might have been new movie uniforms, but either way the red-gold-blue miniskirt look never quite goes out of style. Thank you ladies for keeping the streak alive.
  • So ... many ... Doctors ... if you were looking for A doctor I'm not sure what kind of luck you would have had but if you were looking for THE Doctor well you had plenty of choices as there were a crap ton of them at the con
  • Lots of Steampunk outfits - I know it's turned into a thing the last few years and Austin has a fairly big crowd that's into that, but I didn't expect to see so much of it at an anime event. Lots of suppliers in the dealer room too.
Oh yeah - this guy was there too

Gaming notes - gaming isn't a huge part of this con but here's what I did find:
  • No 40K! I didn't see one table of 40K or Fantasy or Warmachine/Hordes or anything else. There was very little miniatures presence here.
  • Reaper did have a paint and take room so there was something.
  • Battletech had a room with mini's and some terrain going most of the con. I ended up not playing it but they were there.
  • Fiasco was listed but every time I walked by the room doors were shut so I can't actually say if it ran or not.
  • There were some other one-off RPG's on the program but I never saw them either
  • No D&D at all as far as I could tell
  • The one shining beacon was Pathfinder - the Dallas Pathfinder Society branch was set up in a decent sized room and ran all 4 days. I played some of this and I'll have more on it tomorrow.
Did I mention Minecraft is popular with the kids these days?
Anyway, it was fun - the kids dressed up and Apprentice Twilight in particular got a lot of attention for hers. It was good and we will probably go back next year. In fact they're all fired up about going to some other area cons so we will probably have to look into it in quite a bit less than a year.