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Showing posts from August, 2013

Numenera has Arrived

My limited edition leatherbound Numenera book arrived yesterday!

Easy Surveys for the GM

Good GMs care about making the gaming experience better for their players.  However, soliciting candid feedback at the gaming table is colored by the interaction of personalities.  To get real feedback from the group, you need it to be on their own, and often, you need it to be anonymous.  Enter the survey.

Surveys are sets of questions you can pose to your players to get very specific feedback.  Luckily, doing surveys has gotten a whole lots easier with the availability of Google Forms.

Google Forms (lots of how-to information found here) are easy to use, free, and automatically take care of pulling the data together into an easy-to-digest form.  I recently used one of these to do a survey to determine how the players liked the previous campaign and to get ideas for the next campaign.

From this experience and based on previous experience with surveys, here are some quick pointers:

Keep it short.  Nobody wants to spend a lot of time answering questions.Make sure you give all the possib…

Tuesday Runelords

The report from Ranier:

This Thassolonian snitch is becoming a strange thing.  Like some strange force of fate, it forces our party to always change.  I fear Pajar and Dante are gone too long.  Another paladin popped out today, joining our party.The paladin appears to be Varisian and her name is Tarisia.  I simple call her Tari.We ran into another person in the level below today.  I tried to bluff my way through and I guess I was successful because he left without issue.We found the problematic half-elf brother of Amico today.  Axle killed him quickly in his sleep.  He deserved worse, but it was good to avoid the fight for a change.We ran into some sort of vicious sea monster today.  Axle came in too close and got killed.  A least the sea monster had been killing goblins for a while, which left fewer for us to clean up.We found some sort of goblin nursery with cages.  Fun times.We came across a temple of Lamashtu with two large extraplaner dogs.  Jericho fell in fear after their terrib…

Numenera: Some Cool Background

So if you are interested in Numenera, here are a couple of things to look at:

and a write-up on playing Numenera at GenCon with Monte Cooke.

13th Age

Pelgrane Press released a d20 derivative game called 13th Age, and it has gotten a lot of attention.  The first thing you notice with 13th Age is that there is a lot packed into one reasonably-sized book.  It has the core rules for the system, of course.  It also has all the GM material and a lengthy bestiary.  It also contains a lot of information on the setting.  The artwork is impressive too, especially the maps.

You need to understand that 13th Age isn't your 3rd edition style d20 game.  13th Age has a lot of elements that seem 4th edition D&D-like, and a lot of changes to simplify the rules, aka the opposite of 3rd edition D&D.  I like to think of 13th Age as the way 4th edition D&D should have been done.

Skills aren't skills anymore.  They've taken skills and converted them to backgrounds.  Instead of taking tens and hundreds of skill points and dividing them into detailed categories, so you choose the background of your character.  If you need to make a …

GenCon Day 2

Despite us only staying half of day 2, I think it was even better than Day 1.  I was rested and able to do a lot more walking.  We learned the layout of gencon, and there are significant shortcuts to be taken through the convention center, which cut miles off my day.  Once again we were at the exhibition hall at open, and the crowd was smaller.

I got to catch up with Andy Hopp today, the artist and creator of Low Life.  He really is a great guy to meet in person and he took time out not only to sign my Low Life book, but also drew a couple of sketches in there.  He signed art cards for my kids.  We also picked up a dice bag for my wife and I got the limited edition miniature he had on sale.  It feels good to be able to support such a great contributor of new, unique content in the gaming world.

We also made it to Pelgrane Press over in the front left corner of the exhibition hall.  They were parked right next to an impressive Dr Who section.  Pelgrane Press has made a big impact this …

GenCon Day 1

There is a lot of walking at GenCon.  With two bad knees I walk with a cane when I am going to be walking for a while, and today it was holding me up after only a few hours.  Our hotel room isn't ready until 3 do I have found a bench to hang out at until then. This morning was busy.  We ran late and then first missed the hotel parking and then found it full.  Valet it is and our packed stuff is held for us. We picked up our badges and headed for our first session.  Someone gave us bad directions so we didn't make it.  We ended up getting in line to switch the girls' tickets so they would be good for tomorrow.  The session programs with the maps were gone early, but we managed to grab two as they were restocking them. From there we wandered to the exhibition hall and waited for it to open.  It was amazing how many people flooded the hall and yet the crowds thinned out quickly. The highlight of the day was picking up the GM screen for Numenera and then getting Monte Cooke t…

GenCon Here We Come

So our GenCon trip got delayed a day, but tomorrow morning we're heading to Indy nice and early, hopefully early enough that we can beat the rush for badges.  We'll be hitting the Con Thursday and Friday.  Friday night we'll be back home.

I got a load of bad news today, still taking time to digest what it means, but I guess that will wait until after GenCon.  Unfortunately there will be a ton of changes coming. *sigh*

Just in time for GenCon

It's Pink Dice Chronicles, the button!

On "Cairn" and "Axes and Anvils": Mike Nystul's Kickstarters

Mike Nystul raised almost $60,000 (minus fees and other stuff) on Kickstarter to make the Cairn and Axes and Anvils gaming products. (There was also a dungeon project, that I don't really know anything about.)  The projects ran into some big problems, which Mike has posted publicly about.  Some people in the community have taken a lot of time to publicly bash Mike in blogs and other places.

Its time for it to be said -- Enough is Enough!  Kickstarters are risky and projects fail.  Though Mike made some serious mistakes, Mike has done the community a great service after the fact by 1) sharing his mistakes publicly so we can all learn from them and 2) by continuing to try to move the products forward, even if it is at a slow pace, to try to meet his obligations.  I understand that people are unhappy and feel ripped off.  Get over it.  Kickstarters are not preorders on amazon.  They are an investment and they have risk.  It isn't like anyone lost their home or life savings by inv…

Pink Dice Mechanics: Wisdom Check

As a father of 4 daughters, getting my daughters into gaming and ensuring they have a good experience has been a big part of my gaming life in the last few years.  This blog was really meant to capture my experiences along they way.  Without knowing it though, this blog wandered into a different idea completely.  The conclusion in gaming with my daughters is simple -- there is nothing special I need to do because I game with my daughters, because most all players want the same things in the game.

Players want a safe, comfortable environment to interact with other players and explore their own characters in an interesting story.  Of course, there are a lot of little details that make up a positive gaming environment, and that is a lot of what I have explored.  The bottom line though is that there is no unique reason to change gaming to help girls have a better experience; instead there are a lot of broad reasons to change gaming to make sure everyone has a better experience.

Over time,…

GenCon: Marking the Beginning of the New Gaming Season

Yes, that's right folks... GenCon is this week and it marks the beginning of the new gaming season.  With everyone's schedule changing because of school and new games coming out it is the perfect time of year to start new games and end old ones.

My year and a half Pathfinder campaign wound down over the summer, and with many players leaving to go to college, I am looking to start a new Athas (aka. Dark Sun) Pathfinder campaign in its place.

Saturday Shadowrun is going to get revamped in a couple of ways.  At least one of the 4 players is changing schedule, so the time or the players will definitely change.  I am also working a Pathfinder extension rule set to potentially replace the Shadowrun rules I am using.  I had hoped originally to use Neurospasta as my new rule set, but I can't get any answer from them as to what is OGL content and what isn't.

There are other new games I want to work in.  I may have a Friday night Shadowrun game I can join.  I am receiving my Num…

Fresh Look: Companions of the Firmament

Companions of the Firmament was a kickstarter I backed a while ago.  Today the softcover of the book arrived.  Think of this book as "Flying for Pathfinder".  Original estimated delivery was November 2012.  That being said, all kickstarters are late, and I don't take off points for a good product that doesn't meet schedule.  Late schedules show that real development is going on, which is what kickstarters really should be about.

Now I'm not much of a PDF reader, and though I have had the PDF for a while, getting a physical book opened up the content more for me.  So here are my thoughts on the book:

I am worried slightly about the softcover binding.  I'm not sure it will hold up.  Time will tell.  Based on the time that was spent getting everything right on the printing, I am probably worried for no good reason.
The artwork is not Paizo-level artwork.  Maybe I am spoiled because of all of the Paizo books and modules I have, but that is my bar.  At the same time…

Numenera: First Look

Yeah, I was a backer of Numenera and just received the core book and player's book PDFs.  Like all games, the first read is a bit overwhelming.  That being said, I think I really want to run this game.

The last year or so I've been leaning more and more towards rules light systems or Pathfinder.  Shadowrun has been frustrating me for a while now with two big flaws:  extremely complex rules and ever more powerful add-on books.  I am very hopeful that Numenera is not going to suffer from either of these things.

In many ways, Numenera is what d20 should become in a rules light world.  It simplifies the stats down to three, adds a little flavor, simplifies leveling up, and puts the focus back into the story.  It fixes an age old problem of who rolls the dice.  Even in Pathfinder, which is widely played, it isn't always clear who should roll the dice.

I also like how Numenera can be played with two dice -- a d20 and a d6.  There are other dice used, but they can be derived from…

Saturday Shadowrun: The Visitor

So here's the timeline from Saturday:

The party has gathered in their new warehouse home:  Void, Vee, Ender, Mr. Black, and the triumphant return of ZephyrThe last job has made Mr. Black more paranoid than usual.  He is suggesting that the party lay low for a while... months, years, whatever it takes.About that time there is a knock at the door.  The party gets ready for a problem.It is a very plain dressed gentlemen.  Ender verifies he has no comm link, but there are comm links around.The man wants to sit with the party and discuss business.  He is very persuasive and waits until everyone joins him at the table before talking.  He indicates that they shouldn't fret the people nearby, because they insist on coming with him, but he won't have them inside.The man knows about Weldon and the previous job.  He knows impossible things to know.The man makes a deal -- that he will give them money and tech to do the job of capturing Weldon (unharmed with technology intact).  They ha…

Player Advice: Why do I keep repeating myself: COMMUNICATE

I am going to state this one more time so everyone can get this.


I am so tired of players getting pissed off and leaving without clearly communicating their issues with a game before they leave.


How can games get better if we have to read people's minds when there is a problem?

I have left a game once as a player because of problems I had with the game.  At my last session I continually explained to the GM the bad things I saw coming and ended the session telling the GM that I didn't have fun and the rest of the players agreed.  When the GM did nothing AFTER communicating the problem clearly, then I left.  I gave the GM a chance to change things.