Friday, December 21, 2012


A lot has happened since last we spoke!

Myself and my business partner Noah have taken the first steps to forming our own legitimate company!

It will be known as "Hero's Ruin Game Co." We've got one game past the playtesting stage and into the design stage. It's a two player strategy board game. It's a steam-punk themed capture the flag style game with various troop pieces and card mechanics. We'll be revealing it in it's complete form soon.

I told you I've been busy!

We've filed all the business paperwork and are in the process of settling down on an artist to do the illustrations for our game.

I know things have been kind of hectic around here and a lot has changed. Unfortunately, things will continue to change around as we move forward. Seeing that we named the company "Hero's Ruin," the current blog as it is will lose it's title. I've had a hard time deciding on what to call it, but I'm sure something can be figured out.

While everything is still in it's infancy, you can still check out our various sites.

"Likes" to our facebook page are greatly appreciated, as we gain access to more tools on a company page when we reach certain levels of "likes". You can visit our Facebook page by clicking here.

You can visit our Twitter page by clicking here.

You can visit our very much in progress tumblr site by clicking here.

Not long from now will be directing to the new site. If you subscribe to this blog through blogger, I don't think it will have any effect. I'm pretty sure for the time being the blog will revert back to warbeargames.

Until next time, Happy gaming!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

There's a Mouse in the House!

Last night I was pleased to play my first game of Mice and Mystics from Plaid Hat Games. Mice and Mystics is a dungeon crawling adventure that places you and a few cohorts into the bodies of tiny mouse warriors. You must fight your way through a treacherous castle filled with all manner of now-giant sized foes including rats, insects and the ever fearsome cat, Brody!

The art is fantastic!

We had a wonderful time playing the game, although I found it a bit too difficult for the suggested rating of ages 7 and up. We were playing with a group of adults and even we had a difficult time at some points. Difficulty aside, the game is great! It comes with glossy chip-board tiles, colorful cards and a handful of very detailed plastic miniatures. The use of tiles is nice, as it leaves plenty of room for future expansions using the rules and figures provided in the original box.

The game mechanics are unique, requiring fast-paced action thanks to a handy system of measuring time. Instead of an hour glass or stopwatch, time is measured by a "storybook timer." Certain actions in the game cause the pages of the book to move forward and if you reach the end of a chapter before reaching your goals...'GULP... it's game over! I also appreciate that defeated characters are considered 'captured' instead of dead, allowing them to return to the game quickly. I was especially thankful as I was the first to be captured in every game session we played.

If you enjoy sword and sorcery with a dash of dungeon delving, this would be a great game to pick up, I highly recommend it!

Until next time, happy gaming!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Too Late for Halloween?

We played our annual Halloween game this past weekend and it went off without a hitch! I've got to say, I'm pretty proud of the job I did writing and running this adventure of horror and mystery.

As with all of our Halloween games, it was based on a horror movie. This particular incarnation was based on House on Haunted Hill, a classic "spend the night in a haunted mansion" scenario. 

 Vincent Price, star of House on Haunted Hill

The premise was simple: A wealthy lumber baron by the name of Malcom Dodson invited the  players to a birthday party; it took place at the defunct Essware Asylum for the Feeble Minded. The invitations included an offer of 1000 gold pieces to each player who attended. The only requirement was that they entertain Malcom's wife Flossie, who had fallen into poor health. Flossie was an avid reader of adventure books and bards' tales. What better gift than to provide her with real adventurers who could regale her with first hand tales of danger?

The players jumped at the opportunity for a bit of easy coin and a free meal. They arrived on schedule and enjoyed an evening of food, liquor and tales of horror provided by Francis, the asylum's current caretaker. They met Malcom, Flossie and a pair of wealthy landowners known as Klaus and Verner Kull. Francis told them of the asylum's spotless reputation, it's charitable works and the escaped inmates that brought the whole place down in a psychotic riot. They toured the various wings and discovered a large slab of iron behind the grand staircase. They retired to their rooms for a good night's sleep and an early start the next morning.

Or so they thought...

The silence of night was shattered by a blood curdling scream! Viktor the monk and Stella the mousefolk wizard dashed toward the scream while their eccentric cleric, 'St. Jubal the Insane' was assaulted by his own bedsheets. The haunted linen lashed out in an attempt to strangle him but he managed to call for help. The group's fighter, Maximus, heard the pleading and came to the door to find it mysteriously locked. As he tried forcing the door he began sinking into the floor, the house was trying to eat him!

Meanwhile, Viktor and Stella made their way to the main hall. Peering over the second floor balcony they spotted the lifeless corpse of Flossie on the floor below, apparently pushed from the catwalk opposite them. They didn't have long to investigate, as they heard Maximus calling out for help. They ran to him and found him laying in the hall holding a doorknob with one hand and a glass of scotch with the other. He and Jubal relayed stories of their encounter and the group proceeded to Malcom's room, where he was pounding on the locked door, demanding release.

Following his release from his own room, Malcom discovered his dead wife and flew into a rage. She not only fell, but was brutally stabbed, the dagger still present in her belly. He began accusing everyone present of the crime and revealed that the Kull brothers were his bodyguards and not wealthy landowners. Malcom locked the doors and gathered everyone in the parlor, including the chef, servants and maids. He was determined to find the culprit.

Stella and a maid ventured to the kitchen to retrieve more wine while everyone else mulled about the parlor. The lights suddenly went dark and Jubal was possessed by the spirit of Flossie. He screamed an ominous message before falling to the floor. As his body hit the ground an earsplitting bang came from the main hall. In same time frame, Stella managed to save the life of the maid, who was attacked by a spectrally wielded butcher's knife in the kitchen. Thank goodness for darkvision.

Shaken, the party gathered in the main hall to find the iron slab behind the stairs had split, revealing a staircase to forgotten levels below the asylum. Being adventurer's, they dove right in.

The dungeon crawl was pretty straight forward. They battled various undead mini-bosses and collected a relic from each one. Each encounter was difficult, but also had a particular weakness; discovered by searching their respective rooms in the upper levels of the asylum.  Each relic solved a piece of a puzzle which in turn, opened another level below. There were a variety of spectral traps including ghostly shoves into cells, attacking chains, devouring floors and grasping hands that melted out from the walls. The bad guy gallery included the head doctor and his nurse, the pharmacist, a flagellant cleric, a disorderly orderly and the head of staff.

My favorite encounter was the cleric's ghost. They managed to acquire his relic without combat by convincing him that they were true believers... Of course the 'convincing' required that they scourge themselves for some pretty hefty damage to prove their faith.

The lowest level pitted the group against the true evil of the asylum, an immense human heart, wrapped in chains and formed from the memories and torment of the former inmates. It was a grueling fight as the heart sent out waves of pain, cursed the adventurers and attacked with ghostly chains. The tide of battle turned when St. Jubal plunged a toy soldier (an item found earlier in the dungeon) into the heart, shattering it's magical defenses and denying it it's normal damage resistance. After a long fight the PCs came out on top although a little worse for wear. Maximus had only 1 point of strength left (the rest was drained) and was on the verge of death. Viktor also found himself permanently cursed, an affliction that causes him to lose his actions 50% of the time.

We didn't have a human heart laying around, so we used a soda can on the map in it's place.

By the time they resurfaced the sun was up and Malcom rewarded them for their efforts with 1250 gold pieces each. They were happy they broke the curse on the house and Francis informed them that they are welcome any time. He intends to turn it into a tourist attraction.

Unfortunately, they failed to discover that Malcom had actually murdered his own wife, as he was tired of her sickly condition. It was the spilling of her blood that awakened the evil in the house in the first place!

All in all it was a fun game. It ran until the wee hours of the morning, a fact no one realized until we were packing up. A few of us headed for a diner around the corner and had a completely different adventure, but thats a story for another time...

Until next time, happy gaming!     


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bullets and Bridesmaids

This past weekend I was lucky to experience an RPG I've never played before. It wasn't fantasy themed, the only dice involved had six sides, there were no complicated maps and there was only one book! The game I'm talking about is...

Image property of Bully Pulpit Games.

Fiasco is a GM-less roleplaying game from Bully Pulpit Games that plops players down into a variety of scenarios, assigning them roles and relationships through luck of the dice. Once the settings are all sorted out the game takes on a life of it's own as players act out various scenes in turn. While there are only a few scenarios in the book, you can play each one numerous times and have a completely different story and outcome every single time!
In one session my wife, Noah and I played the roles of wedding participants. Ironically, Noah and I played a former TV-queen and the bride while Beck played the groom - a famous TV bounty hunter! Starting simply, the game evolved into a multi-layered plot where the bride and TV star schemed to make the groom look like an abusive monster. Their plan was to ruin his reputation and divorce him for profit! There were flashbacks to the groom's murderous past and backstabbing on behalf of the TV queen. At one point the bride had enraged the groom so much she had to run, afraid for her life! Unfortunately the former starlet was waiting for her, and may have 'accidentally' tripped her in the stairwell. The blushing bride fell to her demise. 
The former starlet managed to convince the groom to hide the body in his room. Confused and afraid, he went on an all night bender, drowning his guilt in drugs and alcohol.

The next morning everyone was assembled at the church... except for the former star, the bride and the groom. Moments before calling it off, the doors crashed open and in came the groom atop his giant motorcycle! He was wearing a white bride's veil and armed to the teeth! It was a massacre! He was brought own by police who arrived on the scene in a most brutal and cinematic way.

The TV queen on the other hand, got away scott free and published a book about the whole event. Her career was revitalized and she went on to lead a very lucrative Hollywood life!

Phew! As you can see, for such a simple game it can get pretty involved. We later tried out the High School setting with our friend Tom joining in but I feel that session may have ended up a bit too mature to post here. Fiasco is definitely a winner in my book!

Until next time, happy gaming! 

We aren't dead yet!

Well, as you can see, there are a few changes going on here. I say 'we,' because there will be more people coming on board in the very near future!

I have not, however, been sitting on my laurels. Big wheels are in motion and I can't wait to let the surprises out of the bag. The current site design is temporary, until we get a new one locked down.

I'm so excited!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Death and Wealth

This is something I've been thinking about this week. How do you deal with death in your game?

Well, maybe not death exactly, but the resulting loot overflow that follows. Say Ted the fighter, Ron the thief, and Deborah the ranger have roughly 30,000gp worth of equipment apiece and during one unfortunate encounter, Ron perishes. After some discussion, Ron's player decides to create a new character and the remaining party members bury/cremate/dispose of the body. Do they take his loot or leave it with the corpse?

NOT BLACK LEAF! Chick comics always give me a chuckle.

Let's say they take the dead player's equipment and gold and head back to town in the hopes of finding a new companion. Fortunately for them, they just happen to stumble across Don the wizard! Very convenient! Ron Don the wizard is of a similar level to the party and has all of the trappings that a wizard of his level should!

The problem mechanics-wise is that you now have a three person party with the wealth of four. Heck, if they split Ron's loot three ways they could each purchase something downright powerful.  Knowing that deceased characters will be quickly replaced with new ones, it seems almost beneficial if a player or two dies every now and then, just for a quick influx of cash.

This is an issue we've ran into recently and have had to house rule it, as we've had a few characters replaced with new ones. Our current rule is that a dead character's equipment (not including quest related items) go with the character. Maybe the equipment was destroyed by the fireball that killed him (or, as the rules would state, the gear would catch fire the moment after he died, as it would no longer be 'an attended object'). Maybe they buried him with his gear. It isn't unheard of for knights to be buried in their armor w/sword or even some policemen to be buried with a firearm. Maybe they sent his equipment and share of the loot off to his family? Who knows?

While the game takes place in a fantasy setting, elements of reality still exist. In reality the passing of someone close is both psychologically and financially stressing. For some reason in the fantasy genre that slice of reality has been flipped to a point where the death of a close friend is actually beneficial.

What's your take on it?

Until next time, happy gaming!    

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Honor Friendship and Deceit

While I've spent much of the past two weeks writing, participating and thinking about gaming, there just wasn't any room for blogging! I guess that's a good thing?

Two weekends ago, "Group A" went for a double header. A Saturday game that started at 1:00pm and didn't end until 9:00pm.... On Sunday!

It's my game-face!

Now before you get any wild ideas, we did break for food, stretches, conversation and a bit of TV. We also returned to our respective homes and got a good 8 hours sleep between Saturday and Sunday but for a brief moment in time, it was like middle school where all that mattered was "what's going to happen next?"

And what happened next was nothing short of great storytelling. The setting was a desolate wasteland in a pocket dimension linked with the planes of hell - an immense fortress on an equally immense chunk of rock floating freely in a vast nothingness. The land was parched and dry, geysers of boiling blood dotted the landscape and all around wandered wretched demons and devils, scrounging what they could outside the fortress walls.

The party was a ragtag group of adventurers with little in common, linked only by mutual respect and over a year of adventuring together. They've helped each other through thick and thin and now, they were really in the 'thick' of it. They were in search of a devil named Kulkus the Deceiver. They were to find him and kill him.

-The Cast-

Blanklee, their resident fighter is a mountain of a man. Born in the snow covered lands of Viklingr, he is as hardy and strong as he is ugly and socially inept. Months prior, in a moment of weakness and poor judgement, Blanklee made a deal with Kulkus. Overcome with guilt, Blanklee went back on the deal and turned himself over to the church. After a formal heresy inquiry and with a little help from his friends, he was released from custody under one condition - that he seek out and destroy Kulkus the Deceiver.

Karl Steimer is a battle-priest and the group's unofficial morale officer. Often going off on lengthy tirades about the dangers of evil and of mankind's need to be free of temptation, Karl is a model follower of the human deity Albrich Vul. He stood by Blanklee's side during the entirety of his inquiry, risking his own career on the actions of his companion. 

Gertrude Saddylmoor was once the well-to-do wife of a wealthy adventurer-turned-celebrity. When he was ruthlessly murdered before her very eyes she swore revenge and trained in the ways of stealth and combat. With the help of her friends she sought out her husband's killer and avenged his death. Children in the city of Sessovir tell tales of her exploits. Not knowing her true identity, they gave her the name "Black Widow." Gertrude also stood by the side of Blanklee during his trials, using what political and social influence she had to pull strings.

Alvernus "Alvi" Thornwuld was a modest priest on a simple pilgrimage when he joined up with the group of adventurers. Thinking it would be safer to travel with "experienced professionals," he found himself thrown into one dangerous situation after another. Typically in the back lines during combat, Alvi has saved the day on more than one occasion, mustering his courage and risking life and limb to keep his new friends alive. Alvi's knack for good fortune has earned him a position as a kind of "mascot" for the party.

-The Game-

The players were only one part of a much larger force. An Imperial force known as "The Order of the Destructors" were waging a large-scale frontal assault on Kulkus' fortress. During this time the party was to infiltrate the stronghold from below, gaining access via a little known cave located on the underside of the floating island. They were accompanied by an Imperial Demon Hunter and a sorcerer with celestial bloodlines. The adventure led them through spider infested caverns where Blanklee was swallowed whole by a gargantuan fiendish spider and ancient catacombs filled with ravenous undead who cackled in glee as the party fell into their various traps. The imagery on the walls and armor worn by the dread grave knights hinted that this place did not always reside here, but may have been ripped in entirety from the prime material plane. 

Breaking through the catacombs they found themselves in the lower levels of the keep. They battled their way through the torture chambers and prison levels, freeing an imprisoned friar in the process. Reaching the surface levels they remained inside the fortress, although they did peek out the door to witness Kulkus' secret weapon, an immense two headed giant! Cursed with the blood of fiends, the beast was a tower of muscles, tusks and weapons.

They quickly made their way up Kulkus' tower, dispatching guards and ruining his alchemical laboratory, slaying the infernal alchemists and ransacking their potion stockpile. Unfortunately one of the alchemists escaped, giving Kulkus ample warning to their intrusion.

When the party finally ascended to the open roof of the tower they found Kulkus waiting with a host of minions from lowly lemures, to wizards and bearded devils. Kulkus boasted and laughed at the party, offering them wealth, power and titles if they would only bow to him. The heroes refused and engaged with the forces of evil.

 The setup.

The battle was hard fought and their wounds were grievous. Blanklee was surrounded by devils and fighting Kulkus' new champion - a fighter of similar abilities to Blanklee himself. Every hit he scored was healed quickly by their foul cleric. Blanklee on the other hand, bled freely from many open wounds, his own clerics preoccupied with combat elsewhere on the rooftop. Gertrude was trapped in a dome of ice with a cluster of low level minions, effectively preventing her from helping her comrades and the sorcerer was attempting to locate Kulkus, who had conveniently turned invisible.

 Gertrude trapped in an ice dome, behind her Blanklee is quickly overwhelmed.

Discouraged by his lack of progress, Blanklee's strength of spirit was fading. He watched his companions struggle against the tide of evil and his player - a long time roleplayer and friend named Jim- had a hard decision to make. I could see it in his face and I knew something was up when he pulled out a coin and flipped it while still maintaining his character at the table. Jim passed me this note...

Johann Dangles -called 'J. Dangles' by the players- was a player character in a previous campaign. He has since become evil and is the main "Big Bad Evil Guy" in our game world.

 Fortunately for the players, a few of them spoke infernal and relayed the message to everyone. The table was stunned. The brief silence was broken by Karl who ordered retreat. A devil and his minions were one thing, but with Blanklee against them, they knew their chances were nil.

Karl grabbed the now unconscious demon hunter and ran down the steps, hoping to somehow escape the cursed place with Alvi hot on their heels. The sorcerer cast featherfall and took a leap from the tower to land on the bridge below. Blanklee, now a villain under player control followed the sorcerer in the hopes of cutting off Karl and his former allies. Free of fear thanks to his own ring of featherfall.

 Gertrude surrounded and alone.

Gertrude was left behind, having just escaped the dome of ice and with no chance against such a formidable force, she took a running jump from the tower with no means to slow her descent. She grabbed hold of Blanklee betting that she could "hitch a ride" but he easily pushed her off, leaving her to plummet to certain death.

With a little quick thinking the sorcerer cast a pit spell below Blanklee before slowing Gertrude's descent only moments before she hit the ground. The party used their limited time wisely, escaping while their former fighter was trapped within the pit. They barreled through the fortress and ran straight out the front doors to find what was left of the Destructors standing victoriously over the massive corpse of the two headed giant. Blanklee, no match for an army of trained clerics and warriors returned to his new master at the top of the tower.

His new employment was not long lived though. Kulkus made contact with a plethora of devils, begging for reinforcements. He was denied at every request except for one. A tall skeleton in dingly black robes appeared and offered aid and reinforcements on behalf of his master. In exchange he wanted only one thing - Blanklee. Kulkus, already having a suitable champion willingly made the deal.

The party, now short one 'killing machine' have regrouped and on their next adventure will venture back to the tower to slay Kulkus and destroy his domain once and for all.

Ugh, sorry for the long post but it was an interesing game! Hopefully I'll have some time tomorrow to sum up this past weekends game which was equally exciting.

Until next time, happy gaming!       

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Game Stagnation

While I've never had much of a problem with game stagnation, I have talked about it with other players and GMs. I hope to offer a few tips to help prevent your own game from going stale.

Game Stagnation- A slow down of general interest, drive and passion in a game. This can be the caused by a variety of events including (but not limited to): major story completion, lack of GM ideas, players tired of their own characters, lack of variety, redundant game types/styles, concurrent but non-associated off-the-shelf modules, etc, etc...

There are quite a few solutions to this problem, but I prefer to avoid it altogether as it can leave a sour taste in everyone's mouth. Here's a few tips to keep game stagnation from rearing it's ugly head at your table.

Run Away!!: As GMs, we put the players in dangerous situations all the time. Sometimes they aren't prepared and they run away. Enemies can do that too! Throughout any given campaign don't be afraid to let a few people escape. You don't need to think it out ahead of time, just let some guys run away and fill in the blanks later! This way, even if the "main story" is completed in your campaign, you have plenty of fuel to keep the game going.

- Maybe that escaped evil cleric was actually the Big Bad Guy's adviser. Maybe he was secretly raising his own undead horde behind his master's back. The confusing aftermath of the main story would be an excellent time to strike!

- Perhaps one of the generic guards or thugs encountered early fled in grief because the party killed his father right in front of him. Ashamed of his cowardice and seeking revenge, Deadguy Jr. seeks the council of a local witch who helps him make a revenge pact with some evil outsider.

- Towsfolk X remembers the adventurers from a previous game and seeks them out to rescue Towsfolk Y. In this case, keeping hold of game logs and notes can be very useful. Players love to feel connected to the world around them - "Hey remember when you beat up my cousin in that tavern brawl? Well he's gone missing!" 

Player Background: Before you start a campaign ask your players to provide background stories for their characters. Let them go wild! Remember, you share the world with them, it's only fair that they get to create pieces of it too. These stories can lead to major campaigns in themselves! In our current game, Brad is trying to figure out why his father -a legendary monster hunter- has devolved into a slobbering drunk. Luci, an avid entomologist, is searching for the mythical "ruby eyed emerald grasshopper," and Blanklee is trying to save his soul from eternal damnation!

On a side note, you are still the GM. Feel free to fiddle with player backgrounds in order to keep them on their toes. At one point, our "amnesia afflicted" bard was searching for his criminally insane identical twin and our thief was in search of the man who murdered her husband. About halfway through the campaign, they realized they were looking for the same man! If that weren't enough, as the heroes finally found the nutcase, he released his secret weapon... the truth! He told the thief that he didn't murder her husband, his identical twin brother (the bard!) did the deed! That was some downright M. Night Shyamalan $#*! right there!

As an additional tool, you should consider using the "3x3x3 NPC" technique in your game. I hate to admit it, because I was only reading about it a week ago, but I forget where I saw this idea originally. At it's most basic, you ask your players to come up with brief descriptions for 3 allies, 3 acquaintances and 3 foes. This gives you ample fodder to throw into any game or even to base an adventure off of.

Keep it Fresh: Did you just play 3 knock-down, drag-out adventures in a row? Break the cycle with a mystery adventure, trap dungeon or all-roleplay adventure. Take the players out of their element - put them underwater or in the clouds. Have them run into old characters. The point is - don't be a one trick GM. I may prefer comedies but I like to watch action movies and documentaries too. If you were a movie studio, the players would be customers, and customers like a little variety every now and then.

There are plenty more ways to keep your games from stagnating. Hopefully these few methods here will be useful to a few folks out there? What do you do to keep things exciting and fresh?

Until next time, Happy Gaming. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Crocodile Rock!

Our home-brew campaign features an Egyptian inspired race which are far removed relatives of the elves. One of our players (Tom) is a monk of this particular race and has had a hard time finding a suitable figure to depict his character.

Surfing around the mini sites I stumbled onto They have an excellent selection of figures in their online store, including Egyptian/fantasy themed armies! After browsing around for a bit Tom and I decided on a figure for his new character.

My wife was kind mega awesome enough to order it for me today while I was at work. Unfortunately she ordered the wrong one by mistake. I can't blame her - the product numbers were easy to mix up. I wanted WGE-140 and she ordered WGE-114. Phonetically, they sound very similar and I have been known to talk fast when excited.

The wrong (but still cool looking) figure. Image property of Crocodile Games.

I sent an email to Crocodile Games when I got home from work asking if I could swap out the products. My better half pointed out that they were both at the same price-point so I figured I would give it a shot. No harm in trying, right?

I imagine him saying "I love you this much!" Image property of Crocodile Games

Right! I received an email back in short time from Chris telling me it was no problem and that they would swap the figures out! I didn't have to amend my order or "return and re-buy" or any nonsense like that. I know it probably doesn't seem like a big deal to most folks, but I've had my fair share of nasty customer service experiences in the past so this was a pleasant surprise.

I'm excited to see how the figure turns out. I'll be sure to post an image when it's done. I'm considering picking up their Necropolis Guard set as well. They would make an excellent themed hit-squad or group of assassins (who may or may not be hunting down Tom's character, shh!).

On a side note, I was going to originally write " I received an email from a sales rep named Chris..." but after browsing the "About Us" section on their website it seems that I may have been talking to the head honcho of the company! Pretty cool stuff!
Until next time, Happy Gaming!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Whatcha thinking about? I stuff...

Just a few thoughts as the week goes on...

Firstly, while progress continues on my desert themed monster book, it is much slower than I anticipated. A single monster from scratch takes well over three hours until I'm satisfied with what's on paper and even then I sometimes feel a bit "iffy." But plod along I will, the hard part is almost done!

Next up, my wife and I have been discussing our vacation this year and are seriously considering attending our first game convention. We're thinking of attending Mepacon in November. It's not terribly far, but far enough to stay at a hotel and call it a "real vacation." It'll be a nice change, I spent almost all of last year's vacation time working on our house.

In game news from our table, this weekend's game will probably be postponed due to scheduling. It's a group 2 kick in the door style game and the first part of a mega-dungeon. Two (possibly three) players can't make it and I don't want them to miss the fun, or have their party mates hindered with lack of man power.

I've also noticed this Kickstarter floating around other blogs lately. I really enjoyed the trailer so I figured I'd show it here. It's a documentary on the history of Dungeons and Dragons.

That's all for now. Until next time, happy gaming!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Inverse Metagame

Special note: I did not realize how long and boring this post was until after I typed it. I apologize in advance for this wall of text, but game theory is something I fully enjoy exploring.

I was reading a post from Cobblestone Chaos about meta gaming and got to thinking about it in my own games.

While meta gaming will always happen, we try to avoid it as much as possible. The players and I really enjoy playing things out as they should be - the PCs exploring a world of unknowns with only their skills and wits to save them. I am glad that I can be free to leave the adventure sitting out on the table when I leave the room. If I accidentally blurt out something that I shouldn't, I know they won't use it to their advantage. "What would [character name] do in this situation?" is a question asked more often by the players than by the GM and I wouldn't have it any other way.

There are occasions however, where it's almost impossible for a GM to get away with his nefarious schemes without giving his/her secrets away. These are the occasions where I pull out my own brand of meta gaming. It can't be so simple as a lie - that's regular ammo in the GM arsenal. It needs to be theatrical if possible. I find the greatest meta gaming payoffs occur when the seeds are planted much earlier in the adventure.

Say you have a villain that the players have not met. VillainX is a wizard with a penchant for abusing magic jar. The players first encounter him inhabiting the body of a local mercenary or townsfolk, leading a horde of minions. Before taking any mortal wounds, VillainX leaves the body and escapes. Rather than having the body fall to a lump on the floor, you add a little flavor.

"The soldier's body falls face-first to the floor, writhing in uncontrollable spasms. After a brief moment the seizure passes and he lifts himself unsteadily, his forearms shaking as they support his weight. He blinks a few times before speaking, "Where am I? What happened?"

While this might seem like simple fluff, it hides something much more sinister. The players will immediately realize that something is wrong and with a little interview and research, they will at least determine that he was charmed in one way or another.

Fast forward to the next encounter. VillainX has decided to inhabit one of the players! We don't roll a lot of secret saves at our table. I may ask the players to roll and not give them a reason but I rarely make rolls for them. This creates the unique problem that no matter what, (unless you insist on many red-herring rolls) they know something has happened. I pass a note to the afflicted player. It tells him to act casual, to pull out his weapon and act like it has some magical quality he's never noticed before, telling the other players to come take a look.

Everything goes down as planned except for one player -a new guy who doesn't trust anything- he immediately unsheathes his weapon and attacks his party mate. The jar'd player plays along and acts surprised as the rest of the party subdues the new guy. While they play it out a decent bit, I know the cover is blown. Everyone smells something a bit rotten that they can't justifiably role play around. Something is wrong with their companion and they know it.

Whats a GM to do? Easy, grow the seeds planted earlier in your adventure! Have the afflicted player fall to the ground, writhing and shaking just like the soldier from earlier in the adventure. Pass him a note describing what the experience was like in the magic jar and let the players go about their business.

Unfortunately for them, he was never released from the jar! Think about it. Wizards are smart people, they read giant tomes and cast complex spells, who's to say VillainX wouldn't trick the players into thinking their friend has been released from the spell? Using their previous experience with the soldier against them, VillainX pretended to release the PC from the jar in order to gain the party's trust! What better way to do that than to relinquish control back to the actual player? While the PC may think he's controlling his character, he is really playing as VillanX! Have the PC's make bluff checks or sense motive checks if need be and then WHAM, have the PC attack with the still unsheathed weapon!

GM tricks can be used to great effect to circumvent player knowledge or for any multitude of reasons.

-Have a one-trick pony of a wizard who just loves fireball? Place a room full of low-mid level baddies moving crates and barrels which (unbeknownst to the wizard) are full of oil or gunpowder!

-You could run a mystery-based adventure with tons of very obvious evidence pointing toward the wrong guy because he's being framed! My personal favorite is the werewolf/wizard who uses magic to frame others for his own crimes and then accepts payment for "killing the werewolf" who conveniently turned back to a human upon death.

-The old "double trap" technique. Trap makers, like wizards are smart folks. Players may find a pit trap and jump over it only to land on a different, perhaps much more painful trap.

Just remember to use stuff like this sparingly and only to help balance out the game. Otherwise the players will feel cheated and that's no good for anyone.

Thanks for reading, happy gaming!                 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Keeping in the loop.

Not a lot of riveting stuff at the moment. Progress on my desert themed monster compendium is going strong. I need to start thinking of a name, I have a few rolling around my head, so we'll see. I've also begun another project in collaboration with Ben, one of the players in my regular gaming group. He's going to be doing illustrations on a Pathfinder friendly "rogues gallery" style project. Just an index of villains with full stats, images and backgrounds. I have a ton of unique ideas and I'm really pumped.

We played our group 1-b game this past weekend. It was a blast, a game of many revelations! Luci, our gnome alchemist was brought out of a magical coma only to find a large growth on the back of his neck. You see, a good intentioned but completely insane gnome illusionist managed to implant his own consciousness into Luci's body in the form of a tumor at the base of his skull. Did I mention aforementioned illusionist has been dead for 200+ years? Everyone wants to cut the thing off but Luci won't let them. What does he know that they don't?

Additionally, our group's spellsword -Dr. Brad Acula- (that's his name, seriously!) had a run-in with his father. Unbeknownst to his party-mates, Brad is actually the son of the world famous monster slayer, a man of legend: Felix Dragomir. The normally sharp witted and able bodied Felix was not himself however. He was visibly intoxicated and was witnessed making a few shady exchanges with a local alchemist of ill-repute. What could be behind the legend's fall from grace? Brad aims to find out, but his father doesn't seem willing to tell.

The adventure itself was a heavily modified module from an old Ravenloft series. It ran too long so we stopped about halfway through. Scheduling with so many players is always an issue, but I can't wait to finish it up!

That's about all I have at the moment.    

Until next time, happy gaming!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Different Games, Same Table.

By their nature, pen and paper role playing games are a different breed of entertainment. While I veg out to plenty of tv shows, video games and movies, I always find myself drawn back to the table. It's a mysterious attraction which is admittedly difficult to explain to folks who've never played a role playing game before.

"What do you mean you don't 'win'?"

"You play on a table? Is it a board game?"

"Wait.. It's just books and dice?"

These are common questions that can be surprisingly hard to answer. What is it that really sets P&P games -and gamers- apart? If you asked me, I'd probably say "Everyone gets to play a different game at the same table."
Say we went to a movie together. We might have different opinions. I may hate it and you loved it. Maybe I'm just not into musicals and you happen to be a fan of the main actor. We could have many differences of opinion but as long as George Lucas isn't involved, the movie doesn't change, we both watched the same exact thing. The same applies to video games, tv shows, stage plays - the list goes on. Video games are particulary adept at making you feel involved. Terms like "open world" provide an illusion of freedom that is still limited by file size and technology.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not bashing any of these forms of amusement. I'm as big a fan of them as anyone. It's also not my intention to disregard sports or art or other wonderful ways to pass time and create. I'm just trying to explore and describe the unique qualities of pen and paper gaming. For the sake of the uninformed, I'll try to briefly sum up what an RPG is before I continue on to why it's so special...

In a tradional role play environment, a group of friends or even strangers come together around a table and create fictional characters that they will use to explore and adventure in a fictional world. This is done primarily through imagination and communication. These could be valiant knights, savage barbarians, gritty pulp era cops or space explorers. The variety is endless. The 'world' and it's inhabitants are directed by a GM -the Game Master- historically referred to as a Dungeon Master. The players control their characters' actions and the GM controls everything else.

Unlike other games, the GM and the players do not play against each other to reach an end or final goal. They work together to unfold a continuing story. The GM provides the setting, and adjusts it according to the players reaction. This isn't to say that the players and GM are never adversarial. In addition to controlling the environments and personalities of the game world, the GM also controls the monsters, the villains and other obstacles that hinder the players advancement through the story and this is where the dice come in.

Whenever a player wants to perform an action in the world where they have a chance to fail, they roll dice. The dice represent the chaos and unpredictability of the world. Do you want to hit that goblin with your sword? Roll some dice to see if you hit him or catch air. Want to smooth talk the local sheriff to let you out of jail? Roll it and see if he falls for your bluff. There are an infinite number of things one can do in a pen and paper role playing game. The only limitations are in your imagination and imagination is the very essence of the game.

As an aside, if the idea of playing "imaginary games" seems too childish for you, just call it "creativity." It might help you sleep better.

Sheesh, I was trying to go somewhere with that wall of text up there which has escaped me at the moment...

Oh yeah! I was trying to put a finger on what sets P&P RPGs apart. You see, with all this imagination going on, it's sometimes easy to forget that other people are playing and imagining alongside you. What makes the game so special is that it can be different for every participant. I may imagine the world to look grim and dark with armored soldiers, grizzled old wizards and deceptive thieves while the player across the table could be picturing a lush, bright world with shining knights, bumbling sorcerers and dashing rogues. Everything from the smallest stone to the largest beast is open to each players interpretation. To me, that is the best thing any game could offer.

There aren't many mediums that offer this level of invlovement nowadays. In a world dominated by passive entertainment, pen and paper games offer more than just 'turning on and tuning in.' They are social games. Participatory games. Imaginative games.

You can be more than a player, you are a creator- an active participant in an evolving story. That's what sets P&P gamers apart. Anyone can play games, role players bring them to life. 
Until next time, happy gaming.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I tried to resist. I really did.

So I caved in. I ponied up the hundred bucks and bought into the Reaper Bones Kickstarter. We're talking over 200 minis for $100! That's less than fifty cents a pop! The amount of paint needed to color all these guys will easily cost 3x as much as the figures themselves. I don't even know where I'm going to put them all!

This is what it must feel like to be a hoarder.  Here's the current list of figures that are included in the vampire level package.

  I also foresee many motorcycle Sophie figures popping up on eBay in the near future.

In other news, my "completed" monster list for my compendium is up from 6 to 8! Almost there!

Until next time, happy gaming! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Asleep at the Wheel

I was reading an interesting post by Sean over at Tales from the Flaming Faggot about the OSR community running out of steam and it got me thinking about it as well.

Especially since I'm not really part of OSR but have also been very absent as of late.

While I know some folks get blog fatigue, I can only hope that they are just extremely busy playing all these games we love talking about! On my end at least, summer is pretty relaxed for gaming not just online, but at the tabletop as well. A lot of folks are busy and it would be a shame to waste all of this good weather. Weddings, parties, vacations, work, etc. With so much stuff going on it's difficult to get everyone's schedules lined up. I don't know what other group demographics are around the globe, but mine is comprised of a gaggle of twenty-somethings with one other player and myself leading the pack at a ripe-old thirty(ish). Finding a day when everyone is available is something akin to herding cats.

Personally, I wish my lack of presence was due to such wonderful activities as partying and vacationing but mine is a bit more pragmatic. Work on our house is continuing at a rapid clip and I was lucky enough to mess up my back pretty bad two weeks ago. I spent much of my bed-ridden hours playing The Witcher 2 on my 360 between bouts of medicine induced sleep.

That's not to say I've been asleep at the wheel my friends. Oh no, much to the contrary. As I've mentioned before, I am working on my own little monster compendium. Some creatures strictly home brewed with others based on more obscure critters pulled from ye goode olde times. I've got tons of stuff I want to show off. I've been chomping at the bit to splash it all over the site but I need to show a bit of restraint. This is gonna be my first ever "self published, try to make a few bucks project," and I want to do it right.

My project currently contains 16 monsters, all fluffed out. Six are completed with stats and ten still need stats. No art yet. I was surprised at how in-depth monster creation in the pathfinder game can be. While I know a lot of folks out there just throw stuff together and slap some arbitrary xp on a creature, I'm really going all out, following the rules as best I can.

Unfortunately they don't have rules for undead plants, so I had to wing it. Trust me, it's much cooler than it sounds.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Our Last Session.

After looking at that title I gave myself a chill. By last I don't mean "final." I mean the "session prior to our next". I don't think I could ever imagine not playing again.

Anyway, our last game went well. We played in Vince's apartment and his girlfriend got the pleasure of meeting our motley group of table top heroes. I have to say that they were great hosts and she seemed authentically interested in the game. While she didn't play as a character, she still contributed, joked and asked questions from time to time. Very refreshing!

The game was our "Group Two; kick in the door" crew. A rag-tag group of adventurers plodding through the the southwest deserts and southern jungles of our campaign world. In this game they were hired by a wealthy merchant prince to recover a staff of unknown power from the lepidon kingdom to the south. Lepidons are a lizardman-like race in our campaign.

The dungeon was a short an sweet sunken temple. More or less a series of chambers in a straight line, it was laden with traps and inhabited by a white-skinned subterranean race of lepidon religious zealots who used an intricate network of tunnels to sneak around the party.

More or less inspired (leaning towards way more) by the first ruins in Raiders of The Lost Ark, the heroes were forced to tiptoe their way through the darkness, poking ahead with a quarterstaff because they had not one rogue among them. During their slow journey forward Vince's ranger "Steve" was pulled into a tunnel and forced to wrestle his way free with the help of my wife's nearby witch. After successfully sneaking past the albino lair, they obtained the scepter and were attacked by four immense animated statues who had also been supporting the ceiling. With the place falling down around them, the party dashed for the exit, setting off the numerous traps they worked so hard to avoid -including the giant rolling stone trap- believe it or not, one I've never used before.

By far my favorite part was the escape. Bloodpaw; our mousling paladin was too slow with his small size and heavy armor so Nagatha the witch was forced to scoop him up and carry him out, taking a bit of damage in the process.

While I'm excited to play again we have a few hiccups that are holding up our next games. An injured player, a newlywed and my reconstruction have all put a dent in our schedule, but this stuff is normal for summer. I think by late September, early October we'll be back into the swing of things.

Until next time, happy gaming!   

Monday, July 30, 2012


While I know I normally write about gaming, my better half and I have been focusing on our home remodel. Since I often use it as an excuse for not updating, I figured it was time to share a few pics. Our home is located in a wonderful area of South Philadelphia within walking distance of the stadiums. It was built around 1925 - a row home - it was originally intended as affordable housing for dock and factory workers. It isn't a large house, not including the basement it clears just over 1000 square feet. We wanted to modernize the home but retain a lot of the charm and history. I think we've done ok so far.

Some "before" images.

The guts of the kitchen

This small pantry was torn out and the wall was stripped to exposed brick.

Looking into our kitchen from the living room.

Ripping up the floor.

Look at that bandana. That guy has got to be totally awesome.

You can see fire damage from a fire some time in the 80's

Exposing brick. I am standing where the pantry used to be.

Stuff disappearing bit by bit.

Ok this needs a bit of an explanation. At this point we hired contractors to come in and take over. The pile of wood you see there is the original lathe from our ceiling and walls. (While new houses have drywall construction, older houses had plaster walls. Thin strips of lathe were nailed to the studs and plaster was applied on top of them. When the plaster dried, it became hard and paintable.) The lathe was carefully removed and cleaned so we could reuse it on our ceiling.

The joists in the ceiling were left exposed and black paper rolled between to prevent any light from poking through. Then the lathe was cut...

...and placed between the joists. We were originally going to drywall between the joists, but this seemed much cooler.

 The separating wall was torn down revealing our duct-work. Rather than reroute the duct, we decided to build a column/shelving around it.

Alright, I have a bunch more before shots, but they are not nearly as fun as the "afters," so here we go!

new hardwood floor and a vintage vent recovered from a demolished building. It's small, but heavy!

The new view from the living room.

The new guts. The dark wood trim around the shelves is more wood recycled from inside our walls.

A fuzzy picture of the brick wall and lights.

As you can see, there is still a lot to do. Paint, fill holes, finish the trim etc. But We're really happy with what we've done so far. Now we just need to get furniture!

I was going to add some gaming stuff here too, but I've taken up a lot of space as-is!

Until next time, happy gaming!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Am I Dead Yet?

Lack of time, lack of updates! Our kitchen remodel is coming along nicely and will hopefully be (mostly) done by the end of the week. I also have a promising job opportunity so lets hope for the best there too!

Now that the pesky 'real life' stuff is out of the way, lets get on to more important things!

While my internet presence has been lacking, my gaming has been all sorts of productive. We played a very successful game two weekends ago. It was a module that Paizo produced back before Pathfinder - when they were making content for D&D 3.5. We ran GameMastery Module E1: Carnival of Tears. It was great. I had to do some modding to fit in my campaign world and it's pace was a little slow for my group, but overall it was a fun adventure. It was an event-based, time-sensitive game and that's where it bogs down for us. My group plays it fast and loose. Sometimes they rush through things that a built in timeline just won't accommodate, but fast forwarding the in-game time is no big deal so it really isn't much of a complaint.

Don't worry, that cover-guy isn't actually in the game.

The monsters were very memorable however. I was particularly happy when our resident monk was turned to animated ice by a type of fey called a "frosty chiseler." He maintained all of his abilities but took extra bludgeoning damage and would hurt himself if he tried to do more than simply move around. Prior to that he was stricken with a nasty curse that made his head appear to be that off a novelty doll (in this case, a carnival stong-man doll). All in all, his bad luck made for quite a laugh to the rest of the group. We have a 'group 2' game coming up this weekend that takes place in the southern desert kingdoms of our campaign world. If I could find the time I would love to map out the world and get their full tales down on paper if just for the internet to enjoy.

In other 'other' news, I have been working on a new project. While my original project to turn a campaign into a self published series didn't pan out too well (actually, it near-complete, but my attention went elsewhere). I have started, and made serious progress on a new self-publishing attempt. I won't spoil it complete, but maybe the layout will give you a hint. I've got 16 entries ready to go. Art and stats are all that's left!

 Until next time, happy gaming!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Monster Mash: Where to Draw the Line?

I've played RPGs for a long time and as such have seen my fair share of 'monster mashes.' That is to say, taking two creatures and combining them into one. From the early days of the Owlbear to half-elves, half-dragons and 'Squarks,' combining creatures is a staple in the fantasy genre. That's why I was surprised when I found myself frustrated while working on a high power NPC for our current campaign.

Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea?  

I don't want to spoil it for my players, but I'll let a tidbit slip. I was working on a vampire. An extraordinarily long lived vampire who -for the most part- isn't that bad of a guy. He rules a small kingdom, treats his subjects well, governs fairly and provides for the poor.

He also happens to drink the blood and kill any criminals who are caught within his territory.

I'll leave the 'nature of evil' topic for another post, but I just wanted to set it straight: No matter how much good he does, no matter how fair and benevolent he is, he is still an undead abomination who maintains his (un)life by feeding on sentient living beings. Because of these actions, he is an evil creature.  But I digress...

 Apparently, Roger Corman did!

While researching vampires I came across this thread on the paizo boards. To sum it up, a PC was interested in playing a dhampir paladin/sorcerer with the sanguine bloodline. For those not in the know, that roughly translates to (deep breath!): A half human / half vampire who fights for the glory of god (and/or cause of good in general) who supplements his holy blessings with the ability to spontaneously cast arcane magical spells. Additionally, through his vampiric bloodline, he would be able to consume the blood of the recently deceased as a means to regain lost hit points.

Woo! that's a lot!

That thread, and the flurry of responses it received got me thinking about how muddled up rules and ideas can become with so much monster mashing. I am fully aware that the dhampir is not unique to RPGs and can be found in everything from old Balkan folklore to modern pop culture. Regular fiction is not the same as a game though, and needs no in-depth explanations. Unfortunately, players often do want explanations which for the most part, I am happy to provide.

Although to be honest, I have no explanation for dhampirs in our game world - because they don't exist. As I graphically explained to a PC today, vampires are not living things and as such, don't have much 'fruit in the loins' and as such, couldn't procreate.

What I'm getting at here is, has the monster mash become too much of a crutch for the game community? Should it be viewed as legitimate content or just filler for books and supplements? I understand that gaming companies are businesses and need to keep pumping out products, but do we really need a Monster Manual XXV? Or would companies be better off expanding on actual content, exploring game theory and when publishing monster books, emphasizing quality over quantity?

I do realize that this is nitpicking on my part, but it is still something that gets my goat. Here's a question for the Game and Dungeon Masters out there: Out of all of your 'monster books' what percentage of monsters have you actually used, and what are your thoughts on monster-monster hybrids?

Until next time, happy gaming!     

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Where Does the Time Go?

I swear, it feels like I lay down to bed on Tuesday and wake up on Thursday! Weeks seem to fly by and while I get a good amount done, it never seems like enough.

This past weekend we traveled north about 5 hours to Sinnemahoning, Pennsylvania. My mom has a cabin tucked away in the woods where we spent the weekend 'getting away from it all.' It was a pretty good time. A lot of driving and a lot of good country food!

Bent tree or portal to another dimension? OOOoooOOOhhH.

The highlight of the weekend was our visit to the Austin Dam. Rather than ramble on about our vacation, you can read about it by clicking here. While pictures can give you a good idea of what it looks like, you really need to see it in person to get the whole experience. If you are ever in the area, I suggest you check it out!

In other news, my wife and I did a whole mess of painting last week. We plopped ourselves in front of the TV and cranked out almost twenty mini's! Here's a few of them for your viewing pleasure.

 The ill fated wizard my cousin played. I had just painted him and then (of course) he died
 A man in stocks with some jerk kids.

A pair of ogres. The bottom one is Part of the Reaper Bones lineup.

My friend Noah actually made this figure!

Nobody here but us evil wizards!

We've got our Group 1 game this weekend and to be honest, I am completely unprepared. After fending off an underground town from demons, the group cleric has decided to temporarily remain behind and help the townsfolk rebuild their homes and their faith. (In reality, Kevin -the cleric- is getting married!) That leaves us with Blanklee, a brutal fighter trying to redeem himself through religion and Gertrude, a wily thief with a knack for trap finding. Ideally I would like to have the town implore them for help. In it's current state the town would be vulnerable to any number of nasties ready to pounce on opportunity. This would give my players something to do and keep them close to their cleric for future adventures. At this point any ideas or suggestions are appreciated. I'm close to pulling the last resort (gasp!) digging out an old Dungeon magazine!

Besides that, I'm pretty booked up for the next few weeks with games and home renovation. I'm looking forward to the games, the renovation on the other hand, is getting expensive...

Until next time, happy gaming!     

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Survival of the Fittest

Through years of gaming  (especially in more recent campaigns) I have noticed that many real-life rules and ideas also apply to the RPG world. Out of those ideas, the popular phrase "survival of the fittest" has really taken a front seat recently. Like many things however, the concept takes on quite a few different meanings in an RPG environment, so lets touch on a few of them today.

Finally, a good reason to use the comic sans font!

We'll start by looking at the most literal interpretation. It is easy to see how survival applies this way. Characters who are exceedingly fit (i.e. have high ability scores) are inherently more likely to survive and excel in a world fraught with danger. While many like to argue that stats are simply 'just one of many tool to help in role play,' it would be incredibly difficult to be an adventurer with nothing but 5's and 4's for ability scores. I'm not saying that it's impossible to play a low score character, but it is a challenge. I believe this is why we see a lot of point-buy systems becoming more popular. Point-buying guarantees that every player has a fair shot and that no one is significantly under or over-powered. Personally, I don't like point-buy systems. We still roll dice for scores in my campaigns. While it can lead to severely under powered characters, I sleep easy knowing that they will either die off or their limitations will add significantly to the situational role play of the group.

Moving on from the literal, we get into some foggier realms of thinking. "fit" could be interpreted as ability scores in relation to the character. Sometimes a player can have perfectly reasonable scores, but assign them poorly. This could be due to mismanagement or because a player wants to try a unique or nonsensical stat build. I saw this present itself recently when my wife decided to create a witch for our Group Two game. She decided to roll her character old school. That's 3 six sided dice per stat, and her stats went in order, no matter what she rolled. Let's just say her character would have made a much better rogue. Or fighter. Or pretty much anything that doesn't cast spells. While the impact isn't very noticeable at lower levels, and in some senses seemed downright useful, (high dex = better AC) the character would have really started to fall behind at higher levels. Unfortunately she never got to reach those lofty goals as she fell on the sword of a bandit at second level.

 Then again, a high reflex save might have helped her too...

Finally (and I only say finally because I'm sleepy, I could talk about this for ages!) we get to a version of "fit" that translates to: "a good fit." As in - a nice set of clothes or shoes. Sometimes a character or class is just not a good match for a player. Our resident killsmith... err.... fighter is played by my friend Jim who is a great match for the class. Just like in real life, he is straightforward and acts with purpose. He takes the damage and dishes it out. Focused on melee, he is more than happy to acts as the first line of offense and defense to keep his party alive and the enemies dead. All in all he is a good fit for his class.

On the other hand, another friend of mine by the name of Vince began playing and had to stumble through three characters before he finally found a niche. Not having much experience in RPG's and basing his decision on a brief skimming of the book, Vince chose a druid as his starting character - who died about halfway through his first game. Being persistent as he is, his second character was also a druid. He was actually the first druids identical twin brother! (It's ok, I laughed too.) Going in search of his deceased kin, he also managed to die in the exact same spot. Worrying that he might tire of the game before really experiencing it, I urged him to try a different class, one that might fit his style. He opted for a ranger and ripped apart the rest of the game, eventually chasing down an ogre boss and pinning him into a corner. Vince kept the ogre occupied while the rest of the party finished off the other boss of the adventure. He has found a good fit!

Now I realize that there are plenty of ways a 'fit' character can still perish, and I'm sure that many 'sub-par' characters have led long and lucrative adventuring careers. We run a pretty brutal game so it may stand out a bit more in our campaigns. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Until next time, happy gaming!     

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Weekend of Miniatures

Throwing caution to the wind, my wife and I decided to take a short road trip this past Saturday! We hopped in the car and ventured northwest along Interstate 78 until we reached the small village of Shartlesville Pennsylvania. 

Now you may be asking, "What could possibly be of interest in Shartlesville, PA that would warrant a spur of the moment road trip?" I can answer that with a simple image.

Roadside America is a wonderful attraction that boasts "The Worlds Greatest Indoor Miniature Village," and having nothing to compare it against; I'm inclined to agree! It is 8000 square feet of small town America (circa mid century) in miniature scale. The models are extraordinarily detailed, the push-button animations are a blast and the constant whir of HO scale trains is a delight to behold. 

The photo isn't great, but click it to get an idea of how huge this place is!

Better than the display itself - it's the atmosphere of Roadside America that really shines. Once inside I had the strange feeling of being pulled into a different time. As far as I can tell, nothing has been modernized since the late 60's or early 70's. While most modern attractions focus on getting the next big thing, the owners of Roadside America seem more interested in preserving the integrity of Laurence Gieringer's original creation - a lovingly handcrafted miniature world.

Reminds me of "Leave it to Beaver" 

While the miniatures and dioramas I paint and create usually fall into the fantasy genre, it doesn't prevent me from appreciating the time and effort that has been put into this monumental display. Constructed from actual wood and cast metal parts, the miniature village was built in an age before plastic pieces, foam-core boards and dremel tools. A brief look at his photos and the in-progress models that Mr. Gieringer left behind remain as a testament to his skill as a miniature maker and an artist.

 Dungeon or miniature model of Virginia's Luray Caverns? You decide!

If you ever venture into Pennsylvania, I highly suggest making a stop at Roadside America. I enjoyed it so much, I'd even go with you!

Until next time, happy gaming! 

Ps. Here's a few more images for you to check out. I apologize if they are a little fuzzy, I'm still trying to figure our camera out. If you like what you see, make the trip!