Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Gaming Notes April 7, 2013

This just in…

Games Played: A couple of games of Kung Fu Fighting with my daughter. (She doesn’t want to discard, but HATES not being able to attack every turn.) Also… one game of Carcassonne.

Watched this week: Robotech episodes 47-51. With the introduction of Zor to the armies of the Southern Cross, this whole humanoid-alien-that-I-must-kill-and-yet-at-the-same-time-find-strangely-attractive plot seems stereotypical at this point. (I’m looking forward to the Invid storyline just to get a break from it.) The Ajax is a much needed shot in the arm for this show– the other transformable robots are weaker in comparison to those in the other series– but I still can’t figure out why helicopters are going into space. Finally… a female officer ordering a subordinate to go out on a date with her– sounds pretty creepy to me.

Listening to this week: The Bothy Band

Something I learned this week: GURPS Powers can really go a long way towards refining a monster ability. (And for anything that I’d be writing up, I tend to prefer it over the more nuanced rules in GURPS Psionics. But hey… I’m no Reverend P. Kitty, after all.) All of the example “Mind Blast” abilities in the rules had the no signature enhancement, which really didn’t fit with the more wah-hoo comic book style I was going for. Switching around a few modifiers was enough to get exactly what I was looking for.

Something I’d like to learn: This is something that got flushed out in Crepuscule: if I had my way, I’d never write another alien creature that is described with adjectives that are built out of common nouns with the word “like” tacked onto the end. No more “millipede-like” or “cat-like” creatures, I tell you! It grates on me. If I get a spare moment, I’d like to go back and see what Alan Dean Foster did to avoid that sort of thing– beyond using his telltale phrase “like so many,” anyway.

(Dungeon Fantastic) I’d Play or Run B/X D&D — Jason Packer comments, “I’m just one of those weirdos that actually likes “a rule for everything” instead of vague, catch-all rules about how the DM decides. Really curtails my own enjoyment of gaming, by limiting my scope.”

(The Semi-Retired Gamer) B is for Back to the Basics — “Another thing that drew me back to the B/X rules is that there are less of them.  Nothing against 3E or Pathfinder – or anything other modern set of rules – but I like the fact that there are less rules to manage.  That means that there is less preparation time and more play time.  I am 40 years old with 2 young children so gaming time is pretty sparse these days.  I would rather play than argue over the rules or spend gaming time trying to look up rules in the manuals.  As much as I enjoy the newer rules sets, there have been several times that play has been halted for several minutes to look something up and then maybe cross reference a few other areas to double check.  B/X is a lot more free wheeling in nature and does not try to have a rule for everything.”

(Dreams in the Lich House) Thinking About the End of the World — “It seems to me the tools and techniques of old school gaming – hex crawls and resource management – could play well in a near-term apocalypse game, but getting away from elves and magic and amazing psychic powers is a big leap…..  Gamers are quick to say they don’t play for power-fantasy escapist reasons, but the fantasy gaming has been king of the mountain for a long time….. For similar reasons, it’s not surprising the post apocalyptic game with the most name recognition is still Gamma World, a game set hundreds of years after a far future apocalypse, creating so much distance between us and that future world that it’s fantasy all over again.”

(Save vs. Total Party Kill) Reading the DMG: Time is like a clock in the heart. — YOU CAN NOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN IF STRICT TIME RECORDS ARE NOT KEPT.

(Tenkar’s Tavern) Snazzy New Graphics, 101 Blogs and Mind Your Manors — Yeah, I caved and decided to jump onto this bandwagon. I was kicking myself for doing it after hitting the send button because I just didn’t think I could come up with anything. After sleeping on it, though, I think I have an outline for what I want to do. I’m hoping that someone will come up with some standalone town and dungeon related stuff for their submissions so that I can focus on just my particular thing. I’m aiming to do about two thousand words on this– a double posting. We’ll see, though.

(Mythmere’s Blog) Knockspell Magazine — With Fight On! officially getting retired, gamers want to know… what’s up with Knockspell?! Well… not only does the talent have to be there for it, but it’s got to be worth the colossal amount of effort it’d take to put it together.

(According to Hoyt) Taboo and Money — “At Liberty Con, Jerry Pournelle told me that a blog the size of mine should have a subscribe button – that you should be able to support it, because I put in an hour to two hours work on this EVERY day, including Sunday and holidays, and he says writing for nothing is immoral.”

(RPG.net) Do I Get Barebones Fantasy or Heroes & Other Worlds? — The Fiendish Dr. Samsara is trying to decide which old school, rules-light rpg to go with,  but has a misconception that in Heroes and Other Worlds the Wizard characters “cap out” right at character generation. While Hero characters are limited to spells rated at their IQ or less, Wizard characters can cast spells that are rated as higher than their IQ. (The time it takes to cast them is liable to be longer because they’ll be rolling 4/IQ instead of the usual 3/IQ when they do it.)

(Gaming Ballistic) The Price of Fitness — Douglas Cole deconstructs the Health attribute in GURPS.

(Dungeon Fantastic) The Myth of the Featureless Plain — “In my own games, a fight without some basic penalties is a pretty rare thing, and the more cramped spaces, terrain issues, and ‘don’t step there!’ hexes I can manage, the better.”

(Blood & Battle) My D&D & OSR experience so far. — “After a few sessions, the feeling started to creep in again. This doesn’t feel like D&D. The battles are lonnng…the rules are never ending. It felt like we were opening books every 5 minutes. There were battles raging over when people could take a 5 foot step. My attempts at DM fiat (in order to keep the game moving) were met by rules quotations. I actually yelled at a precocious 14 year old kid who knew the rules back and forth!”

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6 responses to “Gaming Notes April 7, 2013

  1. Charlie Warren April 7, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Thanks for the shout out! I am enjoying your blog watch posts. It’s like a greatest recent hits countdown and I always find several posts worth checking out. Keep it up!

    • jeffro April 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Excellent! I used to drop these links via social media, but maybe it’s more useful to put ’em out all at once. (Funny… at the beginning of the week I’m always sure that nothing interesting will get posted. )

  2. Jason Packer April 7, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I applaud your attempt to avoid the compound-word simile issue. It very quickly makes mundane what should be original and unique, especially in fantasy and science fiction writing. And it can carry with it baggage that you never intended, on a reader-by-reader basis.

    • jeffro April 7, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      My copy of Midworld is gone, but these are from one of Foster’s first sales:

      “His antennae drooped noticeably, his chiton was growing more and more translucent, losing its healthy purple iridescence, and his back plates were exfoliating in thin, shallow flakes.” (But he was never in any way described as “bug-like” or as “insectoid”… nor even as being “like a large praying mantis.”)

      “In the nearby field a shortish biped was walking smoothly behind a large brown quadruped.” (Heh. Description of a farmer and his horse from an alien perspective.)

      Looks like… you just use the biological term for each body part and leave it at that. Hmm….

  3. PeterD April 7, 2013 at 10:19 am

    The quotes from Jason Packer and from Blood & Battle (about Pathfinder) are an interesting contrast – and proof of why there is no one game out there for everyone. It’s really what you expect – if you want rules light, man, Pathfinder isn’t for you. And if you want there to be a rule for everything so you can look it up instead of ruling on it, B/X D&D isn’t it. It’s why it’s so important to ask yourself what you want from the game, ask your players what they want, and to respect that other people will have different wants than you do.

    • jeffro April 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      The game itself almost doesn’t matter if the players around the table are fun to hang out with. But the systems are different and accomplish different things. Sometimes I want to revel in the crunch, but other times I just want to throw dice and make stuff up.

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