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Gaming accessories… not really a review

Ok so this is sort of a rant sort of a review…

See I have been going to Half Price Books a lot, gotta keep eyes open for cool stuff ya know, and there has been an item in their little locked collectible cabinet that I have been thinking about picking up. Finally did it yesterday and found it was incomplete. Not the worst thing that could happen as it was mostly for the flashback value that I picked it up.

It was a set of trading cards from 1993. Supposedly a complete factory set. Missing about 30 cards but still not a bad grab. Now then you will notice that there is no link to a product or wiki page here. That is not on accident as these cards are not really mentioned in any of the posts that I have found. 1991, 92 and 93 saw these cards come out. The cards predate Magic The Gathering, and they are not cards that play a game on their own like MTG. Much like current products by companies like Piazo, they are there to supplement game play. Monsters, treasures, NPCs and more. All on cards so that you could whip them out and show your players what the hell was going on the game without relying on miniatures or props.

To be honest I have loved this idea for a long time. When R Talsorian Games produced the Dream Park RPG in 1992 they included punch-out cards in the main game and in the supplements that would allow you to do the same thing. Strangely though when Piazo started doing them in the 2000’s people reacted like it was a totally new idea. Now then I will admit that the Piazo art team usually put out higher quality art and used a more modern card stock for their materials, but it was far from new.

There are a lot of things that will help make games a little more visual and help people get more into the game, but I really think the trading card idea is something that games could use… well… forever. Even in the market today with all the digital maps and encounters that are on the market, it can be nice to have something like these on hand so that you can hand players a prop for the super special equipment they found, or to slip them a little more information on an ally they can call on.

If I have to put a review score to tools like this I would rate them as follows…

Fluff 5/5 – It adds color and flavor to the game no mater what you are doing.

Crunch 2/5 – Not a lot of space so some important things can get missed.

Mod 4/5 – Most of these kinds of tools come with blank cards so you can make up anything you might need.

Fun 5/5 – Makes it easier to prep for a game, and lets the GM and the players have something on hand to add to the environment. Actually ran a game with these back before 2000 where players would actually try to steal the cards to take important items for themselves. Got messy when someone stole an ally card instead of the equipment they wanted.

Total score 16/20 – Something that I highly recommend you look into using.

Seriously these things are fun to use and I really suggest looking into them for yourself. However before you go lipping off that something is a new and unique idea, check into it. And if you are a seller of used items, look over the damned cards and make sure you are selling a complete set. No one likes to get home and find things missing, just take a few minutes to go through them… they are numbered rather obviously.

Ok so time to peace out and enjoy the extra hour of the day… yay for daylight savings time.

Now gimme the dice, I need to make a reflex save against leaping cats.

 

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World Building 204

So yes todays post is going to be looking at another one of the world building questions. However before I get there someone asked me why I had gone from putting links to specific game websites, movies or books to using  almost all wiki pages. The answer to that is easy. The answer is that wiki has a ton of info on it and a ton of links to other associated websites for many of their topics. I actually feel like I am giving people more resources by connecting them to wiki and letting them roam than by dropping them into a specific companies marketing tool.

So as a quick recap on the real topic of the post…

  1. The sci-fi style will be pulp sci-fi. So things can get weird.
  2. Humans are trash. So at the very least they will be low class citizens, maybe worse.
  3. Players will not know how big the universe is, and I will sketch out a couple of places in advance but otherwise let the players drive things so the universe will become as big as it needs to be.

Question number four is ‘How far from today is this happening?’

So there are a lot of elements to this question, but in the end they break down to one really interesting idea. How much of the world will players be able to recognize based on what they currently know? If you look at things like Star Wars and Star Trek, you get an idea of what I am talking about. In both of them the relationships between people and some of their roles in life, like being a mechanic or a pilot or a soldier, are really all that you can say is familiar. The languages and technology are all things we can dream about and wish for, but they are not things we can just go to the store and pick up. So they seem kinda fantastical. If you look at a sci-fi like Stranger Things, all of the main things that the characters can do is something that you can work with right now, except for the psychic powers and the fantastical inter dimensional horror/tech bits. But since Stranger Things is actually set to be in the 80’s then the tech does not seem completely far fetched. If you look at RPG’s you end up with some of the same stuff. In Fading Suns the biggest tech changes are in the star ships and some of the guns. Even though it is far future it has a fantasy kind of feel to most of it as society is falling backwards. Space 1889 had that feeling that this all would make for a great pulp novel setting or even steampunk. That all stemmed from most of the technology being from our past, but tricked out with a bit of sci-fi magic. But when you look at things like the Star Wars rpg’s no mater what you do you are still not going to know how the X-wing’s engines work. So you just have to suspend your disbelief and run with it.

Since we are looking at all of these questions from the human centered position, we also have to look at what NPCs or even the characters will be ‘remembering’ about the past. I mean will there be flashbacks to happy people with iPhones fighting over who has the best apps? People talking about the first electric cars to be mass produced? Or would things like that be ancient history? I mean if you think about it, right now there are people who have never seen a corded phone except in pictures on Facebook. Twenty years from now personal communications may have changed so much that even posting pics on Facebook of a corded phone will seem so antiquated that no one would understand even what Facebook was.

Another aspect of that is how much history do you want to invent. Unless you take the easy way out and put in a few world wars that wipe out most of the historical time lines and folks just dont remember, you are going to have to explain what the hell happened between now, and whenever your story gets going. And not everyone has a great staff of writers like the folks who created Shadowrun. I mean when they published the first core rule book they had a very concise history that took them up to 2050 when the game started. It hit on politics, technology, social movements and a ton of other things to give you a really deep feel for how we got to that point. That takes time, effort and a great attention to detail because you know there are going to be people who try and rip something like that apart, just because they can.

The last aspect that you have to think about is, just how much wonder do you want the characters to have? This is different from the players knowledge. I mean if you think about it from a movie stand point lets go to things like say The Last Starfighter or The Flight of the Navigator. Here you have characters with a totally one world mindset and they get tossed into something far more vast than themselves. Compared to say Star Wars where even the most extreme worlds or tools are just every day things.

Here comes the hard part. Do you want the characters and the players to have the same experience? Are they both going to be in a sense of wonder, dealing with the familiar, jaded because they have seen it all before, or wondering if they might be able to get college credits for studying history? Or will the player see things one way and the character sees them another? This is why you need to know how far things are from today.

My personal rule is that if you can keep things inside a thirty year gap then everything will be familiar in the terms of the world. It will be all of the alien/strange/mystical whatever stuff that you are adding to make it sci-fi that will impact both the players and the characters. You get outside of that window and unless you have players that are science/history/engineering/anthropology (depending on which way you go be it future or past) buffs then you will start to get a separation from the players and their characters. Either way can be a good thing. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The closer you keep things to now the more times you will have to be careful of modern facts and media that players will likely be aware of. The more you space things out the more you can play with the development of, well everything.

So how do I tie this into the decisions I have already made?

  • The sci-fi style will be pulp sci-fi. So things can get weird.
    • This is not going to really impact how far we are from now. This will be more of a style thing.
  • Humans are trash. So at the very least they will be low class citizens, maybe worse.
    • Ok so human characters will not have access to the best of things. That means that they are going to have a sense of wonder already when they run into the really cool stuff. And maybe a sense that they should have it too. Non human characters are going to be more jaded, and possibly see human things in a ‘retro’ kind of light.
  • Players will not know how big the universe is, and I will sketch out a couple of places in advance but otherwise let the players drive things so the universe will become as big as it needs to be.
    • Players are going to have a sense of wonder, and so are the characters unless they come from a non human culture. And that sort of interaction will lead to some very interesting conversations.

Alright, I know that I want humans to be the main race in this setting. That actually jumps ahead a little bit but I am rather sure you had already figured that out. I don’t want to take the world war history removal option, and I want that sense of discovery to be something that the players will share with their characters. Help drive for a little better role play I think.

So I am going to try and keep things in that thirty year gap. Since I like the idea of having some crusty humans who want to remember the old days I think that thirty years in the future will be the best bet. So I am going to be looking at 2048 and I need to figure out what happened in that time to fill in all three of the above questions.

So now we have

  1. The sci-fi style will be pulp sci-fi. So things can get weird.
  2. Humans are trash. So at the very least they will be low class citizens, maybe worse.
  3. Players will not know how big the universe is, and I will sketch out a couple of places in advance but otherwise let the players drive things so the universe will become as big as it needs to be.
  4. Timeline is about 30 years in the future and there are older humans who remember ‘today’ as the good old days.

All righty then. Coming soon we have a look at question 5, how many races and how diverse. Another review. And likely another rant or three. Just to give you an idea of what is out there.

I hope folks are finding this all very entertaining, and now gimme the dice, I have to go and check on the cats vs human reaction table. Is there any use in actually speaking to cats or do they just have such a negative reaction modifier that they will say screw you no mater what.

Have fun and play nice folks.

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Not really an update

Hey everyone who drops by and reads something from time to time…

So no official world building post or review this week. Not even a full on rant. My wife and I are celebrating our one year anniversary today and so I thought it would be much cooler to just tell you all I was not putting any effort into the blog today because I would rather be spending the day with her.

Yup, thats right. Wife wins.

Hope you all have a great time.

Now gimme the dice, I gotta see if I can make my save against getting her an odd anniversary gift.

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Long time no post

Hey there readers.

Between my wife and I working on the room in our house we call the library… building custom home made book shelves and other fun work, I have been distracted on weekends. And over the last two weeks I have not even been able to get online on my main computer, so I may be looking at getting a new one… I mean this awesome little beast still runs on Vista so…

Anyway. World Building, the 200 series is still in the works, I just have a few more important things in life that I need to work on right at the moment. Dont worry, I have not forgotten. Oh and there are reviews pending as well for games and supplements and a couple of rants I want to articulate.

So yeah, Gimme The Dice is still here, still alive, and all that good stuff. Sorry to make you all wait, but, life… yeah 🙂

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No review this week

Hey all readers. So I found there is a spam filter for the contents on the site… not sure how my bud over at DanOnGames got bumped over there but I had to unlock a few of his comments. Hopefully setting him as NOT SPAM, no really you freakin sock monkies he is not spam… sheesh.

Anyway that also got me looking over previous posts and what seemed to grab the most traffic. And low and behold it looks like more than the reviews folks seem to like the world building. So it looks like to help drive viewership I will get back to building worlds for everyone to steal a little faster than I planned.

However I will not go into building another fantasy world right off the bat. No no no. I am going to swing over to sci-fi or supers first. Not sure which yet, but I am building a soundtrack for… something… it will hopefully tell me what it is…

To give you a small idea of things that are going into the soundtrack check the following links… Some of these are a little explicit in language… well at least some will think so.

Ok so thats the teaser of whats to come. Hope everyone has a happy and safe fourth if you are in the states. And yes… cousins in the midwest… I am looking at you and your coolers and previously posted vids and pics… YOU BE CAREFUL too 🙂

All righty gimme the dice, I need a saving throw for Mondays….

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Delayed post

Yeah… binge watching Iron Fist slowed me down… maybe later this week, maybe next sunday.

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World Building 108

So by now everyone who has been reading these articles should have a fair idea of the world. I have only this article and one other planned for the series, because if I put it all together for you it would be a 200 plus page world book. 🙂 Not that the idea is a bad one, but I really don’t have the time to put it together get it edited and sell it to  a publisher right now. So then what does that make this article in world building about… POWER.

Yes thats right, power, well that and the classes that use them. You see in every fantasy game there are things that set characters apart from the every day Joe Blowstone and while high skills and hit points are great, the POWER that comes with those things is even better.

So lets talk about them in the game setting BASE classes shall we?

Clerics / Druids – Channels of the HOLY POWERs. Thats right these folks talk to the GODS, and get power accordingly. Notice this will not include Paladins as I think they are insanely hard to play and kill game balance. Now then in most game settings a holy power user is dedicated to one god or force of nature and that fuels what they do. In this world I plan on taking a different approach. Each one of the gods has its own portfolio of powers and so a holy power user has to know which god to invoke, and must stay on fairly good terms with all of them in order to cast all the spells available. While every cleric type will have their favorite (and that is how they get domain powers and such) they need to worship the whole pantheon. What this also means is that with undead being non-existent at the start of the meta story the Turn Rebuke power is something that no one would have.

Magic Users (Wizards / Sorcerer / Bard) – Yes there are sorcerers and they have bloodline powers, but many of the ones listed in the original rules do not exist as this world does not have fae, demons, angels and so on. Wizards and others who rely on spell books prove that you dont need a blood line and that just about anyone with a little practice can learn magic. Unfortunately learning magic requires just as much grunt work and also writing and reading and understanding weird as hell combinations of words and gestures that most who try it rarely make it to level one, let alone further. This is why you end up with odd smatterings of low effect magic items in places like farms and inns.

Chi / Rage and style powers (Monk / Barbarian / Ranger / Rouge / Bard) – Most of these are from focus and effort. Again there are a lot of folks that dont have the patience or the talent to really pursue them. This also means that there are more than a few folks out there in very basic roles that may have scampered off with books of martial art styles, know a move or two that takes focus and maybe could rage for a few seconds and so on.

Just plain Skill (Fighter / Rouge / Bard) – Raw skill is never a problem. Although a high level rouge can do just about anything they set their mind to. Just once though I would love to see a high level character who has been keeping a skill up in Shepard or Farming for the day they retire. Oh and word of advice, never trust a rouge that keeps up a skill in carpentry or ditch digging… seriously…

Non Base class powers and combinations

Technology vs Alchemy (Alchemist / Gunslinger / Swashbuckler) – So technology in this world is rather low. So there are no guns and even siege weapons are rare. Running water comes from many people using buckets to pour water over something. So this means that there are no ‘Gunslingers’ or Swashbucklers as written. However if someone wants to use those classes but with hand crossbows, that could work. Alchemy is sort of pervasive though. Or at least it looks that way to non-practitioners. Say it with me now, snake oil salesmen. Yup. Alchemy is known as being a great way to fix tons of things. Can you think of a better ongoing con? For every actually skilled Alchemist in this world there are likely ten to fifteen snake oil salesmen.

Psionics – I really debated adding this power set into the game setting or not. For games that start in the begining of the meta storyline, no psi. About a third of the way through the meta plot I have in mind Psi can be added.

Cultural (Samurai / Ninja / Swashbuckler) So while they have a mix of powers and skills, These three are kinda right out.

Others that really dont fit the world – PALADIN (sorry but I have to say it many times, just like that thing with gno… ) Cavalier, Oracle, Summoner, Witch, Kineticist, Medium, Mesmerist, Occultist, Psychic, Spiritualist, Bloodrager, Slayer, Samurai, Ninja, Swashbuckler, and War Priest.

Others that do fit – Arcanist, Brawler, Hunter, Investigator, Magus, Shaman, and Skald

Why do they or dont they fit… well…

Cultural (Samurai / Ninja / Swashbuckler) So while they have a mix of powers and skills, the cultures in this world really do not support the character arch-types completely. These three are mostly out. Cases can be made that with the stereotypes in the dwarven community that both Samurai and Ninja could abound. However the culture of the dwarves would more likely mean that someone studies to be a fighter and something else… two… classes… 🙂

Mixed power sets and classes that really don’t fit the setting…

So with base classes like the Ranger, you get a combination of fighting and spell casting dedicated to nature. And this works. Bards mix a ton of things together and they work. Some of the more unique power sets from advanced classes though, like the Summoner, don’t really work in this world. Mostly because there is very little out there to summon, and that would raise the question about why don’t the Titans just follow that hole and then… yeah… it gets ugly. And why do things like Oracles and Witches not work, but as written the Shaman (which mixes both classes) does work. That stems from the focus of the abilities. Shamans deal with spirits. Oracles work with Gods and monsters. Which is why this article is from the perspective of players… they should also know that Witches will be present, as mortals who serve the Titans. That’s right the Gods get Clerics the Titans get Witches.

With the elements that are not present, you can take a look culturally and see things like the Ninja just not really being there. Since the main seafaring culture is the elves and greatships and piracy are not their thing then swashbucklers are kind of out. No guns so no gunslingers. Oracles and Paladins in essence turn themselves over to A god. And at this time there is no one in the world that has faith of that magnitude in any SINGLE god to make that happen.

With the ones that do work, you can see a lot about the game setting.

Dwarves take their religion as a whole rather seriously. And so they have Inquisitor / Investigator pairs that search for heresy and lack of faith. Clerics that teach. And then Rouges that master oh so many skills, and Bards that teach them how to party when all is good. Humans with their connection to nature and deep reliance on themselves have Barbarians, Monks, Brawlers and Rangers in equal parts. Sorcerers, Wizards, Arcanists, Magus and Alchemists run a lot of the show in Goblin communities. Halflings with their love of life and travel see Bards, Skalds, Hunters, Rouges and Rangers fill many of their jobs. And with the Elves love of nature and life they have many Bards, Druids, Rangers, Hunters and Rouges. Now then you notice I did not mention Fighters in there. Thats because every culture has fighters. Well actually every culture has all of the classes, but look at the highlights and see where the POWER lies.

Thats right I came back to the POWER there at the end. Because POWER is not just the magic or the chi. Its not just the skills and the stats. POWER is having a great character that you have fun playing… HAH!!!

Ok so as random as that all seemed. I am out…

Gimme the dice I need to roll a crit hit on fun with the wife… my wife.. the best wife ever… (she thought I would not leave that in when she typed it while I was AFK)

Peace and fun to all y’all.

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A Brief Pause

Hello all readers…

Ok so you likely noticed if you have been following the blog that I have been doing one a week for a little while now and then suddenly, last week, nothing. Yeah. Christmas. Family. Sorta had other things to do.

This week. New Years. Snow. Sorta had other things to do.

However I am posting this so you know things are still coming. The world is still being built, and fun will still be had.

Personally I am going to start mixing more reviews and rants in with the world building, and some time in February I plan to put a post out about gifts to gamers. Not so much a rant or review but honest advice for both gamers that want stuff and people who have no clue what the hell to get a gamer in their life. Might have been handy before the holiday season I know, but you can look forward to it for 2017.

Happy holidays to everyone, play safe in the season, and lets do what we can to make 2017 a crit.

Gimme the dice, I gotta see just how much I can push this breakfast thing 🙂

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Lost in the Weeds

Greetings to all/both (heh) of my readers. It has been about six months now since my last post, and I just got a nudge today from a reader and so here I am back again. I will post something more substantial soon.

The delay has been caused by promotion at work, getting engaged, buying a house planning a wedding and just not having a lot of time to really dig into anything gaming. Well save for picking up a few new things, a few PDF’s of older games and waiting with total impatience for the results of a KickStarter to show up at my door (again the heh).

After the KickStarter shows up I will need a little time to digest it but I want to do a solid review of No Thank You Evil from Monte Cook Games. This looks like one of the best ideas for bringing smalls into gaming that I have ever seen and even though I have my PDF copy from the KickStarter, I want to have the box in hand before I really dive into any kind of review.

Additionally I am planning to work up something for Teenagers From Outer Space (vintage fun from R. Talsorian Games), Heavy Gear (both a strategy game with mini’s and an RPG with a very creative system from Dream Pod 9), an article about my thoughts on licensed products and one way we could make them better, and maybe some reviews about classic adventure modules that are turning up more and more in PDF form.

So there is more coming, hopefully soon.

 

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Ongoing communications

Hey there readers…

So been a bit of a lag, had a rough week and then my weekend was spent relaxing with a great friend and the lady love of my life (she says I can call her my old lady but seriously, I only do that to her face to get her to smile).

So you may remember that when I posted a review about Numenera and the Strange games a gent named Charles reached out to me from Monte Cook games (Prior Post) and after emailing him back I posted the exchange as well (Prior Post 2). Well I heard back from him again yesterday. I can honestly say it is really refreshing to get an answer in regards to questions, and to see what they have to say about shipping and how they handle the materials. He even forwarded the email to another staff member to get in touch with me about replacing the books. I have not heard from the other staffer yet, and with the reply I sent where I reiterated that I was not interested in replacements but interested in making sure that they had their supply chain in control, I may not. What really got me is that apparently Charles is the C.O.O of Monte Cook games… Yeah the Chief Operating Officer of the company checking out blog posts and reaching out to people who may have issues. Now then for all I know Monte Cook games is only three people and all of them have one of the C.O.O types of titles, but it is still really really cool to see that on an email signature from someone trying to address an issue for you.

So below is Charles message to me and my reply is below that. That should have everyone caught up with what is going on. Later this week I plan on finally getting the Lord of the Rings / Middle Earth Role Playing comparison article up… so stay tuned…

Charles Reply – 

Hi, T, and thanks for getting in touch! Sorry for the slow response—with the No Thank You, Evil! Kickstarter in full swing, it can be hard to keep up with the email in-box.

I’ve forwarded your photos on to Tammie. She’ll get in touch about replacing your books. The wear and tear you show is not typical, but these are 416 page books, which sort of pushes the limits of case-bound spines.
Regarding our logistics, we maintain a warehouse (located in the Atlanta region), from which our products are shipped as ordered by pretty much all serious game distributors (including Alliance). It’s a very typical arrangement. We individually shrink-wrap our 416-page books to protect them in storage and shipment.
My reply to his reply, to the reply to my reply of the reply… Ahhhhh you get it…
Hello Charles
As I said in the email with the pics, I have no need for a replacement. The books still get the job done. My concern is in regards to the supply chain. I know that not everyone is as game crazy as I am and conditions like the ones I saw may cause a loss to your customer base. Personally the last time I saw books in this kind of condition they were books that had been sampled by US Customs, or had been dropped roughly by the case load when being unloaded in the US upon arrival from the printer in China. It sounds like you have a good system in place to check items before sending them to the distributors though so I think it would be unlikely that you would ship books in this condition.
I do want to thank you for taking my feelings about the books seriously, and for your direct approach to resolution. It is very refreshing. I am looking forward to lots of great projects from your team, and hopefully a very long and successful company presence in the games industry.
……………………………………….
And that is it so far. Seriously though folks how often do you think that this sort of thing happens? I mean think about it. I voiced my thoughts in a public place and ended up with direct assistance from one of the company’s chiefs. You don’t hear about many companies that would do that. So even though my two original emails that were sent when I originally bought the books seem to have been lost in the shuffle, I am willing to put Monte Cook Games customer service back on the good side.
Well thats all today folks, now gimme the dice, I gotta see if my sprite can pilot a mech…

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