Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

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Gaming Thursday: Firefly Character Sheet

September 20, 2018

One of my gaming buddies surprised our group by buying each of us one of the rather lovely Gametee gaming notebook folios/folders.  “Ooooo…” thought I, “I gotta use me this.  Four separate notebooks, that’s one for each campaign.”  Thing is, the notebooks within use roughly A5 sized paper, so cramming a standard character sheet in there won’t quite work.  Plus, it’d be great to be able to put the character sheet right in the middle of the notebook, using the same elastic string that holds the replacable notebooks in the folio.  Which would therefore need a landscape-oriented character sheet with nothing down its middle.

You know what that means…  completely non-obsessive and totally healthy character sheet design mania activated!

First up, for our Firefly game:

As the game uses the Cortex Plus system there isn’t too much that needs to be captured onto the character sheet.  I followed the basic design of the official sheets, tweaking organization to be both clearer and avoid the centre of the sheet.  Also took an opportunity to add a splash of colour and make the die types quicker to read.  Since pretty much all game info could fit on one landscape page trimmed to fit, I could use the back of the sheet as a booklet for theme-inducing art and a character portrait.

I’m quite chuffed how this turned out and looking forward to using it in game tomorrow night!

With its fold-over design, I think it works equally nicely even outside of a/the notebook.  Or just print the “inside” and it’s pretty much all there.  I’ve made a blank version of the sheet in PDF format, an InDesign file with text boxes in appropriate places, plus font and die image information, all available in a zip for download.  Enjoy!  And keep flyin’…

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Gaming Thursday: Shore Leave

September 13, 2018

Last game session, our GM was away.  Rather than do a ‘traditional’ one shot, I loosely penned up an experiment and gave it a whirl.

A bit of backstory:  When we were creating the secondary/additional crewmembers for our ship, I gave our pilot a focus (which, in Star Trek Adventures game terms, is best thought as “Areas of Expertise”) of “Shore Leave”.  This proved to be an amazing RP boon, for it has given incredible personality to the character, and we’ve derived a huge amount of background info and lore from it. For example, we have a converted cargo bay that serves as our unofficial ship’s lounge, created by said pilot and named after him: “Gavin’s Quarters.”

And so, for this experimental one shot, I envisioned, in the best mid-season “fluff-episode” TV series tradition, taking the crew in for some starbase R&R.  My plan was to hew to the meta pretty strong, and fully embrace the episodic nature of the episode with a ‘forced’ split of the party into three groups (of both primary PCs and the secondary/additional crewmbers) between which we would rotate with the full intention they would each get into hijinks that, inevitably, would combine in unexpected ways.  All the while, Gavin would flit in and out of the scenes, elevating the humour and excitement in all his masterful shore leave ways.

I wrote down and solicited from the greater interwebs a list of potential events, mischiefs, and troubles that I could spring on the players.  But I didn’t want this to follow the traditional format with the GM laying out scenarios and guiding things – I wanted the players to be as involved as possible as well so that the story we wove together would be remembered for (game) years to come.

To that end, I set up two things.  First, I explicitly mentioned to them at the start of the session the intent of the episode and its 3 narrative structure, and, more importantly, mentioned that there was no losing or danger here.  Like all fluff episodes the lasting recourses would be nil.  Secondly, I invoked the spirit of Mouse Guard-style play, both in the idea of “Player Turn” in having the players inject as much into the narrative as the GM, and secondly in terms of the more overall-story-thinking method of play rather than immediacy and first-person play.  In other words, more “what would make for a great story, let’s write it out” and less direct-RP (though we still had plenty of that).

Experiment success!

It went splendidly.  I began the session with a set of scripted scenes to set the stage of a crew reaching the ends of their ropes in various ways (and with each scene ending with a character saying “I need a break/vacation/downtime/drink”) followed by the Captain announcing the upcoming resupply at the starbase.  Then the players each chose a character from the pool of main/secondary characters, and we started the first thread.  I let them take the scene for a bit and then injected one of the hijinks.  Let that run a bit more, then switch to the second thread, with three more main/secondary characters, and so on.  Accidentally entering a bat’leth tournament, dealing with a propelled surf board stuck on full throttle, high-stakes poker games leading to forced karaoke, finding strange alien devices left on their restaurant table, mistaken celebrity identity… just some of the all sorts of hilariousness that ensued.  All the while, Gavin would dance through the scenes at poignant points, tying everything together until the very end when he managed to turn the entire concourse into a giant music party complete with fireworks.

A completely great night of gaming.  We didn’t touch the dice once;  everyone was generating and adding to the storylines and having a good laugh while also developing deeper understanding of the characters, both their own and the secondary crewmembers.  Lots of creative fun.  As a single-shot fluff episode it worked perfectly, a nice break before we get back to the serious business of being Starfleet officers.

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Gaming Thursday: A BattleTech Proposal

July 26, 2018

With the new (Kickstarted!) turn-based BattleTech computer game out, I’ve been a) playing it a tonne (and enjoying it immensely) and b) thinking back on all the tabletop BattleTech I’ve played over the years.  Which has also been a tonne.  To this day I can rattle out many weapon stats from memory.  And I fondly remember one summer laying down all the maps we owned on the floor (some of which were different scales, so we had to do this crazy linear conversion when we crossed over) in a friend’s basement for an epic battle between a crazy number of units.  Took all summer.

The game itself is mostly functional* and models well enough the particular flavour of reality its going for.  Stompy bot action, you’ve got it.  There is, however, one major niggle that I noticed even back during those epic summers, and that became even more glaring to me the few times I’ve been able to play the past couple of years.  And that is this:  the math.  Or, more precisely, the dice math.  Read the rest of this entry ?

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Gaming Thursday: Star Trek Adventures Species

July 12, 2018

Here’s a new species to add to your Star Trek: Adventures games!  As I alluded to in my last ST:A post, our new campaign has afforded me the chance to recreate a character I’d been playing in a Trek game many years ago, a character whose playtime was unfortunately cut short when I moved out of the area.  She was bit unusual in that she wasn’t a standard Trek race.  Rather, I’d taken the basic outline (as well as the species name) from the Battlelords RPG, a game that I had randomly bought at some point.  After a bit of tweaking to their concept, crafting the rules, and writing a plausible insertion into the Trek universe, there she was – with a rich backstory of course! – walking onto the bridge.

Fast forward to today, and she’s back in action.  So without further ado, here’s the ST:A species treatment for the Cizerack for your gaming pleasure:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1-zXIblE4C6LlVn48fEfSeJKoiutv5k9U

(Artwork copyright by SSDC)

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Gaming Thursday: Mouse Guard Flowchart

June 21, 2018

In the same vein as last week’s Star Trek Adventures, here is a flowchart/reference sheet/cheat sheet for the Mouse Guard RPG.  Given the unique way Mouse Guard works, there’s a lot that rides on each test, as there are so few of them.  Hence each test is rather involved.  Couple that with a rulebook that suffers from some organizational issues (such as having various aspects of the test procedure scattered throughout), this flowchart proved invaluable at our table.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1peik86Gj454fIgQEBbKy7w5zvd9VoHYc

In the end, once we got a handle on how it works, we ended up loving Mouse Guard (see my end-of-game reflection here).  We are stoked to play again, so our mouse adventures will continue!  If I update the sheet I’ll be sure to repost it.  And if you see anything that I erred on, please let me know and I’ll wrangle it right.

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Gaming Thursdays: Star Trek Adventures Cheat Sheet

June 14, 2018

As noted a few months ago, our group’s been playing the Star Trek Adventures RPG by Modiphius.  We’ve been having a blast (it has allowed me to recreate/resurrect a character I love that I was playing some 20 years ago in the Star Trek RPG by Last Unicorn Games) and the system’s proving to be a pretty good one.  As is my wont, I’ve made these quick cheat sheets/GM Screen/rules references to help us along:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1k9AR8oRJ_qiSPoxW7QEVWZU50jQiIYOr

One thing to note, I didn’t include all the actions and options for starship combat, as I found this great set of sheets by Potato_Fishy that contained everything very well.  Otherwise, I tried to include pretty much everything that comes up often in play.

Hopefully this can be of use for your games as well.  If you see any errors or omissions, please let me know and I will update the sheet.  And if you’re not playing ST:A, I do recommend it!

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Gaming Thursday: Top Secret NWO Addendum

May 10, 2018

I forgot to mention one thing during my review that I really appreciated in the new TS:NWO, and that is the rules for interrogation.  A classic, standard, spycraftian story trope to be sure, but NWO puts little factual spin on it.

In NWO, there are two rolls made during interrogation:  One is to get the subject to talk.  The other is to get the subject to tell the truth. And here’s the thing:  if you use violence, while the first roll becomes easier, the second becomes harder.

It’s nice to see them break the trope that torture is efficient, quick, and produces immediate, proper, and actionable information.  Because it really doesn’t.  And in my book, the less we perpetuate that myth, the better.

So big kudos to the designers on TS:NWO for this one!