Posts Tagged ‘games’

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Stompy Day: Heavy Gear Action

November 11, 2018

Finally got in some Heavy Gear gaming, learning the rules and the ropes, as it were…

Also got a chance to try out a nice laser line generator, which was a glorious gift for figuring out line of sight (where has this thing been all my life?).

It was a fun afternoon of stompy action!  We just did a simple scenario with the base subset of the rules and typical front-line units to familiarize ourselves.  We’ll keep adding to the mix* in our next games.  Also will continue to try out using satellite photos as the playing field, and maybe even some 3D printed terrain.  More fun times ahead, I’m looking forward to it.

* Though, as you can see, I’m already way behind in putting together enough minis…

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Gaming Thursday: Conveying the Rules

November 8, 2018

Over the past 6 years or so, I’ve had fun trying out many new game systems.  From role playing to pure tactical, from the crunchy to the more narrative, they’ve run the gamut.  Through this all I’ve been reminded of two very big things:

  • Crafting a smooth, engaging, fun, and enabling game system is an art.
  • Conveying those rules with clarity and structure is an entirely separate art.

Neither of these are revelatory, of course.  But while most of these new systems I’ve come to enjoy and find quite well done, almost all of them suffer greatly in the second department.  Often, horribly so.

It’s a strange phenomenon to me, this consistency to which rulesets these days (in my experience, at any rate) are both poorly explained, with awkward, ambiguous, and poorly worded statements, and poorly laid out, with the most egregious (and, again, common) being interlocking rules elements that are strangely separated in the book by whole chapters and further compounded by meagre, or worse, no index so you can’t readily find things mid-game.  It is one reason I’ve been making so many cheat sheets – designing them allows me to see and learn how the game rules actually fit together*, with the in-play for quick reference being almost a bonus feature.

This may be starting to sound a bit like a rant, and truly I don’t mean it to be.  Instead, these two things have been great reminders for me of the importance of finding and trusting good editors and, even more importantly, being aware of what we’re good at, and what we’re not.  We may be brilliant at designing rules, but we may stink at writing them down (or vice versa).  Hiring people to aid us in those roles where we are weak can be the best thing for us and the game.

It is also a reminder that when I do find a game that excellently handles both bits, celebrate both the rules but even more so the authors/team who wrote them and laid out the book with such elegance.  For it is most certainly not a given.

 

* To which really allows one to see just how strange the organization can be by noting how many times, forty or sixty pages later in the book, you need to go back and add something to a part of the cheat sheet you thought you were done with.

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Gaming Thursday: STA Cheat Sheet Update

November 1, 2018

Just a quick post to note I updated my Star Trek Adventures cheat sheet to fix a few errors I had on there (oops!)…

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

Happy gaming in the final frontier!

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Gaming Thursday: D&D Character Sheets

October 4, 2018

To complete the trifecta, here are the character sheets I whipped up for our D&D game:

This one was done very quick and dirty like, heavily slicing and dicing the PDF print from the Forged Anvil excel character sheet, coupled with the borders from the official D&D Beyond character sheets and a gaggle of other graphics, symbols, and a parchment like background.  Still, quite pleased how it turned out.  As a bonus, you can see the banner I designed for my character on the last page (which itself was a kitbash using the banners from the Battletech kickstarter game as a starting point).  Sorry about the shadow on that photo there…

We’re restarting that campaign in just over a week, looking forward to it and to continuing to give this gaming notebook a try.  Happy gaming!

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Gaming Thursday: Star Trek Adventures Character Sheet

September 27, 2018

Following up on last week’s post, next up:  Star Trek Adventures!

I had a lot of fun with this one, generating it from scratch using the principles and look of the now infamous TNG-era LCARS computer interface.  The LCARS look was really convenient in accommodating a layout split down the middle.  I played around a bit with whether to put the service record or gear inside vs which went on the back – in the end I chose to keep the service record on the inside as it linked best with the character’s history, values, and other RP items.

As with the last design, I’m very chuffed with how this turned out!  I like the look far more than the ones that come with the game, and I think it organizes thing in ways that better emphasizes RP and the mechanics that support it.

Also as with the last design this should work equally well outside of a/the notebook.  With a minor tweak to add equipment it could easily be a single-sided sheet as well.  I’ve made a blank version of the sheet in PDF format, an InDesign file with the necessary text boxes, and all required fonts available in a zip file for download.  Enjoy!  And live long and prosper.

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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.