October 19, 2013

Hell's Bells!

This month has been pretty crazy, and not necessarily in a good way.

Gaming schedules have been pretty much tossed out of whack.  So far, only my Saturday gaming group has survived the chaos, though we've not gotten to do a whole lot of playing, though hopefully tonight will be a return to form, though in an unusual method (more on that later).

Back when Chris and Dave of the Order 66 podcast were doing their Kickstarter, I'd pledged enough to get to play in a Skype game run by Chris.  Well, through a comedy of errors on both our ends, that session got delayed a fair bit with my finally able to join in on a Saturday game session.  And to be honest... it was worth the wait.  I had never gamed with any of the other folks that were playing, but we came together pretty well as a team.  The adventure in question, "Dead Man's Hand" was fun to play, and even fun to run as I got the chance to run a demo game for some folks last night, and opted to use that one.  Sadly, the players I had weren't quite as creative with their actions, though I suspect most of that had to do with just not being familiar with the dice mechanic that FFG used for their Star Wars system.

The Wednesday D&D game has gone belly-up, due in no small part to just general lack of interest.  The GM had something going as far as a storyline, but that eventually just fell apart and fell into the "go fight stuff and swipe their loot" rut that has been the death of more than one D&D game I'm sure.

On a positive note, a suggestion I made on the FFG Age of Rebellion Beta forums, to rename the Knowledge (Galactic Civil War) skill to the more general Knowledge (Warfare) has made it into the Beta Updates, so hooray me.  Most of the changes made so far to the AoR Beta have been fairly minor, with the biggest changes for the Week 2 update being the addition of some new talents for the Gunner and Commando specializations.

I've been chugging along with articles for the Gamer Security Agency, though my day job hasn't left me as much mental bandwidth as I'd like.

I'm also gonna call an audible here, in regards to the backer reward adventure that I'm to write as part of the Order 66 Kickstarter.  I've had some tech issues, and several files got corrupted... including the adventure I was writing.  I've got an older back-up copy, so the entire thing wasn't lost, but I did lose all of Act 3 and a fair amount of formatting, so that puts my way behind schedule, as I'd hoped to have it done by the end of October.

In other dour news, fellow gamer, Star Wars fan, and d20 Radio's resident furry Rikoshi had to reluctantly bow out of the Sunday Skype game that I play in.  While I can understand why he did it, having seen the crapfest that his life has unfairly become over the past few months, it still sucks to lose such a fun member of one's gaming group.  His antics as the Squib scoundrel Kirkinnery-tovante was always entertaining, jaunty hat and all.  Hopefully he can get things in order and turned around for the better sooner rather than later.

There's an update for the Unofficial Species Menagerie in the works, prodded into higher gear due to events I'm not going to go into detail on.  Hopefully, a few new things are in place on the updated version to avoid that sort of mess in the future.  The species that have gotten official stats or are due to have them very soon have been removed, mostly as I want to play nice with FFG when and where I can.  I've still got the versions that Ben and I came up with, but I can't say if they'll show up someplace else at a later date, though I know that a few of Ben's can be found over at the d20 Radio forums in the FFG Star Wars RPG section.

I've also been invited to partake in a paganesque ceremony on behalf of some good friends in the not-to-distant future.  It's nothing crazy or criminal, but given the circumstances behind it I'm quite honored to have been asked to attend.

As for the Saturday gaming group, we're going to break out an old and rather unexpected RPG for a one-shot session, mostly as something to break away from our usual games.  The game in question?  The Dragonball Z Anime Adventure RPG by R. Talsorian.  I was quite amused when the suggestion came up, having played a very short campaign of that game many years ago, and remember the main rulebook being an atrocious example of poor layout; it took the third book to make the came well and truly playable as well as providing a number of sensible rules patches to cut down on the curb-stomp battles that could occur all too frequently (particularly where extra actions were involved).  It should be interesting if nothing else.  I doubt there will be anyone with a Power Level that's over 9000 or people's hair turning gold from their extreme power, which is for the best.

October 1, 2013

Some updates

Not a whole lot to say, other than there are times I honestly forget I have this blog.

As far as gaming goes (the main reason I started this blog), I've been very much enjoying Ben's Sunday Night Star Wars: EotE Skype game, in part because the character I'm playing is quite fun.  Valin is at his core a Force-sensitive street rat, and a character idea that I had from way back in my D6 days.

I'd tried to convert him to WotC's various d20 versions, but with no real success as he frequently ended up being more powerful in terms of his Force-usage than I really wanted him to be.  So I'm quite pleased with how he's got a lot of room to grow as a Force-user in FFG's Star Wars system, and how simply having the Jedi Initiate specialization from my Ways of the Force document doesn't make him automatically more capable than someone using the F/S Exile from EotE or the F/S Emergent from AoR.

The most recent session had part of Valin's past come back to haunt him, namely that he's on the ISB's list as a "person of interest in relation to a known criminal," this being a Bounty Obligation.  All from doing what he thought was a harmless bit of searching on the general topic of "Jedi" using the data archives on The Wheel.  Figures I'd roll a Despair; probably should have simply had him do a search for "busty Twi'lek dancers" as that would have been safer.  Oh well, at least our Hired Gun got a snazzy new disruptor rifle out of the encounter and Valin's traded in his dinky light blaster pistol for a heavy blaster pistol, providing some much needed extra firepower for the inevitable firefights the group will be getting into.  Also got to spill a bit of his backstory, which is always a plus.  We've also embarked upon the "Beyond the Rim" adventure, which I recognize in part because I did a GSA review on it.  I'm waiting until we get through the first Act before I go back and see what we missed in terms of the adventure, as the GM hinted that we'd skipped a fair chunk of that part.  We are slated to play again this coming Sunday, so that's certainly something to look forward to.

My reformatted Saturday group has opted to put 7th Seas to the side, at least for now.  Which is a mild shame, as I very much enjoyed playing the role of Estevan Santiago de Montoya... though the fact our party's Fate Witch bestowed him with a number of Swords Blessing dice makes him a great deal more potent than he really should be.  Then again, if the GM was worried about the Fate Witch's magic causing problems (even if she's only half-blooded), he probably shouldn't have allowed Sorte into the game in the first place.

We're still playing Legend of the 5 Rings, so AEG's Roll & Keep system is still being used by our group.  I must say, the L5R party that we've got now is rather interesting, with my Hare Bushi (Usagi Hiro) and the Mantis Shugenja (Moshi Kamahime) being the only hold-overs from the previous group.  Now, we've got a Shosuro actress (whom the party doesn't know is such; we just think she's a minor Scorpion artisan that's been given leave to travel Rokugan because she's of such little importance back home; c'mon, she's a Scorpion, we should know better!) and a Kuni Witch-Hunter, who takes the "grim and dour Crab samurai" to new levels.  We do look to be adding a fifth, with that player wanting to run a Kitsuki Investigator... which should be interesting given the presence of the secretive Scorpion.  The campaign itself has taken an interesting turn, as the Hare and Mantis PCs have had their "year of wandering" since participating (and in the Hare's case, winning) the Topaz Championship, and now we have to be "responsible adults."  Of course, since the GM wants us to still be adventurers, he took the easy route and had Hiro be promoted to the rank of Emerald Magistrate, with Kamahime being "honored" with the position of being one his yoriki, with the Crab Witch-Hunter being in a similar role (was assigned with no input from Hiro, who does not care for the Crab given a still-too-recent event), and I suspect the Kitsuke Investigator will be much the same, though at least Hiro's had good experiences with samurai of the Dragon clan, including an amusingly rowdy and Ise Zumi tattooed monk who was notable for his very informal sense of humor as well as his portly physique and preference for displaying such; think Uncle Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender before he buffed up for his Season 3 prison escape.  At least with one of us being an Emerald Magistrate, that makes traveling the Empire a good deal easier, as we can be assumed to be on "Imperial business."  Plus, being on friendly terms with the current Emerald Champion doesn't hurt either.

As far as I know, the GM is still using the Heroes of Rokugan II: Champions of the Sapphire Throne series of modules as the basis for his campaign, though I suspect we've thrown a few monkey wrenches into the established campaign, particularly as it was supposed to be a rather arrogant Mirumoto Bushi that won the most recent Emerald Championship, but instead we'd done enough things in the background to allow the more honorable and sensible Kakita Bushi that had reached the finals to emerge the victor, with one of those things being Hiro and the Kakita having an introspective discussion on the nature of iaijutsu, which was interesting to roleplay given that Hiro uses an unorthodox style that relies heavily on speed and agility (more so than the usual Hare Clan fighting style) and factors into his iaijutsu, while the Kakita Bushi is obviously much more of a traditionalist.  I think the Scorpion courtier/temptress also played a role in making sure the Mirumoto's mind was not as focused as it should be, but we don't know the details other than she went to "have a polite conversation with the man."  She returned unharmed, so whatever she said or did must have been effective.  Of course, given that she was a social monster (Fortunes help you if you had a number of Social or Mental disadvantages), she probably did only have to "talk" with the Mirumoto to throw him off his game.  Still it's been an interesting campaign, and I'm looking forward to more chances to play.

So what are we looking to play now that 7th Seas is being moth-balled?  Well, the GM had picked up the PDF (and now core rulebook) for the 5th Edition of Shadowrun.  To be honest, the last time I gave Shadowrun any serious thought was back during my college days, when I played in a couple different semester-long campaigns and ran a couple mini-campaigns myself.  As much fun as I had with Shadowrun, the system had its problems (heaping handfuls of dice being one of them), and looking at the 5th edition, it would appear that some of them are fixed, but there's new things that, at least on paper, look problematic.  The huge handfuls of dice are still there, but the dice system looks to have been streamlined to make task resolution much quicker, which is a plus.  There's a few other changes from what I remembered of 1st and 2nd edition, but most of them are good.  The section on the Matrix and deckers still makes my eyes glaze over, so if we do go for Shadowrun as our alternate Saturday game, I'll most likely go with a street samurai or perhaps a physical adept of some type.  Keep your eyes tuned to the GSA, as I've got a review on the SR5e book in the works.

We've also played our initial session of that Dresden Files game I mentioned in my last update.  That one I'm not so sure about, but it could just be that I was mentally wrung out from the way my work day had gone, and thus not in the best of moods.  It did seem (at least to me) that the GM allowed one of the players to gobble up precious gaming time by simply letting her ramble on, but again I wasn't in the best of mindsets, so that's probably not a fair assessment.  We're due to play this Friday, so we'll see what happens.  If I truly feel that I'm not a fit for that group, I may just bow out, but I'll probably play at least a couple more sessions before I make that call.

I did get to run a couple demo games at a local game shop not too long ago, those being the new Firefly RPG (using the GenCon preview copy I picked up at GenCon) and Age of Rebellion.  Both of those went pretty well, particularly the Firefly one as I took a suggestion offered by Jay Little on how he runs convention games, that being to simply take a single word (in my case, "ponies") and see where the players go with it.  Turns out this particular crew of custom-made characters took the word "ponies" and spun it into a job hauling horses for a racing operation on the edge of the system on behalf of Badger (something to do with fallout from a recent shindig from what the PCs had heard), but they also had to fly through a section of space that had a string of Reaper sightings and then deal with a local wannabe mobster that was trying to carve himself a piece of the racing tracks' profits.  It was a beautifully chaotic mess, and probably the highlight of the afternoon.  The Age of Rebellion game went well, as I'd co-opted and blended the intro adventures from the 1st edition WEG rulebook and the 2nd edition R&E WEG rulebook.  It worked out pretty well, and I had a full table of six players.  I built the PCs using the standard character creation rules from the AoR Beta, though I did mix in a couple of EotE species (a Wookiee Soldier/Commando and a Twi'lek Spy/Infiltrator) just to see how the EotE species rated in comparison to the AoR Beta's "new hotness" species.  They worked together quite well, showing that FFG's design intent of "three separate core rulebooks that can be linked together into a seamless whole" is certainly achievable.

In non-gaming related news, I finally got rid of the aging computer desk that I've had for close to 20 years, having accepted that it was long past time for it to go.  I took my friend Ben's advice as to which computer desk to get.  While I kinda miss the hutch that my old desk had, frankly most of the stuff that was stored in the hutch was crap that should have been thrown out years ago.  Still getting used to the new desk, but it was surprisingly easy to put together, particularly as I didn't bother using the dinky toy screwdriver that was included and instead used some real tools.  Amused my stepdad (who knows that I'm not much of a handyman) to hear that the screwdriver set he'd gotten me as a 'useful gift' several Christmas' ago had been so useful to me.

In tech news, I took ownership of a 4th-gen iPad.  Overall, the major difference I'm seeing between it and my old 1st-gen hand-me-down iPad is the new one runs apps a lot faster, which is certainly nice.  I also upgraded to iOS 7, and to be honest, I'm not having a lot of issues with it.  In fact, the only "issue" I'm having is that I can't resize images when setting them as backgrounds, which in the grand scheme of things is a minor annoyance.  The kiddy look of the app icons doesn't bother me, as I stuff most of them into a sub-folder anyway given I infrequently I use them.  But since the main thing I've been using my new iPad for is to play video games (KOTOR, Secret of Mana, and Plants vs. Zombies) or store various game-related PDFs (such as books and character sheets), I probably count as a "casual user" more than anything.

I did do some updates to the Unofficial Species Menagerie, and have handed it off to my partner-in-crime Ben Erickson so that he can do what updates he sees fit to do for it.  So that's in the works, but there's no time-table for when it'll be done other than the old Duke Nukem 4ever adage of "when it's finished."  Also still writing for the GSA, though I've eased up over the past few weeks on producing articles, as this fall allergy season has really been kicking my butt, leaving me weary by the time I get home, enough so that the last thing I want to do is stare at a computer screen after spending the bulk of my workday staring at a computer screen.

And that pretty much covers the bulk of what's been going on in my life over the past month or so.  While I hope I'll be a bit more punctual in updating this blog, the way things are going, I'm not really counting on it.  Odds are I'll post again sometime around Halloween, unless something really interesting crops up.