Wednesday, 25 December 2013

It's the teachers I feel sorry for

Raistlin and Drizzt are now listed on baby name sites.  Hopefully Miraxacalas never gets that kind of fan base.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Mini-review: "Monster Pamphlet #1" by Arlin Ortiz

There's something pleasingly earnest about Arlin Ortiz's Monster Pamphlet #1.  As the name suggests, it's a five-page booklet of monster concepts for your role-playing campaign.  Arlin intended the product to be "system agnostic", but his presentation harks back to the way that joke monsters were written up in TSR's The Dragon magazine, with descriptive notions of speed, armour, intelligence and size followed by a couple of paragraphs of text and a signature "Special Ability".

Arlin's illustrations are the main part of the Monster Pamphlet and it's at this point that I have to admit to not knowing enough about art to say much more than, "I like it".  (OK, I do have an idea about the origin of the colour palette, but it's hardly obscure.)  But my short-comings here shouldn't be a criticism of this product.  It does a good job of passing some interesting ideas, if not ones that can be used in any campaign.

It's definitely worth a look!  Arlin has been good enough to share a low-res version of his work.  If you like what you see, he's only asking $1 for the full glory of the Monster Pamphlet #1.

I think I have a gaming hang-over.

Yesterday I played Eclipse very badly, scarcely remembering the rules let alone any of the game's strategy or tactics. The game also stretched out to five hours, a point that I wouldn't raise except for the fact that it took quite a lot longer to complete thanks to the number of complaints about the amount of time it was taking. You've probably been there, reader, and if you haven't – I envy you.

After a break to relocate, play recommenced with Race for the Galaxy. Historically, I've been pretty bad at Race. However, thanks to an obvious starting hand I mustered a good second-place finish, just a point or two behind the winner. As there was a bit more disruption among the available players – errands had to be run and there was no agreement about what serious game to play next – we then settled in for King of Tokyo with the expansion pack in play and the Panda-kai banned by mutual consent. I mustered a last-to-fall with my Kraken, with the winner only coming through by the skin of his teeth.

We finally settled in to play Avalon Hill's 1997 Princess Ryan's Star Marines, largely because most of us hadn't played it and therefore had nothing against it. Also it promised a 90 minute game, which seemed like a good idea as the time pushed towards midnight. Unfortunately, the people who had played it were trying to remember the game from ten years ago and the rules had a bad habit of ending up at the end of the table with the worst vision, leading to a number of early rules mistakes such as “<” being read as “greater than”.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Why is there treasure in dungeons?

Some answers through the ages:

Gygax (funhouse) "A wizard did it."
Gygax (naturalistic) "The treasure was cached by ancient civilizations far superior to those that exist today."
Holmes: "The dungeon is a sentient being and secretes loot as a lure for adventurers in the same way that it spawns monsters to kill them."
Moldvay: "It's fun!"
Mentzer: "What Tom said."
D. Cook: "The focus groups and playtesters agreed that this was a fun part of First Edition that we should carry forward into a new era of the game. But, of course, it's optional!"
M. Cook, Tweet, and Williams: "It's necessary to give the party a certain amount of equipment in order to protect game balance. This game is balanced. Honest."
Heinsoo: "I agree with Johnathan, Monte and Skip - except my game is balanced and theirs wasn't."
Reynolds: "Your feedback doesn't have anything to do with actual play or having fun. Discussion closed."

(No reviews today, I'm gaming.)