Monday, March 28, 2011

But Is It Really?

This is a pretty common concept in our society. "Something is changing? That's horrible! There's no way this new thing could be as good as the original! What in the world are they thinking?!?"

Then again, it can be a good thing sometimes. Imagine if video games never changed. We'd still all be playing Pong on our Atari 2600. Or clothing. Anyone feel like hitting the town in some nice and comfy Puritan outfits? Talk about hitting it off with the ladies!

What makes change scary and confusing is that it forces out of our comfort zone. We can't hide from the world behind that old familiar thing and know that we're safe because suddenly we don't recognize it anymore.

The real key is to embrace that change and try it. You might be right; it could be the worst thing in the world but you will never know if you don't let down your guard just a little and give it a try. After all, it could be the next best thing since sliced bread.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reaching For The Tormented Minds Of The Mutant Masters

Hey everyone and welcome to another installment of the Dispatch!

Our superhero game just wrapped up this week so for this one we are going to have a quick review of Mutants and Masterminds First Edition. Sure the Third Edition just came out but I'm just a little slow here, geez! Plus we are going to start digging back into Song of Blades with a little home brew I am working on that is inspired by Malifaux. So without further ado, let's get to it!

A Quick Review Of Mutants And Masterminds First Edition

This week saw the end of our three story M&M mini campaign and man was it a blast! The story that my friend Pat managed to weave together was a fun one and the system really supported his own very open GMing style. The system itself acts as a framework that lets you piece together virtually whatever superhero your mind can imagine. By using a point buy system for the whole process it really lets you shape your character into exactly what you are looking for, not to mention its easy to throw in little tweaks to the system as well.

My own character for our session, the Citizen, is a prime example of the flexibility of the rules. When I first created him I only had a very vague character concept and no idea how the system worked. Once the first session was done I realized that he really didn't fit my own expectations but because character generation uses a point buy system I was able to easily shuffle some stats around without starting over from scratch. In fact I was even able to justify the changes that were happening through the story as slight modifications that were being done to my armor between each session which I thought was a great.

The skill system is virtually the same as what you find in 3.5 or 4.0 which is another point in its favor given how common those are nowadays. On the other hand the combat system is a little different as it used opposed rolls to figure out what happens instead of just having you roll over you armor class, reflex, or what have you. I think this really strengthens the comic book feel of the game by adding a dynamic element to the combats.

Another thing that Pat did which really gave the whole story a very dynamic quality was greatly increasing the experience rewards at the end of each session. The rulebook recommends just one or two points per session but Pat blew this out of the water by increasing it to a whopping ten points! This might see somewhat over the top to some people but given the short nature of the story arcs he was running I think that it worked perfectly and really let the characters grow with the story.

Now the only question is why even look at the first edition when there are two more editions out there. We went with it because it is Pat's preferred choice. Second edition seems to drastically increase the powers of the PCs by reducing the point cost for virtually everything. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it does change the feel of the game and since Pat was the one running it I was happy to go with what he put on the table. Not to mention the fact that I was able to get my own hardcover copy of the rules for less than $10 which is always a good thing IMO.

All in all, I really enjoyed the game. The rules gave the game the over-the-top feel that most comics have and were incredibly flexible. I don't think that the system would translate very well into other genres but if you are looking to get into some superhero action I definitely recommend giving Mutants And Masterminds a try!

Welcome To Song Of Torments Reach

Way back in ancient times (meaning sometime last year...) I restarted this blog with an article about Malifaux. Well, flash forward to the present and I still haven't played a game of Malifaux yet but I still love the setting and the miniatures.

More recently I heard about Song Of Blades and Heroes and picked it up along with several expansions. The game is quick to learn, fast to play, and incredibly versatile though there were parts of it (such as the magic system) that really didn't do anything for me. This changed once ShadowSea was released as they really fleshed out many aspects of the game including magic.

It was shortly after getting ShadowSea and using its rules for my own generic fantasy setting that it occurred to me to try using them for Malifaux. Both settings involve magic working side by side with more technical things like firearms and constructs so I dug in to see what I could do.

For the most part there was little that really needed to be switched. In fact, there were only a handful of special abilities that just didn't sound like they would fit into Malifaux so it was easy enough to drop those out. On the other hand, there are a few abilities that are common place in Malifaux that ShadowSea didn't have so I had to take some creative license. Two prime examples of this are the gunfighter ability which lets a model use its pistols in close combat and the rapid fire ability which lets a model shoot twice in it turn. Overall I think I have things more or less balanced out but time will tell.

The Parting Shot...

That's all for now but be sure to come back again! On the role playing front we are about to start a Pathfinder game while I'm planning on getting some more posted on Torments Reach on the miniatures side, with run downs of some of the crews I've assembled along with a battle report or two. I've also almost finished listening to the whole back catalog of Happy Jacks RPG Podcast (yes they really are that good) so I'll stick my ear to the interwebs to see what other noise I can find to talk about. If you have any comments or questions feel free to leave them here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Playing The Roles: First Impressions Of Mutants And Masterminds 1st Edition

Hey everyone and welcome to an impressionable installment of the Dispatch!

After fifteen plus years, I finally played in an RPG again!!! Pat started Serenity and I though the first part of a three session arc Mutants and Mastermind game called The Spirit Of Radio. Let me tell you, it was a blast so without further ado, let's do a quick recap.

The Story So Far...
Recapping the first session of The Spirit Of Radio

Our two characters, Inkspell (a mystical woman who gets her powers from her tatoos) and the Citizen (a none too smart body armor wearing do gooder), had just joined a newly formed government sponsored superhero team in Philadelphia. After being introduced to our mentors, the Dervish and Captain Commando, we were tasked with investigating some unusual gang activity happening downtown while our mentors looked into another matter. There had been a rash of break-ins but the only thing that was ever stolen was audio equipment. An easy enough task for some up and coming superheroes!

Hurrying downtown to investigate, we found several large speaker arrays within a few blocks of each other before noticing a group of people dressed in outrageous 90's dance costumes around a large antenna on the roof of one of the buildings. We moved to investigate while the group of people moved to get themselves into a more defensible position while adjusting their... iPods?

Suddenly showing enhanced abilities, two of the people attacked Inkspell, shattering her mystical force field while another two leaped up into the air to attempt to attack me. I was able to destroy one of their iPods while the other person fell to the roof and was knocked unconscious. Meanwhile, Inkspell was able to capture one of the two people who attacked her while the second leaped off the building and disappeared.

We attempted to interrogate our captives to no avail so I deposited them into the local PD and we headed into the building to find out more about the mysterious antenna on the roof.

The clerk at the store was as helpful as the people we caught though we were able to get the phone number of the building owner and were attempting to call it when a massive wave of sound erupted outside the store.

We went outside and found a number of people incapacitated by the insanely loud music and also saw a car driving down the street seeming unaffected by the noise. After a failed attempt to make them stop (An illusionary stop light? Really?), Inkspell blasted the car and made it stop. The driver then got out of the car and proceeded to knock her through a wall.

Keeping an eye on this new individual, I started shooting at the stacks of speakers which seemed to really tick her off. After I destroyed a few of the stacks (greatly reducing the noise levels in the area so we could actually think) she suddenly sprinted away at high speed. I activated the rockets in my boots to catch up to her and it worked perfectly... until she suddenly stopped and I didn't. Well, not until after I crashed into a large fountain outside a church down the road. Ah, the joys of being unlucky.

With the villain gone, Inkspell looked inside the car only to find our two mentors tied up in the back seat. Just who was this mysterious villain and what is the deal with the iPods? And just how are we supposed to stop her when our mentors were both taken out by her so easily?

Thoughts And Impressions

Overall, I really liked what I've experienced of the game system. Pat seems to run light on the mechanics and heavy on the role play but that works for me. The one thing that did surprise me was how short the session went. After about one and a half to two hours, Pat threw the cliff hanger at us and said that's all for now. That definitely caught me off guard but I know that he likes to go for the whole episodic feel so I can totally understand ending it where he did. All in all, it was a lot of fun and its going to be interesting to see what we can figure out next week.

The Parting Shot...

And that's all for now. Definitely a different kind of Dispatch but I have to say that I'm really excited to get back into role playing; it's gonna be frickin' awesome man!!! Anyway, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Audio Noise: It Might Be Undrinkable But You Can Always Just Listen

Hey everyone and welcome to a laser printed installment of Dispatch!

While the rest of the country is covered in snow, we are going to head over to sunny California where these douche bags play their game in the backyard. This isn't as easy as it sounds when it gets down to a frigid 50 degrees sometimes. So throw on something warm as we take a look at Happy Jacks RPG Podcast.

Focus: Role playing advise for new game masters along with a little bit of song and a whole lot of beer.
Audio Quality: four and a half of five bottles of microbrew
Content Quality: four and a half of five douche bags
Average Length: an hour and a half to two hours
Release schedule: pretty much every week

I was recently trolling through iTunes looking for a new podcast to listen to when I found Happy Jacks RPG Podcast. Lots of positive reviews so I decided to give them a listen and I'm glad I did. Geared toward giving advise to new GMs, Happy Jacks is a great blend of solid content and humorous anecdotes with the occasional burp thrown in to keep things honest.

In addition to the podcast, they also host a pretty active forum on their site and they also have their own albums. Yeah, not only are these guys podcasters, they are also musicians as well. Talk about being a talented bunch of douche bags, right?

So go check them out. Even if you aren't that into role playing games, all of the tangents and asides make Happy Jacks a very entertaining listen.

The Parting Shot...

And that wraps up another installment of Audio Noise! If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...