Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gulo Gulo Gono Gono

After several months of role playing games, our little group has decided to take a short break from the play acting and bust out some board games. Mind you we are not talking about the more traditional games like Monopoly or Life here but something with a little more depth to them (Yeah, I admit that I'm a board game snob) so I thought it would be a good time to take a look at some of them.

Gulo Gulo
published by Zoch Verlag and Rio Grande Games

Okay, so maybe Gulo Gulo doesn't necessarily have more "depth" than you typical mainstream board game you can buy from Wally World but I would be willing to say that it's more fun. This is a dexterity game which might turn some people off but in my opinion it makes a great game for kids and adults. The fluff behind this game is that the baby gulo (aka a wolverine) was caught by a swamp vulture whose eggs it was trying to steal. Now the grown up gulos are trying to save him and grab a few eggs for themselves along the way.

The game "board" is constructed of a number of hexagonal tiles that are laid out face down on the table. During a player's turn, they can either try to move to tile further along the track by doing one of two things. They can either flip over one of the face down tiles and trying to take the wooden egg of the same color out of the "nest" without setting off the alarm or they can try to move to further along to a tile that has already been flipped by attempting the same thing. The catch is that you can only move to the next closest space of that color so if you flip over a yellow tile, you can only move to the next closest yellow tile in the path. This adds a little bit of strategy to the game as you try to decide whether to chance the random tile flip or go with what you can already see. To win the game you have to move the length of the track, find the baby gulo and take the purple egg out of the nest, thus saving the poor little baby who was just looking for a good omelet.

Of the kids games out there on the market I really think that Gulo Gulo was one of the best ones at crossing the lines between the something mindless like Mousetrap and something more advanced, making it an ideal game for families. Or at least it would be if it was still in print. As I was writing this I hoped over to Board Game Geek only to find out that the game sadly went out of print at the end of last year. Truly a shame as this is great children/family game. That said I'm sure that there are still a few copies floating around out there that have yet to find a home. If you happen to be one of the lucky ones to find it hidden away on a shelf in your LGS be sure to snatch that sucker up before it disappears forever.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Out Into The Wastelands

First Impressions Of The Gamma World 4e RPG

We managed to have two firsts this week in our gaming group. We finally got Gamma World 4e to the table and it was run by none other than yours truly! I've never actually GM'ed a game before so it was an interesting experience. There was a brief moment in the beginning when the three of them were just sitting there looking at me and it was like "Crap! Now what do I do?!?!?" After a brief moment of panic, I was thankfully able to shake it off and get things moving along.

As for the game system, it worked as smoothly as I'd hoped. I threw in a couple of skill checks early on but for the most part we just focused on the role play element for the first half of the game (and let me say that anyone who says you can't role play in 4e has never tried). As we moved into the second half we got into the crunchier part of the game with few combats and some skill challenges to mix things up. While combats are fully covered in the rules, the idea of incorporating skill challenges is something that they never mention. Overall I think they worked fairly well though they didn't seem to be too much of a challenge as the group passed them most of them with ease (might have to crank up the DCs next time...). Even so they are definitely something that I want to keep incorporating as they add something different instead of just having the group grind through combat.

The one thing that we really did notice was the need for a battle mat which I suppose isn't too surprising. I had decided to try to free form the adventure that they ran through and it worked fairly well for the most part. There were some moments that having things laid out on a map would have been easier though, especially since one of the characters is a pyrokinetic (burn baby burn!). Then again he really doesn't mind setting the other PCs on fire so that's one less thing to worry about (his quote of the night "I hate you all.").

The only other thing that I was kind of surprised by was how quickly the players can potentially level up. After one just one session the group is already up to level two which is what I was hoping for but with the way that the levels are laid out in the game it will be very easy for them to keep moving up the ladder very quickly. Definitely not a complaint as I want them to be able to reap the benefits of higher levels but it was slightly unexpected.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend giving Gamma World 4e a try if you haven't already. The system does work really smoothly and the setting is so wide open that can really do almost any take on the post-apocalyptic future that you want to use, be it something a grittier or just madcap hijinks, Gamma World 4e has the potential to cover it all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We Be Licktoads, You Be Food!

This past weekend was Free RPG Day at local game stores. Not familiar with it? Basically it is a chance for people to come down to their local shops and try out something new, plus get something free from the store for coming down. Have a friend that's been thinking about getting into gaming? Bring them down so they can sit in on a game and see just what this crazy things is that you do with your other friends, Twizzlers, and Mountain Dew. Who knows? They might just like it...

One of the products that caught my eye as soon as it was announced was the free adventure being released by Paizo Publishing for their Pathfinder game. I wasn't able to get down to one of my local game stores but you can still get the adventure right from their website.

What is this marvelous masterpiece of fantastic exploration? Why it's none other than We Be Goblins!

In this adventure for four players, the adventurers get to play... have you guessed it? That's right! Goblins!!! Packed with four pregenerated characters, this little adventure makes a great one shot and also serves as a prequel to the upcoming Jade Regent adventure path. Even if you aren't using the published adventure paths in your gaming group, there's no reason not to pick up We Be Goblins. You can't beat free for a price and come on, who doesn't want to play a goblin one time, right?

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Didn't Mean Ta Bug Ya...

More Critters From The Desert Lands

In the scorching heat of the Desert Lands, various new species of insects and reptiles are some of the most commonly encountered forms of animal life. Most of them run wild but there are a few that have been domesticated in one way or another.

Kafer

Kafer are very large, very territorial insects in the wild. They typically travel in small groups and will attack virtually anything that enters their territory. To make matters worse, the fully grown kafers are extremely protective of the young and they will go onto a rampage if any young are severely injured near them.

Kafer Runt (Level 3 Brute)
Medium terrestrial beast, 150 XP

HP 36; Bloodied 18
Initiative +4, Perception +3, Dark vision
AC 20, Fortitude 14, Reflex 14, Will 11
Speed 6

Standard actions
Gripping mandibles (physical) at-will
Attack: Melee 1; +6 vs AC
Hit: Target creature takes 1d6+3 damage.

Str 16 (+3), Dex 12 (+1), Wis 10 (+0)
Con 12 (+1), Int 1 (-4), Cha 8 (-1)

Kafer Bull (Level 5 Brute)
Large terrestrial beast, 200 XP

HP 68; Bloodied 34
Initiative +4, Perception +5, Dark vision
AC 22, Fortitude 17, Reflex 13, Will 14
Speed 8

Standard actions
Rending mandibles (physical) at will
Attack: Melee 1; +9 vs AC
Hit: Target creature takes 1d10+4 damage.

Move actions
Trample (physical) at-will
Effect: The bull moves up to 6 squares and enters enemy squares. This movement provokes opportunity attacks and the bull must end its move in an unoccupied space. When it enters an enemy's space, the bull makes a trample attack.
Attack: Melee 0; +6 vs. Reflex
Hit: Target creature takes 2d6+4 damage and is knocked prone.

Triggered actions
Protect the young! (physical) at-will
Trigger: A kafer runt within 4 squares is bloodied or killed.
Effect (Free action): The bull shifts 4 squares while using trample.

Str 18 (+4), Dex 10 (+1), Wis 12 (+a)
Con 14 (+2), Int 1 (-4), Cha 8 (-1)

As dangerous as they are in the wild, it is fairly common to see kafer used as domesticated beasts of burden or even as mounts. Before they can be used in this capacity, however, they must be "spiked". This process involves driving a long metal electrical device into the back of the creatures head. Once inserted and activated, the spike reduces the kafer to a docile and compliant state.

Domesticated Kafer (Level 3 Brute)
Large terrestrial beast, 150 XP

HP 50; Bloodied 25
Initiative +0, Perception +0, Dark vision
AC 20, Fortitude 15, Reflex 11, Will 10
Speed 8

Traits
Gentle As A Kitten: A domesticated kafer is an incredibly passive animal due to the spiking process. Unfortunately this also means that they are completely useless in combat.

Str 18 (+4), Dex 10 (+0), Wis 8 (-1)
Con 14 (+2), Int 1 (-4), Cha 8 (-1)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bringing The Pain To A Planet Near You!

Spicing Up 3:16 Carnage Among The Stars

One of the games that we have waiting in the wings is 3:16 to be run by yours truly. For any of you who aren't familiar with the game, it's a sci-fi role playing game where all of the players are members of the with a simple mission; kill every alien they encounter. When you enter combat, you are supposed to use some kind of marker so that you know what range the players are from the enemy as it affects how many you can kill if any. The rules recommend using glass beads or something similar but I decided to dig up some old minis that I have instead.

These are some Space Rangers minis that I happened to find a few years ago at one of our local game stores. When they were originally released, they were sold in giant sets of 30 per box but nowadays they are a much more conservative 5 per box. Must admit that I wish I'd grabbed some of the big boxes back when I was in high school but just the five will work for me now. The mini with the sword and pistol is sergeant, the one with the big gun is the corporal, and the other two are just generic troopers. As you can probably tell, they are still a work in progress at this point but I'm not planning on going too heavy on the detail with these guys. They are effectively just fancy game pawns so all that really matters is that we can tell who is who for the game. Expect to see more on them once they are finished.

Friday, June 10, 2011

So What's The Deal With This Place Anyway?

Expanding On My Gamma World Setting

So here I've made up a bunch of new and borrowed critters to populate my wasteland setting (one of which I showed you last week), but what exactly is going on in this place? Helps to know that part too, doesn't it? Lets take a closer look at it to see just what's going on.

In the decades since the Big Mistake things have changed. Anarchy ruled for a while but in the end Humanity always tries to give things order so he can make sense of it all. Sure random chaos can be fun but in the end there is that part of the brain that demands structure and order be imposed on the world, preferably with that individual at the top of that structure. It doesn't end that way for most people but some of them have got the knack to make it happen.

Even after everything was blasted away it was these individuals that started beating back the chaos and imposing their order on the world, or at least this corner of it anyway. The years ground by and some semblance of civilization started to claw its way from the ashes. Whether they were benevolent leaders or ruthless dictators, most people were just glad to have some kind of order to cling to.

Through all this time, Desert Lands stood as an impenetrable barrier between the Texas Territory of Merica and the far west. A blazing inferno by day and a frozen waste by night, it long served as a natural defense for the various powers of Texas. Few have been mad enough to try to cross it and none have returned to tell the tale... until recently. One lone survivor of a small group that set out to find a path through the Desert Lands came stumbling back, raving about forgotten tombs of the Ancients and the treasures they contain. Of course no one believed a word he said but then he showed them what he'd brought back.

Within weeks, the strongest powers of the Texas Territory had set up the first of the border towns and groups of fortune hunters were being recruited and sent out into the wastes. Most of them were never seen again, but enough came back that word got around and more came to take the place of those who had been lost.

At the same time, the Kaiute tribes from the Okayhome Territory to the north began pressing down into Texas, ravaging any human settlements they encountered. The various human factions tried to unite and stop them but overcoming years of distrust can't be done in a day and for now all they can really do is hope to slow down the advances of the tribes.

Months have past since the survivor returned and almost a half dozen border towns now sit along the eastern edge of the Desert Lands. They send out a steady stream of explorers into the wastes seeking lost technology that the might help turn the tide and stop the Kaiute advances or at least line their own pockets for a while. Do the Desert Lands hold the key to turning back the tribes? Will the answer be found by these ragtag groups of mutant bastards before its too late? Only time will tell...

I still need to work out some of the details pertaining specifically to the characters (such as the border town they'll be operating out of, some of the places they'll explore, things like that...) but I'm really excited at how its pulling together so far.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

And Now We Move... Into The Third Dimension!

The Quest For Minis For Our Pathfinder Game

After doing some exploring in the wide world of Leviathos, we started to realize that we were having a little trouble keeping track of just where everyone was during combat. Sure we could have just used some spare dice or something similar but we wanted to do it right. Off to the internet!

Our party consists of a dwarven monk, a gnome rogue, and a gnome summoner. Kind of a wacky mix but surprisingly enough it was pretty easy to find the minis we needed. If you head on over to the Reaper Miniatures homepage you can search by specific key words that let you really narrow it down to almost exactly what you are looking for.

Between the massive range of minis they produce and the ease of using the search engine on their site, I definitely recommend hitting Reaper Mini for your fantasy mini needs. In fact you might want to check them out for other genres as well since they recently added in the Chronoscope line of figures that expand their range even further. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't already!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Welcome To The New West!

Developing My Post-Apocalyptic Setting

Ever since I first read the original Gamma World rulebook years ago, I've loved the setting. Exploring a world that's been devastated by technology more powerful than Humanity was meant to wield, picking through the detritus of a future society that was destroyed in ages past.

I was never able to get into a game all those years ago but when I heard about the new edition of Gamma World coming out I was excited at the possibilities. I finally had a group that I would be able to role play with again so exploring the ruins of Gamma Terra was at last an option!

For those of you who might not be familiar with the latest iteration of the game, it uses a variation on 4e for the game mechanics. Some aspects have been drastically changed (no feats, a very condensed skill list, etc.) but at its heart its still 4e which is actually one of the problems that I'd been running into.

Even though the basic rules have a wide variety of creatures to draw from to populate your world I have never been one to take the easy route for such things, plus I have some pretty specific things in mind as well. Unfortunately one of the things that GW 4e is lacking is a system to make your own creatures, at least in some kind of a balanced fashion. So how do you get past this rather annoying hurdle? In my mind there are two options that are available.

Number 1: Use the tools that you have at hand. Try to focus on the options that have already been presented to you and possibly re-skin some of them into something closer to what you have envisioned. This is all well and good but for someone as stubborn as I am the other option is more appealing. Can you guess what it is?

Number 2: Wing it! If all else fails, just make shit up!

To that end, I've decided to post some of the critters that I've concocted (or found) to live in the Desert Lands that are the American Southwest in Gamma World. Are they balanced? Hell no... but hopefully they won't be as completely out of whack as they could be. With all that said, lets take a look at what we can find...

Cactisaurus

A particularly nasty mutation of the Saguaro Cactus, these monster plants grow in a single column up to 20 feet in height, topped by a hideous set of gnashing jaws. The plant is surrounded by a network of tangle vines that grow just beneath the surface of the ground. When hapless victims blunder too close and become entangled, the main body attacks them with vicious bites. On top of all of this, the Cactisaurus Rex can let loose a sonic blast when it is wounded as it tries to stun those near itself. Every year the Rex releases small number of mobile seed pods which are called Squealers by the locals because of the weaker sonic squeal they make when they are wounded. While no where near as dangerous as the parent plant, even the squealers can cause some serious damage if left unchecked.

Cactisaurus Rex
Level 4 Lurker

Medium animate plant 175 XP

HP 48; Bloodied 24 Initiative +4
AC 17 Fortitude 17 Reflex 14 Will 15 Perception +5
Speed 0 Tremor sense 5

Traits
Hide in plain sight: The Cactisaurus Rex look like a regular cactus to the untrained eye. Players must make either a DC 20 Perception check or a DC 16 Nature check to recognize them as a threat. Otherwise the cactisaurus automatically gains surprise.

Triggered actions
Tangling Vines
(physical) at-will
Trigger:Creature enters or starts its turn within 2 squares of the plant.
Attack (Opportunity Action):Melee 1 (triggering creature); +9 vs. AC
Hit:Target creature takes 1d6+2 damage and becomes immobilized (save ends).
Miss:Target creature becomes slowed (save ends).
Special:Any creature that starts its turn immobilized within 2 squares of the plant takes 2d8+6 physical damage.

Sonic Boom! (sonic) encounter
Trigger: Cactisaurus becomes bloodied.
Attack: Close burst 4; +7 vs. Fortitude
Hit:Target creatures become dazed (save ends).

Str 14 (+2) Dex 10 (+0) Wis 12 (+1)
Con 16 (+3) Int 2 (-4) Cha 10 (+0)

Squealer
Level 1 Skirmisher
Small animate plant 100 XP

HP 34; Bloodied 17 Initiative +2
AC 15 Fortitude 13 Reflex 13 Will 11 Perception +1
Speed 6 Tremor sense 5

Standard actions
Nom nom nom...
(physical) at will
Attack:Melee 1; +5 vs. AC
Hit:Target creature takes 1d8+2 damage.

Triggered actions
Sonic Squeal!
(sonic) encounter
Trigger: Squealer becomes bloodied.
Attack : Close burst 2; +4 vs. Fortitude
Hit:Target creatures become dazed (save ends).

Str 12 (+1) Dex 12 (+1) Wis 10 (+0)
Con 14 (+2) Int 2 (-4) Cha 10 (+0)

A quick side note... I must admit that the Cactisaurus (along with some of the other critters you'll be seeing in the future) is not an original creation from my diseased imagination. You can find the original creature at the Mutant Bastards New West page which I've mentioned before. New to you? Then go check it out! Lots of interesting ideas, some of which I'll be borrowing in the future, but more on that later...