I’m not DMing at the moment, someone else has taken the helm of our group for a while. After a bit of a vote we’ve ended up playing the first Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rise of the Runelords.
I’ve got to say that the Adventure Path does seem very well written, although I’ve not peeked at any of the books. It’s very reminiscent of the old 3.5 stuff that Paizo wrote for Dungeon when it still existed in print.
I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy the return to 3.5, although after a couple of weeks it feels kind of homely and comfortable like the return of an old friend. I’m still into 4e and must get back to regularly attending the local weekly encounters session, but I’m also finding something in Pathfinder/3.5 that I feel is not as emphasised in 4e, which is the differences between classes.
I understand this was the whole point of 4e design, balance, balance and more balance. Which in my opinion the design definitely achieved, but is it at the expense of a feeling of variety? I’ll know more when we’ve played further and the Wizard has become overpowered and I feel left behind!
I’m playing a Cleric, and I like some of the changes that pathfinder has made to 3.5, such as the ability to Channel Energy a number of times per day, and so not use up all my carefully chosen spells being the party band aid.
The campaign is going well and I’m looking forward to playing more of it.
Whilst the Capn’ is fighting the internet trolls with his +2 words, I have a game to review. Obviously, I’m talking about Bully Pulpit’s wonderful game Fiasco, written by Jason Morningstar. The one that @Captcalamitous called “too indie even for me”. Is it very indie? I guess, although I don’t see anything wrong about that. The presentation is sleek and stylish, the quality of the book is amazing, and for twelve pounds I got a physical copy and a PDF download. Can’t go wrong. On top of that, every month there’s a new free playset on the website, complete with a crisp and fresh gorgeous illustration.
Fiasco calls itself a roleplaying game of powerful ambition and poor impulse control. The book presents itself as a “make your own Coen brother’s film in a few minutes and play it out in your living room” kind of thing. Which is exactly what it is, and it works wonderfully. Now, if you’re not a film aficionado then you’re probably wondering who the hell these Coen brothers are. For those of you less film savvy, think of films with criminal ideas gone disastrously wrong, possibly with a lot of black comedy elements. Like Guy Ritchie films or, say, Ocean’s Eleven that end up killing each other for the money they just stole, until there’s nothing but the money left (I’d so watch that).
The way it works is, you choose a playset, which is effectively a list of details styled around a certain theme. The default ones that come with the book are a southern town, a booming town in the wild west, suburban life and a research station in Antarctica. There’s plenty more to choose from on their website, like a rock tour or a group of adventurers who just slew a dragon and want all of the loot for themselves. These give you some ideas for the relationships, needs, objects and locations you’re gonna give to your characters. And then you play out scenes, where you either set up the scene and let the other players resolve it, or give your friends the right to set you up but choose the outcome yourself. You play these scenes till it all comes crashing down. There’s a bit more to it than that, but this forms the bulk of the game.
I’ll be honest with you, the rulebook sat on my shelf for about three months, if not a bit more, without being touched. I read it as soon as it came in the post, which took me about 2-3 hours, very quick for a roleplaying game. But finding a group to play with was not as quick. Admittedly my wife jumped at the idea, and our flat mate was partial to it as well, but we felt like we needed one more person. Now, after having played it, I wish we had been playing it all along. In fact, I enjoyed myself so much that, right after we finished, I wanted to dive in again and play a second game. We picked the ‘Antarctica research station’ playset and slowly progressed through character creation, which took a bit more time than the book suggests. But in the end we had a rag tag group of flawed individuals that were about to face each other in inevitably gruesome fashion. I felt like my character was the catalyst for it all; being the guy who scams the warehouse system, is being investigated for fraud and has an unhealthy obsession with his fire axe. Why would I create such a psychopath? Well, the beauty of the game is that you’re only responsible for 40% of who your character is and what he does. The rest is decided by the group and the game still feels like you have the right amount of control.
There were a few hiccups I have discovered. The rules for the setup were incredibly vague and hard to read. I had to re-read it a few times. This might just be me but I usually don’t find rulebooks confusing. But this I feel is a minor issue compared to how much everyone in our group preplayed. Instead of playing the scene we would pre-describe what would happen in it, and when it came to actual roleplaying we wouldn’t know what to do since everything’s already been said out loud. The book addresses this and tells you to avoid it, but it’s very tempting to still do it. Of course this isn’t the game’s fault, but it did taint our session slightly.
The real driving force behind the mechanics however is ‘The Tilt’ and ‘The Aftermath’. The Tilt is a midway point and introduces a car-crash element to your stories. Suddenly my axe-guy, who up to this point was only mildly threatening, had to become a murderer because some of the other players thought that “Greed leads to killing” is a good tilt element to introduce to our game. The aftermath is an exercise in the unexpected. It’s a montage-like summary of the game that wraps things up with three to five sentences per character. Again, because you are not in control of your fate, you never truly know how the game is going to end, even when you think you have it all figured out. I was fairly sure that my axe-man was not coming out of this alive. Not only did he get away with only a minor insignificant head injury, but the final sentence of my montage revealed him in a new warehouse, getting up to no good again.
The bottom line is: this game is awesome. I can’t think of enough ways to recommend it. Oh and I hear there’s a sourcebook coming out in the near future too.
p.s. Follow me on twitter @banjotheclown
What is it? It’s something Postmortem are calling a “6-Pack Adventure” and to quote from the book itself;
“6-Pack Adventures are ‘pick-up and play’ adventures. They have pregenerated characters, battlemats, tokens, all that just need to be printed out or, in the case of the print version – have the cover taken off to use as the mat and the tokens cut out.”
How much does it cost? The download will cost you the princely sum of £1.75 the print copy will set you back £3.50
What system is it for? Pathfinder.
This public review of role playing products is a little new for me, we all like to read products and then declaim or evangelise wildly to our friends, but to actually go on record and state your thoughts in a public manner? That’s a totally different container of Pisceans. This brings me to the package of RPG goodness I have in front of me, it comes as an electronic download from RPGNow and there’s a print version out there too, available from LULU, I cannot review the actual print edition as it’s a little hard to get it to travel along the broadband link I have.
The story starts in an inn, but let me assure you now, even though there’s a ‘Mysterious Stranger’ in residence it is not that old hackneyed hook that awaits the valorous traveller, the characters are all taking refuge from the cold night in the inn and plan to move on in the morning. The shenanigans continue from there but I won’t go into further details to avoid spoilers.
I like it, it reads like something I might have put together and I think it could generate a reasonable amount of further adventures for a party who run through it. It’s playable with only the core rulebook knowledge of Pathfinder needed over and above the actual 6-Pack. There are a couple of areas that, knowing my players, I’d have to fill in but this will not present a problem to any but the newest of GMs.
No characters ready? No problem the ones at the back of the pack have enough characterisation to get your teeth into, my only complaint with these is I’d like to see the character art all done in the same style, it’s a personal preference more than a real dislike.
A good colour printer will provide the maps and tokens, if you need them.
This pack really does contain everything you need to play a shortish game of Pathfinder; I suspect my group would play through this in about 2 to 3 hours.
I’ve attached one of the pre-generated characters to this post, Torvel Darvassa - Level 3 Human Fighter (388), that should give you some idea of the characterisation in this module.
The overall rating I’m going to give it is 4.5 Buccaneers out of 5, losing 0.5 of a Buccaneer to my personal preference for a single art style in a module.
Our copy of Give me the Brain is one of Cheapass’s orignally seriously cheap games, the cards are simple black and white art on basic card stock. We treat it well and it’s lasted over a decade. Cheapass now do a deluxe version of Give me the Brain, actually it appears to be the only version now.
My tunh is stuh ta da fluh!
The basic premise is that all the players are zombies working in a burger joint. Players are dealt a number of cards and the aim of the game is to be the first person to dispose of all their cards.
There are two main types of cards, numbered bid cards, and job cards. Bid cards are used to help you pickup the brain. The brain is represented by a d6 dice, and there’s just one brain between all the players.
Job cards allow you to do a variety of things, such as drawing more cards, forcing ownership of the brain to move, taking cards from other players hands and all sorts of crazy shenanigans.
Some job cards are marked with a brain, and can only be played if you are currently the owner of the brain, making them much harder to get out of your hand, which means the brain moves around a lot as people fight over it.
A game usually takes 10 to 20 minutes to play out and we rarely stop there, but usually play three or four games before moving onto something different.
For a quick diversion from usual RPG play it’s a great stand in and I recommend it whole heartedly.
What do you do when you haven’t got enough people for your usual game? Let us know below.
If you haven’t seen iPlay4e.com and you do play 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons then you must go and check out their latest offerings.
iPlay4e allows you to store as many characters as you’ll need, you simply upload the .dnd4e file that is saved by the DDI Character Builder. If you’re not using Character Builder then why not! Check that out as well!
I use iPlay4e during a game, both as a player and as a Dungeon Master. As DM I can have multiple characters open and keep and eye on all the PCs in my game. No longer do I have to ask, “What’s your AC” or “What’s your passive perception”. Often I can easily find information quicker than the players themselves and answer their own questions.
It can link into the DDI Compendium so that you can bring up full descriptions of powers, something that’s not printed on the Character Builder power cards, this is very useful as a DM for helping describe the effects of an exploit or spell.
iPlay4e can also save changes and keep track of a number of things, such as current hit points, encounter and daily powers used, and more. This helps me keep a track on my players as DM and as a player helps me not forget what’s be used and what has not.
So check out the latest at http://labs.iplay4e.com.