Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Player Buy-In

Yeah, I've been sick some more.  And then I had a severe brain drain where I lacked any good ideas or energy to write articles.  I'll get the D&D articles I promised up when I get a chance to sit down and write them as well.  But today I want to talk about player buy-in.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chargen Lab: Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition

Well, today's character hails from D&D 3e.  The rules for D&D 3e can be found at the d20 SRD page, though I'm afraid character generation is omitted due to the terms of the Open Game License and d20 System License.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Chargen Lab: AD&D 2e

So now onto a character generated in AD&D 2nd Edition.  This is a bit more complicated than the Rules Cyclopedia and 1st Edition characters, so there's more explanations to be had.  Bear in mind that the character I wrote up is a more complex character than the typical 1st level character.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Chargen Lab: AD&D 1st Edition

Continuing a series of characters generated under the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons, here's one generated under AD&D 1st Edition.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chargen Lab: D&D Rules Cyclopedia

I thought I'd do some articles on character generation in various editions of D&D  to lead up to Monday's official release of 5e.  I would like to say that it is the same character so that we can compare and contrast the various editions, but differences in the chargen methods across editions make that impossible.  We'll start with the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, because that's what's on my desk at the moment.

D&D Retrospective: Basic Dungeons & Dragons

Once upon a time, there were two Dungeons and Dragons; it was in a time before Pathfinder and D&D 4e were competing for supremacy.  One was called Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the other was simply Dungeons & Dragons.  Sometimes it was called 'Basic' D&D because of the existence of 'Advanced', other times it was called BECMI D&D.  Or it was named after the people who edited the rules for a given edition.

It might surprise younger readers that Dungeons & Dragons had five editions between 1974 and 1994.  These were evolutionary changes rather than revolutionary, small fixes and clarifications to the game rules instead of vastly different versions of the rules.  Want to know more? See you after the jump.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

D&D Retrospective: The Fall of Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons was the best-selling RPG from 1974 to 2011.  That, by itself, should speak volumes about the popularity of the game; a thirty-seven year reign at the top.  But what happened?  What became the best-selling RPG from 2011 to present day?

The Pathfinder RPG, published by Paizo Publishing, knocked D&D off the top of the heap.  And that is an interesting story in itself.

Monday, August 11, 2014

D&D Retrospective: The Edition Wars

I haven't been updating the blog because of health issues that have been pretty soundly thrashing me, in case anyone was wondering.  I usually try to get these things written up ahead of time as well.  But enough of that.

Since Dungeons and Dragons is relaunching on August 18th, I figured I'd write a few retrospective type articles about it.  Well, retrospective in the sense of looking how the game has evolved over the years, anyway.  Now, I'm not old enough to have been in at the beginning of the game, which emerged in 1974 with a collection of small booklets in a portfolio.  I don't have this edition of the game, even though Wizards of the Coast released a collector's edition of it last year.  But let's talk about the various editions of D&D.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Setting Saturday: The Solar Empire

Another post from Cheapie Theater, this time one of the campaign settings I throw about.  It was designed with Traveller in mind.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Burning Wheel: Declaration of Intent

This is a repost from another blog I contribute to, which I'm pulling all the RPG related stuff from to collect all the material into one place.  It was originally published at Cheapie Theatre on 12/10/13.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Relic Knights: Model Extravaganza Pt 2

More Relic Knight models, assembled!  Some of these were assembled last time but I either had horrific photos of them or forgot them in the first batch.  This time I had an actual camera to take photos with and I can tell the difference. See you after the jump!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Relic Knights: Quality of Miniatures

Just a quick post here, folks, to talk about the quality of the miniatures.

I'll be blunt.  I don't care for the resin-plastic hybrid material that Soda Pop used for Relic Knights.  It is a royal pain to clean mold lines, correct curves, and fix positions.  But my dislike of it originates from when Privateer Press started using it, so take that as you will.  The resin-plastic stuff just eats fine detail for whatever reason.  And looking at Kisa's ridiculously thin staff and a finger on one of the Novitiate models, it's also not good for thin details.  But neither's metal or polystyrene at the thicknesses we're discussing here.

That said, I've seen worse miniatures and I've seen better miniatures.  Heck, with any large miniature line you're going to get amazing gems and real stinkers.  It's like Ted Sturgeon said: 90% of everything is crap.  The models that were converted over from metal/resin seem to have fared the best though, having assembled Iron Chef and Princess Malya in both plastic and metal/resin.

Do I wish Soda Pop and CMON used a different company to produce the models?  Yes, I wish they'd gone with Wargames Factory because those guys do amazing work in polystyrene (just check out the plastic models for Malifaux), even if I'm paying a little bit more.  Because let's face it; gorgeous miniatures in plastic are still going to be cheaper than paying for gorgeous miniatures in metal.  Oh and let's not forget that plastic is far easier to customize than metal or resin.

The only real complaint I have with the sculpting is that sometimes anime faces turn out looking like little gray men.

Edit: I erroneously attributed the production of Malifaux's plastic models to the Plastic Soldier Company.  It is actually Wargames Factory, though the Plastic Soldier Company produces some nice stuff too!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Relic Knights: Model Extravaganza Part 1

Well, I figure I should share some models I've completed since receiving my Kickstarter goodies.  I apologize in advance for the photos; my phone's camera was all I had available to shoot pictures with.  It's image heavy, so see you after the jump.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Relic Knights: Some Assembly Tips

Well, having gotten into some of the small and complicated models (particularly Ameliel the Void Herald and the Royal Wrecker), I'd like to share some important tips for assembling Relic Knight models.  Because they're not exactly simple models and rival the Infinity model line put out by Corvus Belli in terms of complexity and madness.

  • Test out the fit before you glue anything.  I don't mean just testing what needs to be trimmed to make it fit.  I mean clean off all the obvious flash and test fit things to understand how the model goes together.  This is extremely important for the Royal Wrecker model because you have to assemble it from the inside out to get things to fit correctly and you can't glue the pilot in before you get to the suit's arms and legs because you risk making it impossible to fit those parts on.
  • Search for reference pictures when assembling and cleaning the model.  This is because there are some seriously non-obvious parts that get used in a few of these models.  You'll be wondering where something goes until you see it on a picture.  For example, I forgot the Broadside model had a lower jaw for the cannon's skull face until I looked at the box art again.
  • There are parts that are not visible in the photos that you will need to use.  Examples: the Broadside has a control post that's generally hidden from view that goes between the handles in the gunner's hands, the Royal Wrecker has a part that links the suit's lower legs to the main suit body, and Relic Knight Candy has a small airfoil that goes on the mecha's rear thruster.  I only figured these out by examining everything and checking where the parts go.
  • Plastistruct PlastiWeld is invaluable for cleaning up those tiny burrs and bits you get with this material.  It also has a general smoothing effect on rough areas like ones left by filing.  It only really works for very tiny bits, but it works to smooth things out.  Don't expect it to glue the resin-plastic hybrid though.
  • Epoxy your models to the bases if you are using the base inserts, because the bond between the model material and the styrene of the base insert is not very good.
  • Above all, be patient and work in good lighting.  Some of the mold lines are extremely subtle and you'll need good light to spot them and work them out.
That concludes this short blog post.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Relic Knights: First Impressions

First of all let me apologize for not putting anything up here in awhile.  I've distracted the last few weeks, whether that be illness or new shiny things.  One of those shiny new things is Relic Knights, which arrived (for me) back on June 20th.  It's been almost two years since the Kickstarter ended and I know a lot of people are very upset it's taken this long. My own enthusiasm waned over time.

Strangely when I got the shipping notice, I found myself checking the status of delivery every morning.  Clearly I was more excited about it than I'd thought I would be.  I'm still assembling everything and will be for some time since I had put in for five out of the six factions plus a lot of extras.  Granted, one of those factions was the one my brother wanted, but I'm still left with four out of six.  Anyway, I thought I would share my thoughts so far.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Review: Double Cross

This will be first of a series of reviews covering Japanese RPGs that have been translated to English.  The second will be Tenra Bansho Zero, and the last in the series will be Golden Sky Stories.

When Double Cross was first published in English, there was a limitation from the Japanese publisher that there would be no PDF version.  Only printed copies.  I'm glad to say that when I was researching this review that I found out that the core rulebook is now available in English Language PDF (the first supplement is also available in PDF).  I am happy that F.E.A.R has allowed the PDF to be made because it means the game is now accessible to a wider audience.

And wow this was a long and complex review to put together.  I am going to space things out a bit by reviewing the Double Cross Advanced Rulebook and Public Enemy supplement before getting to Tenra Bansho Zero, which looks like it'll be just as long of a review...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition

Another post I dredged up from my game store blog.  With 5th Edition looming, it seems appropriate to look back at what people consider a disastrous iteration of the biggest name in RPGs.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Review: Mystic Empyrean

Mystic Empyrean is a role-playing game produced by Level 99 Games.  There is an iPad app, but I wasn't able to review that since I don't own an iPad.  It's available in hardcover and PDF as well, though I'm not really sure on the availability of the hardcover.  The game itself is fairly interesting, but you'll have to read the review if you want the dirty low-down on it.  There is a lot to absorb, and I'm only covering what I feel are the important points.  You can find the free demo rules at DriveThruStuff.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mongoose Traveller

I actually wrote this for my game store blog back in May 2012.  I'm reposting it here because I need filler at the moment.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Use It Or Lose It

I guess I should actually use this thing.  For what purpose?  Well, I have about 2000 tabletop RPG books between PDF and print editions and I should do something with them besides let them collect dust.

So how to review things that encompass a wide variety of stuff?  Rules should be judged by how character creation works and then using the example characters as a way to look at how the system works.  Plot and sourcebooks are going to be arbitrary, since they're very much a 'Your mileage may vary' type product anyway.  All I can really do is talk about the good parts and bad parts as far as I can see.

To a lesser degree I play miniature games, and those might pop up here once in awhile too.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Monster Rancher Advance 2

This game is a decade old, but the whole idea of a code generating statistics for play is interesting to me.  I spent some time off and on through the years trying to puzzle out how exactly it works.  It's a little easier now that I actually have training and experience in compute science to understand some of the inner workings.

With the latest round of poking at it, here are some conclusions I drew.
  • Each character in the code has an assigned value:  I haven't figured out what these values are, but they definitely exist.  The game does not allow you to put all blanks in, and nor does it allow you to use one of the blank space options at all, meaning that it is likely that blank spaces have a value of NULL or 0.  You'll see why I think so in a moment.
  • Single character codes produce pure-breed monsters: This means that they are going to have base values for stats and they will not have a sub-type other than the main type.  This was confirmed by using a ROM with a cheat code to allow the creation of all monster types.  We are not talking about putting spaces in front of a single character; that produces other values.  It's likely that each character represents a value that is used in some kind of algorithm to determine the type of monster.
  • The more characters used in a code, the more variation there will be: This means traits, stats, personality type.  This is probably because additional values are used to determine these things.  There are likely hidden values as well that aren't visible while playing the game.  Stats seem to be generated using a percent plus-or-minus to the baseline stats, which would make sense because who would want to store 85^10 * 6 values when you can just have an algorithm generate it procedurally?
  • There are 512 kinds of monsters: This is actually really telling in terms of programming because 512 is a power of 2, which gives me the idea that there are 3 bytes used to determine which monster you get.
Anyway, those are my thoughts for now.