So awhile back I got a friend request on Facebook. Cute girl, so why not? We did have mutual contacts and the extent of our communication was usually just random funny comments on each others status updates. Well I sent her a message asking her why she added me onto her Facebook list. She replied with "To network of course". We messaged back and forth for a bit and it led to her asking if I would be interested in submitting something to them as they are looking for new a new artist for a project and that she was an editor for a comic book publisher. When I said that I was interested, she sent another editor a link to some work of mine and he got back to her that afternoon saying that she should try me out for a book that she'd be working on next. If the Editor in Chief likes it, he'll get in touch with me about page rates and scheduling.
So I'll be getting some PDF files to see the character designs and a script. And then it's down to doing some quality work and hoping that it blows their minds away. Not counting my chicks before the eggs hatch but it's so exciting to have this opportunity arise as it's been over five years since I've sent out a submission package. And to have one where I have someone on their crew already vouching for me is pretty sweet!
So this evening I decided to follow up on some sites for the tabletop skirmish games that I've been collecting minis from. I word it this way because it's been a long time since I've played with my little metal soldiers. My Winter Elves and Dragonspawn are calling from the closet.
Well, when I went to the Sodapop Miniatures site, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were developing a new line of miniatures that look like a cross between chibi anime characters and the sprites from Maple Story. Super Dungeon Explore! While I have no interest at the moment in the game that's under development, the minis definitely have my attention. Hopefully they don't take too long before going into production as my attention will just veer off to something else. But look at them! THEY'RE SO CUTE!
Do you play monsters as they're written straight out of a Monster Manual or Bestiary? I don't know what it is but since I started DMing, I never really liked using anything that was in print as is aside from you know...Kobold Minion, Kenku Warrior, etc. And if I used a stat block straight from a published monster that would be of relevance, it was always reskinned to look like something else. This comes from my inability to leave things alone but later on, I really liked how it made metagaming harder for other players who also DM or just happen to own all of the books. I also understand their powers and abilities a bit more as I had to actively take part in selecting what would be kept, ditched and added.
Oh and if you haven't seen "How To Train Your Dragon", you should do something about it. ^_^
So there's been a bunch of "top 15 games that have influenced or inspired me" blog posts floating around lately. Well here's my list based on what first comes to mind when I think of the word "game" that doesn't involve me chasing a ball around or running.
1. Dragon Strike 2. Chess 3. Space Hulk 4. Necromunda 5. Warhammer 40,000 6. Warmachine/Hordes 7. Gloom 8. Cutthroat Caverns 9. Street Fighter II 10. Yoshi's Island 11. Need For Speed Underground 12. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 13. Dungeons & Dragons 14. Yetisberg 15. Poker
My good friend Matt had his birthday party on Saturday and when we were outside smoking cigars, a few of us began chatting up D&D. I realized that though each campaign were sharing a bunch of the same players from the pool, there were six or more different campaigns represented there.
A lot of these offshoots are the result of players wanting to take a shot at DMing and one player is part of a group that cycles through a different DM every session in some sort of rotation. I had seen the videos below just before I started DMing as I was looking for tips on the subject and am now wondering, among your local circles, are DM's/GM's such a rarity and are so many people that reluctant to take up the position when all you really want to do is play D&D?
I love DMing more than being a PC in most cases. Why? Because every turn feels like it's still partially my turn. How about you?
With the release of the D&D Essentials Red Box/Starter Set, I've been noticing quite a bit of nostalgia mentioned on blogs, forums, Youtube videos, at my local gaming store, etc. A lot of "I remember back when I was ___ years old or in college.......etc...etc". And then in many cases after that, go on to mention their disappointment in the contents of the new red box. But honestly though, until you got to the point where you realized that it was a big marketing thing on WOTC part and the that you might've find the product to be kind of "meh", wasn't it a great feeling as all of those memories came back to you when you first got into D&D? Maybe it was a simpler or happier time that you wanted to reach back for. Who knows but the feeling whenever people talk about seeing that red box and the memories associated with it usually had smiles attached to them.
I didn't have the luxury of growing up playing D&D. I did play the Dragon Strike board game and buy a Dungeons & Dragons set from a toy store but never played with the contents in it. It was the one with the black box and a red dragon on it. I seem to recall a name like Zamzer Tam in the adventure. In fact, aside from Dragon Strike, my real D&D exposure would come in the form of 4E last year. So it'll probably be awhile before I get to really go nostalgic on the subject of D&D.
But I do have a nostalgic story of my own that just took place recently. About a month ago, I went into the Antique Mall here in Edmonton and stumbled across some sealed packs of 1992 X-Men trading cards. Yep, I bought them all...19 packs I believe and a bunch of the '93 set too. That Sunday afternoon as I was ripping open packs, I honestly felt like I was 10 years old again. Except now as an adult, I had a whole whack of packs to open at once whereas as a child I was rarely opening more than 2 packs at a time. From there I later on went onto Ebay, bought the rest of the set along with four other Marvel & X-Men trading card sets.
Well my package arrived yesterday and after I had put all of my cards into those protective 9 card binder page sleeves, I went back to flip through my newly filled binders to admire my new old treasures.
When I rifled through the the '92 X-Men set I got a bit misty eyed. Why? I remembered seeing a base set for sale in a comic book store in Malaysia a week before my family moved to Canada and not be allowed to get it because my mom felt it was a big waste of money. In retrospect I completely see her perspective now because they were specially imported there (at least at the time as you couldn't buy trading cards in 7-Eleven and comic book stores really were a specialty store) and quite expensive in relation to other things locally.
When we first moved to Canada, me and my dad would walk almost everyday to a convenience store near the house we were guests in for our first three weeks in Edmonton before my folks bought our home. There he would always give me some cash and I would always split it up so that I could play some Street Fighter II and try to get two packs of trading cards. I'd usually buy a pack of Marvel Universe Series 3 because there were 10 cards to a pack and one pack of X-Men (the set that I liked better but kinda felt ripped off that there were only six cards in there). These cards along with Street Fighter II would be part of my experience in the move to Canada. Where everything else had changed around me, I still had my mom, dad and sister and I guess the X-Men were there to tag along.
My dad would end up passing away when I was in high school. But yeah, I really realized that with the purchase of that one particular set of cards, I was finally able to see it all together after 18 years and it would be my memory capsule of the summer of '92 when there were still the four of us. I really think that as my dad was watching me play Street Fighter II or walking with me back to the house as I expressed my excitement of pulling out a Wolverine, Psylocke or Gambit card, etc, the back of his head was playing the checklist of things that he had to do while in this transtion.
I was in a sombre mood but they were still great memories to revisit. The scary part for me however is; I do not remember the sound of his voice anymore.
Now to make it relevant to gaming. I think what I love so much about good gaming sessions when it comes to playing at the table, is that a lot of memories are made. Sure if you play a lot of RPGs, it might become a big blur but you cannot deny the experience. One of my best friends played RPGs in after-school care and I recall him on multiple occassions talking about the amazing game of the Heavy Gear RPG that they had in the back of the bus during a band trip. While I was never there, the enthusiasm in his voice made me happy as I tried to picture a 5th grade version of him sitting in a circle on the floor playing Marvel Superheroes or whatever. Even in my one year of playing D&D that I have under my belt, I've got quite a lot of strong memories as fragments of various sessions come together. Cool plot hooks, stupid jokes, drunken DMing (that I remember) or the genuine fear that your character might die and you're already planning in the back of your head what new character you're going to make next and then come out on top and the table errupts into cheering. They're thoughts that I cherish. I don't know what it is, but I find that you bond with people a bit differently when it comes to roleplaying games and I am so glad that I never gave into the BS that one shouldn't be "playing games" as an adult and that having an imagination is a bad thing.
I look forward to the day when I might be sorting through boxes, or be at a used book and find a Players Handbook or something and just be flooded with all the good times I've had playing 4E or whatever system and the people I've met along the way. Hopefully I'd still be in touch with a good chunk of them.
What're some of your fondest memories from gaming?
The next day, Thor Frostfang the Shifter Ranger easily sneaks into the boxcar well before the precious cargo is placed in it. Vincent, arriving on his appointed time is warned that he will need to make his break for the boxcar a quick one as the diversion is triggered. A loud ruckus starts as the sounds of two confronting workers fill the air, followed by a cheering crowd as a scrap takes place. Vincent makes it on board with Puppy while Korgath tries to use his influence as a Cleric of Helmuth to sanction this as a match, to have bets placed as an offering to Helmuth. Vincent, hears this from within the train begins speaking as Helmuth but upon looking at Puppy, just begins talking about how great he is and his worthiness of offerings in the form of sandwiches.
However Korgath's attempts at getting most of the rail yard workers to go to The Warped One to place bets or make an offering fails and he is tossed onto the train by a terribly disguised Ulfr. Steam bellows and the train begins its trek south. Inside of box car 15, Thor looks in to check the reinforced cage. In it, the sleeping or better said, sedated wyrmling lies. Vincent begins to use his newly purchased alchemic fire and the pig iron, to weld supports on both sets of doors on the train. He is determined to make sure that no one gets to the wyrmling until it reaches its destination. Even if it means he (or Thor) can't get out.
Sadly, Paper Legends has wrapped up. I know that the session notes have things stuck at 3.1 and for the sake of tying up loose ends, I will summarize what has happened in the 6 sessions that we played. Conflicting schedules were my biggest peeve and at no point did we have all seven of us at once. I began getting burnt out of D&D too with my other gaming commitments at the time. I will not be bothering with breaking things down neatly but the just of the story will be conveyed. I will be launching a new campaign in the near future where we'll be trying to play every two weeks but in more manageable chunks of about 3 hours per session. Wrapping up between midnight and 3:30 in the morning no longer appeal to me. The new campaign will still be tied in with Paper Legends and I'll have a new opportunity to make new paper minis in a new art style and with a different construction to handle status effect markers.
I was on Youtube watching Chris Perkins DM the staff of Robot Chicken and another one of the Penny Arcade crew. I'm just wondering how interested people would actually be to listen to a recording of gaming sessions? Particularly when it's not of people who are established in the industry or have some sort of "celebrity" status. We read through session recaps on other's blogs all the time but if it's an audio file running, would it still have an appeal? When reading we can read as much or as little as we want, skimming here and there, etc. Just something that's been on my mind for a few days and I don't think I'd be interested in uploading hours of videos onto Youtube.
Last Monday night marked my last session in a weekly D&D 4E campaign that I was playing in. Weekly sessions combined with it being on Monday nights were taking a toll on me. Instead of just bailing, I wanted to finish Heroic Tier and the story arc before claiming back my Monday evenings for myself. My character Memphis Green had died the week prior and while I wanted him to go down heroically, I was hoping it'd be against the big bad that we were introduced to in the very first session. For my newly created character, I came up with Huggles X. A quick improvised burial was arranged for Memphis Green in the same place that he fell. He's laid on an arrangement of rocks and wrapped in the blankets from his adventurer's kit and then set ablaze. Just as his remains burn and the elven shape collapses, Skull notices Huggles getting a lot heavier while sitting on her shoulder. The little dragon hops off and primal energy begins to emanate from the ground and vines begin wrapping around Huggles forming a larger humanoid shape. The dragon familiar's face is the last thing to get enveloped and the transformation completes with what look like black and green eerie descent chitinous plates. He then bends down and picks up Memphis' old hat, places it on his head and pulls the brim down. For this character, I stated him up as a Dragonborn Ardent. Why? Tiny was sick so our healer would be missing, so that responsibility would fall upon me. Not to mention that going from five players to three would make things a little harder. Yes, having heals is a good thing.
We charge through the great doors into the room where Babagya waits for us. Fully ready, fully prepared and she begins summoning her Zombie Turtle minions. She's is wrapped in a veil of darkness and gets into our Paladin's head a few times. She literally crawls into his head, causing harm to him and denying the rest of us the option of hurting her as we'd be forced to club on our Paladin unless he himself forces her out of his mind. Aside from her veil of darkness, the ability to summon minions and attacks that cause status effects, she wasn't a very "strong" character. When the last blow connects with her, she cackles and laughs that she was the last of the Colossi which prevented a dead god from coming back. She had to be killed by those of pure intent (though I question that as we were trouble makers whenever we were left in cities). The big kicker that really got me was there that there was no apocalypse themed magic book that her death cult were after. She orchestrated the theft in the great library that would hire us to retrieve it so that we would kill off the colossi and in the end, her. When she draws her last breath, the ground shakes with the floors splitting open and spilling out grey and pink flesh. Lando had the fireball, Indiana Jones had the boulder, we got brains growing. Our characters hop onto thier flying broomsticks and attempt to GTFO! A great skill check took place where we came up with fantastic ways to navigate through the halls of the dungeon and outrun the brains and the swarms of goblins running for dear life. Alas, we failed the skill challenge and all turns black. When Skull and Triptych awake, they find themselves just in rags on a Drow airship. Their equipment are gone, Huggles X, Bruce Fitzyu, Brooke and the Chicken Hut are nowhere to be seen. When they look over the deck of the ship, they see that they are part of a massive fleet of airships, carrying away a huge land mass containing most of the city of Sternum. In the background, a massive skeleton with muscles slowing growing upon it as the dead god slowly comes back to life. Skull and Triptych sail away into the Astral Sea. It was a blast and an awesome ending to Heroic Tier. I felt saddened that I would not be continuing in this adventure as I could not commit to the schedule. It really felt like watching the ending of a good tv series for me.
So this fine sunny Sunday was spent predominantly indoors. Totally worth it. I got to try out the game Paranoia and had a real blast. Each player controls a Troubleshooter who is a clone with an assigned classification (but also part of a secret society organization) that is sent about the setting of Alpha Complex to find trouble and shoot it in order to preserve the perfect society that The Computer has created. The game is over the top, loaded with the screw your neighbor factor as you try to carry out your assigned functions, secret agenda, sabotage and flush out the other players to expose their acts treason to The Computer. Teamed up with booze, newly purchased toy guns, quesedillas, cigars and sushi afterwards, I'd say it was a Sunday well spent. If you're interested in playing a tongue and cheek humor rpg, definitely give this game a try.
In games that I took part in, there were times that we got bonus XP for doing something amazing with our characters. It was always fun to be able to jot down some extra XP at the end of the night. If the bonus XP was a small amount, it really never amounted to anything aside from one guy having a bigger number than the other. I began to find it really redundant because most groups will generally have the consensus to keep the party at the same level. So aside from maybe a guy leveling up one session before the others, in my eyes, I found it quite pointless.
What I've adopted is a token bonus. Instead of you getting 50 more XP, I'll toss you a penny at my table. It's good for a +D3 to your roll if you miss and needed that extra boost to try and succeed. Players feel good when they get a token and they get to see the benefit of it right away but still not be guaranteed a success. In my case, I only make the tokens good for the night so that they're not hoarding these things up for a "boss" fight.
What I really like about it is that it coaxes my players to come up with some amazing role playing or narratives in hopes that I award them a token. And I don't always do it.