Table Top RPGs

Pip System Released!

Third Eye Games new generic rules are released and available at the One Bookshelf sites RPGnow andDrivethrurpg.  My first scan through the pages show me a decent set of rules and how those rules can work in a number of different ways to make for a good gaming experience. A couple of things stick out to me to be aware of when buying this pdf. The first is that if you like to print out pages or the whole book for use at the table, the pdf is layered letting you turn off the background colors for a printer friendliness. The second is that while the rules call for six sided dice, the majority of rolls could be made just as effectively with any binary random selectors you might have. I picture using pennies and nickels when the black and white dice are called for. The only difference is that certain abilities make it so sixes count double, and unskilled shot-in-the-dark rolls only succeed on a 1. If you neither have the special abilities nor are unskilled, coins flipped will do, it seems.

Is it really going to be worth fifteen bucks?

As fully realized generic rule sets go, this is in fact a fair bargain. Some, like Savage Worlds, are cheaper by a bit, but I have to point out that for the most part, you use SW with another supplemental world book while The Pip System is geared to work pretty much out of the book with no more than the usual session prep time. There will be game books coming out based on The Pip System, some of which were stretch goals for the Kickstarter campaign, but each of these will be a stand-alone book without need for the basic rules open alongside.

The artwork throughout the book is charming. The page background is friendly to the eyes. The fonts are well chosen and easy to read at speed. Not as gorgeous as some books, but then I spent half as much as I would have for them.

General · Table Top RPGs

Nobody Asked, But

Yeah, I’ll answer, anyway.

What do you mean you won’t buy ?

Well, it is not because of lack of interest. I am just not really wealthy, despite my living standard that is far above any of my royal ancestors. I occasionally come into a little money and splurge on a few books or a couple of Kickstarters. One of these most recent opportunities was my final grant for college at the same time as my tax return. I was very happy to be able to support The Pip System and Cortex Prime, and I am very stoked that both of these projects have funded and will be real books. I have had pretty good luck with the things I have supported, even the one that took two years to finalize with product in my hands.

What is so all-fired awesome about these dice pool games?

Yeah, I noticed that, too. I see that my two recent crowdfunded books are both dice pool systems. Some of my favorites from the past are also dice pool games, most notably Fantasy Flight’s iterations of Star Wars,  FASA’s Shadowrun, and <grargh> World of Darkness.* The way you feel when you can roll a bunch of dice to figure how things went, this is quite gratifying. I am also particularly fond of how in the Cortex Prime games, you get dice from several places on your sheet, roll them all and add the two best, or more if you pay tokens for it.

*(I was dragged into the WoD by my friends who wanted to play nothing else but those Critter: the Adjective games once they came out. Any appearance of enjoyment on my part is purely coincidental. I did get a little Soggy, though.)

Where is the video promised in a recent Facebook post?

Well, I tell you what is going on. Since Windows Movie Maker was deprecated, I have not found a satisfactory video editing program. I thought I had when I got HitFilm 4 Express, but I am having a lot of trouble getting my footage to work in that platform. It is just too feature filled for me to see past it. I still don’t have money, really, so getting the Adobe Creative Cloud is not happening since I have no desire to rent my software. That may totally be the wave of the future, but it’s just crashing on me and not letting me surf. I’m kind of too perfectionist to want to mess around with it too much, since that is frustrating and school is all I can manage this final quarter. Still I went to all the trouble to learn Photoshop, and I have found the freeware stuff entirely unfriendly for that. Maybe I should be more open to other paths.

So please don’t hold your breath for the videos, but they are somewhere in the future.

Thanks and Happy Waffling!

Table Top RPGs

More Pip System!

I mean to say I would like it.

So far we have a successful Kickstarter, a couple of great videos, and an actual play on podcast.

Also to note, they have a G+ group.

The Pip system has a simple and quick mechanic involving each die either being counted or not on a 50/50 basis, 1-3 no or 4-6 yes, and you roll against a number of target dice according to the difficulty of the challenge or the challenger. You have basic skills, which have qualities, and your roll is your skill + qualities in dice. Beginning characters can start with up to 4 dice in a skill and an equal number or less in each quality, all determined by allotment. More good dice than bad, success. More bad than good, defeat. Even, a success but.

I’ve read through some preliminary material, and the writing is good, and clear. The game will be a good one. It remains to be seen whether it will be adopted in the way it aught to be. I would really like to see it deployed into some grittier settings as well as the fun stuff we already see in the pipeline. Of course, even Mermaid Adventures could be played pretty gritty if you really wanted to, with just a few tweaks. While “A Kid’s Guide to Monster Hunting” will likely be very much like a preteen Scooby Doo, it could just as easily be played more like Stranger Things or even Horror Rules.  Oddly enough, though I want to see these serious things developed, I probably won’t actually buy them. I would, however, probably strongly consider yet another fantasy game using the rules, though it would be cool to see something drawing more from Asian or African lore than from Mr. Tolkein or Mr. Lieber. Another Mars game wouldn’t go amiss in my book. Still a fan of John Carter, but also of Space 1889 and Martian Chronicles. Maybe set the whole thing on a distant world under a bright red sun, and the mysterious giants invading the land are Humans and their mining equipment. Of course, Humans being the setting’s kaiju in Infestation is pretty brilliant, anyway.

Whatever it is, I am keen to see it.

Computer Games · General · Miniature Wargames · Off the Farm · Table Top RPGs

Producers & Consumers

Throughout the history of games, the rules and the pieces have all been set by a few for the many to enjoy. Or so it may seem, anyway. Among the folks creative enough to enjoy games involving the imagination, whether they be boardgames using abstract tokens to represent troops and armor storming the WW2 battle lines, miniature wargames using models on a terrainscape of sand and styrofoam, or the people represented by penciled in sheets in a candle-lit living room; among these the lines blur considerably between the producers and the consumers. Whether it is a simple house-rule that makes sense to everyone around the table, or the DM’s long hours of effort to create an evening’s destruction and mayhem for her friends to carve their way through, or the player who has an idea and throws something together to sell to other players.

My creations are many. As yet I have only ever published one item, a sheet of stick figure miniatures that I made up for the Deadlands Reloaded game my friend ran us through.

Time to turn left on that side road. I had to wonder why my stick figure miniatures struck a chord with my friends and others. For the same token, why is it that I can be so much more immersed in a pencil on quad ruled paper dungeon adventure than I can in a more richly modeled environment, whether it is a detailed layout on a table top or the amazing world of the Elder Scrolls games? I think that while one shows me stuff, I am limited to what it shows me, see, while the more simplified makes me engage my imagination to fill in almost everything. It is the same thing as the difference between reading the Harry Potter books and going to see the movies. Am I the only one who thinks that however pretty and talented Miss Watson was, Hermione should have been curlier?

The same advantage holds for the recent spate of indy and OSR games that seek to pare down the rules complexity instead of getting every last thing nailed down into a table or chart. It is really cool to have five hundred pages of awesome new world to adventure in, but when I get one of those things, I find myself afraid to get some detail of the setting wrong; or worse, calling my GM on some detail they got wrong. I have been that insufferable know-it-all turd that dragged a game to a screeching halt over a detail that any GM should have felt free to alter at their own table. Sorry, Ted. (He won’t even play with me anymore, and who could blame him.)

Back to the topic, I guess, though I suppose I was more about the stick figures and rules light stuff.

Unlike a gallon of gas or a taco or a box of detergent, what we do with games almost immediately takes us from being a mere consumer of products to creators. Reading the first paragraph in a game should send pictures blazing through my head of ideas I had never seen in that way before. Even when the game is a lush world on the computer screen, my creativity goes into the experience in the same way a book is not complete without the reader’s participation. In short, we are all producers and creators. We always have been.

Thanks.

General · Off the Farm · Table Top RPGs

Heart-Breakers: the Ultimate Waffle?

Heartbreaker- (n) A role playing game that assumes tropes and mechanics from other published materials, specifically pre-3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons.

Or so I am told.

I was watching a video on You Tube by the guys over at Nerdarchy.com where they discuss why they won’t be making their own role playing game. You can go watch their discussion on You Tube. It got me to thinking about all of my endeavors of the kind and it occurred to me to ask a question.

Is the creation of a home-made role-playing game really the ultimate expression of the Game Waffler?

I know only that in my case, it was so. None of my efforts have been even a little bit original, nor was it very well written, nor was it innovative. Most of my work has been, in fact, cramming one game’s setting into another’s system, even when there is no way it would fit. Shadowrun to GURPS was my first try, and after months of late night headaches, I discovered my friends using a very simple work-around of dropping a lot of Shadowrun’s special effects and just keeping the core idea of near future dystopia mixed with fantasy elements by simply grabbing the GURPS books related to cyber-science and fantasy races, magic and so forth.

I am not alone in this. In fact, I think every game waffler has a ‘heart-breaker’ in them.

My next one mixes old OpenD6 mechanics with “Class” skills from Barbarians of Lemuria or BareBones Fantasy. That or I’ll just make some material to flesh out a world for Fantasy AGE. I guess I could always cram something I love into Savage Worlds, if I felt the need.

Or….

Welcome to the Games Waffler. Yeah. It’s like that.

How about you? What square pegs have you tried to hammer into inter-dimensional rifts?

Table Top RPGs

My Waffler Cred

I started table top gaming some twenty years ago. It all started when I befriended the “weird new kid” at school named Jeremy. Jeremy introduced me to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. We had a lot of fun, at first it was all one on one sessions as I learned the rules. After I learned the rules and how to run Dungeons and dragons I becoming the gamemaster and recruiting others to our group. Many of those players are still my friends all these years later. I could easily say I’ve game mastered over 100 systems. With some games lasting a single session, others lasting a year or more.

I often find myself planning out games and then running to another system before ever running the first. Besides blaming it on what I like to call “gamer ADHD” I have found the source of some of my system wandering. It’s what I like to think of as game compatibility.

There are some amazing games out there, not every game is compatible with my interests or my style as a gamemaster. The ones that are to my liking often draw me in, I get wrapped up in excitement. But what I fail to consider, and really need to ask myself is if this game is compatible with my players interests and tastes. Some times a new shiny game is great and wonderful. But unless it clicks with your groups tastes and social dynamic, it will just end up being another book on your self collecting dust. It’s terrible to think that it’s taken me this long to realize, a good game can still be the wrong game for my group.