17 December 2011

Monster of the Week: campaign update

Monster of the Week campaign at IndieGoGo.

I’ve got the next draft of the game done, and it has been sent off for editing. I’m in the process of updating the playtest files to match the changes, so funders and other playtesters can expect to see that in the next few days.

We’re only $143 off the first bonus goal, and $393 off the second, so please spread the word!

I’m particularly excited about the custom dice now – I’ve been exchanging emails with Chessex about them. They’re amazingly helpful and friendly, and have made up two prototypes for me. I really want to get to the $1500 level so that I can get these made up for you all.

Here’s a picture of one of the prototype dice, so you can see why I’m excited.

10 December 2011

Monster of the Week campaign update

Monster of the Week campaign: going very well at over $1000.

Next stop, the Summoned hunter playbook and then custom monster dice. 

There's an update on the campaign page with the image I plan to use on the dice: Monster of the Week on IndieGoGo.

13 September 2011

Oh, I Forgot To Mention The New Johannes Cabal Novel

I have been greatly enjoying the Johannes Cabal books, and the third one - Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute - just came out. It's just as good as the previous stories. Recommended to everyone, if you don't like these you must be a bad person.

11 September 2011

Here's Some Good Books I've Been Reading

First, Monster of the Week relevant works. I seem to have been on a bit of a monster hunting reading binge recently.

I absolutely love Harry Connolly's Twenty Palaces series (Child of Fire, Game of Cages, Circle of Enemies). I really like the guy telling the story, a chap called Ray Lilly. [Astoundingly mild spoiler] He got involved in some nasty magical events and was recruited by the Twenty Palace Society, a group of sorcerers dedicated to killing all the other sorcerers who endanger the world. It's a pretty grim series, as Ray was a semi-professional criminal before all the magic and stuff. That and the fact that magic can be used for some very scary purposes. The action and mystery side reads a bit like Raymond Chandler or James Ellroy, and the spells and magical creatures are terrible and awesome. Recommended if you like the sound of the Dresden Files, but with all the cute stuff removed.

Also good are Mike Carey's Felix Castor books. These follow a London exorcist in a world where the dead have come back - ghosts, zombies and werewolves are all becoming more common. As a detective, he's as hard-boiled as Ray Lilly. The stories are generally a mystery centered around a ghost problem, although usually not in a straightforward way. As the series has gone on, it has also built on what's gone before (both in the novels and in Castor's backstory) to add more depth to the world. There's a very detailed sense of Castor's London as well - it feels like Carey might have paced out the places that chases happen, that sort of thing. The mysteries are pretty grim here too. Recommended for the same reason as Connolly's books, above.

Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International is another good one. Not as good as the other two, but good. It's in much more standard techno-thriller mode, with lots of guns and violence and a thread of libertarian "anything to do with government is bad, anything to do with private enterprise is good" in there. But the basic monster hunting ass-kicking action is great. I haven't read the other two books in the series yet, but plan to get to them soon.

In another direction completely, Harry Sidebottom has a good historical adventure series set in Roman times. They follow what the afterwords explain is a historical character - a Roman general originally an Angles from past the German frontier. It seems like the historical record is just a few mentions for the guy so there's plenty of room to add adventures, and Sidebottom has done a great job doing so. He also manages to fit in a lot of historical details as the story goes on. Recommended for anyone who likes reading Roman historical adventures.

Quick Game Review: Blowback

The regular game had one missing and one sick but present, so we did a one-off of something we hadn't tried. It was Blowback, which is an unofficial game of Burn Notice.

We quickly put together a couple of ex-spies and their civilian friends, and I threw together a pretty basic plot. Character generation is simple, but I think we went a bit too quick. Additionally, two players isn't really enough for the game. I suspect the sweet spot is 3-5 players plus GM. Maybe we should have gone with a single professional and single civilian with just the three of us there.

The mission worked well, although we stumbled on a few of the rules. I really liked the way that you do a section of preparation and intelligence gathering, then make a plan and execute it, quite separately. The four skills the game uses even have totally different effects in each phase, which adds a lot to the feel of things.

One of our rules errors was one that made things a little easy for the agents, so I think we didn't get quite the feel of things going out of control on the operation that I suspect is what normally happens.

Overall impression was positive, but that we picked a bad way to try it out. Recommended if you want to play a game like Burn Notice or find the idea of the innovative preparation/operation mechanics intriguing.

24 August 2011

Fright Night V - 29th October, Wellington

Any local horror gaming fans, check out Fright Night V. A small convention of horror gaming for Halloween.

I'll be there running one half of a Monster of the Week double feature/crossover.

14 August 2011

Review: The Fiasco Companion

I am a huge fan of Fiasco, and it's one of my go-to convention/one shot games due to its simplicity and the way it almost always generates great play. So getting the new Fiasco Companion was a no-brainer for me.

The book is mainly filled with advice - some general and some specific, such as convention play advice or how to build your own sets.

I used the advice on convention play yesterday, and it was all good. Those two games got into gear a bit quicker than I was used to, and both were really good fun.

There's also four new sets included, and a softer version of the tilt/aftermath tables that can be used for games that are aiming more at "comedy of embarrassment" rather than "death and mayhem". One of the games I played yesterday was "Regina's Wedding" using the soft tables, and it was really good fun. It definitely captured a lighter but still hilarious feel (it was a bit like a wedding version of "Death at a Funeral", indeed we even included a naked drugged character who would have been played by Alan Tudyk).

Overall, the Companion is a solid chunk of new stuff for the money and anyone who plays Fiasco regularly is sure to get their money's worth out of it.

25 July 2011

Read-through Review: On the Ecology of the Mud Dragon

On the Ecology of the Mud Dragon is a short comedy game by Ben Lehman. The players are mud dragons, sort of like the swamp dragons in Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, if they could talk and make up unlikely plans.

It seems like it's going to produce a funny one-shot, with plenty of random tables to seed your silliness, including one that generates the plan that your dragons are trying to pull off. So you may find yourself in the big city, opposed by a group of humans, hoping to get some candy and respect, and your plan involves really loud farting noises.

Your dragon is rated on things like laziness, patheticness, etc. When you need to roll, you'll be trying to overcome one of your vices and be more like your noble draconic ancestors. Generally you will not.

That sums up the game, I'd say. It's short, and what's there has plenty of fodder for creating your own stupid little dragon hijinks. Long term play is not really a thing, but I suspect it will be a great one shot, or game for off nights. I will certainly take it along to run at Games on Demand type events, too.

If the setup sounds good, I'd advise grabbing a copy, especially given the "pay what you think it's worth"option for the pdf.

16 June 2011

Kindle Update

Okay, so it's six months down the track - how is the Kindle now you ask? Fantastic. It's now got to the point that I actively avoid paper type books.

It's small enough to carry almost everywhere, the battery is essentially unlimited (I have had it run out of power once, mainly because I forgot to charge it for about a month). It has effectively unlimited capacity (I think mine has around 200 books in it at the moment, using ~10% of its memory). It's pleasant to read and has boosted my reading speed a bit (I'm not sure why, though).

Downsides: it's no good for stuff you need to flip through (gaming pdfs, reference books, that sort of thing), and on the paperback sized model you might as well just not bother with pdfs (my phone is better).

If you are sitting on the fence, I heartily recommend getting one.

Here's Some Good Books I Read Recently

The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Gritty, fun fantasy that makes a point of putting a big (or little) twist on each fantasy cliche in it. Grim but entertaining, maybe halfway between A Song of Ice and Fire and The Black Company stories? Logen Ninefingers (or "The Bloody Nine") is my favorite character in fiction for some time, a terrifying barbarian champion who is getting into middle age and just over all the fighting and nonsense. He's great.

And I finally read George R R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books, too. Spurred on by the TV show, I suppose, although after the books I didn't feel quite so keen on watching it (possibly because so much stuff had to be cut). In any case, good but with some flaws. He's way to keen on adding point of view characters, something I'm not keen on in general. The sex and violence also grows tiresome. It's all so... sordid. And written just a little bit too larger than life to be believable.

Moving away from fantasy novels, I also really enjoyed James Gleick's The Information. It's a bit of a whirlwind tour of information theory and the way information has become more important through history. Lots of great stuff, although I felt it tailed off a little abruptly when he got to the present day.

Walter Jon Williams has a sequel to This Is Not A Game, called Deep State. It is better than the first one, and the first one was great. I recommend the pair of them to everyone interested in science fiction, gaming's growing intersection with the rest of life, and technothrillers.

11 June 2011

My Games Site

Site is now back at the expected address, genericgames.co.nz.

Monster of the Week on Twitter

I just set up an account for sharing news and info as I gear up to into open beta testing. Go follow @MotW_rpg if you want to stay up to date about what I'm doing.

There's a button to mash on the righthand sidebar, too.

11 May 2011

Monster of the Week update

I've been working pretty feverishly on Monster of the Week (the Apocalypse World hack edition) for a while now, and it's currently solid enough for playtesting. Currently there are three games going, only one of which has me involved.

It's a game of ass-kicking monster hunters, inspired by Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fringe, The X-Files, Hellboy, BPRD, The Dresden Files and stuff like that.

As a teaser, here's a look at the Divine hunter class book.

I'm keen to get it out to other playtest groups, so if that little bit of info sounds good let me know at mike.sands@genericgames.co.nz and I'll let you at the playtest files.

04 February 2011

Time & Temp

I've played a couple of one-shots of Time & Temp over the past few weeks, enough to have some stuff to say about it.

Firstly, it is a fun and funny game. The combination of characters who aren't really good at anything with difficult to solve problems and time travel is just great. The system works smoothly, although it takes a few minutes to get into the swing of it (and I did make one major error in the first game, although it was easy to correct in hindsight, and it didn't detract from the game).

Coming up with scenarios is fun too! As the GM (General Manager) you really just need a time and place and something anachronistic to go on. My two games have been about the Dodo Liberation Front (eco-warriors going back to defend the wildlife of Mauritius from sailors) and a Norwegian supremacist who had gone back to the 13th century to create a high-tech Norwegian world empire. In both cases, the temps made good use of their "skills" to prevent both problems.

As GM, you do need to look over the paradox and challenge rules very carefully - there are a few things that aren't described very clearly. Check out the game's website - Ravachol has written an FAQ and some examples that help a lot in the understanding. I recommend checking those out too before you run a game.

Overall, great game - I really look forward to playing some more (and seeing what happens in an extended run).