Showing posts with label ENnies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ENnies. Show all posts

Friday, July 22, 2016

End of July! (Sorta)

Almost.

The ENnie Voting is done.  Thanks to everyone that voted for me.

RPGNow has their Christmas in July Sale going on now and for the next week.  Check that out.
On sale, in particular, is my Sisters of the Aquarian Order for White Star (which is also on sale).


Today is also my 21st wedding anniversary.  So I'll be celebrating that today with the one thing we have done since 1987...going to see a Star Trek movie!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Vote! (and a test post)

We are in the last few hours of voting for the ENnies. So here is my last ditch attempt to beg for votes.

Also, I wanted to test out this Facebook embed functionality.


So yes please. Vote for me!


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I am up for an Ennie this year for Best Blog!
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".

Monday, July 18, 2016

Monstrous Mondays: Baby Bestiary Vol. 1

Baby Bestiary Handbook Vol 1

A while back I posted support for the Baby Bestiary vol 1 and 2.  Volume 1 is now up for the Best Interior Art and Best monster/adversary ENnies and it is no surprise.  The book is absolutely gorgeous.

+Andreas Walters has put together a fantastic book that is part monster manual, part field guide, part ecology book and a huge part art book.

The book is a densely packed 81 full-color pages.  Easily one of the best-looking books to be nominated for an ENnie.   Each monster description comes with details on what the young of each monster is called (a baby Hippocampus is known as a "fry" for example), how hard it is to train the young and other vital facts such as danger and intelligence levels.

The book would make for a great coffee table book really and I hope there is a nice leatherbound option in the future collecting both volumes.
Of course, the obvious choice here is the older gamer that has kids that LOVE monster books.
I have forgotten how many times I have had to go on rescue missions to my kids rooms to find my D&D books.  I still have a Pathfinder book that I can't account for in fact!  For younger kids a "baby monster" game, ala Pokemon, gotta catch them all, would be fantastic.
Since there is little to no "crunch" in this book it is compatible with a wide variety of games.  Play your favorite game, use this book as your guide and go monster hunting with your kids.

In any case, this is a really fun book and I am really looking forward to Volume 2.

Don't forget to include the hashtag #MonsterMonday on Twitter or #MonsterMonday on Google+ when you post your own monsters!

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I am up for an Ennie this year for Best Blog!
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review: Chill Quickstart - Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Chill Quickstart: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

I am woefully behind on all my reviews.  None am I more late on than reviewing what should have been something I jumped on right away, Chill 3rd Edition.

I was very disapointed when I saw that Chill was not up for a ENnie for Best Game this year.  The consolation though is that the rather excellent Quickstart for Chill is up for Best Free Product.

This is good since you can experience Chill for the price of a couple of clicks.

Now my love for Chill is WELL documented here on this blog. When everyone else was playing Call of Cthulhu (and watching their characters go mad or die) I was playing Chill (and watching my characters die).  Or more to the point I was creating elaborate scenarios involving SAVE.   I loved Pacesetter Chill and even drove out to the old Mayfair Games warehouse to score a brandnew hardcover a few years back.  I own pretty much everything for Chill and even Rotworld/Cryptworld/Majus.

On to the product as hand.
Chill: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors is a 46 page "Quickstart".  It has everything you need to play the game now except for people, dice and some tokens.  Don't have 10-sided dice?  Fine, get a deck of cards, remove the royals, put all the black suits in one deck and all the red in another.  Shuffle them.  When you need to roll choose a black card and a red card.  Count tens as "0" and aces as "1".   Save the face cards, the royals, for your tokens.

With this Quickstart author +Matthew McFarland has distilled Chill down to it's essence. It's a game about fighting the Unknown.  There are a couple of pages devoted to the mechanics of the game; find a target number, roll that or under. Avoid botches (doubles over) but hope for a Colossal Success (roll doubles and under).  Tokens are also covered.

An overview of the character sheet comes next breaking down the Attributes, Skills, Edges, Drawbacks and where you record damage.  There is also a spot for The Art, or some magical/psychic abilities.  This edition seems to focus a bit more on this than the previous, normal-human-centric point of view of the previous, but that will wait for a full reveiw.

This makes up the first half-dozen or so pages.  The next dozen covers Combat and The Art. Combat is just another type of test/roll and The Art are "fancy" skills.  The nice thing is when one system is learned the rest are easily picked up.

The rest of the book is the adventure.  I don't want to give out any spoilers for potential players, but the adventure is a classic one for Chill.  What kind of adventures are good for Chill? Well anything you might see on "Supernatural", "Grimm", "Kolchak" or "The X-Files" would make for a great Chill game, but also the stories you told as kids about the haunted house, or the mean old neighbor lady or the monster in the sewers.

The quickstart includes some characters to get you up and running fast. There are maps, artifacts and investigation sheet to make this feel like a real investigation into the paranormal, or what Chill calls The Unknown.  Enough background is given on SAVE to make it interesting and to make you want to know more.

For the price you can't beat it. If you ever told a scary story to others with a flashlight under your chin, dared a friend to go into a "haunted house" or watched a Hammer Horror film then this is a great game for you.   An ENnie win for it would let others know that too.



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I am up for an ENnie this year for Best Blog!
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: Maze of the Blue Medusa

Maze of the Blue Medusa is the latest book from +Patrick Stuart (of Deep Carbon Observatory) and +Zak Sabbath ("Red and Pleasant Land" among others) and published by Satyr Press.

All of that is relevant to the review that follows. First, you can see the DNA of both DCO and RaPL in Maze of the Blue Medusa (MoBM hereafter). Not to say this is the child of the other two, unless it is a child the same way a medusa is the child of an arch-devil, but there are fingerprints all over it.

Satyr Press is important too. Not because you have heard of it (I hadn't) but because they are not known for their RPG books. In fact this is their first and only one to date.  You won't find MotBM on DriveThruRPG or RPGNow. I have no idea if my favorite local game store carries it (though they did have RaPL).  So already we should know from all of this we have something different. And we do.

I have had MotBM now for a little while but I have been purposefully holding off on reviewing it till know for a very specific reason.  I want to review it now so you can vote for it at the ENnies.  Yes, I know that calls my bias into question and my intentions.  But there is the Product (which I am reviewing here) and there is the Philosophy (which is why I want you to vote).  I am going to review the Product, but I want to talk about the Philosophy.

Ok brass tacks.  What is Maze of the Blue Medusa?
Extremely simply put MotBM is an adventure.  It is a huge dungeon in the very, very classical sense that for what ever reasons your characters will investigate.  The PDF is 296 pages. This contains a map of the "Maze" (spoiler: it's not really a maze), both Zak's lavishly painted version and a utilitarian numbered one that is also hyperlinked (Philosophy vs. Product right there).  The PDF is massive, hyperlinks everywhere and the art is, as expected, top notch material from Zak.   I can't help compare it to Red and Pleasant Land, and favorably so.  The art is central to the map. OR the map is central to the art. They are one and the same really. So don't come to this product if you want grids or blue borders on your maps.  I love all that stuff, I do, but that is not this product, nor would it ever be.
The maps remind me also of the board game Dungeon! a little bit.  Same sort of color, same sort of "flat yet, multi-dimensional" feel to it.  I will be honest that was what attracted me most from the start.
The Maze is both explicitly and implicitly multidimensional.
The only thing I can relate it too was this multivariate regression course I took back in grad school where we tried to replicate 4, 5 and more dimensional multivariate axes on two-dimensional paper.
For me, at least, not only is the PDF hyper-linked, the Maze itself is hyperlinked.


We are given a brief history and a timeline involving an immortal medusa and three perfect sisters.
There is insanity all around them, thus the Maze.

Or whatever.

I like the background and it pulls me into this world, but it happened (game wise) so long ago how can any of the PCs be sure?  Implicit in the design is that you can do what you like here.  This is evident in the coding of the monster stats in some Ur-D&D. Designed to be flexible and compatible with a wide variety of editions and games.

Which gets me to my first big point on Philosophy.
The Maze has no meaning save what the reader/player puts on it.
I am not trying to discount what Zak and Patrick wrote in the book. Not at all, quite the opposite. They worked very hard to provide a copious amount text and background.  But like the medusa who changes people with her gaze, the Blue Medusa is changed by the gaze of others.   The details are enough to get you going but how it works in your world with your players and your style of gaming (not to mention the ruleset you choose) will change it.  The language used here is less "I am telling you what is happening" to "I am inspiring you to tell what is happening".  The difference is profound.  It made the work Zak and Patrick had to do harder, but more rewarding.  It is not their domain (or dare I say even their right) to tell me why the Medusa or Chronia don't age, it is enough that they don't and the world moves on.  Do you need to know for your game? Maybe, that is up to you.

The monsters, or really NPCs, are unique and tailored to this. Same with the magic items.  Sure there are some liches, but that seems to be expected given the rules of the Maze to be honest.  Hell I might throw in a couple more and have them be former adventures from my gaming groups of the neolithic days of D&D just amuse myself.   But in truth no-one is there without a reason.
One could, based on the surface features, call this a dungeon crawl but that is nowhere close to what it really is.  Yeah you can use it as that, but that is a waste of material.
Plus, unlike the great adventures of yesteryear (which I am still inordinately fond of) there are good reasons why these monsters/npcs/characters are hanging around here.  There is no sphinx guarding the corridors as in White Plume Mountain. There is no monster here because it fit the challenge rating of the rest of the dungeons.  Things are here because they serve a purpose in the Maze itself independent of whether or not the PCs are there.

There are also enough things going on in this dungeon/book that I could not help but be amused by knowing the histories and interactions of the designers.  I nearly spit out my coffee at the Canibal Critics.   I also have to admit I adore the Glyph Witch.

Now personally I am huge fan of the PDF. It is hyperlinked and I can jump all over the Maze in a way that is both utilitarian (Gods...I just called a Zak Sabbath book "utilitarian")  but also aesthetically pleasing.   I want to say though that the pictures of the hardcover are absolutely gorgeous.  It's the type of book you leave out and hope your non-gaming friends find a leaf through.

Sometimes They Get Lost
With so many characters (both senses of the word) wandering the halls of the Maze I can't help but have two thoughts. 1. Is this the authors' idea of what hell is? It has all the features of the Greek Hades or even Dante's Inferno. I am quite certain that all the NPCs represent real people in the lives of the authors. I have not identified them all and I am not likely too, but it is a fun exercise.  Also 2. Is this where all the lost characters go?  Sometimes when you play with a group, players come and go, what happens to their characters?  I am not talking about inbetween major adventures, but in the middle of one.  One session there are there and the next...gone.  Maybe...just maybe some of them end up here. They are lost in the truest sense of the word. Not evil, not good, but lost.  Maybe they have wandered the halls for a thousand years but still think that it was only minutes ago they got here.  Maybe they are all too painfully aware of what is going on but are powerless to do anything about it.

Why Should I Buy Maze of the Blue Medusa?
Buy this if you are the type of gamer that loves a new and unique challenge. Buy this if you are the kind of gamer that is bored of the typical dungeon crawl where you kick in a door, kill the giant rat and collect your 2,000 coppers.  After 36+ years of gaming, precious little seems "new" to me.  This feels new.  The ideas are old, but the presentation and the execution are new.
Buy this for the jaded gamer who thinks they have seen it all.
I am going to pick up the hard cover because I also think this adventure makes for good reading.  There is an implicit story here I would love to tease out for my own world.

Why Should I Vote For Maze of the Blue Medusa?
Obviously, I think the product is worthy of such consideration. This why I am posting now as opposed to last week or after I get my hardcover.  This is my next big point on Philosophy.  You buy MotBM for the Product, but vote for the Philosophy.  Zak's writing, work and much of his blog is about how games can and should be better.  MotBM is the tangible artifact of that ideal.  Now my "better" and your "better" and his "better" might not all be the same thing, but the effort to do something different needs to be rewarded.  The effort to try out adventure design where one designer paints and the other writes and they go back and forth should be rewarded and acknowledged.  There is also the fact that this is essentially a D&D product. If this were (gods I am going to catch shit for this) FATE adventure or something from the Indie Press Revolution, the style would be heralded and pedalstooled by that faction of gamers. This is the Indie RPG aesthetic applied to DIY D&D.

Maze is up for the following ENnies:
Best Adventure
Best Cartography
Best Electronic Book
Best Writing
and Product of the Year

Personally, I think it is worthy of all of these. Foremost Best Adventure and Best Electronic Book.
Buying sends the message to the authors that you appreciate their work. Voting sends the message to other authors that this is the sort of thing you like and you want to see more.  So please, vote for this.

We need more adventures and supplements like this.

I have no idea where I am going to use this, but I will use it.

Good job +Zak Sabbath and +Patrick Stuart.  Looking forward to seeing what is next.
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I am up for an Ennie this year for Best Blog!
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".


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