Wednesday, December 7, 2011

In praise of your FLGS

I was talking with a friend yesterday on how we have both used Amazon to buy a bunch of gifts in past years Christmas.  I sat down to do it again last night and felt a twinge of guilt.   I had been talking to one of the guys at my local game store and he was mentioning how they are not moving as much product as in the past  (of a certain game) but he sees lots of people in the game area of the store playing the game.  Seems that many are getting their books from Amazon.

I see the allure, hell I have been the band leader in the past of the allure parade. Amazon is fast, easy and cheap. I can avoid paying the insane Illinois + Cook county sales taxes (which are some of the highest in the country). And going out to the Mall???  There are at least 100 good reasons to stick with Amazon.

Except I am loyal to my Favorite Local Game Store (FLGS).

You hear people of a certain age wax on about their favorite local comic store.  How it was a place of wonder to their young eyes and how it later it even became a place of amusement to older eyes (if Our Valued Customers is any indication).  Game Stores don't get quite the same press.

Well today I want to honor the Favorite Local Game Store and remind you all that to keep these places alive we need to purchase our products there.

My first local game stores were book stores, Waldenbooks, B. Daltons, and Belobrajdic's Bookstore. I detailed my experiences at those stores here and here.  They are all long gone now.
I am happy to say that my old home town now has a real, honest to goodness game store, "Off/On the Square" in Jacksonville, IL.  I picked up Pathfinder Ultimate Magic there recently to support the local biz.  Plus it isn't too far from where Belobrajdic's used to stand, so it was nice to be buying a "D&D" book in my old hometown again.

While in college I had the chance to be there the first years that Castle Perilous had opened in Carbondale, IL.  Great store and I purchased the vast majority of my 2nd Ed collection there.  It was great. I am glad to see they have grown over the years and are still serving Southern Illinois.  One day I'll need to go back.

But my first true game store and the one I returned to after college was Games Plus in Mount Prospect, IL.
When I lived downstate I used to mail order items from Games Plus I could not get locally; like the entirely-too-risque-for-central-Illinois Eldritch Wizardry or individual lead minis (back when they were lead).

When I moved to the Chicago land area after grad school, they became a place I could go too anytime I got out to the burbs.  When I moved to Mount Prospect, they moved to their current location.

To me Games Plus is the model of the perfect game store.  Huge inventory of thousands of games, books, minis and more dice than anyone will ever need.  Knowledgeable and friendly staff that can answer questions   and really enjoy the hobby; both as a past time and serious business.  It also has one of the best in-store gaming areas I have ever seen.  There is a certain feel of camaraderie and even brotherhood going into a room where eight groups of guys and gals across all social strata are here for the same reasons.  I play-tested Buffy and Ghosts of Albion there.  I run into ChicagoWiz there every so often.  It really is like Mecca for gamers; or at least the closest one to me.  Honestly there is not a single book I have wanted that they could not get for me.  They are better and cheaper than eBay.

The really nice feature of Games Plus is their Game Auctions, held twice a year.  It is a great way to get something rare and old for your collection, or unload something you don't want anymore.  You have read about my successes at the auctions in the past ([1], [2], [3]), so I am rather fond of going.

So if you are in need of a new game or gaming book, please visit your local game store.  These places are the starting place for so many in this hobby and they are a dying breed I fear.  Plus helping out the local business is helping out the community and keeping your neighbors employed.

To my readers: What is YOUR favorite game store?  Where are they, why do you like to go?  Post their url or FB page and share the love.  Don't have one?  Maybe you can find a new one here!

Games Plus on Facebook,
Castle Perilous Games & Books on Facebook,
Off/On the Square on Facebook,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Games that I'd like to give another chance

One of the cool things about being at this point in my life is I have tried hundreds of games.  While there are only about half a dozen I come back too, there are few I'd like to try again and give another go at.

Here are some I'd like to give another chance too.

One of the first non-D&D games I ever played. I was a big sci-fi geek back in the day and would love to play this one again as an adult.

Savage Worlds
People love it, but it has never worked for me.  I have given this one more than enough chances really, but I also broke up with and got back together with my crazy ex-girlfriend in college a number of times too.  So obviously I am a glutton for punishment.
I think I need to try it with another GM.  Nothing again my regular GM Greg, but maybe someone that can run this like he can run D&D or I can run Unisystem.

Loved the books. Thought the game was cool.  I would really like to try a good game in Middle Earth at least one more time.

BESM 3.0 or 2r
I really enjoyed the hell out of Big Eyes, Small Mouth. I'd like to give that one another go too.

Marvel Super Heroes
I am much more of a DC fan, but I'd love to try this one again.

World of Synnibarr
I know, I know.  Worst RPG ever. But there is such a gonzo quality about this game that just begs that you don't take it seriously, and thus all the reasons to consider it bad are somehow less important.  Just need to find the right crowd.

Enjoyed it the one time I played.  Would like to try it again.

What games are on your lists?

And on a special note, today is the 20th anniversary of the first date I had with the woman I'd later marry. Thought it was kinda nice to remember that.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tis the season for Charity

I first heard about Doctors without Borders when I was teaching over at the University of Illinois' College of Medicine. If you don't know about them, you can get all the details here,

DriveThruRPG supports them every so often with a product or collection of products. All the money goes to Doctors Without Borders, so it is a good way to score some RPG related material and help out a worthy cause.

This year it is a collection of the "Bring Dice and Chips" comic.

Please check it out.

Vote Hermione!

Jen over at Unedited is a participant in the YA Tournament of Heroines and is the advocate of Hermione Granger as the best YA heroine.

She has some details here,
and the host site here, and more info here,

There are a ton of reasons why Hermione is the best and most obvious choice. She is smart, strong willed, stands by her friends, caring, and I could go on, but I'll leave that for Jen to do.

So go out and vote!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Zatannurday: Young Justice Secrets

We were treated to another Zatanna episode of Young Justice recently. It was a the Halloween episode "Secrets".
It had some nice non-Zee moments.
Wendy and Marvin were there.  Megan disguising herself as Marvin the Martian from 'Looney Tunes'.

Of course there are lots of good bit with Zatanna and Artemis in this epsiode.  Zee figures out right away that Conner and Megan are a couple.   I like how they are opting to portray her as younger than the rest of the team (except for Robin).

I enjoyed the heck out of the old Teen Titans cartoon when it was on, but this one is really good.  Love the storyline they are building here.

Here are some more pics of her appearances from 'Humanity' and 'Secrets'.

I normally don't post animated GIFs but this scene made me laugh out loud.  (might need to click on it to make it work)

It got me wondering about when in this continuity Zatara was going die.   Not to be morbid about it, but it is a central part of her character just as much as Batman's.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Conspiracy X 2.0 Kickstarter 2, Paranormal Sourcebook

Eden had a hugely successful Kickstarter for Conspiracy X that they are doing it again.  This time for the Paranormal Sourcebook.

Among other things, you can get a hardcover copy of the book, pdf and my favorite, a deck of Zener Cards.

A great add-on to the game really.  Yeah you could make or buy your own, but getting these is still a really cool deal.

So check it out!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

DriveThruRPG reveiws

Some random DriveThruRPG reviews.
I wanted to get a lot more of these done this year, but reviews take a bit to do properly.  I am making recommendations that I hope others are reading are them, but I want to make sure they are informed recommendations. 

Diana: Warrior Princess
Diana: Warrior Princess is a game that is so out there it is hard to quantify it.
Lets start with the easy part first, the game system. The game is very cinematic and focuses largely on characters can do that is cool, amazing or fun. So no stats for cooking here, unless of course one of your characters is a notorious Iron Chef (which would totally work with this game).

Now the premise. Take our world, but go many thousand of years in the future. Now make a TV show of our times, but give it the same historical accuracy (and sense of over the top cinema and fun) as Xena: Warrior Princess. That is D: WP, except you are playing in that world and it is all real to you. So tons of characters make appearances that we know of today. England is a land ruled by Queens Victoria and Elizabeth with the undead Thatcher in control. Just tons of over the top things like that. Adding stuff is easy. There might be this new Robber-Baron from the USA that uses technology to suck the lives out of people into his magical book that keeps a representation of their face. This dreaded artifact of the ancient 21st century was known as "The Facebook"! Just like that. Hard to say what being Googled will mean!

Don't take this game too seriously and you will have a lot of fun.
If you are the type though that looks for internal consistency in your worlds and retcon is a dirty word, then maybe don't get this.

But everyone will have a really fun time.
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 3 (ICONS)
A hefty collection of archetypes for the ICONS game. Lots of familiar territory here with some standard comic book archetypes. What I came here for was the Magician, Occult hero and the Psychic.

In all cases an archetype is presented with some explanatory notes on how this character works in the comics and the game. Examples from comics are given and ways to use the character. Then we also get a full write up of a ready to use character, either as an NPC or PC for your own games. Usually 4 pages per archetype.

Very good book for the price and now I want to pick up the first two as well.
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars (bought it for the Zatanna like character on the front).

Hope Prep School Freshman Handbook, Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition
Hope Prep School Freshman Handbook, ICONS
The Freshman Handbook is a great product in the Hope Prep product line. Meant to follow from the Hope Prep Orientation book, this book expands what you know and provides more information.

Like the Orientation Book, this book is multi-system. I had no issue moving from the ICONS version of one to the M&M version of the other.

This book contains everything a new student will need to know about their new school. There are class schedules with information on the teachers (and their powers, listed in back). While there is a wealth of information here it's utility will vary form GM to GM. While somw may like know where the students are at any given moment of any given day, there are others that will hand wave this.

One thing I found a distraction was the multi-colored text of the two students, Maza and Kid Courage. While interesting and provided a good insight to what was "really" going on, I found the font choice and color difficult to read sometimes.
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Hope Prep #0 Orientation, Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition
Hope Prep #0 Orientation, ICONS
Ever since the X-Men went to class and the Teen Titans went to their tower, being a super powered teen has always been popular in comics. It was popular before that too, but let's stick with high school. Hope Prep is another in a long line of Schools for .... you get the idea.
This book was written for ICONS, but I am certain that the same applies for other versions (M&M).
The idea here is a day spent learning about your new school, Hope Prep. A new bad guy organization is introduced, which I really liked and will use. And it works as a good introduction to supers roleplaying and the game systems as well.

Each scene is detailed well, but not in a way that tells the GM what everyone needs to do, but instead a framework of what is going on and how to move from one scene to the next. Very nice.
There is a starter map of the school grounds and some materials to print and give to your players.

All in all, a very fun intro and certainly makes want to get some more from this line of products.

All in all I really like the Hope Prep products and plan to buy some more of these.
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Dryden: Hero or Horror
Dryden: Hero or Horror seriously undersells itself.
At 10 cents it is likely to be ignored and that would be a shame. While I think today it could be released with some slightly better presentation of the art (the art is good, but quality of the scan seems bad) for a much greater price, there is plenty here for nearly any flavor of the 3.x d20 game.
Dryden are a race that can interbreed with other races, even monsters. For this reason they are listed as a character race, a monster and a monster template. It is also for this reason it carries a "for mature audiences" tag, but there is nothing here that I would not consider to be PG-13.
Differing information is given for fantasy, modern and future versions of the game and some plot hooks.
If you like the idea of a quasi-parasitic race then this is a good product. I like it since it designed to be used in multiple flavors of the same game and show the flexibility of the d20 system and this race.

And it is only 10 cents. Grab it before the publishers realize that giving something away that is this good is a bad idea. ;)
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Campaign Builders: Modern High
Campaign Builders are quick books to help you get started with a campaign mode. In this case a modern high school (and two popular variations, the Horror High and Ninja School).
I grabbed this for ideas to help with a anime/supers/magic flavored high school game I Was working on at the time and it was a great help. The coolest feature here (and since used in other games) is the "Allowance" mechanic. This might not be the first place it has been used like this, but what they do have here is very good.

It is a great product for the price. I might have liked to see more school types and paid a little more, but all in all I am very happy with it.
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

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