Out of Character

"Has anyone seen my D20?"


March 2014

The Daily D4



Warning this installment of the Daily D4 may contain spoilers, feel free to keep browsing though, you’ll get another warning before we get to them.



Described by its creators as “hard science fiction role-playing with FATE” Diaspora allows players to create a region of space known as a cluster, populate it with interesting characters, and then play out their adventures among the stars. The system is based on FATE, which is also used in several other games including The Dresden Files RPG, FATE Core, FATE accelerated, and Spirit of the Century. However Disaspora brings several unique elements of gameplay to the table that aren’t shared with any of its cousins.

The book for Diaspora is a bit long so I won’t go into great detail, but I will mention may favorite part of the system which is without a doubt cluster creation. Each player is assigned a set number of planets, usually around three, which will become the key worlds of their cluster. The players then roll fudge dice to determine the statistics of their respective planets while working together to build the cluster. You roll to determine the environment, technology, and resources of your worlds. The dice rolls determine the mechanical stats, but the players have to come up with explanations to explain them. For example lets say you roll a +4 for environment, a +0 for technology, and a -2 for resources. The last thing players do is roll to determine how the individual links in the cluster are connected. In Diaspora faster than light travel is difficult, expensive, and relies largely on dangerous ancient technology so jump from one world to the next is no simple matter. This results in some portion of the cluster being isolated while others form hubs for the rest of their neighbors.

Diaspora seems like a great game, but I think you need to be a big fan of science fiction to get the most out of it. It also probably wouldn’t hurt if you picked up a copy of FATE Accelerated and gave that a try first it shares several similarities with some of the core gameplay concepts.



All New X-Men

Aside from checking out the occasional issue I don’t pick up too many X-Men books these days, with so many titles and characters tied to the team it’s just too much of a commitment to try and keep up with everything. I did however pick up the first two collected volumes of The All New X-Men and I’ve got to say I’ve loved both of them.

Remember the spoilers I mentioned before? Well here they come so if you haven’t read anything have to do with The All New X-Men cover your eyes quickly and scroll down like the wind!

In the wake of the Avengers vs. the X-Men crossover event that took place a few months ago Beast and the rest of the X-Men are faced with a dilemma. Scott Summers, one of the most recognizable mutants on the planet is now a wanted criminal calling for other mutants to rise up in open rebellion against mankind. The rest of the X-Men know that they can’t allow him to carry on or the newly growing population will end up in a war they cannot hope to win, but none of them are willing to track Cyclops down and put an end to him once and for all.

Undergoing a fourth mutation that he fears will result in his death Hank McCoy travels back in time and convinces the original five X-Men to return to the future with him in order to convince Cyclops that what he is doing is wrong. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman, and Angel are faced with a future unlike any they had ever imagined, and they are not pleased with the future that is waiting for them in the slightest.

Ultimately nearly all of the original X-Men are in favor of remaining in the future until they have made absolutely certain that they’ve made it into one worth fighting for.

You’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with roleplaying games right? Well I think this storyline would make for a fantastic campaign using the Marvel Heroic RPG. Making data files for the original X-Men would be an interesting challenge, and with some many team members to choose from the X-Men are perfect to use if your players are interested in swapping heroes between sessions.




Don’t Know Much About Mythology by Kenneth Davis

Jade got this book for me when the library was having a book sale quite a while ago and I’ve read through it a couple of times since then. Written by Kenneth Davis it is filled with information about the mythologies of cultures from all around the world. Each chapter includes a timeline of the culture it is about, a breakdown of some of the basic concepts of the stories from those cultures, and a detailed description of the gods that make up their pantheons. There are also some interesting facts in each chapter that you might not be aware, for example did you know that the goddess Athena burst out of her father Zeus’s head fully grown? It’s a very entertaining book and it’s filled with useful information if you’re planning to run a campaign that relies of deities or cultures you might not be familiar with first hand.



The Quidditch World Cup

I frequent the website Pottermore because there are some interesting excerpts about the series written by none other than J.K. Rowling herself scattered around the site. Recently a fresh batch of information on the history of the Quidditch World Cup appeared on Pottermore and after reading it over I started to think, could you make Quidditch into a card game? I mean there’s already a Harry Potter trading card game so why couldn’t you make something to represent the most popular sport in the wizarding world? It’s just an idea but I think it’s something that I’m going to have to toy with…



One of my favorite things about shopping at Barnes and Noble is checking the recommendations on the bottom of my receipt to see what other books they suggest I might like. So I’ve decided to adapt the idea to fit the Daily D4, and make a new addition. From now on I’ll be including links to episodes of the podcast people might enjoy listening to based on the content of the day. Some people might have already listened to them, but as there are always new people visiting the Out of Character blog I’m sure some newcomers might find something to enjoy.

Episode 1 Harry Potter and the Trading Card Game:

Episode 11 Oh Gods:

Episode 12 A Little Bit of Magic:


The Daily D4


Pacific Rim Heroclix

Based of the science fiction monster film Pacific Rim the Heroclix sets features the enormous robots known as Jaegers and the alien invaders called Kaijus. When the Kaijus invaded the earth through an interdimensional rift on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean humanity built the Jaegers to protect them. By the start of the movie there are only a few of the enormous mechs still in operation and the invasion seems to be growing more deadly than ever before.

All of the sculpts for the set are fantastic, and who doesn’t love giant robots or monstrous aliens? One of the interesting things about this set is that all of the figures are colossal making them difficult for smaller figures to pin down. The set also introduces two new team abilities that are quite good. Those with the Pan Pacific Defense Corps team ability are able to reduce an enemy figure’s defense by one when an adjacent ally makes a ranged combat attack, and the Kaijus deal damage to any opponent who damages them much like those with the mystic team ability.

Somehow I pulled twin Slatterns who are the most powerful Kaijus from the whole set and I managed to wind both of my matches. I ended up trading one of them for a Crimson Typhoon after the event was over as that was one of the two Jaegers I’d really wanted to get my hands on. Crimson Typhoon is the Chinese Jaeger and it is the only one with three arms in the entire fleet, it’s also the only mech with three pilots rather than two. The figures from this set are becoming increasingly hard to come by so if there’s one you’re looking for you may have to trade with someone who managed to pick up a few extras when the set was just coming out.


Captain America: Winter Soldier Heroclix

With the release date for Captain America: Winter Soldier less than a month away a new set of Heroclix featuring characters from the film has just hit the shelves. Steve Rogers finds himself working for S.H.I.E.L.D. after the invasion of New York, but the clandestine natures of their activities don’t sit well with him. It seems as though this film will portray Captain America’s struggle to come to grips with the new world more than the first Captain America movie or The Avengers did. The primary antagonist is a mysterious agent known only as Winter Soldier who seems to be more than a match for the super soldier. Seeing Falcon in the trailers has me really excited because he’s a great character, I think they did a fantastic job designing his costume, and I think we’ll get to see him appear as one of the Avengers in the upcoming sequel with any luck.

Nearly all of the major characters from the movie appear as figures in the set including Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, and Winter Soldier. There also a couple different agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so if anyone is looking to build a S.H.I.E.L.D. theme team this is the perfect chance to stock up on some great pieces for your collection. I bought a couple of them last night and I managed to get Captain America and a S.H.I.E.L.D. commander.


The Daily D4


Aside from gaming I also enjoy reading quite a bit, and one of my favorite things to read for years were the monthly issues of Shonen Jump. Even though I didn’t start really start gaming until years later I look back at those old copies of Shonen Jump and I can’t help noticing how many of them were related to the things I’ve grown to love. Maybe you have a friend or a younger relative who loves anime? If that’s the case than one of these might be the perfect way to introduce them to your hobby in a way that will be fun for them too.

Yu-Gi-Oh Monster World

Most people are probably familiar with the anime series Yu-Gi-Oh as a series about strategy card game that spawned a real life game that became a global sensation. However the manga featured many other games and adventures that never made their way into the anime. Without a doubt my all time favorite storyline from the Yu-Gi-Oh manga featured their foray into role playing games in a place known as Monster World. When their friend Bakura invites them over to play they’re delighted by the detailed model setting he’s constructed and the lifelike lead miniatures he’d painstakingly made in their likenesses.

Bakura acts as the game master and later joins the party as a white mage, Yugi plays a half-elf beeast tamer, Honda plays a human magic gunman, Anzu plays an elf wizard, Jonouchi plays a human warrior. There are some great explanations of some of the basic tabletop rpg terminology, an explanation of how combat works, examples of traps, and almost everything a young player might need to try running a game of their own.


Hikaru No Go

While searching through his grandfather’s attic middle school student Hikaru uncovers a very Go board. Wen he takes a closer look he notices that the board is stained with blood, but no one else is able to see it. Shonen Jump always published tips on how to play the game and examples of play along with issues of the manga so they makd a helpful tool for anyone trying to learn how to play. When Hikaru hears a strange voice that no one else does he faints and everyone just assumes he must have been hallucinating. However when a spirit named Sai from the Heian Era starts talking him he quickly realizes that what he had seen and heard hadn’t been any sort of hallucination. Sai had once been a Go instructor to the Emperor of Japan, but another Go instructor had accused him of cheating during a match to determine who would hold a position in the Emperor’s court.

The series follows Hikaru’s progress in learning to play Go and the story of the people he meets as a result of his curiosity. Initially he only plays Go because Sai is so insistent, but he quickly finds himself drawn to the game. Hikaru No Go is probably one of my favorite manga series of all time and any fans of the game are sure to love it as well.


The Daily D4



In a Hanabi two to five players take on the role of fireworks manufacturers who have to assemble the powders, fuses, and rockets for a fireworks display before show time. The players must take turns describing their cards and trying arrange them by color and number to build a firework. The tricky part is that none of the players are allowed to look at their own cards, each player must rely on the clues that the other players give them to try and make the best matches possible. It’s a cooperative game and you’re working together to create something without the threat of mutants destroying a major city, zombies devouring you, or an island sinking away beneath your feet. In all I think it’s a perfect game for a night at home with friends or an evening out under the stars waiting for a fireworks show to start over your heads.


The Daily D4


13th Age Halflings

13th Age introduces a few twists on the origins of Halflings that anyone looking to play one of the diminutive folk should enjoy. In a sermon delivered only once by the Priestess she told a tale of how the Prince of Shadows had slipped into the minds of the gods and discovered a race dwelling within their thoughts. According to the stories the Prince of Shadows sensed that the Halflings might one day prove crucial to saving the world and brought them back with him. The idea that Halflings had to be smuggled out of the mind of a god by the greatest thief in the world seems like a perfect fit for these stealthy wanderers.



X-Men: Under Siege

Have you ever dreamt of commanding the X-Men as they fought off evil mutants who’ve invaded their mansion than you might want to give X:Men Under Siege a try. Originally released back in 1994 I only heard about this game recently at a friendly local gaming store. The game includes eighteen of the famous mutants, two to four players each choose a pair of the X-Men to control as they fight their way through the mansion. There’s an added element of strategy as you decided how to tackle the villains roaming the corridors. Will you divide your forces up and try to take multiple floors at once? Which areas of the mansion will you secure first? Even your choice of X-Men offers an extra ability. In case anyone is wondering you’ll get to choose between Archangel, Banshee, Beast, Bishop, Cable, Cyclops, Gambit, Havok, Iceman, Jean Grey, Jubilee, Longshot, Maverick, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, and Wolverine.


The Daily D4


I love simple games that can be explained in a matter of seconds and played over and over for a lifetime, so when I heard about Pairs I got very excited. James Ernest from Cheapass Games describes Pairs as a pub game, which means it’s intended to be played quickly without getting bogged down in complex rules while allowing players to come and go throughout the game. It uses a fifty-five card deck and each of the cards are numbered between one and ten. There’s only a single one card in each deck, but there are two twos, three threes, four fours and so on. Each turn players choose to either take a card or fold, when a player gets a matching set of cards they get points and they lose the hand. Play continues in this pattern until a set number of points has been reached, the player who reaches that number is the loser.

Fans of the Kingslayer Trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss will also be excited to hear that the initial deck will feature art based on the series. The Kickstarter is ongoing and the project is already funded but there are still a couple of extra decks that could be unlocked. I think my favorite is still the vegetable deck that has already been unlocked though.


Episode 17: The Strangest Crossover Ever

There is finally a new episode of the Out of Character podcast up on our website! It’s been a long time, but I’m hoping we can get back into the regular schedule now and I’ve had this one recorded for some time now. It was just a matter of finding the time to edit it. In this episode my friend Sebastian and I play a close game of Heroclix using two of the fast forces sets that have been released by Wizkids over the last year or so. The Ravagers from DC Comics face off against the denizens of Bioshock Infinite. If you’re curious about Heroclix this might be a good way to see what an ordinary game is like.

Be warned though, we recorded this back when I had just started playing Heroclix so there are probably one or two errors in the way we played. It was a friendly game though so just try to enjoy.



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