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Out of Character

"Has anyone seen my D20?"

Month

February 2015

Thirty Days to Make an RPG

Some of you might be familiar with an annual event known as National Novel Writing Month, or Nanowrimo. During the month of November aspiring authors try to complete rough draft of a novel that is no less than 50,000 words in length. People meet up to encourage one another to keep up with their daily word requirement and to remind one another that they’re all in it together. I took part in it a few times, but always failed miserably. The reason for that is more than likely the fact that I’m not going to produce the next great piece of fantasy, science fiction, or much of anything else. I do however like to make role playing games. I’ve made a few over the years and they’ve all been well received by everyone whose actually played any of them. None of them have ever been published or anything so I don’t consider myself a game designer or anything like that, I’m more like Arthur Weasley. I just putter around in my shed with all that “rubbish” that I’ve managed to accumulate while no one was looking.

I’m looking to change that. This year I want to produce something that I could take to a publisher, or even try and publish myself. I realize that might sound a bit arrogant since it takes an entire staff of talented, dedicated, and creative people working around the clock to make something like Dungeons and Dragons or Mutants and Masterminds. Still I think I need to give it a try.

So how would this work? Well obviously I wouldn’t have a finished product in a month. That’s just silly. I’d be aiming to have something workable that could be play tested and used to develop a more polished product, that’s pretty much it. No artwork, no book, no kickstarter. Just an idea that I can spin into something better. Sounds simple enough right? Well we shall see. I’m dubbing next month Manticore March in which I will attempt to make an RPG. For now there will be no information about genre, mechanics, or any of that. I’m going to use the rest of this month to figure out exactly what I want to do before anyone asks for an initiative roll.

So keep your eyes peeled for further updates.

Manticore_BoM

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The Daily D4

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Attack on Wolford

As promised I have spent my time since I returned from Unpub 5 in Baltimore thinking over the games I played and choosing a few of my favorites to praise. Honestly I loved pretty much everything I got to try, so this might take a while. We’re going to start off with the very first game I tried out, a cooperative game called Attack on Wolford that tries to capture the feel of an RPG session in a board game. Each of the players will take on the roles of adventurers who’ve been on a mission by the king. They’re goal is to defeat all of the deadly creatures that have overrun the down driving the good people of Wolford into full retreat.

Each of the characters plays very differently with their own unique array of abilities. The knight, priest, engineer, necroamncer, warrior, and rogue will have to work together in order to survive. Our game consisted of three players taking on the roles of the knight, priest, warrior, and thief. I got to play two character classes because it was early in the day and people were still arriving.

Each turn the players will face down a number of monsters that hare occupying one of the buildings in town.
The monsters will almost always attack first, however there is one ability in the rogue’s special powers that allows the adventurer’s to attack first, then the players will decide the initiative for their characters among themselves. All of your powers and abilities use action points, each player only has five to spend during their turn so deciding how to use them is a big part of the strategy.

As your characters move through Wolford their battles draw the attention of the monsters, with the more dangerous adventurers quickly becoming the main targets. This is achieved through a very cleverly employed threat tracker. Every ability your character has also affects their current threat level. The priest for example can smack someone with their wand to do a bit of damage. It also decreases the threat level of the priest. Now most monsters attack the character who is currently the highest on the threat track, which could be bad if it happens to be the priest who doesn’t have that many hit points to spare.

Upon defeating monsters you’ll have a chance to draw some treasure from the loot deck. Each character can only hold one item at a time so no one will have to worry about being accused of carrying more than their share of the goods. There’s some magical items, potions, and other things you’d expect to see in a pile of enchanted treasure. My favorite was the staff of storms which let me shoot a dragon in the eye with a bolt of lightning.

In the end our party failed the people of Wolford and we were all scorched to death by a dragon at the end of the game. According the designer the level of difficulty is pretty high and the success rate is something like 25%, so if you get frustrated by losing this might not be the game for you. Seriously those are Forbidden Island numbers. It’s a great game though and it really does manage to capture the feel of an RPG in an extremely different way, this is something that almost anyone can enjoy.

So when will you be able to try it out? Honestly I have no idea. The designer has been working on it for a few years and there is currently finalized art being produced for the game. I’m hoping that after Unpub he gets a Kickstarter going or manages to find a publisher so that others can give this fantastic game a try.

That’s it for today, check back tomorrow for another game brought to you by Unpub 5.

Unpub 5

This weekend I attended my first ever tabletop gaming convention in Baltimore, Maryland. Unpub 5 was an amazing experience and I am so glad that it was close enough to me that I was able to go. During the two days I spent there I got a chance to play a ton of unique games and I can honestly say I would have bought pretty much all of them there on the spot. What games did I play? Well in case anyone is interested I got a chance to enjoy Attack on Wolford, A Goat Too Far, Chaos of Cthulhu, Macrocasm, Shoot ‘Em Up Spaceships, Mole Majority, Rym, RAMpart, Phobos, Hobokon, Rolling for Amusement, Milkman, and Wartime.

I’m going to try and post more information about all of them and Unpub in general over the next few days, but I do want to encourage people to go out and try this if you’ve never been. It was a wonderful experience and I think it will be even better next year. I also wanted to share a few tips that I found useful as I was making my way through Unpub.

Fives Tips for People Attending Unpub

1) Don’t set out to play certain games. I wandered the convention for the entire weekend and jumped in wherever I saw and open seat. I’m not saying you can’t have some favoritism for a few games, but I think the best way to experience the most that Unpub has to offer is to try things as spots open up.

2) Fill out the feedback forms. There’s no charge for attending Unpub as a playtester and part of the reason for that is because it is an opportunity for designers to get an enormous amount of feedback from those in attendance. There’s an app, and a form on the Unpub website, and they even made computers available for people to fill feedback form if they lack a smartphone. They held raffles throughout the convention and each time you filled out a feedback form you were entered to win three game, I was actually one of the people who won the final raffle.

3) Don’t be shy. As a rule games tend to be pretty introverted and approaching people they don’t know can be difficult. Some of the designers are going to approach you and try to draw you in, but many of them aren’t. More often than not I had to push aside my introverted personality, walk up to a table and introduce myself, and express interest in whatever game was on offer. Just do it, pretty much every designer lit up like a chandelier as soon as I told them I thought their game looked interesting.

4) Save your convention booklet. As soon as I got signed in I was given a little red bag filled with all sorts of swag. There was also a booklet in there with information on pretty much every game on offer. Save that thing and flip through it when you get a chance. I know I said don’t aim to play certain games, but you might want to check this out all the same. The reason being that there might be a single thing that really catches your eye. I mostly used it to keep track of notes on games and such.

5) Bring some extra cash. Seriously even though it is a free convention you will run through some money if you attend. For one thing there are a ton of games being sold, and you’re probably going to want to pick up something. Parking and eating can also be pretty costly. I bought a bag of chips and a soda in the convention hall because I didn’t want to step out and miss out on any game time, it cost me five dollars.

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