March 31, 2012

[Talks] Opinion needed. Thanks!

It's a little bit that I'm wondering: how do you like reviews? Which ones are the informations that you want to be provided in a review. Is it different the review you want to read if I'm reviewing a board game or an RPG?

What makes you think: "This is the kind of review that I want to read"?

Please, let me know and we will discuss this together.

March 29, 2012

[Rule test] [Wild Talents] Character creation

In this article we will create a character for Wild Talents 2nd edition step by step, trying to understand how this system works.
We will create Jonathan Neutron, amazing adventurer (why it's explained HERE).

I have a limited knowledge of the Wild Talents rulebook, mostly because I never read all the powers list in a superhero game,but I know how works the One Roll Engine and I trust in myself ^_^

Chapter 2 of the Core Rulebook is about Creating Characters and provides a useful checklist in 6 (hopefully easy steps)

STEP 0: The base mechanism
In Wild Talents everything is measured in number of dice (noted as 1d, 2d, 3d and so on). When you do a check you roll all the dice you can (up to 10) and try to find matching series (multiple dice that shows the same number). If you have at least one series of matching dice your action succeed. The higher the number on the face of the dice composing your (chosen if you have the choice) group of matching dice the better the quality of your action. More matching dice means a quicker action. In addition to this you can have Hard dice (dice that rolls always 10) or Wiggle dice (you can chose the number on their face after the roll).

Comment: I like the One Roll Engine. It's easy to learn and fun to play.

STEP 1: The point total
How strong is your hero? How many points your here will have to spend? Not having a real GM setting the bar for me I'll go with the Beginner standard suggested value: 250
At this point I have to clarify that in.

Comment: First step easy as predicted. Interesting fact: the point scale goes up to 2000 points. I wonder if it's still playable.

STEP 2: Stats
In Wild Talents character are made of six stats, three physical (body, coordination, sense) and three mental (mind, charm, command). Humans can range from 1d to 5d.
Jonathan is an adventurer so I expect him to be able to climb, dodge, hit a bandit with a good fist, sense an ambush and swim against the flow of a river.
Let's start with
Body 2d (-10 points)
Coordination 2d (-10 points)
Sense 2d (-10 points)
I would love for him to be charming with the ladies but that's a plus and I can go with 3d hoping to add more points in the end. Command is not required for me. he can be as geek as geek gets, but unfortunately Command is also my composure in face of danger and i want Jonathan to be fearless. Maybe I can compensate after this points. We will see..
Mind 2d (-10 points)
Charm 2d (-10 points)
Command 2d (-10 points)
At this point I can also buy Hyperstats. Hyperstats are basically stats augmented by powers and not by natural causes. They are a little cheaper but can be "shut down" by power nullifying means.
Body +2d (-12 points)
Coordination +2d (-8 points)
Sense +1d (-4 points)
Charm +1d (-4 points)
Command +1d (-4 points)
My final stats will be:
Body 4d 
Coordination 4d 
Sense 3d
Mind 2d
Charm 3d 
Command 3d 
Points spent: 88
Points left: 162

Comment: Stats and skills base cost was hard to find, and when I say hard I mean that I spent almost half an hour searching for it. Thank God a table at the end of the volume helped me. (I've found out that's an errata saying that they missed a table in this chapter)

STEP 3: Skills
There's a good number of skills, associated to the stat (normally) used with. Each die in a skill cost 2 points. Humans can range from 1d to 5d.
Athletics 3d (-6 points) (Body)
Brawling 2d (-4 points) (Body)
Dodge 3d (-6 points) (Coordination)
Scrutiny 3d (-6 points) (Sense)
Stability 4d (-8 points) (Command)
Occupation: Explorer 4d (-20 points)
Wealth 6d (-12 points)
With the explorer occupation I want to encompass all the wide range of skills my character is supposed to have that goes from surviving in the jungle to shooting with a pistol or a rifle, from pilot a jeep or a plane to analyze an ancient artifact.

Points spent: 62
Points left: 100

Comment: Ok, now I'm starting to hate this book. After making me buy skills, decide to inform me that I have further options that substitute the previous. Instead of taking skill by skill I can buy Occupations, that are group of skills tied by a common sense (as an occupation). Only then the book cares to tell me that I can also buy contacts and wealth. I've also tried to find pregenerated characters, to understand if 62 points spent in skills are unreasonable and I've found them 250 pages later. Really? Come on!

STEP 3.1: Secondary Scores
There are a couple of scores you can directly derive from your stats and these are Will and Willpower. Both are measured in points and not dice.
Normally Will is Command + Charm (6, in my case), represents the inner strength of my character and rarely changes during the game..
Willpower starts equal to my Will score and represents how reliable are my powers. Successes and failures during the came makes this value increase or decrease.
Will: 6
Willpower: 6
The Will score must also divided between at least a Loyalty and a Passion.
My Passion will be without doubt  about new scientific advancements and my loyalty will be to the Human Race, opposed as aliens trying to invade and/or dominate us.
Loyalty: Human Race 3
Passion: Science and discoveries 3
STEP 4: The Archetype
Archetypes are composed of Source, Permission and Intrinsic Meta-qualities.
Source-qualities are the source (really?) of your powers. Normally a character gets his powers from one source but you can get two or more source to make your powers more difficult to be shut down.
The first source is free, but I think for me two sources are better. I like the fact that my super stats are the product of really hard training and the "real" powers comes from ancient/alien/mystical artifacts.
Source: Driven (free)
Source: Technological (-5 points)
All my hyper stats will be liked to the Driven source.All the other powers will use the Technological source.
Permissions are what type of powers I can buy. I clearly need two permissions; one for the stats and one for artifacts/gadget.
Permission: Inventor (-5 points)
Permission: Peak Performer (-5 points)
Intrinsic are additional rules that govern your character and no one else. Kryptonite vulnerability could be an Intrinsic Meta Quality. I don't think I can fit one, so I shall pass Intrinsics.

Points spent: 15
Points left: 85

Comment: I liked Meta-Qualities . Permission are a little nice way to limit what type of power a character can buy.

STEP 5: Powers
Finally it's time to buy what make of a hero a superhero: powers.
I can convert part of my stats in hyperstats to gain some points but I will wait to do this if I need it later.
Basically i want three powers: rocket boots, energy rifle, belt with a force field. i I save some points I have nasty ideas for a gauntlet o a monocle.
A power is composed by one or more Quality and Extra and/or Flaws as needed. A Quality is what a power can do. Each specific function is a different Quality. For example a force field that protect me is a quality and a force field that makes me move like a sled is another quality of the same power).
So the first draft of the powers is:
Energy Rifle (Attack)
Force Field  Belt (Defend)
Rocket  Boots (Useful)
Power Capacities are what is affected by my powers and are
Energy Rifle (A) Range
Force Field Belt (D) Self
Rocket Boots (U) Speed
Powers are defined by dice like everything else so I have to figure out how much  every dice of every power will cost to me.
Let's start with the rocket boots. The Flight power, stripped of his Defense Quality, cost me 2 points per die, lowered to 1 because is embedded in a focus (the boots).  Duration (+2 points) seems a nice addiction, taking from me the burden of rolling every round for flying.I will further lower the value to 2 points per dice taking the Obvious flaw. The boots are noisy and create a lot of smoke so the are totally useless if i want to be sneaky.
5d will cost me 10 points and give me 70% of chance to make them work.
1d+1wd will cost me 10 points also and give me 100% of success chance. The reverse of the medal is that my boots will be more fragile (2 wound boxes instead of 5 and a speed of 5 yd. instead of 40 yd.)
Considered that a speed of 5yd is lower than a normal guy sprinting speed, this is not an option.
Considering that 10 points just for the boots are too much I decide to add the Immutable flaw so I cannot modify the power after the first purchase.
So 5d costs 5 points, while 4d+1wd costs me 8 points.
Rocket boots (U[Speed]; 1 per die) 
Flight 4d+1w
Focus, Obvious, Immutable, Duration.
Points spent: 8
Points left: 77

Photo by *Skinz-N-Hydez
Ok, let's talk about the Force Field Belt. It starts from 6 points per die, lowered to 5 because it's in a focus. To this power I will add a conditional flaw. If I move, the power shuts down, lowering his cost to 4.This is my only defensive power, so I want it reliable. 3hd costs me 24 points, so be it.
Force Field Belt (D[Self]; 4 per die) 
Heavy Armor 3hd
Focus, if I move the power shuts down, Armored Defense, Endless, Interference.
Points spent: 24
Points left: 53

art by ~FROSTconcepts
It's time to give my hero some attack power. Harm is the key power that does a damage if hits. Base cost 2, reduced to 1 because of the focus. I have to add dice to the Power quality level: attack, raising the cost in points of the Harm power to 3. I also want that my (energy) bullets becomes hard to dodge and so I take the Speeding bullet Extra, raising the cost to 5 points per die. Immutable seems a good way to lower the cost to 4. I also take the Accessible Flaw, cause I can be disarmed and the On Sight Extra, not modifying the power cost.
Being my only attack power, 7d seems reasonable.
Energy Rifle (A+2[Range]; 4 per die) 
Harm 7d
Focus, Speeding Bullet, Immutable, Accessible, On Sight
Points spent: 28
Points left: 25

A nice 'dud' power (dud powers are mechanically useless, so are cheap) is the power of not aging, being a dud power, I can get it for just 8 points to a 2hd level
I'll never grow old 2hd
Points spent: 8
Points left: 17

Monocle from the
Professor Maelstromme's Steam Lab
Now that all my base powers are covered let's add some useful gadget. The 17 points left are not very much, but probably I can get something fut to use.
Precognition costs 2, lowered to 1 because it's in a focus.
The All-Seeing-Eye (U[Range]; 1 per die)
Precognition 4d
Points spent: 4
Points left: 13

Last power for Jonathan is what makes him rich: The Infinity Gauntlet. The Power of this apparatus is Transform (anything into gold). I need this to be permanent, so the cost is 4 (base)+2 (Duration converted to permanent) -1 (focus). The Gauntlet is also Immutable (-1 point), and leaves me a Mental Strain (-2).
The final cost of this power is 2 point per die.
The Infinity Gauntlet (U[Mass]; 2 per die)
Transform to Gold 2hd
Focus, Permanent, Immutable, Mental Strain.
Points spent: 8
Points left: 5

I have 5 more point that I can use to have:
+1d in stat
+2d in skills
+1d in the Rifle
+5d in the Boots
+5d in The All-Seeing Eye
or a brand new power

The main idea behind Jonathan Neutron is that he is not an Heavy league Player, so I exclude at one to be adding 5 more dice in a single power.
A Healing power can be nice, so I will go with that.
healing costs 1 per die, I'm adding Focus (-1), removing the +1 to the Quality and adding Engulf (+2) to a final cost of 1 per die.
The Talisman of Mithra (U[Touch]; 1 per die)
Heal 1d+1wd
Focus, Engulf, Touch Only
So this is it: Jonathan Neutron Wild Talents Edition is born.

Comment: There is no way to sweeten the news: Powers in Wild Talents are Hell! I needed 3 evenings to figure out how powers and the customization of them works. I had to redo my calculations 3 times until everything was fitting into place. The rules are really simple, but somehow it seems that the playtesters of Wild Talents never really used the Rulebook. A lot of information are in the wrong place, in the wrong order or lacking of clear examples. At the end, when I've understood how powers works everything makes sense, until this moment I endured a lot of frustration. GMs out there if you plan to run a wild Talents game, please try to create a character before. It's really a process you must have 100% clear before approaching you players. Don't get me wrong, I want to try this game, sooner or later, but the learning curve is high, although it doesn't seem so.

Wild Talents 2nd Edition is available from:

Wild Talents 2nd Edition
Wild Talents 2nd Edition
Wild Talents 2nd Edition
NOTE: If you buy from here I will get a little income, with no extra cost for you. Just to be straight.

March 27, 2012

[Review] Blood Bowl Team Manager The Card Game

Blood Bowl Team manager is a non collectible card game for 2 to 4 players. 

The game, in short.
Every player is the manager of a Blood Bowl team drawn randomly competing in a Blood Bowl season. Your goal is to end the season with the most fans.

The game is played along 4 to 5 weeks of games. At the start of every week some random match must be drawn and then every manager can commit one or more player to the matches. 
Winning a match can give to you fans, star players or team/staff upgrades and committing the right amount of players to the right matches is the way to ensure yourself everlasting glory. 

What's new?
Management of the ball in the field (team having the ball at the end of the match have advantages), cheat tokens, the whole concept of a manager's game.

The Good
  • TEAMS All the teams are different and recreate very well the feeling of the original Blood Bowl. Skavens are fast as hell, Chaos mutates randomly, Dwarfs are slow but sturdy and so on...
  • PRETTINESS Fantasy Flight is well renown for the quality of the art inside his games and Blood Bowl Team Manager is no exception
  • NOSTALGIA If you are 30-something you can't have enough Blood Bowl Games.
  • SIMPLE Rules are simple and well explained, thanks to a good manual and some free video tutorial
  • EXPANSIONS  Blood Bowl Team Manager is ready to be expanded with additional low cost decks. Maybe also printed on demand.
The Bad
  • TOKENS I have no problems with tokens, but enough is enough. Prepare yourself to stock and order a LOT of things before and after every game. That can be annoying. 
  • LUCK Some team are more luck based than other (Chaos, Skavens). That can be frustrating if it's not your day.
  • HARD CORE THEME Ok, let's say it loud: managing a  Blood Bowl team is not a casual gamer dream.
The Verdict
Blood Bowl is a good game that shines if you and your friends ever loved the original Blood Bowl game. If you never played the original game, there is still room for fun in this game, but probably you don't risk the addiction.

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In Italia รจ disponibile sul sito ad un prezzo estremamente ragionevole, soprattutto se vi va bene la versione inglese. QUI
NOTE: If you buy from here I will get a little income, with no extra cost for you. Just to be straight.

March 26, 2012

[Rule test] Jonathan Neutron, amazing adventurer

A character from
Riese, a steampunk webseries
For a reason that I cannot disclose, I have to create a superhero. Mysterious reasons put aside, I want to use this opportunity to test various Super's systems trying to create the same superhero in each one and comparing results.

All the character must incorporate the same base concepts.

  • Jonathan Neutron is a human, born in 1815, explorer, archaeologist and scientist. 
  • He is brave, reckless and good willed. A daredevil
  • He ages really slow and/or he is immortal. Now he looks 25. He's a man out of his time.
  • He dabbles in ancient artifacts and weird science.
  • He is rich.
  • No powers, some superhuman stat and a lot of gadgets.

[Talks] Where I've been?

In the previous image ther's a hint of were I've been in the bast week. Can you decipher it?

March 7, 2012

[First Look] Crypts & Things

This is not a review. This preview can be based on prejudice and/or wrong information. Be warned.

I don't like Swords & Wizardry, so why take a second look to this S&W conversion called Crypts & Things?

Crypts & Things is based on Sword & Wizardry that is based on the original Dungeons & Dragons so it's an oversimplified hack & slash game created for people of the eighties. Until now, in my humble opinion, Retro-clones were good only for middle aged people, regretting their lives and wishing to come back to a more simple and streamlined way of living (and gaming)

But how is Crypts & Things different from Swords & Wizardry? The following text is taken from the free preview of the game (so I take it as accurate. Original text is in italic, my comments are in bold.

The Fighter has optional fighting styles, to add more options and fun and to differentiate between fighter characters. 
Sounds good, plays usually boring.
Adds the Barbarian character class based off the version of the class originally published in White Dwarf 2 in 1977. 
Ok, you can go Conan.Nothing wrong with that.
The Thief class is a more martially-inclined version of the Thief, inspired by the Grey Mouser from Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories.
Conan By John Buscema
Ok, you can go Gray Mouser. Nothing wrong with that.
Removes the Cleric and Magic-user Class. Adds the Magician class, which combines the spell lists of the Magic-User and Cleric, and then separates them into White/Grey and Black magic spell lists. 
Black magic? Really? This is telling me that this game is gritty, magic is dangerous and heroes are supposed to keep distance from "evil" black magic. On the other side Black Magic is available to players, so this could be just a cosmetic change.
Higher Ability bonuses (+1 to +3) to highlight exceptional characters. 
Totally not relevant.
No Elves, Dwarfs or Halflings.
So just humans. I like that.
No Turning the Undead either as a class ability or spell. 
Turning Undead was always broken anyway.
Life events. This takes the form of a simple table where characters roll a single D20 three times for starting characters to learn some of the events that occurred before they started adventuring and the benefits that they caused
Oooh. A boring table.
Rules systems A simple skill system based off the Saving Throw number. Used for class skills (such as the Thieves’ skills and Barbarian’s abilities) and other skills that the character may have picked up along the way. 
A little too unclear to have an opinion about.
Sanity rules. Wisdom is used as a measure of mental stability. This system is used for both taking mental damage for witnessing horror and for magicians casting Black Magic. 
This goes combo with the black magic part. Nice!
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser
Altered damage rules. Hit points become a measure of exhaustion and fatigue – and are lost as a Magician casts spells. 
Constitution is used as a measure of physical health, and is lost once Hit points have been exhausted. 
Ok, this can work.
Crypts & Things is based more upon the Sword and Sorcery works of Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber and Robert E Howard, than the more traditional Tolkienesque fantasy.
I suppose that's the main point... 

Crypts & Things is an old school game made to create old school stories. It's interesting because it's not just a retro-clone of D&D but it actually tries to do something different within the strict self-imposed borders of that ruleset.

On the down side, if you know well the C.A.Smith/F.Leiber/R.E.Howard fiction you can easily understand why I'm not 100% into this game. Until now no one succeeded in capturing successfully the feeling of playing in a grim setting like the Hyborian Age or Lankhmar, mostly because lone heroes and deadly perils (as in No-adventurers-party and CallofCthulhu-like mortality) are against everything we know about fantasy adventures.

Someone already tried this game? Opinions?

Crypts and Things
Crypts and Things
Crypts and Things

March 5, 2012

[First Look] Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game

This is not a review. This is just a first look at the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game based on the free preview the Margaret Weis Productions put online in the last weeks that you can find HERE. This preview can be based on prejudice and/or wrong information.

If you ask me, there was no need for another superhero game. Superhero games are hard to play, hard to master and really mostly fail in capturing the comic books excitement. If you want to play superheroes, I can name a lot of possible alternatives like: Wild Talents (ORE), Champions/DC Universe, Champions (FUZION), Marvel Super Heroes, BASH!, Mutant City Blues (GUMSHOE), Necessary Evil (Savage World), Godlike (ORE), The Marvel Universe Rolplaying Game and so on...
This is the third RPG based on the Marvel Universe and the first RPG I know of set in a specific saga (New Avengers #1-6  by Brian Michael Bendis, David Finch, and Danny Miki).
The game is powered by the Cortex Engine (Margaret Weis main engine).

Nonetheless, I've looked at this game with curiosity and an open mind. I've looked and felt disappointed.
The rule set feels old and uncomfortable to play with, based on rolling a lot of dice and grouping them depending on what do you want to achieve. I understand that rolling a lot of dice can be fun, but I hate when a clumsy player can stumble over his dice pile and forget what he just rolled.
I obviously cannot judge before holding the final book in my hands, but it looks to me like a bad clone of the One Roll Engine.

The milestones systems look promising, rewarding players with xp every time the story drives them into topics familiar to the comic book fans; for example, Captain America gets 10 XP every time makes an avenger team form or disband. Sure, this can lead to players just mimicking heroes they read about, but I'm getting the feeling this is what this game wants to do.