As a gamer, and aficionado of all things geekery-related, every year, I like to look back at what happened, what I played, and reflect on the biggest games of the year for me. Some of these might be surprises. Some might be obvious. Some will be RPGs. Some will be board games. All are awesome. My only rule was no direct expansions to existing game lines (new editions are ok, as are games that use existing rules but in a new setting or twist on the rules.). All of them are games I’d suggest you look at, consider demoing or just outright buy.
9.) Firefly Role-Playing Game (MWP) – The next edition of the Firefly universe hit tables this year, and it was awesome. MWP has really come a long way in refining their Cortex system, and their reacquiring of the same-yet-different Firefly license (as opposed to Serenity) allowed them to launch the game back up with their new and improved rules and really do it the justice it deserved. It’s fun. Fast. And for fans of the show and movie, a must have for their shelves.
10.) Atomic Robo Roleplaying Game (Evil Hat Productions) – The Atomic Robo webcomic is a love letter to classic pulp adventurers. The comic made its way into the world as a roleplaying game courtesy of Evil Hat Productions and uses their house FATE system. It’s a fun game, full of light rules, pulpy action, and moments that make sitting around a table great.
8.) Shadows of Brimstone (Flying Frog Productions) – After a fantastically successful Kickstarter, Flying Frog Productions released their game (really two games), Shadows of Brimstone. It’s a board game in the vein of Descent, but with the added bonus of being a western. Oh, and the mines are evil and Cthulhu filled. The highlight of the game is the campaign mode where your heroes go back to town, acquire new equipment, get new skills, and work their way deeper, and deeper into those mines.
7.) Ca$h ‘n Gun$ (Asmodee) – A second edition of the first game, this is the best party game you can ever buy. Hands down. Players take on the role of various criminals attempting to split the loot of a heist, and resolve their conflicts or issues by pointing foam guns at each other. It’s a bluffing game, a loot sharing game, and a really fun game. The only thing this game needs is to come with a few friends, for when you can’t get the right sized group together (the game is best played with eight players!).
4.) A World of Dew (Woerner’s WunderWerks) – A update and modification to the Blood and Honor system, A World of Dew puts you into a samurai-noir game where the City is a character as much as you are, and the story comes first. For everyone. It has innovative dice mechanics, easy character creation, and a lot of fun (The base game, Blood and Honor is fantastic, and sadly out of print, but the PDF is well worth it).
3.) Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (Wizards of the Coast) – Yes. Yes. After suffering through fourth edition, the patience of fans and dungeon crawlers has been rewarded! The exquisitely perfect 5th edition of the oldest roleplaying game hit this year, and every single page was a rousing success (except for the Halfling art. What the heck was that?). Every single fantasy RPG is being put back onto their lonely dusty shelves as 5th Edition returns to the throne as the king of fantasy RPGs. Fun. Simpler. Elegant. Classy. It’s really the culmination of 40 years of learned RPG experience, and some of the best designers in the industry.
2.) Corporia – What? There’s an RPG that edged out D&D 5e for the top RPG spot? Yes. Yes there is. Cyberpunk meets Arthurian Legend. It’s near-future Knights of the Round Table, having business meetings, and then slaying nether-realm monsters in the dark dystopian alleys of “The City”. An incredibly flexible system, combined with top-notch layout and formatting makes this game an absolute joy to play. It’s certainly more limited than a generic roleplaying game, but the sheer amount of flavor and fun you get from your technologically enhanced super-knight more than makes up for it.
1.) Doomtown: Reloaded – An old favorite back again in a “LCG” format. The old Doomtown CCG was a great game, and this year, AEG relaunched their Doomtown game as Doomtown: Reloaded. It’s hard to hype enough praise on this game, but the mechanics are a blast, the factions are cool, the rules are easier to understand, and the game is beautifully illustrated. There are already two small “Saddlebag” expansions out, and AEG has pledged “Pinebox” support (deluxe expansions). If you don’t get this game, you’ll regret it. It’s hands down the best card game/board game of the year.
Honorable Mentions (this breaks the rules above)
First of all let me note that In this article I will be focusing on the darker renditions of Batman, not the candy-coated and plastic-nippled Batman.
What is it about Batman that makes him one of our favorite superheroes?
To understand the essence of the Batman mythos, we need to go back to the beginning and understand Batman's origins. As a child, he wasn't that special, just another spoiled rich boy. And the single event of his parents' murder changed all that. Not only did he now have a reason to take vengeance on the criminals -- true vengeance, not goody-goodness -- but he also had a reason to be truly afraid of the world.
I have always liked the fact that Bruce Wayne chose the bat as his symbol: the thing that he feared the most. If you think about it, the symbolism is beautiful. Bruce is becoming what he's afraid of: an angry vigilante. Only his self control keeps him from becoming what he hates more than anything: a criminal.
As I see it Batman is half-superhero, half-villain.
Let's turn to The Christopher Nolan imagining of Batman and the reason why Christian Bale works so well as Batman in the Dark Knight trilogy is because Bale, quite frankly, looks like an angry guy. Bruce Wayne/Batman is an angry guy, full of repressed vengeance and bitterness. You can see all of this clearly in Batman Begins when Bruce Wayne brings a gun to Chill's parole hearing. He almost becomes a criminal himself, the thing that he's the most afraid of. Neither Batman nor Bruce Wayne are nice guys.
Batman is special precisely because of the conflict between his ethics and his anger. Superman wants to save the weak little human race. Spider-Man is just a nice guy with some guilt issues who happens to spin webs. Thor is some divine being thrown to Earth and does some nice stuff for us. Captain America is just too good to be true.
Batman is one of the most human and flawed of all the superheroes out there.
Batman walks the line between superheroism and villainy. He saves people, but he very badly wants to hurt people as well. We get a sense that, one wrong move, one wrong look, Batman would become a Joker.
This fundamental conflict between one's own goodness and evil is so rich, complex and relatable.
Batman is the man that we wish we could be and are afraid to be. He has lost his faith in law enforcement and the judicial system. Many of us have lost that faith as well. Batman struggles with the idea that he could go bad at any moment; we do as well.
And so Batman is our superhero.
A while back the Dungeon Crawlers team had the opportunity to go on set and get a behind the scene look and interview some of the cast members of Arrowstorm’s upcoming release Mythica: A Quest for Heroes, which is the first of a projected five film series. Just seeing what we did that day while on set we were excited to see the finished project. Mythica in two simple words is vibrant and lush: the interiors bristle with detail, and the lighting really gives atmosphere to the movie. The music is suitably exciting. The script, by Jason Fuller, director Anne Black, and producer Kynan Griffin, pulls together a rich and exciting fantasy world. And the CGI in this film extremely well done for an indie fantasy film.
But what I really like is what Arrowstorm has done with the attention to details with each of the characters in the film, particularly the female ones. The protagonist is a young slave girl named Marek. Marek unfortunately has a club foot, a defiant attitude, and is learning magic on the down-low from a nearby wizard, Kevin Sorbo. When she finally has enough of her brutal owner she runs away, determined to seek a life of adventure using her magical skills. Marek is played by wonderful Melanie Stone who we got to interview while on set and she is just as amazing on screen in this role and she was in person. In Mythica she is flat-out terrific; she provides the emotional anchor the film needs.
After Marek runs away from her brutal master she visits a tavern known through out the realms as a lace where mercenaries gather to hire out on bounties for various mythical creatures and is ran by a rather interesting Dwarf. While there the priestess Teela entered asking for adventures to help her rescue her kidnapped sister. Non will help her due to the high risk and low pay, that is with the exception of Marek who is itching for a chance to prove herself and Teela has no other real choice.
Teela is played by Nicola Posener, who did an amazing job in Dawn of the Dragonslayer, and is just as amazing in this film as well. What I found interesting and a bit refreshing was that the central relationship in this film is the one between Marek and Teela. There are moments when you know they just want to throw a punch at the other and then there are scenes where one scarf pieces herself for the other. Throughout the whole film Marek and Teela behave like reasonable adults in a crisis, not like female characters written to be ogled by men. Which is beautiful!!! It's refreshing to see this in a film.
Let's not forget about the two main men in this film Adam Johnson and Jake Stormoen. Marek recruits a drunken soldier (Adam Johnson) and a smooth-talking thief (Jake Stormoen) to join them on their quest. Each of these actors have their moments; the thief Dagen is the flashier role and Jake does an amazing job at pulling off the quick talking and devious rogue. I did chuckle every time a battle commenced on screen because the sullen warrior Thane would immediately rush into battle with no though for himself and usually end up getting mortally wounded like most D&D characters all of us have played at one point over years and then would desperately need the healers magical skills to bring him back from the brink of death him. The great thing about Thane's character is that he's secure enough that he doesn’t resent her; he accepts her help graciously.
The action is handled with skill by director Black, who really understands the importance of the quiet scenes between characters. There’s one exchange between Marek and Teela, where Marek asks Teela to heal her club foot and the two actresses bring this scene to life with grace and poignancy.
Overall Arrowstorm Entertainment really leveled up there game with this film. The acting is brilliant, the characters are the kind of characters that find yourself cheering for, the CGI has improved from previous films, the background and settings are extremely realistic, and the story is just one that has me asking where's part two? Unfortunately this adventure will have to wait until the release of the next film but until then we can enjoy this film worthy to go on my shelf next to my other fantasy favorites,
Mythica: A Quest for Heroes will be released on DVD in 2015. So keep an eye on Arrowstorm's website for more info.
The sequel is not always as good as the original, or so it is often heard. Sure, exceptions exist. Movies, for instance, have broken this mantra repeatedly over the past decade alone. But a lot rides on this particular instance of sequels, or follow-ups, as it were. Can the second Dungeons & Dragons core book hold a candle to the quality of its predecessor?
It was barely a month ago that the new Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebook hit shelves to a resounding, unanimous applause. That applause was well deserved. Once the dust settled from the release and the curtains lowered, I found myself still wondering where the other core books were. A Dungeon Master's Guide is handy, but a Monster Manual is crucial to how I run things. To reiterate, a lot rides on this next book. I think it best to go through the points of scrutiny as I thought of them and give you my (always sincere and correct) review of the product before deciding for yourselves to go buy it or not. (Spoilers: maybe!)
Final Tally: Dammit, WotC! Stop having such a fine product line this time! You're making my job harder! But seriously, I never set out to full-on poo-poo this thing. But I sincerely wanted to have criticisms for it, so I wouldn't sound like a giddy fanboy gushing over all the shiny artwork. Hence, the scorecard. I'm trying to make it objective and appear that I might know something about sports.
Monster Manual - 4 F
Guy Named Joe - 2
If you've got the money and you're the Dungeon Master, absolutely spend your hard earned money on the Monster Manual. Otherwise, save your money for mechanical pencils and character sheets; you'll always need those.
Buy your next book in gold dubloons!
This year at GenCon we had the pleasure to meet with Tim of Troll Lord Games to talk about “Castle and Crusades”. I had heard about this game in passing so we took the time to talk with Tim and get the skinny on the game. We will be posting that interview soon, so check back in the coming week.
"Castles and Crusades" is a fantasy role-playing game (The name is an homage to the original "Castles and Crusades" society, established in Wisconsin in 1969, out of which the games Chainmail and eventually Dungeons and Dragons emerged.) The Players Handbook is a 128 page hardback that includes all the 'core rules' for the game, though not all the rules you need to play, as there are no monsters included.
Anyone familiar with any edition of Dungeons and Dragons will find many familiar aspects in the Castles and Crusades game. The players make 'player characters' (PCs). This involves rolling up six ability scores (strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma), choosing a race (from 7 options) and a class (from 13 options). The campaign is managed by a game master called a 'Castle Keeper' ('CK' for short).
One thing it is important to know about Castles and Crusades, though, is that it is aimed at a specific audience. It will appeal only to players who want a 'rules light' system (e.g. no feats, skills, attacks of opportunity, and so forth -- although, as I will explain later, some of these features can be added to one's C&C game as options) and/or a game with an 'old school' feel (i.e. clear and definite class 'archetypes', an emphasis on diverse character types working together in order to survive and succeed, and so forth.). C&C is not meant to be a 'rules light' version of d20. Nonetheless, it is a 'rules light' game, and I think that it can appeal to many people out there that are looking for an alternative to 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons or someone that wants something similar to, and compatible with, d20 material.
So if you like detailed, tactical combat, lots of feats, skills and prestige classes with which to 'customize' your PC, easy multiclassing and characters who can be competent at any task (with appropriate multiclassing, feat and skill choices, etc.), and so forth, then C&C simply will not be your cup of tea. If, on the other hand, you want a fast paced FRPG that facilitates house-rules and makes playing with a minimal amount of prep work possible, then C&C might be just what you are looking for. In short, C&C is a fantasy role-playing game for those who want something lighter, faster, and more 'classical' in feel than 3E D&D.
The Core Mechanics
The game draws on all versions of Dungeons and Dragons, and with some adjustment, it can easily be used with materials from all editions. It uses the "d20" mechanic to resolve all tasks (combat, etc.), and like 3E D&D, "high is always good" (e.g. C&C armor class numbers and 3E armor class numbers are equivalent).
As it is a 'rules light' system, at least relative to the various editions of D&D, but aspires to be as flexible as possible given its 'rules light' nature. In these respects, it succeeds to an admirable degree. I would say that C&C is, roughly, 90-95 percent compatible with pre-3e material (you can 'convert on the fly' by simply changing the ACs); and 75 percent compatible with 3e material (you can usually 'convert on the fly', but certain multiclass combinations or feat abilities may require some thought, and higher level adventures and monsters will need to be 'toned down' somewhat).
In terms of mechanics, here are some of the essential points:
(1.) The game plays is as quick and easy as D&D. In fact, it is faster, as everything is based on the same d20 + Attribute Modifier + whatever bonus, rule.
(2.) It is not a tactical game. There is no need for battlemats and figures. The combat rules are fast and dramatic. Hence there is no need to worry about 'Attacks of Opportunity', and similar things. (However, you can add more complex rules for combat -- if you want to. I discuss the modularity of C&C more below.)
(3.) Although it is as simple and fast as D&D, it presents you with the same options in terms of race and class as 3E D&D. Whether a dwarf can be a wizard is entirely up to the GM, and the nature of her campaign world. Similarly, as in 3E D&D, there are no level limits.
(4.) Each Attribute has its own value for saving throws. This is one of two areas in which C&C is arguably 'more complex' than 3E D&D. However, the advantage of this approach is that each attribute is important -- there are no obvious "dump stats" in C&C, regardless of the PC's class.
(5.) Primes. A given character has a couple of Primary Attributes, and the rest are Secondary.
Since it is so essential to the system, it may be worth saying a few things about the "Prime" system. Roughly speaking, a "prime" is an ability score (e.g. strength) with respect to which your character is especially trained or skilled. For example, two characters with 18 intelligence are both geniuses, but the character who chooses intelligence as her prime is also well educated and capable of using her "genius" ability with precision, whereas the character with 18 intelligence who does not choose intelligence as her prime is an "untrained" genius. It may be convenient to think of primes as "skill bundles" – characters that choose dexterity as their prime are trained in "dexterity-related" tasks. At least this is how I came to understand the system of "primes".
One prime is determined by the character's class. A second prime is chosen by the character (to represent, on my view, the "preadventuring" interests and training of the character in question). Humans get to choose a third prime -- this is the mechanism to balance humans with the various special abilities of nonhuman characters in C&C.
The base target number for any Attribute check or Save involving a Primary is 12. The base target number for any Attribute check or Save involving a Secondary is 18.
Those are the numbers you must beat to succeed, so you roll: d20 + Attribute Modifier + Class Level - any penalty assigned by the CK due to task difficulty. Beat the number required by your Attribute's status, and you succeed. The Class Level is added only to tasks involving a class-related ability. So a rogue would add her class level to her attempt to climb, whereas a fighter would not (and in fact, a fighter could probably not even try to climb an especially sheer wall, at the CK's discretion).
Alternatively, you can understand the Prime as giving the PC a +6 bonus to any tasks involving that attribute. Indeed, this is probably a more intuitive way to understand the system, at least for those people familiar with 3E D&D.
Attribute checks are also used for saving throws, as follows:
Strength: Paralysis & constriction
Dexterity: Breath Weapon & Traps
Constitution: Disease, energy drain, poison, or breath weapon
Wisdom: Confusion, gaze attack, petrification, polymorph
Charisma: Charm, fear and death attack
So that is the core mechanic for C&C -- the "SIEGE engine", as the folks at Troll Lord Games call it.
The game gives players a great degree of latitude in determining precisely how to employ the SIEGE system in their games. For example, while attribute checks are used for all saving throws, the extent to which they will be used as a de facto skill system, or used to determine the success/failure of various tasks in general, is really up to the group in question. So C&C can accommodate, for instance, both groups who feel that social interactions should be resolved by ‘skill rolls’ (e.g. one should roll to see if the PC can convince the bartender to serve the party another round of ale), and groups who feel that social interactions should be resolved by roleplaying (e.g. the CK should decide, based on the player's attempt to convince her through roleplaying, whether or not the character succeeds at the attempt).
Races and Classes
The races in the C&C PHB should be familiar to anyone who has played any edition of D&D. We have humans, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, elves, half-elves, and half-orcs. There are no surprises here, though a few aspects of the C&C interpretation of these canonical races warrants mention.
As presented in the C&C PHB, halflings are definitely hobbits! Halflings are chubby, like to live in holes, and smoke pipeweed. More innovative is the C&C take on half-elves. Every half-elf PC must decide which parent race is 'dominant': the elf or human parent. Based on that decision, the PC gets different abilities. (There is perhaps a small Tolkien influence here. According to Tolkien, half-elves could decide to be 'of Men' or 'of Elves'. Elros, the first king of Numenor, chose to be 'of Men', and thus lived a mortal life, albeit one that lasted 500 years, whereas his brother Elrond chose to be 'of Elves', and eventually became the Lord of Rivendell that we all know and love. Of course, the C&C half-elf is somewhat different from those found in Middle-earth, but there is a certain similarity here that I find charming.) Finally, gnomes are woodland creatures skilled with illusions.
Many of the classes will be readily familiar to players of various editions of D&D. However there are some interesting -- and in my view generally positive -- twists here. For example, the ranger, paladin, and bard classes do not cast spells. Rather, the ranger is presented as the ultimate 'outdoorsman'. The class has many special abilities and skills that reflect this archetype, and thus there is no need for the him to have spellcasting abilities. Similarly, the bard resembles a Nordic skald more than the minstrel/pseudo-spellcaster found in other versions of D&D. More specifically, the C&C bard is quite skilled at combat (the character gets a d10 HD for example, and the second best combat progression rate), and uses their songs and chants to inspire greatness in her compatriots, demoralize or fascinate opponents, and so forth. It is also worth mentioning that the monk is a real 'warrior' in C&C -- he gets a d12 HD, and a decent combat progression. Similar 'interesting twists' can be found in the other classes as well.
The spells of some of the classes definitely invoke elements of the earlier editions of D&D. For example, there are no first level healing spells for druids aside from 'goodberry' (as 'cure light wounds' is once again a second level spell for druids). Similarly, a number of the spells on the wizard's list are once again quite risky in nature. The subject of a haste spell will age one year and might suffer permanent health damage! And only the truly desperate will use the teleportation spell without very careful preparation. These features of the spells in C&C all help to capture the 'old school' feel of the game, and also go a long way in keeping magic interesting and unpredictable. But like so many other aspects of C&C, this feature of the game is eminently tweakable: a group who prefers 'safer' magic could substitute the SRD spell descriptions for some spells without harming the system as a whole.
Positive Features of C&C
A. Faster Prep Time
Because it is a 'rules light' system, it does not take a considerable amount of time to write up stat blocks for monsters and NPCs in C&C. Moreover, the CK will less often have to look up rules to cover unusual situations in his or her games, as the rules that cover all situations are more general in nature. And if unexpected situations emerge during play, it is easy for the CK to draw on C&C's streamlined mechanics in order to improvise a needed NPC, or resolve a particular task or challenge. In short, the mechanics of C&C facilitate 'structured' CK improvisation during play.
B. Faster Play
The game plays much more quickly than 3E D&D -- especially combat. I have run two 3E D&D campaigns (each lasting almost a year), and have tried C&C three times. There really is no comparison here -- it is possible to get through, on average, at least twice as much ‘adventuring’ in a C&C game than it is in a 3E D&D game. It you have a busy schedule and can only squeeze in the occasional session of gaming, or just like a brisk and dramatic pace to your games, then this feature of C&C should appeal to you.
C. Rules 'fade into the background'
Because the core mechanics are so streamlined, the game flows very quickly, and rules questions do not emerge as often during play as they can in other, more complex FRPGs. As a result, everyone at the table can focus on the adventure that is being played, rather than figuring out whether 'doing x will provoke an attack of opportunity', or whether 'spell effect y stacks or does not stack with modifier z'. Of course, this means that the system for resolving tasks and conflicts is more abstract in C&C than it is in, say, 3E D&D. Whether this trade-off is worth it will depend on what you want in your gaming sessions.
D. No Need for Miniatures
It is very easy to run C&C combat without the use of miniatures and battlemats (but of course you can use them, if you want!).
The C&C system gives players a very clear rules structure onto which they can add new rules as they like without 'breaking' or 'unbalancing' the system.
F. Compatibility With All Editions of D&D.
As noted earlier in this review, the simple mechanics of C&C render the game broadly compatible with all editions of D&D. It is easy to convert pre-3E modules 'on the fly' (simply change the ACs by subtracting the original AC from 20, and determine whether the monster's 'good saves' are 'physical', 'mental', both, or neither). Converting 3E modules will sometimes require a bit more work. It should be easy to ignore most skills and feats, though some might have to be reworked as 'special abilities', and because the 'power scale' is lower in C&C, you will probably have to tone down some of the tougher monsters (HD 10+) and higher-level NPCs. Overall though, if you are reasonably familiar with both systems, using 3E modules with C&C should not be difficult at all. And as for campaign settings, the 'rules light' and 'old school' nature of C&C make it an especially appropriate system, in my view, for settings like Blackmoor and the Wilderlands. The fact that the C&C rules facilitate a brisk -- what I would call 'cinematic' -- pace suggest that the system might also be suitable for settings like Eberron or Hyboria. Finally, if you have copies of some old 'Old World' or 'Mystara' products lying around, like the classics 'The Grand Duchy of Karameikos' or 'Dawn of the Emperors', break them out! You can use them 'as is' with C&C.
Castles and Crusades may NOT be the game for everyone. It will not appeal to gamers who like intricate and detailed combat systems, or who demand a lot of 'crunch' in order to customize their characters. Rather, C&C is targeted at those people looking for a 'rules light' FRPG and/or a FRPG with a definite 'old school' or 'classical' flavor. Moreover, the system has been designed to be modular in nature, so it encourages the use of house rules and variants. Hence it should appeal to people who like to tweak the rules in order to suit their own campaign settings or views concerning a particular class or race. If you fall into any of these categories then C&C is definitely worth checking out!
The wonderful thing about role-playing games are that there are so many different kinds out there. There are some games out there with almost no rules, where everything in the game is about telling a story. There are some that are played with cards, and some that played with tokens or poker chips. There are even some out there with a several rules that don’t use any dice.
The most obvious example of this kind of game is Dungeons & Dragons. The Forgotten Realms setting is one of the best settings out there that is full of life and rich vibrant cultures. However when 4th edition was released the fun of roleplaying seemed to have been removed from the game.
Fantasy Craft is very similar to D&D 3E and Pathfinder, to the point that you can actually use your old modules and monster manuals with the Fantasy Craft game. There's a little bit of conversion to do, but frankly, if you're committed enough to make a character for this game, you've probably got the free time to translate your kobolds.
Whereas Pathfinder sought to ‘patch’ D&D 3.5, Fantasy Craft takes the core of the OGL 3.5 and uses it to build a game that could best be described as first a cousin rather than a sibling. Frankly, I like it more than trying to salvage the most cumbersome aspects of 3.5, but even for those with an affinity for the old stuff it’s close enough to warm the cockles of any nostalgic 3.5 gamer. There are plenty of classes, many of which are tooled for things OTHER than combat (I know right?). The upshot is that Fantasy Craft spends ample time supporting things other than combat, so that these classes are viable.
Spell casting is done entirely with a skill based system and encounter-based skill points. Tons of feats help customize your spellcaster’s abilities within this system so that no two spellcasting PCs should come out the same. “Divine” magic works in a sort of modified 3.5 domain style system, which are called Alignments. Alignments provide a satisfying set of rules and flavors to separate the divine casters from arcane casters (to use 4th edition parlance). If there’s one place that the system is different than 4th edition is that different character types FEEL very different. For some, this is a great draw, for others this smacks too much of the unbalanced older days of D&D. For me, it’s a neutral aspect, I miss the variety of old D&D, but I’m glad that I can finally play a rogue and not be completely worthless.
Fantasy Craft’s treatment of social stats, adventuring downtime, holdings, and more are one place I would say it’s definitively better than any other rivals out there. It’s quite possible to cannibalize these aspects to fit into any d20 type game. However it’s not a perfect fit into all games, but the rules on Reputation, Prizes, Favors, Holdings, and Down Time are well thought out, balanced, and a satisfying numeric solutions to the rather difficult task of fairly adjudicating these sorts of actions in most fantasy RPGs. For anyone that has thought about taking their campaign away from the adventuring-only archetype this provides tons of great ideas and guidance to make that process simple, satisfying, and ultimately rewarding for both DMs and Players.
Combat includes a system where there is no more hit points. You've got vitality, and you've got wounds. Wounds are pretty much set from the beginning of the game, but vitality can go up every level. Wounds represent the actual punishment your body can take, and vitality represents how good you are at dodging damage. So initial damage will have to get through your vitality first, and your vitality also heals between battles. This is good news, because it means you don't have to stop after three rooms of a dungeon and barricade the doors so everyone can get some sleep to heal before carrying on with the adventure.
There is actually a bunch more examples of cool modular rules, if I were to keep going. Fantasy Craft is a very robust set of tools meant to allow you to play exactly the kind of fantasy game you like, whether you prefer gritty games with gruesome weapons or high adventure with magical blunderbusses. If you take the time to weed through and pick the rules you want, and dump the ones you don't, you'll have a campaign and a game that is your own personal creation.
This game is a very well-designed game that will provide for an incredible amount of flexibility and fun!!
Publisher: Rather Dashing Games
Designed by: Michael Richie
Art By: Grant Wilson
Publisher's site: Rather Dashing Games
While at GenCon this year We got to sit down once again with the wonderful people over at Rather Dashing Games to play their hit, "Dwarven Miner".
"Dwarven Miner" is, as the Grant Wilson and Mike Richie put it, an "intuitive two-tiered fantasy themed crafting table-top" game. The game is an fun and interesting amalgamation of mining, crafting, and fulfilling orders.
That accurately describes the three phases of play. I am fond of the simplicity of the rules, that they allow for variation, and are not hard to understand. I am a firm believer in games that offer ease of play for a wide audience, and in that respect, "Dwarven Miner" delivers.
Inside the box, you have the following items:
The game board
The Rule Manual
A Deck of 80 Item Cards
A Deck of 60 Resource Cards
A Deck of 42 Patron Cards
4 Backpack Cards
8 Vault Cards
4 Colored Player pieces
6 Plain White Dice
1 Sheet of stickers.
The hardest part of this game actually involves those last two items. Before you play your first game, you have to put stickers on the blank dice, based on a set of patterns that are indicated on the back of the rules manual. This allows for some slight variations on things, if someone sets up the dice wrong. But, it also opens up the options for some interesting variations! What if one were to buy 6 more blank dice, and create variations of the pattern? The mutability of this structure just leaves my mind pondering all kinds of new possibilities.
Each player receives one backpack card, and is dealt three patron cards. Each patron card has a list of items they are looking for, an effect that is activated when their order is fulfilled, and a number of victory points. The victory points associated with a patron is relatively proportional to the difficulty of obtaining the items that they are looking for. Before play begins, players can trade in their initial patrons, for other patrons.
Play is separated into 3 phases; mining, crafting, and fulfillment. During the mining phase, you are given six dice to roll. Each one of these dice has a series of images corresponding to one of the resource cards. Each one may also have an Orc, and a Burglar. You can roll the die until you get the resources you need, unless the Orc appears. When the Orc is showing on one of the die, that die is set aside and can not be rerolled. The Burglar, on the other hand allows you to steal from other players. The more burglars that you roll, the more you can steal!
Once you are happy with your roll, you move on to the crafting phase. Using the resources obtained in the mining phase, you may wish to start crafting items. Each item has a "recipe" for what is needed to create it. Using the example from the rules manual, a "Tome of Wisdom" requires 2 "Arcane Crystals" 1 "Alchemist Powder" and 1 "Mithril". If you can not use any of the resources that you obtained, you can place them in your backpack or vault for later. Each backpack however, can only hold 4 resources, and 2 crafted items. When you are finished crafting, move on to the Fulfillment phase!
The fulfillment phase, is where you finally fill the patron's orders. "IF" you can not fill a patron's order, your turn ends. Place your items and resources in your backpack, and discard anything that can not fit. If you can fulfill a patron's order, turn in the crafted items, and place the patron face up in front of you. You immediately gain victory points as indicated on the card, and the ability described on the card takes effect. After that you draw two new patron cards, and discard cards out of your hand down to three patron cards.
And that is the basics of the game in a nutshell! Quick, easy and straightforward. Game play theoretically moves pretty quickly, and an entire game can be played in as little as about 20 minutes. The game is fun, fast, and palatable to a wide audience.
This game is a game that is playable for a wide range of ages and backgrounds, and speaks to the geek in all of us. If you're looking for a sort of intermediate level game to take the next step in introducing your non-gaming friends to the wide world of gaming, this could easily fill that role.
This is a simple game, with plenty of replay value. The art lends itself well to the subject matter, and helps to establish the feel of the game. The stickered dice are a nice idea, but I wonder how they will hold up over the course of time. Having the second set of stickers should however be enough to hold up until the inevitable expansion! (and sources tell me, it is coming)
“The World’s End”
Well, well, well what do we have here? Could this be my inaugural film post on the Dungeon Crawlers Blog? If you said yes, you would be correct you may now have a cookie. I thought long and hard about what I wanted my first post to be, the guys here at DCR have been so great to me that I knew I needed to really come up with a flick that would be epic, and loved by all. A movie that the entirety of geekdom could embrace, one that screamed “Look at me, I’m AWESOME!” Luckily for me, and by me I mean you, I was able to catch a showing of the The World’s End last night, and let me tell you what. It was great, it had everything that we’ve come to expect from a Wright/Pegg script with Wright’s direction.
I’m going to try something different with this review and will be breaking it up into three distinct parts; the three that I feel best encompass the film. I’ll do my best to leave out all spoilers, not because I’m worried you might hate me but because I know my friends will hate me and I’ll never hear the end of it.
The three main points as seen by Ben:
They might not make sense to you now, but this is my review and I can get away with pretty much anything I want here so “ha!” So when I say “comedy” what I am referring to are the laughs, and when we think about who is behind this movie we are expecting big ones. The “action” is pretty self-explanatory, Edgar Wright more than proved that he could film an action flick with Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs The World and he didn’t slouch here either. Now when we get to “heart” I’m more talking about how the movie affected me, how I felt during and after. All decent films have one thing in common, they all made you feel something, whether it was good or bad that doesn’t matter. And the really good ones have you talking about it for hours afterwards. Being a millennium has its perks one of which is the Facebook Group Chat feature, I’ve been involved in a chat that is going on about 12000+ individual messages completely dedicated to this great art and this where I am able to discuss the truly great movies, well there and now here.
The World’s End is funny; there is no other way to put it. You can tell the actors had a great time making it, and why wouldn’t they? The majority have been great friends for years popping up in each other’s projects time and time again. And I’m okay with that because it works, they have chemistry and that’s what counts. In the movie you’ll see that in bunches, Pegg’s “Gary King” character is great, and it’s even better to see him in a silly role again, one that he got to just have fun with. Frost had a chance to play against type instead of the lovable buffoon he got a chance to be the straight-laced everyman and it worked beautifully. I approve whole-heartedly.
Action: Were you as impressed with the fights in Scott Pilgrim as I was? Then you’re gonna love this one, the fights were well choreographed, and fun to watch. Which is all you can really ask for in a movie like this. Nick Frost does shine in his role, and is worth a viewing just watch him kick some ass. Go see it now, actually you should probably stop reading here and go see it now. Just bookmark this page, hop in the car, head to over to your theater of choice (we all have one), walk in and politely ask the theater attendant which theater you’re in, and then promptly sprint to your seat. All settled? Good, we’ll talk soon.
Waiting… Waiting… Waiting… Waiting… Waiting… Waiting… Waiting… Waiting… Waiting… Waiting…
There now don’t you feel better? You’ve seen the movie, you understand the hype and you’re excited to finish this article. From here we’re going to talk about “heart.” You saw it; you know what I’m talking about. At its center the movie is about friendship and growing old, Ideas that we can all relate to ones that a lot of us are still worried about. I don’t want to get too much into this section because I would rather you see it for yourself.