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Bots Up Board Game Review

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Short Cut to Remote Gaming Forum (29 Aug 2020)

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04 Feb 2020 22:36 #306849 by Shellhead
Call of Cthulhu 7th is visually appealing, but they made some major changes to the rules that add complexity and get in the way of the role-playing.

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04 Feb 2020 22:41 #306850 by themothman421
I think I've actually convinced 2-3 other friends to try out DCC, provided I read the rules/DM/etc. Maybe I'll order Sailors and try that for the funnel session.
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05 Feb 2020 08:46 #306855 by dysjunct

themothman421 wrote: I think I've actually convinced 2-3 other friends to try out DCC, provided I read the rules/DM/etc. Maybe I'll order Sailors and try that for the funnel session.


I recommend getting a PDF of Sailors from DriveThruRPG. That way you can print it out and mark it up to your heart’s content. Cheaper too.
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05 Feb 2020 13:54 #306867 by Rliyen
Two weeks ago, we ran Battlestar Not Galactica and it was the second episode (of six) in the final season. Since it’s been a while since I updated, this will bring you to speed.

Previously, in the second season, the CMO (Dr. Lara Kale) of the Orthrus died, and found out she was a Cylon. She and Ennea, a Cylon killed early in season one, escaped with one of the Five, creators of the Seven Cylons for the Cylon Empire. He was mortally wounded but imparted, via tactile interface, his memories to Dr. Kale, begging her to “find them and tell them the truth”. Kale and Ennea escape in a Heavy Raider and eventually making it back to the Fleet, where they are treated as prisoners of war.

Number One (President Van Uden) and his counterpart Four (a colonial marine named Meredith), are shocked at the recent turn of events, and scramble to silence both of them before they divulge anything. It's partially successful, after a standoff on the Orthrus flight deck with Meredith and her anti-Cylon crew trying to escape. Meredith summarily executes Ennea, but is distracted by the klaxon of a Cylon attack, and a sniper takes her out. When one of the marines moves to return Kale to the brig, Commander Maxwell stays the order and tells Kale to get to sick bay as CMO, as there were bound to be wounded coming in.

The Fleet escapes, and Maxwell and Kale finally come to terms that they though they are completely different, they love each other despite that. At the end of the final episode, she tells Maxwell that she knows all the identities of the Cylons in the Fleet.

Episode 1 of the final season started with the rounding up of the Cylons. Dr. Fuoka, CMO pro-tem, and Captain Leslie Farrell, CAG, are brought into custody. Colonel Orphelia Hardin (captain of the Bellerophon) and Mark Stolar (failed mutineer who's been in the brig since season one!) are brought in next. Sister Marion, the Gemenese Sister on the medical ship is brought to the Orthrus. Finally, Erica Venson (a reporter on the Midsummer’s Dream) and Captain Kirkland (captain of the Taniwha) are brought in. Venson’s detention was especially hard because she was brought in by her boyfriend, the XO Spansel.

Unfortunately, Van Uden knew the jig was up. When they came to arrest him, he feigned compliance, then promptly killed the marines, took their weapons and proceeded to paint the Quorum in blood. He grabbed his VP, Jack Ingram, and escaped in the confusion.

All of the remaining Cylons were brought to the ready room under armed guard. Kale interfaces with Stolar, who falls to the floor in convulsions when trying to incorporate his fake life with his real one (and all the torture he went though at the hands of Meredith). Spansel draws his weapon and nearly blows Stolar away, when he is chastised by Maxwell, who tells the marines and Spansel to leave.

When Stolar recovers, he communally interfaces with Venson, Kirkland, Hardin, and Marion. As it turns out, they were a research team from Earth, where a similar war between creators and created was stopped at the 12th hour. After hostilities were abated, they were sent out to search for the Twelve Colonies, which were mere legend and myth. They found the Cylons first, and saw that the war would prove extinction to both species; so they proffered resurrection technology and humanoid models to the Cylons. They agreed and an armistice was signed.

However, the Five were as careful as they could with interacting with their “children”. They taught them that major decisions needed consensus, and that they would not interfere with their decisions. The Five hoped that their models would show the Cylons that war was not the answer and that they needed to sort out their own destiny. That wasn’t the case. Three models wanted to resume the war (1 - Van Uden, 4 - Meredith, 7 - “Joker” Hayes), three did not (2 - Ennea, 3 – Dr. Ken Fuoka, and 6 – Leslie “Sunshine” Ferrell) and one abstained (5- Kale), as she wanted more information than the little they had.

Getting no help from the Five, the Ones allowed that a single Five be sent to the Colonies to gather more information to make a decision. They also barred any of the other Cylons from travelling to the Colonies. Of course, neither side complied and sent their own copies to see what the Colonies were like.

Kale was only supposed to be there for three years, but at the end, she never returned. This left the Seven in a quandary. They could not move forward with either decision, which infuriated the pro-war Cylons. That frustration led to the betrayal of the Five.

Van Uden addressed the Five, citing that he would consider a meeting with the humans at the Armistice Station. The Five, overjoyed at the change, agreed to come with One to the station. What they did not realize was that Van Uden contaminated all their clone pools, both at the Cylon homeworld and a planet that the Five temporarily stopped at to make surveys. As a contingency, the Ones harvested multiple copies of the Fives and had them Boxed, so they could be interrogated by Meredith for the Resurrection technology and for any other information the Fives held out on.

When confronted by the betrayal at the Station, the Ones explained that they were frustrated that they could not reach a decision because of a single Five who refused to come home, despite the Ones vainly pleading to the Fives to intervene. Prior to executing the Five, he told them that he’d tell the Empire that they were ambushed by the traitorous Colonials. When presented with the “news” that the Five’s resurrection pools were contaminated beyond repair, One would “reluctantly” resume hostilities with the Colonies. And no one would be the wiser.

After the meeting, the Cylons were free to go back to their lives, with Maxwell making an announcement to the entire Fleet that if anyone harmed the now identified Cylons, they would be punished harshly.

The integration did not go well. . Sunshine’s resumption of CAG was halted after the majority of the pilots refused to serve underneath him. This impasse was mediated when Spansel, the former CAG, temporarily resumed the duties. After the CAP was complete, Maxwell’s solution to the problem was to promote Sunshine to the XO position and demote Spansel back to the CAG position. Dr. Fuoka was attacked by three Orthrus crewmembers and the crewmen were summarily executed. Hardin was relieved by her first officer, not out of spite, but as an empathic measure; since the rest of the crew did not want to be ordered by a Cylon. Sister Marion’s and Kirkland’s return to their respective ships were better received. Stolar ended up on the Dream, having no other place to go. Kale remained CMO

Venson lost her reporting gig on the Dream after the reveal and was later confronted by Spansel, who went full on anti Cylon on her, doubting her love for him as real and getting into a heated argument with her. Stolar tried to calm things down, and Spansel assaulted him. Afterwards, Maxwell orders Spansel to stay away from all the Cylons, unless absolutely necessary. He also notifies Spansel that he will be demoted from CAG to lieutenant, and warns that he crosses the line again, things won’t be pleasant.

Now, you’re up to date. Next post will be the summary of the second episode.
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05 Feb 2020 14:23 #306868 by Michael Barnes
What rules are you using for that? Sounds like a lot of fun.

Yeah, I am totally NOT into the preciousness of characters and folks crafting these intricate, detailed alter-egos. I know lots of people love that and that is exactly why they play D&D, and I think that the drive toward that kind of play has opened the doors for a lot of diversity and representation. You can’t not celebrate that, and honor that a lot of players are getting a lot out of the game as it is commonly and popularly played today.

But when you’ve got a player that has invested so much time, energy, creativity, and emotion into this 8th level Tiefling Warlock………do you want to be the DM that kills her? Do you want the game’s narrative to be shaped around not only her very specific, very clearly defined character along with 3-4 others? At that point, I feel like the game becomes very narcissistic and ego-driven and that just doesn’t suit how I like to play.

One thing I adore about DCC is the “funnel”. In Sailors on the Starless Sea and other funnel adventures, everybody makes like 3-4 zero level characters. They are nothing. I love that you can roll on a background table and it tells what they are taking with them into the dungeon based on their pre-adventure career. So you get these pitiful bakers, butchers, candlestick makers, and so forth heading out to give what-for to the Beastmen messing with their village. TPKs are common. But the survivors go on to level 1 and an adventuring career, having made it through the tryouts. And they have developed a base for their narrative without someone turning up at your table with a notebook filled with backstory and lore they wrote out for them.

I’ve adapted this to our B/X-OSE game. They all have two level 1 characters and I’ve told them that this is a no punches pulled, all die in the open game. So if they die, there ain’t no death saves

Re: DCC- yeah, it’s a lot easier than it looks with that giant book. It’s a lot like the old ICE Rolemaster in a way, with its glorious critical tables. It’s really neat how each spell has varying effects…both good and bad. It’s really unpredictable. The adventures, at least the 7-8 I have, are all spectacular. It is all definitely more Expedition to the Barrier Peaks than anything currently offered by 5e. The illustrations and layouts are just amazing, the maps are so freaking great. My main group isn’t playing DCC but have been tempted to port a couple of things over to B/X, it’s not that hard to do. Note that there is a good funnel adventure built right into the rulebook, The Portal Under the Stars.

There’s a really cool thing going on right now called Zinequest…all of these indie RPG writers are putting out small Kickstarter campaigns (IE using it as it is supposed to have been used) for little 20-30 page punk rock style zines. Adventures, settings, random material. Some great looking stuff. I’ve backed a few myself.

Some really neat modern old school stuff to check out:

The Dark of Hot Springs Island – This is a massive, intricate hexcrawl that is kind of like a cross between Apocalypse Now and Scarface with Slaanesh-y dirtbag Elves, a preening Efreet, a fomenting Ogre revolt, mermaids, and a giant crab that spills thousands of babies all over the island, and all kinds of weirdness. It’s two gorgeous books, one of which is an in-game Field Guide you give to the players. The island has its own ecology – unique monsters, plants, and factions.

Operation: Unfathomable – The guy that wrote this Underdark-y book also did the comic book style artwork and it is just fantastic. It’s super gonzo, along the lines of DCC. There is a time-traveling bear with a pistol, a cult where its initiates decapitate themselves and replace their heads with antennaes. There’s also an ancient beetle civilization, and the PCs get down there by climbing down a 1000 foot lader. This one also has a neat player’s guide with comics, a special class, and other fun stuff.

Lorn Song of the Bachelor – Super art-y, sophisticated, and deeply weird. If you, like me, have often said “why isn’t there more fantasy based on non-European/non-white sources”…here you go. Quit looking for that in board games. This is based on a Malaysian folk tale about a giant white crocodile. The main dungeon is the crocodile’s body, and what happens to the body impacts the land. It’s beautiful, eerie, and very well-written.

The Hole in the Oak – This is from Necrotic Gnome, the guy that does OSE. It’s a super fun, super old fashioned underground adventure packed with lots of opportunities for silly, surreal play that feels very much in line with those earliest D&D books. My kids are in this now and they love it- my daughter was delighted when she gambled with some deep gnomes and won a cinnamon bun that makes the eater really, really happy. But right now they are about to be sacrificed to an evil tree stump.

Stonehell Dungeon – Only available on Lulu, this is a megadungeon written by Michael Curtis, who also does some of the better DCC stuff. This book blew my mind. It’s an old fashioned hack and slash dungeon crawl with zero story save what you bring to it, but it’s page after page of one-page dungeon levels. Everything you need is on a two page spread prefaced by a couple of pages about what is going on in that level. You could just roll up a party of scrubs, flip to a level, and have an evening of old fashioned D&D fun.

Gardens of Ynn – A brilliant, Alice in Wonderland/Edward Gorey influenced setting that procedurally generates adventures in a mysterious, extraplanar garden. It’s almost all tables, which is something I have come to absolutely love. There’s a full table of puddings that you may encounter. And by puddings, I mean desserts.

Best Left Buried – This is a separate system than B/X, but very much in the old style. There are only three stats, magic is super low, and the system is designed to make your crypt diggers suffer. It reminds quite a lot of Darkest Dungeon. One of the really cool things is that there is no bestiary. The Doomsayer (DM) is tasked with making up hideous monsters and letting the party name them. Lots of afflictions, injuries, and other miseries.

Magical Industrial Revolution – A indie alternative to Eberron, a setting that is NOT steampunk. It asks the question, what if magic were industrialized in the way that electricity, power, communications, and so forth in a fantasy metropolis? Answer: the apocalypse.

There is just so much. I’ve been completely blown away by the innovation, imagination, and gameplay elements I’ve seen in this stuff. It makes what is going on in most board games look like bottom of the barrel, late stage failure. This stuff is fearless and fun. All those years “why doesn’t someone do a Gene Wolfe game, why doesn’t someone do a Philip K. Dick game, why doesn’t someone do some kind of different fantasy”…and here it all is. If you really care about deeper, sophisticated and compelling narrative in games, stop looking for it in board games.

Also- I should point out that a long time F:ATtie, Bryce0Lynch, is like the premiere critic of all of this stuff…his blog TenFootPole.org is a huge asset in sorting out what is best in this whole scene.
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05 Feb 2020 15:16 - 05 Feb 2020 15:22 #306869 by Rliyen

Michael Barnes wrote: What rules are you using for that? Sounds like a lot of fun.


It's the BSG RPG made by Margaret Weis Productions back in '07. The rules are simple (Cortex Classic), two die roll (Attribute/Pertinent Skill or Attribute x2 v. target number. Personal combat is pretty lethal. Ship combat can be, but is marred by the rules themselves. There's only ship to ship combat, not mass combat like from the show, so I had to kitbash some MC rules from Bushido to use for the mass combat. There's talk of distance range bands for weapons and movement, which is confusing and bonkers. For example, it takes longer to move from capitol range (think rail cannon range) to long range (out of distance of most if not all weapons) than vice versa.

The game is more or less solid. I say "more or less" because of the problems above and the fact that the editor failed at their job. There's references to rules that were probably in earlier drafts but were removed in later ones. And the fact that it pretty circumscribes you to the Fall of the Colonies, and nothing else. So, you can possibly role-play in Pre-Fall Colonies, the rules really weren't designed for it and you'll have to make it up as you go along.

Albeit I haven't updated it in a while (I promise to do so, eventually), here's the portal to the game

BSO
Last edit: 05 Feb 2020 15:22 by Rliyen.

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05 Feb 2020 15:59 - 05 Feb 2020 16:06 #306870 by Josh Look
The original Cortex system was fun, simple, but very, very swingy. They eventually updated it and managed to iron out some of the more wonky elements and open the system up while keeping it a relatively simple game. It is a very different game, though. I wish they’d been able to port over more of the IPs to the new rules. I think Firefly (which was I was playing) is the only one that made the jump. Still, they managed to grab quite a few awards with both Cortex and Cortex Plus.
Last edit: 05 Feb 2020 16:06 by Josh Look.
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10 Feb 2020 16:24 #306992 by dysjunct

dysjunct wrote: Ran a VOIP of DUNGEON CRAWL CLASSICS for an old group that I mostly haven't seen in about ten years. It was great to reunite. We used Roll20 for the maps and die roller, but used Google Hangouts for the video and audio. (I've had bad experiences with Roll20's native VOIP stuff -- laggy etc.)

Boy howdy was it a blast. I ran the classic Sailors on the Starless Sea 0-level funnel. Lots of weird body horror and fun creepy stuff. Only one PC death, not for lack of trying on my part. It's really about to hit the fan next session.


Second session last night! PCs stormed the tower and fought 6 beastmen plus their giant bull-headed champion. One of the players really started getting into one of his 0-level's lawful alignment, wantonly smashing anything that reeked of Chaos. The other players stood by a little stymied ... but they're going to regret not stepping in -- sometimes you need to fight fire with fire. They are about to
Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]
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10 Feb 2020 16:30 #306993 by dysjunct
Barnes -- you mention Stonehell, which is indeed fantastic; have you seen ANOMALOUS SUBSURFACE ENVIRONMENT? I really loved it; it's like BARRIER PEAKS crossed with (depending on how you emphasize things) Hunter S. Thompson, PK Dick, or Arcade's Murderworld. Really weird with a fantastic custom bestiary that is worth lifting for other games.

And it's Bryce-approved: tenfootpole.org/ironspike/?p=63
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11 Feb 2020 16:15 #307027 by Michael Barnes
Yeah, I have ASE and it’s very cool. I want to get the ASE 2-3 book too. I may run it with my gang in the summer.

Operation: Unfathomable is kind of along those lines too, more Underdark than Barrier Peaks though.

Thinking about picking up Slumbering Ursine Dunes/Fever Dreaming Marlinko next...at least after paying for this mountain of Zinequest stuff.

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12 Feb 2020 00:45 #307046 by quozl
2-3 didn't seem that great to me but I'm not a big fan of clowns.

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12 Feb 2020 11:04 #307062 by Michael Barnes
I saw clowns in the description and was wondering what the deal was because I am most definitely not down to clown. Have you looked at it?

I just backed another Zinequest thing, it has maybe the best title ever- “You Got a Job on the Garbage Barge”.

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12 Feb 2020 12:29 #307064 by dysjunct
The clowns in ASE2 are another faction to deal with. They are ... okay I guess. I’m not into psycho clowns either, but in context I think it’s fine. Once your group goes through ASE1 they’ll need the gonzo level upped a little to maintain the same tone.

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12 Feb 2020 13:28 #307067 by Michael Barnes
Oof...I guess it could be made cool if it’s all Pierrot like clowns or something.

I just got a great little module off Lulu for $4...Hyqueous Vaults. It’s very succinct and cleanly designed with lots of really neat concepts. I especially like that there’s a stream running through the whole thing which opens it up to aquatic shenanigans. Eel-men.

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12 Feb 2020 17:22 #307071 by Michael Barnes
Weird. I got sent two copies of Hyqueous Vaults. If anyone wants it for the cost of shipping ($4), LMK.

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