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Board Game Review: UFO Alarm

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June 26, 2020
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Quadropolis Board Game Review

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Michael Barnes
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Oceans Board Game - Review

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Masters of the Night Coming to Retail

NEW and Upcoming Games
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What ROLE-PLAYING have you been doing?

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25 Mar 2020 18:51 #308590 by Michael Barnes
Aha, yes, I see that now. Even set up macros for it. I’m learnin’!

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25 Mar 2020 23:07 #308593 by dysjunct
One of my players accidentally rolled a d225 the other night. Didn’t count as a crit.

Roll20 can do a ton of stuff and there’s a learning curve for sure. I’ve managed to learn how to do various maps and handouts that I can switch to and reveal piecemeal, and that’s enough for me. The next step would be doing full on tactical movement and making the maps snap to a 5’x5’ grid, but I don’t think the juice is worth the squeeze on that.

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25 Mar 2020 23:38 #308595 by Michael Barnes
Yeah, I bought a B2 map set on DTRPG that was supposed to snap to the grid but...it is just too much of a fuss. When we played, we just used the map to show relative distances and used a single token to move the party around. Switched to a little generic dungeon floor grid to do the more detailed combat. We also used the rulers to measure distances and that worked really well actually.

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26 Mar 2020 21:28 #308624 by san il defanso
Lots of Roll20 here too. In addition to my normal 5e group that meets here normally (we switched to Roll20 for that) I also have started a group with my friends from TX. We played a 5e one-shot last week, but this week I ran a game of Old School Essentials with them using Dyson's Delve, which is a free compact mega-dungeon from Dyson's Maps, if you're familiar with that site. That group will continue every other week, switching off with a game of Monster of the Week.

I only want to roleplay right now, so this is a nice set-up.
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26 Mar 2020 22:43 #308626 by Shellhead
That Discord group that I played with once a few weeks ago hasn't met since. First they canceled a session because two people had to go to a funeral. Then they canceled a session because the same two people came back sick. Hopefully not coronavirus, but they're in Florida.
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27 Mar 2020 11:16 #308637 by Brewmiester
We were playing a session of Savage Worlds on Roll20 last night when Matt got the message that one of his uncles has tested positive and is showing some symptoms.

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28 Mar 2020 18:32 #308667 by Sagrilarus
DnD 2nd Edition with my three boys, my best bud and his daughter, and another friend, via Zoom in three locations. A quickie I threw together on short notice that worked very well over the live meeting interface. Just a shade of lag, we had everyone up on the big screen TV at our place.

The one oddity was that the camera on my laptop only showed black and white on Zoom. I think my laptop's camera has a wonked setting.

We'll do it again soon. They managed to take over control of the longboat from their viking captors when the kraken attacked, scared off the kraken by punching it square in the eye (natural 20!) and rowing it to a small island a distance off by picking out a lantern with infravision on the horizon. Next up -- the secret treasure lair of the vikings! Plenty or treasure, absolutely no danger. What could possibly go wrong?
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28 Mar 2020 19:00 #308668 by Brewmiester
Part 2 of Death in Luxor last night using CoC 7th, Roll20, and Google Hangouts for voice chat. My character, Barnabas Greenwald, failed his INT check when the lesser shoggoth showed up so I didn't faint or get amnesia like two of the other characters. We wouldn't have defeated it if one of the characters didn't burn out the lightning gun he had. As it was Barnabas nearly died when a tentacle hit him for all but 1 of his hit points! A quick trip to the hospital then on to the dig site. When we stopped the sesion we were getting sealed in the map room.
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29 Mar 2020 11:23 #308673 by dysjunct
Casual session on Google Hangouts last night. We ended our last DCC session a little late and didn’t level up the surviving 0-level PCs. So I walked everyone through the process. One player had done it before and didn’t need help; two had leveled up PCs in 5e but not DCC, and one had never done it before. I also started an Obsidian Portal wiki to keep track of characters in case someone can’t make it and wants another player to take over that week:

dungeoncrawlinfools.obsidianportal.com/

... if anyone wants to check it out.

Then I did my favorite trick of giving the players three hooks at the end of the night and asking which one they wanted to check out. Gives them choice but I only have to prep the one they opt for.
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31 Mar 2020 11:37 #308719 by Jackwraith

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05 Apr 2020 23:52 - 06 Apr 2020 00:03 #308935 by dysjunct
Next DCC session. We had an interim session for leveling up characters and shooting the shit; last night was the first session for the now level 1 PCs!

The PCs spat out of the underground river (at the end of Sailors) in their foundering longship and drifted to the majestic city of Punjar, Jewel of the Glittering Coast. As is my wont, at the end of the last session I presented them with three plot hooks, plus an option to do anything they wanted and could agree on. They chose to check out the magician who was looking to hire some stalwarts for an unspecified job.

In the ensuing week, I became convinced I lost my goddamn mind. The three plot hooks were from legit, published DCC scenarios, which I skimmed before the leveling-up session. I have about 30 different modules. But when I went to prep, I simply could not find one where the hook was a magician trying to hire anyone. I read through everything multiple times. No dice.

So I improvised and found a module where it would make sense for a magician to point a crew of rapscallions towards the job. Settled on Tower of the Black Pearl. The idea is that an undersea tower has breached the surface due to an astrological alignment that takes place once every ten years. In the tower somewhere is the titular Black Pearl. If the PCs bring it back then they get 25gp and anything (other than the Black Pearl) that they find within.

Two enormously fun things:

1. Roleplaying the meeting with the magician. DCC encourages zaniness from square one. You don’t wait until you’re level 20 to consort with chaos and outer gods, it happens right away. So the magician shook hands with all seven PCs simultaneously (despite having, upon immediate inspection, the normal number of hands), and he also had more than the usual number of pupils in his eyes, unless you were looking at him. The magician rented a house in the upscale district of Punjar, so the PCs got to try and be classy, unsuccessfully.

2. The PCs had to maneuver a skiff out to the undersea tower. Due to the confluence of astronomical energies, the tower will be above the tides a mere eight hours. None of the PCs had any skill in piloting a seafaring vessel of any kind, and so there was general fuckwittery and nonsense as they tried to get a boat going in the right direction under time pressure.

A great deal of my best roleplaying memories come from ostensibly heroic PCs being required to do totally mundane things. Escort a bratty princeling. Build a temple (interviewing and hiring a bunch of skilled craftsmen who clearly have low opinions of the PCs’ competence, yet whom the PCs cannot afford to offend). And yes, row a boat in the right direction. They had a map of the coral reefs but neglected to buy a sextant so there was a whole lot of general foolishness. To my credit I did not cue up “Yackity Sax” while they failed roll after roll of basic maritime ability.

Eventually they made it to the top of the tower — the only part above the waves — only to find a band of pirates had made it there first. Competitors? Hired by their own patron, hedging his bets? Or by someone else? No matter, there is only one answer and that is death. The PCs dispatch the pirates in short order and start descending into the tower. There is a room, full of guttering candles, and a huge book on a pedestal with many names in it. Two of the PCs’ names are written within, but the other five are not. Curious.

Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]


They left the room, heading downstairs, and found a room of portals with sigils carved into the floor in front of them. One of the PCs gashes his own arm and fills a sigil with blood, activating a portal. They step through and .... SCENE.

We will continue next week.
Last edit: 06 Apr 2020 00:03 by dysjunct.
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06 Apr 2020 10:33 #308948 by Shellhead
My friend's Discord D&D campaign resumed on Saturday. I forgot about the time zone difference and logged in one hour late. Though I could see five other people logged in, I couldn't figure out how to join the game. I fiddled around with it for a bit, then wandered off to make lunch and take a nap. I think that Discord is kind of a crap interface, but their group is comfortable with it because they have been playing this way since sometime last year. To be honest, I was kind of relieved. I enjoy DMing for a role-playing group, but as a player, I tend to get sleepy. Even when I was in college, I tended to lose focus and get sleepy if I was just a player. The one exception is one-shot events at conventions. Due to the limited time slot (often 4 hours), people stop wasting time and get right to the action and adventure.
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08 Apr 2020 23:09 - 08 Apr 2020 23:25 #309075 by Sagrilarus
Another round of 2nd edition DnD and my time in the DM slot is done! Good session, much more killing, they bit off more than they could chew but they pulled it off.

So I have to pick a 3rd level-ish character to join them next time. I have a three-ring binder of characters I've created and played, some going back to 1977, dozens of them and I found 5 that fit the bill. It's kind of remarkable to look through four decades of alter-egos to choose from and at times I don't recall who they were or when I played them last.

But there's usually something on their sheet that tips me off. In Mary Amanda McBride's case, "Molly", it's her boots, Elven Boots written up as "Damn fine looking, incredibly comfortable boots, low rise with a small heel." That one line of text tugged me back to when I last played her 20 years back. She suddenly came to life again, 5'10" with a blue feather in an aussie hat and a matched pair of curved blades for florentine fighting. She's only 2nd level but has extra pips because she's a ranger, and a crazy healing magic item, though limited charges left. A bird watcher, and a bit overconfident.

In DnD the key is to create a character instead of a machine. Whether it's a cavalier that's having cash flow issues or a cleric thief nicknamed Friar Grazie there's a need to make them different from yourself and different from each other so that you have footing on how to play them, and so that the DM has the hooks he or she needs to add the more subtle flavors to the gumbo. That's what makes the game hum, something boardgames can't really do in spite of dozens of authors giving it a shot.

So these little one liners, these little flourishes are priceless. A character is the amalgam of their experiences and it's important to capture that one the paper along with all the numbers and nomenclature. If I got to start again I'd write even more of them, but I'm happy for the ones I have. Tonights review of five characters was as much fun as playing them.
Last edit: 08 Apr 2020 23:25 by Sagrilarus.
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08 Apr 2020 23:22 - 09 Apr 2020 13:36 #309077 by Gary Sax
Definitely. I think you can approach it from a numbers direction, but you'll have more fun with a sketch with like 3-4 things that define them. You don't want to do the things Barnes is bitching about, creating an elaborate backstory with a million details to do Real Roleplaying, but doing a numbers character sucks too.
Last edit: 09 Apr 2020 13:36 by Gary Sax.
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09 Apr 2020 12:41 #309097 by Sagrilarus
Yeah, the role playing IS the backstory. You write it as you play. You just need a couple of nuggets, a few key pieces that paint the broad strokes of the picture.

Often you can't write the character's history until you've played them for a bit. If it doesn't grow organically it isn't going to work out.

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