Sunday, May 29, 2011

Free RPG Day - June 18th!

Free RPG day is coming up, it's going to be a hectic day for us, kung fu practice for the San Diego County Fair in addition to covering FREE RPG DAY!!

There's some great stuff on the list this year too:

  • Amarillo Design Bureau
    Prime Directive Adventure "Starship Aldo" (both d20 & GURPS)
  • BlackWyrm Games
    XDM Adventure: "Laser Squid Nemesis"
  • Blue Panther
    Dice Tower
  • Chessex
    Commerative Dice For Store Owner
  • Eden Studios
    All Flesh Must Be Eaten Quickstart & Adventure
  • Exile Game Studios
    Hollow Earth Expedition Quickstart & Adventure
  • Fantasy Flight Games
     Black Crusade Quickstart and Adventure
  • Flying Buffalo
    Tunnels & Trolls Solo Adventure, "Rescue Mission"
  • Goodman Games
    DCC RPG Quickstart
  • Green Ronin
    DragonAge Quickstart
  • Paizo
    "We Be Goblins!" Pathfinder Adventure
  • Paradigm Concepts
    Arcanis RPG Quickstart & Adventure
  • Pinnacle
     Savage Worlds Quickstart & Adventure, titled "The Wild Hunt"
  • Q-Workshop
      Unique Elven-themed Dice
  • Stone Tablet Games
    Aspect Quickstart Adventure
  • Troll Lord Games
    Amazing Adventures Quickstart
  • Valkyrie Games
    Stellar Horizons Quickstart
  • White Wolf Publishing
    World of Darkness Quickstart
  • Wizards of the Coast
    "Domain of Dread: Histhaven" D&D 4th Edition Supplement to the box set "The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond"
  • Mayfair
    Settlers of Catan: Catanimal Variant rules (single page paper insert)
With Pair-a-dice games only allowing 1 per person, there's going to be some serious choice making to be made. Luckily a lot of the stuff will be available as free PDF downloads from their respective owners also.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Store Spotlight - Pair-A-Dice Games

The pictures for the store spotlight have been posted on the Facebook account.

Pair-A-Dice Games is located just off I-78 in Vista, in the In-n-Out Burger complex.

Pair-a-Dice will be the only store, in San Diego, with the Free RPG Day swag on June 18th (according to the Free RPG Day website at time of writing).

The store has puzzles, board games, role-playing games, CCGs, CMGs, and much much more. Rob has been expanding his used book section and it has now expanded into a second set of shelves, if you're looking for out of print games, there's a good chance Pair-a-dice has what you're looking for.

With a game room that fits 5 tables, you can usually find some sort of game going on in the evenings. From Magic the Gathering and  Monsterpocalypse, to Pathfinder Society and RPGA, it's the only game in North County. Check the calender on their  Event Calender.

Within the next couple weeks Pair-a-Dice is moving down to the end of the building in a brand new 3800+ sq.ft. store, complete with private gaming room, and what's to be the largest game room in San Diego (per Rob's claim.) Exciting times are coming to the San Diego Game Scene!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Interface Zero review

            This RPG uses the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition, which is required to play. No additional material is required, though some new expansions are being released, such as Zeeks (the psionic supplement), and the recently released Boston world hot spot book. Produced by GunMetal Games, in print and PDF format.

First Glance:
This is cyberpunk pure and simple, from the cover to the interior artwork, sleek, dirty, deadly. A Quick glance shows it’s an almost 300 page Hardcover book; black & white interior, mid-grade paper, with a solid binding.

Main Review:
As a setting for Savage Worlds, it requires the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition to play. 

The timeline is 2088, the first chapter is a fairly detailed timeline of how the dystopic world of Interface Zero came to pass. Approximately 80% of the population have a TAP installed, a cybernetic interface that allows you to see the hyper-reality which exists almost every where. The holographic screens in Minority Report are an example of what this reality might look like. Everything is wired in to this system, keypads, billboards, etc, certain areas might have a themed view, for example, a high end bar that uses the TAP to look like you’re in Valhalla, being served by Valkyrie.

The setting is vast, spanning the entire Earth in addition to the new galactic colonies. The main creative writer must have done his research as to future technologies, from the virtual overlay in the world to the rise of arcologies (a cyberpunk trope), this setting has it all, hacking, virtual worlds, even armed pizza delivery subscription. Races span from the plain vanilla human, the genetically engineered Human 2.0, an android, genetically engineered hybrids, and in true Blade Runner tradition, simulacra.

The great addition to the rules in this setting is the Cybernetics. Normally in Savage Worlds, a cybernetic upgrade would cost you an advance, which is fine if you want to keep them balanced with other powers. But with all the cyber-reapers out there, you’d lose an advance if someone stole your chrome. In Interface Zero, each piece of chrome increases your chances of cyber-trauma, depending on the quality of your chrome. If you’re a decked out Ronin sporting copious amounts of gutterware, your life expectancy will tend to be…short yet costly. The basis of the rules is that on a vigor roll you will have to roll cybertrauma if you roll a natural one or snake-eyes, that triggers a cybertrauma roll, which can result in various consequences, from nothing to massive feedback that causes incapacitation and breaks a piece of cyberware.

One of my personal favorites in the game is that MMORPGs are built-in, allowing you to play other games inside the game itself, perhaps the mercs have to defeat a legendary gunfighter in Deadlands to get his silver plated pistol which actually has information coded into it, yet the only way to defeat the gunfighter is to hack the system to find out his weakness.

Artwork: Excellent. Black & white art that evokes perfect imagery of this sleek yet dirty future.

Replay Value: Excellent, as an RPG, replay is typically good. The setting provides enough information to provide for hundreds of games all over the world.

Comprehension Level: Excellent. The additional rules are well written and easy to understand.

Humor: Some humor, but it’s a dark and dangerous setting, so it’s more dark humor.

Game Mastering: Excellent. There’s a 35 page game master section, which gives the GM excellent tips on running the system in addition to numerous tables to keep your players on their toes, and waiting for the next big score.

Family Rating: PG-13/R, This is a dark setting as I said, it deals with drugs, slavery, prostitution and even darker criminal activity. While you could run a toned down campaign for younger players, I don’t recommend the book for the innocent.

Price Tag:
This will set you back $39.99 MSRP for Print or PDF (price at time of writing is $11.20 on RPGNow). Zeeks is normally $8.99 ($6.29) and Boston: Broken Cradle of Liberty $9.99 ($6.99). In addition a free Adventure “The Prodigal” is available for download.   A Second adventure, The Package, is available for $1.25 ($ .88)

Value: Well worth the money, with all the information contained, and the rule additions, this setting is a great value.

Overall Rating: EPIC! If you enjoy cyberpunk settings, this is an excellent one.
Interface Zero (Savage Worlds)

Monday, May 16, 2011

San Diego Game Store Spotlight

The new Store spotlight feature will be uploaded this week, with the first store being Pair-a-Dice Games in Vista. Also the boys interview with owner Rob North will be posted with it as well.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Gaslight Gathering Redux

 Photos from Gaslight Gathering are being posted to the Epic RPG Blog Facebook page. (easier to view them there.)

We had a good time, no real interview prospects, but Sean and Ian were great game runners, getting people to play Kill Doctor Lucky, Save Doctor Lucky, Munckin Booty and Munchkin. 

I got to play a couple demo games of Dystopian Wars in addition to playing games with the boys. I also learner how to play Red Dragon Inn!! That was fun, I was GOG! the half-ogre...and I nearly won...but me drank too much and passed out!

Dystopian wars is a steampunk land/naval wargame in an epic scale. Produced by Spartan Games, it is a very balanced game which relies more on tactics than luck, though luck definitely has it's day, as is uses and exploding dice mechanic.Still even with good rolling, poor placement and tactics can really mean the difference between a close game and a blow-out. Dystopian Wars

When you can support your Local Game Stores!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gaslight Gathering

In 13 or so hours I should be stepping into the world of Steampunk by the Sea...can't wait to see it.

San Diego's first Steampunk convention.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Review: Dresden Files RPG Volume 1: Your Story

This RPG uses the FATE system. It is a licensed product based upon the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.

First Glance: First thing I see when I look at the Dresden Files RPG is a HUGE book, thick covers, thick pages, and in full color! The artwork is decent and full color it definitely evokes images from Jim Butcher’s iconic series The Dresden Files. Just looking at the artwork you can easily pick out scenes from the various books. The game is written as though Billy the Werewolf is creating a role-playing game, in the Dresdenverse, and Billy, Harry, and Bob are making comments about the book as though they were critiquing a final draft.

Main Review:
            If you’re familiar with FATE, you will immediately recognize the aspects and skill trees. If you’re unfamiliar with FATE, in a nutshell, the system uses simple skills trees and fudge dice, story-telling is encouraged by both players and game masters through use of FATE points, and the aspect system. Aspects cut both ways, as the player can use an aspect to get bonuses, even reroll a poor result, while the GM can do similar with his own NPCs or he may compel the players into action by offering FATE points as enticement to play into the negative side of an aspect. A good example of an aspect that everyone would recognize, Indiana Jones; “Why’d it have to be snakes?” Now the player could use the aspect to keep his cool by spending a Fate chip, or the GM could compel the aspect and perhaps make him freeze-up unable to move while the trap closes in on him.

            What sets the Dresden Files RPG apart from other FATE system books is the refresh system. The refresh system lets pure mortals like Karrin Murphy adventure beside a full-blown Wizard like Harry Dresden. Part of character creation is choosing a template, whether you want to be a Knight of the Cross, a Wizard, or just a plain old cop, there’s a template to satisfy your desire. These different power levels allow mortals more FATE chips, for example Harry only has 1 refresh point, thus he starts with 1 fate point to use typically. Karrin, has a few nice stunts, and extra FATE chips to get her through the rough times. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than a wizard.

            A big part of character creation is city creation; this part of the game creates threats and the faces of the city, and comes before actual creation of the characters, since some characters might be imagined in this phase. It’s best to play in your own city, as you know all the local haunts, sinister locations, etc. Say you don’t like the Mayor of your town in real life, perhaps in Dresden Files he’s a Red Court Vampire. The cold-hearted landlord downtown, maybe he’s so cold-hearted because he’s actually a member of the Winter Court. Playing in your own backyard can be very rewarding because the land marks are familiar. In San Diego imagine all the cool locations, San Diego Zoo, Belmont Park, Scripps Aquarium, Black’s Beach, UCSD, SDSU; now think about assigning aspects, is the location a threat or theme.

            In general, this game is EPIC! It bridges the gap between hard simulationist and pure story-telling. The rules are fairly easy to understand, and incorporate all you need to run your own games in the Dresdenverse. If you’re not a fan of Harry Dresden you can still play in the game just fine. This is in my Top 5 Game systems list.

Artwork: Excellent. (Good for Quality, EPIC for content.) Parental advisory, there is some artwork which is a bit racy for children.

Replay Value: Excellent, as an RPG, replay is typically good, Dresden Files is no exception.

Comprehension Level: Excellent. The rules are fairly easy to understand, the most difficult rules are rules which only the GM really needs to know the mechanics for, such as the Sight. The magic system while slightly complex is easy to understand once you’ve played it a few times. You do need to read the entire book before play, skimming won't work even for experienced GMs.

Humor: Great. There is some great humor in the book, the interaction you see between Harry, Bob and Billy, is right in line with the wise cracking wizard for hire.

Game Mastering: Excellent. Fairly Easy system to run, prep time isn’t too lengthy, with easy to create maps divided into zones instead of tactical maps, this means less prep time. The system allows for EPIC! Storytelling with lots of flexibility; the one drawback being that the monsters are in Volume 2: Our World.

Play level: While the system isn't as complex as Pathfinder, it's not as simple as Savage Worlds, it falls somewhere between the two. It's a mid-range, possible for newbie gamers to play but running would be difficult.

Family Rating: PG-13, As the Dresdenverse can be quite brutal and scary, parental guidance is suggested, while my own kids aren’t going to read the Dresden Files any time soon, I’d let them play this game.

Price Tag:
Volume 1: Your Story. This is required to play and will set you back $49.99 MSRP.

Value: Excellent, As nice as Black Library books, only $10 cheaper.

Overall Rating: EPIC! If you want to run Dresden Files, this is it. Conversion to other backgrounds isn’t too difficult either.