Importance of Art in RPG’s. This has some other stuff about FATE that you can skip over, but mostly it’s about GURPS and FATE and the issue with ‘generic’ RPG systems and their lack of direction around art. Mythras avoided this by focusing all art in the game on sword and sandal stuff (the base setting). Rob Heinsoo lists his artist for 13th Age as one of the GAME DESIGNERS (Lee Moyer) even though he didn’t do the system design– as the art is a huge part of the game. Think about Exalted 2E vs Exalted 3E for example. 2E is like “what is THAT??” and 3E is like – — ‘oh generic westernized Anime we’ve seen 1000 times before at this point, sans cleavage.’
Remember back when Fantasy Flight was an independent company and tried to go for the Dune license to make games and could not do it– instead making REX? While the engine to REX is the old DUNE board game one, the space kittys and frogs and stuff are a far, far cry from the Sardakar and Fremen of DUNE.
Out of print for close to 40 years now, Avalon Hill’s Dune is one of the best asymmetrical board game experiences you can have and holds up fantastically even today. We played it so many times that we ran through the entire set of player aid pads that came in the box and had to start recycling!
This week it was announced that Galeforce 9 got the license to Dune and will be making board games with it. Great news as they have done some excellent work recently with Sons of Anarchy (still real cheap on Amazon!) and succeeded there DESPITE the game being a licensed property.
Yet the biggest question is there: will Galeforce 9 be able to or choose to resurrect one of the best board games ever created? Will they be working with the original designers (the Cosmic Encounter guys)? Or will they try to make a totally different (and likely inferior) game to the original AH Dune?
While I haven’t played enough games of it to write a review (I never review a game I haven’t played at least 10 times unless it’s like Terrible Swift Sword or Here I Stand which usually can only be played a few times in a lifetime due to length), I’ve enjoyed the sessions of Dungeon Degenerates quite a bit and they are out with their first expansion on Kickstarter. 35$ and look at the cover art…
I headed down to Gencon on nearly a whim and it was pretty good. This means that I haven’t missed a Gencon since 1992. That’s a LOT of Gencons. This year I was trying to take a break after the insanity of the 50th anniversary last summer and all that, but broke down with both desire and some peer pressure from Matt.
Matt said it was his favorite Gencon ever as he got to game a lot and didn’t have to waste time on taking FAR too much time going out to eat, which is a massive timesink when you add it up. Going to the RAM for lunch will take at least 2-3 hours minimum and then you are spun back into the Con drunk.
I only went on Saturday for reals and after wandering the hall a bit (trying not to buy anything this year), I got over to the CUBICLE 7 booth and had a chat with none other than Graeme Davis of WFRP fame who was showing off a binder with pages from 4th edition. Mr. Davis, along with others, wrote the Enemy Within, Shadows over Boganhoffen, Rough Night at Three Feathers and many other great modules for one of the most important RPG’s ever. WFRP 4 is going to be a merger of 1st and 2nd edition WFRP with nothing from Fantasy Flight’s 3rd edition (no funky dice or chits all over the place or cards for actions). In addition, he has been tasked with writing the 4th edition Enemy Within in which, he said, would be surprises that help if players have played the 1st edition campaign as well as doing it closer to the original 1E edition. Davis also co-wrote the 3rd edition version of the Enemy Within for Fantasy Flight. Talking to Mr. Davis about this subject made the failed BIRD ride from downtown Milwaukee and drive down to Indy the night before totally worth it– the rest of the con was GRAVY.
After that WFRP fangasm, we got in another game of Rising Sun and I pulled out a win, which was the third in the row with different clans (the Fox, Butterfly and Turtle clans respectively). I don’t usually win Blood Rage, though I love it, so I’m not sure how it’s happening with Rising Sun except via simple experience. It’s becoming a favorite of the group.
I got in a game of Runequest (the new version from Chaosium) that was OK, the pre-gen character sheets were in the same format as the Free RPG day ones and they really sucked. Please just list the fucking spells instead of saying “all common rune spells” so that the players, some who are totally new to RQ, have to go look them up in the book that they don’t have. Another issue with RQ as a CON game is that it expects and demands vast knowledge of the Glorantha background, which, IMO is something to be slowly revealed over the course of a long campaign. People aren’t going to know all the gods of the Glorantha pantheon– so don’t do CON scenarios that expect players to have that knowledge at all. The scenario was a typical Glorantha one, with some Broo and some chaos getting all over the place and having to be cleaned up, but had a lot of stuff about the Lightbringers and Orlanthi stuff which all had to be explained in detail. It was pretty good, but I just do not think Glorantha-based Runequest is much of a CON game. System wise I miss the Mythras special effects in combat–they copied RQ6’s excellent Passions system: why didn’t they copy it’s superlative combat system as well? The new RQ Glorantha book looks beautiful though, so should be picked up at some point. They only had 200 at the CON for sale and I think they sold out pretty quick.
After RQ, I ran DCC for the gang in a very large hall of people and had to talk really loudly. I had to run down to the business center in the hotel in order to print off random characters for the game at the cost of 8$. I need to remember to bring a huge stack of characters EVERYWHERE I go. The session was pretty much proof that you can run DCC anywhere under very severe conditions. I did Frozen in Time which is take on Expedition to the Barrier Peaks except all DCC. We got fairly far into the module until people started to fall asleep on account of the hour and the drink. That may be one to finish off.
Other than wandering the dealer hall a bit on Sunday and pestering Tom Babbey at his art booth, buying the obligatory DCC modules, that was pretty much my GENCON.
RimWorld is one nasty time sucker! I’ve had a week off here and have played about 20 hours or so — all good times and solid frustrations.
The game is an ARPG/ survival game like we’ve seen so many times with many, many bad games in the genre– but this one channels the most Dwarf Fortress stuff without the horrifying graphics and insurmountable commands, while being no where near as complex on the back end. For example, when you do stuff in a space in Dwarf Fortress, that stuff stays there FOREVER until changed by some other agent in the game. In Rim World, if you leave your colony for some reason, it disappears and re-randomizes the hex you used to be in. So you can’t watch the deterioration of your bases after you leave them.
You start the game with either three or one colonists with various skills and abilities and you need to grow food, hunt, protect yourselves, tame animals and find some way to survive the winter, fallout, massive raids of mechanoids and natives. Typically, like Dwarf Fortress, this is a cascade of failure after about 4-5 hours of play in each game. The way to play the game properly is to have a single save file so that you can’t go back to earlier games and try to avoid the RNG or bad decisions– but the game allows you to wuss out and have tons of saves.
How I start the game is this: land on the planet, pick up weapons and medicine, make a couple sleeping spots, then find a room that’s already built on the map and inhabit it. Next I find where the “ancient evil” room is on the map and immediately open it up and see what’s in there. Most of the time this leads to quick destruction, but sometimes it not only gives the colonists a solid flame proof building, but cyrocaskets and some tech weapons to boot. This way you can either start off strong, or get wiped out and start a new game, which you will probably be doing eventually anyways.
Combat is a frantic, pausable affair where you try to position your colonists in the best possible places to take on attackers in real time. I haven’t gotten very high tech weapons yet, but that’s because I play hardcore for the most part, and haven’t survived! There are quite a few different guns and weapons in the game, and it escalates into quite an arms race with your neighbors and raiders as the game goes on.
All in all, highly recommended. The heart of the RNG in this one is in the right place for sure.