Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Bluffing the Dead

Last week I had occasion to sit in on GM Krzys's Phoenix Dawn Command. Whilst I had sat in on the game a few times, as I find the narrative driven card based game quite refreshing, it was my first time actually playing the cards themselves. With a little familiarity and a lot of help I did get the general idea of making plays of cards combining their face value that had to beat a certain GM set score given the constraints of whether I could use Grace, Intelligence or Strength card categories to do so. There are also situational modifiers in our favour as we could add narrative for additional attack points, burn sparks for bonuses and augment scores for other party members.


Having a strong poker background proved to be absolutely no help whatsoever as the particular Undead Warrior we were fighting didn't seem phased by bravado, but given the fact he was also regenerating a bit each round did inject a bit of urgency. Perhaps I should have been prcticising with Tarot cards rather than the usual fifty two card deck. Ultimately we did take him down which required several of us to combine our face value cards to exceed quite a high total (armour) before the remainder came off his hit point pool but it stuck me how well balanced the encounter was. Worth mentioning that one of us was dead when the encounter began and another Phoenix died boldly during the fight, which is not the end of the world as you get seven lives and dead phoenixes can give spiritual aid to players - think glowing blue Jedi. The debrief at Eerie Command was amusing tho but I think we got an above average appraisal as it seems that we have discovered that the great undead army marching upon the south of our world are particularly vulnerable to Shamanic magic and all have a history as individuals that perhaps, could be levered.

Credit must also go to GM Fade as when I stole his Phoenix Dawn place, he began a new D&D to fill the gap from GM Mike's enormously fun makeshift adventure and as we finished for the evening, characters were created and dead things were found on beaches. More of that later I am sure.

Exalted continues on with the promise of Andras extending the experience and a welcome shout out to Alfie who joined the club last week so, for now, we are as busy as the Borg and backed up further than a constipated Ogre. I wont post the usual glib picture in this instance.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Food for thought

Life in role playing is like a day on the farm, every ration a banquet, every reward a fortune every encounter is a parade. And when I am paraphrasing Sgt. Apone from Aliens then you know I really have attained even thinner altitudes in the Blogsohere. Not that we would seek to host any Masterchef events but there is a certain amount of creativity when purveying the exotic corner shops of Brighton for snacks. For a long while I was a proponent of the Onion Ring theory as  snack zero from which all others derive but of late there are some strains of nuts that find their way onto our tables and there is also the missing link forming the breads branch of grazing including cheesy sticks, croissants, rice cakes and seedy buns. However as much as I am willing to shave off a few hours of my life eating Pringles, can I ask how far you would go in pursuit of new delicacies. How about a tube of Purple, N127, No-Brand crisps ? I can't tell if we are on the brink of a great collapse or at the cusp of a new golden age for mankind...

Whether you believe that nachos evolved naturally or we in fact were designed by a savory deity is neither here nor there as all are welcome at the club but let us give our thought to those who give thought to others and spend their hard earned cash on a Thursday so others don't have to go hungry during our sessions.

However the real food for thought are the upcoming games - whilst the Phoenix Dawn and Exalted are running quite happily we seem to be healthily queuing up GMs for other new creative experiences. Whilst I have a D&D proper on the back burner now following my technical training GM Jon has availed himself of a very new shiny Star Trek system, GM Andras - one of the other major investors of the Exalted system - has a hankering for continuing the dynasty and GM Rob has offered about a dozen other options.

Our mission still bodily goes where no half-ogre-halfling-cleric-ranger has gone before.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017


I do enjoy a good schlooping. When over hammed it can come across as a little pretentious and when under done it can seem a little amateur. But you do need that special someone to schloop just right and by Jupiter we have that man. All good things must come to an end and in that vein GM Mike completed his marvelous freeform D&D last week in classic style with the party nicely squared up for a human sacrifice to some sort of hideous, giant Cthuluesque Thing.

Having been guided into a large underground cavern on our way through a subterranean labyrinth we were clearly in the proverbial as a contingent of Goblins had entered battle with a group of Humans. For reasons that escaped me our giant ogre had decided to put himself right in the middle of the battle which did nothing except grind his hit points down but meating out plenty of damage nonetheless.

Whilst the rest of us scrambled around various piles of "treasure" - think scrapheap challenge - battle blood slowly trickled its way down into a foreboding hole out of which emerged something from a John Carpenter film. In keeping GM Mike masterfully articulated our dilemma  with flailing his arms around and provided complete atmospheric immersion by adding slobbering schlooping sounds as the monster dragged its hideously bloated body towards us. At least I presume that was what he was doing rather then asking us to pass the biscuits that Lee brought with her.

Having all our magic points and almost all our hit points taken away from fighting The Thing, the real issue was that we were being beguiled - so whilst I was rescuing one of our team, they were under the impression that they were being dragged away by a horrible creature. The rules here worked a treat as the player described their action under the impression that the world around them was behaving in one way where in actuality they had actually lost grip on reality entirely.

Sanity can be a bitch but somehow we all got out of there on little more than a few hitpoints ...but then again I may have imagined it and am already being slowly digested along with my fellow morsels...

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Technical Teardown

Whilst rich content and accessibility are basic concerns for all new systems and kick starters, its often the actual round by round mechanics that are glossed over. Like a good idea in a dragon's den, it's simply not enough by itself. At the Roleplaying club we have seen our fair share of games from the wonderfully over flexible and under engineered original Star Wars D6 system to the legendary Exalted super mechanics. But I have yet to come across that perfect system. Of late I recall the Escalation Die of the 13th Age whereby at the start of each round a D6 is incremented as a global modifier to all attack rolls - this has a combined effect of ratcheting up the fervour of battle by accelerating the action as well as ensuring an encounter doesn't last overly long.

Whilst this is definitely my favourite approach so far, an old friend of mine was recounting the new Conan system by Modiphius featuring Momentum and Doom rules which do sound intriguing, more so as they can inject narrative. I understand that Modiphius were actually there at last weeks Reunicon at the Dice Saloon running their Conan remake, but briefly:

Basic Rules: Roll 2d20 against Attribute + Skill. If you roll under Attribute + Skill on a die, that's a Success. If you do it on both dice, that's two Successes. It's also possible to get two Successes on just one die, if you roll low enough. So, with a basic roll and lots of luck, you could get as many as four Successes.

The Difficulty of the task determines how many Successes you need. You need one Success for Average challenges, and two for Difficult challenges. The scale goes from 0 to 5.

Extra Successes are called Momentum and go into a pool that all PCs can use on their turn. Momentum is used to power various things, like more damage, special effects, or a narrative result. You can buy more dice by spending Momentum or Doom, either to attempt a higher Difficulty challenge or to generate more Momentum. The GMs pool of Momentum is called Doom.

For those with a passion for Robert E Howard's Conan legacy here is a link to an equally passionate group of role players play testing in his Lounge !