Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Death Star Trench Run for X-Wing Minis

I recently got super hooked on the X-Wing Miniatures Battle Game by Fantasy Flight Games. I got it for my bro almost a year ago, and he eventually played it and loved it. He was hooked. Then he and I played together at GenCon and I got the bug. Now I have a decent collection.

Between X-Wing and Edge of the Empire, Fantasy Flight has rekindled that sense of wonder about the original trilogy Star Wars universe. 

I had to get other people hooked, so I could ensure ample play opportunities. So my regular RPG group now has the bug. Last weekend I ran them through a homebrew Death Star Trench Run. It was great fun. During the last round of play, Luke (with R2 on board) blew the thermal exhaust port and saved the day. There wasn't such an uproar in my game room in months, if not years.

Luke, Biggs, and Jek all decked out for their run.

So, I uploaded my take on rules of the iconic Trench Run to X-Wing Mission Control. I hope you like it. I searched for some others out there. Here's another good one. What do you think about 'em?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

World Cup Reckoning

This post is somewhat out of the wheelhouse of this blog, but I had to put this somewhere. July 1, 2014...never forget.

Act I, The Backstory

Let me start by saying I have never been a fan of soccer. It's not for lack of trying; my brother played (and plays) in a league, and I have been to several soccer matches with the best intentions of enjoying it. But I just couldn't get into it. 

My U.S. employer is owned by a Belgian parent company. So when we found out that Team U.S.A. was facing off against Belgium in the World Cup, it was cause for excitement in the office. They let us wear jerseys and jeans to our (normally well-dressed) workplace for the day, and some of us even cut out a little early to head to a bar to watch the game.

Before I go any further, I have to state that my buddy and I have been trying to stick to the paleo diet for a few weeks, and I've been pretty good about it. My body hasn't seen much in the way of bread, alchohol, and fried foods for almost a month. It has gotten used to this 'new normal.' So, I ate really well during the first part of game day. I just ate lean turkey, and fruit, and veggies for breakfast and lunch, washing it all down with water and black coffee only. 

Act II, The Betrayal

The place we went was pretty cool, but was standing room only for almost the entire game. The bar had $2 patriotic red and blue Jell-O shots. My coworkers bought me three during the course of the match. They also sprung for a couple beers. Then near the end of the match we finally got a table, and they ordered hot wings, fried pickles, and bacon cheese fries. I somehow got out of there without having to spend a dollar. Little did I know, I would actually pay for this. 

The game was exciting during the extra time. That's when there were tons of shots on goal and a few goals made. There was a good energy in the bar as everyone cheered for Team U.S.A., and I thought I might actually like this soccer thing. Then we lost, but I didn't lose my hope that I could like soccer. Maybe I'd give it another shot.

After the game, when we were good to drive, I start driving home and I gotta pee. So I stop at a gas station nearby. Theirs is out of order. I drive another five minutes to a Taco Bell. I go in and I'm like 'I could poop; I might as well.' It's another 45 minutes to my house and I figure it's good to go with a preemptive strike. 

Act III, The Backlash

So I go #2 and it's a nice healthy deal, unexpectedly followed by an evil, ancient sludge explosion. I've been eating well and have not pooped like that in weeks. But it felt good to get that out, and I was prepared for a low-stress commute home. I'm driving home and my bowels start a lucha libre match inside me, less than five minutes after I just defiled that Taco Bell. I panic. I have to poop again and it's not gonna be pretty. I can barely hold it.

This is the point that I must mention that it's 95 degrees and humid at this point, and my car AC is broken.

I get on the interstate and I can either go north straight home, which usually has bad traffic, or go east for a mile or two to take the surface streets north, which tends to be quicker than the interstate traffic. I go east to take the second option. For the first time in my history taking this route, it's backed up. I can spot my exit a mile away, but there's an accident. It's a mile, bumper to bumper. I seriously almost poop myself waiting, all the while sweating profusely from the heat. I'm not moving so I'm not even getting a breeze from the windows which are down.
Luckily it takes only 10 minutes or so and I make it to the exit. I see a 7-11 and go in, and destroy it. It was crazy. You don't need more details. You've been there at some point in your BM career, and you know. 

Finally, I'm liberated. 


End of story, right?

No toilet paper. 

No paper towels. 


Not a receipt nor wet wipe nor bidet nor corn cob.

So, I just have to stand up, pull up my pants, and squish back to my car and drive home, stewing in my chones for 30 minutes at 350 degrees like a dang pot roast.

I promptly took a shower and just laid on the couch for 30 minutes, miserable.
Screw soccer. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Savoring the Game

I stumbled upon this post earlier in the week. In it, Tori Bergquist brought up an interesting idea: episodic campaign stints.In other words, every few levels you take an in-game break from adventuring and let time pass. Tori:

 It would be interesting to consider a narrative arc which encompasses two or more decades of time. This might not have as much impact for a party of elves or other long-lived PCs, but for humans, halfings and such it could pose an interesting challenge.
I've thought about this before, but never implemented it. Rarely does a sequel pick up 10 minutes after its predecessor.  Tori goes on to say:
Not only would a campaign built around a multi-decade long narrative be interesting for its dynamics, a book like Ultimate Campaign might make more sense, providing some unique ways to flesh out lengthy downtime. You could have a campaign that ends with a four story arc involving the liberation of the city from an evil baron...then next session picks up five years later, with the PCs the legitimate saviors of the city, and a "catch up" session to see what everyone did.
This idea fits well with the narrative style I try to have my games take. I touched on this years ago. And I have a house rule to aid in this. Every character must do his/her leveling in a settlement, and must spend an uninterrupted number of consecutive days honing skills, etc. The time required is as follows:

Next Level
Days Required
where x = next level

Now, I haven't encountered a group of players yet that doesn't have at least one person who gets bored with their character or a long campaign. Sometimes they just want to play a different game/character in order to refresh their RAM or something. In between these episodes, there's a great way to break the monotony while still moving the campaign forward. Have everyone make a level 1 NPC (commoner, expert, etc.) and have them either perform a simple escort quest or survival encounter. The events of those mini-games affect the campaign, and the players get to see them through a new light.

ICOSA is about to release our PDF of Commoners (as soon as Pure Steam hits shelves this month.) It will have plenty of ideas on how to execute this kind of mini-game. 

Until next time!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Confessions of a Failed MMOer

Yeah, I played an MMORPG once.  My brother called me up, said he bought it, and thought we could play together. Fair enough. I dropped the $49.95 and thought, “What’s the harm?”  Physical, emotional, and marital strife is the answer we’re looking for, folks.
Having played pen and paper RPGs for years, I thought the game was about experiencing a cool story and enjoying cooperation towards common goals.  This game shook me out of that illusion with the gentleness of an industrial paint mixer. 
One night, my new wife gently said, “Come to bed, honey,” at approximately 11pm.  “Just a minute,” I said. Then my stomach roared. It was 3am. I had lost time, like an alien abductee, and the game was as fun as the associated probing would have been.  But I had to play on, killing spiders alone in this forest, because some jerkwad with a yellow exclamation mark told me to.  And I needed to gain on my brother, who I couldn’t quest with because he was four levels above me and somehow that precluded our teamwork. 
Anyway, back to my stomach.  I was wrapped around my spine, screaming for food. So, I mashed a bunch of number keys—so my Orc warrior would defend himself for a minute against these eight-legged fools—and sprinted to the kitchen.  My bride had bought groceries that day, so I had so many choices. But I had to act quickly, because my kick/stomp combo in the forest would soon run out and my Orc was too dumb to raise a shield against spider fangs.  Idiot.
I snagged a handful of deli-sliced salami, like a crackhead raiding a Salvation Army change bin. No order, no decorum, no chewing. I had insect glands to collect…or something.  I finished five slices of salami before I made it down the hallway. My warrior was still alive, although assailed by three arachnids while some other players stood there refusing to help me. Apparently teamwork only happens in a 40-man raid. Douche tools. I logged off and went to sleep.
Morning, and a new day. Eight hours in a cubicle thinking of how I’m going to ruin my perfectly good sex life with digital adventure tonight.  Then suddenly, pain. I felt a sharp stab just south of my stomach.  It last a couple seconds, and subsided.  An hour later, it was back, but in a different spot, lower. I was doubling over at work, and coworkers thought I was being exorcised. Again, after lunch, It was on the other side of my abdomen. I was certain I’d be getting an appendix out that day.  It repeated throughout the day, the pain moving throughout my GI tract, until I had a swell BM that evening. Before I flushed, I peeked (you always gotta see how you did, amirite?!). 
Blood! I stared into the bowl at the string of blood, going through a mental checklist. It’s not a xenomorph, or it would have come out my chest. I haven’t eaten glass. Nobody punched me in the kidney. You know, the obvious. Then it hit me. The red stuff wasn’t diffusing in the liquid like it should. I got a closer look, and saw it wasn’t blood.  It was the plastic ring around the salami that some deli meathead didn’t take off before slicing it (and that some gamer meathead didn’t notice as he choked it down).
Yes, I ingested plastic and risked bodily harm in order to save my Orc avatar from having to resurrect at a fictional graveyard.
Yeah, I played an MMORPG once. And I don’t do that anymore.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Well, with a week left (and on my bride's birthday, no less) Pure Steam is 100% funded on Kickstarter.  I'm extremely proud of our dev team for the amazing game they put together.  Brennan, Davin, Lance, and B.J., I appreciate it all, and look forward to working with you for many years.

I think there are three key reasons we are successful where other similar projects aren't.

1. Our product is just better.  While it's my baby, I'm being honest.  We have the right mix of talent putting together a fresh take on steampunk that no one has done yet.  Appalachia: check.  Grit: check.  Low-magic options: check.  Coherent concept: check.

2.  We marketed like dogs.  We didn't just expect people to walk up to us and give us money.  We pounded cyber pavement and kept charging forward, even when it looked bleak.  We sought the wisdom of our betters, and had the humility to implement it even when it ran counter to our own ideas.

3.  We networked and got several significant bumps from fairly famous individuals.  We earned 20% of our funding in the last three days because Steampunk Boba Fett (John, not Danny) and Ay-leen the Peacemaker nodded at us once each on Facebook and Twitter, respectively.  It may have had something to do with the monogoggle, but I'm not sure.

"What if it doesn't survive Kickstarter? Pure Steam's no good to me dead."

That's my take on it, anyway.  Now, with a week left, we have a chance to unlock bonus rewards.  If we hit $13,900 on Kickstarter, we'll start a line of Kickstarter pewter minis.

Also, we are in talks with Apparition Abolishers and Altered History to produce licensed gear and patches.  So you could be walking around with an electromagnetic belt of deflection, steamthrower at your next convention.  Or be sewing on patchings identifying yourself with the Rauschite Cavalry, Ulleran Air Corps, Kanatan Military.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Where You At?

I've been silent on here as I've been working feverishly to promote Pure Steam on Kickstarter via YouTube, , Twitter, and anywhere else they'll like me write words.

If you're still reading this blog, I apologize for letting it rust like a car in the front yard.  We've made good progress so far, raising 58% of the required funds on Kickstarter at the time of this writing.  But we've only got three weeks to go, and I could really use the support of my core gamer friends (that's you!).

Would you mosey over to Kickstarter and drop some love?  It'd mean a lot. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pure Steam Kickstarter Rewards

Kickstarter.com has accepted our proposal, and will allow us to fundraise on their site. This is huge! Projects on their site have a 50% success rate (provided they have an explanatory video, which we will). I threw together this logo for the project until we can get a professional one together.

In case you're not familiar with Kickstarter, the gist is you get individuals to donate to your project in exchange for some sort of tangible reward.  The project won't be up for fundraising for another week, but I wanted to give my followers a glimpse at the rewards:

$5: Name printed in book as a supporter.
$15: PDF download a month before release.
$25: Soundtrack download a month before release.
$35: Adventure module PDF download a month before release.
$75: Signed hard copies of book, soundtrack, and adventure module a month before release.
$150: Exclusive access to first round of beta playtest.  Your feedback will influence the design.
$250: A seat at an exclusive game session run by our team at either GenCon Indy or Origins (your choice).  Feedback from you will influence game design. (limit 20)
$500: You'll be written into the setting as an NPC.  AvatarArt will do a MASTER level illustration of you in your NPC role, published in the book (limit 10)