Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Tis the season...

I have joined two new games recently, and both of them are game subjects that I would not normally think that I would enjoy.

The first is Nights Black Agents - a modern vampire conspiracy spies and agents style of game. I dont like vampires and modern weapons, they just dont go together well. If I put enough rounds into a creature that 50% of its body matter is spread over 20 sq yards then I expect it to be dead and gone. If it isnt then that is serious fantasy material, not modern espionage stuff.  Plus these games assume some level of knowing what you are doing in the modern world, either with guns or computers. AND they assume the GM has the same amount of knowledge. There is nothing more annoying then a GM telling you thats not possible when you do it for a living. The games requires you to push the limits of reality while trying to portray things are real, it just grates for me.

On the other hand however, and my reason for playing, is the Gumshoe system. I really like where this system is going in its methodology - cinematic moments with doses of random chance, less reliance on stupid dice rolls and more getting into the story and moving it along. Getting the facts when the facts are there to get and not stuffing around with perception rolls to notice what is required to progress the story.  Its a really neat rules system that attracts me.

The second game I have opted for is ConspiracyX v2.  I went into the Kser for this so I have the rule books but hadn't got around to actually looking at them. Its sort of like the above game, only throw in aliens and paranormal stuff - ie magic by another name. So again we get this combination of essentially fantasy with modern technology. I want guns and fireballs, and I want them now!

The only problem with that is that using guns and fireballs (explosives) is awfully good fun in Hollywood, but the reality of them is so totally different. This is where your GM can have problems, moving back and forth from "in Hollywood" to "this is reality" modes. SO one session you are firing hundreds of bullets and kgs of c4 and your characters laugh it off, then the next session where the GMs carefully constructed scenario is falling apart under your explosives/autofire overkill, and they 'adjust' - or take a 'reality check' -  to try to bring things under control, and you all die.

But yet again parts of the game appeal to me - the "Base" rules and the equipment rules seem quite neat. You get to form your own cell and make your own secret batcave hidden HQ, and then equip it with mod cons.  Thats always fun.  Like good crafting in an MMO.

The other attraction will be that it brings me back into playing with some people I used to play a lot with ages ago, and that will hopefully be fun also.  There are other issues with that, like the GM actually likes killing you, but I can live with that for now.

And what is it with games that kill then and then penalise you by making you start all over again. Everyone else has 80 xp and you have none... oh dear I died again, and again, and again because everyone else can survive that stuff.  Or you hide with the next dozens sessions. Thats not fun.  The answer is of course to make sure you take everyone down with you ...  oops did I say that out loud?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Dungeon World first session. Looking at Tools.

Well we had our first session of Dungeon World using Maptool and went reasonably.  Only 3 people showed up but that was enough to start with, seeing as this first session was exposure to the rules and the tool.  Of course, after telling them all to read the rules for weeks I ended up with one person having read some of the rules and the other 2 not. Par for the course.  It didnt take long however to sort of get into the rhythm of the game, which encourages free form expression and the GM interpreting what they are doing.  However it also didnt take long for the players to fall into the trap of mechanistically using the action tags to describe what they were doing, will have to work on that a bit more.

Maptool, apart from some macro bugs I over sighted, worked reasonably well.  We had some lag moments now and then but that was mostly because everyone was trying to do something at the same time. One habit you have to try to get your players used to is restricting the number of people moving tokens at one time. There are tools for locking out players moving their tokens, which I used in my Savage Worlds module, but I have yet to do so in this module, might have to look into it.

The session ended with the players taking the worst possible path (danger wise) and going up against the EyeLord, the main monster... its really amazing how players can make a bee-line for the monster they are supposed to run into last. They managed to handle it, although it was close, which is good.

As one of the players will be having a baby in the next week and one other is her husband, we have put off the next few sessions.

In the meantime I have been thinking about what other online tools you might use for running a game. One that occurred to me was using a Minecraft world to display the world in 3D, giving them a nice visual element to their exploring. When they run into monsters you simply jump over to whatever combat/encounter tool you are using.  In the Minecraft world encounters would be indicated by simply laying down a marker of some kind.  I might do the first dungeon as a trial and see how it goes.  The benefit of using Minecraft and Dungeon World is the map as you go, create on the fly, method that DW encourages. Converting this to Minecraft is simple as you simply carve out an expanding world as the players reveal it. So you dont have to craft a huge world map to begin.

The other tool I have been looking at is the Roll20 VTT. I am a big fan of Maptool VTT simply because it has fog of war and vision layering, which no other tools had. Well Roll20 now has it, although it is a subscription based feature. It is very much like Maptool, a new layer on the map with tools to lay down vision blockers, and lighting effects.  It seems to work quite well. It needs some more tweaking but it a big plus in their favour.  With this feature Roll20 compares quite well with Maptool. Maptool still has a much more extensive macro language to automate things with, but Roll20 is much more user friendly, plus it has a 3D dice roller which players like.  I'm gonna have a play around with it and come up with an opinion.  Certainly the other big thing in their favour is that they are actually working on their tool and upgrading, whereas Maptool seems to be stuck at the moment with updates and trying to move to a 1.4 version.