Monday, August 19, 2013

The Good News About T&T

I don't know what the numbers were for attendance at GenCon this year. Nor did I see any big T&T items over at the Flying Buffalo booth the times I was there, which was mostly to say to Rick Loomis and Steve Crompton. Heck, I haven't even gotten information on our own booth's sales, with only the most outdated sniff of internet sales over the last weekend at GenCon. But what I did see was various game tables with people playing T&T with a gaggle of GMs in Indy 2013.

Ken St Andre's games were getting four people to a full table when I saw them on ... err Friday and then on Saturday I think. I didn't see Sligo's "The Swynhollow Tower" on Thursday but from more than one source I heard that it was crowded and something of a hoot and holler for its players. JerryTel's Baru-Kesh scenarios were a critical rave among their attendees. I was almost worried that I was losing my touch as my first two games, one on Thursday and Friday, had three players each. Then Saturday had a full table and three folks demanded overflow places at _my_ session or nobody else. So my The Blaze of Bronze (sword and sandals) "mini-campaign" for this year number average bumped up.

To move beyond how many people were sitting down at the tables, there is something more important going on here. T&T is getting some play at GenCon, and there as always a few new players as well as the return crowd.

I'll be a little critical of my own games, and not because I am searching for compliments. My performance is getting rote. Next year I have to get some fresh energy and a new angle or two.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Robinhoo Is Here: the Early Bus To Qalidar

I sat down last night to read Peryton's (R. Christina Lea/Robin) pre-release of Qalidar: The Resistance. I can't tell you how much fun I have reading works in their not-too-rough states. Printed pages with early formatting and illustrations included, bound together in an older folder. Even having to read it with glasses because of the ink-saver was on when it printed up doesn't diminish this enjoyment. This was even more the special treat because Pery has been keeping this work close to the chest.

I paid pretty close attention to the rules section because I appreciate how others write up pretty basic concepts when it comes to our hobby. It can be a very boring and rather daunting task, so I wanted to be able to add a comment or two showing that someone besides the hordes of rules-lawyers and munchkins in future sit-down sessions had paid attention at one point in time. It's like a dude cooking for his love interest, happens once in a while.

It was also nice to see that she kept it down to six attributes. Though I try to have a certain amount of symmetry between the main die used in the game and the PC attributes, I have to admit I like six stats in a game.  The number is like the 6-sided die in my mind, a mixture of pre-D&D familiarity and geometrically common.  She uses Strength, Constitution, Agility, Intelligence, Perception, and Power. Despite the system being D20, Pery moves away from crazy Gygaxisms that I noticed in the Peryton RPG. Power being both the willpower and the strength of personality (charm) of the character. There is an attribute for Perception, and it isn't based on a stat called Wisdom. Finding a use for that stat has been a sisyphean task for the D&D-heads for almost 50 years. The rationale used for perception rolls being based off a character's wisdom have been as long and convoluted as them trying to think of how Wisdom in the context of a role-playing game is useful in the first place. This little bit of "outside the red box" thinking was nice to see.

The following play mechanics were, as I stated above, D20 based so mostly my eyes glazed over as I pined for the time I could read about creatures and the setting itself. But I was able to follow along with the core concepts. The Robinhoo Knacks are still there as Scooby-snacks for the PeryRPG player. I liked the combat system that doesn't need miniatures. That is unless the GM and players really want them.

It is still a character-class RPG, which I like better than a classless game (Sorry Andre). Maybe it's the role-playing writer in me, but I find working from a pre-molded character type is a nice starting point for me as a role-player.  In alphabetical order there is  the Ascendant, the Fixer, the Karcist,  the Mystic, the Scrapper, and the Sharp. The Scrapper and the Sharp aren't too hard to explain, a "warrior" and a "marksman" familiar to most role-players. The Ascendant is like a cyborg or chemically-enhanced person. The Fixer is something in the order of a gum and hair-clip engineer/inventor. The Karcist is a techno-magus or maybe better put as a quantum-metaphysicist. I am not going to go into the Mystic here, because I think it has to be read to be truly appreciated-- needless to say, I think Pery did a keen job on this one's description.

These types start to get at how Pery is handling the very hard task of doing trans-dimensional settings in role-playing games. Early settings like this one were essentially weapon manuals with some rules for "psionics" and then the author pointed the potential GM towards the doorway to his own imagination. And then the every frequent RPGs based on this or that TV series or movie, which gets dated rather quickly and its merchandise quick dust-collectors awaiting that special buyer on E-Bay.

Though I like to say, loudly and in public as often as I can, where some trademark creatures of my own games have slipped into Pery's games, I am playing. When two fantasist writers get married this sort of germination happens as well as the sharing of germs. A couple of my critter ideas of mine have indeed crept into this work. She has taken the concepts, as well as the paid-for yet unused artwork, and reworked them into something that  works for her work. Ironically, only one that I came up with directly for Qalidar made its way there. And that one was more of a parody of typical Dr. Who villains in the later series than anything else. Still when you see sewer monkeys and variations of Pyramid-heads, my heart swells with pride.
One of the Pics from the original
Finally getting to the setting, I became fascinated by the new Qalidar setting. Now the gorgon sisters play a prominent role as well as the thirteen moon zodiac. These points growing from the Medusa's Path of the Spiral in the original Qalidar write up. Still working my head around the Outside and Stormport, as a GM. The addition of the Synarchy is new, and I am hoping for a few more developments if insidious in their manner and approach. Peryton even went as far to put up an introduction scenario in the back. But she left out my favorite part of the adventure, as part of the playtest group we all shared a much beloved and cherished Aunt Betty.

Well this isn't the finished product. I wonder if a Kickstarter is needed to get Aunt Betty where she belongs?