Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Weekend: Books, Dice, Gaming, And One Dud

Talk about a good gaming weekend. Here are the highlights (with a single lowlight at the end):

-At long last, my softcover copies of BareBones Fantasy and Keranak Kingdoms arrived from the RPGNow printer! I have been working off my pdf copies, but it's nice to have a physical copy for reference, too. I absolutely LOVE the 6"x9" format, which isn't used enough in game products. Here's a pic:

-You'll notice there are some dice in that photo. I also ordered more Gamescience dice from Noble Knight games, including a couple of d5s. They should make some handy prizes for players and such. I inked everything myself, which is an art I'm still perfecting with time. My Sharpie did not fail me this time around, for which I was grateful.

-In addition, I'm reading (or rereading) all the old Birthright novels. A couple by Simon Hawke arrived, courtesy of an Amazon vendor, on Friday. Birthright had some issues, but I always loved the dynastic struggles and idea of realm management, even when the execution was lacking.

-The third session of my 1867 Savage Worlds campaign went very nicely indeed this weekend. The PCs were tasked with assisting General Burnside (long story) with the defense of Baltimore, due to a series of demoralizing and costly arson attacks. They ended up defeating a superpowered trio of British baddies including a flame-controlled, an individual capable of deflecting energy, and, most dangerous of all, a creep with the power to plant powerful illusions in anyone's mind. The PCs stopped the arsonists with their burgeoning superpowers (and some awesome creativity!), but not before I almost took out their speedster with a cunning illusion. The cliffhanger was looking out and seeing Fort McHenry covered some strange green glow. What is it? They'll have to wait for next session...

I will say that after a few initial roadbumps with Savage Worlds, I feel like we're getting into a flow where combat is concerned. The Bennies flowed easily and quickly, and they were certainly needed. On the GM side of the screen, I really liked having Bennies for my Big Bad Guys (Wild Cards) as well. I'm still not sure how the game will scale as the group keeps grabbing XP, but that's not a concern just yet.

-There was one dud over the weekend, which also counts as one of the stranger gaming experiences I've had in some time: I was roped into playing a short Skype session of Dungeon World, which appears to be wildly popular by both storygamers and some gamers I wouldn't have expected to like it. With apologies to their sensibilities, I didn't care for it. (I should have known I was in trouble when I read the review stating Dungeon World was a "modern thinking game that every serious role player should own a copy of". That probably counts me out right there).

The game bills itself as some updated form of old school gaming, but it didn't give that experience for me. First, we discovered there was no initiative, which means between the four of us, things got very confused, very quickly. Our starting characters all seemed wildly powerful, and character creation was just odd (why can't two of us pick the same class? They want me to pick my name from a list?). It seems to have a lot of arbitrary rules, yet be annoyingly too freeform at the same time. That's a poor mix. It's almost like a recipe for chocolate cake made by someone who has heard of, but never quite tasted, actual chocolate cake.

Out of our Skype group, I can't say any of us particularly cared for it. We have dozens of games that do classic play better than this, from Basic Fantasy RPG to the Rules Cyclopedia to BBF. I know folks are having fun with that game, but I just don't get it. It was a rare miss on a weekend chock-full of gaming goodness. Not every weekend can be that good, but man, is it great when your cup runneth over.


Kevin Flynn said...

You may need to read the Dungeon World Guide, written by a player, it makes quite a few things clear. Like initiative, which was confusing me for a time till I realised it doesnt matter when you act, the GM can just pick someone, or a player can just trigger action. Most of the time the monsters DONT do anything unless the players are doing nothing. Takes a little getting used to.

It has some really good ideas, but I agree that the mix of old and new is a bit strange. I think they were trying for the 'old feel' with new systems. I am reserving my opinion for now.

Zachary Houghton said...

I appreciate the suggestion, but I think I'm going to let this one sit for now. I have other games already working for me, so I think I won't push something that seems to be an awkward fit for my gaming circle.

Many thanks for the suggestion, though!