Classful Society

July 23, 2017

If I were to attempt to rank my topics from most popular to less popular, the list would be something like:

L5R RPG mechanics

V:TES tournament reports or more serious analysis

RPG general analysis

Food options when traveling to play games?  I don’t think Shadowfist has terribly broad appeal, maybe general CCG analysis has some.  What of the oddity that is True Dungeon, something only in extreme limited availability and where analysis is really more the province of an even more limited playerbase?

Well, I haven’t been playing much besides Shadowfist and haven’t been buying much besides True Dungeon tokens.  I didn’t get any gaming in when visiting family recently.  I need to leave some topics on Traveller for our website, where my column should be going up soon.

So, True Dungeon it is.  But, not tokens.  Tokens are a rabbit hole that I think I’ll maybe talk about after Gen Con, when I see our collections at work.

Oh, I suppose I could have tried to talk about the Wonder Woman movie and try to tie it into gaming, but I just thought that would be repetitive to my various DC TV show posts and gaming.

Classes.  In many ways, classes don’t matter.  Amazingly enough, I don’t find combat to be all that relevant to the experience when you are the casual player.  Is this ironicful given how much token tycoons relish being better at combat?  Let me expound.

First of all, half the time or so we are doing puzzle rooms.  How do the classes matter when doing puzzle rooms?  Well, there are saving throws sometimes, there are situations where free action may matter, and, of course, there’s hit points.  The cleric, followed by the druid, followed by the paladin are too legit to knit for their abilities to restore hit points.  Possibly, a spell may do something but who knows?  Then, there’s the almighty rogue.  Go rogue, go rogue, go rogue.  I totally get the appeal of the rogue even if you pretty much ignore combat, though it has mighty antiappeal pour moi, as mentioned previously.  Being immune to disease or feather falling or whatever might be relevant once every X number of years.

Can find the class details here:

True Dungeon Classes

So, combat. Oh, not Nightmare combat where memorization just wastes time murdering.  Still talking about the casual experience, the Normal of normals, the “I don’t own any URs” fest that we have been used to over the years of casual play.

Barbarian needs a 2h-er to unleash excessive beats.  Comes with healthy hit points.  Fighter hits most often, I guess.  Ranger can ranged fight if someone has a ranged weapon, where double sliding is something I don’t think advantages the inexperienced.  Monk seems to be the least desirable class IME, though bard doesn’t get a lot of love either.  Paladin can absorb damage for the hit point handicapped to some degree.

Though, mostly what I see with people who basically have random equipment is the inability to murder stuff, not so much the being murdered, until you hit room seven and, if you fight something, routinely get butchered because it will deal out substantial damage.

If I’m a barbarian, fighter, dwarf fighter, ranger, monk, or paladin, how much difference do I feel when I just have some random stuff?  Meanwhile, cleric, druid, wizards all have clear needs to figure out what they are going to do.  I’m usually a wizard, and I blast things til they die … or not.  I’ve been in fights where everyone just kept missing and I used up a ton of spells to finish some monster off because might as well do something and worry about the consequences later (plus, in theory, I have scrolls and wands if I run out of spells, not that I end up using them).  Clerics are often busy as hell unless the party is efficient both in combat and at puzzles.  Druids have plenty of things to worry about, having arguably the toughest decisions on what to do round by round.

Sure, classes matter.  I’d say healers matter the most often.  But, this is mundane analysis.  Where’s the rule of cool, the harm of warm, the thought of hot?

Let’s talk 5th level classes.  I don’t have any designs on a Rod of Seven Parts, nor do I find the variant classes all that compelling, even less interesting in some cases, like the sorcerer who is like the most boring caster ever in that all it does is blast, blast, blast.  On the other hand, we have graduated from playing 4th-ies.  Just too many interesting things to do at 5th plus the number of tokens that uplevel you at this point is so vast that you can only sink a couple hundred into TD and play varsity.

What’s the coolest thing a barbarian does?  Because puzzle damage seems to be Eldritch, the damage reduction is really just another combat ability, though it’s not entirely clear whether all puzzle damage is Eldritch or not.  I love me my damage reduction, but nope.  Greater Rage?  Um, well, since the damage bonus ability is the same as the 4th level dude, you could make this argument.  I just don’t see how a barbarian doesn’t do lots and lots of pain.  But, the barbarian needs to hit things and, while a +4 to hit/damage from STR is fine, just hitting in combat defeats many an adventurer.  Of course, if you are 5th level, you can probably jack your STR to obscene levels or, at least, use the recent synergistic tokens that give hit/damage bonuses at like the uncommon/common level.

Bard.  The coolest thing about being a bard is, of course, distracting everyone with your banjoharp/other.  But, suppose you want to do something besides generate static bonuses.  I know nothing of the lore skill test, since I think bard didn’t exist back in the long, long ago, and, for some reason, there’s discouragement to practicing a class’s tests that you aren’t playing.  That it takes an action just seems incredibly wrong.  Like, why do you need a special instrument to use both your abilities at the same time?  That’s mean.  Of course, this is the quintessential bard issue – without a special instrument, you can do lots of different things but only one of them at a time.  What’s the point of having spells if you don’t cast them because Bardsong is so badass?  Some bards even like to fight, though I don’t know why given that the class offers so many other things to do that someone who likes swinging knouts would go for a knoutswinger class.  You get heal, possibly more efficient than paladin heal, as well.  We don’t have one, but the instrument I rate the most me, myself, and I relevant is Briano’s Blessed Bodhrán.  But, then, why don’t I just play a wizard?

I’m not enthusiastic about playing cleric.  I like protecting folks much and I like healing well enough, but the cleric is just far too busy in my play and gets into weird situations of waiting to see if someone gets hurt.  While the abilities to restore power and restore spell are strong like mule, I’d rather be on the receiving end of restoration rather than the giving end.  Cleric has too much coordination to do between finding out who needs what level of healing and when to “do it again” on some tactical nuke.

Druid is like the best of all worlds.  You can continue to ignore AC while getting good saves, blasts, and heals.  I played druid a couple of times once upon a time (or maybe it was just once), which seems odd given how much time I’ve spent studying the wizard planar charts.  Polymorph?  Sounds cool, but, then, don’t you just become another fighter?  Coolest thing about a druid?  Versatile spellcasting.

Dwarf fighter is for people who love the idea of taunting monsters or for folks who are really good at sliding.  ’nuff said.

Elf wizard ever going to polymorph?  I haven’t seen it.  Do high end parties love the elf for the ability to Alertness every combat?  Well, I guess it’s “fun” to always murder the monster before it gets to act.  I find Ironskin to be the sort of spell I’d like to see cast more, but I somehow doubt it.  I don’t believe it affects puzzles, again Eldritch pierces damage reduction to my knowledge, which is unfortunate for making spellcasting more versatile.

Fighter doesn’t even have taunting.  If you are really into sliding, being able to knock around pucks is I guess a thing.

Monk is where I think the TD experience differs much from a more varied experience.  You get a ton of abilities, but you pretty much end up being fighterlike in what you actually do.  I like the idea of weird abilities and great saves to the point where I actually picked up a token for a monk build, a monk build just for funsies as it will be terrible compared to real purple monks.  Should you be the one to fiddle around during puzzles, trying stuff out?  Perhaps, so this is another strike against the class for me as I’m cowardly by nature.

We finally get to the inspiration for this here particular post.  Ah, the paladin.  Sure, somebody expects you to fight.  Pshaw, grandpa.  The paladin’s real purpose in the world is to Shiba Bushi.  No, not guard.  Well, yes guard but not as the point of your existence.  Nope, the point of your existence is sacrifice.  Who doesn’t want abilities that just say “you don’t die”?  Okay, maybe I’m far into dramatic rescues.  Yup, I could paladin.  I could even go serious defense paladin, in theory.  Btw, an interesting thing about sacrifice is that it disincentivizes high HP.  That’s rather interesting to me, as, suddenly, my obsession with CON in builds doesn’t need to cookiecutter my character building, and, it starts making “don’t nuke me after sacrifice” plays, like sudden HP gains or whatever far more interesting.  Are damage reduction builds optimized with paladin, who is fine losing HP since any serious threat will leave pally at 5, anyway, but wants to lose slowly and not deadfully?  Pretty strong saves, too, plus random weirdness, plus healing.

Ranged ranger is the only build that interests me as I want to do less sliding not more.  May even go to the point of not bothering with melee weapons or wielding idiotic ones for the humor value.  At 5th level, get spells!  So funny.  Who doesn’t like casual spell use?  Decent saves.  It would be interesting to see if I could generate interest in trying to crit repeatedly without sliding 20s.

There’s a surprising amount, to me anyway, references to sneak attack being a thing.  Neither flank nor sneak seem to me to be relevant to the rogue experience, but, hey, whatever, gives some bonus combat utility.  If I were to rogue, I’d sadly need to pick up all of the rogue cheats so that I could fail miserably and still defeat chests.  Rather than do that, I will stay far, far away from this class.  Pretty terrible saves.  Too much effort to flank/sneak.  Well, I rogue enough in my RPG play, where the mechanics are usually less challenging.

Finally, the roc has come back to Greyhawk.  I still don’t get how Lesser Maze is supposed to work since there’s a really simple way to rule on it that, apparently, is not how it actually works.  You don’t get to Alertness cheese combat.  Saves are kind of crap.  Lightning only makes some monsters bigger or electrifies entire parties.  Yet, this is comfy for me.  I can be a kind of sucky bro who cares more about getting memorization right than actually murderfesting the enemy.  I can pretend I’ll use a wand someday without ever actually using one since they pretty well suck compared to what you can do with spell damage bonus tokens.  I like how builds are free of the sort of dull options that others find interesting.  I can ignore armor.  I can wear whichever crown I want.  My hands are just going to play with my staff or maybe my flute, if I’m feeling frisky.  I can run around with no STR, though Elf is pretty much the same.  I’m not some goofy elf, unless someone forces me to option into elfdom.  Sure, wizard isn’t as hot as druid or as Shiba as paladin.  But, hey, I’ll blast you, you’ll fang me.  We will just murder each other like two ships in the night on a collision course, or someone else will murder you and I’ll be pondering the last puzzle we couldn’t figure out.

True Dungeon – it’s not remotely about class … up until the point that it’s all about class.


Token Analysis

July 2, 2017

What denotes the difference between a talking head spouting opinion from an analyst?

Real analysis is scientific.  The intent is to prove something by using … evidence.

Someone posted to an old thread on the TD forums about best choice for a PYP from the 2016 list for a fighter.  Now, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to play fighter.  Sure, I’d play fighter over any of dwarf fighter, monk, or rogue, but at least the last two have some sort of interesting component to them.  But, more power to people who like things I don’t when it only helps me do what I want to do.

My choice was Kvothe’s Bloodless.  Now, again, because I have no interest in fighter, more generally usable tokens are going to be more appealing to me.  I chose this over +1 Mighty Sling, any of the Redoubt Set, Goggles of Instant Analysis, and less relevant things.

Redoubt Set.  I posted my complete lack of interest in armor and my especial lack of interest in taking save hits.  Well, guess what?  Plan to have a Redoubt Set by end of Gen Con.  This is what comes from “value” bids on eBay and a ridiculous glut of Blessed Redoubt Plate.  Now, I actually have to think about whether to trade the whole thing away or to actually upgrade to Blessed Redoubt Helm and Blessed Redoubt Shield for extra lunacy.

Anyway, I remain unconvinced normal Redoubt is good, so my thought is that anyone looking to get into the set should just figure on spending $700-1000 for a complete Blessed Set … like all true Tycoons are wont to do.

The power of +1 Mighty Sling has only grown on me as I run through various character builds.  The big downfall of my madness is that Mighty Sling is pretty much the same token for $85 or whatever less.  Again, for a fighter this may not be as sweet and delicious as other possibilities, such as the rumored reprint of +1 Mighty Longbow next year, but it’s an any class play, which means I just throw it into cleric builds to fill out a ranged slot and because likely no one else in our group would need to run it.  We are Strange.  Team Strange.  Or, Team Echo.  Or, Team Blow.  Well, someday, aspire to Blow.

Goggles of Instant Analysis does not make virtually any of my builds.  I like attributes.  I have a Lenses of the Fae.  I may not be helping melee beatdown, but melee beatdown is the most boring form of beatdown to me, so give me +3 Dex and maybe I don’t miss incorporeals, either.  Still, I get that a fighter who probably is going to melee is going to wonder what else to bother with that is anywhere close to +2 to hit.

Speaking of +2 to hit, I’ve asked about alt builds in case we don’t just play our preferred classes, and Dave mentioned being okay with fighting but wants hit bonuses.  Quite often, forumites talk of hit bonuses.  One of the benefits of having a character builder handy is that I can see numbers in a more numbery way.  I kind of get the need to weed over the need to bleed the more I see how easy ramping damage versus becoming a hit god is.  Even my fighty builds don’t get vast, potentially oversized, on hit-eration.

Now, it was pointed out to me that Kvothe’s Bloodless sounds better than it is for TD.  Wait, what?  Then, what?  The contrasts with TG – True Grind – are frequent.  Often talk about how builds change for TG, and that’s a good thing, assuming you can get into any slots of TG, which seems unlikely given our schedules at GC, though there were openings open for slots I couldn’t make.

How much beatdown will you suffer in TD?  Little sayeth the pros (and, believe me, given the buy in possibilities, pro is not far from the truth).  Time is the mindkiller.  The fear, when tooled up to ultra levels, is puzzle-ing because combat is one round of monster slayage or so the impression upon me has been made.  Of course, that may not be the case for Team Strange.  We don’t relish firepower of the eldritch god … er … set.  We eschew double Viper Fang attacks.  Our DPS (damage per slide) is within reason and two Strangers are preferred on cleric and bard who sit around contemplating the inadequacies of the beatdowners.

It’s slotless.  Bloodless, that is.  Slotless is my new slot since, sadly in a world where retirement savings matter, I don’t really need any more tokens to run hardcore or nightmare.  I just need wisdom.  Oh, the injokes you don’t get.

So, I’m sure this is utterly fascinating in every way, but how can we make this even more opinionated … uh … analytical?

2016 was not a good year for ultrarares.  Sure, Amulet of the Champion makes many of my builds, so there’s that powercreep.  And, Boots of the South Wind allowed for Boots of the Four Winds, which is like better than Shirt of the Three Dragons (ooh, ooh, proposed token path, except already have the Kilt set in progress; maybe pretend the three year Kilt is the dragon complement).  But, if you take each individual ultrarare, it’s just hard to get excited in the same way that 2017 gets one enflamed.

There are 2017 tokens I still see as important.  Sure, there are narrow use, “I don’t value this above like $70” ultrarares I wouldn’t mind having for amusement, like Amulet of Guarding and Belt of Thorns, but I still see greed, I mean, need, nope, greed in 2017.  Hopefully, 2018 has a paucity of Strange seduction.

Time to go anti-analytical.  So, it’s hard not to keep running the good stuff in builds to be as twinked out as possible on the path of Suitcasedom.  But, I have thought of a colorful pastime.  What do you think when I say …

RED, BLUE, and … and … maybe I’ll wear a white shirt.  USA!  USA!  Only in Statesland can you run around with five figure character builds for TD/TG … until we export it!  USA!  USA!

On this day, this day when the Continental Congress voted for independence, we will consider the red, blue, and TBD white build.

Belt of Blessed Constitution, Steelclad Cloak, Charm of Health, Exalted Creeper Amulet, Greater Arcane Scrolltube, Shirt of Blessed Strength all are the bluest of the blue that we zoo.  That’s not much of a fill.  Okay, reds.  Who gets slammed by weakosity if they go down from purple to red?

Well, I expect to have a couple Defender Sets by sometime during Gen Con.  That doesn’t offend my sensibilities.  The ranged weapon is obvious if you, like, can read minds.  Please don’t read my mind.  Seppuku for me.  Let’s assume that this is TG for funsies, so treasure enhancers aren’t needed.

Boots of Agility makes a lot of my builds.  Pants of Blisswalk.  Bracers of Archery goes with Exalted Creeper Amulet or any of Bracers of Fire/Frost/Lightning.  Gloves of Spell Negation is something I consider running in certain builds already; there’s always Gauntlets of Ogre Power.

Lenses of Focus would only work for a class that can’t Defender, so Goggles of Seeking if we have any.  Cloak of Resistance +2 makes pretty much all of my builds.  Oh, I should mention we have, for the moment, three Cloaks of Shadowskin, guess I was wrong about its brokenness as I don’t see the point in almost any of my builds.  Still, hang on to two just in case.

Charm of the Sipquick is ubiquitous in my builds.  Charm of Enlightenment if we had enough to go around.  Really should be reprinted.  Also should be printed is another way to pump Wisdom.  Oh, and all right-thinking True types need more Rings of Greater Focus, so reprint Ring of Focus and a relic recipe.

Earcuff of Vitality.  I don’t know if we own any Ramparts.  Ring of Dark Health and a variety of rings we may or may not have.

Ioun Stones:  Beryl Prism, Iridescent Spindle, Faceted Amber, Garnet Sphere (slightly cheaty), and whatever.

This isn’t bad.  As soon as I become a jaded TDer/TGer, which should take like two more runs or who knows, I’ll totally embrace USA! USA! … or, on Arbor Day, go green for that all uncommon build.  Green and purple?  Green and black would look stylin’ and profilin’, but am I that deep pocketed to blacken my world?

Stay tuned.  Onyx do look sharp.  Of course, black and red looks spiffy.  Black and blue, eh, the blue is too cartoonish.  Black and orange … stop, just stop, just just go back to talking about L5R 4e, which is free, and V:TES which only costs travel and Shadowfist, which is free.


Thrice Guarded

March 5, 2017

Three days left for the Abaarso School Documentary Kickstarter.

The Abaarso Story


Now, I’m just going to ramble a bit.

Played Shadowfist last two Thursdays.  Last Thursday was one game that lasted close to 3 hours.

Ian (Lotus Site Damage) -> Don (Feast of Souls/Palace Guards) -> Justin (Ascended/Architects Cops) -> Joren (Monarchs Site Damage/Heal)

Much Rain that Killing-ed.  Though, I can only find x3 Killing Rain in my modern cards, so not all KR all of the time.

There were complaints about site murder.  Here’s the thing.  If Shadowfist were a different game, one with more moderate effects, I would probably despise Killing Rain as a blunt tool that just made games tedious.  Shadowfist is not a game of moderate effects.  In particular, I need battlegrounds to explode into fine cardboard mists because they are dumb.

Interestingly, because Joren could heal sites, sites weren’t bloodbathed left and right.  It took quite a while for me to lose any of my own sites, for instance, as my Thousand Sword Mountain got healed multiple times.  Of course, my Diamond Beaches weren’t terribly bothered.

I put out a Zhenmushou at the beginning of the game.  I played a second.  Quite the annoying card and not to me a fair effect, but, then, how much of Shadowfist is all that fair?

I might have been able to win.  I could have made one more bid for victory than I did.  Multiple attempts to nuke Don’s Feasts of Souls were defeated or he Dance of the Centipeded his own Feast.  Two Underworld Coronations went off.  Beaumains got toasted.  Players went from close to winning to being at 1 FSS.

Finally, Justin had fighting on the board and people lost their stoppage.

I thought it was a very dynamic game.  The bane of enjoyable long games is boredom.  For Shadowfist, it was a high quality game.

Which brings me to a few things about my take on Shadowfist.

I don’t build decks as often as I once did.  Oh, I still have scraped together new decks for the last two sessions, but I rely heavily on my stockpile of existing decks, maybe making a few adjustments.

That’s not a good sign.  However, I don’t feel like I’ve felt when playing with B5 or V:TES players who rarely built new decks.  I’m not looking to prove things with Shadowfist.  I don’t have any idea about future tournaments.

I’m just looking to have some fun playing a CCG.

I know, what a weird concept.  It’s almost like CCGs can provide enjoyment in multiple ways.

Still, I encourage everyone to build two new decks every week.  Then, you will have more fun, much more fun.

One of the benefits of Shadowfist being a pot of crazy is that it’s rather difficult to decide what is good or bad.  I had no power generating events in my quasi-KR deck.  Under our house rules, that ended up working just fine.

I can focus on concepts.  With V:TES, I have two huge problems when it comes to designing.  The first is that I’ve built a thousand decks give or take a few hundred.  Been there, do that again?  The second is that I concern myself over viability.

I don’t have a lot of concerns over viability with Shadowfist.  Having enough foundation resources is about the only thing that actually matters, where we can get by with zero FSSs in our decks.  Sure, having some plan for generating power matters, but just avoiding purposefully playing bad decks can help with that.

The other thing about Shadowfist that could use a reminder is that it’s unpredictable.  Maybe it’s better balanced than it seems, but, then, we play with rules that destroy the usual balance in the game.  Because I rarely need to make good decisions, I haven’t progressed much with making better decisions.  I focus on removing edges and non-FSSs and let other people worry about whether to let me win.

I shouldn’t differentiate between Shadowfist and V:TES too much.  I’ve certainly been in situations where I played existing decks and just focused on playing the game.

Switching gear-inscribed tokens, as we have our 2017 True Dungeon tokens, now, and I’m not the only one in the group acquiring, we have had discussions on what to transmute and what to pursue.  Honestly, I don’t know that I care that much about buying more tokens.  I want to transmute several things, and I can’t get too excited beyond that.

I basically achieved the build I wanted minus transmuting for Starhide Robe.  The thing with TD is that it’s so expensive to “deckbuild” that I can’t be bothered picking up speculative improvements for a barbarian build or a paladin build or any of the other classes I don’t really expect to ever play.  Unlike CCGs, where I acquire everything and thus build everything, TD deckbuilding is for those richer than I.

Not to say I won’t look at picking up more tokens.  I just don’t need any more tokens to feel satisfied.  We should be just fine for hardcore and I don’t care about playing at nightmare level.

Speaking of lack, out of 120 rares, we got zero Defender Platemails.  That’s not terribly important because none of our preferred classes need the Defender Set, but it’s mildly irksome.  I like the idea of a rare set that is actually good.  Gives the pretense that a middle class exists for TD.

I think I’m fond of the 2017 set.  There are good tokens at various rarities.  I am interested in multiple transmutes, though I don’t know about switching cloaks.  Because I’ve finished Wise Man’s Fear, I might also be more engaged with the tokens because I know the references.

So, I’m cool with Shadowfist and cool with TD, what’s wrong?

I’m not gaming enough.  HoR is waiting for more mods.  V:TES requires other people to get motivated for a session.  No home RPG play.  No BattleTech.  No boardgame sessions planned.

There is the Traveller Card Game, of course.  I have plenty to do for that.  More ideas, more testing, more wording tweaks, more keywording.  Yes, I’m being cagey.  When someone has a question, I’m sure there’s a way to track me down.


True Dungeon – Ultrarares 2016

October 29, 2016

Got back from China yesterday.  Swung by Core Game Salon and things are unfortunately slow.  I think the main thing I like about it is that it’s a place where East can meet West.  Compared to the prior locale, a restaurant, I like the space better.  Now, 9.5 years ago, there was a cafe in the Nanjing West Road area that I loved because cheap food that I was interested in and endless drinks, but, even in 2007, that didn’t last.  Hopefully, the scene picks up again.

So, I’m a latecomer to the party when it comes to token accumulation.  Also, while 2016 ultrarares will be available for another year, they have also been out for almost a year.  So, why not do analysis on 2017 ultrarares instead?  Why do analysis on this subject at all?  Because I feel like it.  Because I’ll read reviews of RPG supplements that came out 10 years ago.  Because it’s a snapshot in how I think about TD at this point in time, whether that says I’ve come a long way in the past two months or whether I have a long way to go.  Because how I think about these things may spark … something.

I need to go over some general biases.

My preference is for wizard, followed by elf wizard which I think is better but aesthetically less attractive and whose betterness might be suited for a different player, druid but not open if playing with Andy, bard because I can still avoid shuffleboard, paladin, barbarian, …, ranger, cleric but not open if playing with Dave, fighter, …, and that’s it.  Dwarf fighter strikes my lack of interest in dwarves.  Monk is supposed to shuffleboard twice but has cool defensive abilities.  Rogue, oh rogue, totally my class in RPG play, but I just don’t have the interest in the responsibility of playing Operation for profit nor does sneak attack appeal to me.

So, in general, heavy bias towards casters and not doing anything in melee.  Even paladin is more for guarding someone else.  Barbarian is for hitting hard.  Ranger is only because an entire focus on ranged combat and utterly ignoring dual wielding holds some interest to me, in part because I have an extremely powerful ranged weapon token.

I also expect to play mostly normal (Standard?) level difficulty and play with PUGs (pick up groups – this acronym confused me for quite a while).  So, see my comments about power below.

Skipping Amulet of the Champion for … ?? … aesthetic reasons?

+1 Mighty Sling

Quite mighty, I think.  Slings are pushed hard in recent years.  Is this to give wizards more ranged weapon options?  Well, whatever.  For people who don’t have everything, this has huge damage potential for Strength builds, which is pretty much everything I have no interest in playing.  I cracked this token with a random pull.  Solid value token that means nothing to most of my wizard builds.

 

+2 Baton of Focus

Does any druid not want to use the best Baton of Focus available?  It is a massive power jump for the druid.  It is a thing for the cleric that addresses Dave’s greatest interest – increased healing prowess.  In 2017, there will be a rare that’s +1, which is something that won’t cost $90 (about how much one can expect to pay for a PYP – pick your purple).  Andy may go after one of these or may just look for the +3 transmute, though the latter is going to be over $300 in all likelihood.  Still available for a year, but I’ve talked to folks and they aren’t concerned about my getting tokens for their builds.

 

+2 Rod of Persuasion

If I were going to play rogue, I’d likely get this.  See, my kick, having played a squishy wizard for years, is to try to push hit points hard.  Puzzle players don’t care much about damage output, AC, saves.  They need to survive damage in all forms.  Add in some healing bumps for your cleric/druid, and you should be good with taking some poundings, especially as the treasure chests and combat are likely happening at different times.  While I have no rogue interest, Dave’s secondary thought is rogue, so it’s not something to rule out completely.  Note that this and the prior token are both weapons, yet I don’t even pay much attention – doesn’t hurt to have a magic weapon that has better damage than lesser tokens.

 

Boots of Might

Constitution.  One of the things I find kind of odd and terribly not all that helpful about reading the truedungeon.com forums is that the focus is so much on better, better, BiS (best in slot).  For one thing, as much as I’m sinking into acquiring tokens, I’m still not ready for the leap into $1000+ tokens, so BiS doesn’t mean anything to me.  For another thing, everyone seems to be trying to improve their position on a spectrum of power, which doesn’t appeal to me either.  I’m picking up power tokens, but I’m picking them up to meet my minimum threshold of viability and/or because certain builds amuse me.  Gee, I’m V:TESing TD.  So, where the low collection sorts are looking to upgrade to rares and better on a budget and the rare builds are looking for better rares and better and the “I’m willing to spend N dollars to upgrade” are looking to power up, the only builds I’ve seen that embrace diversity of builds desires rather than power desires have been cranky wizard builds and those tend to run thousands of dollars and are, thus, rather useless to me, as well.

So, Constitution.  My first “hardcore” (not to be confused with Hardcore) build is to max Constitution.  I love the 2017 Kilt of Tavernbane.  I want tons of hit points.  I don’t care if I just cast off my card and do nothing else but absorb levels of damage that would have annihilated a tokenless wizard.  As a side effect, maybe a Fortitude save will be required for something and the not-squishy wizard will make it.  Boots of Might are part of this build.  I don’t have an interest in the other Might Set tokens, for the most part, either being too expensive or too pointlessly only used for becoming Might-y.  While Boots of Agility, which we have, or Boots of the Marauder, which seems easy to acquire at a good price, are more offense.  I just want to meet my minimum threshold of offense viability for the level I’m playing at.

Now, when we move up to Hardcore …

 

Boots of the South Wind

Too late to the party to transmute Boots of the Four Winds.  Still, this is a monstrous power upgrade for spellcasters.  Which means, of course, that I was going to ignore it and focus on my wizard-survivor build.  Except, some day, because I actually want to max out experience points, we need to move up to Hardcore, and I feel like I have to pull some weight and not just survive.  So, my plan is to pick these up and use them as an alt build for Hardcore play as I don’t have a lot of options for affordable offense upgrades that I’m willing to pursue.

So, for those who aren’t aware, and I’m sure I don’t have a huge TD audience (yet … ladies), there are limited slots.  Only one set of boots should be obvious.  Two earcuffs, three charms, five ioun stones, two rings, and some ways to expand on various slots.  The brutal slot is the neck slot.  Because we don’t have the best treasure enhancers, we are mostly using neck slots on Amulet of Treasure Finding, which cuts out lots of utility plays and lots of really cool plays.  The 2017 Amulet of Guarding for the paladin is something I’d consider if I ever thought I’d play a paladin often and had the slot open, but I don’t see either ever being that likely.

 

Charm Bracelets

True Dungeon’s powers that be are not dumb.  A lot of tokens come out that encourage people to try other tokens even if the tokenholics or, my tradeitemmarked term, token tycoons just obsess over BiS.  I was not remotely interested in this token.  Part of it was that we don’t have elite charms in our collection.  But, there’s a 2015 token that those in the know can guess that I will always run in the wrists slot over this.

Then, 2017 tokens got spoiled.  I’m now planning on picking one of these up for a specific combo for probably Dave to use, not that I’ve bothered to tell him.  Andy might have some interest, but I think he has more commitments for his druid build than Dave has for his cleric build.

Yup, more money for … for … for the enjoyment of thinking about gaming.  If you don’t love thinking about gaming, well, meet someone who does.

 

Cloak of Blending

Cloak of the Shadowskin is deemed broken.  I wouldn’t disagree.  I think my chances of getting an affordable one are pretty much shot, at this point, but one never knows with niche games.  Cloak of Blending, on the other hand, is pretty bad for most characters.  Then, there’s bard.  This seems crazy powerful for the bard, even competitive with Shadowskin.

Bard is something our group can embrace.  You know, we need a team name.  Team Magic is a bit too pedestrian.  Team Mystic is better.  Team Strange (see upcoming movie I might actually break down and go see) …  I’ll run it by the band and see if they will go with it.  In other words, we all hate melee/missile.  We are the casters and the choir, when casting won’t fly.

So, this is useful, perhaps.  Good thing I cracked one in a random pull so that I didn’t even have to think about buying one.

Now, I just need to consider my song list for when I can’t run wizard (even though wizard seems really low in popularity for some reason – lot of folks enjoy shuffleboard).

 

Divine Echo Charm

I hope our group gets some use out of this.  No, I didn’t pack pull it.  I actually bought one.  In my defense, it was so much cheaper than an ultrarare normally goes for, I don’t feel all that bad about sinking money into it.  Value propositions, something else that’s going to kill the bank account until we decide to get out of the game.  Ha … ha ha … when do I ever give up on games before they give up on me?

How to make this less bad?  Let’s see.  I hardly ever see scrolls used, one.  I hardly ever see healing scrolls used.  Scrolls don’t benefit from healing bonuses from things that generically increase healing.  Now, the one plus side to this at this time is that 2017 is pushing scroll use hard with the new scroll tubes.  It’s kind of wasteful in a lot of ways, but maybe I can encourage us to blow a scroll every once in a while so that this does something.

Interestingly, I think this is something for the healers to use.  Because healing scrolls are limited so much by class, the healers are the ones who control when they get used.  Do the new tube with some planned scrolls and you heal yourself while improving Team Strange.  Reduces healer need to heal thyself.  Without organization, this will never see value other than buffing the 2017 Charming Set (Trio).

 

Gloves of the Cutpurse

Next on my want list.  While not BiS for wizards, consider how this hurts them not at all.  TD is very much divided between Strength classes and low grav world classes.  Outside of cranky wizard, which doesn’t interest me, I can bury my Strength six ways to Solarday.  I can do this not only with my caster builds, but I’ve got a ranger build plan (or whomever since nothing is funnier than, say, a ranged paladin build, am I right?) where STR should be meaningless.

Since it’s always a possible PYP and it can be had by trading in Gloves of Dexterity, I’m looking for getting this at a reasonable price, which is the main reason I haven’t already invested.

The DEX buffs you can get in TD are just ludicrous.  It’s almost tempting to look at doing the all DEX, all the time as an alt build to all CON all the time.  The robe in 2017 only adds to the lunacy (pun!!).

 

Goggles of Instant Analysis

I’m not superfamiliar with the eyes slot, even though there aren’t that many options and lists are easy to find.  This was another random pull.  I thought our random pulls were actually quite solid, just not that useful for our interests.  Dave can go pure healing/buff and use the Cloak of Blending, but Andy and I have to murder stuff … with magic.

This is the sort of thing that doesn’t even help my fighty builds, as I’m only interested in ranged combat at this time, except maybe a barbarian build for when I start embracing my inner shuffleboarder.

Tradebait.  If I can move this for comp monetary value and superior play value, I think Team Strange will find it strangey and strange it.

For meleers, seems pretty solid.  Certainly, secondary market value looks good, which gives me hope.

 

Kvothe's Bloodless

Ties into the new arc tie-in with the book series I might actually look into reading.  The author will donate to charity anyone who selects this as a PYP.  And, this just seems incredibly good!  Slotless.  Slotless and huge damage reduction.  I have no idea why this doesn’t go for more on secondary markets or why it doesn’t get talked about as a part of top level builds.

I want it.  But, I don’t get everything I want.  It’s just not a priority.  Hit points absorb puzzle damage.  Hit points absorb push damage.  In a world of limited options, this rates behind some other things.  Also, there’s such a thing as defensive paranoia overkill.  I might want to be untouchable in practice, but, in theory, having some risk is kind of more exciting.  Embrace danger, otherwise, might as well live real life and skip the gaming.

 

Lenses of Sage Speed

Push scrolls?  Good.  Use scrolls?  Bad.  This is an awful ultrarare because we haven’t achieved the point of token overkill where we are into blowing consumables.  Maybe it will get some like because of 2017 transmutes.  I just know I carry around like 20 scrolls and never use them and will stop carrying all of that crap around right in time for scrolls to be marginally less sucky.

Besides, there are other eye slot tokens for Team Strange.  Rather get more damage spells or higher damage without using consumables.

I’ll still wander around with Stone to Flesh just in case, but I don’t expect to do virtually any scroll casting.  Just need them too much for Alchemist’s Parchments.

 

Pantaloons of the Deeperdark

A lot more appealing before Kilt of Tavernbane and the knowledge that there will be more ultrarare kilts coming down the road for those who want to wear tokens in that region.  I do find it kind of odd how quickly this went from “there aren’t many pants options and this one is so much better” to “eh, other pants options”.

Given that none of our Strange builds have to have high DEX, I can’t see why any of our caster builds wouldn’t go for Tavernbane.  Sure, wizards do gain from DEX because our crappy shuffleboard spells use DEX modifiers to hit (perhaps worth mentioning in the Cutpurse comments), but there are so many ways to pump DEX that CON is our anti-squishiness friend.

Still good.  Forum posters keep going on about how free action (forgot the new official name) effects are surprisingly good.  As a caster, though, I don’t know if it’s as good, and my “unlikely to ever see play though it would mean getting to use a $300 token” ranged build might not care as much, either.

 

Ray's Ring of Remembrance

I considered this.  But, it just seems bad.  Sure, I took a ton of puzzle damage in 2016.  But, is that normal?  Only two ring slots and probably going to use one of them on Ring of Heroism as the single most important thing to Team Strange is playing at 5th level.  That means a fight for the other, and this just doesn’t seem like it can win that fight.

Sure, I wouldn’t cry if I cracked it, but I considered it long enough as a PYP to realize it would never be a PYP.  If it goes Divine Echo Charm cheap on eBay or something, who knows how crazy irresponsible with money I’ll be.

What it does make me think is that there really should be more tokens for puzzlers.  TD tokenmania caters so strongly to combat, where lots of people like puzzling.  But, you need to move the rarity down to levels where puzzlers, who are likely just playing a ten-pack can actually see the rainbow.

Even at rare, Ri’s Ring of Replenishment … no, that’s a regeneration ring … Ri’s Ring of Restitution … nope … Ri’s Ring of Rejoicing … nah … Ri’s Ring of Reason … bingo, Ri’s Ring of Reason that reduces damage from puzzles by one point each time sounds like a thing to do to expand the game to people who aren’t into $300 weapons.

 

Redoubt Helm

It interests me how much rangers get cut out of helms, in that I’d rather not wear a helm but have to with a paladin build.  Yup, ranger right around the corner … as Harry Wells would say “not!”.

Anyway, I hear that AC is not as important as saves on the level that forum posters play at.  OTOH, helms rarely (ha … ha ha … puns … ladies) give these sorts of bonuses, and you would only run this as part of the Redoubt Set, so your AC is going to be obscene.  As Wisdom bonuses are among the hardest in the game …

Rant aside:  Why didn’t the game already do more with INT, WIS, and CHA?  There are ungodly number of tokens that modify physical attributes.  I’ve been thinking of token ideas specifically because INT is only used for one token in the entire game, and WIS and CHA only do extremely narrow things.

… The drawback here seems particularly painful.  However, there will be a transmute that removes the drawback, re-doubt (oh, I kill me, today, hold on, you don’t need to kill me … back away from the keyboard).

Armor doesn’t interest me at all.  To use.  Oh, I find some of the armors have cool names or whatever.  But, I’m a wizard through and through.  I hate weapons, armor, being required to shuffleboard, and not having to memorize things.

I also don’t really have any sense of ACs.  I get that a high enough AC means you ignore a lot of damage.  But, I’m a wizard, and any attempt to AC up runs counter to tokens I actually want to use, have, and/or can afford.  The all DEX build all of the time is the only time I might pay attention to AC.

 

Redoubt Mail

On the other torso, I suddenly realized this is less uninteresting to me than the other Redoubts.  This is usable by my bard build, my ranger build, my barbarian build.  Reflex saves?  I’m still going to have some stupidly high DEX because of the tokens I’ll own for my caster builds, so the drawback here is relatively less painful.

 

Redoubt Plate

On the third torso, this is useless to me.  See, people have said that the Defender Set is pretty awesome, and it’s rare, and it’s being reprinted in 2017, so that means it’s effectively free to us.  I realize people who have the bank accounts and the number crunching interest have calced out that this set can be pretty Templar Set competitive, but I hate armor and I don’t see why I should bother taking the saves hits when my paladin build or Dave’s cleric build will join the Defenders (we can belong to multiple teams, right?).

 

Redoubt Shield

I could comment about transmutation costs, but I re-doubt it’s to my benefit to express my opinions.  I don’t like the Fort saves hit, if I had any interest in this in the first place.  I’m never going to transmute this in the 2017 transmutation to remove the hit.  Yeah, +5 AC is a ton for a shield, but this set isn’t a Team Strange set.

And, that’s cool.  If everyone wanted everything, it would be brutal.  See Charm of Avarice pricing, or Rod of Seven Parts, or Boots of the Four Winds.

 

Ring of Spell Storing

I should talk about how lame this can be, except I have some shreds of integrity.  I’m going to get this.  How many is the question.  When debating what 2016 ultrarares were necessary to acquire at some point, I considered Ray’s before considering this but finally decided this was far more important, even though it’s a combat token for wizards (maybe a heal token for healers, which is why I might not wear one even though I have to own one), and Team Strange has not yet dabbled in mystic fighting arts against the denizens of other planes of existence known as combat runs.

Nor, has Team Strange sought to Grind in a True way.

Unrelated aside:  If you want insight into a Strange life, let’s just say I go to Shanghai to get my grindcore in.

This just seems terribly good for wizards and maybe druid.  Cleric, maybe not as much, though I don’t pour over the spell lists for other classes like I do wizards.

 

Stu's +3 Handy Stein

One of the reasons I didn’t try to do ratings is that ratings for tokens are heavily dependent upon which classes you favor and heavily dependent upon a variety of factors.  I’m sure there are TDers who just love steins, mugs, and other drink holders.

There is nothing wrong with this token, as you get special ability added to offhandedness.  If you polymorph, you want potion speed.  If you burn healing potions like mad because of Nightmare play or True Grind or whatever that people allude to in forum posts, well, maybe you care.

I just don’t care about this token at all.  I’m sure there are tokens that hit my thematic buttons.  I’m sure there could be a lot more, like Tiffiney’s Turban of Thought.

Well, that’s it for today.  A post probably no one was looking forward to.  No V:TES for whomever may still pay attention to V:TES.  No L5R for my core audience.  No boardgames for the mainstreamers.  No Ultimate Combat! for those strange cases of when someone chimes in with a comment about UC!.  No mahjong talk, which seems to get more likes, by the way, didn’t have time on this trip – so many other things to do in Shanghai, including missing meeting up with a former coworker who will be there next week and sent me a hilarious email recently with the subject “Hi, friend!”

For some of us, gaming isn’t just playing games.  For some of us, obsessing over things you hardly ever play is charming …

 


Dungeon Lies

September 18, 2016

Time to opine.  Deep delve on True Dungeon.  My take on tokens (and, maybe, whatever).

On the one hand, I’m a 4th level player.  On the other, I went eight years without playing and have never done more than two runs in a year.

Then, I’ve never transmuted a token as the recipes always sounded way too hard to accomplish, though this should change in the next six months due to transmutes moving down to rarities I exist in; I didn’t even know trade items were a thing until this year’s Gen Con.

Is it analogous to my Shadowfist situation where I know about things but lack practical experience, putting me in a rather odd class?

I have rather biased biases.  I’m a Wizard (assuming Andy is around to suck up Druid, the only other class I would really enjoy, though Bard is my fourth thought … I hate weapon combat, Samhain I amhain … fifth thought is Paladin who just Guards and heals).  I don’t care about nuking monsters, as I prefer shuffleboarders to feel victorious in their smiting.

Casual Calculus

What do casual players want?  You know, the “I sign up for puzzle at normal level and don’t bother learning anything about shuffleboard even when I’m a fighty dude” types.

.1  Surviving

I don’t actually rate surviving the 7th room, anymore, from an analytical standpoint.  Still get the same number of XP, either way, and 7th rooms are vastly more deadly than other rooms, so characters bite it.  Though, I still prefer surviving to not by some degree.

Some folks vastly prefer surviving to get the Survivor badge.

But, let’s not dwell too much on that – it’s just notable that people want to survive the 7th room as a tack on to what really matters.

Nothing matters more than surviving to the 7th room, in my experience.  Dying is boring.  Dying is embarrassing.  Less than 1000 XP is sad panda.  Just all around antifun.

What’s the best way not to die?  Unlike how it may be for Grinders or Nightmarers or whatever who need to murder monsters before they murder characters, for us normal puzzle types, the greatest boons are more HP and more healing.  Even a few HP is huge, potentially large.  There were truedungeon.com forum posts about how people didn’t realize how popular Charms of Health was going to be.  Charm of Health is actually pretty solid in my uneducated opinion, as it’s puzzle damage and push damage that is going to produce Casual-ties (TM, R, P).  The amount of damage is low, but, then, so are the HP for we wizards.

.2  Treasuring

Everyone wants to feel like they get more stuff.  TD is superexpensive.  Everyone feels less good about themselves when other people are more plentiful, richer, avaricefuller.

TD is crazy with how much money there is in it from the playerbase.  It’s model is perhaps not so much CCG (except outlier models like original Star Wars, Dragonball Z, and even Wheel of Time after a certain point) as it is videogames of the MMO sort.  I don’t do MMOs, so I’m speaking only truths here, but the grinding for elite drops is totally something I see more as MMO than as CCG.

TD doesn’t even try to pretend tokens are balanced.  Many a CCG where there were obvious imbalances still pretended that rares weren’t just strictly better than less rares.  The whole nature of TD is that an incremental, one might say linear, gain is accompanied by an astronomical uplift in secondary market value.  I can have a rare that gives +1 to stuff you care about for a few bucks become an ultrarare +2 that goes for more than $100 that becomes a transmuted +3 for $300+, etc.

I’m not trying to scare people off.  What makes TD so weird is that the power gains are only relevant to certain types of players that may comprise a significant amount of the people doing runs but also are rare in my runs.  I can play a Wizard or Elf Wizard with exactly zero tokens and expect to get through a puzzle normal.  What’s likely to kill me is a group being bad at puzzles or the healers not getting enough opportunities to mend me.

But, everyone likes more treasure.  I had dreams of Roguery.  I have no interest anymore, even though it’s more loot.

What’s disturbing is the variance in treasure draws.  I believe the current cap is 17 draws, with that about to go up.  This year made a casual player friendly decision to ensure everyone got … 3 draws.

Yeah, I’m one of those newbites who got 3 draws when one (and only one) player in one of our groups had 12.  This is obviously tolerable, in that TD is doing fine, but, mathematically, this is nuts.  If I were setting a range, the range would be between 100% and 200% because I believe in these United States, Superman 1, and pistachio pie.  Yup, it would not have occurred to me that someone should get five times as many draws as the starting point.  Plus one would have been a huge deal and +2 the wasp’s elbows.

There are plenty of discussions of the potential problems of constantly upping the limit.  I’m only entering into taking TD seriously and I wonder about a bubble bursting, not because I’m anti one-percenter but because of the ability to farm treasure and the potential economic value a farmer gains from buying up event tickets and crowding out newbites, who just want to recite palindromes.

Obviously, treasure that helps keep a newbite alive is a thing.  But, what other treasures are newbite friendly?  Not uncommons.  Nothing makes 99%ers feel more 99%ed than playing the lottery.  Wait, that’s not remotely true.  Anyway, uncommons are sigh worthy.  GP rares, which, notably are worth more than other rares in many cases, are not newbite friendly.  Newbites like magic weapons and armor.  How do I know?  My entire take on combat is “show me where Ethereal is” and I’ve been excited by the idea of having magic arms/armor, though less so once I realized I was going to Wizardize almost all of the time.

Everyone wants “you know, you can sell that for $250 on eBay” treasures, so that’s not very exciting as a newbite decision.  It’s these sorts of upper tier draws that make the race for ultimate draw power appealing.

That Lenses of Fortune and the 2017 rare cap someone at 4 draws just seems so wrong.  I get it because rares actually have very little value most of the time.  But, when you can start lending out treasure enhancers to farm off of other people’s runs, is it necessary to be so blatant about the class structure?

Anyway, have to move on at some point.  The discussion around treasure is a difficult one that many are agonizing about.

.3  Beatdown

Casual players want to feel useful or have the blackjack moment.  We had a group where the Paladin didn’t have a ranged weapon, so he had nothing to do but Guard somebody.  Having someone come in and eviscerate all enemies while everyone else knouts around is not particularly fun for many, either.  Sure, if it’s a matter of winning or losing, I’m in the win camp, but it’s far cooler when a one-packer kills something.

Powerful but subtle effects aren’t that great for the newbite.  Does a newbite care at all about changing fire damage to shock damage?  I’m all about the burn and don’t remotely care.

Note that beatdown just means contributing usefully.  Of course, I have a passive, defensive personality, but, for instance, I only plan on having one token that increases my spell damage by one.  I’m far more interested in ultrarares or whatever that give Constitution bonuses.  Contrast this with how many posts on the forums are about maxing out damage for different classes.  I’m not going to turn down Boots of the Four Winds, but I’m also not PYPing (Pick Your Purple) the Winds Boots to transmute.

.4  Relevancy

Besides not dying and being able to weaponize something, any effects that eliminate the character as relevant to the challenge are fun inhibiting.  I looked up how wands work and they require command words, so Silence effects stop that, as well.  As a Wizard whose tokens were barely better than none at all, I’m both bored and feeling like I’m letting team newbite down while Silenced.  Sure, it makes other people’s builds more relevant and the combats more interesting.  For us, where the shuffleboarders were not mediumcore, it just made it that much more likely we were going to lose while some people waited to be relevant.

Given how much saves are a concern to posters, there are likely all sorts of other effects that just make you useless.  I know I’ve always carried both a mirror and a Stone to Flesh scroll because of one year’s Medusa.  From watching the video on what the rooms were for the combat runs this year at GC, seems like certain effects could make the unprepared unproductive.  I get that a straightforward slidefest is repetitive.  I’m just saying that newbites seem quite vulnerable to any sort of control effects.

.0

Note that the casual player is not prioritizing being a 5th level character.  Though, that’s possibly due to ignorance.  As soon as I understood how to be a 5th level character, that became one of two priorities along with getting more than 3 treasure draws.

Pick Your Poison (Damage Booster)

TD is not healthy for me.  I like collecting.  I like chasing.  I like having things other people don’t.  I also like having some sort of retirement plan and the ability to go to European Championships for V:TES if they don’t schedule them close to my brother’s wedding.  TD is so far beyond any money madness I saw in CCGs.  Sure, Magic had cards that went for $100+, $400, then $1,000, or whatever.  TD has people advertise $1,000+ tokens that are just something people will include in their posts about their character builds.

I have a tendency to get into things much deeper than any sort of original concept.  I’m worried that even considering how to allay the cost of $8,000 bundles crosses my mind.

To play something twice a year.

That’s incroyable.

Nevermind that the fun isn’t in kicking ass, that the fun of not dying before the 7th room is not terribly difficult to achieve with some healing management, that I would humiliate myself if I ever got a planar skill test wrong with the new, dumbed down Wizard board so I’m consistently doing 6 or 11 damage.

Oh, and that’s if I can even play twice a year.  What if Gen Con sells out slots I can play in because I’m busy with Heroes of Rokugan or screw up registering for events in the first second they open or am too lazy to wait list on a run or look for refunded tickets on my phone?

Since Gen Con, the thing I’ve been thinking of the most gamingwise is TD.  Yikes!

What Else?

Variance of information is huge even though the economy is mature enough that killer eBay deals don’t seem all that common.

Lot of the forum threads are meaningless to me as I don’t debate whether latest ultrarare is BiS (I assume this means best in slot).  That so many spend so much time arguing that something new won’t see play because it’s not as good as something else is … … … you know, kind of like a lot of arguments about CCG cards, so, as crazy as I think it is to constantly run down some ultrarare that a lot of people would love to own (without sinking $150 into owning it), I guess it is rational to worry about the “tournament” level of the game.

Would I go to the other two cons to play?  That’s hard.  After Gen Con, I currently rate Origins as the other US con I’d fly to.  There’s a reason HoR is far less meaningful to me than a bunch of people in the middle of the country.

I talked about things related to it, but I wonder if a middle class of TD actually exists.  Oh, I’m sure there are other people at my level.  I just don’t know that it’s a significant enough part of the population to matter.  Seems like TD lives off of a not tiny group who sink thousands into the game and a bunch of people who barely have any sort of collection who just want to play a different sort of game.

Well, I’m sure I’ll have more to talk about later.  Hopefully, get those two runs in next Gen Con without screwing up my RPG schedule.


Tributaries

August 21, 2016

Still no philosophies.  No reviews.  No how to.

Some ranging thoughts.

Gen Con feels shorter.  While the amount of been there, done that is strong, which makes everything run together, I think there’s another reason it feels shorter.  I don’t take any breaks.  I used to leave an open slot to get some sleep and/or hit the exhibit hall.  Now, I just don’t have the lack of things I want to do to leave any slot open.  Even having HoR slots likely slows things down some because there are fast mods and slow conversations to break up the “well, got to run to the next game”.

I’ve been reading quite a bit about True Dungeon.  That’s not necessarily helpful as so many people on the forums are the types who think nothing of debating which ultrarares/transmuteds/legendaries are the better way to go.  Of course, now that I’ve seen most of the 2016 set of commons/uncommons/rares with my own eyes, I can pretty much figure out what I care about of those.  Still, it’s always interesting – I so ignore shuffleboard that I miss a lot of important things about it.

After GC, I had a family reunion, ironically in a place where I have more family on the other side.  Gaming hits so many notes for me – there’s the story aspects of RPGs, the puzzle aspects of deckbuilding, the gambling aspects of trusting in the heart of the cards or the whimsy of the dice, the analysis in determining component or action efficiency, etc.  No one else in my family is what I’d call a gamer, and many have virtually no idea what I’m talking about, though, to be fair, I game with people who knew nothing about True Dungeon until I started explaining it.

Both of my parents were relevant to my interest in games.  My mother and I used to play rummy or hangman when waiting for food at restaurants.  My father had some interest in chess and poker, but, of course, that side of the family was mostly about mahjong in terms of consequential gaming.

As I think about my mother’s birthday present(s), I wouldn’t consider anything gaming related, even RPG books that are more thematic than mechanical.  Buying anyone gaming stuff is rare, as I try to avoid getting into present exchanges with friends.  Not unheard of, but there are just some ways in which not everything ties into gaming, which I suppose has some benefits.

Not sure why daimyo info for HoR4 was worth posting this early – I would much rather know what character I’m creating than caring about NPCs that likely have no impact on my play experience.  Still leaving the door open to bail out on playing a Loremaster.

Of all the RPG campaigns I could run, would Legend of the Burning Sands be the one I’m most interested in?  It keeps coming to mind.  I think I hit some rich veins, though it wasn’t like I ran it for very long.  I sort of see why fantasy can be appealing to run – you can do strange stuff and it fits the genre.  Solomon Kane was much more rooted, and I get distracted by the mundane when trying to create the adventurous.  Camelot suffered from veering too far into the out of genre with not having enough in genre.

In the realm of solitaire, Card Invaders is too hard and Stalactites too easy.  I’ve come up with yet another way to try to make Card Invaders not be like a 10% win rate game – instead of burning aces and deuces to draw cards, once per turn, after drawing a card, can put a card from hand on the bottom of the draw deck and draw a card.  Seems to add slightly to decision making.  With Stalactites, it’s just too much like playing FreeCell, where you know you will win, you just have to run through all of the possibilities until you find the winning plays.

Kickstarter rewards have been showing up.  I’m not enthused.  One game is way less interesting than I thought; another is something I just don’t know if I’ll play, at least not until I get some session in at a con.  I have so much stuff that it’s just overwhelming to figure out how to manage all of the cards, tokens, books, etc.  Meanwhile, I still have little interest in ebooks for RPGs – I tend to be terrible about learning mechanics without an actual book I can peruse.

In general, my enthusiasm is more for L5R and TD and not with card games or trying to do something new with RPGs.  As the Summer has been eventful and Fall may be less so, maybe I can get some of the house in order and feel more open to additional things, as I’m not gaming that often.


Gen Con 2016

August 8, 2016

As much as it might be interesting to try writing this post in iambic pentameter or whatever, I have work tomorrow, so strive for simple.

Gen Con moved to Indy in 2003.  I’ve been every year that it has been there and I believe every year since 1996.  Last year would have been 20 years, and that didn’t even occur to me.  I recognize someone who works at Steak and Shake from the first years of it being in Indy (see last year’s post for more on S&S … can’t wait til Campbell gets one??).

Three of us traveled together.  First time I went with Dave in quite a while, went with Andy last year.  They PokeGoed and Space Teamed on the way back.  I hate using my phone except when necessary.

Travel over was fine.  Hotel …

It wasn’t perfect, but I enjoyed our hotel room this year.  We were in an optimal Steak and Shake location, so a roommate observed.  We got complimentary Mountain Dews, though I would have preferred having one at 7AM rather than at midnight.  Stuff worked, it was quiet which is what I value quite highly, adequate size if kind of short on drawer space.  Didn’t have to wait forever for elevators like the Hyatt (most of my stays in the last 14 years were at the Hyatt, used to be incredibly easy to get a room there back 5+ years ago).

Let me just get food out of the way, as I know it utterly fascinates no one.  I am not a fan of food trucks.  My lasagna at a certain hotel restaurant was way too cheesy.  Granite City was slow but otherwise pleasant.  I mostly lived off of triple steakburgers and fries as per the norm.  Indy airport is rather not horribly overcosted as airports tend to be.  Andy enjoyed all of the food he had without my presence.  Dave went for consistency.

Will Call was stupidly long on Wednesday, taking us an hour to get stuff.  Reasonably expecting us to have stuff mailed next year, as I can tolerate 30 minutes of airconditioned standing but have no tolerance for waiting in sunlight.

Thursday

And, so began the three of us doing very different things.  Dave did a bunch of Magic.  Andy had Flames of War, tried some things like 5e D&D (he should tell the tale of Badgerfest), and even borrowed one of my Shadowfist decks and ‘fisted to third place.

The Black Ship of Mars

Savage Worlds set in Barsoom with some alterations.  For instance, I played a White Ape, which doesn’t quite work in normal John Carter stories barring brain surgery, telepathic mind transference, or whatever.

Solid game.  I liked how the GM had written up an extensive prelude that wasn’t too long to explain why we were adventuring together and why we wanted to recover the NPC, Sorolian Jad.

We had a Green Martian in our group, who turned out to be the best healer.  We had an Earthling cowboy.  We had three Red Martians – rogue, scientist, pilot.  We immediately encountered a band of Greens and drove off their leader.

We continue our chase of Lar Nastor who has taken Jad to learn more about a fabled Black Ship of the Yellow Martians (very different from ERB Yellows).  In the abandoned burbs of a city, we catch up with him.  He is dispatched and Jad is rescued.

She keeps wanting to get to the ship.

We enter the city and look for a flying ship to take us to the tower where the BS is supposed to be.  I enlist some fellow White Apes to cause a diversion and we end up taking them along with us (because of course as General Okus, I’m a social character) when we claim a ship from a treacherous Red.  Flying to the tower, we get attacked by the pilot’s former lover, a pirate captain with her own flying ship.  We leave her to go to the tower.  In the tower, we eventually find a mad Red with a bomb and decide to deactivate the bomb.  I grapple him so that he stops trying to kill the party brain.

In the bowels of the tower, we find the ship when another BS appears and out pop Yellow Fishmen ninja.  We get to the first BS and travel … elsewhere …

While I’d prefer a completely faithful Barsoom, playing General Okus was quite amusing.  I had the Savage Worlds disad that forces you to spend the first round of combat doing nothing, a disad I think is awful and ridiculous – why have people do less?  But, I enjoyed thumping my chest, ape dancing, and whatever.

Other people were new to SW and discovered things it’s quite good at – straightforward play, for instance.  I kind of feel like SW is in the middle for me.  I don’t dislike it.  I don’t favor it when there’s something better.  But, there are so many things that aren’t better, that it’s an okay choice for a system, a reasonable default that I don’t see Hero, GURPS, or whatever as.

Queen of the Gremlins

After the con, when I tried to identify the lowlight(s), I picked this.  I am a critical person.  I don’t, however, ever try to be personal about criticism.  I believe it’s fair to criticize actions but not actors.  This game experience was bad.  That would not have rated it as the low point, however.  It was more that it was a wasted opportunity.

The game is Pythos.  The adventure was … a dungeon crawl.  Is that inherently bad?  Not inherently, but let me pontificate.

There are two things a new RPG can do.  It can improve upon mechanics.  It can offer up an interesting setting.  It can also do both.  After playing this and talking with the designer, I feel like it’s aiming more to be a better set of mechanics.

I tried to get the designer to articulate what the setting was about, as I didn’t get any sense of it from play.  I still have no sense of it.  There are theoretically interesting elements in that it draws from real world cultures, a la Conan’s world or whatever.  But, I wasn’t feeling any depth to the world.  It felt like trying to improve upon D&D with the setting sounding like it could be cool.

A key to the mechanics is in action resolution.  I do think there’s something there, though I think other games have something similar in defining types of actions.

The session itself involved way too much discussion of how to go down corridors, which is also on the players.  There was no leader personality strong enough to get the players to just push forward and do stuff.

Still, there was just no concept of the setting being anything different than what you might find out of a ’70s game and wasn’t even terribly internally consistent.

Having some time, I watched Andy play some Shadowfist and talked to Daniel a bit about playmats and whatnot and hit the exhibit hall.

Cornerstone of the World

Fate of the Norns.  Let me get through plot, first.

I played Eidi, a godi of Freya.  We were all godi – priests.

We started in Evengard (sp?), in the South, a bastion of civilization with a formerly profitable mine.  The mine stopped producing and investigations where done where none returned.  People were near lynching (us?) because things are going to hell (see below).  We talk them out of it and say we will fix the mine situation.

We talk to its owner, who provisions us.  We set off into the snow and find wolves rending a PC who was going to be played by someone who had to leave without playing.  Arngrim, the godi of Thor, sets aside his hammer and tells the wolves to bring it.  One of the wolves gets mind controlled into attacking a leader.  Wolves are dispatched.

After resting, we move on and discover a frozen wall of body parts outside the mine entrance.  Some of the godi beseech their gods.  We find an awful abandoned mine town inside, with frozen bodies shackled to walls and whatnot, as slaves didn’t necessarily escape.  Magnus, the shady owner, was cheating the slaves out of buying their freedom.

Valdarr, Bragi’s follower and a master of the art of getting sloshed, grabs a mine car (dwarves can make the darnedest things) and speeds down the tracks … until he gets launched into freezing water and the car follows him.  Drowning bad, m’kay.  Dropping some clothes, I use Bewitchment to teleport to him and help him get entangled with his antler chandelier (primary weapon) and an arrow line from Astrid, our huntress.  He is dragged back to land before he can go over a waterfall.

We seemed to have gone down a different path that what was intended.  We had two GMs, with one to take over for the other, but, rather than the dungeon crawl that it was supposed to be, we had eaten up a lot of time just getting to this point.

We hear noises.  We find ore just sitting around, magic mead steel chunks.  We get told a bunch of stuff as there wasn’t time to play through it.  We encounter the quartermaster, who has become something different with slaves still shackled to his body that he would eat.  Using my Unearthly Beauty ability with Amplify, I unintentionally wipe his rune pool for a round, rendering him open to beatdown, with Astrid eventually freezing him solid, a la a spirit bomb like effect due to a reference I made earlier, though I imagined more Captain Hitsugaya from Bleach ice crystallizing someone, a reference not understood.

His belly bursts and snakes run out, tying into what was really going on.

It was good.  The other players and the GMs seemed way more excited by the session.  That’s great.  I enjoy games much more when other people enjoy them.

Okay, Fate of the Norns is really hard to wrap your head around when you are used to other games’ mechanics.  The flow of runes, to me, requires all sorts of understanding of miscellaneous, perhaps nuanced, mechanics.  I really like the mechanics, in part because it is distinctive, in part because it feels like you start getting it after a while and it works more coherently than it seems at first.

There’s one thing offputting about Fate of the Norns.  I don’t like the setting.  Oh, I love having a high(er) fantasy, mythological setting with scholarship behind it.  I just keep running into how depressing and farfetched it is to have the Sun already eaten.  I can see playing in a game where the Sun is partially eaten and things are going or in a new age being formed, but I’m not into post apocalyptic and I can’t get past how ridiculously petty the people in the world are when, uh:  crops don’t grow; animals die; there is no f*ing sunlight.  Sure, if you believe all adventures happen in a one month span, you can roll with it.  Having played this years apart, I don’t feel that suddenness.  The lack of urgency on immediately making the world livable again is appalling – from a gaming standpoint, where high fantasy settings can be weird, it’s more that it’s incredibly distracting.

Friday

Nightmare’s End

Of Dreams And Magic.  2015, I bought the book.  I don’t think you realize how unusual that is.  I bought nothing in the exhibit hall this year.  I may Kickstarter RPGs, but I rarely buy a RPG book anymore because I have so many I don’t play already.

But, this is my sort of game.  I’m a huge fan of modern day supernatural.  I’ve said this before – mythological settings (Fate of the Norns, for example), historical supernatural (see below but Conan is kind of like this), and modern day supernatural are the three I think of most when thinking of settings I want to play in.

So, I was really interested in this and was interested in seeing how much like Immortal: The Invisible War it is.  Quite a bit.  I guess there’s tremendous potential for a modern day supernatural game to have the “secret world” (see below for yet another example) where you are special and fight secret battles.  Still, it gets me many a time.

The GM allowed for extra players.  That is … risky.  But, it worked, at least from my perspective.

Because there were only so many characters, some of us had the same ones.  The players made the characters stand out some.  I took my boyishly charming, fiction writer and made him a Hollywood, new agey weirdo, you know, someone who has to shop at Whole Foods and goes into the latest Asian imports of philosophies.  I described myself as wearing a Yin-Yang earring with a long silk jacket and slippers … when we showed up in a warehouse in the woods of Pennsylvania.

The prelude was sharing a dream with other PCs where a woman was being consumed by a giant monster.  We see a car drive off the mountain road near Sterling, Pennsylvania, as black animals chase it.

We wake up, talk about things for a bit, explore the warehouse of Ritz Logging.  Find out some owners’ names.  We walk 4 miles to Sterling.  I draw an impressive image of the woman, as we still don’t know her name, just heard her say the word “Starset”.

I propose our cover, since we are some weirdos, to be that we are a production company looking to make a movie where we were going to interview her for a role in our production.  Someone else elaborates that we are doing a Civil War documentary.

We know she’s at the hospital in ICU.  We work on gaining identifying info so Weird Al (PC) can pretend to be her cousin, as well as our documentary’s dance choreographer.  We have to have something going on in the romantic subplot that all documentaries have, right?

We split up.  Half the party investigates the accident scene where they find out the woman is Brianna Jackson and lives the next town over, she used to work for Ritz and moved on to a medical company.  Weird Al, who happens to be like the second best social character in the party, makes his entrance and gets to see her.

Who is the most social character?  Why, the sociopath pyromaniac of course.

We find out her doctor has the same name as one of the owners of Ritz and we create a diversion by burning down the hospital so that we can take her with a stolen ambulance.  We go back to the warehouse.  We enter her dream.  We watch her, as a spaceship named Starset, get destroyed by a black being, with a escape craft being pursued.  We are forced out of the dream and lose half of our Conviction – the thing that powers are specials and dreamwalking.

That’s a lot to lose.  Lost Conviction makes bad guys stronger.

We go to the doctor’s house.  I go through drugs in the ambulance in preparation for battle.  Half the party meets with the doctor, who walks into the back of his house, pulls out a huge alien gun, and returns to confront the party.

Here’s where we win.  See, one of our PCs has a bigger gun with a completely absurd guns skill.  In a Dragonball Zesque battle of energy weapons, our PC rolls well … and the GM botches.  Our Wave Motion Cannon does its thing.

Brianna comes out of coma and seems to be dreaming.  Two of us enter her dream and we see a battle fleet come to the pods rescue and take out the space monster darkness.  She wakes up enough to thank us.  I don’t get a chance to talk to her about “Contract?” for starring in our movie.

I did very, very little supernaturally.  I just loved playing my role, thus enjoyed things.  The player who blasted evil?  He doesn’t usually play combat characters, so it was more entertaining than usual seeing someone do the fightwin.

Hope Springs Eternal

I had trouble finding my table because most of the ballroom was being used by another group.

When I did, I recognized the GM and he recognized me.  For you see, I have played Of Gods & Heroes multiple times.  This was Fae Noir.  I hadn’t remembered playing it before when I signed up for events.  Justin thought I had played this adventure before, though like five years ago.

He was right, but I forgot so much about it, and it wasn’t like I had anything better to do.  I don’t remember what I played before in 2007??  (I don’t have files from 2007 like I do from 2005 forward, and I don’t see any listing in other years.)  I played one of the government/Pinkerton agents this time, with our group being two hotel detectives, two Fae detectives, and two government detectives.

Quotes:

“Let’s just murder them.”  Our third least hostile option after coming up with suggestions for relocating hillbilly kobolds to a “reservation” or to perhaps “concentrating them in a camp”.  I was all in favor of making the little suckers suffer.  I kind of like how my gun couldn’t one shot kill them very easily and I could make them feel some pain before they died, though it did mean they got to counterattack with crossbows.  I may not do immoral all that well, but I can do vindictive …

“First thing, no human sacrifice.  I think we can all agree.”  Not us involved in baby murder, them darn kobolds trying to flood a town with supernatural toxin by baby murder.

“Yup.  Continue negotiation after stop human sacrifice.”  We all had different agenda.  Hotels sorts wanted business as usual.  Government wanted business as usual.  Fae kind of didn’t like what was happening.

“Reindoctrinating, with intelligence experiments.”  I got them kobolds.  They didn’t survive the government experiments, however.  Oh well.

The troll detective crushed lots of kobold ribcages and knocked off their puny heads.  I mentioned how we should team up more often.

I never did use any of my poison gas canisters.  Fortunately, the one written as nerve gas was only mustard gas.  I mean, there are limits and nobody should want nerve gas anywhere, let alone with miles of their present location.

We gave each of our characters two flaws.  I chose cowardice.  This is the opposite of what I normally play.  I was curious.  It was challenging.  Yet another bad trait for a PC.  We should all be Paragons of Plot Propulsion, not things that work against wanting to act.

Ancient of Days

My second go playing Kevin’s Babylon game.  Combining historical details with plausible potential technology (like computers, cyborgs, etc.) with a resolution system unlike others, I’m a huge fan.  Considering that I played it last something like 3 years ago, I hope he gets things together and Kickstarters it.  I both find the resolution system very interesting and just love the setting.

This is despite that he explains it as being Shadowrunesque.  I don’t like the Shadowrun world nor mixing tech with magic.  To me, it’s more historical with highish fantasy elements and fantasy tech for those into such things.

We get summoned to the king’s palace.  An agent of the king gives us a mission to find out why the townspeople are saying terrible things happened at the Temple of Bel and why they attacked a Hebrew, Nehemiah.  The king can’t get involved since he wasn’t murdered.  Want to know why he was targeted.

The agent says what dwells there grows larger.  We head to where Nehemiah was staying.  I am playing a “citizen”.

So, aside.  While I get the idea of doing character creation for the game because characters are actually quite simple, it did take a lot of time since we had too many players and a lack of handouts for people.

I’m not a fan of character creation in con games.  I know it can give people more insight into a game.  But, I think it produces an energy draining event at the beginning of a game.  You want action in one shots.  You want action when you are horribly sleep deprived.

Anyway, I went with a social build, so I socialized.  The computer guy, the warrior, the surgeon/thief, the necromancer, the necromancer’s slave, the Egyptian astrologer? (some magic type), the Hebrew scribe, and the student either followed after suspicious sorts or went to investigate Nehemiah’s room since he left.

People didn’t understand why they were so angry.  Nehemiah was a poor scholar.  Two Hebrews enter and the flophouse turns hostile.  We assuage.  Others find out that the rage is coming from some place near the Ishtar Gate while the temple is being reoccupied and cleaned to be rededicated to “The Mighty One”, one who cannot be named directly.  Nehemiah is out by God’s Footprints, outside of town.

We meet up with the guy behind the rage spell.  He follows some god before time but mostly is wanting to get Nehemiah killed because Nehemiah turned from his faith and called upon another power.  The spell simply got out of control, and he couldn’t just kill Nehemiah because then he would be up on murder charges.  The spell, amusingly, targeted anyone wearing a Hebrew style hat for hate.  Hat Hate.  That’s a pure form of hate, my friends.

We book it to Nehemiah’s location to stop his bonfire ritual.  With staff and donkey sacrifice, he’s about to summon one of them old time gods.  He somewhat succeeds but gets taken out by the justice team.  We report back, including the info on rage dude.  We get treated better in the future.

The only thing about Kevin’s games is that they tend to be shorter than other con games because of the character creation and explanations of things.  But, they flow so well and have the verisimilitude that they feel weighty.  I suppose them being more expensive than other 4 hour slots is kind of weird, but do I really care compared to my overly cheesy $20 lasagna or my $500+ flight or how True Dungeon went from less than $20, to $28, to now $56?  Not so much.  Get this thing on Kickstarter!  I especially hope for plenty of background info so that I feel armed well enough to actually run the game, unlike … um … I guess I have enough info to run other games, just too lazy to do so.

Friday was certainly better than Thursday.  I couldn’t get into an Artemis game to play with Andy and Dave because no tickets and no openings for something we wanted to sign up for in prereg but wasn’t added until June or so.  It was okay, as I was tired and got to talk to HoR folks for a bit, instead.

Saturday

Critical.  I just need to be at times to be remotely honest about things.

Starspike III

The GM asked me if I was entertained after the session.  Yes, entertained.

I felt like this was one of my awful RPG experiences.  Up there with the Mekton game that means I can’t sign up for any local Mekton game unless run by a woman as I can’t remember the GM’s name, right up there with the Maelstrom game where the PCs did nothing and the NPC did everything, right up there with sucking the life energy of an angel while playing a Voodoo priest, right up there with the Charmed d20 game.

Not that all of these are the same kind of atrocious/awful.  The Charmed game is a classic of playing with psychotic players and a GM who wasn’t much better.  The Maelstrom game was just incredibly boring as there was nothing for the PCs to ever do.

Did this really compete?  The reason why I feel less outraged is probably because I recognized that this was going to make for a hysterical story afterwards pretty quickly and that I’ve been through similar experiences often enough to be more jaded to them.

That’s the thing.  In the moment, such a game may be painful, but the joy of retelling the stories of how bad something is provides life value.  The truly worst RPGs are the completely forgettable ones because they have no lasting value.

Let’s list some things to avoid:

Character creation – I know I’m against it almost all of the time, but I’m especially against it when it drags and when it’s silly.  Babylon character creation was intuitive.  Picking from 40 races and 50 classes is not intuitive.  Having to figure out spells when other players are waiting is not intuitive.

Backstory – Half an hour! of droning backstory on what other parties did!! that has no relevance to what I’m going to do!!! is not something to inflict upon people.  I wasn’t sure whether the other two players were going to get up and walk out or whether I was.  A synopsis of parts one and two makes a lot of sense.  Look up the definition of synopsis.

’70s D&D – We finally start playing, some 1.5 hours in.  We are following some linear plot and are about to enter a city when we get ambushed for no particular reason, with no hope of not being ambushed.  I get hit once, I heal myself.  I get hit again and fall unconscious, actually, I should have died per the rules.  Ten minutes into actually playing, I thought about saying thanks for the game and leaving since resurrection was expensive, but I figured more humor was coming and we just played with my character unconscious.  Immediately after I heal everyone up after I get healed to consciousness, we search for treasure.  I don’t mean we told the GM we would loot the bodies.  We just automatically searched for treasure, in their underground lair, because that’s what PCs do.

“Next thing you do is search for treasure.”

’70s D&D Continued – I know a lot of D&D wasn’t like this.  It’s the worst of ’70s D&D that I’m getting at which would be a parody today if you wrote this sort of session up, except we lived it.  We find an artifact … that helps us search for more treasure!!  We find more treasure.  “What’s your Resolve?”  Resolve is an attribute.  “3.”  “You find 300 gold.”  Hmmm, my Resolve is 2, will I find 200 gold?  Yes, I will!  By the way, attributes aren’t on a 1-5 scale like WoD or a bunch of other games where stats start at or close to 2.  I could have chosen a Resolve of 0 or a Resolve of 5 at character creation.

“Redcaps are notorious treasure loonies.”

Offensive stuff – I somehow end up at a party, as I thought I was talking to someone I wasn’t.  I manage to move on and find who I actually wanted to talk to.  GM asks me if I want to know what would have happened if I stayed.  Yup, I wanted to know what absurd thing would happen.  Don’t ever bring up certain subjects with strangers.  There are people who can’t play in games where in their characters’ backstories there is such things as losing children because of family tragedies.  We live in a world where terrible stuff happens constantly.  Games are an escape from that unless you specifically choose to play a game like Kult.  In Kult, with people I knew, well, admittedly, in Conan and some other things with people I knew, I can see certain things.  Our Conan play got kind of dark at times.  I’m really hard to offend.  I wasn’t offended by what could have happened at this party.  I would have expected a different reaction from many others.

The juxtaposition with how there are laminated cards in one of the ballrooms for professionally run games that say “If at any time you feel uncomfortable, raise this card.  You do not need to explain why.” is telling.  I know juvenile is not the end of the world, but is it necessary for immaturity to creep into written material?  I was reading the corebook for the game and the advice and some of the designer notes put in as quotes at the bottom of pages just amazed me.  Why would anyone ever want to come across as so juvenile?  Are you trying to parody D&D and just not being too clear of that?  Why bother?  We’ve moved on from socially inept teenager mode.

Again, I may come across as bashing D&D unnecessarily as this wasn’t even a D&D game.  I have just experienced that the thinking that says it’s okay to do certain extremely gamey things or to be incredibly casual about what can be traumatic in real life seems to have sprung from a time when immaturity was rampant in the RPG world, a world dominated by D&D and its clones.  I can see where that’s somewhat unfair.  Take World of Darkness.  V:TM came in and shook up the industry because it was such a different focus.  But, if you have awful things happen in the world, you might get a pass because it’s not the World of Dimness or the World of Somewhat Unpleasantness.

Then, how hypocritical is it when I played in a game where I was looking to torture my enemies and make jokes about awful things that have actually happened to people historically?  I guess fairly hypocritical.  There’s some social contract where you have a sense of what you can get away with and it be funny rather than offensive.

The mechanics were kind of interesting.  Probably not balanced even putting aside that hit points made no sense.  I had 10hp and my partymates had like 60hp.  I explained to the GM/designer how this may sound internally consistent because it’s based on something but works out with a result that means you really have two models for PCs.  The squishy PCs are so squishy they are playing a completely different game from the not-squishy.  The expectation of squishmeisters buffing themselves up doesn’t work so great when you get ambushed at zero range and lose initiative.  Then, when we had a chance to “shop” because that’s a thing you do in ’70s D&D parodies, I bought up through money and experience damage reduction 5.  On average, that would mean taking zero damage from the ambushers, though I still would have taken damage from the hit that one-shotted me.

Also, the game ended an hour early, though that might have been merciful for us players.

The Assault

Part-Time Gods.  Another example of a game feeling a lot like Immortal.  Actually, given that Immortal’s mechanics didn’t really work and the game was likely too ambitious in setting even if sessions could be superfun, I would probably play/run this or ODAM or something else first.

There’s one thing I won’t sign up for.  I won’t sign up for a 2 hour RPG event because I have better things to do than demo games.  Already, 4 hour slots, the norm at Gen Con, are considered by many to be too short, though I’m fine with it when the game has sufficient events, as most do.

I chose Nakemura Hiroko, Goddess of Blood.  This worked well, with one exception.

Part-Time Gods is all about lots of new gods appearing in the world as something is going on metaplotwise.  Gods settle down and form territories, often in pantheons because they can’t coexist otherwise.  In talking to the GM afterwards, I was trying to get a sense of campaign play, and he mentioned superheroes and that made perfect sense.  You are effectively secret superheroes, in that you take care of your hood.

I didn’t care that Hiroko was a gothic lolita or that she wanted to be the world’s best DJ.  That she was apathetic and unemotional drove my play.  Unemotional meant I could speak in monotones and feast upon whatever blood was inside or outside of people without undue concern.  Apathy is not a good thing in a game.  Sure, it helped my establishing character as someone blasé about everything, but it led to multiple times having to stop from trying to pursue plot advancement and hope the rest of the party would push forward.

The others in the party played:  God of Dead, God of Storms, God of Music (and I wanted to be the best DJ ever?), God of Liquor, God of Hunger.  I felt like I did enough stuff for a satisfying game.  I don’t know about them.

For, you see, the GM, who took over at the last minute for someone who had a crisis, was under the impression that the game was supposed to be a 2 hour demo of the game, using the adventure in the back.  No.  Definitely supposed to be four hours.  This offended me, though I chalk it up to the substitute GM being confused as to what was supposed to be run.  I know HoR mods can take 1.5 hours at times played at cons, but living campaign mods are harder to control than true one shots.

With extra time during the day, I went back to the room and lay down for a bit, which did seem to help even if I didn’t feel like I slept at all.  I got to do far more exhibit hall wandering due to my having games end earlier than I expected.

The Hounds of Set

Atlantis, Second Age.  I have seen references to this on rpg.net.  I was looking forward to learning more about it.

Mechanics still aren’t that clear to me, but I would buy this game.  Very Conanesque setting, as the game is aiming for swords and sorcery. Not sure what I would do with it, but I like the mechanics of Hellas, put out by same company, just don’t like setting of Hellas as I don’t want tech with my mythology unless it’s subtle tech, like the Babylon RPG.

I played a Jinn.  We are hired to acquire a saint’s heart at an auction.  We come up with plans for when we fail to win the auction.  I turn into an owl and watch from outside while two of our group bid at the criminal’s tavern.  An ennui stricken Atlantean wins the auction over a lich.  I notice undead in the alleyway, they all head off.  Not having too many specifics on what to do after the auction if we don’t win, I fly after the now broke Atlantean.  Our burglar starts to pretend mug him.  I land, shift to humanoid form, disguise myself as a zombie and assault the group.

Yes, it’s as absurd as a PC plan can be.  The burglar pretends to be in danger from the “zombie horde”, our warrior stabs the Atlantean from the shadows hoping a zombie gets blamed.  I shamble “brains, I mean, viscera, I mean, cartilage, I mean, hearts”, take the heart and shamble off while the Atlantean’s slaves are still mostly milling about.  Our alchemist corrodes the body to make it look more like an undead assault.

Not that any of this necessarily matters.  It was just fun.  We give the heart to our employers and the lich shows up.  Turns out to be the guy who the saint defeated in the past.  We fight Atlantis, Second Age’s Darth Vader and do so much damage in one round that he gives up for now.  Penniless, valley priests go home and we split up money, with possible investments in their valley to make up for how they liquidated everything to get the heart.

Sunday

True Dungeon

We finally unite to do the same damn thing!

Part two of True Dungeon in the morning, then part one in the afternoon, with food truck food in the middle and some last minute exhibit hall, Magic prizes stuff.

The morning session sees us with someone with lots of power tokens and a pretty clever group.  We do well early on with puzzles and get through combat.  We labor in the middle/end as one of the puzzles is just way too confusing and we lack the combat prowess in shuffleboarding to deal with the boss monster.  Admittedly, I’m partially to blame for forgetting I have wands I can use when Silenced.  So, I survived, but we failed in room 7.  Andy actually died, didn’t even realize it, though the monster was doing 15 damage at a hit, so it’s not shocking.

A theme of the day was characters not having enough ranged firepower (or any ranged attacks) and combat being far more challenging than usual.  I’m used to just doing my spell thing and stuff eventually dying.

Oh, I should mention that I played Wizard both times, Andy Druid, Dave Cleric.  I love Druid, but Andy is a leafmeister, while I’m a memorize planes of existence charts meister and am well aware that taking more than 2 damage as a Wizard means whining for healing ASAP.

I did practice some treasure chest stuff in the second session as I have the chart memorized, and I do not ever, ever want to play a rogue.  I had no sense of why I was setting the light off.  I need to practice more shuffleboard, but, mostly, what we need is to make sure other players have enough equipment to be functional on normal mode.

We are so not equipped for higher modes.  We have never focused on equipping, though Dave did pick up some specific tokens.  There are plenty of tokens that would make a world of difference, some are even less than $200, less than $100, even some less than $80 that would make a huge difference.

It’s amazing how big of an economy exists for True Dungeon given that it’s so hard to have an opportunity to play it.

The second session?

Our group was less experienced.  We were awful early on.  We couldn’t figure out virtually anything and needed tons of hints just to have a chance.  Our rogue was a new player but supergood at treasuring, so that was a bright spot.  We finally started getting more competent at the end and even figured out a puzzle or two, including the last one, and nobody died.

So, TD is strange.  On the one hand, you can spend $8,000 to get a bunch of tokens.  You can cast multiple fireballs with the help of tokens.  You can be broken.  On the other, does it matter?  Your payoff is largely just getting even stronger.  I’d rate the most important things in a group being:

  1. Cleverness – It’s just more fun to solve puzzles.
  2. Roguemastery – More treasure for all is fun, and it comes from doing something rather than just having extra treasure tokens.
  3. Combat Experience – Being quick at shuffleboard.  Knowing what to cast when.  Having a ranged weapon.

Sure, better tokens make the party better one way or another.  But, I haven’t seen a pre room 7 death in a long time.

I look at tokens that are not absurdly expensive and think “I can be so much better with minimal expense.”  I also, however, think “Why am I playing this?  I’m playing this for the experience, not the experience points.  I like the randomness of equipment rather than being a Mr. Suitcase, as being a Mr. Suitcase for this game is superexpensive and unbalancing with others not so well-equipped.  I’m playing this once a year as I’m hardly going to fly out to a minor convention for this or virtually anything else.”

Also, I only do True Dungeon with Andy or Dave or other friends.  I’m not that clever, so I help little with puzzles.  I cast spells good but forget I’m sitting on three wands in my back right pocket and pay little attention to what other players do in combat.  I haul around absurd numbers of tokens I don’t use (scrolls, conditional magic items) or don’t understand what I’m supposed to do with (gear).  Does this sound like someone who should take it far more seriously?

I love collecting and find tokens to be somewhat aesthetically pleasing.  The transmutation possibilities are intriguing, though so many are so offputting because they are so damn hard to achieve without just buying what you need.  In other words, great concept, really annoying execution as it doesn’t allow most folks to partake.

That’s not necessarily a good thing.  Unlike CCGs, where I play with my suitcases of cards, I’d be sinking money into something with a twice a year payoff, if I go with other people, and where I mostly just want to observe other people being clever, other people critting at shuffleboard, other people operating their styluses to more treasures.

We leave the con after True Dungeon.  Another year.  A good year, if not great.  A year with some negatives that have some positives.  A year with a relatively low financial outlay, hotel being split three ways, no purchasing at exhibit hall.  An opportunity to spend some time with Dave – we used to game all of the time back in the Precedence days.  A year with no HoR sessions.  Going to be much tighter schedulingwise next year, one presumes.

Now, what’s this I hear about extensive character creation info for HoR4?