Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fantasy Football

It's that time of year again, when I can let my other geek flag fly.  That's right, I'm a football nut.  I've been in the same fantasy league for a few years now and I've gotten close to winning.  My team, led by Russell Wilson, finished third last year.  This year I'm aiming for the championship.  I had the second pick in the draft (snake style) and I went out on a HUGE limb and picked Peyton Manning in that spot.  Sure, other players laughed at me, but in the end my team was the only team in the league to receive an "A" draft grade.  Take that, haters!

Here's my team:

QB:  Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson
WR:  Alshon Jeffery, Percy Harvin, Golden Tate, Brandin Cooks,
         Justin Hunter, Riley Cooper
HB:  Doug Martin, Steven Jackson, Bishop Sankey
TE:  Zach Ertz, Greg Olsen
Def:  Seattle
K:  Cody Parkey

I'm very heavy on wide recievers and a bit light on running backs, I know.  I'll see how the first few weeks go and either make a trade using an extra receiver or pick up a RB on the waiver wire.  Taking Manning so early meant that I lost out on the high quality running backs, but that was the risk I took to get Manning.  Even my wife is skeptical of that strategy, but I'm sticking to my guns.  If Manning has a big season I could see myself in the championship.  It's boom or bust for me this year.  Either way, it will be one hell of a ride!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Burning Characters

Brandon warned me it would take all session, but I didn't believe him.  I should have known he knew what he was talking about.  We gathered at 6:00pm and started the slow process of burning our characters, with only a brief pause to devour Joel's fantastic chili.  What I thought would take an hour or two tops ended up taking almost 5 hours and we probably could have still talked about the game setup for another hour.  Burning characters in the Burning Wheel game, especially for novices, is a lengthy and time consuming process.

That's not so say it wasn't fun.  It was a blast.  Not only did we create characters with real depth, but we fleshed out the game world in the process.  It was like Dungeon World on steroids!

As for the premise of the game, we came up with a healthy mixture of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, which hits that Burning Wheel sweet-spot perfectly.  Set in the world of the Midnight RPG, we established that it's been over a thousand years since Izrador last attacked the civilized world.  He is a myth, a legend used to scare children into going to bed.  We've all forgotten about him.  All, that is, except the elves and a few of the most elderly dwarves.  One of the characters, a dwarven artificier by the name of Thorin, is cast out of his clan for spreading fear about the possibility of Izrador's return.  He travels to Riismark where he knows that Prince Olaf Dale is a stalwart defender of the wall, that last defense against the forces of Izrador in ancient times.  The wall has fallen to disrepair and the great houses have turned their attention from the wall and the defense of the realm to worry more about petty squabbles amongst themselves.  In Prince Olaf, Thorin finds a receptive ear.  The Prince has decided to send his second son, Calder Dale, his nephew, the War Wizard Arvidus, and his spy master, Daschell north to  the wall to ascertain it's readiness and state of repair.  Travelling with young Prince Calder will also be Thorin the dwarf, who has doubts about the wall and the human great houses, and Rysdan, a man with a troubled past but who has served the Prince admirably and has a few "special" skills.  They are to inspect the wall for physical deterioration and interview the defenders to ascertain their state of readiness.

That is where we will begin actual play when next we meet (which is looking like its going to be over a month away.  Such is life with a busy group of players).  The character's beliefs are currently tied into reaching the wall and completing the inspection as well as finding evidence that Izrador is currently on the rise.  None of the characters, save Thorin and Daschell, actually believe that Izrador is real, let alone a threat to the kindgoms of man, so finding evidence of Izrador will be a real eye-opening experience for them.

I look forward to actually playing the game.  Based on how much fun it was to just create the characters, I think the game itself will be spectacular.  We are aiming for an epic journey with just enough action sprinkled in to keep things interesting.

Everyone in the gaming group was very receptive to the rules, though there was the occasional grumble about the complexity, which is to be expected.  It was a nice surprise to have a couple of the group members even more prepared and having more knowledge of the rules than I had.  The process of character creation would have taken longer, I'm sure, without the patient guidance of  our GM, Brandon, whose experience with Burning Wheel really showed.

Great job by all and I can't wait to meet again and get the ball rolling.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dungeons and Dragons

Don't get me wrong.  I love Dungeons and Dragons.  It's the game I cut my teeth on.  The first RPG I ever played (1st edition of course.  I'm old!).  My group and I played the hell out of the 5th edition beta, carefully adjusting our characters with each new beta update.  We had a blast and I was really looking forward to the new rules.  Then...

Boom.  Dungeon World happened.  We dropped the beta test and jumped in.  I can't speak for the players, but I had no intention of leaving the fast-paced, free-form joy that is Dungeon World.  Well, we all know what happened.  Burning Wheel ate my soul, but that's not the point of this post.  

I have no current desire to play Dungeons and Dragons.  Weird, I know, but there it is.  I was SO excited for the 5th edition, primarily because I loathed 4th edition and was extremely lukewarm about Pathfinder.  I expect that I'll come around in the future.  Hell, I want to come around.  I'll let Burning Wheel run its course, hoping it will last a good long time.  Then, if I feel it again, I'll crack open my wallet and buy the new Dungeons and Dragons.  

I feel a little bit like a traitor, but you gotta play what moves you.  Right now I'm burning.

For future reference, here's the current release schedule for the new D&D.  My recommendation?  Save yourself a fortune right now and drop 25 bucks on the Dungeon World rule book.  You wont regret it.

Blackpowder over Harn

So, aside from the Burning Wheel game I'm going to be playing tomorrow, I'm also involved in a play by post game using the Fate rules by Evil Hat Games.  We are using a modified version of FAE, or Fate Accelerated Edition, which is the "light" version of Fate Core.  Fate is an interesting animal.  I ran a brief game of Call of Cthulhu using Fate Core a while back and while it was fun, the players just didn't like the system enough to continue.  I'm sure a lot of that was my fault as I was still trying to learn the system.  Anyway, the PbP game is using the Harn setting and is being run by my internet buddy, Geoff Spakes.  Geoff is known for his work on the western RPG Sidewinder:  Recoiled.  Yeah, I can name drop with the best of 'em!  I ran Sidewinder:  Recoiled at the DragonFlight convention a few years back and it was one of the most rewarding games I've ever run in a convention setting.

I've decided to run a rogue, which seems like an easy choice.  I've never really participated in a PbP game, so I wanted to play a pretty simple character.  Here's the initial idea:

Refresh:  3

High Concept:  Agile Rogue
Trouble:  Fish out of Water

  •  Quick as a Rabbit, Sly as a Fox
  •  Favored by Clan Zwaiga of Tawheim
  •  When words fail, my blade responds
  • Nimble as a Mouse - Because I'm deceptively dexterous, If I get a boost while I'm being a Rogue in a physical manner I may use it to create the situational aspect Befuddled Observers on the scene with 2 free invokes.
  • Silver Tongue - Because I've learned to talk myself out of a sticky situation, I get a +1 when I'm being diplomatic and trying to overcome a tense situation.
If you're familiar with Fate or FAE let me hear your thoughts.  I could use all the help I can get!

Oh, if you're curious about the version of FAE that we're using, here is the document: FAE+ .

Geoff, if I overstepped my bounds posting that, let me know and I'll yank it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Google+ is having a very interesting hash-tag thingy.  Each day you are asked to post about an RPG in your past.  Today was "Favorite Published Adventure".  Here's my entry for today:


Day 19 - Favorite Published Adventure

Vengeance of Dracula for the original Chill RPG by Pacesetter

I've never had more fun than when I ran this module for my brothers and some friends back in high school.  They were genuinely frightened during the tense confrontation with Dracula.  It's a classic gaming moment and one I'll not soon forget.  I miss this game.


I've been thinking about my expectations for the game these past few weeks.  I have to say, I don't personally know the GM yet, Brandon or Irminsul on the Burning Wheel Forums, but we've been chatting via e-mail quite a bit.  We've discussed the rules of the game and we've worked together to put the campaign background together.  Most of that is yet to be determined during character burning, but we have a good foundation down, as evidenced in the Player's Guide I linked to earlier.  I'm excited.  I love Brandon's ideas and so far we've worked together well.  I am fully confident that he will be an excellent GM and my group will love the game.

They will love the game, sure, but will they love the game system?  Burning Wheel is a dense collection of rules that fit nicely together, but have a lot of pieces.  This same group of players hated D&D 4th ed, tolerated Pathfinder, but loved Dungeon World.  Of course, I can hear their responses now, "I don't care what we play as long as we are playing something!"  That's generally how I feel as well, but I think (hope) that they may find the character depth in BW something that they really love.  When you "burn" a character in BW, you create a character with a deep background, contacts, and a fleshed out belief system.  The characters are ready to go on session one, ripe for the GM to exploit and use to further the campaign.  The motto of Burning Wheel is "Fight for what you Believe."  This is more than an empty saying, it's really what drives the game and gives it the depth and resonance that players love.

You know I'm excited for the game, I can't shut up about it!

Player's Guide to Midnight

While the game hasn't started yet and we have not yet burned characters, I did throw together a player's guide to help the players understand the world of Midnight.  Here it is:

Player's Guide to Eredane

Feel free to comment if you think there is something unique about the Midnight Setting that I forgot to include.  Keep in mind that the game is set in the late Third Age, before Izrador's final victory.  The focus of the game is supposed to be on the slow, inevitable march of the shadow of Izrador across Eredane.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Burning Midnight

I just can't help myself.  When I find a new game that intrigues me, I must play it.  Sadly, that means my players find our campaigns suddenly cast aside in favor of something new...and often something very different.

That's where The Burning Wheel by Luke Crane comes in.  We were enjoying a rousing campaign of Dungeon World and all was well with the world.  Then, on that proverbial dark and stormy night, I happened across a review of Burning Wheel Gold.  It grabbed me.  It slapped me about the head and shoulders and screamed in my face, "You must try this.  Now!"

How could I refuse?  So I purchased the rule book (It's actually quite reasonably priced at just 25 bucks!  Take that, WOTC!), dove into the Google+ community, and watched as many actual play videos as I could find.  I was convinced that I needed to play the game, the problem's damn complicated.  I was swimming!  I decided to seek help.

Long story short, I found a local player who is experienced at BW.  I coerced/bribed/begged until he agreed to run the game for my group.  I would actually be able to play the game and learn it before trying to run it for my hapless    So, the first session of what I'm calling "Burning Midnight" (you've got to have a pithy title for your game with the word burning in it.  Hey, it's in the rule book!) and the first session is scheduled to kick off this Friday, August 22nd.

Play report/reactions/review is forthcoming.  If I'm lucky I'll get some of the other players to post something as well.

TL;DR:  I'm playing Burning Wheel and I couldn't be happier.  Now go back and read the post, you lazy bastard!