(no subject)

Hey guys. I know most of you aren't Native, but we all share the frustration and understanding of what it's like to be woefully under and mis-represented in games. I found this game on Kickstarter. It's Indigenous, looks legit and stereotype free, and it's an RPG based on Southeastern Woodlands Cultures. I want to see this made so badly I can taste it. I want to play as a non-hokey un-mystical NDN in a game for once, and the guy doing it is actually planning on releasing it for free! Check it out, and if you can, throw a buck or two that way so it can get made.

Here's the link
Professor Layton

Going to market (selling used games)

Welcome to the next year GoC--now wake the hell up! =p

So this year I want to rid myself of a few games, mainly of the video variety, for a bit of space, cash and because I have I just don't like or plan on playing again.

But this endeavour is new to me, so whatever advice or tips or whatnot would be greatly helpful. Some the questions I have include, what particular service do some of yall use, how do I determine price based on the game's condition, is there some sort of price guide like there is for comic books and such.

*crossposted to A Dice Called Quest forum*
  • yeloson

Stars Without Number

Stars Without Number is a tabletop rpg where you travel around the galaxy to different planets and get into adventure and intrigue. (The link goes to the free PDF ebook version). It uses an old-school-ish system with some really smart updates, and great rules for generating different worlds and conflicts.

It's not Hitler's Future

So, you know at this point our expectations for rpgs and representation is pretty much bottomed out. SWN does the following things right:

1) Images of POC are in the book!
2) No default assumption about the cultures that you'll encounter
3) ...backed up by the name list in the back! There's several name lists, divided by culture, with a few paragraphs about clothing or food, and the acknowledgement that odds are good that what was traditional for us in the 21st century would be a massive throwback by the 31st century. The full cultures listed include: Arabic, Chinese, Nigerian, Indian, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, English. Obviously not entirely comprehensive, but the fact that it's not euro-centric is awesome.

Travel Space, Go Anywhere

SWN is designed for "sandbox play" which means the sort of RPG where you get a bunch of planets, put them on the map, and the players are free to go where ever they can get to, and side with whomever they want, etc. SWN gives some great advice on prepping for this kind of play, and running it, with a strong focus on exactly what you SHOULD focus on, so you can not waste time with things that will be useless in play.

The biggest highlight for me is the World Tags system- you roll twice on the chart and get two major features of the planet that are sources of conflict and drama. For example, if you know a planet has runaway AI and primarily works with heavy industry... well, you can already imagine the sort of drama that would fit there. SWN gives each Tag extra description- some possible problems, some allies, or further complications, so you have support in setting up your notes.

There's also interesting rules for dealing with factions, factional warfare - through economics, espionage, politics, and classic military force. Factions can also grow by capturing assets of other factions or gaining experience by fulfilling goals.

The only major issue I've got is the assumption that you'll want/need to build a whole sector of planets before playing - it makes more sense to make a few planets and then as the players travel, expanding the map accordingly.

Updated Old School System

SWN strips away most of the cruft and bullshit rules from Basic D&D, and adds some clean, quick features that just work better.

You still have stuff like 6 attributes, and randomly roll stats... except stats are very heavily weighted towards the center and modifiers are really small. It's pretty hard to roll a really crappy character. When you pick your class (Warrior, Psychic, Expert), you also can bump up one of you attributes to 14, so there's another layer of protection from rolling the completely wack character.

You choose two sets of skill packages- one representing your upbringing, another representing your training from your class - there's no point juggling or choices over skills- you pick the package and you get it - the end.

The major old-school-ism that sticks with SWN is Armor Class, hit points, and lethal combat. The GM's advice talks about the importance of letting players make and enact smart plans to get the drop on foes, or figure out what fights are too difficult, and, that players will probably want to avoid a lot of fights early on. I'm not sure how well this actually runs in play, until I play it, but that's the only thing flagging for me as a concern.

and a non-promotional post: poker

Remember there was a Texas Hold 'Em craze a few years back? (Is it still the top card game?)

This comes to mind because there's a poker night related to work. Am I going to put my job on the line in order to PLAY HARD? Even if there's nothing at stake but glory and victory? YES.

So: how does everyone feel about poker (hold 'em in specific, and gambling-based games in general). I'm curious since there are a lot of good reasons folks have to dislike such games. (For some friends of mine, the actual gambling bit is an instant turn-off.)

For me, I find that hold 'em specifically is a really balanced and engaging game, so long as the players are either (a) there is some money on the line, or (b) the players are supremely disciplined enough to act as if there was money on the line. The point is absolutely not the money itself; it is simply to enforce the right amount of conservatism towards your hand between hands so that the interesting gameplay can emerges. Then again, the "right amount of money" is extremely subjective. (When in doubt, have the minimum buy-in possible, and just knock any "high rollers" out of the game faster.) My advice to treat any buy-in as lost money, similar to if you are buying into a Magic draft or something like that.

Dance and the Dawn: a new LARP Kickstarter! (And a run in your town?)

So I wrote The Dance and the Dawn, a tabletop game of "dance and romantic tragedy", and it was pretty cool. My friend Warren liked the game and adapted into a live action game: gather with your friends, dress up in costumes, and have fun ballroom dancing while engaging in severe intrigue and romantic shenanigans. Thus far, each run of the game has been pretty epic.

Firstly: he's now running a Kickstarter for the Dance and the Dawn LARP. This project has a ton of potential. (If you arrange to get the PDF, then you'll be able to run a game in your own town!)

On that note: you should totally run a game in your own town! I know of a few folks in Seattle who'd be interested in such a thing, for example, and I'd be happy to link anyone to them.

Portal 2

One of my friends was kind enough to loan this to me, which I managed to power through over the weekend. I'll skip over the obvious stuff you can pull from the many reviews elsewhere. I'm going to talk a bit about how it's different than Portal 1, instead.

First, it's a longer game, but the pacing is good and it doesn't feel like it drags.

Compared to the first game, they do a much better job of highlighting "What to do next", and rarely did I feel completely at a loss as to trying to find out where I should be looking. This is a pretty big achievement given that they build really massive levels, and sometimes they do punk things like hide the place where you need to drop a portal at a corner view.

At the same time, the puzzles are a lot more constrained. The amount of surfaces you can drop a portal is constrained, and I found it mildly annoying. It meant that solutions to the puzzles where a little easier to figure out- because if you see a surface you know it's going to be used, whereas in Portal 1, sometimes the surfaces were just there. And, it also means it's really hard to come up with anything that can break a puzzle, which is actually one of the most fun aspects about Portal.

Non-spoilery story stuff- they go into the background of Apeture Science, and it's just as dystopian and fucked up as you'd expect. That said, I found the "And it gives you cancer! LOL!" theme... kinda old quick. It actually got me thinking about how few gamers are aware of stuff like putting radium into toothpaste or the Bhopal disaster and how much corporate disasters were not terribly far from the jokes in Portal in terms of gross negligence.

You do get to see a whole bunch of older testing chambers, which makes it even more creepy because you wonder how many people went through all this, and what injuries/deaths must have occurred along the way.

But the most creepy thing? All the other robots and AI's you encounter. It becomes quickly apparent that even the most innocuous automated objects, are, in fact sentient on some level and they're just as trapped in this hell hole as you are. There's numerous points when you happen to find things like air launchers humming songs to themselves or wall panels... dancing. It's really kind of horrifying.

The co-op game is a ton of fun, and sadly short. I think it has some puzzles which are more difficult than the single player campaign, but if you have a friend, it's usually easier to figure out ways to solve them.

Anyway- feel free to get spoiler-ific in the comments.


Vanquish is a fast, hyperkinetic 3rd person shooter, combining the best stuff of run and gun with cover type shooting games. That said, the story is more plot hole than plot, and pretty poorly written. There's no POC and it's all about grumbly white men in power armor, and the hot blonde woman in a mini skirt, and evil President Hillary Clinton. More on that at the end...

So, gameplay is really cool - the levels are linear, but the pop and drop rooms and layout of cover is really well set up. Your power armor lets you power-slide, which is crucial for moving from cover to cover, which you'll need to do as the enemies become smarter about flanking and rushing you.

The limit is, power-sliding too much overheats your suit which leaves you slower and weaker while it cools down.

The game does an excellent job of ramping up difficulty without just adding more enemies. You'll find the same enemy type you fought a few levels ago is a lot tougher in tighter spaces, or different environments. There's a few gimmick levels, but they don't feel too gimmicky- fights on the back of moving trains, flying vehicles, zero-G levels, etc.

Story-wise.... eh. In the future, Russians take over a US space colony and use it's microwave beam to fry San Francisco. You play aforementioned grumbly white man Sam, who is using prototype power armor to help free the station and rescue the scientist who helped build his armor and the station.

Basically, the rest of the story is terrible action movie cliches which don't make sense in their context. Lots of important things go left unexplained: Why do the Russians have such awesome robots? How is it they can teleport things and you can't? "Temporal Disturbance" is mentioned- the Russians can travel through time? I don't know!

At the end of it all, the non-spoiler spoiler is that Evil President Hillary Clinton was working with the Russians on this, and shoots herself in the head, and you get to her laid out with the gory head wound.

...I'm not sure what hate-on they have for Hillary to take it that far, but clearly there's deep issues at hand with the writer.

Overall, the game has really fun game play, and shitty story. Which, I guess is classic Sega. I recommend it if you're into hyper shooting games, as the gameplay is excellent. I don't recommend it for anything else.