Friday, August 07, 2015

Return to the Dungeon Crawl

Last week I bought the Warhammer Quest video game on Steam. While it's plagued with the actrocious idea that everything from characters to monsters to tilesets needs to be its own DLC pack, it is a fairly faithful translation of the classic (dare I say "ultimate") dungeon crawling boardgame. I've been battling my way through dungeon after dungeon in a quest for loot and levels and thoroughly enjoying every second. It got me in the mood again to look at both my own collection of dungeon crawler board games and what is coming on the horizon, not to mention the idea of putting together a dungeon crawler of my own as well.

On the horizon is Dungeon Saga from Mantic Games. It looks a lot like Warhammer Quest, which isn't surprising since Mantic makes a lot of games that are similar to many Games Workshop titles from Blood Bowl to Warhammer 40K and Fantasy. (Seriously, check them out at Mantic Games. They are the anti-Games Workshop with good games, great minis, and a company that really seems to care about their customers.) What really interests me with this game is the Adventurer's Companion that is going to contain rules for creating heroes based on figs from your own collection, no matter who made the mini. You'd never see Games Workshop do that! I'm eagerly awaiting Dungeon Saga's release next month, and I hope that it's quickly carried by a retailer stateside.

I've got a lot of these kind of games from the well known (Heroquest, Castle Ravenloft, and Descent) to the obscure (Dragonfire to an older D&D board game from the early 90's whose name escapes me at the moment) and a ton of minis from those game as well as a vast assortment of other figures from Reaper to Mage Knight to the D&D prepainted minis line. It would be great to draw up on that vast store of figures and dust them off for some crawling action. However, as it's been with deciding on what rules to use for my Mythic Space setting, deciding on which system to adapt my collection to has been tough. With Dungeon Saga still a month away, I think what I'm going to do is adapt the Warhammer Quest system into my own game.

Warhammer Quest hits the sweet spot for me in terms of crunch and ease of play. However, I am going to make a few changes to how the system works. I'm going to D20-ify it a bit. Gone will be thw WS charts. Instead, characters will have a base bonus. The bonus will be rolled against the opponent's Melee bonus +10. Much of the game still runs very much the same, however. I'm also changing up character creation a bit. I'm going with a race/class set up. That way I can have elven rogues alongside halfling clerics and dwarven warriors. Classes have set stats with the races adding in possible modifiers and a racial ability or two. Classes will have a selection of abilties to choose from at start and others for when the characters level up. The Winds of Magic still plays a huge part in both keeping spellcasters in check and adding an extra element of danger to the dungeon.

Monster stats will run in much the same way as well. Opponent spellcasters will often roll on a random table of spells to determine what spell is cast (for co-op or solo games). Many of the monster special abilities will be standardized to make the game flow faster.

I'm still knocking around ideas for how I'm going to handle treasure. I'm thinking I may simplify the charts I use to randomize magic items in S&W (which is modified from the Diablo II rpg sets). However, the idea of having a set of cards to just draw treasure from has a lot of appeal as well, even if is would mean more work on my part.

As for the dungeon creation system, I'm going to largely use my Warhammer Quest sets since that's the rules base as well, but I do have some ideas for using D&D Adventure games tiles as well.

Unlike many other projects, this one seems to be going really fast. It's a nice change of pace to work on a light-hearted, really simple game for a while. That said, I'm starting to feel the itch to get back to Mythic Space. We'll see. If I keep playing Warhammer Quest, I may stick with this for a while...

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Fantasy Flight Games Once Again Wants All My Money

Well, it's Gen Con time again and once again it's time for a crap-ton of new game announcements. Now, I'm going to delve into the news that is coming out about Savage Worlds, but since there is so damn much that has come out and is continuing to hit, I'm going to wait to post about that later. Let's just say that Rifts is shaping up nicely (even though it's release has been pushed into early next year) and there is a LOT of great SW material coming out!

In this post I want to focus on Fantasy Flight Games. FFG has always been pretty prolific, and make some really great games. Much of my board game shelf space is made up of their offerings. They have announced a ton of new games and expansions that are going to bust what little game budget I have these days. Not just bust, but obliterate. It will likely be a long time before I catch up with all of these games, but at least there's always something exciting on the horizon!

First off is the next wave of expansions for Imperial Assault. Now, the next wave hasn't shipped yet (should be soon since they've been listed as "on the boat" for nearly 2 months now, and there's a wave in between the one about to hit and the one announced this week, so there's a lot of material in the pipe for IA. This wave will add Hoth-based characters, missions, scenarios, and tiles to the game. the wave will consist of a new small box expansion that will add the tiles, 3 new hero characters (including a Mon Calamarian and a 2-1B Medical Droid), 6 snowtroopers, 3 HK Assassin Droids, 2 Wampas (!), and a SC2-M Repulsor Tank! Just like with the small box expansion that is due out soon, this one will feature a bounty hunter as well, Dengar, who will be one of the figure expansions in this wave. The other figures will be Princess Leia in her Hoth gear, Echo Base Trooper ally pack, and a General Sorin villain pack. I really like IA and hope this trend of numerous expansion waves each year continues.

Next up is new material for Descent 2nd Edition. A new box expansion, the Mists of Bilehall, Unlike other expansion sets for Descent, this one won't offer up an new heroes or expansions of class skill sets. Nope, Bilehall is all about bolstering the strength of the Overlord player. The theme for this set is creepy undead menaces. Along with a new one act campaign, the set will include new rules for Tainted heroes, 12 figures: 6 Reanimates (skeletons), 3 Broodwalkers (disease-ridden zombies covered in bugs), and 3 Bone Horrors (a sort of snake like golem made completely out of bones). This set will also introduce 3 new Lieutenants for the Overlord as well as figure expansions for each. (I've never picked up any of the Lieutenant packs. Never seemed like they added much to the game.)

There's a new edition of Runebound coming out by the end of the year (more likely early next year). The Terrain Dice are still a factor, but the game is touted as being different enough that none of the earlier material will be compatible. Only 4 heroes are included in the base game, which is a big change as well. There will be differing paths that heroes can take on their journey to complete their quest: Combat, Social, and Exploration. A hero can focus on one arena to complete their goals or mix and match the three. The combat is very, very different and one aspect that interests me. Both the hero and the creature toss or roll a bunch of tokens. Depending on how these land each can use them to attack defend power special attacks/spells and so forth. I've had a love-hate relationship with Runebound in the past. The first edition was, well, it just wasn't very fun. The Second edition was much improved, but it still just didn't grab me. I like the idea of what the game is trying to do, but it just hasn't clicked yet. That said, I am interested, which is why I'm posting about it, but this is one that I will definitely wait until I can try it out at the FLGS first.

Finally we come to the "big dog" of FFG's announcements: a new Warhammer Quest. I've been a huge fan of WQ since I first laid eyes on it back in 1996. I now own two base sets, the Catacombs of Terror expansion, and several of the expansion hero packs. That's not even counting the mountains of new monsters and heroes I've either created or downloaded of the net over the years. Needless to say, I'm a big fan of WQ, so seeing the banner across the top of FFG's homepage made me giddy like a schoolgirl. However, my hopes of a new and updated dungeon crawler with a solo component was quickly dashed by finding out this version of WQ is a card game. I should have known. There is little chance of FFG putting out a new version of WQ in the style of the original game when they have the Descent line. While I would vastly prefer the new WQ be more like the old, I am interested in this new game. I've never been one for card games beyond poker and blackjack. They largely don't interest me. However, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game has shown me that such a game is possible and can be interesting. I have my doubts that a card game will be able to capture the same feel as the original dungeon crawler, but I will be itching to try this out once it hits later on this year (once again, knowing FFG's schedule it'll likely be early next year).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Coming Out of the Dark

Jeesh, what a couple of months, between work, my eldest son's baseball games and practices, vacation, and more work I haven't had much time to do much of any writing lately. Honestly, while I have worked on some system tweaks for my master rules for the Savage Worlds version of Mythic Space, I haven't really felt very inspired to write. I've been in a nearly two month funk, and it doesn't show any sign of easing up. Oh well.

Part of my malaise is that damned ol' gamer ADD. I've been thinking about systems again. With the release of White Star, I've been thinking about the Frankenstein's Monster of a heartbreaker I was writing a year or two ago. There are a couple of other systems that have caught my eye as well. I'm becoming more interested in Numenera and The Strange with the Cypher System Core Rules on the horizon. My initial read through of those books left me a bit cold but interested enough to keep them on the shelf. Something has got me checking them out again. I'm still not sold on the system, but they are damn pretty books.

The other system I've been keeping my eye on is E.N. Publishing's W.O.I.N. system. Russ Morrissey is working hard on getting this out. You can check out the starter set and the ever-changing SRD at the link above. Dice pool systems are typically my bag, and the system reads like there's a lot of crunch there, but don't let it fool you. The game plays pretty damned smooth once you get the hang of it, which doesn't take long (from what I got to see during a playtest).

I did pick up and get several new board games between Father's Day and my birthday. I haven't got to do much with them yet, but I hope to soon. I now have in my collection Star Wars Imperial Assault, Dungeonquest Revised, Drakon (the new edition), Robo Rally, The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus, the Blood in the Forest expansion for Last Night on Earth, all but the Pretty Pretty Smash Up expansion for Smash Up, and Cards Against Humanity. Not too bad of a haul!

Friday, June 12, 2015

More Thoughts on the new Marvel Universe (SPOILERS AHEAD)

It's a very slow day today at the office, so I found myself perusing a bit reading about the goings on at Marvel and around comics in general. I've heard rumors about big changes in store for the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, and now it appears that we may have an idea of where these teams are going (or not going) once the revamped Marvel U is unveiled.

There will be spoilers ahead, you have been warned so don't cry to me if you keep reading.

First to the Fantastic Four. I was never a big fan of the FF when I was a kid, but as I've gotten older I've developed and appreciation for what the FF brought to the Marvel U. I still think a lot of the stories are hokey and goofy, but there's a sense of wonder and innocence in the early tales that is really hard to come by today (though you can still get that feel from the Guardians of the Galaxy...or at least I do). The FF has been a cornerstone of the Marvel U pretty much since the beginning. It's hard to imagine Marvel without Reed and the gang galivanting around the world and the cosmos battling aliens, monsters, and super-villains with fisticuffs and super-science...well, get ready, the FF are about to be no more. It's no secret that Marvel has had a rough relationship with Fox, who owns the movie rights to the Fantastic Four (and the X-Men). Two crappy movies, and what looks and sounds like a third on the way and little to no desire to cooperate like Sony (who own the movie rights to Spidey) has, has forced Marvel to play hardball the only way they can: by wiping out the team in the new universe. (See the story here, but be wary of spoilers.) The book is ending it's storied run, and there will be little merchandising for the team beyond trade paperbacks. The characters will still be part of the MU (or at least most of them), but they are going to be part of different teams.

As for the X-Men, the movie rights are also owned by Fox, but unlike the FF the X-Men are still big sellers for Marvel/Disney. The X-Men will still have their own book(s), but they will be living somewhere else in the cosmos. (Read about all of this here.) This doesn't feel quite as jarring of a change since the X-Men have had an element of spaciness to it since the beginning of the Chris Claremont run, and recent events between the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy have pointed the team in that direction as well. The Inhumans are hoped to take the place of the mighty mutants on Earth however. They'll still be part of the Universe, but they won't have much interaction with it. Like the FF, Marvel is pulling the lisences for X-Men toys, models, and so on as well. So again, playing hardball the only way they can: limiting brand prominence in the comics in hopes of de-valuing the brand for Fox.

It's highly speculated that the new Marvel U will look a lot more like the Cinematic Universe. Marvel/Disney would love all of their characters to be a part of that universe. Really, the recent Marvel movies have been great, so I'd love to see what they could do with Spider-Man, the FF, and the X-Men (though other than X3 and Origins: Wolverine Fox has done fairly well with the X-Men franchise...the FF...not so much). This is among one of the things that is really kind of putting me off on the new vision of the Marvel Universe. I realize that Marvel/Disney wants to maximize profits, and they have every right to do so, and they may even be able to pull off the changes to the FF and X-Men in a way that doesn't frankly suck, but the reasons behind these changes are always going to suck and have nothing to do with the comics themselves. Good thing that Sony is allowing use of Spider-Man in small doses, otherwise there may not be a Peter Parker in the new Marvel U...which may be why there are so many other Spider-folk running about.

In the end, I really do hope that Marvel/Disney are able to one again get the rights to all of their franchises back from Sony and Fox. Many of the movies for Spidey have been alright to great (ASM2 and SM3 notwithstanding) like most of the X-Men movies have been good. It's obvious that Fox doesn't know what to do with the Fantastic Four (we'll see how the new movie goes, but it's doesn't sound promising at all), and with there not being a FF book on the racks at all, one would think that Fox will finally relent and sell the right back. Plus, the FF aren't as popular as the X-Men, and haven't been for 30 years now (if not longer), so that brand value will likely only continue to deteriorate if the next movie flops and there isn't a dedicated FF book to keep it in the public eye. Spidey will be tougher to get back since the movies make money even if they aren't always that great. The X-Men...right now Fox is doing alright with their strange universe, but we'll see what happens after X-Men: Apocalypse. As least they aren't completely screwing that up like the FF.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rebooting Universes

It's happening again, DC is rebooting the DCU (a "soft" reboot this time, but a reboot none the less) and now Marvel is following suit. When the New 52 came along I gave it a shot, and after a the third month I realized that it's just not for me. I gave up on the DCU, and really the reboot made it easy to walk away. Really, I've always been more of a Marvel man anyway. With the Marvel reboot, I'm faced with the same situation: do I keep going or is this another good opportunity to jump ship?

I'm not really keen on what I'm seeing out of the previews for the new Marvel Universe. So far, it's really Spider-heavy. (I thought the Spider-Gwen idea was great for the Spider-verse storyline, but not as a regular character in the main universe.) Granted, we haven't seen the entirety of the new line-up from Marvel, but so far it's not really all that exciting to me. I'll give it 2-3 months to see what I think, but this may be where Marvel and I part ways (except for their Star Wars series, which have been very good so far).

I have to say that I'm more than just a little bit sad with the Marvel reboot. Marvel typically went the route of the in-story retcon. Many times, these were silly retcons, but sometimes they are done well enough that they don't annoy me. (Dark Phoenix Saga is one of my favorite Marvel storylines, which was really just a big retcon.) Still, silly or not, those story-based retcons are what I prefer because they keep the universe in tact (by and large). Marvel kept the decades of history in tact and didn't reboot the universe everytime they wrote themselves into a corner. I guess those days are least for now. After all, the only constant in comic universes is that nothing is permanent. (Although DC tripping all over themselves with just about every move they make is nearing a level of permanency rarely seen in comic history...)

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

I know, I know...

Yeesh, it's been a long time since I've posted much of anything lately. I am back home from my work detail, but I haven't had a lot of time to write...well...that's not entirely true. This last weekend I allowed myself to get sucked back into Civilization V. I played the Germans to a science victory by 1922 over the weekend, so I think that I've got that out of my system for a while...maybe...

However, I've been mulling some things over. The release of White Star has me blowing the dust off of my Alternity/D20 Modern/SWN Frankenstein's Monster of a game. Plus, I'm still dealing with a some pretty serious writer's fatigue. I don't know that I can even truly call it writer's fatigue rather than general fatigue from work, travel, home obligations, etc. that have sapped my desire to do much more of anything other than veg out when I get home. I can't say whether or not I'm going to do much work with it or just stick with Savage Worlds and Rogue Space, but we'll see.

On the gaming front, though, I ordered a copy of Star Wars: Imperial Assault (and I'm going to place an order for the first round of character packs shortly). I like Descent, which IA uses a very close version of that system. It sounds like a load of fun, plus, it's Star Wars. Even if the game stinks, I'm still getting a load of cool miniatures I can use elsewhere, not to mention game boards.

At any rate, I'm feeling the itch to be a bit more creative again. Not sure how much of that will reach the blog as opposed to just getting stuff written in general, but after the last few weeks of just nothing that's a step in the right direction.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Delays and Quandries

I've been basically nonexistent around here lately. I just haven't either had the time to write or if I had the time, I haven't had the desire. I'm on the road for work right now, living out of a hotel in Texas. While I do have my laptop with me and it's loaded with everything I'd need to churn out adaptations, I've been too exhausted at the end of the day to do anything other than lay on the bed and watch TV. I hope to get to some writing today, but we'll see. It's been a long week and I'm staring down the barrel of another long week before I finally get to head home.

The other aspect of why I haven't written much of anything lately, is that White Star hit the e-shelves, and I've been digesting it of late. It's a great OSR sci-fi game based on the Swords and Wizardry White Box rules. It's got me considering dusting off my own combo hack of S&W/SWN/D20 Modern/Alternity. However, while I like the game and hope to get a chance to play sometime soon once I get home, I still waffle on wanting to change gears back to OSR sci-fi. On the plus side, I can eyeball the heck out OSR games. The system has long since become second nature to me. However, there's that block in my head that doesn't like a class & level based system for sci-fi. It's silly. Levels and classes work just as well for sci-fi as they do for fantasy, but I just can't seem to get past it. It would make conversion/adaptation a breeze if I switched, but I don't know that that is enough for me to make the change (again).

Still, I highly recommend checking out White Star. It's pretty heavily inspired by Star Wars, but there are a lot of homebrew classes out there now that will allow you to swap out the SW elements for a flavor more to your liking.