To Boldly Nerd…

Video games, pen&paper RPGs and other nerdery

22/03/2017
by Kadomi
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Play Report: Pandemic Legacy March

One of my favorite boardgames is Pandemic. I generally love cooperative board games. When Pandemic Legacy was released, however, I let it pass me by, just like I never bothered to pick up any expansions to it. An expensive board game that you might possibly only play a dozen times? I didn’t understand the allure. Yet, Pandemic legacy ranks at number 1 board game at Board Game Geek, and was nominated for the prestigious German award Kennerspiel des Jahres. It had to have something. That’s why I gave it to my board game fiend of a spouse for Christmas. We played the first month, and I finally got it. It’s amazing!

Pandemic Legacy

It doesn’t matter which color box you buy, btw.

What’s the difference between Pandemic and the Legacy version?

Immediately upon opening the box you will notice a number of things that are different. Sheets of stickers, secret dossiers with letters and numbers on them, 8 black boxes with who knows what inside and much much much room for new rule additions in the rulebook. Additionally, you get a stack of Legacy cards. In Legacy you play a campaign, and Pandemic with a real plot is revolutionary. The plot stretches over a year. You start with January and get two tries to beat the objective of the month. This means that with 2 tries per month, the maximum amount of times you will play this game is 24, before the campaign ends.

The adjustment of the difficulty level is genius. You start with a funding level of 4, meaning you get to pick your choice of 4 event cards to be shuffled into the deck for drawing. Each time you win, your funding level goes down by 2. Each time you lose, your funding level goes up by 2. After each round, no matter if you lose or win, you pick 2 permanent upgrades. You improve your character, have positive mutations to your diseases, permanent science centers, etc.

The first month starts out like every other Pandemic game, just with different jobs available, and you can name the characters. I am playing the medic. His name is Harry Petersen, he’s from Hamburg, and out to eradicate all diseases in the world. The game changes quickly, however. After the second epidemic you have to draw a Legacy card, and the game changes. Legacy cards will include narrative, and then instructions what to do. Open dossiers, draw more cards, until you get to the next Legacy card in the stack, etc. Opening dossiers and seeing all the new stuff is incredibly fun.

Our first game did not go so great. We won by the skin of our teeth in the first try, but it was super-close. We had a total of 7 out of 8 possible outbreaks. In Legacy, cities that had an outbreak receive a sticker indicating their status. The higher the level of unrest, the more dire the consequences. Airports close, science centers get burnt down, and in the worst case the city is completely destroyed. So, good job us, 7 unstable cities in one go. We’re currently stuck with two cities at level 2, Los Angeles and Milan. Oy!

Once you successfully meet the objectives of a month, you get an advantage in the following month, which is cool. Starting from month 2, you get your first rule changes that you really do not know from the base game.

Currently, we always play the mission matching the current month, just happened that way. On Sunday we finally had time to tackle March.

The ides of March

We were expecting March to be tough. We beat both January and February first try and so had a funding level of 0. Also, the board shows how many objectives you have to meet. March is the first month with two objectives.

During setup, we drew terribly when it came to which cities got 3 cubes. We had no clue how terribly our luck would run. Within a few turns, we had lost our first game of Legacy. If you know Pandemic: yes, the cities with four cubes would all have chained, but we had already run out of yellow cubes. :p

Pandemie Niederlage

The day the Americas died… It was bloody awful

I mentioned above how much I like the difficulty adjustments. We were able to pick 2 permanent upgrades after try 1, and our funding level went up to 2. After picking 2 nice event cards we braved it again. Huzzah, we managed both objectives very successfully, plus we only had a single outbreak.

A turn before our victory, Mo had to join us.

March added another mechanic, and a new character, which we didn’t use. We currently are using medic and quaratine specialist, and that works pretty well. I am looking forward to our April game, where we might possibly have a guest player. It’s going to be grand.

Even my cat can’t believe it, I am shredding cards.

The toughest moment of each game is when Legacy tells you to destroy cards. It really requires something to actually go ahead with it. In Legacy, the characters may die, and you’re supposed to rip up the cards. I am not sure I could, if Harry ever dies!

One thing is sure, once Pandemic Legacy Season 2 is released and we have finished the first season, it will be a mandatory purchase. It’s really the best coop game I could imagine. It should have won Kennerspiel des Jahres. The actual winner, Isle of Skye is very good, but it’s just a Carcassonne variant with flexible victory conditions and a bid mechanism. It doesn’t really bring much new to the table. That’s IMHO, of course.

To finish this off, here’s some bonus kitties, because they also seem to enjoy this game.

Pandemic Kitties

Yes, he’s a big derp.

 

 

13/03/2017
by Kadomi
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Completed: Uncharted 4

Aside from pen&paper roleplaying games, I love videogames. Since I am back on an MMO break (again), I finally have time to tend to my immense backlog of PC and PS4 games. In my new category ‘Completed’ I will write about games that I actually completed for a change.

One of my favorite PC-games from 2013 was the Tomb Raider reboot. Back then, I always read that it’s close to the Uncharted games in quality. A series of games that can top Tomb Raider? I wanted to play them! I had no Playstation at the time, but when I got a PS3 in 2015, I got my hands on all 3 Uncharted games. They were my absolute highlights, together with Heavy Rain. If I have to pick a favorite, I will always say Uncharted 2: Among Thieves from 2009. The developer Naughty Dog only produces PS-exclusives, and they always get the best out of the console with each of their games.

Uncharted 2

The intro has you dangling from a train wreck, it’s amazing.

Last year saw the release of Uncharted 4, closing the saga of Nathan Drake, the most exciting archaeologist since Indiana Jones. Unlike Indy Nate mostly has altruistic motives for his treasure hunting and has been a scoundrel since his youth. You find out more about young Nate in flashbacks. Anyone who wants to avoid spoilers should probably stop reading here.

The pirate treasure of Henry Avery

The first chapter shows a younger Nate in Panama. He’s in jail, but for a purpose, together with his elder brother Sam, hitherto unknown, and their financier Rafe Adler. The trail of the largest pirate treasure ever is leading to a tower that can only be accessed through the prison. From there, the trail leads to Scotland. When the three try to get out of the prison to continue their hunt, Sam is shot and left to die.

UC4 Jail

What an idyllic prison.

15 years later, following the events of Uncharted 3, Nate has forsaken life as a scoundrel for his wife Elena. He’s working as a salvage diver, which is not that exciting. But one day his brother Sam suddenly shows up. He wasn’t killed but instead spent 15 years in that prison until he was able to get away when his cell neighbor, an infamous drug mobster, was broken out by his goonies. However, Sam had bragged about the pirate treasure, and the drug mobster is now blackmailing Sam, setting a deadline until Sam has to bring him the treasure of Henry Avery. Sam is now looking for Nate’s help. The younger Drake agrees, but does not divulge this to his wife Elena.

That much for the basics of the plot. Uncharted 4 is full of exciting locations full of amazing graphics. Italy, Scotland, Madagascar, and the paradise island Libertalia. The latter really knocked my socks off, it’s that gorgeous. The latter locations are a bit similar to Nate’s hunt for El Dorado in Uncharted 1 and yet show how much Naughty Dog are pushing their game.

New Devon

One of the gorgeous views on Libertalia

What’s new in Uncharted 4?

Those who played the 3 previous games of the series, will be directly familiar with the gameplay. The series usually consists of three elements: climbing, puzzles and 3rd person gunfights with a cover system. Furthermore, there’s a number of Quicktime Events in action sequences. The whole package is wrapped in cinematics. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s a cut-scene or actual gameplay. Uncharted really is the videogame equivalent to summer action blockbusters. A popcorn game. If you don’t like those, you might not like these games.

Uncharted 4 adds three new ingredients to this recipe. Stealth, a grappling hook and a climbing hook. Stealth takes some getting used to, but it really grew on me. You hide in the rich flora and stealthily kill your opponents, a mercenary band called Shoreline. This makes the battle sequences a lot easier, my least favorite part of the Uncharted games. If you manage to kill the majority of enemies from stealth, it’s definitely easier to get rid of the other mercenaries once you are detected. Furthermore, even on Moderate difficulty, you can turn auto-targeting on, which really makes gunfights a doozy, which I like.

UC Grappling Hook

The grappling hook in action, Tarzan-style

Most climbing sequences now require the use of two tools. You are introduced to the grappling hook in one of the early chapters. Pressing L1 you throw the hook, climb down the rope or swing across chasms. In the final third of the game you find a climbing hook that you can hammer into porous walls mid-jump to continue climbing. I didn’t care for this tool because it didn’t really add more difficulty to the climbs nor make it more exciting, opposed to the various uses of the grappling hook.

The puzzle sequences were easily solvable and I enjoyed them quite a bit. Maybe a bit too easy, alas. My personal highlight was the clock tower in King’s Bay. The 17th century pirates led by Henry Avery really had quite advanced technology, hah.

An (more) open world

If there’s one element all games so far share it’s their linearity. You basically ran down an invisible tunnel with no alternative routes. Uncharted 4 does things a bit differently. It’s not a sandbox by any means, but I was stunned in some points. On Madagascar you drive your jeep through the landscape and there are no invisible walls, you can drive around, with sometimes no immediate hint where you are supposed to go news. Fear not, after a while the game points you into the right direction again. Driving the jeep is a ton of fun. The views are amazing.

It’s not an Uncharted game if there is no crazy action sequence or chase. In Uncharted 4, Nate first flees in his jeep, then on a motorbike. The maps are enormous, and gorgeous. It’s definitely a wild ride. All maps are far bigger than the maps in previous games. Still, the chase does not beat the famous trainride from Uncharted 2, IMHO.

Summary

Uncharted 4 is great entertainment for everyone who loves a lot of story in their action games. There’s twists and turns, betrayal and romance, and it’s a fine conclusion to the Nathan Drake saga. However, he must have the most forgiving wife in the history of ever, which seemed really off to me. It really is Nate’s final adventure, I think the epilogue made that clear. I will miss the characters. The voice acting is absolutely stellar. The interactions between Nate and Sam, voiced by the veteran voice actors Nolan North and Troy Baker, their constant banter, I loved it. Same for Nate and Elena.

On my personal ranking, Uncharted 4 moved slightly ahead of Uncharted 2, simply because it’s so personal and extensive. Uncharted 3 and 1 are way behind those two titles. I am really looking forward to the really last Uncharted adventure likely to be published: Uncharted – The Lost Legacy. Without Nathan Drake, but with two female protagonists we’ve already met before:  Chloe Frazer from Uncharted 2 and 3, and the mercenary Nadine Ross from Uncharted 4, searching for treasure in India.

 

07/03/2017
by Kadomi
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Numenera Play Report: Vortex Part 2

Since summer 2016 I have been GMing a Numenera campaign. Originally planned as oneshot, I turned it into a campaign because we had so much fun. I came up with a crazy plot idea (think invasion of the body snatchers), which might be a touch too crazy for my players to follow. We started out with three players, and now there’s four, all tier 2.

The characters

  • Sam, a Vengeful Nano, who Employs Magnetism
  • Lemy, a Weird Jack, who Fuses Mind and Machine
  • Ophelia, a Clumsy Glaive, who Exists Partially between Phases
  • Tidus, a Curious Glaive, who Wears a Sheen of Ice

During the campaign I also use published adventures that I place within my plot. On Sunday we continued the adventure Vortex. This was the launch adventure that Monte Cook Games used at Gencon 2013 when Numenera was first presented. The adventure can be split into two separate parts that you can play independent of each other. You can stop after part 1 as the second part is not ideal for tier 1 characters. As my group is tier 2, I went ahead and ran both parts. Warning, spoiler alert from this point onwards.

In part 1, the group went hunting for a mysterious building, the Narthex. It teleports around the world, only ever staying a couple days, and inside it’s Tardis-style, much much bigger. Inside, they found a bunch of cultists that actually kidnap people to increase the site of their cult. To stop this, the group infiltrated the cult, got rid of the insane leader and kicked out his second-in-command. Shortly after those events, the group heard a mysterious voice, inviting them over to where ever it was. The voice led the group to a magical well, strange numenera grabbed the party and dunked them in the well. This covered them up in a strange armor. The voice asked the group to enter the Vortex, a weird glowing portal. The cultists worship the Vortex as the source of all life.

 

Vortex

Mysterious building plus cultists, check!

Enter the Vortex!

In the Sunday session, the group did actually enter the Vortex. They ended up in a room made of green synth that showed signs of destruction, and was extremely warm, despite the armor. The ground was trembling, in the distance material was groaning. The Radiant Citadel, as the voice had called it, seemed doomed. The voice invited the group to join it in the communication room, to talk to the voice.

As the group went down a curved hallway, Tidus looked out of one of the windows. The windows were partly shielded, but not all of them. Looking outside, Tidus stared into incredibly bright light, blinding him temporarily. The group found a control mechanism to darken the windows completely. Sam and Lemy were able to operate it due to their extensive numenera knowledge. Sam didn’t stop, and caused a loss of gravity, with the group floating around until Lemy was able to reverse it.

Upon further exploration, the group heard heavy steps. Apparently they had triggered an alarm. First they were able to evade the guard mechanism, but not permanently. In one of the storerooms, they engaged in combat against a metallic, armored guard with a glowing sword of energy and a shield. Only the heaviest of attacks, distraction and teamwork allowed the group to defeat it. Sam was able to remove the sword from the armor, and Ophelia now uses this broadsword of fire, a powerful artifact.

The group rushed through the citadel that was collapsing faster now. They avoid falling into tears or being sucked outside the building. Eventually they found the communication room where the voice turned out to be a creature of energy, Aerridomos. This creature asked the group to repair the citadel, or if that was impossible to send him and his fellow energy creatures into exile. The citadel turned out to be a station in the corona of the sun, harvesting energy, for an unknown purpose. In return for their assistance the creature offered an override code for the controls of the Narthex, the teleporting building on the other side of the Vortex. The group was very keen on such a code.

The group found a locked room. Ophelia used her ability of shifting phase to walk into this room. She was able to tell the others that a strange ball of light was floating in there. The Numenera experts figured out a way to open the door. Pooling all his knowledge, Lemy figured out that the floating ball allows the creation and modification of things. Risking his life, he used the ball of light to repair the citadel completely.

Bodily Needs

With the collapse of the station turned away, the group explored the rest of the citadel in peace, finding a couple cyphers and oddities. Aerridomos stuck with his promise and provided the group with a transparent slip of synth, for the override of the Narthex. The group decided to stay the night, so that Lemy would be able to return to use the ball of light again. The possibilities seemed limitless! One of the many items of their to-do-list were crab-eyes for Boregal, their petrified brain companion.

After a night’s rest, the group had an urgent problem: toilet facilities required! Only Lemy would have been fine peeing in an empty room, the others wanted facilities. Lemy used the ball of light again, to create two toilets and a rest area for the group. However, it seemed that using this artifact will not be feasible forever, as it made Lemy’s ears bleed, and the ball of light went dim. Was the artifact depleted?

As the group wanted to wait and see if the ball of light would receive energy, they decided to walk through the Vortex again. Upon their return, two cultists were praying in the Vortex room. The cultists took the armored party to be god-like beings from the Vortex, and called them the Vortexlings.

The rest of the cult joined to show their worship for the new gods of the Vortex, which was the end of our session.

 

GM-Notes

Radiant Knight

That was pretty fun! I wasn’t wholly satisfied, but then I never am. It didn’t feel as threatening as I wanted it to feel like. I created tears in the citadel, Sam was almost sucked into the sun, and yet. Just not as dangerous as I wanted it to be. The grand finale of the collapsing citadel with the party rushing to the exit never happened, due to the two Numenera geniuses in the party. The fight against the Radiant Knight was also not as exciting as hoped. Due to the heavy armor, he just didn’t really do any damage. I should have tweaked that. At least the group seemed to feel he was very threatening!

The party used a wishing well to repair the station, a level 8 Numenera. I had assumed they would not manage the roll, but I was so wrong. 2 effort, teamwork, and a book as asset, and the difficulty was down to 4. Lemy failed a couple of the rolls, but he used XP multiple times for re-rolls. Maybe I should limit the amount of times you can re-roll. However, I am finding that Numenera characters level really quickly. Just about every adventure they are able to improve their characters permanently. This means I am quite happy that players also use XP to re-roll.

I was happy to see that the players are ready to use XP and pools a lot. When we started playing, people were super-careful with their pools and effort, and now they’re not.

The party is now able to control the Narthex. Until now, it jumped to a random location every three days. The group can’t decide freely where the building will jump to now, but they have a map of fixed points that they can steer the building to. It’s powerful, but I really like this! I want the players to experience the wonders of the Ninth World, as written in the setting, Ninth World Guidebook and other sources. Maybe even Sagus Cliffs from the new Numenera video game. So many possibilities. I like world exploration, hoping my players like it too.

Looking forward to our next session in April. I think the players will probably turn back to the plot now, now that they have a traveling building they can control. On their search for an artifact to stop the impending end of the world, the group will have to travel to Matheunis, the Cold Desert.

 

03/03/2017
by Kadomi
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RPG: HarmonQuest

Today, someone came to look at a problem with wet walls that we’re having (blegh) which meant I worked from home today. As my job allows for entertainment on the side, and I have two monitors, I used the opportunity to catch up on HarmonQuest. What can I say? 10 episodes later I am quite excited about this show, which is fun entertainment for tabletop roleplayers.

But what exactly is it? It’s an American show with 30-minute episodes, in which three comedians and a guest star (two in the finale) play a game of Pathfinder. As I am a Pathfinder GM myself, I was intrigued.

Actual Play/Animation-Hybrid

The comedians are Dan Harmon (Community, Harmontown, Rick and Morty), Erin McGathy and Jeff B. Davis. The GM is Spencer Crittenden, and he looks as nerdy and metal as you would imagine a GM. The Actual Play bit is in front of a live audience, and the players aren’t eating enough snacks. I once visited friends in California and played in a Dungeons&Dragons game, and ever since, when I think of RPG in the US, my thoughts turn to eating cheetos until your fingers are orange.

The cast of Episode 1.

The three main characters are:

  • Dan Harmon as Fondue Zoobag, a half orc ranger
  • Erin McGathy as Beor O’Shift, a female half-elf barbarian
  • Jeff B. Davis as Boneweevil, a goblin rogue
PCs von HarmonQuest

Die drei PCs

The guests each play an NPC and with few exceptions those NPCs do not survive their episodes. In the finale I finally even recognized a guest: Nathan Fillion!

You don’t actually see much of the Actual Play because the cool thing about HarmonQuest is, dass all actions are shown as animation. You hear the players say what their characters are doing and see the whole thing as animation. As should be expected from a cast of comedians, it’s not serious at all, and is going for the laughs.

The story offers all the tropes you could expect, as our three buffoony heroes traipse across the world to save the world, and always end up helping the villains. The grand finale of the story arc was surprisingly serious and gripping. The guest stars usually have no experience with tabletop games, but improvise quickly, some better than others. Aubrey Plaza as gnome alchemist was a real highlight in episode 5. Some jokes fall flat, some others made me guffaw.

Real tabletop RPG action?

If you expect a real RPG session, as in Critical Role, you will be disappointed, because this has very little to do with a real Pathfinder game.  All players have character sheets they consult, but you never find out what level the characters are or how many hit points they have.  The fights are pretty cool, but don’t expect to see anyone but the GM rolling any dice or initiative or anything. This is certainly owed to the format because you can only achieve so much in 30 minutes, if you want to keep the story flowing. At least I was able to recognize the Pathfinder classes of all characters (though a paladin pirate captain was weird), with the exception of James Dean, a ghostly spirit living in Fondue’s magical broadsword in episode 9.

On the other hand this means that you can enjoy this show even if you don’t like Pathfinder or have never played it. The ruleset really plays no role in this show. I was amused that Jeff B. Davis always pointedly holds up the Pathfinder core rulebook at the start of each episode. Good on Paizo for being involved while Dungeons&Dragons 5e is whittling away at their fanbase.

How to watch HarmonQuest

As non-American this is not so easy. HarmonQuest is streamed on Seeso, a comedy streaming service of NBC which is only available in the US. If you are in the US and have Amazon Prime, you get a free 7-day trial of Seeso, which is more than enough time to watch all 10 episodes of season 1. There’s also trailer for season 1 on YouTube, and the first episode is available there as well. All in all one of the weaker episodes, I didn’t much care for the guest star, btw.

If you’re not American and want to watch the rest, can only ask Google for help in locating a stream…

Seeso just announced a season renewal which I am looking forward to sometime later in 2017!

Summary: if you enjoy sitcoms or Improv, and like tabletop RPGs, you should be able to enjoy HarmonQuest as well. However, if you don’t care for sitcoms and take our hobby dead-serious, you should probably stay away.

20/02/2017
by Kadomi
0 comments

RPG: Podcast Fever

Am I the only one who ever gets crazy hype about nerdy stuff? I find a new pastime or passion, and get really excited about it, investing a lot of energy and time into it. 2.5 years ago it was playing tabletop RPGs again. I went nuts with Pathfinder. I regularly go a bit crazy about MMOs, but that passion waxes and wanes. Currently a bit on the waning side, honestly.
I still think tabletop RPGs are the coolest hobby I have, the most creative and rewarding. I started listening to RPG podcasts so I could up my game and become a better GM. Then I became interested in broadening my horizons and branching out into other RPGs. I currently have less time to game myself, and so started listening to more Actual Play Podcasts.
Podcast FeverWhat this means is that I am listening to a ridiculous amount of podcasts at this point. Seriously ridiculous. I will never get caught up, but they’re such fantastic entertainment. Because I love sharing good stuff, here’s my big list of podcasts that I enjoy listening to:

RPG Podcasts in English

  • Critical Success – This podcast doesn’t run regularly, but offers rock solid advice from GM James D’Amato, the mind behind the One Shot RPG podcast.
  • Cypher Speak – Currently on hiatus, this is a podcast about Cypher System games, e.g. Numenera, The Strange, etc. It’s hosted by the fabulous Darcy Ross, a notable female GM, and her co-host Troy.
  • Dungeon Master’s Block – This diverse podcast offers tons of great information for DMs. Interviews, world building, spotlights.
  • Fear the Boot – This long-running podcast delivers tons of great information, and it’s been doing this for a loooong time. Currently on episode 432!
  • Game Master’s Journey – The podcast that started my obsession when the host Lex Starwalker did Numenera themed episodes (also his former podcast GM Intrusion). Used to be general advice, various systems, but has become very focused on DnD 5e, unfortunately, which is too system-specific for me these days.
  • Ken and Robin talk about Stuff – The two game designers Kenneth Hite and Robin D. Laws talk about stuff. It usually involves gaming, often about their many Pelgrane Press games, but really, all sorts of entertaining things. In their own words: Stuff talked about includes hobby gaming, history, occultism, chrono-travel, food, cinema, narrative, art, politics, food, maps, Cthulhiana, and in fact any matter subject to jocular yet penetrating erudition.
  • Modifier – An interview podcast hosted by Meghan Dornbrock. She interviews game designers, and the topics and games are super-interesting.
  • Our Turn! – The only boardgame outlier here. Hosted by a bunch of girls who enjoy gaming, predominantly boardgames, but also tabletop and video games.
  • Table Top Babble – This fairly new podcast by James Introcaso is another all-round podcast with interesting interviews, game reviews, not system-focused.
  • Talking Table Top – GM Jim McLure interviews people from the RPG world, and the interviews are always fantastic.
  • The CypherCast – Another Cypher System podcast from the folks who also publish the excellent CypherCaster Magazine (my favorite RPG magazine since the original DRAGON).  Relatively new, but very cool.
  • The DM’s Deep Dive – A new monthly podcast featuring DM advice by Mike Shea, aka Sly Flourish, as he’s better known. Might have a 5e focus, but I’ll wait and see.
  • The RPG Academy – As the name suggest, the academy wants to make DMs better, and they have class style episodes, like DMing 101, Faculty Meeting and Trials of new RPG systems

Actual Play Podcasts

  • Campaign – Come for the heroic Star Wars: The Edge of Empire campaign, stay for the wacky characters. It’s a total joy to listen to Kat Kuhl, a female GM, which is still a rare thing.
  • Fandible – This podcasts runs multiple actual play games, like Shadowrun, The Strange, DnD, but I am only listening for their Longshot Numenera campaign.
  • One Shot – Big systems, indie systems, the One Shot crew play all those games, in up to 4 sessions. Great to give you an idea of how a system works, with great roleplayers on board with a heavy focus on storytelling. Loved the Dracula Dossier game run by designer Kenneth Hite himself!
  • She’s a Super Geek – Girl powah! This podcast showcases female GMs and smaller game systems. Highly enjoyable.

German podcasts

  • Ausgespielt – Actual Play von diversen Systemen, Rollenspiel-News, Brettspiele. Alles sehr unterhaltsam vom Team präsentiert.
  • Der DORPCast – Michael Mingers und Thomas Michalski, die beide bei Ulisses Spiele tätig sind, plaudern über ihr liebstes Hobby, und da es auch ihr Beruf ist, gibt’s schon sehr interessante Einsichten von diesen alten Hasen meiner Altersklasse.
  • Der Eskapodcast – Macht leider gerade eine Sendepause. Eine lockere Runde mit nerdigen Themen und sehr interessanten Interviews. Manchmal mir etwas fremd, da ich die DSA-Schiene noch nie gefahren bin.
  • OrkTalk – Der neue Podcast der Mädels von Orkig im Geschmack, plus Steamtinkerer. 🙂 Hier bequatscht man in netter Runde diverse RPGs, die man in Actual Play getestet hat. Aktuell gab’s bisher Numenera und Coriolis. Immer mal her damit!
  • Spielgeflüster – Der Podcast der Teilzeithelden, eines großen RPG-Webmagazins. Teilzeit scheint hier Programm zu sein, es hat nämlich schon länger keine neuen Folgen gegeben.
  • System Matters – Ein kleiner deutscher RPG-Verlag, der auch einen länger laufenden Podcast betreibt. So cool wie die Spiele, die hier verlegt werden, z.B. Beyond the Wall.

Gerne hätte ich noch den Podcast von Greifenklaue hier aufgeführt, aber da ich den nicht abonnieren kann ohne RSS-Feed, höre ich den so gut wie nie, was ich aber sehr schade finde.

So, jetzt geht’s weiter auf Englisch.

Podcast apps

Podcast AddictI listen to my podcasts in two ways:
  1. on Android, using Podcast Addict. It’s a great app that’s incredibly easy to use, with tons of features. I like to fall asleep listening to podcasts so I appreciate the sleeper mode, for example. I recently bought an FM-Transmitter so I can stream podcasts from my phone to my older car stereo when I drive, which is working like a charm.
  2. Grover Podcast, in Windows 10. A great free app from the Windows store. Very clean design, lets you stream online, stream to other devices or download podcasts. Not as feature rich as Podcast Addict, but it’s working fine.

09/02/2017
by Kadomi
0 comments

RPG: My games of 2017

I don’t know what it is about tabletop RPGs as a hobby. It’s incredibly fun! Also, incredibly draining at times, and if you are unlucky, likely to explode in your face.

I last blogged about my Pathfinder games in April 16. At the height of my RPG gaming, I was in four Pathfinder games, twice as player, twice as GM. Of those groups, only my Roll20 game with my gamecation friends survived.

Here’s an overview what happened:

  • The first game already fell apart in December 15, because of inter-player conflicts and general ennui with the campaign.
  • The second game I played in was super-fun, and we all got along great! It was an all-girl party, which was very RP-heavy, really awesome. However, the GM went through a really tough time last year and was out of touch for almost a year. We’re back in touch, but I don’t think we’ll pick it up again.
  • My Rise of the Runelords campaign went really well up until September. The Skinsaw Murders is a great adventure, and the Misgivings part where a party explores a haunted mansion was everything I had hoped it would be. I gave the haunted players handouts, and it really messed with them. It was great. So what happened? The group was 3 co-workers, the boyfriend of one of the co-workers and my spouse. The female co-worker changed jobs, and ultimately it turned out that preserving the friendship when you don’t see each other daily didn’t work out. We had a fight in November, her boyfriend quit our Pathfinder WhatsApp group and I have quietly let the game die. It sucks. It really does, both for the friendship and the game.
  • That leaves my online campaign as the lone survivor. For a time we were really on a roll and played twice a month but after gamecation we started fading as well. We finally had our first game of the year in early January, and have a game scheduled for February as well. Just once, I want a game to survive, and I love my players.

Game prep, my ultimate villain

Never Unprepared

I still haven’t finished reading this book

Along with the online Pathfinder campaign, I am infrequently running a Numenera game. I started with two friends and my spouse, and we had a co-worker of one of the players join in later. He’s new to RPGs in general, but took to Numenera swimmingly. He plays a curious glaive who wears a sheen of ice. He has the curious thing down so well. Numenera is a fantastic system to teach new players, IMHO.

I love the Cypher system. There’s a marked difference in amount of prep I do for Numenera as opposed to Pathfinder. For Pathfinder, I tend to prep for hours, despite running an adventure path. I have to research monsters, traps, take notes on what happens where, and research spells. I spend so much time on D20PFSRD, it’s a bit ridiculous. It stresses me the hell out. Pathfinder is very crunchy, and we’re not even using all of the millions of options that have been published so far. I decided I won’t invest into any more of the rulebooks because it’s too much. I don’t need more options, I just need a fun game where I don’t have to spend way more time on prep than we’re actually playing.

For Numenera, I prep maybe an hour. I use Scrivener, create a bunch of NPCs, figure out the challenges they’re facing, and that’s it. For hardcore crunch fans, Numenera is probably too systems-light, but I really enjoy that I can look at a monster, see the level, jot down stats and focus on RPing the challenge. The system has plenty of options, especially now that with Character Options 2 we get two additional types, the Glint and the Seeker. Excited to try those out.

One shots

As described above, I am not that into Pathfinder anymore. I think it’s not a great system for new players. In retrospect, I wish I had been able to use something more simple for my Runelords group which was all new players. I am also slightly tired of running adventure paths. It’s a commitment for years. Ending games mid-campaign blows.

I listen to a lot of RPG podcasts, which I will post about at a later time. One of the podcasts I am listening to is One Shot, an actual play podcast that tries just about every RPG system out there. Big games, indie games, they try them all. It’s vastly opened my tabletop RPG horizon, and has woken a desire to try more different gaming systems. Just one adventure, take the system for a spin, have as much fun as possible with it.

I went ahead and tried that with my online group, but kinda sprung it on them on one of my not so great days. We played Beyond the Wall, an OSR-style RPG where the party all plays teenagers in a quaint village, kinda the YA style of fantasy. I think it was alright, but could have been better. It’s probably a ton more fun if you all create the characters together at a table instead of having to take turns online. My expectation was that the joint character creation and creating the village would be fun, but it didn’t work so well. My players are welcome to comment here!

Games I want to try

I have a huge list of games I want to try as one shots. I ran it by the friends who are back in touch now and they seemed generally interested. Here’s the systems I would like to try:

  • Trail of CthulhuGUMSHOE, e.g Trail of Cthulhu and Night’s Black Agents – The GUMSHOE system focuses on investigative RP. The basic premise is that players will always find the necessary clues to solve a scenario. The focus is on what players are doing with the clues they find, not about rolling if you actually find the clues. I read Trail of Cthulhu so far, and thought the rules were elegant, and the sample scenario is fantastic. This one I am reserving for my online group, which has a bunch of Cthulhu fans.
  • Star Wars: Edge of the Empire – The remains of my Runelords group, my two co-workers, are huge Star Wars fans. My spouse is a Trekkie, so I am not sure I can get her on board here. In any case, I would like to try the beginner’s box with my co-workers. It’s about adventures in the Outer Rim, bounty hunters and smugglers, no Jedi, in the early days of the Rebellion. The game has a unique dice system that I find very narrative, so I would like to try it.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 5E – The ancestor of all RPG systems is supposed to have streamlined the way we play D20 based fantasy RPGs. I still love D20, but I want less crunch, less options, a more beginner-friendly game with less system mastery. D&D5e is supposed to be all, so I am hoping to try Lost Mines of Phandelver from the D&D starter set sometime this year.
  • Blades in the DarkBlades in the Dark – Of all the systems listed above, this is the one I want to play the most. I am currently listening to an Actual Play, and am a bit blown away how elegant this system is. Basically, imagine the video games Dishonored or Thief. Set in a slightly steampunkish fantasy setting in the mighty city of Duskwall, you play a crew of criminals who as a team runs scores and tries to rise to the top. Individual players earn XP, but also the crew levels up. The game involves heists, chases, occult mysteries, dangerous bargains, bloody skirmishes. The thing I loved most about my dead Pathfinder game was that us girls were a crew of former criminals and I can only imagine how much fun it would be to explore this again.

There are more systems I eventually want to try, including The Strange, The One Ring, 13th Age, but those 4 above take priority.

Has anyone else run one shots or are all playing classic campaigns? Would be cool to know.

 

07/02/2017
by Kadomi
2 Comments

Flashback: September Gamecation aka Boardgame Madness

Now that I am finding the time to sit down and blog some this week, I should mention the nerdiest thing I did all year in 2016: Gamecation! Now what’s that? Right, it’s a vacation for the sole purpose of gaming our hearts out. And many games were played!

The background

As I mentioned before, I am GMing an online game of Pathfinder somewhat irregularly, which has its own blog: The Adventures of the Cactus-Slayers. I am playing this game with my wife, and three very dear friends, back from my MUSHing days. This means we go waaay back. One of the friends lives in England, the other couple lives in Scotland. While playing online is fun, thanks to Roll20 (despite technical issues), it’s just not the same as face-to-face gaming. Also, we all enjoy boardgames, and you can’t really play most of them well online. A plan was made: we would meet for 3-4 days of all-out crazy game fun times.

We chose a location in central England that we would congregate in, which means we rented a Center Parcs lodge for all of us. I can now say I have been to Sherwood Forest, just like Robin Hood. It was pretty woodsy. The lodge was pretty basic, but had three bedrooms, an open kitchen, a big table, and a couch to slouch around on. Plus a view of ducks and squirrels. Who doesn’t like that? Off to Nottingham we flew on the last Friday of September, to stay until Monday.

Boardgames played

My original plan had been to GM my Pathfinder game for a face-to-face session, and that one of the players would try to run We Be Goblins to check out the GM side of things. However, we played so many boardgames instead, and spent time cooking, hanging around and reading, and the girls went to the spa. This all meant we didn’t have time for the Pathfinder games.

We played the following games:

  • Eldritch Horror – a cooperative Cthulhu game set in the Arkham Horror universe. Instead of being limited to Arkham, you fight the mythos all over the world. Not my favorite game. Elder Sign remains my favorite Arkham Horror game.
  • Exploding Kittens – Fast-paced card game that was fun and easy to play.
  • Cthulhu Gloom – Probably my favorite game of the lot. A unique game that combines cards with storytelling. You basically play a family where each member needs to die as miserably as they can, while preventing the other players from doing the same. Sadly no German translation yet, or I would buy it in a heartbeat. To see it in action, check out the Gloom episode of Tabletop.
  • Pathfinder Munchkin – the classic dungeon crawler card game in an edition full of cards relating to the Pathfinder RPG
  • Cards Against Humanity – gosh, the people I played with are filthy! Rightly described as the party game for horrible people. Always brings the laughs.
  • Pandemic – I have blogged about Pandemic before and will do so again. Still the best coop game out there, if you ask me.
  • Alhambra – A German Spiel des Jahres that is actually one of my favorite boardgames. It’s a tile placement game where you build the most beautiful Moorish themed palace while competing for those tiles with the other players. Really enjoy it.
  • Rapidough – This party team game makes you model objects with clay and your teammate has to guess what you’re making, while the other team does the same. Every time your team loses, you get less clay. Was really fun and I really really really sucked at it. 😀

RPG time

Breaking the Numenera GM

As one of the players aptly named it: The moment you break the GM

As mentioned above, Pathfinder didn’t happen, but my wife tried her hand at an impromptu GMing session of Numenera. She ran one of the GenCon demo adventures that I hadn’t read yet, Into the Violet Vale. I think it’s an adventure that really showcases the weird side of Numenera, as we were a group of explorers who ended up in a vale full of violet flowers that really messed with us. It was great fun. The pre-gen characters were a bit lame. One of the characters was a Graceful Nano Who Talks to Machines, but there aren’t really any machines in this adventure where you could use that. Regardless, I think we all had fun, and I am hoping that my wife will GM more often now. As I also want to talk about at a later point, I am kinda into one shots now.

If you ever want to try running this particular adventure, there’s a great prep post at The Alexandrian.

Seriously, how good are these things? Melt in the mouth cheesy goodness!

Other shenanigans

I think I cooked a killer red Thai curry. We also ate tons of snacks, chocolate and there was drinking. Oh yes, much drinking.  We ate the best cheesy puff ever. Screw Cheetos, Wotsits are where it’s at!

 

05/02/2017
by Kadomi
0 comments

State of the Kadomi, Legion Edition

Yeah, I know, this blog seems pretty much deserted all the time. However, whenever I have time off work, I feel like blogging. 2016 wasn’t a great year, and 2017 didn’t start much better, but let’s all keep hanging in there! To revive this blog, I had originally planned to bring my friend Rach in to help me fill this blog with content, but it didn’t pan out yet, and might not at all, but we’ll see.

I’ll try to give an overview of what’s all going on with me, in my pursuits of nerdery. I’ll post throughout my vacation week to get back into the habit of writing. I have tons of stuff to write about: My Pathfinder games, which seem particularly prone to player drama; my fun Numenera campaign; other video games I am playing; my attempts at losing weight and getting in shape while running away from zombies; and last year’s gamecation.

MMOs, aka WoW Legion

You know, I keep saying it’s over, and I am done with MMOs, and then I keep going back. I really thought after my extended into FFXIV, that was it. Zero desire. I scoffed at people hanging in there through Warlords of Draenor, which I still consider the worst WoW expansion to date. I had no interest in Legion. About two weeks before Legion was released, I spent gold on a WoW token, and have been playing through tokens ever since. As far as expansions go, Legion is great. There’s tons of content for every sort of player, and they’re really adding new content at the speed of light compared to other expansions. I pretty much expect them to fizzle out eventually, but that time, it’s not here yet.

When I went back to Legion, I piddled around with choosing who would be my main this expansion. Ever since giving up my US account, I switch mains every expansion. My former main Yatalai, frost DK, didn’t appeal. I didn’t want to heal, and never liked retribution, so my WoD main Yacoran the paladin was out. I speed-leveled a mage to 100 through invasions and decided that for the first time since vanilla, I would be ranged DPS again. That plan died at level 103 after my first dungeon. I don’t know how other ranged do it, but with tab-target changes I find switching targets as ranged so stressful and so unfun that I sent my mage to live in her garrison ever since, making hexcloth.

From Stormstrikes to healing

Instead, I boosted a shaman from 60 to 100, and was ready to rock it as enhancement. Enhancement was great fun, but it never fully clicked. I never lived up to my full DPS potential and I get antsy and frustrated when I am only a middling to low DPS. She also got one of the worst legendaries and I just wasn’t happy. I toyed with the idea of going full resto but my guild had a bunch of healers, so I didn’t find my niche there.

For 7.1.5 we had some changes in the raid line-up. Two healers wanted to go DPS, and I saw a chance at bringing back my paladin, who I had slowly leveled as holy/prot. I worked hard at gearing him for Nighthold, and since release of that raid have been healing in there. My guild is currently 8/10 normal and I truly, deeply, madly love my paladin’s healing style. Our godly resto shaman raid healer wasn’t there for the last raid, and so I was able to kick some ass, getting 97th percentile for my ilevel on Spellblade. That made me very happy.

Yacoran, my Legion main

I decided I’d give him a purple mog, but have no purple appearance for the artifact, QQ.

How about them legendaries?

Of course I also have complaints about Legion. For one, the Legendary system is total crap. In theory, I find it super-cool that everyone can get powerful items, but they don’t feel legendary to me. Ragnaros’ hammer or Thunderfury, the Twin-Blades of Azzinoth, those are legendary items.  The Legion legendaries are particularly high ilevel epic items with an extra ability. On top of that there’s a vast disparity between items, they’re so very poorly balanced. You can’t make items that increase DPS by 10% and at the same time offer items that only have utility, like the faster run speed plate boots.

Maybe I wouldn’t be so bitter if I had ever gotten one of the BiS legendaries. I got nothing but legendaries that seem to be particularly common: Aggramar’s Stride, Prydaz (which is at least super-useful if not performance enhancing) or Sephuz on my shaman. The latter actually made me angry when I received it. I think you’re supposed to be excited and happy when you get a legendary item, but here I got the pre-buff Sephuz, a big DPS loss to my current rings, with an ability that would not do anything for me in raids or in solo play. I think that was the day I decided I was done with my shaman.

Why must challenge equal speed?

Furthermore, I don’t care for the emphasis on challenge=speed. I run m+ dungeons, because it’s a great way to gain Artifact Power and a nice item from the weekly chest, but I haven’t done tons of m+, or particularly challenging ones, my high score being a successful +8. My paladin also tanks dungeons, and I have never been a speed rush tank, ever. I felt excited that I cleared Karazhan last week in 90 minutes, that was super speedy for me.

Preferably, I would rather see challenge more like Karazhan, and kinda dread that they’re adding m+ mode for it in 7.2. But no one is listening to me, and so it’s all speed speed speed. I think the emphasis on speed makes pugging even worse because everyone plays in that way all the time now. M+ dungeons make me feel old and slow. Anyone remember TBC heroics? Yeah, that was more my speed.

All in all, I am super-happy with Legion, World Quests  are not boring yet, and think the 7.2 content sounds spiffy.

16/08/2016
by Kadomi
0 comments

#RPGaDay 2016 – Day 16

Alright, here’s where the questions start getting a bit odd…

#RPGaDay 2016

The questions

Day 16: What historical character would you like in your group? For what game?

No one messes with that guy, right?

No one messes with that guy, right?

Not sure I fully get the question. As a player or GM? Oh well. I’ll randomly say that I would like to have Napoleon in my Pathfinder games. One thing that I strongly feel I lack in is exciting fights. Somehow my monsters and villains lack strategical finesse which inevitably makes fights a lot easier for the PCs than originally intended. I lack the fine strategic mind to truly challenge them. I think Napoleon as GM could probably bring great strategies to the table, and truly teach me how to make fights really challenging.

15/08/2016
by Kadomi
0 comments

#RPGaDay 2016 – Day 15

#RPGaDay 2016

The questions

Day 15: What types or source of inspiration do you turn to most often for RPGs?

Either as a player or as a GM, what kind of media or experience helps inspire you for play?

Reading, reading, reading. I follow many blogs and gain inspiration there. I tend to run published adventures, and there, I find the most inspiration on the Paizo messageboards. The thread ‘Community Created Stuff‘ in the Rise of the Runelords board is a thing of beauty and wonder. For my Numenera campaign, which is my first homebrew, there are various sources of inspiration: the Monte Cook Games blog, where they post the Cypher Chronicles, The Alexandrian blog, etc. There are also a couple fansites like the CypherCast Hub or The Ninth World. There’s even cool Twitter accounts like Wyrd of the Weird providing inspiration and adding more ‘weird’ to the Ninth World.

I recently got addicted to podcasts. They never worked for me before, but something finally clicked. I prefer GM-centric podcasts over Actual Play. In fact, the only Actual Play podcasts I follow are Fandible’s Numenera campaign, and the Campaign podcast of the folks at Oneshot Podcast, showcasing Star Wars: Edge of Empire. I find a lot of inspiration listening to other GMs, or writers, like Ken and Robin. In fact, I will post a list of my favorite podcasts soon, to give some love.

Fiction is always an inspiration too. I read a lot of fantasy and some SF, so that’s an endless source of seeing how things can be done.

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