Thursday, April 26, 2012

Isometric Dungeons

Telecanter, of the awesome silhouettes, has a couple of recent blog posts about drawing isometric dungeons, which give the illusion of depth to your maps.

Very cool, and it seems like the basics of this technique would work when done by hand, or with layers in a GIMP/Photoshop sort of way.

The aptly named Fantastic maps shows some of the basic steps involved:

1: Draw Map, 2: Rotate Map, 3: Magic!

This may be what I need to get me to finish the semi isometric tomb map I have been idly sketching on a post-it for a few months.  Then I can get on to trying to kill the players with it.

Dungeon Master for Dummies

Thwarted in my quest to read D&D material from the local library due to lost or stolen material, I settled for the Dungeon Master for Dummies book by Bill Slavicsek and Richard Baker, written for Dungeons and Dragons version 3.5.  I had pretty low expectations for this book, and it took me quite a number of lunches to get through, but here are some thoughts:

Much is made of the concept of "DM as social director" where the DM is essentially hosting a party and providing for the entertainment of same. This makes sense if the DM is actually the host, but it seems like there must be groups that meet at clubs/game stores who follow a different arrangement, and someone else is the host and the DM is the "entertainment" for the get together.  Still, in game, the concept makes sense, as the DM needs to juggle the personalities of the players to make sure everyone is having "fun" (or otherwise deriving benefit from play). 

Feeding into this concept of the DM as entertainer is the idea that the DM is not trying to kill the player characters, but rather, allowing them to play.  There is some discussion of when to allow the dice to kill PCs and when to fudge things.  An interesting idea on keeping players engaged is to have them recap previous sessions at the start of the next session.

The book effectively summarizes the bloat issues of 3.5 edition by discussing the addition of a class to your game.  When adding a class, you are not just adding a single option, but rather dozens due to class/race/feat permutations.  An example is given where adding a race is too "powerful", by suggesting a Medusa sorcerer.  (actually, I want someone to make a Flailsnail character of that one)

The book includes some random dungeon material, which could be useful to add to other tables you have for that purpose.  Also has random encounter tables, and random treasure, as well as a number of "ready to go" encounters and traps with stats and details for 3.5.

The book has a chapter discussing high level play issues, which are different than in earlier editions of D&D, given the power increase of the characters with feats and various powers.

An interesting section of the book discusses how to have a memorable villain, which I think all longer term games could benefit from, even if they are sandboxes.

I do not want to put everyone off this book, but rather suggest that it was not for me.  If you were completely new to DMing, and did not spend a year reading blogs on the Internet before doing it, you could read this book and get some useful advice.  For me though, it was mostly repetitious of things I have already read or learned on my own, and a bit too specific to the challenges or running a 3.5 game.

In other news, still have not had the time/motivation to paint, so that is nearly four months without touching a brush.  Not a great state to be in, particularly when I had three largish projects I wanted to accomplish this year (baneblade, D&D figures, and Dreadfleet).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ogre Kickstarter

You may recall that last year, I had a post about 6th Edition Ogre (the game with giant robotic death tanks, not one about dim witted large fellows with clubs).  It was supposed to come out in the fall of 2011, but funding was apparently an issue, and it has not happened yet.

Here is a reminder of what it is going to look like:

Well, now that Kickstarter is apparently a thing (or is trying to be), Steve Jackson games is using it to help get their 6th edition of the game off the ground, and ideally to include extras.  They have already reached the first funding goal, so the game will be able to go forward, the only question remaining, is what extras will it contain?  With 29 days to go, they should be able to get at least a few more bucks...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Game of Thrones

I have long been a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire universe, ever since I got all three of the first books, and read them in a week while my then girl friend (now wife) was out of town, and I was sick and bored. The gritty realism is of course part of the draw, but the characters are another.  I got through all three books, and then was eager for #4, which came out that fall. (a quick peek at amazon indicates that it was 2005, so nearly 7 years ago).  The long delay from Feast to Dance sort of cooled things off for me, and I have not thought as much about Westeros lately.

In any case, the wife and I have just started watching the Game of Thrones TV show, and it has rekindled some of that heady feeling I had when I crammed in 2400+ pages in a week. (Astonishing my wife's cousins who are devout fans of the series) Naturally, as these things go, I started to think about how to game the series, and what miniatures to use...

Obviously, there are the official miniatures from Dark Sword, and while they are generally lovely, they are quite large, expensive, and not suited for gaming in my opinion.  (although still retaining utility for characters and unusual types)

Fortunately, the Westeros way of war seems to be broadly similar to the War of the Roses/mid Hundred Years War here on earth, that is to say "high medieval" in arms and armament, minus, of course, guns and cannon (so 1420-1450).  So full harness for well-to-do types, mail and partial plate for those poorer, and cloth and helmets for the lower level retainers.  Fantasy elements are limited, particularly in the first three books, with valarian steel swords being the main thing needed.  Heraldry from here and from this amazing map.

The Perrys have a lovely series of figures that would fit in well here, in the shape of the War of the Roses line.  The plastic boxes for this yield archers, Men-At-Arms, billmen, pike men, and crossbows. Metals fill in a few of the other needed elements, and the Hundred Years War line would provide for the poorer lords' forces. 

Gaming wise, I would use the LotR skirmish game engine, which allows for low powered heroes and warbands.  Figures would be assembled into groups, representing minor lords and their retainers, which should allow for surmountable painting as well. (I would make mostly Northers, Riverlands, and Lannister allies) Larger games could be accommodated by the same engine, or by moving to the WotR mass battle game, although I do not foresee things getting that out of hand...

Obviously I am treading the same path that many have gone before, such as this recent thread on The Miniatures page. (or this older one) Or the several lovely threads on Lead Adventure (This one, Stark, Lannister, plus Captain Blood's WotR figures)

Now I just need to finish off about 25 other projects, and I can move on this one!