Archive for July, 2012

Faerie Alchemy

Posted: July 30, 2012 in 3.5 Hearts

Faerie Alchemy is a blocks fall from the top of the screen puzzle game on the vague idea of Tetris. Only instead of the blocks disappearing when you make a line, when you have 3 or more of the same symbol connected, not counting diagonals, they morph into the next one up the alchemical ladder. This does make it really difficult to form combos at first. You really have to think about what you’re doing.

This game is hard and fun. The pace is whatever you want though, so you can take your time to think things through before acting. I’ve been having tons of fun trying to clear through to see what happens when you make a combo of the top of the alchemical ladder. I haven’t managed it yet. As you could probably guess, when your stack of symbols crosses that line near the top, you lose. The game can be played with either the mouse or the keyboard, though I found the keyboard to be much easier. The graphics are nice, though a bit dark. I also really liked the background music for this game. A lot of times where I play games online, the background music just loops. In Faerie Alchemy, the background music periodically fades out and then starts a new song.

One of the things I really didn’t like was the fact that the controls aren’t explained. While the basic idea of the game is explained quite nicely at launch, the controls are left for the user to determine and are explained as intuitive. There are also some spelling mistakes on the instructions screen. Little things that if they were fixed would make the game look a lot more professional. Faerie Alchemy is a nice little game, which can be loaded quickly and played for as long as you feel like. Altogether, I award Faerie Alchemy a 3.5 out of 5 hearts.

If you would like to play Faerie Alchemy, you can find it in the Google Chrome store.

 

 

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Whether its your first roleplaying game or your millionth, you’re still going to need to come up with a character concept and sometimes that can be hard. Creating believable, interesting characters who can play nicely with the other party members is a challenge, but one that can be very rewarding if tackled. That’s where I come in, I’m going to break everything down into a nice, simple step by step process to creating your character. To demonstrate I’m going to follow along, making a new character.

1. Alignment

Alignment isn’t normally the first thing people think about when making a character, but in a lot of cases it should be. Alignment is basically the believe system of the character boiled down into a few words. Generally speaking, roleplaying games use the old 3×3 alignment grid from Dungeons and Dragons, sort of like pictured above. The reason that people should think about alignment earlier in the character creation process than they tend to is because it effects party dynamic. It also can matter if the GM has disallowed certain alignments. If you decide you’re going to create a chaotic evil character in the same party as a lawful good character, it may not end well. I’m not saying that all the characters should be the same exact alignment, but try to be nearby or at least capable of getting along. In a lot of systems, a lawful good character such as a paladin can’t knowingly be in the same party as an evil aligned character.

DEMO: Well, lets say that my hypothetical GM isn’t disallowing any alignments, but told me that one of the other players usually players paladins. I tend to like a bit of chaos in my actions so I’ll go with chaotic good.

2. Concept

Concept is basically what you want your character to be. This can include race and class, or could just be an archetypal idea. Archetypes are things like undead destroying paladin or snooty elven noble, or things like thief who grew up on the streets and just suddenly developed magic. Despite the fact that this is more or less a one-line description, this is the step you should spend the most time on. In most cases, the concept is the character and if it isn’t something you’ll enjoy then you should just keep trying this step until you make something you do like.

Now, look at your concept. Does it work well with a team? If it can be described like the picture below, the answer is probably no. Your character should be good at some things, bad at others and have character flaws. And most importantly, take a good long look at your character concept and make sure you actually want to play this. There are some character concepts that sound really great on paper but turn out to not be so awesome after all. As tempting as it can be, I highly suggest having freewill and all of your limbs.

DEMO: So, I’m chaotic good. I think a good concept would be a wood elf who has never met anyone but other wood elves before coming to this city where they meet the party. This leads for great roleplaying potential, and it also means that I can play them as curious and somewhat naive.

3. Motivation

Motivation is just as important as concept, but in a different way. Motivation is what your character does what they do. And here comes the thing I have watched singlehandedly destroy roleplaying games. Why does your character adventure? A lot of people don’t think about this little detail and it results in characters who seem to be dragged through adventures, really making no progress. If a character has no reason to be adventuring, or maybe wants to get home, when they get a chance to return to their normal life, it makes no sense not to take it. So make sure your character wants to be exploring the world or has some other goal that can’t be reached by sitting at home.

DEMO: A chaotic good wood elf who has never left the forest is what I’ve built so far. Lets add in some motivation. First I need to decide why they left the forest. The easiest motivation to go with is that the little elf was bored and curious and wants to see new things. To add to it, elves are a long lived race with very little adventure, so maybe this elf heard stories about human adventures and wanted to go have some of their own.

4. Flesh Out the Details

So now you have your base concept. the next step is to fill in anything you missed. Remember, this isn’t about creating a character sheet, that comes later and might involve numbers. This is just the matter of creating a character. Where were they born? Are they from this world? Who are their parents? Do they know their parents? Are you already friends with people in the party? This is also the part where you come up with their name, and maybe appearance if you want. This is the where all the fun fiddly bits come in where you really get to decide that maybe your character really likes cheese or doesn’t like spiders come in.

I hope this helped you in your efforts to create fun and interesting characters that your party (and you) will enjoy. Have any advice you’d like to share or stories you’d like to tell? Feel free to leave a comment!

Table top roleplaying as we know it has existed since the early 70s. Naturally, this means that some people picked it up before others did (or before others were born). And while there have been a lot of changes over the years, this still means that there will come a time when, as a GM, you may encounter players who are more familiar with the system than you are. If you’ve already been in this situation, as I have, you know it can be hard. There are different ways that kind of game can go, and I will cover them to the best of my knowledge.

Players As Rules Helpers

The optimal case for you as a young GM is that your experienced players will support you and help out. If the players know the rules well and can tell you the rules that apply in a given situation, they can really streamline the time the game takes. After all, how many people know off the top of their head how to handle a player vaulting across a pool of lava, hitting a wall and falling 20 feet down into a pool of lava by the rules in 3.5 D&D? And how long would it take to look up all the pertinent rules to figure out how much damage the player should take, by the rules. The best rules helpers, however, will offer the knowledge of the rules and then roll with it if the GM decides that no, you fell in the lava, you’re just dead. Rules helpers are also nice for streamlining character creation if you have new players or players playing more complicated characters than usual. My favorite use for the rules helpers is to partner them with a new player to help them through their turns. That really really helps to make it so that the newer player can learn the rules without having to occupy the time and attention of the GM.

Players As Rules Lawyers

Rules lawyers are annoying. There, I said it. Imagine if you will that you’ve written custom rules for a scenario only to discover that there were already rules for that particular situation partway through the session when one of your players informs you about them in full detail. Rules lawyers can be useful if you want to run a game completely by the book, and again for teaching new players, but can be very irritating. If you encounter a rules lawyer, make sure they understand the level of rulesiness your game is going to have and how much lawyeriness you are willing to tolerate. While it isn’t always possible to lay down ground rules for your players in this fashion, it can be useful to at least warn them that you’re going to be running fast and loose with the rules at times. If they can’t deal with your way of handling the game such that the rules make sense for the game rather than the other way around, then you may want to encourage them to find a different GM.

One think that can really help with rules lawyers is that if you know ahead of time that you’re going to be using an alternative or homebrew rules, then tell them what those rules are. In a lot of cases, this will give them the same warm fuzzies of there being logical rules which can be followed that they expect in a tabletop. Just remember that in the end, you need to make sure that what you’re running is what you want to run and not what one or two players are pushing you into running.

Players As Rules Manipulators

Rules manipulators are the worst kind of more experienced player you could have. Everything they do will either be entirely within the rules, or appear to be so, but is something that a more experienced GM would recognize and disallow. For example, an undead with a ring that turns all damage he takes to bashing damage…which undead are immune to. If you suspect that something your player is doing is fishy, ask to see the books they’re getting it from. Do some research on your own, ask other people about it. They may have misinterpreted things or they may be purposefully taking advantage of your lack of experience and knowledge. If you think one of your players is purposefully doing things that are against the rules or going against the spirit of the rules, they are cheating and you should deal with them appropriately. I suggest talking to them one-on-one without any other players there and requesting that they change their behavior. If they are good, give them some kind of reward to let them use their powers legitimately awesomely.

 

Hopefully this will help you with your endeavors in the future. Remember that you are the narrator of their story and that ultimately the rules are what you make of them.

Hey guys! So I found this Kickstarter project when I was looking around to see what kinds of neat things were available. I think you should all check it out.

Pulse Dice

Do you enjoy the boss fights in old arcade games but could do without the rest of the content? Then you should consider trying Boss Slayer. The basic idea of of Boss Slayer is that there are 10 spaceships coming and you get 12 attempts to take them all out. You get to keep the money you earn while fighting them and you can upgrade your ship to try to combat the menace.

The controls are simple, the graphics bring back memories of the days of Space Invaders and Galaga, and even the sound reminds me of a bygone era of arcades and games that were simple, innocent fun. The game itself is quite hard at first, though with some practice and using the in-game store to purchase upgrades it is very much a winnable game. They included 2 different control schemes. The first is the basic keyboard based controls and the second is mouse based. They also included an easy mode where you get as long as you want to defeat the 10 alien spaceships. Through the course of the levels there are two different kind of Pick Ups, money which is used to purchase upgrades and hearts which give you extra lives.

I found Boss Slayer to be a very fun and challenging game. I really appreciate a game with an interesting premise, good execution and a good level of difficulty. I award Boss Slayer 4 out of 5 hearts. Well done.

4/5 Hearts

If you are interested in playing Boss Slayer, you can fine it here on Kongregate.

Okay…I know, this isn’t my usual. My mom knits. Like a lot. And I wanted to make a quick app for the Chrome App store, so I decided to make a simple knitting themed counter for counting rows and such. Turns out they need those. I’m also trying to convince her to switch to Chrome on the main computer. I have my motives.

So here is Row Counter.

There comes a time in every tabletop rpg where an encounter is at least partially scripted. It might be your opening quest hook, it might be a later encounter, or in the case of introducing a new player or a player’s new character, getting the party to play nicely with someone new. Depending on your game, this can be a challenge.

I’m going to have to lay out a bit of background to start with. I tend to think of people playing roleplaying games in two categories: Games and Roleplayers. Gamers think about stats, work on the META (out of game) level and expect story cliches to happen. Roleplayers think about character, ignore the META level and act in the moment, thinking about consequences only on the in-game level. They’re actually pretty familiar to the Stick Jock and Paste Eater of Live Action Roleplaying. I much prefer to run games for Roleplayers, particularly since my preferred system is diceless, but also because I am one myself. However, Roleplayers are problematic. For a Roleplayer, actions need to be justified with character.

So you’re probably wondering how this all connects. Think about it this way. You’re going along on a quest to stop an evil lich from taking over the kingdom and one of your friends gets killed. This new guy shows up the next time you go into town, or out there near the lich’s stronghold. Are you going to trust him and have him join your party? If you’re a Gamer, you know its your buddy at the table and welcome him in. If you’re a Roleplayer, you’re probably going to grill him about who he is before letting him join at best. We actually encountered this problem in my game just last night. The new character in the game is a shapechanger who was captured by a non-magical noble and was being kept in a cage in the form of a raccoon. In order for her to join the game, the other PCs had to go rescue her. The information I gave them involved a mysterious creature never before seen and the strong belief of the nobleman that it was a Faerie creature. The characters were like its an animal, why should we care? And I ended up having to flat out tell the players that they needed to care so I could get a new character in.

So here comes the real question: How do I solve this problem? The first step is to identify the problem. Its a matter of motivating your players properly. If your players are Gamers, they should be pretty easy to motivate. Generally speaking, get a little input about what kinds of powers they want to have and you should be able to provide either in-game monetary rewards or items as an inducement to go play your adventure. If your players are Roleplayers, it may take more effort. Figure out what kinds of characters they are playing. If you have a group of good characters pitting them against evil is generally speaking a good bet. Things tend to get more complicated. Figure out their personal motivations and you have the proverbial carrot to dangle to get their attention.

And all of this comes back to encounters you have to run. If you have to get the players somewhere for the next aspect of the plot, or to bring someone new into the game, you can figure out the proper inducements for your players to lure them there. Think about ways to run your encounter where the players already are or how to include hooks to new content in ways that will interest your players. And remember that sometimes, you have to pull back the curtain and tell your players to suck it up and do what you need them to.