Moving Delay

Hello everyone,
I’m in the process of moving to another town, one that is actually close to the mountains, so anything more complicated than a quick doodle during a boring meeting is on temporary hiatus. I should be ramping up again next week though, just as soon as we get internet at the new place. haha

Barring any more crazy hail storms, we should be good to go!

Game Play Pro Tip: The secret to moving after you’re 40 is Vicodin and Heating Pads. ;)

Traveller the TV Show

Anyone else remember Traveller, known by many names over many editions and alternate universes, the semi-hard sci-fi RPG of legend?

Spinward Traveller
Spinward Traveller

Well, someone has decided to make a TV-pilot set in one of those iterations:

Spinward Traveller is classic science-fiction; a compelling story of misfits and heroes struggling to survive in the vast sea of stars that is the Traveller role-playing game universe. Based on Marc Miller’s award-winning RPG Traveller, our story captures the essence of role-playing; of characters who have to work together in order to succeed. We wanted to stay true to Marc Miller’s vision of the far future, and we have recruited cast and crew who are passionate about the Traveller RPG and getting the story atmosphere right. Making any show is expensive; making sci-fi is doubly so. We’ll have hundreds of people and thousands of person-hours involved just for the 22 minute version.

Sounds good to me! Check out the kickstarter.

Captain Decker Reviews… Wildstar MMORPG

Attention on deck for legal recitations! *ahem*

Wildstar MMOPRG is a product of NCSOFT. © 2014 NCSOFT Corporation. All rights reserved. All trademarks referenced herein are the properties of their respective owners. All images from the Open Beta 12 May to 18 May 2014. http://www.wildstar-online.com

At ease. Now that the Admiralty is happy, we can get on to business. Namely:  what is Wildstar, how was it, and will I be playing it. So let’s get right into it.

Wildstar MMORPG
Wildstar MMORPG

Wildstar is a pretty standard 2 faction MMORPG produced from the same folks that brought us Guild Wars 1 and 2, making it your usual runny-questy-killy-levely game. Rumor has it was designed mainly by a group of WoW devs fresh from Blizzard, and the game design shows the lineage. It’s fresher than WoW for sure, not nearly as blocky, but still retains a strong cartoonish look to the whole thing. Cross that with a far-future space cowboy motif (someone watched a lot of Firefly) and you’ve got the makings for a game that barely takes itself seriously but has all the more fun because of it.

Continue reading

Captain Decker reviews… The Hunger Games

As always, I’ll be keeping this as spoiler-free as possible. The Captain hates spoilers!

The short version:

The movie was great, go see it! But read the book first to fill in the missing internal monologues. Imagine, if you will, watching Dune without the voice-overs. Yeah. So read the book and go see the film, enjoy :)

The long version:

I was first introduced to The Hunger Games at Comic-Con by Nancy during a fun charge through the main floor to try to secure a mockingjay pin from their booth. While an unsuccessful hunt, I was still struck by her enthusiasm. She encouraged me to read the series before the movie came out, and by this point I trust her opinion such that I’ll read “On The Watching Of Paint Dry” if she recommends it as good. As it turns out, the series is excellent! Sure, it’s a Young Adult series, but don’t hold that against it too harshly. What do you think Harry Potter started as?

The Good: Say what you will, but I thought the casting was done well. They’re good looking without being *too* good looking, and whomever cast Lenny Kravitz as Cinna should win an award. Like right now, hand it over to them–he nailed Cinna. The perfect mix of sadness, hope, and almost-fatherly love. Additionally, the scenery is worth pausing the movie for just to admire: the coal town is gritty and destitute, the hob looks like any market in the 3rd world, and the crowd scenes of The Capitol would make any Roman nod in approval. Ego amare purpura capillos!

The Bad: So why did I mention the book so much? Because to get the full effect of the movie, you’re going to want to of read the book first. On its own, the film stands as a slightly choppy, fast-paced, pseudo-documentary, art house action film. Good times I say! But, as mentioned above, better if you have the missing internal dialogues from the book to fill in EXACTLY what Katniss is thinking in any given scene. There is so much happening in the background with the tactics, the trying to figure out what people want her to do, and the terrible emotional struggle that the movie simply does not have time to get into.

The Ugly: How do you fit a book with this much detail into only 2.5 hours? This will make an excellent mini-series someday, but for now we have a movie trying to jam in a massive about of fine details into too short of time. The result is a film that feels rushed, almost jumpy. I can see a viewer getting lost if they haven’t read the books to fill in the gaps. I had previously complained that the book was too fast paced, making the movie seem to be like watching a highlights reel by comparison. Also, one bad moment of CG (ugh) and a poorly done pyro sequence. But I’m nitpicking.

The Beautiful: The sound. Or, should I say in many cases, the LACK of sound. Wonderful, nay, devastating in some scenes. There’s barely any soundtrack to distract from what is nearly an art-film. There are a couple scenes where the sudden absence of sound or the overriding sound that Katniss is hearing does what no soundtrack could ever do to push through the emotion of the scene. Some say that the way it was filmed, the closeups intermixed with long shots, was distracting. But, personally, it reminded me of Kurosawa–and Kurosawa is GOD. So I’ll mark the style down as artistic once you get used to it.

Overall? Go see it! Read the book first! Maybe we can get #2 and #3 made….

I also wanted to say that this Team Peeta and Team Gale thing is stupid. Her feelings for them are not that cut and dry. Sure the movie doesn’t have time to go into it, but in the books it’s more than clear the struggle she’s going through with her feeling for both of them. It’s just a Twilight simplification of a significantly more complex and believable love triangle.

The Captain has spoken, back to your stations!

All aboard!

Gamer Cache has been on a bit of a holding pattern through the Holidays and the subsequently traditional “work a lot of hours to make up cash after the Holidays” period. We’re getting the boiler fired back up though, time to get this train moving again!

Doing your homework

The Hunt for Red OctoberToday’s post is in honor of Tom Clancy, unparalleled techno-thriller author who died this morning.

I have sometimes made comment about how I end up learning the oddest things while GMing. Generally speaking, when I sit down to plan out a campaign or upcoming session, I try to make it a believable  as possible. I certainly hold myself to a higher standard than Hollywood! I have found myself researching Napoleonic infantry formations for use in Mecha games, quantum physics for use explaining hyperdrives, evolution of languages for a game set during the Crusades, European and Asian heraldry for use in East meets West steampunk setting, various phrases in many languages for any number of games, and a hundred other odd topics.

Even so, you’re still not going to be an expert in the topic! However, I’ve found that knowing something about the topic is better than completely making crap up when it comes to portraying a given thing in your game setting. Why make up some babble that sounds sort of French when you could grab a cheap phrasebook and actually learn a few real phrases? The party going to be in turn of the century London? Go look up a few articles about famous buildings and people of the time. Mentioning a popular kids game, juicy scandal, or political debate from the time period can really help get Players immersed in the setting.

The GM is not an expert

Try to do the best you can, enjoy learning new things, and try to make the setting as realistic as possible (with respect to the style of setting itself, of course). The trick, as with many things, is to not over do it! There’s a balance between having the party’s Cop/Detective Player fill out a printed form on the crime scene (fun!) and making the Player learn every single facet of criminal law (boring!) If your Players start looking like the Economics class in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off you’ve gone too far. Dial it back some, abstract the paperwork or procedures with a Bureaucracy or Protocol roll. If the character knows the skills and the Player doesn’t, that’s fine. That’s sort of the point of role-playing. Let the story unfold and keep the action moving! Even Tom Clancy himself would occasionally go into just a bit too much detail at the expense of keeping the story going. Sometimes you just have to say “Cool rifle bro, let’s not discuss the history of its bolt mechanism”. Well, not unless it’s the key to the murder mystery…

A writer cannot do too much research… though sometimes it is a mistake to try and cram too much of what you learned into your novel. Research gives you a foundation to build on, but in the end it’s only the story that matters.” –George R.R. Martin

It’s a bit like that middle chapter in Snow Crash, the one where you learn the Complete History of Sumerian Mythology with a side of CDC Viral Biology Reports. It’s painful, it borders the very bleeding edge of what your audience can be expected to sit through, and it’s utterly needed for the plot to make any sense at all. A bit of a conundrum, really. It’s the sort of Info Dump that most GMs issue as Handout Packets, short stories, or the occasional “Go watch this movie before next session.” The key is to find out how much the Players are willing to follow/learn to enjoy the game. Showing your work that the Quantum Cosmic Teleportation Blinky Lights Machine is based on 36 hours of physics research you did is utterly irrelevant if the explanation isn’t critical to the plot or the Players are bored silly. Bored players blow stuff up. Probably using the Quantum Cosmic Teleportation Blinky Lights Machine.

Remember, if a player gets up in your face about the intricate details of a thing that you only researched slightly you need to either incorporate their expertise (which is invariably being used to break your plot) or calmly enforce that you’re the GM and what you say goes. “In this setting, it works in the way I described” can get you out of a lot of arguments so that you can get on with the fun. We’ll talk about dealing with Power Players and Munchkins in more detail in another post.

 

If it’s not on the equipment list…

…Don’t be afraid to add it!

Czerka Heavy Blaster Pack
Czerka Heavy Blaster Pack (C) J. Ryan Decker

Just as long as it doesn’t break your game setting, that is. In this case a player needed a large blaster pack to power a Steadicam-mounted hip blaster. Think the big guns from Aliens meets a deck-sweeping stun cannon…. yeah. It was a bit over the top, but it did do only stun damage so I allowed it. It’s one of those judgement calls that a GM has to make that at first doesn’t sound hard but in hindsight can ruin an entire campaign with unexpected balance issues.

There’s no good guide to go off of here, except perhaps the personal judgement of the GM in regards to the Player. If you have a Munchkin on your hands, by all means do NOT let them start making up weapons! You’ll end up with rocket-powered head-seeking drills filled with explosives. Trust me on this one. But sometimes you will get something amusing like the Players wanting to add pressure-triggered tasers into a box of doughnuts to disable a few beat cops in order to steal something out of the Evidence Room. It’s amusing, it’s certainly creative, and there’s a good chance that it will fail spectacularly–so go ahead and let them try it.

If it fits the setting, fits the tech level, won’t take an entire R&D department a year to develop it, and won’t destroy your campaign then it should be considered. Who knows, it may drive the story in a new and interesting direction. Heck, the entire plot of every single MacGyver and A-Team episode revolved around exactly this!

If things start looking uncontrollable, remember this:

That which the GM can give, the GM can taketh away.

 

 

 

NPC Dark Current (Star Wars D6)

Feel free to use posted NPCs in your own campaigns and settings, just don’t go claiming any of my personal Copyrighted material as your own.

In a recent Star Wars D6 campaign the party was on a primitive world populated by degenerated Sith/Human/Massassi hybrids–survivors of a Sith colony that was destroyed just prior to the Seventh Battle of Ruusan in 1022BBY. I had one of the players get “volunteered” by a small tribe as their Champion in the upcoming 1024th Executive Officer Games, an arena deathmatch by any other name. The winner of the Thunderdome was put in charge of the planet for the next solar year. In this case one Player was in the arena, but instead of having the other six Players sit around bored I had them randomly draw a pit fighter to play from a pile of pre-made characters. THEY were to be his opposition in the arena. All of a sudden it went from “boring arena fight we have to watch” to “We’re in the Hunger Games, it is so on” in the span of 30 seconds.

Dark_Current_byXechon
Force Skills:

  • Rage
  • Emptiness
  • Hibernation trance
  • Control Pain
  • Enhance Attribute
  • Reduce injury
  • Remain Conscious
  • Aura of Uneasiness
  • Drain Life nergy
  • Lanvarok Combat (Use like Lightsaber Combat)
  • Combat Sense
  • Danger Sense
  • Life Detection
  • Life Sense
  • Life Web
  • Magnify Senses
  • Weather Sense
  • Shift Sense
  • Sense Force
  • Force Wind
  • Injure/Kill
  • Bolt of Hatred
  • Telekinesis

If Lanvarok Combat is “Up”: Lanvarok to-hit 6D+4 Damage 8D+3

Other Abilities: Force Scream, Call Upon the Dark Side

 

Star Wars D6 The Role-Play Game (C) West End Games and Wizards of the Coast

Star Wars (C) Lucasfilm and Disney

Notes from behind the GM's shield