Sunday, February 24, 2013

SteamCraft - First Impressions [Part 1]

I was impressed with Perilous Journeys - the previous product from Perilous Journeys Publishing - so I was very interested when I learned they were doing a kickstarter for their SteamCraft game to be released to retail stores in hardback.  Unfortunately, I could participate in the kickstarter due to bad timing so I decided to wait until the public release to get a copy. 
Fast forward a couple of months and Valentine's Day was near and the wife had "no idea what to get me" so I snuck in a request for SteamCraft.  I even mentioned the fact that she could do it all from her laptop and would not even have to drive to a bookstore.  This is a big deal for her because I am one of those people that tend to get lost in a bookstore.  I could literally browse for hours and hours.  I have tried to point out that it is similar to the way she can browse for clothes or purses but I do not thing she believes me.  Anyway, back to SteamCraft. 
We ordered from FRP Games and waited for the game to arrive.  It was my first order from them and I was very satisfied with the service.  I was kept in the loop by FRP Games during the entire process.  I received emails to let me know my order was accepted, fulfilled, and shipped.  My product was properly packed for shipment and I received it with no bends, creases, gouges, or other defects that can occur during shipping.  I would recommend FRP Games to others after my experience.
The SteamCraft game and world is detailed in a single 216 page hardbound volume for a $35.95 listed price.  I greatly appreciate the fact that this one volume is all you need to get started.  I do not rule out a game if it requires multiple volumes but it sure is more convenient on my pocketbook and reading time to get it all down in one tome.  The hardback feels sturdy, looks nice, and fits in well on my shelf of gaming products.  I hope to see Perilous Journeys get the same treatment at some point in the future.  The interior pages are laid out in a clear manner in the traditional black text on white background; grey background is used to set some information apart in the text.  The text is a nice reading size that does not put a strain on the eyes and is easy to read.
The introduction takes up two pages and includes topics such as a quick overview, a role-playing definition, and a steampunk definition. I know many believe that the "what is role-playing" section is unnecessary in modern games.  I disagree because you never know when some other interest might lead someone to a role-playing game based on that interest or something similar.  If someone has never actually role-played before then this short section is needed.  The best part of this section defines the genre of steampunk.  I had a vague idea of the genre before purchasing this book and now I know for sure what steampunk is all about.
The next section of the rulebook covers the campaign world in 55 pages.  There is a wealth of information about the Arcadian Coast and the various countries and locations within.  In addition, there are entries that cover topics such as racism, sexism, social class, the Fae, technology, science & magic, health care, religion, and guilds.  Not only is all of this information included but there are also various pages that resemble newspaper articles that have been clipped from in world sources; a nice touch that helps with immersion.
Character creation is covered in the next 44 pages of the rule book. Characters are created through a combination of selecting from the available options and spending points during a 12 step process.  The first selection that must be made is race of the character; there are 7 nonhuman races such as dwarf, elf, & gnome in addition to the Human race.  I guess you could technically consider  SteamCraft a steampunk fantasy game with the inclusion of fantasy elements like magic and the nonhuman races - does steampunk typically include those elements or not?  The selection of race will also help determine the base ratings of the attributes.  Continuing through the character creation process will result in the selection of edges, flaws, abilities, and other derived statistics.  There are no limited character classes, but there are some sample archetypes, in this game but each character is a unique combination of natural and learned abilities.  At the end of the character creation chapter is a sample walk through of the character creation process.  I would appreciate if all games put the sample of character creation in one spot instead of spread throughout the chapter.  It makes it easier to follow and double check your own character.
I had planned to do my first impressions of SteamCraft as one post but real life got crazy this weekend so I am going to go ahead and post what I have so far.  The rest is coming soon...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Play Generated Map & Document Archive

I am probably late to the party on this one but earlier today I found the coolest archive of old gaming material at The Play Generated Map & Document Archive while I was browsing the internet.  If you want to see old gaming material such as hand drawn maps, home made modules that mimic the style of the old AD&D modules, and other various items then follow that link.

Two Updates

I have made two small changes on the blog today.
I added an About Me tab if anyone is interested in reading about how I got into role playing games and would return to them years later.
I also added a section for Escape From Camp Blood on the Collected Posts section.

Back to the Dungeon Supplement I: Toldara (working outline)

Toldara is the name of my campaign world for fantasy role playing games.  Much of it is not set it rigid stone and much of it exists only in notes.  Toldara is sort of an amalgamation of all of my play experiences from the early 80s until today mixed in with ideas from my cousin Alex.  He is handling the crunchier version of the setting - the Pathfinder rules - and I am working on a version using lighter rules such as the Back to the Dungeon RPG; more information about the game can be found at the Back to the Dungeon blog.  In my efforts, I have come up with the following outline to guide my work.
1.  Introduction (completed)
----------For Players----------------
2.  New Attribute Generation Methods (completed)
3.  Races (80%)
  • Information about the core races; modifications, exclusions, etc.
  • New races native to Toldara.
4. Classes (50%)
  •  New classes
  • Class variants (not sure)
5.  Optional Skill System (draft only - may be dropped)
6.  Character Backgrounds (80%)
  • Ideas for players that like to develop the background of their characters.
---------For GMs---------------------

7.  Monsters (draft)
8.  Magic Items (draft)
9.  World Information (draft)

Progress so far.  More later...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

SteamCraft - Newest Arrival

I had some errands to run today and when I came home I checked the mail.  There was not anything in the mailbox but when I opened up the screen door there was a box from FRP Games.  I have been checking it out for the last hour or so but I have not come up with enough thoughts to commit to a post yet but there will be one coming shortly.  In the meantime, if you want to check out a sample or find our more information about the game then go to the SteamCraft page at the Perilous Journeys Publishing site.

Escape From Camp Blood (playtesting components)

I have been searching through the internet for mail order supplies that may help when I get to the point of creating a prototype of the game board and pieces.  The game board can be found simulated  by using a large piece of poster board until the details get worked out.  At that point, there are various sizes of blank folding boards that can be used for the game board.  As you can see, the game board is not an issue at all.  The poster board is a cheap alternative to use during playtesting until a final design is determined. 
With the biggest obstacle out of the way, I turned to the rest of the components.  Along with the poster board - could be purchased at Dollar General - I could use the small index cards for the item and event cards used during the game.  I could even cut each card in half and that could serve as two cards.  For less than $5 I could have a big chunk of the playtest materials ready.  Granted, there would not be any fancy art or anything at this point BUT that should not be an issue since all of this is for purely playtesting use.
The final hurdle to the components is some sort of counters, tokens, etc. to serve as representations of the various campers and the slasher they are avoiding.  I thought about using pawns - and I might for the initial playtesting - but I really associate them with chess and other games instead of a game about eighties slasher films.  Then I stumbled upon these little figures called meeples and thought that they would work perfectly. 
I found these things at Meeple Source and they have a wide variety of board gaming supplies that I could use.  There are all sorts of game boards (just like I need), counters, various tokens, monster meeples, people meeples, giant meeples, and all sorts of other things.  Other examples are pictured below.
Now that I have satisfied my curiosity about gathering game pieces that will look reasonably well done for a reasonable price it is time to get back to brainstorming.  More later...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Escape From Camp Blood (another look)

Eric Baker, you asked for it and now you have it!  If you're interested in co-authoring this game with me then start brainstorming...


My original post about Escape From Camp Blood was posted on May 21, 2012.  It has been almost a year and I have posted nothing else about it.  This post is the first in a series in an effort to move from concept to complete game.
Concept: The players are campers at a newly re-opened camp that was shut down due to some grisly murders that took place at the camp a few summers ago.  The killer was never found and it was assumed he drowned and the body was never found.  The murders begin again on the first night of the camp being open again.
It would be cool to include a back story for the original killings - why did the murderer go on a rampage, how many people were killed, who escaped, etc.  Also include some rumors about the return of the killer or what happened after the camp was closed.
Goal: The players are simply trying to survive the return of the killer and make it out of camp alive.  
There could be other goals also - stopping the killer by subduing him or killing him.  If all of the players are killed then alternate victory conditions could exist for the player to gather the most knowledge about the killer, pick up the most items, or last the longest, etc.  It will be up to the players to work together or go solo.  I am not sure if the killer should be controlled by one of the players or by some random method in the rulebook.
Components: The pieces needed to play this game would include the following.
  • Game Board: Of course, the game board will be the playing area of the game.  This board will depict a typical camp scene with a road leading out, some cabins, a dining cabin, a maintenance shed, a baseball field, a river or like, some canoes, and a wooded area.
  • Camper Tokens: There will be several tokens representing the different kinds of campers at the camp - jock, tough guy, cowboy, techie, punk, cheerleader, beauty queen, cheerleader, camp staff, etc.
  • Killer Token: Represents the killer and does not start out in play.
  • Cards: To increase replay value there will be a list of random events (plot twists?) and item cards that will have an impact on the game at random times or when they are discovered.  
It might be a good idea to have the game board be split up into several pieces that can be assembled in various ways so each setup and play experience will be unique.  Each one of the campers should have a special ability or something that sets them apart from the other campers; something that will serve as an advantage to that character. The killer will also have a list of special abilities that can randomly be determined by a die roll or something similar. The plot twist cards will represent events that can alter the game - cops showing up, bounty hunter, two killers, a fake killer, wake up it's a dream, etc.  The item cards will represent stuff that can give the players a further advantage such as weapons, cell phone, gun, etc. 
Expansion Material: Just as every good - or bad, to tell the truth - 80s slasher had sequels after the success of the initial film this game could have expansion material set up as sequels to the original game and story.  All of the stuff in the expansion sets could be related to the theme of the expansion.  It could be used by itself or mixed in with the original set.  Some possibilities include:
  • An expansion giving more detail and play options in the forested areas.  Maybe there is a cabin out there with the Necronomicon inside...
  • An expansion could have the camp grounds open one more time with beefed up security and new playing pieces related to it - camp security guard token, new weapons, new campers, etc.
  • An expansion turning the setup around by having multiple slashers going around the board trying to get the most kills.
  • An expansion that details the lair or hideout of the slasher and the players have been captured and must get out.
Other Thoughts: A few ideas about the continued development of this game.
I know the control of the killer can be done in a traditional manner by having one of the players control the killer or by having some random method of controlling the killer outlined in the rule book.  I want to do something different.  I want to come up with a system where each player always controls their camper but the control of the killer rotates around the table.  This is one way to simulate the random focus of the slasher in some of these movies.  I can remember the killer changing his attention from one person to another at times.  It is just an interesting thought I had.  
I know there are some differences between the 80s slashers and the more modern slasher movies.  This could actually be the focus of one of the expansion sets. 
This post is a much better explanation of the game concept I had in mind.  I will develop each one of these ideas in greater detail in future posts.  More later...  

I Got Bit

Some time in the last week or so I got bit by the writing bug.  I remember some random ideas popping in my head during the work day.  I wrote it down so I could add some detail later.  Then another idea came, followed by another, and then even more.  I seem to write better when I have several projects going at one time.  I can jump to another project instead of being stuck on the only one I am working on at the moment.  Yes, focus is a good thing but I need variety in my writing projects or my output starts to dwindle off pretty bad.  The following projects are currently in development as future posts.

Adventures in Fantasy: I am going to either scan the reference sheets or type up new versions; it depends on whether or not the information in the official sheets is all that useful.  There always seems to be a table or two that really should have replaced with something else in these type of resources.  I am also working on a character sheet for this old game.

Back to the Dungeon RPG: I am working on a supplement to BttDRPG that basically serves a similar purpose as Greyhawk back in the OD&D days.  I am shooting for a 32 page document that will show the house rules and custom mods for my campaign world Toldara.  I am also working on a character sheet for this game.

Old Gaming Notebook: I am starting to develop ideas for expanding on the original ideas and move closer to making complete games out of some of these concepts.

SteamCraft RPG: I have a pdf of this game BUT I am waiting on the hardback to arrive in the mail any day.  I definitely will be doing some posts on this game.  I am enjoying the pdf but I work much better with printed product.  Posts are coming soon,

USR: I completed version 1.0 of the generic character sheet.  I am still writing, testing, & revising the Outbreak RPG book.  I need to come up with another name because I found out there is already a zombie type game by the name of Outbreak - d'oh! I am also working on doing some USR to B/X monster conversions. 

WordPress: I have started experimenting with a blog at WordPress just to see if I am missing anything.  I like to try out several options before deciding on a product and in the case of blogs I did not do that.  If anyone is interested you can check it out at The Old Gamers Notebook to see the contents.  There are only two posts so far and - at least in the early stages - there will be some overlap between old posts here and there; there will be new posts there mixed in wit the old.  This is mainly just an experiment to see what all the free version of WordPress has to offer.  If I like it then I will maintain a separate blog there.  Regardless, this blog you are reading right now is staying and will continue to be developed. Basically, I just need to scratch my writing itch.  If I do not write something when I get the urge then it is probably gone or it will block me from writing most anything.  Writing is something I enjoy and would love to do it professionally but it does not come easy for me and I am not very confident in a lot of it.

There is everything I am writing on at the moment.  Some of it will be regular posts while some of it will make it into the A to Z challenge. Stay tuned...


Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Little Reorganization Around Here

I have not updated the layout of my blog in a while.  I started to take a look at the page arrangement due to new projects I have committed to complete.  The biggest change at the moment is the arrangement of the tabs at the top of the page.  There was 4 but now there are 5 tabs.  The old Resources & Links tab is gone and has been replaced by two new tabs:
Downloads - Links to all of the downloads that I have created or helped to create will be placed in this tab.
Various Links - Links to downloadable resources, information, and miscellaneous sites that I enjoy using or visiting from time to time.

Eventually, I am going to add an About tab to the top of the page that will explain how I got into gaming and how my gaming tastes have changed over the years.


edit - changed the theme also.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

USR Character Sheet v1.0

In my fiddlings with USR I have come up with a simple character sheet for anyone that is interested.
It's nothig special but it may come in handy...


edit - added a link to the character sheet on the Resources & Links page.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Few Updates Around Here...

The latest happenings around here include:
A - Z: It looks like I am still going to do all of the posts about my campaign world.  If things work out correctly all of these posts should be related to the B/X rules and that is a good thing.  I have not flexed my B/X muscles in a while so I'll do my best.  Fingers crossed...
SteamCraft: I ordered the SteamCraft rpg and it should be here soon.  I was impressed with the author's ability to turn Lejendary Adventures into a game I could understand with his Perilous Journeys game so I wanted to support his latest product and I really need to break out of the fantasy genre. 
Outbreak RPG: Writing is coming along at a decent pace.  I am adjusting the outline and writing as I go so there will be backtracking and rewriting as I continue.  I am digging the USR rules but I must admit that I am not accustomed to such rules light games so I tend to hit a brick wall at times trying to do it "right".  There doesn't need to be rules that cover many things when these rules can easily handle making judgements on the fly.  The biggest change has to be the name.  When I orderd the SteamCraft game earlier, I noticed that there is already a small press zombie type game out there with the title of Outbreak.  No big deal - this is purely an amateur exercise - but I don't want to step on any toes so a new name will be decided on soon.
S.T.A.G.E.: That is the Simple Tabletop Adventure Gaming Engine.  I have had an idea for a rules light game for quite some time.  As I mentioned above the rules light type of games are something I do not have much experience with at all.  I can understand the appeal of such games and with the reduced free time as I grow older the quicker playing games appeal much more to me.  I am still working on it from time to time but it is not top priority at the moment.
There's what is going on in the gaming realm of my life.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Little Assistance on the A to Z?

I have signed up for the A to Z challenge this year and have narrowed the themes down to just a few.  The theme that has currently caught my attention is my campaign world.  I really need to update the information because I have switched game systems and doing 26 posts on my campaign world just might motivate me to actually get it updated.  I have subjects for 16 of the posts but I would like to hear suggestions for the following 10 letters:
J, L, M, N, Q, V, W, X, Y, Z
Yeah, I know, the easy letters.  If you have any suggestions on what subjects you think would be appropriate for the above letters I would highly appreciate it.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I Did It

I have not been all that productive on my blog lately due to real life.  There has not been anything drastic or life altering occur - do not get the wrong idea - it has just been a whole lot of little incidents ocurring closely together that has gotten my attention.  I am making a conscious effort to get back in the swing of things and get the posts completed and put up in a timely manner.  What is coming in the future?
I signed up for the Blogging A to Z challenge coming in April.  This will be my second year participating in this event.  I had a blast last year and hope to do so again this year.  I would encourage anyone with a blog and the time to sign up for it.  I admit that I am just jumping into it this year without a theme or anything decided as of now but I still have time.  I am sure that some of the letters will be handled by updating some of my old gaming notebook posts or uploading the latest draft of something.  The rest is up in the air...