Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Fiasco –

Alright … this past Sunday yea olde indie gaming crew tried out yet another title Fiasco.

Fiasco is an indie title published by Bully Pulpit Games and their description is as follows:

Fiasco is inspired by cinematic tales of small time capers gone disastrously wrong – inspired by films like Blood Simple, Fargo, The Way of the Gun, Burn After Reading, and A Simple Plan. You’ll play ordinary people with powerful ambition and poor impulse control. There will be big dreams and flawed execution. It won’t go well for them, to put it mildly, and in the end it will probably all go south in a glorious heap of jealousy, murder, and recrimination. Lives and reputations will be lost, painful wisdom will be gained, and if you are really lucky, your guy just might end up back where he started.
Fiasco is a GM-less game for 3-5 players, designed to be played in a few hours with six-sided dice and no preparation. During a game you will engineer and play out stupid, disastrous situations, usually at the intersection of greed, fear, and lust. It’s like making your own Coen brothers movie, in about the same amount of time it’d take to watch one.”

The game has a pretty simple mechanic that centers upon relationships between the characters.  To mention again the game is a GM-less system where everything is resolved via a shared dice pool mechanic.

The game starts by everyone taking a black and a white die … tossing em in a big pile and having someone roll em all up. That is the game's starting dice pool. From there … you would either have previously selected the “playset” (think mini setting basically … or the stage upon which your little story is going to occur) or you'd do it then. I guess really it might be even easier to describe the playset simply a theme which is represented by a series of tables by which you establish all the relationships, locations, objects/props and then you act out the a few acts and come up with resolution. Incidentally our playset was "Boomtown"   Though your playing within the genre so to speak of the playset ... and you get specific terms or signifiers you aren't flat out pigeon holed into the type of character you build, or the relationships you form, its really free form and the players individually and collectively get to weave their own story.

Ok now that I've given you my basic description of the game here is a really brief synopsis of what we did with it …

Our game involved four main characters … two brothers … the Sullivan Brothers … a woman posing as a man (yup) running a shady den of iniquity ... combination whore house gambling den (aren't they all), a faith healing snake oil salesman and his crooked, yet rather comely, accomplice Isabella. They all had a tangled web of relationships … some humorous … some twisted … and as the story unwove they sank deeper and deeper into a dark, sad tale of woe. Their own greed, arrogance and human frailty generally got the best of them … some managed to emerge at the end of the long dark night somewhat unscathed … and others paid the price.  We all thought it turned out awesome ... well in a darkly humorous way anyway ...

All in all it was pretty fun and the darkness of it all was heavily balanced with hilarity. I think every one of us really wants to play this game again. The sheer number of playsets being released (mostly for free) for this game guarantees a lot of re-playability. Just the mechanics of the game in the core book mean this is a game that you could play for weeks on end and not have much repetition.  We had a blast ... we will be back to this glorious game again and again ...

Pretorian Heads ... over pricing?

Ok ... just a simple observation here ... I as many of you out there follow Tabletop Gaming News ... I noticed that over the past few years there has been an EXPLOSION!!! of epic proportions of garage companies selling GW related bitz. I'm shocked that sue happy GW hasn't been suing the living crap out of many of these mom and pop shops as was there old practice. I'm happy that GW isn't doing that and I wholeheartedly wish all these guys well ... it expands all of our gaming options ... saves us time etc.  But I have noticed some of these companies putting out products at prices as high or higher than forgeworld .. which leads me to believe that there is alot more room for such product in the marketplace (something most of us have been saying for years as well). Whether we are in a 3.5 D&D OGL era glutted market period for minis ... or a true renaissance for mini gaming ... I don't know ... does anyone out there have an opinion? statistics? share if you do.
My main point for posting this quick blurb though has been to discuss a specific product and its cost vs. other readily available products.

15 bucks for 20 heads   ..... OR ..... Five bucks for five

However you get THE ENTIRE figure including alot of other bitz from Wargame Factory Plastics ... Secret Weapon Miniatures ... you just get five heads.  I'm honestly not too impressed with their sculpts for those prices.

It seems like every other somewhat well followed blog out there is pimping one of these garage companies and their somewhat over priced product. 1 buck for sculpy-hobbiest quality sculpted shoulder pads from one place ... 40 bucks for some friggin wolves that are recasts of kids toys with a saddle and some extra armor ... etc. There is alot of low quality stuff out there ... coupled with some pretty high prices. I have complained and bitched for years about GWs prices ... but they put out professional quality product, sculpted by industry professionals, using high quality industrial processes. Even Forgeworld ... as many miscast pieces, etc. as I've gotten from them over the years ... their general sculpts and quality of their miniatures are AMAZING usually. I'm sorry but there is alot of stuff on the market place that is really shoddy and people are apparently paying top dollar for it.  Anyway I noticed this one pretty big discrepancy and just wondered why people wouldn't go with a much cheaper plastic alternative ... ok sure if you want five alt heads ... or you just need five heads ... maybe paying more for less is worth it. But if your doing an entire Pretorian army (and you could just use the entire fig .... 20 troopers for 15 bucks ... erm ... a little converting ... adding guard weps and bitz here and there ... bada bing ... done and done ... for ultra cheap).

Friday, October 8, 2010

To be or not to be ...

 RPG related quandry ... its an age old one for me as I've had this issue many times in games I've played in and ran and have yet to really find a decent answer other than one I'll provide. But I'm tossing this out in hopes of maybe getting some points of view or ideas I hadn't encountered before.


The problem goes like this:

Player X is your typical happy go lucky  ... fun loving ... team playing ... D&D fan. He just is stoked to be at the table, happy to be hanging out with his friends, eagerly anticipating what the DM is going to do this session. This guy is a team player, he wants to get along, ok sure sometimes he will disagree about going right or left, about what to ask a captive, etc. he tends to play "good-ish ... maybe a little neutral at times."

Player Y is not necessarily your typical fun loving guy ... he is a bit edgy (maybe its an act to seem kinda cool ... or maybe he just listens to too much death metal ... and/or watches too much twisted shit on the internet ... probably Japanese or German twisted) ... he generally gets along with people. He knows the rules, has fun most of the time and isn't a jerk at heart really ... he is just a non-conformist. The guy never wants to play anything near a "good" alignment tending character. He hates just going along with the party ... no matter how sound the "group" plan is he tends to want to do something else. He frequently suggests things that are overtly evil ... pulling an NPC into an alleyway and killing them because they have something he needs (when there are non-evil/murderous alternatives readily available) ... etc. 

So at the end of the day playing a "good" or "evil" party in my opinion is ok ... either option can be fun ... either option can have good combat or good RP ... or both. I just strongly feel that you generally need to as a group decide this before you start to play. IF you choose the very difficult option of playing a mixed party, and your going to stay true to your character concepts ... you better be ready for some PVP at some point. Again its totally ok if that is what everyone is willing to sign on for ... BUT ... to just randomly pick character concepts and alignments that are in diametric opposition to one an other ... in my opinion ... is just asking for trouble. So my preference is to just play a somewhat synchronized game where the party is loosely on the same page.

This said ... it never fails ... best laid plans soon fall to ruin ... the plans of battle rarely survive contact with the enemy ... the road to hell is paved with good intentions ... yada yada ... 

So the question is ... when ... X+Y= Shit^100 ... what should one do?

I mean in the case that player X and player Y are both showing up, know the rules, being polite out of the game ... yet are abjectly miserable half of the time while playing the game ... what should one do? I know honesty is the best policy, but frequently people don't listen or don't understand fully what is being said. So the group talk is had .. and nothing changes. What then? Just quit the game ... reboot without one of them?
This has happened several times to me over the years and it seems like there isn't a good option really.

What happened to my dashboard???

What happened to my dashboard??? Does anyone out there know how to return it to the old format?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Montsegur 1244

I'm going to try to pick it up and run it sometime this fall/winter ... its very esoteric and most assuredly not for everyone.  I like the mechanics of the game though and if you have a group of good roleplayers the game can lead to some very deep RP ... the one session of the game I played in was really amazing. But this is a game of emotion and relationships ... gritty combats are unlikely (though the mechanics would allow for scenes to be framed with gritty combat if one so desired) ...

Here is some interesting background information on the history of the Cathars and Montsegur

Montsegur 1244  and more on the Cathars and a cool BBC radio program on it:

Historic Prelude

In 1199 A.D., Pope Innocent III declares that a good Christian no longer needs go to The Holy Land to go straight to Heaven. Heathens can be found a lot closer to home. In Northern Europe kings compete on bringing Christianity to the Baltic region. In southern France a long and bloody war against the Cathars begins.

Skull The Catholic Church has been in a weak position for a long time. A new religious doctrine has been spreading and threatens the Church. Maybe the bishops have been too busy with their intrigues in Rome. Maybe they have been tax collecting a bit too zealously. The message of a simple life, following the example of Jesus, wins sympathy and listeners. Told directly in people’s homes by abstinent, humble men and women.

In 1208, an army of crusaders attack. The main force consists of Normans. The first town, Bezier, refuses to surrender their minority of Cathars to the crusaders. When the town finally falls, there is no mercy. The order is: “Kill them all, the Lord will recognize His own.”

More towns fall in the following years. But after a while, acts of war die out. The Count of Toulouse, a defender of the Cathars until now, gives in to the pope and promises to fight the heresy. An uneasy peace spreads.

In 1234, the papal inquisition is formed to help uncover heretics and to prevent vigilantism and lynching. But the efficient and brutal conduct of the inquisition is not to everyone’s liking.

Also this brings to mind the cool places to find games like these such as ... the "un" store ...

Indie Press Revolution


Drive Through RPG

Ghost Echo ... AWESOMESAUCE!

Two completely free ... AWESOMESAUCE Indie-RPG games for you if you just hit the links below ... 

Ok .... 

Most Sunday evenings are "Indie-RPG" night for me .... I have loads of 4e and other standard fare going on Thursday through Saturday ... but Sunday is reserved for the sometimes avant garde sometimes silly ... sometimes just crazy ... world of small press indie RPGs.

This past weekend we tried Ghost Echo ... "a quick-play aetherpunk adventure module for 2-6 players."

Wow .. where do I begin.

To start I was sort of sad as one of our regular indie game crew has had to drop out of our indie game (though he remains for other gaming so its not a total loss) due to school wearing him down. Totally understood ... real life comes before gaming (that just sounds so heretical though doesn't it). We had planned to play Lady Blackbird ... ironically yet another one.seven game ... and we've been saying we are going to try it for quite some time and just for whatever reason haven't . As an aside I should mention that I've also done Danger Patrol from them ... AWESOMESAUCE ... but haven't tried Agon yet though I own it ... it looks cool but its a bit more crunchy than their other titles.

Anyway so its just the three of us ... fellow indie fans Rustin and Sadie and myself ... Rustin busts out Ghost Echo ... having not really had it prepped or anything ... though he has run it once before ... and we just get into it. I'm not going to go into the dynamic of the mechanics ... seriously just download it and read it ... its friggin small ... it is certainly not a crunchy system.  But it is really sleek and I have to say in our case we felt it was simply profound. 

We had a really immersive interesting game that just came together and was very satisfying. We started with a few terms that led us into some odd cyber-feudal corporate wars setting and our characters were really cool and the world just popped out to us. I seriously wanted to convert it into a longer playing campaign ... it was that good.

What we discussed in the post game wrap session is that this system (as Rustin has used it once before) would be actually well suited to generating character back-story for the big simulator systems ... with some slight adjustment ... for really any game ... from D&D to RIFTS to Dark Heresy to Shadowrun to you name it ... clearly if your already playing something Old School or indie you wouldn't need that ... but in the big crunchy systems ... short of boringly having all the players type up ... yet again ... a two to five page back-story *yawn* ... which will likely never come into play ... using a quick method to really delve into an interesting story might be the ticket to getting certain types of players really engaged right from the get go with their characters.  I'm going to try it next time I run a game. But in the meantime ... I'm going to keep Ghost Echo close at hand for those off nights when we need something impromptu. Download it ... Try it ... hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as we did!