Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Old Guard Gaming Holiday 2013

Hoo boy, what a awesome fun busy time off I had! Lemme tell you all about it...

Tweed Ride Victoria

Saturday was Tweed Ride Victoria and despite the weather being positively lousy with wind and heavy rain, the coordinators threw together a last minute plan for the attendees. Those brave enough met up at St. Anne's Academy for a brief wet bike ride through town to our destination, and those less inclined were free to join us via their preferred method of transportation.

photo by geoff robson
Photo by Geoff Robson
As the Missus and I had received two Schwinn Cruisers on loan for the event, were determined to make use of them and braved the rain with our friend Mr. Prins. We bundled up well, and despite the dampness the ride there was much fun in the weather. All the riders and comers met in one of the dry buildings of the decommissioned railyard in Esquimalt where picnicking commenced along with judging for numerous prizes. I myself won Best Facial Hair (a gift certificate for a hot lather shave and haircut at my favourite barber in town Victory Barber & Brand, along with a tin of their moustache wax and hairbrush), the Missus won Best Female Accessory (a gift certificate for custom tailoring), and our friend won Best Female Bicycle for her beautiful vintage ride.

I splendid time was had and everyone had their picture by many a photographer. You see some of their collections Here, Here, Here, and Here.

photo by geoff robson
Photo by Geoff Robson
Can't wait for next year!

After the Tweed Ride was over, we had a bite to eat at a nearby brew pub and went home so I could pack and catch the bus up island.

Gaming Holiday

About the same time last year my good buddies and old housemates met up in the town we used to live in for some good old gaming. We decided to keep this tradition, and again convened. We spent our days off catching up and playing a variety of games:

This year I had been passed the GM mantle and had convinced my friends to try Numenera, which they took to quite well I believe. Mike played a Strong-Willed Nano who Commands Mental Powers and Josh played a Strong Glaive who Masters Weaponry. They praised it's free-form simplicity over the rules-heavy 3.5 d20 games we used to run in the past, and I think they also enjoyed the unique setting. I ran The Nightmare Switch for their first adventure, (which might have been a little slow, but we were also learning and getting the feel of a new system) which I followed up with The Vortex which we only made 3/4 the way through Part 1 of.

We've been excited about the prospect of gaming online via Google+ Hangouts or perhaps Skype at least monthly, so perhaps we'll finish the remainder of The Vortex in the future if they are interested.

Numenera CC App Testing

As I mentioned previously in my Numenera First Impressions post I had intended to make heavy use of the Numenera Character Creator App this weekend to give it a thorough testing, and that was exactly what I did. We used the app to create the PC's, track their stats, and upgrade them. Initially I was intending to use the App as a digital backup whilst my players used character sheets, but Mike was down with getting the App for his tablet and Josh opted for using a spread sheet on his tablet for tracking his PC. It went Ok at first, but there were limitations/bugs, one of them pretty heavy:

  • We were unsure if the +1 to Intelligence pool provided by the extra equipment granted from the Mike's PC's focus was included in his stats, and how to include it if it wasn't.
  • Didn't seem to be an apparent way to add or track custom Cyphers.
  • Bugs when raising the number of ammunition above the clipsize, and also errors when deleting an item.
  • The biggest bug was when Mike's PC's stats (Base, Pool, Edge, and Effort) just reverted to zero for no reason, and I believe his Tier dropped from 2 to 1. His Abilities, Equipment and Skills were unaffected. This is a serious bug as there is no way to revert to a previous save or fix it without recreating the character, and it wasn't just limited to his App (Android), I was tracking his PC pretty much exactly the same on my tablet (iPad) and the exact same bug occurred.

That's nice.... >:(
I've sent the developers bug reports on these issues, so hopefully they'll find and correct the cause of these bugs, especially the latter which is too disruptive.

Numenera Session Impressions

I originally thought that the GM'ing never rolling in opposition was going to take some getting used to in Numenera, but to be honest I didn't even really consider it until after our first session. As the GM I felt invested enough in the story and gameplay that I wasn't bored, nor did I feel the need to control anything. I didn't even feel compelled to direct the story via GM Intrusions, although I did them as much as I felt I could without seeming a jerk in order to give them XP.

I had intended to bring tokens, beads, or some sort with me up island, but I ended up not doing so. I wish I had because I think I would've felt more comfortable introducing an Intrusion by sliding a tactile representation (a la FATE) of XP to entice my players (not that they ever said no in the first place).

XP distribution was interesting: Because of poor rolls, Josh ended up spending more of his XP on rerolls than Mike, who reached Tier 2 with his character sooner. This is not to say Josh was far behind Mike in terms of power and ability, far from it, they were both fairly balanced despite the difference in both XP and Tiers. I think this is representative of the fact to reach your next Tier you have to purchase 4 benefits at 4 XP a pop, costing you a total of 16 XP to ascend, and anyone else behind you power-wise isn't going to be that far behind. Mike also some spent his own XP for Josh to reroll, and that teamwork also self-balanced their XP totals. Additionally as they were the only two PC's, each GM Intrusion gave them both 1 XP anyway. I can see games with 3+ conducive players actively keeping XP balanced between characters.

My intent was to be heavy on the XP distribution to allow us to experience a bit more of the crunch of the system. It turned out well I think.

All in all, I am quite happy with Numenera and I think my players were too. :)

The evening following our first session we played Cards Against Humanity. I had heard much about this game and I'm sure you all have too (if you haven't, it's like a super non-pc version of Apples to Apples. If you don't know what that game is, find out yourself.); but this was my first chance to actually play it. Hilarity Ensued. If I remember any one of the really funny rounds, I'd probably wouldn't write here them anyway on account of how horrible they'd be!

The following day was also spent playing Numenera, but we also took a break to play this free award-winning, cross-platform smartphone/tablet game called Spaceteam. I heard about Spaceteam sometime last year via Penny Arcade but never looked into it. I'd suppose it combines the frantic energy of Space Alert with the faulty teamwork dynamics of Space Cadets (neither of which I have actually played, only read about). It's a really fun group game if a bunch of you have smartphones and/or tablets and you should totally check it out because it's FREE (has non-required micro-transactions) and functions between both iOS and Android devices.

That night we went out for dinner at a local Sushi bar, and I had a bunch great rolls and some of the freshest nigiri I've had in a while. We then played Super Bros. Brawl and some Halo 3.

Edge of the Empire

Tuesday we decided to take a break from Numenera as I wanted to introduce my buds to the latest Star Wars RPG: Edge of the Empire. To avoid losing time on character creation and to lighten my backpack, all I brought with me was the narrative dice, the GM Screen (which I didn't even use/need), and the Shadows of a Black Sun (or Under a Black Sun if you prefer) adventure.

We printed off the pre-generated characters available on FFG's site; Josh chose CH-1 and Mike chose Matwe; and played through the adventure in a session. I count Black Sun a pretty good adventure; lots of things and options for the PCs to do, although they were a little at a loss what to do at the Zelcomm Tower, as I might have missed giving them enough information/hooks for that area; but they had already formed enough connections and performed enough grunt work to usher them into the third and final act.

My friends really got into EtoE; they liked the narrative dice, which is good considering it's the key part of the system. On a related note, one brilliant GM created a custom EotE dice extension for Goggle Hangouts that is compatible with the Roll20 extension, so we have another RPG option to play remotely!

I really need to practice taking photos, let alone remembering to take photos.
That pretty wraps up my time off. It was a blast and I was happy to meet up with my best friends again!

No Hunger Games

One final thing I wanted to mention was that this upcoming Saturday October the 5th from 11:00am-11:30pm is a local gaming event called No Hunger Games, where all proceeds from the silent auction go a local charity. Originally I thought I was going to miss it, but having checked the schedule at work today I might get to attend the latter half. Pre-registration ends October 4th, so I need to figure out if I can attend or not, and if so what games I'm going to play.

Anyway, if you're a local and looking for something to do this Saturday, check No Hunger Games out. It's for a good cause!

Cheers! ;{١

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