Friday, June 29, 2007

The Midnite Quicky, Part 2....

We had our first Midnite Quicky at Ubercon VII in Feb 2006. The games we ran were:

Friday - Dwarf Walks Into A Bar

Saturday - Tomb Raid!

Both sessions were scheduled from midnight until 2 a.m. These games were meant to get folks in and out of their first WEGS adventure in a jiff. Even the descriptions were brief:

"In Tomb Raid, a rag-tag assortment of Dwarves, Elves, Goblins, Gnobbits and Humnz stand at the entrance to a long-shunned Goblin Chieftain’s tomb wherein fabulous wealth awaits to be plundered. Sure, there’s a local rumour that things are heard slithering and thumping within, but that’s just a ruse to keep the children away... Scenario will take about an hour and a half to play – or shorter if your Ark decides to just “run off screaming”…

That was it - short and to the point. It was as simple an adventure as could be - go into a king's tomb, try to plunder as much booty as possible, set of some traps, awaken the tomb guard, die or run away... Well, it was anything but quick. The nature of sending players into a perilous tomb is the rub. Ever since TSR's infamous Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure Tomb Of Horrors, rpg players know to tread lightly in tombs... The fact that I designed the tomb with several obvious traps waiting to be triggered didn't help. Everywhere we have run this scenario (Ubercon, Origins, WittCon, GenCon) the results are the same - the game is slow and cautious. That is until the traps are sprung... Once folks set off one trap it generally leads to another and another. It's like a domino effect and it causes the last hour of play to be rapidly wild. It's a scenario that builds slowly, but then pays off in spades.

I love the fact that I promoted it as:

"Scenario will take about an hour and a half to play – or shorter if your Ark decides to just “run off screaming”… "

Doing a tomb an hour...

What was I thinking?!?

To be continued...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

WEGS-A-Q...

This past Sunday was the pre-con WEGS-A-Q with the Wegshogs - Bob, Will, Don and Chris. If you've played in one of our con games, chances are you've met this lot. We cracked out the WEGS table (took three of us to move it), cleared off the patio so it could fit, filled the cooler with beer and turned the grill on. Weather was perfect for a mano-y-mano WEGS smackdown.

This is the second time we've done this type of pre-con rules refresher and scenario run-through. We did it at the beginning of summer last year to get ready for Origins and GenCon. This year we have twice as many cons to prep for - though we rotate the scenarios we run at each. This season we have three new offerings amidst our returning adventures: Pigskab's Skewl 4 Wizzerds, Reservoir Dwoirves and The Yawlamoo. The con introductions for these can be found here:

http://www.gamewick.com/CONSCENARIOS.html

We ran Pigskab's first - and, without giving too much away, players are in for a wild ride. From the start, they venture forth from their third-rate wizard's school to clear the surrounding hedge of any infestations. Due to special rules during Arkreation, these Arks are designed to be the most inept group of multi-class spellcasters to be imagined. This scenario is wild. It's everything Harry Potter isn't and borders on being Pratchett.

Next, we did a high level overview of Reservoir Dwoirves. As this is a heavy role-play scenario, we only discussed plot points and resolution mechanics. Key to this scenario is the Mexican stand-off ending. And we have some wicked, wicked minions just waiting in the wings...

Finally, we ran The Yawlamoo, which is just one big brawl fest. My wife jumped on board for this final game as we needed players - the more the merrier here. Thank god she's a part-time gamer chick! Basic concept is that hoards of minions surround the players. Via the WEGS Deal-A-Minion deck (standard playing card deck), each player gets an opponent assigned. Ultimate victory is to play through the entire deck (though that would take hours). As players perish, they create new Arks and enter the battle - this also triggers a card from the D-A-M deck. This scenario is scheduled for epic Sunday games at each con.

All in all, a great Sunday of gaming.

And, oh yeah, we're ready to kick some serious butt at the cons...

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Midnite Quicky..., Part 1

Way, way back in 2006, I had the brilliant idea to start doing special WEGS convention games that started at midnite. That's the perfect time to begin a game, right? I thought so - but then again I was a midnight movie cultist back in my high school and college days. From Eraserhead to Pink Flamingos to RHPS to Romero's Zombie Trilogy (Night, Day, Dawn) to Bloodsucking Freaks (yeah, regretably) to 1960 3D fests. Nothing beat the midnite movies.

In my mind midnite was the perfect time to do a two hour quick-hit game of WEGS. Since the game has a cinematic punch with easily digestable plotlines, it would be the ultimate night cap. What I failed to factor in was the fact that this would be at the end of a day where I did nothing but demo-ed WEGS, taught WEGS, ate WEGS and played WEGS. It would be like going to a midnite movie after watching them all day while standing on your feet...

Yeah, the first couple rocked. The games went according to plan and had the exact ambiance that a midnite game should have. They had that secret vibrant glow that only starts in the dark of a new day with the only threat being dawn... Or something like that. But the problem... The problem was that they were anything but quick... The games were supposed to be two hour quick fixes - but they went on for three hours at least. Sometimes four hours. The games were awesome, but the plan was flawed.

Careful the things you wish for, my friends...

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mushpot Amongst The Giants...

Since I posted on Mushpot yesterday, thought I'd follow up with a pic today. Here he is in all his glory amongst the literary giants of our time (Hemingway, Melville, Hawthorne, Python, Huxley). Notice the small Dwarf Lord game piece at his feet.

I don't know too much about this strange statuette. Found it at a garage sale a couple of years ago. Weird thing is that I stumbled upon a piece of art that he was based on. Seems he is a Bauer troll.

http://runeberg.org/jbauer/

Mushpot can be seen in the top pic (he's the giant on the right). There's something very Tolkien about Bauer (or vice versa). I think my next quest will be to find statuettes of the other trolls in the picture.

They gotta exist, right?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mushpot The Great

The Minion o' the Month for June has arrived!

Mushpot is a big ol' angry giant with a taste for Gnobbit meat. He normally appears as the hired hand for nefarious parties (such as Quolmort or One Eye Gleebag) and has been encountered in the scenarios Hobgoblin Lunchbox, Spittrakk's Tower and A Giant Mess. He fashions himself a king among true giants and ridicules the everyday giant that you'd find in other adventure games.

Generally, Mushpot stands between the adventurer's and their exit, wielding one mighty big club (tree). At conventions we use a ceramic statue that I found at garage sale years ago. He is probably 20 times larger than the other playing pieces on the table and so brings a sense of shock and awe to the players when he appears...

Mushpot has been with us since the first con that we WEGS playtested. I'd make him a part of the pre-game set-up, surrounded by a host of miniatures and poker chips and dice. He was kinda the WEGS poster child... It was a great gimmick to catch the eye of the odd passerby. You just don't see things like that incorporated in games.

"This game has giants and poker chips?!? Dang, beam me up, Scotty!!!"

Of late, we've retired Mushpot from cons as he's kinda fragile despite mighty big size (he's ceramic afterall). He'll be on display at the WEGS Museum someday...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Big 7...

Last week flew by - not a lot of free time to keep you all entertained with my mindless ramblings. As the cons get closer, the free time vanishes - plus the fact that the summer is upon us doesn't make weekend time go quite as far...

Last week was a major push week for the final layout/design of WEGS 101. The book needs to be under wraps asap so we have it ready for this summer's release. Don't worry, we're in great shape for a GenCon release. I was hoping to 'ave 'er done by Origins - but that ain't gonna happen.

About this time last year, I had the same stuff going on with WEGS Copper (the book that never got released...). I was still hopeful to hit the GenCon release date, but by mid-July that was out the window. T'aint happening again...

So, what is the Big 7? It's my weekly listing of the things I need to get done to stay on course. I don't know why I elevate 7 items - craps probably. Last week's list was:

1. Finalize art for WEGS 101
2. Finalize layout/design WEGS 101
3. Finalize Ark Kard for posting on website
4. Print new Skill Kards for conventions
5. Finalize printing contracts / pricing
6. Promo plan
7. Convention logistics plan

The Big 7 is also a section on the WEGS 101 Ark Kard that details the seven main player options: Ready, Attack, Aim, Fire, Cast, Blast, Move.

Life imitates craps???

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Lyrd Of The Roses...

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Week Without Epics...

OK, last week's seven part saga was a little excessive.

I'll try not to do one of those for a while...

This week I'm going to do short non-sequitars as time allows.

However, this is not short:

http://www.gamewick.com/CON2007RECESS.html

It's a recap of a couple of games I ran yesterday.

Warning - it's heavy with WEGS jargon...

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Lay Of The Land, Part 7...

Maybe it was the art... Like those crazy moon and sun symbols. Or the wacky Mona Lisa marching into war. Or the Halfling jamming a hot dog in his mouth on page 221... Or maybe it was the fact that the game had only 4 character classes: Warrior, Ranger, Rouge, Academic... Or maybe it was the career options for the characters: Gambler, Muleskinner, Pit Fighter, Rat Catcher... Or maybe it was the Tolkien-esque map of faux/fantasy Europe... Or the fact that the game was percentile based... Or that it used something called Insanity Points...

Whatever it was, Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play was quick to become my favorite system for so many different reasons. It was exactly what I was looking for in a game - and it seemed the next perfect step in gaming maturity. I mean it was so much like Dungeons & Dragons and, yet it had some Call of Cthulhu flavoring. It was H. P. Tolkien with a bad attitude!

Warhammer was the singular game that made me realize that it was possible to create other sword-n-sorcery systems with bravado and beauty. It made me realize that someone out there was taking these types of games seriously. The quality of the WFRP book, with its huge red and yellow title boldly emblazoned on the front cover, made me realize that there were some companies out there wallowing through the muck that flooded the adventure game marketplace when the role-playing game floodgates were thrown open. There were still some folks trying to fight the good fight. I wouldn't have such a feeling again for several years, when I discovered the indie rpg scene and its host of designers who took these same types of games seriously.

And that my friends, (all 9 of you and then some!), is how my gaming life began. It is the basis for everything that led me to creating my own little game system.

Thus concludes this tale of 7 parts...

Friday, June 8, 2007

Lay Of The Land, Part 6...

Part 6?!?

Enough's enough!

When I started this post I said I'd see it through...

Good God!

Part 6....

Let's get to WFRP...

I'll be honest. The first time I picked it off the shelf I was put off. It was the character sheet that scared me - specifically the Armour Points section: the little outline of a man with percent ranges assigned to various parts of the body. Rolling a 01 - 15 meant you hit the head of your opponent. I was at a point in my gaming career where I just didn't need that level of detail. In fact, that was specifically what I was trying to avoid - calculations for every conceivable detail. Plus this book was over 364 pages! This was a lot of material to digest.... Then I saw the Critical Effects table - and became disgusted. Suppose you did hit an opponent in the head, well, they had a secondary table for you to consult for what occured. Rolling a 16 on this secondary table meant "Your opponent's head flies off in a random direction, landing 2D6 feet away"... Tables that reference sub-tables... Good Grief! To make this totally not the game for me there was gunpowder and blunderbus and bomb rules... Totally un-Tolkien! To top it all of there was a Dwarf on the front cover with a punk rock mohawk and tattooed scalp. This game was so wrong for me on so many levels....

I put it back on the shelf and walked away.

For a couple of months at least...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Lay Of The Land, Part 5...

When I started this thread, my intent was to detail my initial steps forward into the gaming convention scene and my WEGS playtests at conventions. Somehow this thread has become the story of how I became a game geek and my gaming backstory... We're finally at the point where I threw in the towel with D&D and picked up my Warhammer.

By the mid-90s, I had surrounded myself with a bunch of gamer friends who I introduced to basic Dungeons & Dragons. Our group had 10 solid players and 5 "guest" players (folks who didn't have the true enthusiasm for the game but who feigned interest for the sake of hanging out). Good times - but after a year into it, I was bored. I needed a new game. I just so happened to get one for Christmas 1995. Fortunately, it was the wrong one... For some reason, and I still can't figure this one out, my in-laws gave me the D&D boxed world setting Dark Sun (I think that was the name). Of all folks to give me gaming material, my in-laws would be way on the bottom of the list. In-laws just shouldn't go there!

Unlike the Christmas Eve fifteen years prior when I got the D&D blue box, I didn't immediately open this box. I didn't peel off the shrink wrap. I just looked at it, felt the weight of the box and politely said, "Thanks!". A week later I returned it to the store from whence it came. I just couldn't do it. I didn't want to read a whole new world setting by someone who wasn't Tolkien. I guess I was just jaded. I dunno. In my heart, the D&D hobby was dead.

The store would only offer me credit for the game - so that meant I had to buy something. I meandered to the roleplaying game shelves and started to peruse. I knew my money would not go back into D&D - and that's when I spotted that behemoth rulebook known as Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play.

Or, simply, WFRP.

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Ark Kard Version 530...

Ark! Ark! Ark!

The last four nights I've been finishing the layout of the new and exciting WEGS 101 Ark Kard. I'm happy to say that this is one of those few remaining design tasks for publication. This kard has been created, re-created, de-created and rehabilitated over its long journey from WEGS Copper to its resting place in WEGS 101.

It's one sweet looking character sheet... 14 chunky boxes for stats. Basic to behold, but, oh, the sheer gaming power it does possess... In a way it pays homage to the original 1980 D&D character sheet (sans the little character sketch area).

Sweetness indeed!

Should be posted as a pdf on the GameWick site later this month...

You may now return to your regularly scheduled game...

The Lay Of The Land, Part 4...

Saga continuoso...

I played Dungeons & Dragons from 1980 until the early 1990's. By the 90's though, I was unable to keep up with the plethora of gaming supplements that TSR was churning out. There was so much material to choose from. Books, game pieces, multi-world guides, individual character class manuals... Ugh! As mentioned in the first post, I was at a point in my life that I just didn't have time to read all this stuff. The whole game was getting way too complicated and expensive. To make matters worse, when you met new players, you needed to discover what version they were playing and what world they were from! And folks were getting attitudes about this stuff. When I bought into the game it was simple. It was Tolkien thinly veiled. It was one big fantasy world where everything could collide on one giant landscape. It was a world where physics just didn't matter.

At this same time, I was heavily involved in community theatre, jumping from show to show and closing too many bars with fellow castmates. From this wild bunch, I was blessed with some great friendships and, of all things, a core group of folks interested in playing rpgs. I think theatre-folk and game-geeks have much in common. I'll save that pondering for another day.

Now most of these folks had no experience with rpgs. None to speak of at least. So, there was only one point of entry in my mind - the blue box. It was simple. It was fun. It ended up being the right choice, too - initially. We diddled with the introductory module for a bit, cramming in games on weekends when we were not doing shows. Keep On The Borderlands always rocked! The damn thing just works like a charm every time! It's like Colt 45.

When we had worn out the novelty of the basic game, one of the guys was hooked (just so happened to be Evil Minion Master Bob for those who have gamed with us). He went out and bought the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (an update of the basic set). Fed by his excitement, I got one, too - and our happy little band of adventurers traversed along that path for a while more. Playing the old modules and just having the best of times (all over again for me!).

But then... I hit that wall. That threshold where you have to decide which world was best...

So, I went shopping.

And that's when I spied the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying System.

Continued tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Lay Of The Land, Part 3...

Don't you love serials...

I was hooked on fantasy role-playing games from the moment I got the Dungeons & Dragons blue box for Christmas way back in 1980. How I came to request this gift had to do with the convergence of three things: reading Lord Of The Rings, reading a Time magazine article about the D&D phenomena that swept the nation, and a friend of my older brother who came back from college on Christmas break and told us that he was actively playing this game at his frat house.

I think the mystique of the game had a lot to do with it's immediate inaccessibility. It wasn't a game that was readily available and there was enough murmur to keep interest pinging. You would hear about pockets of people who played. Or maybe you knew someone who knew someone. A very diabolic marketing accident...

There was some disappointment when I found out that my brother's friend did not in fact own the game. Yet, the fact was that contact was made with someone who actually knew how to play the game! And maybe, just maybe, if I got the game for Christmas, this apostle could lead me and some friends down the path to adventure. This plot worked precisely as planned. The game was under the tree at Christmas. I feverishly read through the blue rule book until the wee hours of Christmas Day. I was instructed not to read the accompanying adventure module Keep On The Borderlands (off limits to players, you know...). As I recall, my brother's friend popped by on Christmas Day and whisked that book away in order to prepare for the game the following week.

So, on Christmas Day 1980 this game geek was born, and before the end of the year I entered my first dungeon...

27 years agone.

Wow...

OK. OK. So I was supposed to discuss my jump from D&D to WFRP...

Flashback, sorry.

We'll deal with that tomorrow...

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Lay Of The Land, Part 2...

As noted in Part 1, by the mid-90's I had grown weary of the state of role-playing games and the "anything to make a buck" products that were being churned out by the game companies.

When I started rpg-ing, I entered via the Dungeons & Dragons blue box portal. It was a simple game, one not completely thought out with all sorts of incongruous rules, a bunch of clumsy reference charts and some really goofy art. But that stuff didn't matter - the game was a bunch of fun and that helped folks overlook all the flaws. It was groundbreaking gaming. Something that was brewed up in the 70's - the last great age of artistic merriment. As goofy as it sounds, there was just something magical about the game.

I also knocked around a bit with Call of Cthulhu, which turned me into an H.P. Lovecraft fan, but that system never delivered the goods for me. I love the fact that someone took the works of an obscure author of demented cosmic horror and established a cult of niche gamers who can flawlessly pronounce the names of unspeakable dark gods that he made up! Too, too cool!

Back in the 80's there was an avalanche of game systems to wallow through. I would pick up the ones that appealed to my tastes (mostly fantasy, horror or weird). I tended to not be interested in sci-fi for some reason, though I am a sci-fi fan - someday I'll figure that one out...

Anyhow, lots of systems trickled through my gaming net over the years - but I always returned to D&D as my primary delight. Until that one fateful summer when I discovered the Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing System...

Continued tomorrow...

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Death By 1000 Tangents...

Looking back over all the posts thus far, there are a bunch of unfinished stories.

That's just the way this blog is gonna bounce.

I'm going to try to do a full week of posts this week and follow the trail I start down to it's end.

Unless I see a windmill waving at me.

The Lay Of The Land... Part 1

When I began to get serious about taking WEGS to print, I had my core group of gamer friends and we were pretty content to just game amongst ourselves. WEGS was a system that was initially cultivated for my small gaming group. It was a system that I designed for myself and my particular gaming tastes.

Truth be told, I was extremely bored and disappointed with the way other systems had turned out and were being churned out. There was an endless stream of game supplements and world books and character class guides and minion manuals. The games I loved were becoming reference libraries. It was almost like subscribing to a mail-order encyclopedia racket - every month a new five pound book would be released. Some folks likened it to tax law. And the impact this had on the game play - ungodly! Games would come to a halt just so a player could find the right chart or reference table to use.

I was also at a point in my life were I didn't have time to keep reading game books. Most of my game group didn't like reading either. Some players never even owned a single copy of a published rpg. They just wanted to show up and play. They treated role-playing games like bowling. Just show up, grab a ball and roll - and this is where sports and rpgs connect in my mind. The game should be easy enough for anyone to play - they may not be very good at it, but they should get the basic concepts. Some folks will never hit a home run, but it's pretty easy to comprehend that if you hit the ball over the outfield fence that's a very good thing. So, ease of rules is the first connection. The umpire is the second.

The umpire is a gamemaster really. This is the person who controls the game and calls the shots at the highest level. The ump, just like every good gamemaster, must know the rules. They gotta be comfortable with their decisions. They have to keep the game moving. It's a tough, but critical job.

Umps, unlike game-masters, don't have to worry about rule variations and world settings...

A foul is a foul is a foul...

I was at a point in time where I wanted to be more umpy.