Friday, November 30, 2007

Easy Mistakes... Part 1

In the game discussed below, I noted that there was a slight drag in the game play. When WEGS is played with 7+ players, there's bound to be some bumps, especially with new players. The new player curve isn't always the issue though - folks tend to play the game as fast as they can and there's nothing wrong with savoring your turn at bat... However, there is one thing that I've been slipping on lately - the four dice rule.

WEGS is designed to be played fast. Part of the design is reflected in the fact the game uses only 2D10 and 2D6 for its fuel (that's two ten-sided dice and two six-sided dice for you non-gamers...). I have a strong belief that the fewer dice you have on the table, the faster the game moves. Many other games in this hobby cover the playing field with lots and lots of funny sided dice. There's a built in joy for gamers to collect dice, too. In this hobby, you never can have too many dice. So, very often, folks show up at the game table with dice bags bulging with funky polyhedra. It's almost a status thing... but that's not what WEGS is about. At all.

And that was the one major bump in the game flow the other night. There was one player who had various funky dice set out before him. Often he would select different dice every inning, changing colors and determining the one he would use for highs and the one he would use for lows. This wasn't a showstopper, but it did impact the game flow. Everytime we got to his turn, he had to decide which dice to use. While I can appreciate that thrill, it just ain't WEGS. I think it breaks down one of the ways you buy-in to the game.

I don't mind folks swapping dice for new ones half-way through the game - that's actually really fun. If the set you start out with keep letting you down, there's nothing wrong with digging some new ones out. I think the mental act of committing your actions to four simple dice has some adventurous beauty about it. You're putting your faith in these things - and they may burn you real bad. That's the joy of it all sometimes.

So, it was a small blunder, but an important one to remember. After a month of running game after game, I got sloppy.

2D6. 2D10.

Dark Tower Days, Part 4

November was a flippin' crazy month - two big cons, game competition, in-store demos and Thanksgiving... Lots and lots of gaming from beginning to end. I think I know the reason I'm dragging lately. Mid-week, I ran a great session of Escape From The Dwarf Lord's Tomb for the Garden State Gaming Society. Generally, I try to limit the number of players in games to 6. Madly, I bumped the player limit to 9 so the game had the true Lord Of The Rings fellowship feel. All the Arks in play were playful variations of the book (substituting WEGS Gnobbits for Hobbits). Come game time, we had eight players. The one character that wasn't represented - Frodo the Ringbearer. So, the Ring went to the Dwarf Warrior at the start. It was an interesting way to re-tell this tale... Despite the number of players, the game ran smoothly with the slightest drag. All players were top-notch (four had played before, four were new), but the entire group was experienced tabletop gamers, which probably accounted for the speed of play. Love playin' with the pros!

Some fun stuff I did in this session (for those of you who are active players):

Wicked Success:
Bumped to 01% - 05%. Doesn't seem like much, but it made a difference!

Spoint Replenishment:
Players could get additional spoints by putting their Insanity on the line. Players could roll 1D6 and 1D10 at the Spante. The D6 score was the number of spoints recovered. The D10 score was the number of Insanity points received. Gave the game a great "on edge" feel.

The game ran for two encounters only - and I got my head handed to me both times. The Arks were definately showing some wear/tear by the end, tho'! It was a great way to end a month crammed with gaming!

Now, about December...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

2007 Con Season Ends...

Well, with MACE behind me, that's the end of the cons for this year. I hit more cons in 2007 than ever before in my short, happy life of con-hopping. Prior to WEGS, I wasn't a con-hopper. There's not too much con history in me. Started doing them in 2005, two years ago, when I hit my first Ubercon and demo-ed WEGS Copper (seems more like 10 years ago). No rest for the wicked tho', next week I have to start submitting game events for the first quarter cons of 2008...

As Harry Chapin sang it...

All my life's a circle...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

$$$ and Sense

For those who care and are calculating how much money I'm spending... Attending MACE cost me around $500 (travel/hotel/car/food). I sold some books, but that doesn't even begin to defray the cost of publishing. At this level, it's not about profit. It's about doing what I love to do. I had a complete blast running the games at MACE for folks who never even heard of this game system before (and, besides, a trip to Vegas would have been 4x the expense....). The point is I'm doing what I love to do - and promoting my game system. It has nothing to do with $$$ and sense. Period.

If, for example, I opted to "do Vegas" and just soak in the sun and gamble at night. I would be down about $2000. Sure, I would get my "fix". The difference is... The BIG difference is that I interacted with other people who have an interactive interest in my hobby. I have done something real. When you go to a craps table, you don't get to know folks. Not really. You all just have a one-night stand around a game table. RPG-ing is different.

You meet people.

It's that simple.

Monday, November 19, 2007

And The Winner Is...

Yes... Big Bang Mudang won the Iron Mace Game Chef competition. Though there seemed to be about 6 folks who entered, only 2 submitted games to be judged. So, there was a 50/50 chance for me to get the prize. It's disappointing that more folks didn't finish, but it was well worth the effort from my standpoint. BBM has been like lightening striking. I am very confident about the dice mechanics and the theme. My hope is to publish this game by Feb. of 2008. It is so outrageous and so unlike WEGS. It is a game that has come out of the blue in a fit of desperation. It was the last thing I needed to be doing, but it was the first thing on my list to get done. There's a lot to be said for deadlines and creativity. On the flight back from MACE, I kept thinking about the loose ends of the game. By the time the plane landed, I had come to conclusions on the game's theme and motifs. This is a game I am going to finish and release asap. My style is to keep working and working something until it is perfect - and then spend more time on improving it. I'm not doing that with BBM. It will be done soon. It was an insane diversion of a game.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Game In A Week, Part 6

It is done. Sure, I could have used a few more days to edit - but the core game is tight. Tomorrow the game will be submitted. It's name...

The She-Shaman of the Silver River

I'm really excited about submitting this game. Even more, I'm really hoping I can rally some folks to play it at the con. This game is a battle-story game. All players create female shaman who convene for a cosmic battle atop a mystical stargazing tower. They battle for the right to ascend to the heavenly Silver River.

The funny thing that has occurred is that the key attribute of the shaman is her name. The name has to be a lengthy laundry list of her spheres of power. So, "She Who Cradles The Moon In Her Fiery Palms and Calms The Sea With A Whisper" would be a good start. Elaborate names take center stage in this game - as does the she-battle to the death! There are quick dice mechanics for battle - and this game is 100% battle once character creation is done.

The game begins with each shaman does something called The Big Bang with a bunch of dice (usually 15). The dice results are divided into their pools of power. Doesn't take long, but the end result rocks! Unlike WEGS, there's no stats to worry about. It's all dice pools. Folks have no choice in their strengths/weaknesses. And then there's something called Demon Dice, which each shaman receives. Mudang (Korean witches) are demon-possessed.

Big Bang Mudang is going to be heavy fun. I can see a table full of guys sitting around creating female shaman and then letting it rip. The more imaginative the players, the more raucous this game can get. It's a mighty-cosmic cat fight when all said and done. The game is written whimsically and encourages players to describe their actions/attacks in fanciful ways. Humor aside, I think this game has huge dramatic potential, too. It's going to be interesting to see it in action.

My brain is fried at this point - but it's a good fried...

Full report next week, after the con!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Game In A Week, Part 5

Tuesday PM

The game is pretty much as done as it can be. The system is 98% complete. The layout is 80% complete. Trying to make this as polished as possible because I doubt I will circle back to work on this any time soon. I think Big Bang (that's part of the title) has got a lot of potential, but I've got tons of other things (somebody say WEGS?) to keep me busy. Not to mention my 9 to 5 whipping...

Of all the things that inspired this game, it was the South Korea flag that set the character sheet on its way...

I'm no expert on Korea, but I've absorbed a lot of topical information the last phew days so I'm no longer totally ignorant. From shamanism to the trigrams on the flag, this competition had the side benefit of opening up my mind a little and making it think outside the game box. Plus I now know that the 38th Parallel also divides Maryland and Virginia on the Eastern Shore... I'm suddenly a global genius....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Game In A Week, Part 4...

Tuesday AM
Spent a bunch of hours on the new game design last night. It's all chugging along nicely. System-wise, I'd say I'm 75% there. Layout is at about 10%. The two ingredients I've committed to: Korea and River.

I'm holding back on the specific details and title for now, but the game all revolves around an ancient stargazing tower and a bunch of female shaman. Inspiration came from a photo of this tower in South Korea and also info I read on Korean shaman.

The two rules I'm using now are:
Players must write a sentence
Game must be playable for 3 - 15 people

Monday, November 12, 2007

Game In A Week, Part 3...

Monday - PM
Yesterday I was designing a game about a battle across space/time between a shaman stargazer and a Belgian priest astrophysicist... It all started when I stumbled across an ancient Korean star-gazing tower and then saw a documentary on Big Bang theories... It had incredible potential as both men were fueled by spiritual energies in the face of technology. Each player tried to push the other(s) towards an event horizon - the cosmic point of no return... Could've been fun, but I just can't connect all the dots. When I tested it against the Big Bang dice mechanics I wanted to implement, it all fell apart. Crappers!

Today, I'm still hooked on the Korean shaman and star-gazing tower. That's been the inspiration for the game design. I stumbled across some neat info on the South Korean flag, which has strong potential for character creation. Right now it looks like this game is going to be about creating a character and then battling the other players/shamans for dominion. Don't want to give too much away, though. It might all crumble...

The good thing is that my Big Bang dice mechanic can still be salvaged!

Game In A Week, Part 2

Day 1 - Friday
I got the ingredients and began to ponder...

Day 2 - Saturday
I began fiddling with some concepts. Googling words. Following threads. Trying to find a theme to hold the game together.

Day 3 - Sunday
Came up with a title and concept: Big Bang Korea
Began to type up the rules, but then diverted to trying to flesh out the game system. I had some really neat game mechanics, but things began to fall apart once I began testing them. Spent most of the night working on the game system, putting the concept/story on a backburner.

Day 4 - Monday (am)
Right now, I'd consider the game 10% complete... The game continues to oscillate between being a story game and a really wacky dice game... And I'm pondering a re-haul of the whole damn thing....

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Game In A Week... Part 1

Next weekend, I'll be bringing WEGS to MACE - a game convention in North Carolina. This will officially be the furthest south the game has travelled, and I'm really looking forward to the con. MACE holds a special event called "Iron Mace Game Chef" competition - a week before the con, participants get a set of rules and the secret ingredients. The game could be a role playing game, a board game or a card game. So, I threw my name into the hat. I figured it would make the creative juices flow. The ingredients/rules were announced two days ago:


I get to chose two of those ingredients for inspiration. I also need to chose two of the following guidelines:

Use a Tarot deck
Make the game playable for 3 - 15 players
Have an internet or online component
Players must write sentences
No randomizers like dice or cards

I spent Friday night mulling over the ingredients and quickly became overwhelmed with frustration. The six ingredients seemed all wrong. Incompatible. I wanted a re-deal! My knowledge of Korea is pitiful. Highway and River have potential, but pretty much boil down to the same symbols. Ceramic made me think of teeth. Axe made me think of Paul Bunyan.

A game about dentistry and axe-wielding lumberjacks!

Nope (though that def has potential for some fun)... I began assembling the words for inspiration:

Highway To Korea
River To Korea
Road Rage (Highway of Axe-Wielding Maniacs)

I was frustrated by the rules, too. Instantly I was turned on by the Tarot deck and turned off by no dice. 3-15 players had potential, as did writing sentences. I didn't think I'd have any use for the Internet component. Individually these two rule sets (ingredients and rules) pulled my mind in two different directions. I had a tough time figuring out how to make them blend. I started off in one direction then pulled in another, then another.

This was going to be a lot tougher than I thought...

By Saturday afternoon, things were STILL up in the air. I decided to ignore the rules and focus on the setting. I figured I could back the rules into the setting. I needed to commit to one, not both. I needed a starting point. I needed the plot and the purpose. I googled the key ingredients and started filling my head with images and ideas. I spent lots of time looking at Korea... The one ingredient that turned me off at first was sucking me in. It has so much potential for setting. It also is probably the most dangerous as the potential here is SO big. I didn't have time to be factually correct on this topic. The game could only use Korea as a symbolic basis.

I had myself my first ingredient....

I hope...

I went back to the kitchen...

(Oddly enough, I received a box of Godiva chocolates from a Korean friend on Friday. I'm hoping this didn't affect my choice... Done in by a box of candy...)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Roy, the Acid Spitting Dragon Mage

The first dragon has been unleashed on the Wegsworld! His name is Roy and he's one tough little liz. He was introduced in a modified version of Dragontrap, run by Todd from Dicechuckers, a local gaming group. I sat in and watched this game - the first WEGS game that I did not organize/set-up. The only thing I had to do was show up (and bring the copper pot).

Via email, Todd and I hammered out the dragon's details and stats. Roy is a Master Minion, of course, Level 8/88. He is a Mage (88%), Trickster (66%), Ranger (44%). Naturally, he can fly (as a special move). He possesses Acid Spittle, which he can blast as a Ranger, and doing so costs him spoints. For Wounds, he starts with 88, and has an additional 88 wound bonus giving him 176 wounds to start! To make matters worse, he has 4 Actions Per Inning and an AggDam of 30... Zoinks! For those of you who don't speak WEGS or Shaggy, this translates to "winged death".

Facing this monstrosity were four new players:

Humnz Warrior
Dwarf Warrior
Dwarf Sage
Elf Ranger

This was a fun game to watch, and from the start folks knew this was like leading lambs to slaughter (the title gave that away!). When we have played this scenario at cons, the adventurers only find a dragontrap sans dragon. This version led them right in to the dragon's mouth. All in all, the players put up an excellent fight against Roy, however he maintained the upper hand. Player dice rolls were pretty bad and Roy's defense rolls never failed. This was a party that tended toward Lost Action Phases and Wicked Bad Shots! Luck was not on their side. By the end of the game, every one was running toward the door - except the Elf, who made a dramatic last stand.

Roy is definitely a minion to be reckoned with! I look forward to rolling up an Ark and getting in the ring with him someday!

He's November's Minion O' The Month!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dark Tower Days, Part 3...

Last night was my third in-store demo at Dark Tower. It would have been a bust if not for the owner, Joe, telling his friends to come try the game out (he played the game a couple of weeks ago and had a blast). A guy named Allen showed up and he had "given up gaming" many years ago. We chatted a bit about his prior gaming experience and it ranged from old skool D&D to Warhammer minis. He noted that he always played rouges in other games, so he rolled up a quick Humnz Trickster taking the lucky option (so he started with lots o' spoints). We were hoping that Joe would jump into the game, but he didn't have the time. So we ran a quick one-on-one.

I pitted him against one Level 5/55 Goblin Warrior who had two Level 2/22 fighters with him. The scenario was simply: Woodland path. The Goblins are out foraging and are nearing your party's camp. You need to stop them from discovering the camp and going to get more Goblin reinforcements.

Allen started off succeeding his Act Fast Test, taking the action to aim his bow. He also won top of the inning as he had the highest stat on the board (57%). He fired on the Goblin Warrior using his Stealth Attack. The Goblin Warrior dropped a chip. Allen had enough time to aim/fire once more before the Goblin Warrior was on top of him. The Goblin soon dropped him 15 wounds, leaving him with 15 to go. Meanwhile, the Level 2/22s were closing in (they weren't as quick as their leader). A couple innings later, Allen was burning Phew! points - but the Goblin Warrior was hurting, too. Allen was able to finish him off though, just before the Level 2/22s were a couple squares away.

Allen stopped the little guys in their tracks by using Get The Point?, and then he ran a good distance away. He then turned and began firing upon them with his bow. The Goblins turned and ran as fast as they could away from him (toward their camp). After several innings of aiming/firing and rolling in the 90s, Allen's only choice was to run up to them and engage them in hand-to-hand. He quickly finished the two off, thereby winning his first game of WEGS.

I bumped him 6%.

He said he would return with reinforcements (gaming friends).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Game After Game After Game...

Between the in-store demos, club games and Ubercon, I've managed to sneak in 11 WEGS games within the last week, one of which was the first one I was invited to attend as a player -and the only thing I was asked to bring was the copper pot! I opted not to play, and just watched - helping out with rules here and there when asked. The game pitted four players against a Dragon-Mage who spitted acid. The battle was great, and all Arks were heading toward the exit as fast as possible in the last inning. More details to follow on all of this!

Ubercon Ubergood...

Ubercon was great from beginning to end! It began slow, but built up a lot of steam with each passing game - which is becoming a trend for us at conventions. Folks who sit in the first session tell folks to get in the next session. Many return for a second game. The end result is that by Sunday, we're playing with folks who we already know (and who already know the game rules).

All in all, we met LOTS of great people and had a great time.

I'll post some more details later this week!

Friday, November 2, 2007


This weekend is Ubercon - the con where WEGS was introduced publically two years ago! The pre-registration for the games is pretty high, but this is generally a con where folks just show up and jump into the game.

Can't wait to wegzit all weekend!

Dark Tower Days, Part 2

(Long after action post...)

I had a pre-Halloween session with some of the fine players of the Garden State Gaming Society. The Arks were:

Humnz Mage
Gnobbit Trickster (Lucky)
Humnz Trickster (Lucky)
Humnz Ranger

Dark Tower has game tables set up with some great terrain. We played on a table equipped with a crumbling Stonehenge-y temple amidst a murky swamp. I started the party in the temple. To get the game going, I told them that something they did in the temple had triggered an ancient spell and the temple guardians were being summoned. Within the temple, I pitted them against a bubbling cauldron of death that was draining their spoints every other inning (EOI). Outside, I had an incredibly slow moving zombie hoard in search of fresh meat. And just to make things fun, I brought in a Goblin Shepherd and his two ccoos who sat on a nearby hillside to watch the slaughter.

Inspired by one of my recent movies, I had the zombies "blind dead" - they found their victims through sound alone. The zombies (who were all Level 4/44) would move a single square each inning, however, if they got within 4 squares of their prey, they would shamble forward quickly and attack. I gave them Aggressive Attacks - meaning, if they hit once, they hit again. So, if the zombies rolled well, they could get in 4 successive attacks on their victim.

While the Ranger and the Tricksters ran outside to assess the oncoming deathbringers, the Mage tried to battle the cauldron o' death. The Ranger became immediately suspicious of the Goblin shepherd, marking him as the mastermind of the situation. He figured if he took him out, the zombies would perish and the cauldron would stop bubbling. He fired upon him, thus opening a three front battle. The zombies pressed forward toward the noisemakers...

Inside, it wasn't going well for the Mage. The cauldron had drained him of 36 spoints. He had only put a dent in the cauldron's enchanted wounds. He was going to stick it out a little more, though. Brave, brave Mage! Soon, he took another 30 spoint drain and decided it was time to retreat outside the range of the cauldron's spell. Once he was outside, he cast Jumpin' Jazzophat on himself. He was now the most mobile person on the field of battle!

After being fired upon, the Goblin shepherd, who was just there to watch the show and collect the shinies off the bodies post battle, aimed his bow and began returning fire on the Ranger. Meanwhile, the Tricksters were sneaking toward the zombies. The Gnobbit Trickster entered Catlike Tread - and that completely thwarted my plan! This skill makes the Trickster impossible to detect audibly... and so, was instantly off the zombie radar! Shortly after discovering this, the second Trickster entered this mode. This left the Ranger as the only noisemaker in the group (firing arrows). The zombies pressed ever so slowly forward toward him.

Within the temple, the cauldron could no longer leech spoints from the Arks. It had a store of 66 spoints and began to use those spoints to summon the true temple guard - the Winged Daemon of Ishkababble! This is the reason it was draining spoints - it needed them to summon the fiend. Each spoint was 1%, so it had a 66% chance initially to summon. The summoning itself cost 10 spoints, so if it was not successful the first time, it would only have a 56% chance the second, and so on... Unfortunately for the players, it succeeded immediately. I randomly determined that the Daemon would appear in 4 innings. The players knew it was time to flee asap!

To bring more havoc to the situation, the Goblin shepherd commanded his two ccoos (carnivorous cows of unusually small size) onto the field of battle, specifically charging the ever-so-quiet Trickster. With their rabid moo-ing they closed in on her! This was inevitably my undoing, though. The Trickster had two options here - run for cover into the swamp and desert her allies or try to remain true to the party. A bit of brilliant play here:

She did an all-out run into the center of the zombie hoard - thus dropping her Catlike Tread and becoming the primary target for the zombies. Her intention though, was to draw the ccoos into this mess. With their rabid moo-ing, they would muddy the zombie focus on the Ranger. The next inning, the ccoos were charging into the zombies and she immediately went back into Catlike Tread. There, in the middle of zombie central, she was once again "invisible" to them!!! She then snuck off and into the swamp.

Meanwhile on the other side of the battle, the Mage and Trickster had made it over to the Goblin shepherd and engaged him with dagger and Flaming Fryball. He summoned his ccoos back to assist him - but he was in really bad shape. The fact that the Daemon was now exiting the temple, soon had the shepherd and his coos running for the hills.

At this point, the party was pretty hurtin'. The Ranger was stuck in the middle of the battlefield surrounded by zombies and the rest of the party was far off in the swamp ready to exit the gameboard. With a Daemon flying about waiting to descend, the options were few. Each member of the party stayed on the field as long as they could, hoping their Ranger would make it to the cover of the swamp - but he just didn't stand a chance. I gave him the last action of the game...

As the Daemon was quick, it was on him in a jiff. With no range between him and his target, the Ranger only had one skill to use: Partin' Shot (which allows him to fire an arrow at a target as per its location the prior inning!). I advised him that even if this worked, he was still up against the Daemon's 88% Invulnerability. The chances of doing anything substantial were grim...

The Ranger took his dice and rolled...

01% - Wicked Success!!!

The Daemon had no invulnerability and took some wounds! This did not kill the Daemon, but there's no better way to make a last stand.

Gotta love it when the dice finish the game on a high note.