Results tagged “D&D”

A hypothesis on the life cycle of combat RPGs

A question from the blog-topics backlog which I’d now like to throw out to the readership: If you have ever played a combat-oriented tabletop role-playing game like Dungeons & Dragons, did you ever actually use miniatures on a grid, as the rulebooks generally assume of their players, with each square representing a 10’-by-10’ area? Or did the combat, as with the rest of the gameplay, stick to an entirely verbal format?

A week of games

I had a good game night at the House of Roses last Tuesday. In a game of Carcassonne against very good gamers I played so aggressively that I surprised myself. I ended up winning, mostly on cities, and half of those I shared or swiped outright from others. By the time the game ended I was so far ahead of the pack that the winner of the field war was still a few points behind me. I always like to see a Carc victory on a non-agrarian basis, and should that winner happen to be me, so be it.

Question to the audience: does starting a game of Carc with the river tiles versus the single starter tile increase the likelihood of there being one enormous motherlode of a field by the end? I want to say it is so, but I have no proof.

Then we played Attika, which is new to me. It's pretty neat. I want to play it again. (Didn't win.)

Saturday night was Doug's solstice party. Learned Cash 'n Guns, which has got to be on The Gameshelf sometime, if only because of its main gimmick: each player denotes who they're attacking each round by pointing a life-sized foam pistol at them. (This was the American edition, so the guns were Day-Glo orange instead of black. This didn't make it less fun.) I managed to win, hooray.

Played one session of Figaro, a fast and cute game that would probably go over best with clever little kids. Discovered while playing that it has game design superstar Reiner Knizia's name on the box (and photograph snuck into the card artwork), but in the manual he's only credited for "Game Idea", with two other guys having done the actual development. Sheesh! He's become the Matt Groening of the tabletop game world. (I wanted to be snarkier and say "The Jim Davis of", except that his games are actually good, so.)

Then came my approximately annual game of The Princes of Florence. I appreciate this game but I don't think I really care for it. It's got a feeling of constant forward motion, and of setting and meeting personal short-term goals, which I always like in games. But I have yet to grok the ultimate goal of, getting more points than everyone else, and my sense of accomplishment sours where I think I'm doing really well until the game ends and I'm not just in last place, but a good 15 points behind the pack.

And yet, I want to play it again, because I have an idea of what I did wrong. Grr!

At any rate, after that brain burner I announced that I wished to play Doug's unopened copy of the Dungeons & Dragons board game, a UK-only release from 2002. It's less stupid than I expected. I think I expected a rehash of the old Dungeon game, but instead it's an honest-to-goodness RPG dungeon crawl, using simplified rules streamlined for the simple joy of invading monsters' lairs and bashing them into jelly. We played the intro adventure and smeared six goblins while taking two casualties on our side. Good times.

Starting to read Brust

I am now two books into the Brust canon, having finished Yendi last night. It's a good time, and not what I was expecting. (What I was expecting was unfavorably set by the front cover copy on my ancient Jhereg paperback - "A young man bound for adventure needs a faithful reptile companion!" Which makes it sound like a YA quest-type story. Which it isn't. (It might still count as YA, but I am doubtful.) )

Was Jhereg written as a winking reaction to Dungeons and Dragons? The author perhaps challenging himself to write a coherent story set in a world that seems to operate under D&D-like rules?

I mean, here we have a faux-medieval-euro-world where it's no big deal to suffer an untimely death, so long as your friends or family have access to a sufficiently high-level wizard and you don't totally blow your dice rolls on your way back. And characters conduct long-distance psionic communication with not just the ease but the conversational manner of cell phones, asking each other what's for dinner and such.

But it goes beyond simple parody by then starting to follow through with societal implications for this stuff. The main character is an assassin, a job suddenly fraught with unusual complications in a place where death is often non-fatal. Here is a world where, if you want to send a "stay out of the west side" message to someone, you kill them. This is actually hilarious.

And on top of all this, the protagonist and all his friends each have what some of my friends would call a PC glow that basically lets them hew effortlessly through most any physically dangerous situation, particularly fighty ones, but that's as much an artifact of adventure fiction as it is role-playing games.

I found it a fast and goofy read. Yendi I had to struggle with a bit more, since the first act feels like looking over someone's shoulder while they play Fantasy Underworld Tycoon on their computer. Reading a turn-by-turn account of how Vlad acquired new resources and moved his existing ones around the map made me want to play the game too, but it wasn't otherwise all that interesting. It got better once the plot finally kicked in.

Looking forward to starting Teckla soon.

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