Friday, May 11, 2012

The Play's the Thing

I haven't been writing much here lately because I have mostly been focused on other things. I had a job offer that would have required moving to Florida that was subsequently withdrawn. Unfortunately, I already had most of my apartment packed. That also led to me leaving the temporary gig I had. So, I have spent the last few weeks looking for new work.

In between that I've been doing a lot of gaming. I'm still running my regular LL game. Outside of that, though, I haven't been doing any roleplaying. Instead, I've been playing quite a few board games. Rather than just letting things lie fallow here, I figure I'll give you my thoughts on some of the games I've been playing.

A couple weeks ago, I played Richard III from Columbia Games with my friend Nick. The game is a campaign-level strategy game recreating the Wars of the Roses. It uses some interesting mechanics and requires you to balance between raising nobles, maneuvering, and fighting. It uses a set of cards dealt at the beginning of each campaign to determine both turn initiative and the number of actions you can take. So you need to decide exactly how you want to dole out your cards to make sure that you can gain initiative when you need it. Combat is fairly abstract, but does include mechanics for "turning" less loyal nobles if the King or the pretender is present on the field. The game is divided between three campaigns of several turns each, with a recovery and realignment phase between.

I drew randomly to see which side to play, and I got York. I started by landing my troops from France in East Anglia and marching on London. By the end of the first campaign, I had taken London and driven Lancaster into Wales and the North. In the second campaign of the game I reinforced London and raised as many nobles as possible in the north. The northern nobles gathered in York and waited for Lancaster to march from Wales. Eventually, we met on the field south of York and I crushed the Lancasters in one final decisive battle. Even if we had played a third campaign, Nick probably wouldn't have been able to recover, so we declared the Battle of York the end.

I really like this game, and I'm looking forward to playing it again. Next time I plan to play Lancaster and see if I can turn the tables. Nick and I also talked about using the game as a War of the Roses campaign system for use with minis. Basically, we would play this game straight but use Warmaster Medieval or another similar system to fight the battles.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Deal a Plot

I haven't posted in a bit because I was attending the funeral of a compassionate gunman. Ok, I've actually been focusing a lot more on gaming than writing about it. I have been creating a ton of good material for my current LL game, but I don't want to give anything away by posting it here just yet. I'll try to post a bit more about that soon. In the meantime, though, I found a new resource for the game box, so here you go.

A couple days ago, Risus Monkey posted a link to the Story Forge Kickstarter project. One of the bonuses posted was a recreation of the old Deal-a-Plot from The Author & Journalist magazine in pdf. You can find the link to the pdf on Update 23 of the project.

I downloaded the pdf, changed a few pages around with one of my pdf utilities, and sent it off to a printer. I had them print the cards and the box template on 110# white cardstock and the instructions on 20# standard. I brought all the prints home, cut them out, assembled the box, folded the instruction sheet, and added another tool to my regular game box.

The set contains 36 cards. Each card has a number and a good writing tip on the back. The front of each card is divided in half. Each half has six male and six female characters, six adjectives, six complications, six settings, a plot problem, and a climax. If you want to, you can use the cards to produce entire plots. I like them as a prompt for developing my own ideas or for creating random elements to throw into a game.

Because it was designed in 1936, some of the entries may not be politically correct today, but they are an excellent resource nonetheless. As far as I'm concerned, if the standard way of using the cards doesn't yield something useful, I either redraw or try to create a reason that the entry could work. After all, part of the point of being creative is making seemingly disparate elements work together in the flow of the story.

And if you haven't already guessed, the gunman was generated by a couple draws from the deck.