Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dungeon Twister Video Game Update

Several of you have pointed me at a post on BoardGameGeek, apparently failing to notice that I was the first follow-up post.

Yes, there is news on the Dungeon Twister video game.

Yes, it's coming out this summer. July 3, in fact. Unless you're not in the US, in which case it'll be available on July 4th.  For PS3.

The PC version will follow a few months behind.

Why isn't the XBox logo in the video?  I heard from a friend on this - and my speculation on BGG was right.  Microsoft was, for whatever reason, really difficult to work with.  They haven't given up on an XBox Live Arcade version yet.  But we won't know for sure until the last possible second on that one.

I have been given a hard release date for the game, but I don't know if I have permission to share it or not. Reviewers can start as early as June 18th, according to the PR material I have received.

I will say that I hope to be playing the game while the rest of the country goes nuts with fireworks.

I'm on the PlayStation Network:

Get your Portable ID!

Maybe I'll have a chance to play some of you in just over a month!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kickstarter Redux

I've been using Kickstarter for about a year and a half, now.  And I have to say: So far, I've been pretty happ with it (with a handful of exceptions).

To date, I have successfully backed 26 projects, spending $1,235 since June of 2010.  Of those 26 projects, I have fully received ten of them. There are three which have reportedly shipped (but have not yet arrived).  There are three which have sent me digital copies, but the print copies are still not here. So I have received about 50% of my backed projects so far.

Two of the projects which have not sent me finished digital or print have sent partial or bonus items.

Of those 26 projects, only two of them were not game-related.

So what are my thoughts on what I have so far?

Mostly good, actually.  Most of the people to whom I have given money seem to be making an honest effort to provide the product to me in a reasonable amount of time.

It doesn't seem to matter if a project is from a first-time producer or if it's an old pro - some will be fast, and some will take their sweet time getting out.

I've backed three Hellas books, for example. Jerry Grayson is (by now) experienced at how the industry works, so he has been very fast at getting the product out and in my hands.  

The Children of Fire RPG was in my hands in near-record time - and it was from a first-time designer. The game had been a free PDF for years, but the new edition cleaned a few things up and changed the layout. It was in my hands about two months after it funded.

By contrast, Powerchords (by an experienced team) is the oldest project on my list for which I have received nothing but updates. It funded October 1, 2010. I have received nearly weekly updates, which generally consist of "Here's two pages of flavor text," or "There will be a chapter in the book about X."  But - a year and a half later - there is still no PDF, much less a print copy.

Some games looked really cool, but fell kinda flat when I actually tried to play them.  Pizza Theory is fun, but it's pretty much filler.  Miskatonic School for Girls is beautiful. The art toes is both whimsical and flavorful, the theme is solid ... but the game is very random, starts slowly, and seems to end very suddenly and abruptly.

A few games have hit my house, but have so far missed the table - Mob Ties looks a lot like Mall of Horror, and I look forward to taking it for a spin.  Kingdom of Solomon looks entertaining, as does Empires of the Void, but neither of these has yet reached the table.

A few of the games have been really really good.  Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, for example, is really amusingly fun. And it's very kit-friendly. I have been recommending this to friends for a while.

And a few projects have kept me entertained in other ways.  Far West released an anthology that added a few authors to my wish list, and Gareth-Michael Skarka has posted previews of the system as well as the setting.

So what I'm trying to say here is this:

Kickstarting projects is a gamble. Some projects are less awesome than the originally appeared. Some projects are flirting with vaporware. But some projects will leave you talking about them for years to come.

Just don't expect them right away.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Terra Incognita Contest

Remember a few weeks ago when I said to stay tuned for a chance to win a copy of Terra Incognita?

This is the post that tells you how.
To enter:

1) Choose a book or series of books you like. Or that you don't like. I honestly don't care. But choose a character from that book.

2) Using the instructions I gave in an earlier post (two weeks ago), make that character for a FUDGE game.

All I need from you is stats and skills. If you want to write some background or other information for the character, that's okay.

As a quick refresher, here is how that character should be made:
Choose four attributes. All of them must be be effective or resistance attributes. Three of them at Good, one of them at Great. If you wish to be a magic user, you must choose an appropriate Effect attribute to indicate that.

You may also have two skill pyramids, capped at Great. Each spell should be a different skill, if you choose a spellcaster. 
That means that you get two Great, four Good, and eight Fair skills.
3) E-mail that character to

I will randomly select one submitted character. That person wins my spare copy of Terra Incognita. I will even cover the shipping costs - worldwide. Just be aware that I tend to ship via Slow Boat, so it'll be there when it gets there.

You have until June 15th (just shy of one month) to get the entries to me.  I will do the drawing as soon as I come up for air after that point (I will be in the middle of packing, unless something goes wrong).

Once the contest is over, I will delete all of your e-mails. I won't save them, sell them, give them away, or share them with anyone. I hate spam as much as you do.

Good luck.

I look forward to seeing your characters.

Short Posts Coming

This is just a heads-up for those of you who read this blog: Things are going to be a bit chaotic for a bit.  I don't plan to miss any posts, but it's a possibility, and I feel it only fair to warn you of this.

Stephanie and I just bought a house. Or, more accurately, are in the process of buying a house. We found one we liked, and we made an offer that has been accepted. Now we need to drop money on an inspection, wait for an appraisal,

Even if everything with buying the house goes smoothly, there may be a gap in which I won't have reliable internet access at home. So it means I'll be writing and polishing my posts while on my lunch break at work, which is suboptimal for several reasons.

It means that you can probably expect shorter posts until we're moved in and back up to speed.

Once we're all set, however, I should have more time to blog, as the new home is considerably closer to my work than our current home (shaving more than an hour off of my commute each day).

Long-term, I think the new home will help all of my blogs.  Short-term, however, please be patient with me and pardon my dust.  I'll be back to normal soon enough.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


So last week, I gave you a solid wall of text about FUDGE, and I missed one of the most important, most innovative things about it: How it works.


So, instead of my previously-planned post for this week, I'm going to talk more about FUDGE.

I mentioned that FUDGE doesn't have a pre-set Attribute and Skill list. I even touched briefly on how some GMs will provide appropriate lists for their players.

What I didn't mention is that FUDGE characters don't have numbers for stats.  You could have read between the lines for my quick character generation example, but it wasn't explicitly spelled out.

FUDGE has a scale, ranging from Terrible to Superb. Your character's stats are all rated on this scale.

For reference, the default scale is TERRIBLE, POOR, MEDIOCRE, FAIR, GOOD, GREAT, and SUPERB.

There are other versions of the scale which have been used in a number of FUDGE-based games. Some games add "AVERAGE," some extend the upper limit to SUPERNATURAL and LEGENDARY.

The exact scale depends on the GM and what style of game they wish to run.

Every roll in the game involves a character's active trait and four FUDGE dice.

Have you seen FUDGE dice? They look like this:


They are six-sided dice which are blank on two sides, have plus signs on two sides, and have minus signs on the remaining two sides.  They come in a bunch of colors. Not pictured are my Deryni Dice and my Olympic (Gold, Silver, and Bronze) dice. Or the Wizard dice from Evil Hat, or my Q-Workshop set for that matter ...

Side note: I really need to get a light box for photography.

To make a roll in FUDGE, you grab four dice and roll them. And modify your trait by the results of the roll.

If I'm a GOOD swordsman, and I roll +++-, then my result is +2, for a SUPERB result.

If I have GREAT Surgeon and I roll ----, then my result is -4, and ... well ... let's just say I wouldn't want to be the patient at that point.

As the GM, you can complicate that.  Make them all opposed rolls. Require "GOOD or better."  Apply their Margin of Success (or Failure) to their Effect roll.

There are other ways to roll, and they're covered in the book - but the default is FUDGE dice.

It's pretty slick and easy.  Once you've learned it, you won't forget it, either.

It makes FUDGE a fairly quick pick-up-and-play game.

Moreso than nearly anything else in my collection which wasn't specifically designed for that purpose.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


I've written and re-written this post a dozen times by now.  For some reason, it's been a real bear to write. But, because I'm so familiar with it by now, I feel it only fair to warn you: This will be a long one. And it's likely to ramble more than I usually do.

A few weeks ago, a number of the gaming blogs I read started talking about games which influenced their gaming and writing.  It was really fascinating to see a lot of the Storygamer crowd talking about D&D and Gamma World and Traveller.

I follow a number of the OSR folks, too and they listed a very similar list of influences.  IT was a fascinating reminder of the shared history of role-playing, and how shallow that history is - we only have thirty or so years of history (as roleplayers). The significant revolutions which have occurred are all relatively fresh in our memories.

And sometimes, it took us a while to figure out what it was we were reading.

Today, I'm going to talk about FUDGE.

I first encountered FUDGE via discussion on the usenet hierarchy. A lot of the regular posters whose opinions were close to mine spoke very highly of this new game, and there was a link to get it for free.
So I downloaded the text file (these were the days before the PDF had become the standard).

The text file I had was one of the earliest drafts of the game.

I wasn't impressed. It didn't make sense. There were no set attributes or skills, meaning that characters from my FUDGE game would be incompatible with characters from anyone else's FUDGE game. The lack of details meant that ... well ... every time you played FUDGE, it would be a completely different experience. And it would be a lot of work for a GM.

In retrospect, FUDGE was too advanced for me to wrap my head around. And yet it's one of the simplest games ever published. In fact, the basic rules I read are still available as a PDF.

I revisited the game a few years later, after I'd read Sorcerer. A few years of "seasoning" made all the difference - I understood the game better, and appreciated how it was constructed.

Over the years, I've found FUDGE has become my go-to universal system because of its pick-up-and-play simplicity. How simple is it?  Try this for character generation:
Choose four attributes. All of them must be be effective or resistance attributes. Three of them at Good, one of them at Great. If you wish to be a magic user, you must choose an appropriate Effect attribute to indicate that.

You may also have two skill pyramids, capped at Great. Each spell should be a different skill.
Now, the group I'd played with knew well enough what I meant when I referred to attribute types (there are, to my mind, three "types" of attributes - active ("How well can I hit?"), effective ("How much does it hurt when I connect?") and resistive ("How well can I reduce the effect of a successful hit against me?").

In the setup I list above, there are no Active attributes - they are replaced with Skills. If I were creating a Cleric-type character, I would probably choose FAITH as my Great attribute. From there, I can choose any number of attributes to fill the other three gaps. Depending on my concept, I'd likely choose mostly resistive attributes - WILLPOWER, TOUGHNESS, and BELIEF.  Faith is Effective, but Belief is Resistive.

I had a player, once, choose NULL as a resistive attribute - it made it harder to use magic against him.

Skill-wise, I'd likely spend most of my slots on Spells.  Skill-wise, I would get two Great, four Good, and eight Fair skills.

As a GM, I tend to give Effect boosts to narrower skills - so a player with HAMMER will do better than a player who chooses MELEE WEAPONS - they'll hit with the same frequency, but the Hammer specialist will do more damage when he hits.

It all makes for an extremely simple easy-to-play and easy-to-run game.

A FUDGE GM can put in hours and hours of work doing world-building. They can build specific lists of attributes or skills for their players to use. Or they can just pick up and go. Just make it work.

A few years ago, a Tenth Anniversary Edition was released. I snapped it up pretty quickly - and it's a purchase I have not regretted in the slightest.  Where FUDGE has always been a toolbox, the new edition adds more tools and has more tips and tricks than ever before, without sacrificing any of its essential simplicity.  FUDGE is only as complicated as you make it, and this particular edition includes a number of options.

While preparing to write this post, I was offered free product by Grey Ghost Games. I already owned everything they offered except for Terra Incognita. Well, within hours of receiving shipping confirmation from them, my copy appeared on the shelf.  So now I have two copies (one of which I'll be giving away in a contest - watch this space for instructions on how you can win).

I'll discuss Terra Incognita - and the Deryni Adventure Game - and several other FUDGE books in a few weeks.  It'll be another long post, and I don't want to bury you in two long posts back-to-back.