Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Dusk City Outlaws

I told you I was going to be sporadic for a bit. In a future post, I'll explain what's been going on in my day-to-day life.

I have backed fewer and fewer projects on Kickstarter. There are a ton of reasons for that, but the end result is that a project needs a really good hook to grab my attention.

Early last year, I saw a project on Kickstarter called Dusk City Outlaws. The pitch was good, and the team involved was phenomenal. John Rogers, Scott Lynch, Saladin Ahmed, and Steve Kenson are all people I am familiar with and like.  I wasn't familiar with Susan Morris at the time. The involvement of the Penny Arcade guys gave me pause.

So I dug in, and found that it was definitely interesting. So I dropped $65 in as a Day One Backer.

And then ... I forgot about it.  It funded. It delivered its PDFs.  A week or two ago, I had shipping confirmation.  I told my wife to keep her eyes open for delivery of an RPG boxed set.  I figured it'd be a digest-sized book in a slightly larger box with a couple of dice and some cards.

What I got looked more like a board game than an RPG, and the contents failed to dispel that impression - the Player's Guide was less than 30 pages and looked like an FFG rulebook. The Judge's book was similar. It included all the dice you'll need, a pad of character sheets, some Cartel and Specialty sheets, tokens, and a digest-sized setting book

The form factor was  unique enough that I decided not to just add it to my Pile of Shame. I decided to have a quick read, and I'm really glad I did.  This game is unique, and I expect it'll be a ton of fun, once it hits the table.

Mechanically, it's simple.

At Character Generation, Players choose a faction (Cartel) and then a role within that faction (Specialty). Each combo gives a character a set of skills and knowledges. Just copy that information onto a character sheet (there is a pad of them included). Some Cartels and Specialties are Rare.  You may only have one Rare character per party.

Skills are percentile, and characters have a limited pool of Luck.  Luck functions like Hit Points, but it does more than that - for example, you can spend Luck on failed rolls to turn them into successes.

The GM lays out the Job and its time limit. Players then have that time to do Legwork scenes to set up their success or Drama scenes, in which maybe something goes wrong. Every Day and Night, each player gets to take lead in one scene.

Some things that most games relegate to "background work," this puts front-and-center. One example in the book is that your characters are likely scruffy lower-class folks, so going into the richer parts of town is going to draw attention.  Most games would let you just make a Disguise roll and call it good - in Dusk City Outlaws, you'd need to spend a Legwork scene to get your disguise together. And that eats up time.

As the session goes on, characters generate Heat, which gives the GM a few more toys to play with.

There are (8-sided) Advantage Dice and (10-sided) Challenge Dice that can adjust the outcome of your rolls. Each die only has one symbol (but it appears on multiple faces). Advantages and Challenges cancel one another out. These don't change the numbers on the percentile - or its outcome - but they do other things. So you can succeed but roll a Drawback which delays you enough that the Watch realizes something is up. Or you can fail your roll, but get a Boon (you aren't able to pick the lock, but your being shadowed by the doorway means that the Watch patrol that is strolling by doesn't notice you).

So what got me to write about this one?

It was the packaging. I have a fear that RPG folk will see a board game when they look at the box (despite the words "Role-Playing Game" on the lid), and might overlook it.

I think that this has potential to be a good gateway game. I think that people who have never role-played before will be able to jump into this one with almost no problem(s). It'd be better to have an experienced GM behind the screen, but it's not necessary for this one.

All in all, I think that this game looks fantastic, and I hope to run (or play in) a one-shot sometime in the very near future.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Hugo Nominators: Get Those Nominations In Soon!

Not game-related, but I know a bunch of you that I know in the real world are eligible to nominate (and/or vote) for the Hugo Awards.  Since my online life tends to mirror my meatspace life pretty closely, it's likely that people who read this are also Hugo nominators.

The deadline to submit your nominations is in two days.  This upcoming Friday.

And no, I don't know what time.  So get your nominations in soon.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Slash Game Store

Until the last few years, I've not been a fan of what I call "Slash Game Stores."  That is, "It's a hobby-slash-game store." Which is really odd, because "pure" game stores are so much rarer than slash game stores are. But more and more, I'm learning that there are definite advantages to some of the slashes, and here are a few of the more common ones:
  1. Hobby/Game Store - These stores are really really good for miniatures gamers. They have a variety of paints, and most of them have model railroad supplies that can be used for minis terrain. As a bonus, model railroad terrain is frequently less expensive than minis terrain that was designed and built specifically to be minis terrain, too.
  2. Comic/Game Store - These shops are fantastic at special orders. There are new comics coming out every week, and so the Comic/Game store is likely to be placing weekly orders with their distributor. A good comic shop is also able to create "pull" lists for their customers, so they are already well familiar with the ability to do special orders quickly and in an organized manner.
  3. Book/Game Store - These shops are generally similar to Comic/Game stores in a lot of ways.  Interestingly, even the big book stores (Barnes & Noble, I'm looking at you, here) are starting to carry more tabletop games - and not just mass-market ones, either.
  4. Computer Parts/Game Store - I only bring this one up because of the late, lamented Nybbles & Bytes in Tacoma. Because that's what this place was.  The game section was mostly a typical gamer Clutter Hole, but they were very enthusiastic and passionate about that section of the store.
Honestly, I'm not entirely sure why I developed my dislike of slash game stores. My first game store experiences (outside of the local Waldenbooks) were All Hobbies in Puyallup (now close), O'Leary's Books in Lakewood, and Nybbles and Bytes in Tacoma.

And then Phoenix closed, and I was forced to change game stores.  I'm near Tacoma, so there are a few to choose from. I spent my time checking them out. I visited all of them - and there was a wide variety.  Several stores just ignored me until I approached the counter with product in hand. A couple of stores were clutter holes (and I've grown intolerant of those stores over the years). Some stores didn't do special orders. One or two stores had crew who stared at Steph because apparently they'd never seen a woman who games. A bunch of them didn't  host a regular board game night or do in-store demos of board games (one store even had a sign on its tables that they were for scheduled events only).

These, by the way, may be local game stores, but they're not stores I'd be willing to support.  If that's all I had, I'd throw my game money at Amazon and not feel the slightest bit guilty.

But we ended up settling in at a local comic/game store. It's the closest store to the house. The staff recognized me (by name) within a few visits. Steph feels comfortable there. It's clean and well-lit with a few demos. Their special orders are quick and painless. They host regular gaming events.

In short: I think I've gotten over myself. I think there is definitely a place for /game stores in the market (and they are sometimes going to be the best choice, even in a crowded market).