Friday, April 17, 2015

Flying Frog Productions

On International TableTop Day last weekend, I ran a bunch of demos for Flying Frog Productions at Uncle's Games at the Crossroads Mall. I taught 14 people how to play A Touch of Evil: Dark Gothic that day, and Uncle's sold out of copies of the game I was running. It felt kinda good, resonating back to my time running a game store years back before we moved out to Seattle. I clicked well with the Flying Frog staff and volunteer team, and it sounds likely that Scott Hill from FFPwill call upon my services as a volunteer for future demos and events. So that's a pretty exciting development for me.

Yesterday at home, Sarah and I played another fun game session of Shadows of Brimstone (also by Flying Frog Productions). For those who are unfamiliar, Shadows of Brimstone is a big, RPG-like cowboys-vs-cthulhu dungeon-crawl dice-fest miniatures-based board game with really great character- and world- building, and lots of variety and replayability.  If that sounds like fun, you should go buy it now, because it really is the best of the dungeon-crawl genre. (Believe it or not, this is my really trimmed back, dialed-down-the-fanboy version of this post. The rough draft was painfully exuberant and about 5 times a long. Seriously, it's one of my all time favorite games.)

As I looked over my tally sheet where I record missions we'd won and lost, I realized that my wife and I have played about 30 sessions of Brimstone so far (maybe more as I realize today that there's at least two sessions we didn't write down on that log). Since most of our games have been with 4 players and lasted around 3 hours, it amounts to well over 350 "man-hours" of entertainment split between us and the various groups of friends we play it with. When we put up the money for a "Minecart" level pledge on the SoB kickstarter, it felt risky. My wife and I are not rich. We'd never spent that much on a single game before, let alone a game we hadn't even played yet. It was a big leap of faith, but luckily the game turned out to be great. I have _so_ gotten my money's worth already.

Shadows of Brimstone is already fun and engaging, and it's just gonna keep getting deeper and better as the expansions roll out later this year. I've talked to Jason and Scott at multiple conventions (I've pretty much been stalking them at their booths at PAX and ECCC ever since Brimstone was announced), and I'm very excited about everything they've told me is coming up. New characters, decks, monsters, missions, and whole other worlds. So many good treats in store for us! Here's a BGG thread I started about some of the cool stuff that they told me about at ECCC. I meant to cross-post it here at the time, and just got too busy to do so.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Orky Talents (Warhammer Cards I Forgot To Blog, Part 4)

More NPC Talent cards. These ones are specifically for Orcs, Goblins, and their associated spin-off critters (squigs, snotlings, night goblins, savage orcs, etc).

A few of these are just card versions of existing rules from the Creature Guide or Tome Of Adventure, placed on cards so you don't have to look anything up in a book during the game. And some of those have alternate versions where I felt a house rule might make them more flavorful or potent. The two "Gang Uv" cards were adapted from the official FAQ, to cover the missing monster stats in one of the published adventure modules -- maybe it was "The Gathering Storm"? The others are things I made to capture various aspects of greenskins in the setting.

The ones with a blue label are racial abilities that all creatures of the appropriate species should have access to. The ones with a orange-ish/brown label are intended as optional modifiers for spicing up an encounter.

Apparently, I planned to run a goofy encounter with some really stupid snotlings, and just never got around to it. Most of the new cards have had zero playtesting, as The Enemy Within had just one or two optional greenskin-related encounters in the travel section, and I haven't run another Warhammer campaign since that one wrapped up late last year. So why did I make a bunch of cards I had no plans to use? I don't know. I just really like Orcs, I guess, ever since I played an Ork army in Warhammer 40k. I guess I got swept up in the "Waaaaghh!" 

As with the other posts in this "Warhammer Cards I Forgot To Blog" series, I'm posting this stuff on the outside chance that someone else may find it useful. I did a ton of card-creation and prep-work while running Warhammer 3rd, and since I don't know if I'll ever get back to it, I figure I might as well make it available to anyone else playing the game. It seems kind of a waste to keep it all to myself, when it might very well prove useful to some other GM.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Misc. NPC Talents (Warhammer Cards I Forgot To Blog, Part 3)

Here's more Talent cards intended for NPCs in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition. As with the Social Talents I posted the other day, it's my intent that you apply no more than 2 of these to any given NPC, in the same way that most PCs have only 2 Talent Slots. Nemeses, Organization, and Monster Group cards may provide additional Slots for special encounters, but don't go overboard or it'll just complicate your game.

I made these a long time ago, so I don't have a lot to say about them. Some are intended for ordinary human NPCs, but others would only make sense on monsters or at least followers of the Ruinous Powers.  Some of them are just shorthand ways of simplifying the game (such as abstracting equipment details or entire bodyguards down into a single card), while others provide new powers that can't really be acquired in any other way. Some of them have seen extensive playtesting, but there's at least a few here that I never used. Feel free to print them out for your own Warhammer gaming, and please let me know if you find them useful.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

NPC Social Talents (Warhammer Cards I Forgot To Blog, Part 2)

Here's a big batch of Social Talent Cards for NPCs in Warhammer Fantasy 3rd Edition.

NPCs don't typically have Talent Slots in the game. Some of the Organization and Nemesis cards do, but I don't recommend restricting yourself (as GM) to only those frameworks. Adding one NPC Social Talent to any given NPC won't break anything, and will feel about on par with the Talent options that PCs have. NPCs that are meant to be a major social obstacle, such as jaded nobles, might have 2 or even 3 Social Talents, but this should be fairly rare just to keep it in line with the limitations players face re: Talents.

These cards are intended to "spice up" Social Encounters in Warhammer 3rd, helping to bring a little depth and variation to your social conflicts. Feel free to print these for your personal use, and please let me know if you find them helpful.


Several of those cards alter the difficulty of certain social skill rolls, such as the one that raises the difficulty of Charm and Guile while simultaneously lowering the difficulty of Leadership checks. The idea there is to mix things up a bit so the PCs can't just rely on a single skill for every situation. When I ran these, I tended to keep the cards hidden because as GM I like to be mysterious. In retrospect, though, it's probably better to point those cards out to the PCs early in the scene, to encourage them to swap tactics. Otherwise, you'll find the same high-Fellowship character attempting to power through using the same Skill again and again, and they'll completely miss your attempt at adding depth to the scene. My recommendation now is that you read the card out loud to the players the first time (in any scene) where the card is modifying a die roll. Preserving a sense of mystery is all well and good, but you need to give the players enough data for them to make meaningful decisions at least starting with the second attempt to influence any given NPC.

Some of the Talents are designed to slow down Social Encounters or discourage the PCs from ganging up en masse and overwhelming the NPCs by sheer volume of low-quality die rolls. Those are especially good cards to use if there's only one NPC in a scene, as otherwise the rules as written favor the brute-force approach to group Charm checks.

The cards above were made with the Strange Eons program. I've got a few dozen more (non-Social) NPC Talents sitting around on my hard drive, and hopefully I'll find time to post them soon. Of course, I said the same thing about these Social Talents way back in February, so who knows how long it will take me to get around to it.