WorldWide D&D Game Day: Dark Sun

Just a quick reminder to folks in Winnipeg that I will be running the Dark Sun game day tomorrow at Imagine Games and Hobbies starting at 1:00. And when I say “I will be running,” what I mean is that I, along with D&D Encounters DMs Barry, Kevin, and Rob, will be there to put four tables through what looks like an interesting and challenging adventure.

So, come on out and play with us.

D&D Encounters Information Session

Next Wednesday is the start of the Spring 2010 season of D&D Encounters at Imagine Games here in Winnipeg. This is a 12-week program, running every Wednesday night at 7:00, featuring one encounter an evening, building a mini-campaign that will wrap up in June. You don’t have to come to every session, but there are rewards to be had based on renown points earned during play. There are pregenerated characters to be had, but you can also create your own 1st-level Forgotten Realms character and bring it to play.

This coming Saturday, March 13, I’m going to be at Imagine Games from noon until about 4:00, answering questions and helping people create characters if they wish. I’ll even have my computer with the Character Builder there, so we can run any characters created through the Character Builder for an extra bonus of renown points. Extra points are also awarded if you create a character using a race, class, or feat from Player’s Handbook 3, which releases next week.

So, if you’re in Winnipeg, and you’re interested in D&D Encounters, come on down to the store on Saturday afternoon, and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have. I’ll even help you get set up with a character.

Also, remember that there are limited slots available on Wednesday nights – and I have already had two people reserve seats at the table. If you want to make sure you don’t miss out, drop me a line here, or leave your name at the store. The adventure is designed for 5 players, but I can probably scale it up as high as 7 if required.

See you there.

D&D Encounters: Undermountain

A quick D&D departure.

So, I’ve managed to talk myself into running this first season of D&D Encounters at Imagine Games. This is a 12-week mini-campaign, where you play one encounter every Wednesday night starting March 17 at 7:00. It’s set up so that you can come and play as much or as little of the campaign as you’d like, either with a pregenerated character that we provide, or with an original 1st-level character that you build and bring with you. There are apparently going to be good incentives for players and a fun extended adventure that will advance characters up to somewhere between 2nd and 3rd level.

We don’t have any character creation details (or really, any other details that you don’t see on the official site), but when we do, I’ll be setting up a couple of info and character creation sessions for interested parties.

Now, the kit we’re getting is good for up to two tables of six players and one DM each. I’m the only DM we’ve got right now, so that means there are going to be limited spots. Six is about the maximum I can handle and keep things moving well through a session. If you want to make sure you get a spot, I recommend you either leave your name at the store or contact me through the info posted there to reserve a space.

And if you’re interested in trying to DM a session of 4E D&D, let me know. I’ve got no problem with helping get a new DM started, or sharing with an experienced DM.

As always, let me know if you have questions, and I hope a few of you are interested in joining me for the games.

We now return to the Dresden Files Q&A Deluge.

Player’s Handbook 3 Game Day March 20, 2010

On Saturday, March 20, I will be back behind the DM’s screen at Imagine Games, running the Game Day adventure celebrating the release of the Player’s Handbook 3. Here’s the blurb from the site:

Player’s Handbook 3 Game Day
March 2010
Celebrate the release of Player’s Handbook 3 with a day of adventure! Psionic characters, skill powers, and hybrid classes abound in this essential rulebook. Test out the new classes and rules as you play a unique adventure and grab a copy of Player’s Handbook 3 while you’re there.

Now, that’s not a lot of information, so here’s the intro blurb from the adventure:

Beneath the Lonely Tower

An adventure for five 6th-level characters

The Far Realm’s distance from other planes, reinforced by wards erected at the beginning of time, protects those other worlds from the outer madness. Over the course of history — particularly in the wake of the Dawn War—the wards’ power has weakened, permitting the madness to leak into other planes, including the mortal world.

Recently, a rift to the Far Realm opened beneath an abandoned fortress called the Lonely Tower, twenty miles from the frontier village of Beorunna’s Well. Ten days ago, a troop of foulspawn emerged from the rift and began luring mortals for sacrifice. As each victim dies in the dungeon beneath the tower, the foulspawn ritually gather the escaping life force to expand the rift and to prepare for the arrival of a greater evil.

The braver folk of Beorunna’s Well—barbarians, rangers, and other warlike folk—have mounted two investigative assaults on the Lonely Tower. No one has returned.

This adventure challenges characters to find and close the rift. If they fail, more creatures of madness will pour forth and corrupt the land.

And just to further whet your appetite, here’s a list of the characters available to play:

  • Balashi, Shardmind Psion
  • Caewin, Elf Seeker
  • Foostus, Minotaur Runepriest of Kord
  • Izera, Githzerai Monk
  • Kalen, Half-Elf Ardent
  • Zazenna, Wilden Battlemind

So, if you’re in the city, and you like D&D, or you’d like to try D&D, come on down and play.

It’ll be fun.

Another Casualty of the Crown of Command

Today, my friend Chris ran a demo of the Talisman boardgame at Imagine Games and Hobbies here in Winnipeg.

Now, I realize that what I’m about to confess may cost me a whole pile of grognard geek cred, but I’d never played Talisman before, in any of its incarnations. Don’t really know why; I just never owned it, and neither did any of my friends. And there were always other games to buy. So, I never tried Talisman before today.

I’ve really been missing out.

Yeah, I know everyone else out there who’s reading this has probably played the game to death, and are giggling at my naive wonder. Y’know what? I don’t care. I was blown away.

The game is great fun. And the addition of the Dungeon and Reaper expansions make for even more fun. There was a great variety of things going on in game, and we didn’t get even half-way through the stack of adventure cards that provide the encounters and events. I can see that the game has some real replay value.

Downsides? Yeah, a couple. Mainly they’re artifacts of the era the game was created in: as a product of the 80s, there are some game design decisions that I don’t think you’d see if the game was designed today. Lot’s of “miss a turn” mechanics, for example, and a huge random factor in play. The game is very luck-based; if the dice don’t like you, all the deep strategizing in the world won’t help you. You need to get the right cards at the right times, and make the right rolls when you need them. For example, I spent six or seven turns just trying to get to the Warlock’s Cave to get a quest in order to get a Talisman to get to the end of the game.

I didn’t get one, and someone beat me to the Crown of Command, then killed the rest of us off, as you’re supposed to do to win the game.

So, some degree of frustration, but not enough to actually sour the play of the game.

Set-up took under 10 minutes, including the time for us to sort out some of the cards. Chris taught us the rules in another ten. So, with someone who knows the game, under 20 minutes from opening the box to the first turn. This is very nice, and a bit of a change for me: most of my games require much more elaborate set-up.

The individual turns also went very quickly, averaging maybe two to three minutes per turn. Nice, quick pace without feeling rushed. Again, a nice change from the number of games I have that have each person’s turn taking five to ten minutes. And it takes some of the sting out the “miss a turn” stuff.

All in all, we played for about four hours, and finished with a nice win by Tania, who now apparently rules the world with her Crown of Command.

The game is, as one would expect from Fantasy Flight Games, absolutely gorgeous, with nice, high-quality and durable components. It’s a little pricey, but considering what you get in the box, it’s worth it. It’s going on my Christmas list.

So, a fun afternoon. Thanks to Chris for running the game, and to Clint and Tania for coming to play with us.

Talisman Demo December 6

My friend Chris is running a boardgame demo at Imagine Games on Sunday, December 6, from 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm.

He’s going to be showing off Talisman 4th Edition, complete with the Dungeon and Reaper expansions.

Strange as it may seem coming from an old geek like me, I’ve never played the game. I plant to be down there, rolling the dice (and probably getting ganged up on), so come on down and play with us.

It’ll be fun.

C4 Post Mortem

I spent Saturday and Sunday at the 2009 Central Canada Comic Con, running board and card game demos for the good folks at Imagine Games and Hobbies. It was a good time: the con was well-attended and well-organized, and the folks who came by the game tables were all friendly and interested. Some highlights and observations:

  • My friend Pedro, who owns and runs Imagine Games with his wife Wendy, got to meet Julie Newmar, gave her an iron rose he made for her, and got her autograph and a picture with her. He has now fulfilled his childhood dream and can die happy.
  • Another friend, Sharine (whose name I have probably misspelled), had Adam West sing her the Adam West song from The Family Guy.
  • I got to high-five a bunny rabbit that had high-fived Adam West… yes, parts of the con were quite surreal.
  • I got to meet GMB Chomichuk, one of the creators of Imagination Manifesto, an interesting graphic novel that is also turning into an RPG. I haven’t read more than the first five or so pages of the book, yet, so I can’t tell you too much about it, but it looks good. And it also looks like I’ll get to take part in the blind playtest of the RPG rules.
  • The mornings were slow in the gaming area both days – I figure that attendees were spending the morning walking the floor, buying their stuff, and meeting the guests, then heading over to the gaming area afterward to see what was going on.
  • Afternoons were pretty full – each day I ran two game sessions in the afternoons for people showing up, which is really about all you can fit in between about 1:00 and 6:00.
  • On Saturday, I got to play The Stars are Right this time, instead of just observing. It’s fun, but there’s a tendency to bite off more than you can chew sometimes. At different moments, both I and another one of the players thought we’d be able to put together a combo that would let us summon a Great Old One, only to lose the pattern on the third push or flip, leaving us with a wasted turn. Frustrating, but still a fun moment, when you realize that the pattern in your head has collapsed and you can’t see it in the layout of the stars anymore.
  • Also on Saturday, I played a session of Fury of Dracula. I love the game, and the folks who played loved it, too. As usual in a demo with players who have never played before, I took the Dracula role, as it’s the most complex one to play. Because of weird dice luck, I wound up doing better in combat with him during the day than at night, but they still ran me to ground in Belgrade and killed me.
  • Sunday was a big day for Battlestar Galactica – I had two groups who wanted to play it specifically. Well, three, actually, but more about that below. In both games, I facilitated rather than actually playing, because there were plenty of players – the first session had five players, and the second had six. The first game, the cylons won without ever specifically revealing themselves, as the cylon admiral used some strategic choices to drive the population down to a point they just couldn’t recover from. The second game, the cylons revealed themselves very early, and really pounded on the poor humans, doing substantial damage even before the first jump. That game ended early as players had to leave, but things looked bleak for the humans.
  • As a departure from our chaotic “just come and play” style, we decided to have a sign-up game for Battlestar Galactica on Sunday afternoon. I had four people sign up, but then had a group show up half an hour before the game was scheduled to start who wanted to play. I agreed to run the game, but let them know that I’d have to stop when the signed up group arrived. The people who signed up never showed, so we got the whole game in.
  • Next year, I think I’m going to have a sign-up Arkham Horror game with all the expansions. It’s a big, splashy game, and should attract some interest.
  • Pedro and Wendy’s kids, Leo and Maya, won the children’s costume contest for their costumes of a completely normal human meat-child and his pet dog. Yay!

So, thanks to Pedro and Wendy for paying my way to the show and supplying me with Japanese crackers and candy. Thanks also to Brian, who ran the gaming area at the con and kept things moving smoothly. And most especially, thanks to everyone who came out to try a game or just talk about them. You all made the weekend a real success.

Can’t wait for next year!

Central Canada Comic Con 2009

Central Canada Comic Con 2009 runs this coming weekend, Friday through Sunday, at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. I’m going to be there, demoing board and card games for the good folks at Imagine Games and Hobbies on Saturday and Sunday.

What games? Well, here’s a list of what I’ll have with me:

  • Arkham Horror
  • Beowulf the Legend
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Fury of Dracula
  • Gloom
  • The Stars are Right
  • Runebound
  • Anima
  • Deluxe Illuminati
  • The B-Movie Card Game

Tentative plan is going to be to do what I did the first time I did this, the year before last. Saturday, I run pick-up games of whatever people are interested in playing, except Arkham Horror. If there’s enough interest, and people commit to it, I set up Arkham Horror for a big, long game on Sunday. If there isn’t enough interest, Sunday is more pick-up games.

Why am I holding off on Arkham Horror? Because the game is huge, and it takes a long time to set up and tear down, and an even longer time to play. If I start Arkham Horror, I probably won’t be running anything else for at least four hours, more likely five or six. That means I only want to do it if people are really interested in playing it; nothing sucks more than having folks getting bored in the middle of a long demo.

So, if you’re at the con, stop by and say hi, or sit down and play a game or two.

It’ll be fun.

Game Day Report

I just got home from running the Worldwide D&D Game Day session at Imagine Games.

It wasn’t a huge turnout; I had three players to start, and two more joined half-way through. Because of the numbers, and also the War Machine tournament that was running in the back of the store, we had neither the bodies nor the space to split into groups and do the build-the-adventure portion of the event, so I just ran the adventure I had prepared from their materials.

The basics I decided on were that first of all, livestock was going missing from a nearby village, then some livestock carcasses were found horrifically mutilated. This continued for a time, until people started disappearing, and lights had been seen in a nearby cave at the top of a waterfall. Then a pair of children disappeared on the night of the new moon, and the village elders sent some heroes over to the cave to straighten things out.

Yeah, it’s a kind of hokey set-up. It’s a one-shot.

Anyway, the idea was that the Doomdreamer was blending the worship of the Elder Elemental Eye with arcane experiments tapping into the Far Realm. He had set up a small shrine to tempt locals, using the Scarecrow Stalker, and seeded the offering pile with Scarabs. As he grew in power, he enlisted some Minotaurs and summoned a couple of Foulspawn, who liked hunting further afield and snatched the kids.

I made the encounters fairly tough:

  • Encounter 1: Scarecrow Stalker, Hoard Scarab Larva Swarm, 3 Minotaur Thugs (1,750 xp, a level 8 encounter for 5 characters)
  • Encounter 2: Doomdreamer, Foulspawn Mangler, Foulspawn Hulk, 2 Minotaur Thugs (2,200 xp, a level 9 encounter for 5 characters)

For the first encounter, though, I only had three players, so I dropped two of the Minotaur Thugs, reducing it to a 950 xp encounter, or a level 7 encounter for 5 characters. The group had some trouble with this encounter, mainly because they were lacking a striker (they played the fighter, the invoker, and the artificer), wound up in a bottleneck with the Minotaur hitting and retreating repeatedly. Not being able to dish out a huge amount of damage (and suffering from some truly disheartening dice rolls) made this a tougher fight than it looked like on paper.

Two other folks joined for the next encounter, so I didn’t have to trim down the encounter at all. It was an interesting fight, with the problem of getting down to the second level without getting spotted by the monsters down there.

There plan only sort-of worked.

The opening round had the heroes swinging down on ropes to attack (and some flopping painfully onto the rock), and then they all started shoving enemies down into the pit after afflicting them with ongoing damage of various flavours.

Despite this fight being significantly tougher than the previous one, having the party roles filled out, as well as the extra bodies to distribute the beatings being received, served to make it go more smoothly and successfully for the party. And, to be fair, the players all knew this was the last encounter, and most had saved their dailies for it.

So, they managed to slay the cultists, and looted enough cash to raise the kids from the dead. There was a party with ice cream and puppies. Yay!

Thanks once again to Pedro, Wendy, and Kieran, not to mention Leo and Maya, at Imagine Games for being such excellent hosts for these events. And thanks to the people who came out to play. I hope you had fun.