Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Free RPG Day 2010

A bumper swag-bag!
Started in 2007, Free RPG Day has already become something of an institution in the international rolepaying community. I was alerted to this year's event- which took place last Saturday, by FFG's recent announcement that they'd be contributing an introductory scenario- Final Sanction; for Deathwatch, their soon-to-be-released and long-awaited volume completing the 40KRP trilogy.

My other plans for last Saturday having proved impractical or just plain fallen through, what else could I do but hie myself to Static Games, there to avail myself of the opportunity presented by this annual celebration of roleplaying. And what a lucrative opportunity it turned out to be!

I grabbed myself 7 different products:
  • Quickstart rules with scenarios:
  1. Final Sanction (PDF link; 2 more PCs to download here).
  2. The Trail to Esavar; for Claymore Entertainment's upcoming old-school FRPG Hero's Bane.
  3. Heirs to Olympia; human-centred medieval fantasy by Countess Games.
  • Introductory scenarios:
  1. Legacy of Disaster; for AEG's recently released Legend of the Five Rings RPG4e.
  2. The Murderer of Thomas Fell; for Pelgrane Press' 2008 Ennies-winning horror RPG Trail of Cthulhu (pregenerated character handouts here). Trail of Cthulhu is just one of many games based on the Gumshoe investigative RPG system by Robin D. Laws. This system has intrigued me for a wee while now. I expect I'll be investing in one of its versions sooner or later.
  3. Dungeonbattle Brooklyn; for Goodman Games' unique take on fantasy sport, Xcrawl. This game looks like it could provide an interesting change of pace for fans of classic dungeon-bashing.
  • Setting and background:
  1. Punjar: the Tarnished Jewel; part of Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics range, this is a complete city gazetteer. A GM can never have too many mapped and detailed cities to hand so this is a very nice package all told.
Oddly enough, only Final Sanction and Legacy of Disaster were part of Free RPG Day's 2010 giveaways. The rest were from previous years; Dungeonbattle Brooklyn actually dating back to 2007. Roleplayers passing up on free stuff? Who'd've thunk it?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

UK Games Expo'10 #4. Winding up and wending home

Birmingham geek-out!
My travel plans on the Monday after the Expo gave me a day to spend in Birmingham. I deposited my luggage at the station then pondered my options: was I going for the cultural day out, or the geek day out? I chose the latter, naturally enough (no slur intended on the cultural attractions of the fair city of Birmingham I assure you dear readers, this option just proved easier to pursue on the day).

Who goes where?
Decision made, I set off to visit the local GW as is my wont when I'm on my travels. Luke- the staffer on duty, gave me the familiar friendly GW greeting when I arrived. I gave him my card and told him the story of my trip to Birmingham, then we fell to chatting. Answering the usual questions, I told him that I'm a DIY Space Marine Chapter Master and filled him in on some of Penumbra's Talons' background. I talked about how Belon (the Talons' home world remember) is located in the Eastern Fringes, which is where it's all going down in the Dark Millenium these days:
  • There are rumours that the protracted death of the Emperor on his Golden Throne has reached a point where the Astronomicon- upon which depends all human interplanetary travel, no longer reaches the Eastern Fringes; or that it is at least weaker and less reliable than ever.
  • The imminent Deathwatch RPG is to be set in the Jericho Reaches: located in the Eastern Fringes, and the target of a major Imperial Crusade aiming to reconquer lost Imperial worlds.
Little did I know what I was letting myself in for all those years ago when- on a simple whim, I plumped for the Eastern Fringes as the location for the home of my lads.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

UK Games Expo'10 #3. Games to the left of them, games to the right of them

A weekend of lovely stuff
With trade stands and demo tables spread through 6 halls in the Clarendon Suites there was plenty to keep me busy on Saturday before the Combat Commander tournament, and on Sunday. I had to exercise a measure of restraint at the trade stands this year because I was hauling my own luggage home by train, which gave me an added incentive to pass the time playing as many games as possible.

Cubicle 7
My first definite port of call on Saturday was the Cubicle 7 stand, located in the Gold Zone (where I'd later play my first game of Dominion). I was a man on a mission: I wanted a copy of the new superhero RPG Wild Talents, which I'd seen in the Expo programme because it'd been nominated for 'Best New RPG' in the Expo Awards. The stall was very busy so I only had time for a brief exchange of pleasantries with Angus Abramson before moving on.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

UK Games Expo'10 #2. Once more unto those hex-and-counter battlefields

The best laid plans
My experience of- and the feedback from, CC@UK Expo'09 had led me to reconsider the tournament's format, which had been very open last year: players just paired up at their own convenience and chose whichever scenario they wished. This had worked well; even so I was wondering if it might be worth experimenting with a more structured format.

My final decision so to do was forced to a degree by space constraints. Last year we had essentially just squatted as many tables as we could get away with in the Strathallen's main opening gaming room. This meant that we occupied space which could easily've accomodated twice our number or more so I wasn't at all surprised when Richard Denning- with whom I was liasing for CC@UK Expo'10, asked me about space requirements so that he could allocate us a specific room of our own.

The result of all this was that CC@UK Expo'10 was set up with 6 preselected scenarios to be played in seeded rounds. The scenarios were:
  • 8: Breakout Dance.
  • 13. Tussle at Maleme.
  • 19. Metaxas Season.
  • 21. Saint Agatha (@RD/KA! here).
  • E. West Tank Barrier.
  • K. Burning Buna.
In the event this format was abandoned on Saturday in favour of last year's because players were having to sit around for too long waiting for others to finish so that the next round could begin. This was pointless, the main aim of the tournament being to play as much Combat Commander as possible.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Alas, I am undone!"

Sieze the day?
I said last Thursday that I wanted to get Dominion to the table up here in Glasgow "at the earliest opportunity". That opportunity arose when Badger appeared for Friday night gaming. I'd been touting for a game of Conflict of Heroes- what with the upcoming demo tour, but the lure of Dominion proved too much to resist. A Euro-style cardgame that can keep this grognard's favourite treadhead's game off the table? Regular readers will realise that this must make Dominion something really special.

What went down
The rules of Dominion include a few recommended sets of Kingdom cards to give beginners balanced games which demonstrate different dynamics of play (you only use 10 of the 22 different kinds remember?) so- knowing what I was looking at and for this time, I was quickly able to get the game set up using the starter game cards (all shown in the illustrations left and below). Five minutes later we were playing. Five minutes after that Badger was playing his cards like he'd been playing Dominion for ages: grinning all over his face as he surveyed good hands; grimacing at his hands of shite.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

UK Games Expo'10 #1. Friends old and new

Rattle and hum: the convention circuit with added cyberware
As many of my readers will know, one of the special charms of any convention is meeting new people with an ease all too uncommon in everyday life. The simple foreknowledge of passions shared with those you encounter, coupled perhaps with something of a 'hothouse' environment as people try to squeeze as much as possible out of the convention experience, creates a drive to turn chance encounters into memorable moments. This pleasure grows when continued convention-going turns these passing moments into casual acquaintances and more enduring friendships.

This already familiar experience has changed in recent years thanks to the intervention of the internet, and of social networking in particular. People you know online become candidates for organised rendezvous at the earliest opportunity; those you meet at conventions are added to your online network so that it's easier to meet up in the future. And so the hobby community is enriched as a whole- by the growing networks of its members; and for each of those members- by their increasing ability to participate in and contribute to the life of the community of their shared interests. (Image via Online Teaching Resources.)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Playing catchup

Turnover has been slow here at RD/KA! lately. My mood hasn't been great, as old hands might already've imagined. More important than that though- and a contributory factor too no doubt, is the fact that I've been living for several months with the burden of undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, which has left me tired and lacking in motivation. Now that I'm know I'm hoping that management of the condition will soon get me rolling again.

In brighter news I returned last night from UK Games Expo 2010. I had a great time and will be getting to work soon on my report. Meanwhile here are some bits and pieces.

Prizes! Prizes!
The response to my Waste World prize draw was sufficient to make a draw necessary so that's a result I guess! I am pleased to announce the results of the draw:
  • Grand prize: the Waste World rules and the Hydra sourcebook go to Josef.
  • Consolation prize: the A Fistful of Credits starter set goes to the Gnome.
Congratulations gents! If you'd like to email me your addresses I'll get your goodies off to you as soon as possible. Commiserations to those of you who didn't win. Keep haunting ebay and remember: this was the first RD/KA! prize draw.