This post is a year late

Having finally had a chance to play through some Spycraft stuff, I can finally see what people have been saying — the combat system changes take it head-and-shoulders above the standard d20 combat system. Fluid, smooth, and much more intuitive to a non-tactically-thinking gamer, they literally made it possible to ‘do what the guys in the movies do’ without having to have read a book on squad tactics, or know anything about the system works with regard to cover and the like.
The skill and feat system? Ditto. I’ll lay most of my enjoyment at the feet of the GM and fellow players, but I must say this is a hugely improved d20 system varient.
[Addendum: As a GM, Dave stays in character with his NPCs much better than I do. Much much better. Much]

Mashup 3: Narnia

Population: One: Monday Mashup #3: Narnia
First off, I have to say that I LOVED the meme-author’s take on this idea, combining it with Unknown Armies to create something that feels like Being John Malkovich meets Coraline meets Gormenghast. Really really neat idea. Follow the link and read the write-up.
I don’t know if I can do justice to this mashup, having to follow something like that, but here goes:

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Jepteth a’Ghul: this is not your daddy’s cleric

Jackie’s running an Egyptian-style mini-campaign called Necropolis. Since the campaign itself is fairly high-power to begin with, we had a little leeway for people to do interesting things with their characters.
How interesting? Dave’s doing an anthropomorphic elephant, the background of which is over here. Margie’s playing a young Astral Deva, Justin’s playing a half-dragon sorceress.
Me and Randy? Just plain old humans. (Actually, I’m playing two: Jepteth a’Ghul (Priest/Divine Agent) and Aziz, his cohort (your basic ranger and comedy relief).) I figured one of the more interesting things I could do with a ‘plain old human’ character in a group like this is make up someone who looks at such a powerful montage of beings and immediately thinks: “Obviously, I should be in charge.”

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Assimilating the Straights

Perverse Access Memory: WISH 59: Games for Non-Gamers

Name three games you might use to get someone who has never roleplayed before into roleplaying.

Ahh yeah, the loaded question of converting the heathen. I have to say that I really haven’t done much of that over the years — I ran a gaming club at college that pulled a lot of people together, but generally that just meant that people who were already into gaming were meeting other people who were. (Not always the case: I remember the time De walked up to the gaming booth at the University Activities Fair and asked me to ‘explain this thing’ to her.)
But let’s see: you’ve got a cool, funky ‘norm’ who’s into genre fiction, likes genre movies and action films, doesn’t get too freaked out when they meet the gamer geeks you know, and seems like they’d enjoy the whole thing. What do you do?

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Update review

The clearest review of 3.5 that I’ve seen is here:

This release is like Microsoft charging for software updates. If you love the operating system and are devoted to it, you’ll buy it. If you’re a casual user, you’ll ignore it until a time comes when you need it, or have the means to get it. If you’re a first-time user, by all means, this is for you. If you prefer another operating system, it becomes moot. If you thought 3.0 and the D20 system was “broken”, a common euphemism for “these rules aren’t to my taste so let’s just hate them”, you’re not going to be impressed by 3.5, either.

Magical Box of Limited Expectation

Perverse Access Memory: WISH 57: System, Setting, Style, and Play

Do you find that you play differently when you play in different game systems? For instance, do you approach D&D or Champions the same way you approach Vampire or Werewolf the same way you approach Amber or Nobilis? Do you build the some kinds of characters? What are some examples of different characters in different systems, and why do you think they evolved that way?

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Randy and I were having a conversation last night about character ideas and starting power levels. I’m one of those people that enjoys starting out at first level with a campaign. Randy isn’t, perferring instead to begin play with a character that more closely matches the capabilities of the orginal character concept.
There was a lot to say on the subject…

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“Sacajaweavich, you’re on overwatch!”

Some nostalgic chatting via email about playing SpaceHulk back in college led me to find this: QSpaceHulk : the total conversion of the Space Hulk boardgame:

Space Hulk is a great board game of Games Workshop in the world of Warhammer 40000. This is a two player turn-based game where one play the ‘Marine’, the other play the alien called ‘Genestealer’.
This video game is a complete conversion of the board game with the 2nd edition rules. Well, I know there is some fans discussion to know whether the 1st or the 2nd edition of the rules is the better. For my part, I only played the 2nd edition, that’s the edition this game is based on.
The project is aiming at providing a way to play SpaceHulk on your computer exactly as you could do it with the real board version but with some extra : you can play via network (no need to have two players in the same room) synchronized or asynchronized (via e-mail), and you will even be able to play solo against an artificial intelligent opponent. Currently, only HotSeat and Play-By-Email mode game are implemented. You can see some screenshots or download it.

I always thought this would be a completely do-able game via some sort of turn-based email interface. Looks like I’m right. I LOVE being right.
MAN I can hardly wait to get home and try this thing out.
Update: There’s apparently also a Visual Basic-based Space Hulk SP (Single Player)

Psychoanalysis and the Gamer

So my biggest problem with the games I’m running right now are:
1. Most are too big (have too many participants).
2. There are too many.
The most recent development in this is, of course, that the Star Wars game came to a screeching halt on pre-game on Friday, two sessions before I’d planned to wrap it up.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about the games I run, why I run them and how I get into certain situations that leave me with bad endings like the Prince of Alderaan got me. Also recently, I got one of those personality evaluations at work, via the Insights system and, while it’s not perfect, it does pretty damn well with only twenty-five questions, and says a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as a … well, person, actually, but also as a gamer. Here’s some excerpts, applied to the problems I mentioned above.

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Jackie got an email notice today that her 3.5 PHB is shipping.
Me? Nothing. Why? Because I preordered my stuff too soon.
Yeah. A lovely but little-known fact of Amazon pre-orders is that, once they get the book in, they start shipping out in reverse order of the date the order was placed.
So… the longer you wait to pre-order, the faster you’ll get the book. Makes a hell of a lot of sense.

Useful bits

For anywhere from $2.50 to $6, The Language of Flowers is a steal and terribly terribly useful for a Nobilis game.
It’s a very simple book: the first half is lists of flowers in alphabetical order, matched to their traditional message/meaning. The second half of the book is arranged alphabetically by meaning/message, with the flower following. Good stuff, and pocket-sized.