Saturday, June 16, 2018

Board Game Review: Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal

The cover of the game. The title is displayed superimposed over the titular crystal, with the castle of the crystal visible in the background. Along the left side are the four main characters, each in a circular portrait. Along the bottom is a window covered with clear plastic allowing the four miniatures that are the game's playing pieces to be seen.

If you've been paying much attention to this blog at all, you know that I am a major fan of The Dark Crystal. I have been ever since I was a young boy and I saw it when it first released in 1982. So it's no surprise at all that I had to pre-order a copy of the board game the moment I heard it was being released.

Of course, the time has come to review that game. Mount up on your landstrider; we're adventuring in the world of Thra!

Warning: This game (and thus, probably this review as well) contains spoilers for the film. If you haven't watched the movie, you might want to do that before you read this review.

Of course, if you haven't watched the movie, why on earth not? Go watch this amazing film right now! This review assumes that you are familiar with the story and the setting, so if you don't know what skeksis, mystics, garthim, Aughra, or podlings are, this review probably won't make a whole lot of sense.

So, with that said, shall we start with the numbers? Of course we shall!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

PinkFae Archive #14: Children as Players in Roleplaying Games

We are slowly working our way through the archive of articles I wrote for PinkFae. This week, we come to entry number 14, about playing roleplaying games with children. I hope you enjoy it! This article was originally published on 10 April 2016.

Two children, a boy and a girl, each within a couple of years of age ten by appearances, smiling and laughing at a table covered with Dungeons and Dragons paraphernalia.

A friend of mine recently posted a link to an article about playing D&D with your kids. It was short, but had some interesting points. In particular, there was the part in which the author described a gaming session with his group that includes some parents who'd brought their children to the game. In this particular session, the three-year-old daughter of one of his fellow players was having fun with his miniatures. He states,
...as I was explaining what each monster was she began to ignore me and make up her own names and stories for them all. I smiled and played along with her. As we played however, I noticed that this was really kick starting her imagination. Stories of strange beasts and dragons with giant spiders as pets...
I don't have any children. My wife and I have chosen a different life path for ourselves. But I know several gamers who do have children. John Trobare, whom I interviewed recently, has a few, and he plays board games with them all the time. I don't know if he's ever tried to get them into roleplaying. But I have known other parents who have.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The End of the Golden Age?

I've written two articles now about the Golden Age of board games. One was published here on this site, and the other was written for PinkFae. The PinkFae article was number 19, so will be appearing here in a few weeks as part of the normal cycle of PinkFae archives.

This is important because in the PinkFae article, I referenced the beginning of the Golden Age. Specifically, I said:
...in 1995, a dental technician from Germany named Klaus Teber released the board game Settlers of Catan. This groundbreaking game combined the best elements of both American and Euro games... [and] sparked a revolution. Suddenly, game designers realised that board games could be fun for everyone without instigating feuds within families or groups of friends. The Golden Age was upon us!
The game was released in the English-speaking world the following year, by Mayfair Games, a company that had existed since 1981. Arguably, this company is responsible for the golden age of board games; by bringing Settlers of Catan to the English-speaking world, Mayfair Games paved the way for the best ideas in two different areas of board gaming to co-mingle and produce the amazing games that exist today. They also published the English-language editions of many of the staples of modern board games: Agricola, Bang!, Tigris and Euphrates, and Patchwork, to name a few.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

PinkFae Archive #13: Board Game Review: Area 1851

It is time once more for a PinkFae archive. This one is another board game review that I wrote for that site. This article was originally published on 27 March 2016.

The cover art of Area 1851, showing an old west style town with a banner across the street that displays the title, and in the foreground, a cowboy hovering by means of a jetpack shakes hands with an alien holding a pickaxe.

The time has come once again for a board game review. This week, I shall look at a new game that was only just recently published, with the help of Kickstarter, and was introduced to me by my good friend John Trobare. The game in question is: Area 1851. It is a game of 'UFOs meet cowboys.' Aliens and old west characters are competing to gain the greatest amount of reputation by constructing and delivering strange devices.

As always, we start with some numerals that are not at all randomly generated.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Inclusive NPCs Volume 4: Chadra

Once more, it is time to provide you with an inclusive NPC. If you want to include a wider array of characters with whom your PCs may interact, you are free to use the characters I describe here. You may use them as they are written, or you may adapt and modify them to meet your needs. As always, I provide stats in the D20 systemGURPS, the original World of Darkness, and Fate Core. If you would like to use these characters in a different system, you are welcome to do so; just convert the stats using whatever method is best for you.

This week, our NPC is Chadra. She is a muslim of Syrian nationality, though she moved when she was younger to whatever location you need for your game. Her background is somewhat tragic; she was discovered at a fairly young age (somewhere around 13 or 14) by a woman named Tamsin, who claims to have had a vision of the future. In this vision, an apocalyptic event was destined to occur, in which hordes of demons swarm across the world, killing everyone in their path. Tamsin insists that the only way to survive this cataclysm is to offer sacrificial victims to these demons in exchange for her own life. Tamsin recruited Chadra into this cult and had her trained as her enforcer. The young girl was taught to be proficient with a number of melee weapons, most notably the sword.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Do Lizardfolk Females have Breasts?

I know, that's a very strange title for an article. Bear with me though.

See, I was working on a prop for the new Fate game I'm running. It's sort of a crossover between Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu, and Cowboy Bebop. But the important thing is that I was looking for images of lizardfolk to use in this prop. And I noticed that many of the images I was seeing displayed breasts on the females.

This struck me as odd, because reptiles don't have breasts. Breasts are a uniquely mammalian feature; in fact, that's where the word 'mammal' comes from: the Latin word mammalis, 'of the breast.' No other type of animal has mammary glands.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Board Game Review: Near and Far (Part 2)

Last week, I wrote an overview of the game Near and Far. But there was so much I wanted to say about it that I felt I had to split it into two parts. In today's installment, I will present my 'final thoughts.'

Final Thoughts on Near and Far

I have been enjoying this game so very very much. However, that being said...

I really enjoy watching the video reviews over at Shut Up and Sit Down. They're detailed, they're well done, and most of all, they're amusing. But one thing I've noticed is that I often disagree with them. They usually recommend games that I would not, and they frequently don't recommend games that I think really deserve to be recommended. Which, as I've said many times in the past, is fine; everyone likes different things from their games. 

But I was especially disappointed when they didn't give a recommendation to Near and Far

So my friend (who, you may remember, I'm calling Caroline) bought a copy of Near and Far and told me that I should play with her. Thus, the Dork Spouse and I traipsed over to the home of Caroline and her wife one evening, and we set up the game. We watched through a 'how to play' video, and then we began the game.