Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Legitimate Complaint Concerning GURPS

I recently encountered an article about GURPS. In the article, the author outlines some of the problems he has with GURPS (and, in particular, with the 4th edition of GURPS). Many of the things he has to say on the issue are valid, and as I've recently done a bit of dabbling in GURPS again and had a number of thoughts on the topic, it helped me to crystallise what I was thinking. So today, I'm going to discuss my reactions to the article.

A quick summary of the article, for those who don't want to click on the link above (and it is a lengthy read, so I don't blame you if you don't):
GURPS 3rd Edition was great, but in translating the system into a 4th edition, they made the game incomprehensible for new players, and their ancient, arcane, and inflexible policies on intellectual properties only exacerbate the problem.
So, in order for my attitudes towards GURPS to make sense, I'm going to provide a little bit of context in the form of my personal history with the system.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

PinkFae Archive #7: Board Game Review: Alchemists

Time for another entry in the PinkFae Archive. This post was originally published on 13 February 2016.

The Alchemists box, showing the cover art of a man in wizard's robes holding a frog in one hand as he adds drops of a strange liquid to a brew from which small hands can be seen reaching, as an apprentice climbs out a window in the background to escape the insanity of his master.

Greetings, fellow gamers, and welcome to another entry in the Board Game Review series of Game On posts! This week, I shall describe a game that I learned to play at my local board game cafe's Kickstarter Backer Party! The game in question is Alchemists. Remember the system I devised for reviewing these games? Here it is again:

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Inclusive NPCs Volume 2: Quahtli

It's time again for another Inclusive NPC. As you may remember from the last entry, these NPCs are presented here for you to use as you see fit in any campaign you run. The idea is that you can contribute to a more accepting world by exposing your players, even in games, to a more diverse cast of characters. And since I am aware that not everyone finds it easy to come up with interesting supporting characters, I will provide you with some that you may use as-is, or that may inspire you to develop your own character from marginalised groups.

As I did last time with Cedar, I will provide you with the character's stats in four different systems: D&D, GURPS, the original World of Darkness, and FATE Core.

So let's meet Quahtli.

Quahtli is of Quechua ethnic heritage, originally living in Peru, but having travelled the world to see many different places, and having many new experiences. A few years ago, she met and fell in love with a woman named Cecilia. Quahtli's natural wanderlust and sense of adventure subsided enough for her to settle down with Cecilia. At first, they would travel together, seeing new places, but Cecilia suffered chronic depression, and after a short time, their adventures together grew less frequent. Now, Quahtli stays with Cecilia full time to help care for her and treat her depression.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Resolution: Failed.

Welcome to the 200th post on the Game Dork's Gaming Corner! I've got to say, it's kind of amazing to me that I've come this far.

Enough woolgathering. Let's get to the issue at hand.

Some of you may know that I made a new year's resolution to play 80 of the games on the top 100 list over at Board Game Geek. Tomorrow is the last day of 2017, so I think it's safe to call it. I did not meet that goal.

Here's how the numbers ended up: the most games that I had played that were in the top 100 list at any one time was 31. This is a shame, as four of the games I had played that were at one point on the top 100 dropped to 101 or lower at some point over the course of the year. In fact, if we were to expand our criteria to include anything in the top 200, that would add another 16 games to my list, for a total of 47. Still thirty three games shy of my goal, but a good deal closer...

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Board Game Review: Skull

I recently played a fun game. It's called Skull (though from what I understand, it was originally called Skull and Roses), and it's super simple, but super fun. You can buy the set from Asmodee Games, or you could make your own with some pieces of cardboard and a marker.

Let's get started!

Strategy and Randomness are rated from 0 to 6. A 0 means the rated aspect plays no part in determining the game's outcome; and a 6 means that it is the only factor that determines the game's outcome. Complexity is also rated from 0 to 6; a 0 means that it's so simple a six-year-old can play it, a 3 means any adult should have no trouble playing, and a 6 means that you'll need to refer to the rulebook frequently. Humour can be rated as 'None,' meaning the game is not meant to be funny, or it may have one or more of the following: Derivative (meaning the humour is based on an outside source, such as a game based on a comedy film), Implicit (meaning that the game's components are funny, such as humourous card text), or Inherent (meaning that the actions the players take are funny). Attractiveness has nine possible ratings. Ideal: the game is beautiful and makes game play easier. Pretty: The design is beautiful and neither eases nor impedes game play. Nice: The design is beautiful but makes game play harder than necessary. Useful: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but eases gameplay. Average: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Useless: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Utilitarian: The design is ugly, but eases gameplay. Ugly: The design is ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Worthless: The design is ugly, andmakes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Average Length of Game Play describes how long an average game will probably last, give or take. Gamer Profile Ratings measures how strongly a game will appeal to players based on their interest in one of four areas. These areas are measured as High, Medium, or Low. Strategy describes how much a game involves cognitive challenges, thinking and planning, and making sound decisions. Conflict describes how much direct hostile action there is between players, from destroying units to stealing resources. Social Manipulation describes how much bluffing, deceiving, and persuading there is between players. Fantasy describes how much a game immerses players in another world, another time.
Strategy: 2
Randomness: 1
Complexity: 1
Humour: None
Attractiveness: Useful*
Average Length of Game Play: 20 minutes
Gamer Profile Ratings:
  Strategy: Low
  Conflict: Medium
  Social Manipulation: High
  Fantasy: Low

Saturday, December 16, 2017

PinkFae Archive #6: Social Stigma in Roleplaying Games

The time has come to repost another PinkFae article. As a reminder, or for those who are new to this blog, the PinkFae Archives are repostings of the articles I wrote for the trans-inclusive gaming blog pinkfae.com, before that site became defunct. Since I don't want all those articles I wrote to be lost, I am reposting them here on my personal blog. Today's entry was originally published on 7 February 2016. I hope you enjoy it!

A photo from the side of seven board game pawns, six in various shades of red together on one side, and one black by itself on the other side, alone due to its social stigma

I was introduced to GURPS (the Generic Universal Role Playing System, published by Steve Jackson Games) in 1991. I admired the flexibility and adaptability of the system, as well as its realism and the fact that it encouraged rounded, dynamic characters. It didn't limit possible character traits to attributes and skills, but had mental, emotional, and social advantages and disadvantages. This allowed players to emulate a personality more fully than in games like Dungeons and Dragons. But there was one disadvantage that I have never given a character: Social Stigma. It provides an in-game mechanic for simulating a character that belongs to a group that is deemed by his or her society to be inferior. In looking back on it, I realise that I didn't fully grasp the possibilities of this disadvantage. Now, I have learned much, and I would love the opportunity to play a character with this disadvantage.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Roleplaying Games Besides Dungeons and Dragons

Six roleplaying game rule books displayed on a wooden table: Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu, Vampire: The Masquerade, GURPS, Paranoia, and Traveller.

I was playing Say Anything with some friends recently. The basic idea behind this game, for those who don't already know, is that the players take turns being the judge, and the judge reads a question off one of the cards in the deck (the questions always refer to the judge; for example, 'What is my favourite brand of beer?' or 'Where in the world would I like to travel that I haven't already been?'). The other players write down possible answers on small dry-erase boards. The judge decides and secretly records which answer best applies. The players then vote on which answer they think the judge chose. They get points for voting for the answer chosen by the judge, and the person who wrote the answer chosen by the judge gets points as well.

On one of John's turns, he read the question, 'What game do I think is most overrated?' There were several good answers, but the one he chose was Dungeons and Dragons. The reason he gave is because there are many roleplaying games (of varying levels of quality) in existence, but so many people (even many gamers) have never heard of any of them apart from D&D (or, these days, Pathfinder, which was based on D&D so may as well count as D&D anyway).

John went on to describe how whenever he talks to people and tells them that he enjoys playing roleplaying games, they always respond with, 'Oh, you mean like Dungeons and Dragons?'

He went on to describe how annoying it always is to have to explain, 'Well, yes, it is like Dungeons and Dragons, but it's not like Dungeons and Dragons because the system is different, the setting is different, the object is different...' Because of that, because of how tired he gets having to tell people that he doesn't play D&D because there are so many other and (in his opinion) better RPGs out there, he ranks D&D as the most overrated game.