24 February 2008

GURPS Divination: part 1

For those of you not familiar with the GURPS Magic System, here's an overview. The spells are divided into colleges, such as Animal, Mind Control, Necromantic, Elemental: Air, Elemental: Fire, Food, Healing, and so on. Most spells have a prerequisite. That is, you need to learn certain other spells before you can learn this one. In each college, there are one or more "basic" spells, that anyone can learn (only mages can actually cast the spells unless you're in a high mana zone, but anyone can learn them). These basic spells are very simple spells with no prerequisites, and in turn are the prerequisites for more powerful spells, which are the prerequisites for even more powerful spells, and so on.

Some have options ("Hide" can be learned using either "Forgetfulness" or "Blur" as prerequisites), some have non-spells ("Activate Runes" requires the "Rune Lore" skill), and some spells require that you be a mage (that is, you have purchased the "Magical Aptitude" advantage). Some spells require a certain number of spells from a specific college, but it doesn't matter what those spells are.

I mention this because I want to discuss the "Divination" spell. The spell itself is pretty straightforward: you cast the spell, and if successful, you receive answers to a question concerning the future. The exact method of doing this varies, and the prerequisites for the spell depend on the method you choose for your character to cast the spell. It lists several examples, from the mundane and standard (such as Astrology, Crystal-gazing, Tarot) to common but less mundane (such as Haruspication – examining the entrails of an animal) to the less common (Belomancy – throwing a bunch of arrows into the air and divining the answer from the pattern in which they land) to the bizarre (Molybdomancy – pouring molten lead into cold water and examining the resulting shapes).

16 February 2008

Board Game Reviews - The Order of the Stick: The Dungeon of Dorukan

Welcome to another week of the Game Dork's discussions of gaming.

This week, I introduce an activity that I expect to do on occasion: board game reviews. To start with, I was thinking once about the way that people review movies, and it occurred to me that what these reviews are doing is saying, "I liked this movie because..." or "I didn't like this movie because..." but that does nothing to let me know if I'll like the movie! Shouldn't we find a more objective way of reviewing things that will actually tell a reader if that reader will like it? So I have endeavoured to do just that.

Thus, I present to you, my system for reviewing board games. Hopefully, this will enable anyone who reads to decide whether or not they would like the game, without having to rely solely on my opinion. Using this system, each game will be rated on the following charts (you can always click on the graphic to see a larger version of it that's easier to read):
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.

So this week, we start with The Order of the Stick Adventure Game: The Dungeon of Dorukan.

10 February 2008

Loosing my gaming rants onto the world

You have found my little corner of the web, where I talk about one of the most important things in the world to me: games.

I am a major fan of games, including both board games and role-playing games.

So here is where I shall talk about it.

First, let me introduce myself. I'm the Game Dork. Hi. Nice to meet you.

Now, for my first post, I'm going to talk about something that I've wanted to try for a while now, and haven't really got the chance to do: chronicle play.

Chronicle play is when you create a starting level character (1st level for D&D, or whatever), and play that character continuously in the same group of players with the same characters for years, until he becomes a truly advanced character.