A Whole New Brawl Game

It all began in 1986….

Games Workshop released a Warhammer spinoff game called Blood Bowl.

Blood Bowl was a simple affair. Paper tokens, recycled mechanics from Warhammer and popular sports board games of the time.

Fast forward 34 years and there are full first and third party model lines for many different teams. A league system that roles in RPG elements also exists for long term gaming.

Ok guys, enough dancing, get on the field.

I’ve known about this game for years, but only recently gave it a try. Now it is a frequent game night event. It is one of those games that can have a very deep strategy, but it is very approachable. Like my article on Scythe, I’m gonna have to add this one to the growing pile of games I wish I had tried sooner.

On the left we have the classic run all over the field and cover everybody maneuver.
On the right we have the revolutionary war maneuver.

Blood Bowl can be a blast, and I highly recommend it with one caution: Some of the content that has crept into the game over the last 3 decades can be a little dark, so discretion is advised with younger players. This content can be easily left out.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go toss the old pigskin around with some green skins.

Orc: You want a piece of me puny dwarf?!
Dwarf: I’d like you in several actually.

Unexpected tidings.

Hello everyone. I had recently begun a review series on Cubicle 7’s Adventures in Middle Earth. This last weekend C7 announced they had lost the license and would no longer be printing this RPG.

I highly recommend this RPG, however it is going to be unavailable very soon. As such, I think it would be wrong to dedicate time to promoting a product my readers can not obtain

As a result, I will not be finishing the series at this time and will be moving on to other games and general gaming articles.

I hope everyone had a great holiday last week!

Game Review: Adventures in Middle Earth, Part 1, Intro

“You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Adventures in Middle Earth by Cubicle 7 is an RPG built using the 5th edition Open Gaming License from DnD. Sort of.

What a magnificent beard! Oh look, a dragon.

In 2011 Cubicle 7 published The One Ring RPG using a proprietary d6 system. (TOR is a popular game in it’s own right and has a 2nd edition coming up soon.) Five years later, Wizards of the Coast released the OGL for 5th edition. Seizing this chance to use the well established d20 system, C7 released Adventures in Middle Earth the same year. AiME is a direct port of TOR’s content into 5e’s toolset.

Halflings? Nope. This is authorized LotR.

Although this could be seen as 5e in Middle Earth, the two games are very different. I’ll be diving into more of the nuances in later parts of this review, but here are some of the basics:

AiME says yes to 5e combat and says no to magic (but not completely.)

AiME greatly expands on traveling. There are whole supplements around journeys and there is even an optional Journey Phase added to the game.

On the road again….

Goodbye alignment. AiME is about heroes. A corruption system is even present to possibly turn your hero PCs into evil NPCs.

There is definitely more to cover over the coming weeks. Adventures in Middle Earth is a real gem in the dragon hoard of 5e expansions.

Great Expectations

It was the best of backstories, it was the mediocre of backstories…

I had requested that my players come up with some background for their characters. Although I don’t generally require a detailed backstory when I GM, this was a unique situation.

This group of players had been trying to startup an Adventures in Middle Earth campaign for several months. They (which included me at the time) had gone through several GMs. For various reasons these GMs had to step down and another would take their place. I stepped up and have been running the campaign for a couple years now.

The players had shared backstory information with previous GMs, and there was an assumption that I had received that information as well. I had bits and pieces, but not all of it. Therefore, I asked everyone to provide a brief synopsis.

Game night came, the backstories piled up, and then I realized I had made a mistake. I hadn’t set parameter for the back stories. I had assumed the players understood how Middle Earth worked in the 3rd era. This lead to an issue with one backstory, and I will fully admit that I was at fault.

In fantasy media, Elves are normally portrayed as too good to be true. They excel at everything, they are handsome/beautiful, and many times immortal. One player wanted to play a character disenchanted with elf perfection. They spun a tale of deception, intrigue,and murder, with the blame placed fully on the shoulders of elf kind.

Now to be fair, they didn’t place the blame fully on all elves, but they had elves doing things that Middle Earth elves would not be doing in the setting we are playing.

“Thus entered panic into my brain, and fear into my soul.”

Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, however my immediate reaction was to dismiss the backstory completely. This was not okay and after chatting with my fellow blogger Frerin, I have a possible solution for the type of situation.

  1. Apologize for not setting better guidelines, and for immediately dismissing the backstory. In short: Own up to my mistake in the situation.
  2. Offer to modify the story to fit, if the player would like to keep the basics of the story. There is plenty of room for prejudice and distrust in the setting. Much of Tolkien’s writings contain people overcoming racism and hatred.
  3. Provide clearer guidelines and the chance to rewrite for anyone who would like to make their story fit better into the setting.

No matter how long you GM, you will make mistakes. I have been blessed to play with a patient, understanding, and forgiving group. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. (I might TPK them for a pizza though.)

Organized Chaos

Like herding Cats…

I’m currently prepping to GM a session for a group that stopped midway of a module over a month ago. I had to evaluate some of my organizational GM standards because of this.

ISSUE #1: I didn’t take good enough notes.

SOLUTION: This group had been meeting often enough that I was able to get by with shorthand notes. This was a mistake, always take notes as if you will need to recap the entire session for someone. It will save you a headache later.

ISSUE #2 (Possibly): My players may have not taken good notes.

SOLUTION: This makes issue 1 less of a problem. I chose several options provided by the module for moving forward that fit the notes I do have. I will present this as a “previously” recap, and then we will move on with the game.

ISSUE #3: The module scales with player count, and my player count may be different than when we shelved the module. This unfortunately means I need to be prepared to run between 3 and 20 enemies for one fight.

SOLUTION: My solution is bullet points. Most text editors can add bullet points, with sub-points. I can create a quick visual flow for any fight by creating bullet point 1 “Goblin.” Then I put 15 sub points on blank lines. When the fight comes, I just add HP, notes, etc next to the number of lines I need.

  • Goblin (DMG Page 962)
    • 1 20HP, stunned
    • 2 2 HP, prone
    • 3 0HP, dead
    • 4
    • 5
    • …..

Some small thoughts on organization, I hope you all have a wonderful week.

Justified Delusions

You aren’t crazy if everyone is actually out to get you...

Last week I had the chance to GM a day of “Paranoia: Red Clearance Edition.” I can honestly say it was unlike anything I had ever played before.

If you aren’t familiar with Paranoia, it’s a tabletop RPG that originated in the 80’s and has been reworked several times and rereleased. Although the game system has changed over the years, the most important part of the game has held strong. What part is that? That would be Friend Computer.

Paranoia is set in an underground bunker known as Alpha Complex. The computer that runs Alpha Complex is breaking down and beginning to be paranoid in it’s attempts to “help” occupants.

This of course sets up all sorts of wacky scenarios where players are encouraged to betray each other to gain the computers appreciation. They are even given special cards that allow them to manipulate a situation to better do so.

During our game a player tried to fire a grappling gun to save himself from drowning. (Drowning in spilled dessert topping no less.) The player rolled poorly and I very calmly rolled to see if he accidentally hit a teammate. I’ve done this many times in many games. It adds some tension and entertainment versus just missing.

Then everything went bananas.

The player who received the business end of the grappling hook played a card to redirect the attack to another PC. Then another player attempted to lessen the blow by playing a card that caused the shot to destroy equipment instead of causing damage.

But wait, there’s more!

The merciful player failed to realize the PC only had one piece of undestroyed equipment… her uniform. *Insert wardrobe malfunction joke here.*

While I would readily play the game again, I have a small gripe with the current edition. There are several passages in the manuals that break from professionalism severely. (This is saying something, as each book is written like mock propaganda for the computer.) These sections seem to be written by a junior highschooler trying to be cool or funny by forcing profanity into a conversation. They are short, out of tone for the rest of the book, and should have never made it through editing.

The system is overall a good break from the copycat fantasy RPGs that are all over, and I would recommend it, just have a mature adult read the rule books.

Running from the Band Wagon

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

I often find myself getting hyped for new fads of gaming. The horrible game that I regret preordering? Still bought the DLC. That $300 board game? Played it once and it sits on my shelf gathering dust.

However, I sometimes look at a game that everyone recommends and I’m just not interested. Age of Sigmar? No, I have enough armies to half paint! X-Wing 2.0? AKA: $300 to keep playing with $500 worth of models I own. No, just no.

Occasionally this causes me to miss something great though. I recently discovered the board game Scythe.

I had often seen it at my local hobby shop, pulled it down, looked at the box, said “hmmm… might be fun,” and then put it back. I finally grabbed it during a sale, and discovered I had missed out on something uniquely enjoyable.

Looking back, there was plenty of info out on the internet to see that I probably would like the game. This got me thinking. Why do I gravitate toward some games and not others? The answer:

Information

Whether misinformation or accurate facts, information is what drives people to buy in or hold back. Ruminating on this brings me to what I would consider great advice for anyone looking into any new game.

Do research.

Dont just look up trailers and reviews from people with free promotional copies and nothing to lose by giving mediocre or good reviews.

Look up how to play a game, look up reviews by Joe Everyman who spent $300 for the game, and listen to the criticism he gives. You may find that you totally disagree, and you like the game. I’ve had a few of those, but normally I end up with some fancy new shelf decorations.

Go find new games, but do the research and get a good one!

A Special Treat

This week we have a very special interview with worlds renowned paladin Ris Darkcrusher.

UPDATE: The following transcript is presented to the best of our ability based on eye witness accounts.

Saedreth: You sure this is the right place?

Frerin: He said to meet him by the well.

Saedreth: We’ve been waiting for almost an hour. Aren’t paladins punctual?

Frerin: I don’t know. Do you think that…

Saedreth: Quiet! Do you here something?

Frerin: Sounds like it’s coming from the well.

Saedreth: I’ll check it out. Hold my notes….. um…. I… uh..

Frerin: What did you find?

Saedreth: What does a troll look like?

Frerin: What?! Let me see. Ooh….

Troll: What you mans doing up there?

Saedreth: Um, well… we are waiting to do an interview.

Troll: What interview is?

Frerin: Well, an interview is when we ask questions about someone’s life.

Troll: You interview Timmy?

Frerin: Timmy? Who’s Timmy?

Troll: Me Timmy.

Saedreth: You gotta be kidding me.

Frerin: Actually, we are waiting for a paladin named Ris Darkcrusher.

Timmy: Chewy guy with hammer?

Frerin: …

Saedreth: …

Timmy: Why you stare at Timmy? Chewy man stared at Timmy too…

Frerin: I think we will be going now.

Saedreth and Frerin will be back to blogging after a short recovery.

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