Tuesday, 8 January 2013

...and Future!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

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Ah, we're back! Talking about past accomplishments is all well and good but I think we're all actually more interested in what the future might hold. Of course there are more new stuff that I want to play than I could possibly find time for, nevertheless I will do my utmost to try! Let's break it down...

Board Games

My list of games from "Board Games I Look Forward to" is still very current as I've only managed to play one of those games (Descent 2nd ed). For shame! However new things keep cropping up so lets add a couple of titles shall we?

Speaking of Descent 2nd ed, the first expansion for it, Lair of the Wyrm, has just been released and I've managed to get my kitten mittens on it! It includes two new characters and classes, two new monsters and a sort of mini-campaign that can be sprinkled in among the campaign you get in the core box. It looks like a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to trying it out, especially as my buddy Micke has agreed on taking the role of the Overlord this time around. I rarely get to play the role of the heroes/investigators/chumps in these types of games so I'll be sure to make the most out of it. :)

Star Wars: The Card Game is perhaps not technically a board game, but close enough. When it was first announced I wasn't all that interested to be honest, but I think X-Wing has re-kindled my love of Star Wars and this game seems to push all the right buttons both when it comes to theme and mechanics. It plays quickly with lots of action and a theme that seems to work well. I also like that the deckbuilding has been streamlined as that is most often the big hurdle for getting my friends into card games. Instead of choosing every single card, you choose Objective sets consisting of one Objective card and five (I think) cards that come with it. I think this should make deck building much more accessible for the casual player and much quicker to boot. My copy of this game is in the mail... hopefully in my hands before the end of the week!

I initially dismissed Mice & Mystics as a poor mans copy of Mouse Guard, but has since learned the error of my ways. Of course it's inspired by Mouse Guard but it also seems to be a damn fine game! Cooperative dungeon crawling with a very strong story element if I've understood things correctly. There's no Overlord (Overcat?) and new adventures will apparently be released continuously. I'm thinking that this game might be the next step up for my seven year old niece who loves to play DungeonQuest.

For me Mansions of Madness was never quite that hole-in-one that I had hoped it to be. It's definitely fun, but some of the scenarios are a bit meh and I've been discouraged by the piss-poor reviews most of the expansions have received (again, because of bad scenario design, not because of any actual faults in game play). However the new big box expansion Call of the Wild does look very promising! We get to move out of the mansions of madness and into the er... outdoors of madness. It seems like the focus will be the rural areas around Dunwich and from what I've read in the FFG previews this is an expansion I just have to get!

Besides the new and shiny I want to play more (everything!!) Runewars, Alien Frontiers, Claustrophobia, High Frontier, Earth Reborn, Cyclades, Twilight Imperium, Battlestar GalacticaPlanet Steam, Space Alert, Chaos in the Old World, Age of Conan, Bios Megafauna, Shogun, Lords of Waterdeep, A Game of Thrones.... you know. The usual. :)

Roleplaying Games

As I said, 2012 was a bad year for roleplaying, but I'm determined to change things in 2013. I'll probably repeat myself a lot in this section, but that's simply because the games I want to play stay fairly consistent. One or two new additions perhaps. Luckily for me it seems like the people who might be available for/interested in roleplaying have grown a little, so hopefully it should be easier to get going than it was last year.

The One Ring has been on my must-play-list since I read through it and wrote my review of it, pretty much. For me it does so many things right (at least on paper) and it seems like it would be a blast to play! Tales from Wilderland has a bunch of neat looking adventures for it and Heart of the Wild and The Darkening of Mirkwood will be released during spring, hopefully. Basically it would be very easy to start things up, only needing some standard prep and rules explanations. With most people having The Hobbit fresh in their minds Middle-Earth isn't too far off... even though that's not quite the same as my Middle-Earth.

More Star Wars! Yes, FFG is going all out with their new rpg Star Wars: Edge of the Empire and have just released the Beginner Game. It consists of a trimmed down rulebook, a short adventure and some gorgeous pre-made characters, maps and tokens. And dice. Learning that they had basically taken the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd ed mechanics, minus 95% of the cards and tokens, and transplanted it into the Star Wars setting certainly caught my interest! While I appreciate what they tried to do with the cards in WFRP3 it became too cumbersome in the end with stacks upon stacks of talents and maneuvers and monster cards. It seems FFG learned from this and simply took the core mechanics and the quite brilliant dice pool mechanic and used that as the base for Edge of the Empire. It's also focusing entirely on the small scale smugglers/fringers/bountyhunters of the galaxy which appeals to me. I'll try the beginner game and the sequal you can download from FFG and will most likely pick up the core book when it is released as well.

I'll say Mouse Guard here, although I would happily try Burning Wheel as well. However Mouse Guard is still the more accessible of the two, and the setting is just so cool. We played it twice more than a year ago and it worked quite well! My players enjoyed themselves but were still confused by the system I think, having not read the book it naturally takes longer time for them to acclimatize which they never had time for since we only played twice. I want to give it another go, perhaps with new players, and see what happens. Three or four sessions is probably what is needed before the whole system starts to sink away and feel really natural.

Finally I'd like to play with FATE. I was going to put down Diaspora specifically, and although that is still probably my favourite FATE setting I'd like to try the system no matter the background! For me Diaspora of course comes first to mind but there's Bulldogs and Starblazer Adventures for more sci-fi, The Dresden Files for some urban fantasy/horror or why not the original Spirit of the Century for some over the top pulp action?! Then we have the upcoming reboot of the Swedish sci-fi rpg Coriolis (co-written by one of my regular Dust Warfare opponents!) that will also use FATE as its engine. Having gone on about it almost since the inception of this blog I feel ashamed for not actually having played with FATE yet. This demands change!

I also want to play more Fiasco and try Technoir, Rogue Trader, 3:16, Apocalypse World, Dragon Age, Trail of Cthulhu, Kuro and so on. Oh, and the new (last?) campaign for WFRP3 bears a special mention as it is a re-imagining of famous The Enemy Within campaign. From what I've read so far it seems pretty good and I think I might have to get it just to read at the very least.

Miniature Games

Well then, I'm sure you pretty much know what I'll write in this section. Still, let's get it over with. :)

Infinity is still my favourite miniature game and the campaign snowball has started to roll. I know people are preparing for it, and even though I got my specialists sorted I need to sort a couple of baggage remotes. My only problem is that none of my close friends really play the game. Sure, Anders still have his Nomads and he's said that he thinks it's a brilliant game, but now that he has Dust Warfare (and more importantly, people ot play with) I don't honestly think he'll touch his Infinity minis again. Perhaps I should try and get some new people interested... which would be a great excuse to get that second faction I've been thinking about! Hehe!

Next up we have Dust Warfare which we played a lot during the autumn. I think the main reason being there are several of us who are interested and have models for it. Don't get me wrong, it's a game that I really like that combines ease of play with a decent tactical depth, but if it had only been me and Anders things might have looked different. With Hades the SSU have finally caught up with the other factions when it comes to unit options and the new tanks and walkers certainly open up a whole lot of new possibilities! When painting I've been rushing through my infantry and spent some more time with the vehicles, which seems to be a good balance for me when it comes to this game. Next up should be tanks and some Red Guard as we ready for the Hades campaign.

Finally Star Wars manages to sneak its way into all three different sections! This time in the form of the fast and furious X-Wing. A game that I first really enjoyed, then started fearing it was too random, and finally enjoyed again as I started figuring out the tactics of the game. While this is a minature game I almost feel bad for putting it in this list since there's virtually no painting or modelling involved. Sure, some quick modifications here and there, but it's not quite the same. However that is probably one of the reasons it makes the list. Painting takes time (especially at my pace) and not having to do it was a big draw for me. In any case I'm looking forward to Wave 2 with its A-Wings and keep dreaming about Wave 3... can we say B-Wings and TIE Bombers?!

My 15mm stuff grows in spurts with periods of rest in between. It's one of those games that takes time because I have to do everything myself. I think my  GZG UNSC are pretty much playable as they are now, some more basic infantry to round them out perhaps. But they need some opponents. While I still want to finish my Mars Reds I feel more inclined to paint Crusties so I think they will become the main opposition for a time. Rules wise I'm looking forward to getting my copy of Gruntz 1.1 courtesy of Robin Fitton himself (since I was lucky to win a Gruntz painting competition a year ago). Then there's of course Tomorrow's War and I'm hearing good things about 5150 Star Army and it's siblings. Will have to check them out as well.

Besides these four there are Heavy Gear that is still very much on ice, Judge Dredd which I think makes for a good side project (did you see the new Citi-Def?!) and a variety of spaceship games. I'm sure at least one of them will make it on the blog this year.

Besides the analogue gaming you'll be able to read about video gaming, space exploration and the occasional movie here on Fire Broadside! Looking forward to writing more, reading more and playing more during 2013!

19 kommentarer :

  1. Wow, so much goodness to comment on! For boardgames both Alien Frontiers and Lords of Waterdeep are excellent. The former is kind of light, the latter has great staying power. I didn't see Eclipse on the list though, it's pretty awesome in the truest sense of the word.

    RPGs; love everthing you listed; FATE is so good, the new Star Wars looks promising, and even Dragon Age could be cool.

    Minis; woohoo! I need to see more Infinity to inspire! I also need to direct my 15mm waywardness. As for Star Wars minis, I am trying to fight the plunge.

  2. Haha! Yeah, I just listed a bunch of games me and/or my buddies already own that I know we will be playing. Eclipse is definitely one of them as well. Should be interesting to see what the expansion brings... although it's far from needed yet as I've only played it once. :)

    Still haven't tried Dragon Age, but it's probably would be my game of choice for a generic-ish (not really, but kind of) fantasy rpg as the world Bioware created is pretty damn cool and the system is quick with room for cinematic action. From what I've heard the pre-written adventures for it are also very good.

    Prepare to be blown away by Infinity goodness!!! Or well, that might be a slight exaggeration but we are starting the Paradiso campaign during January and I feel the inspiration to get cracking on the rest of my Yu Jing. So at least some Infinity goodness. And 15mm as well I hope as I should have the new 1.1 Gruntz soon...

  3. Much better looking forward than back - in a broad sense anyway.

    I heard some cool stuff about Mice n Mystics - or anyway , that it looks good.

    Hope to try Coriolis with you and SW: Beginners box would be cool - have you read it yet?
    I would like to try Kuro, or at least try to read it.

  4. @Kosta - I agree. While seeing what you have (or haven't) accomplished can be a source of pride/nostalgia looking ahead is usually more fun! :)

    After writing this I realize that I have quite a few dungeon crawlers in my collection already, so I might have to get rid of one or two to make room for Mice and Mystics. But it seems different enough to warrant it.

    Would love to play Coriolis! I'm up for it any time. :D

    As for SW, yes I've been reading through the rulebook and oogling the maps and character sheets. Really well done from a production standpoint. I've also been tempted to get another Falcon for X-Wing and paint it red/brown to match the Krayt Fang in the beginner adventure. It seems like the adventure you get in the book is really only just the intro and the real thing is The Long Arm of the Hutt that you can download from FFG. Haven't read it though.

    Kuro looks really interesting! Will definitely get it to read at the very least but it would be fun to try ut as well of course.

  5. I've personally only played through the first adventure, Amber Rage, from Blood in Ferelden for Dragon Age. But I liked it quite a lot, much thanks to our very fine GM who used the adventure as a spring board for his own adventures. So the choices presented to us, as players, had real impact in the story as opposed just being moral choices. Will we play the other adventures from Blood in Ferelden is in the hands of the running the GM, I'm enjoying myself just as a player for the time being.

    Mind that I haven't played the Bioware's videogames so the world of Dragon Age, Thedas, was new to me. I myself have grown to like the quite fully realized fantasy world. It has that air of freshness much like the Old World in Warhammer had around the time I was first encountered it. The box standard fantasy stereotypes are given a nice spin and all the races are grounded to the setting beautifully.

    As for the Adventure Game Engine, it hits pretty much all the right buttons for me as a fantasy dungeon crawler. Mind that our GM is keeping the actual "dungeon crawling" to a minimum and focuses more on what it means to be hero. Dungeon crawling comes to play only if it suits the story. The system itself is freeform enough with a suitable amount of crunch. Our GM has said that this is the first fantasy rpg system that he has run where his focus is in fully creating the the stories and not be bogged down by the mechanics.

    I'll properly run AGE-system myself at some point, mainly because AGE is now being adapted to other setting like Wolfgang Baur's Midgard and the yet unrevealed new setting fron Green Ronin which will come out later this year.

  6. Sorry for the late reply, NetDiver! This comment slipped through the cracks somehow.

    Good to hear that you enjoyed Thedas even though you haven't played the video games. I was wondering how well the world would come across to the unitiated as it's hard to gauge when you've got a lot of knowledge about it yourself.

    The AGE system certainly seems like something that will disappear into the background after your first couple of sessions. It's basic, but in a good way. It does what it's supposed to do, with some added flair (Dragon Die) but doesn't insist upon itself.

    This little report of yours have definitely made me want to play it more! There are just so _many_ games I want to play at the moment... and there's not enough time. Well, at least that's a luxury problem. Hehe!

  7. No problems, Martin! :)

    I do need to say that the Thedas, as presented to us by our GM, is very much his own thing. He has taken the things he liked the most about the setting, as written in the novels and told in the games, and thrown in some stuff from various different sources. It's still Dragon Age, but it's his personal take on Dragon Age and he has been very forward about it since the two other players have played the videogames.

    Needless to say that all the players have enjoyed themselves as the stories our GM is crafting are original and don't try to emulate the events or the characters from the videogames or the novels. Which sometimes can be a problem with highly detailed settings or settings based on other media.

    The first two Dragon Age Player's Guides paint Ferelden and surrounding the territories in quite broad strokes which is enough to give the general feel but leaves the GM to fill in most of the blanks. And a good GM fills the blanks with his own ideas, not what is dictated by the source material. The setting, even if based on existing media, works as a framework for your stories what you want to tell. Or at least that is my opinion. That being said I do think that Dragon Age RPG expects some sort of familiarity with the established setting, but that doesn't automatically translate to playing the videogames or reading the novels.

  8. As for the system. AGE isn't perfect (and no system ever is) but it works well for the Dragon Age setting and darker heroic style fantasy. And yes, it blends to the background really nicely after a few sessions. We use the Dragon Die much in the same way WFRP 3rd ed uses the custom dice to give banes and boons to determine the degrees of success or failure. But I find the end results of the Dragon Die much quicker to interpret and iterate to the actual mechanics, while keeping the narrative flowing.

    Some have said that character generation in AGE can lead to characters that aren't really good at anything because of the partly randomized abilities and backgrounds. I don't know if it's my years of playing low fantasy but I personally think that this really isn't a weakness of the system suits the setting nicely.

    My only Dragon Age character so far, a female city elf named Anmelith, was a bouncer for a smoking den (much like the opium dens of the 19th century) in Denerim which her brothers ran in the elven slums for the family. So I chose the fighter class as it reflected the original concept the best. Her physical abilities aren't what I would call an exceptional fighter since I rolled pretty badly for those. Her mental abilities very slightly above average with good rolls for Intelligence and Communication.

    Given the rolled abilities she would have made a better magic user or a rogue than a fighter. I could have swapped the best rolls for more fighter class orientated abilities like Constitution and Strength, but I chose to keep with the original concept because the bad rolls actually made the character much more interesting. Her low constitution was the result of smoking a little too much of the den's own stock. Because of her better social and mental abilities she handled her bouncer position through intimidation, blackmailing with client secrets and the occasional loose affairs with the more financially established clients.

    All this blackmailing and secret dealing eventually got the bad eye of the local mobsters and city officials until someone (don't know who yet) burned the smoking den to the ground with Anmelith's family inside while she was getting stoned with her lover-at-the-moment somewhere in the market district. When she learned of the fate which had befallen on her family, she was smart enough to flee the city and eventually drifted to Sothmere where Blood in Ferelden's first adventure Amber Rage begins.

    I'm not normally quite fond of class and level based roleplaying games as they tend often to enforce meta gaming on part of the game system. Meaning it is usually wise to invest in attributes and abilities that benefit your class. But in Dragon Age the classes are so broad that they really don't get in the way of character development. You can still play the character you've created and be still playable system wise for the character class in some definition or other.

  9. As for the last point, the point you made about the lack of time, it’s also a problem with my group. When every one in the group is around thirty, life gets in the way. And to make the problem a little trickier there are just so many good games out there that you'd have to be professional roleplayer if you wanted to play them all. I've personally wanted to run a game of Yggdrasill ever since Cubicle 7 released it six moths ago and just bought Kuro by the same chaps today. Both games interest greatly but, I'm not seeing time to actually play them in quite some time.

    Because of the time constrains I personally tend to drift to rules lighter games these days as I simply don't have the time to read through rulebooks of 500+ pages. This is the reason why I'll never run later editions of D&D or Pathfinder. I also tend shy away from highly detailed settings in favor of more focussed settings which can fire my imagination with just one book. Cubicle 7's translations of the 7èmeCercle's games (Qin, Yggdrasill, Kuro) tend to fill this concept of roleplaying publication really well.

    But enough rambling and more playing!

  10. Wow, now that's a comment! :D

    I think the low powered play style is a quite European thing. In Sweden at least we have always had a very strong simulationistic rpg tradition. Our first rpg was based on the BRP system rather than the level system of D&D and that set a precedent that is still around today, and I have a feeling that it's been similar in the rest of Europe.

    Just like you I've always enjoyed playing (or leading) characters that I feel could be real and have flaws as well as strengths, and their adventures have been scaled accordingly.

    A quicker, more streamlined version of WFRP3's dice was exactly what I thought when I read about the Dragon Die. Adding some flair but not at the cost of speed of play, which sometimes happens in WFRP3. I really would like to try and run DA with my old rpg gang since it feels fresh and old school at the same time. Hmm...

    Your character sounds great by the way! I'm jelous that you get to play at all! Haha! I'm very much a reader of roleplaying games rather than a player of roleplaying games these days. But I'm still trying to get things together.

    There are certainly a bunch of games I'd love to try, and Kuro is definitely one of them. I haven't read it but it seems really cool! The One Ring is another one I'm itching to try as well as some hard sci-fi using FATE and some more Mouse Guard. Oh... and Edge of the Empire of course. Argh! No time... no time!

  11. I couldn't fit it in one comment ;D

    Much of the low powered gaming blame can probably aimed at BRP. The first ever translated roleplaying game, that was widely available in Finland, was probably RuneQuest. So the simulationist tradition is quite strong in here as well. RuneQuest was later followed by Twilight 2000, 2300AD, Stormbringer, Cyberpunk 2020. All games which are firmly in the simulationist camp.

    One of the last roleplaying games of Finnish design and production, in Finnish language, to come out was Praedor. The game was revised in 2005 and game's world, Jaconia, is based on comics by a Finnish artist Petri Hiltunen. Jaconia feels like a liberal mix of Moorcock's Greyhawk and Strugatskys's Roadside Picnic. The game is so low powered, while still high(ish) fantasy setting wise, that if there's combat involved at least one PC is likely to die. Feels much like WFRP 1st edition in many ways.

    I recently bought the Dragon Warriors in pdf which could be seen as a British take on D&D. It was originally released in the mid 1980's. While it features classes and ranks, it's much more low powered than D&D. And the game's setting, The World of Legend, is basically medieval Europe analog with heavy fey and folktale inspiration. Meaning while it has all the normal fantasy critters, they're much closer to the original folklore tales and most of the time something to be afraid of.

    So it seems the low powered gaming was a trend (of sorts) in Europe during the 1980's and 1990's. And I don't think it was before D&D 3rd edition came around that the heroic style of playing got the popularity it now has. At least that is my personal opinion. With the popularity of the Song of Ice and Fire, the grittier style of gaming seems to be making a sort of came back. At least in the main stream roleplaying, I don't it ever left the scene here in Finland ;)

    As for Dragon Age, I'm having a blast with my time as a player as I'm quite often in the GM helm. It's really invigorating to be on the "other side" of the table. Our group has two active GMs, me and the one who's currently running this Dragon Age game. Not that the others are lazy, they really enjoy playing. It's mostly because I'm more informed in the roleplaying front. I buy latest stuff, follow the feeds, suggest cool setting and gaming systems etc. Others focus more in miniatures, board or card games. Yes, we do play other games besides RPGs!

    We usually play once, sometimes twice, a month so our campaigns tend to be quite brief as we have other games inline. And not every time everyone can attend, so RPGing only comes in play if the running GM is present since roleplaying game are hardly what I would call pick up games because of the time required prepping games.

    For Kuro: I've only flicked through the book so far, so strong impressions are yet to be had. At first glance it feels much more like cyberpunk than I initially though. The horror/supernatural aspect seems more like an undercurrent than prevailing theme.

  12. Definitely seems like Finland and Sweden have a very similar RPG history, like you said - the low powered roleplaying never really left!

    As for my group I've been the sole GM for decades now and although I enjoy it I really would like to be able to swich to the other side once in a while. Might get a chance to play the Swedish sci-fi rpg Coriolis that is getting a new edition soonish. Maybe.

    I probably should try and shake things up a bit and reorganize a bit among my players. Try some new constellations and such. Perhaps run som Dragon Age or the new Star Wars rpg.

    More cyberpunk than you had expected? Interesting. Just from seeing the art and reading about it the sci-fi elements seemed to take the backseat to the horror. I think this might make me even more eager to get my hands on it... or, better yet, play it!

  13. Now that I've had a little more time with Kuro, I'll still say it feels more cyberpunk than horror. Or more post-cyberpunk than the survival-of-the-fittest cyberpunk of the 80's. Don't get me wrong, the supernatural elements are there and the GM's chapters focusing on them deal with them almost explicitly. But the rest of the text references the horror elements only vaguely and with an air of mystery and suspense.

    There's this sense of confusion, unrest, fear of the unknown and raising spirituality from the voidness of technological marvel after the Kuro Incident and the following Blockade. It feels very much like... the first acts of Akira, both the movie and the manga, mixed with elements from Bladerunner and Ghost in Shell. You could run Kuro as straight up post-cyberpunk game, even with the Kuro Incident happening and not changing a thing in the setting. And if you want to include the supernatural elements, it's advised that you'll include them with suspense and creeping tension. The setting works so well.

    There's this strange synergy between the artwork and the text as they make it clear the supernaturals exist and are returning (the artwork), but ways of their manifestation are really supple (the text). Are those strange sex robot murders you read on the feeds just malfunctioning androids or something else. Is the strange looking bum you saw in the alley just a homeless guy with bad luck on biomods or something more sinister. Why you're getting strangely personal messages about your personal life, is someone stalking you? And so forth. It's worth noting that the Kuro book isn't really heavy on the artwork. There's around thirty art pieces in the book and almost one third of them depicts the supernatural elements. Personally I would have left the supernaturals more vague and less defined in the artwork. But they're mostly in the GM's section of the book, so I guess it's okay.

    As I understand it, Kuro's background plot will be expanded with coming books and will eventually lead to Kuro Tensei which seems to be more like the potentials (name for player characters in Kuro) claiming that "potential" and fighting supernatural threats. Personally this isn't the way I would move the background plot forward. But how Kuro's ideas and concepts are presented in the basic book, it's fantastic and I highly recommend the game on the merits of the setting. You said that roleplaying games are usually strongest around the time of their initial release and I feel this really is the case with Kuro.

    On the note of Dragon Age. I noticed Bioware is releasing a world books of sorts, The World Thedas Volume 1, through Dark Horse Comics next month. I see this book as a excellent resource for Dragon Age RPG players, especially for the ones who entered the game without the prior exposure to the Dragon Age video games.

  14. That really sounds excellent! I'd prefer a creepy cyberpunk game rather than Call of Cthulhu with cybertech. I think a friend of mine will get (or already gave got) Kuro and I think I'll need to try and persuade him to GM it. Probably won't be able to keep myself from getting it myself though.

    I agree that developing the characters potential powers would probably be a step in the wrong direction for me personally. Or at least too early in the development cycle. I'd prefer to have a more solid base to stand on before pulling the carpet out from under the players by introducing some seriously weird shit! Hmm...

    I read about the release of The World of Thedas and it certainly seems to be an excellent guide to the setting! Might have to get it for use as reference/handout.

    Too many games to play! Or rather... too few roleplaying friends... :P

  15. I got my reserved copy of Dark Horse Comics's The World of Thedas vol 1 from the local game/comic store last Friday. I flicking through it over the weekend and so far I'm really liking it. It something Green Ronin should've released right on the heels of the second boxed set. But I understand that it might've not been possible due to the license. But I'm glad that Bioware saw the need to release a book like this. It's a gorgeous hardback.

    The book is partly a history book, partly an encyclopedia and partly concept art book of the world of Thedas. Or more likely Ferelden and the surrounding regions. Of the regions it covers, It's very thorough in it's presentation of history, races, cultures, geography and mythical elements. There might be some references in the text that shed more light to things that might have been only hinted in the games or are totally new, but I haven't read the book from cover to cover just yet. And I have yet to play the games.

    It's written (for the parts I've read) in a way that major ramifications of the events told in the videogames are explained, but are very vague on details. The Blight comes, archdemon is defeated, etc. I imagine you won't have major spoilers when playing the games.

    All in all I think the book is an excellent tool for gamemasters wanting to expand the setting information presented in the Dragon Age RPG boxes, but I might advice certain chapters to kept in the dark from the players. As a player handout it boils down to questions have any of the players played the videogames and how much they actually know about the setting?

    I felt confident to buy the book as our Dragon Age campaign will be coming to an end in one or two sessions and the story has already moved past the setting. It's now more about the GM's plot and the player characters. Setting is just spice in the mix.

  16. I saw that it had turned up at my local bookstore as well and I'm eager to get a copy, although I might have to hold off on it considering my recent foray into Kickstarter. Hehe!

    I used the 'Look Inside' feature of Amazon and it certainly seems to be not only a beautiful looking book but one with some true substance as well. It really does read like an RPG sourcebook which I guess it essentially... is. Just one completely void of rules.

    I've been thinking of using the Codex present in the Dragon Age computer games as bite sized sources of information to feed my players at the appropriate time. Say a character roll succesfully for some knowledge skill; instead of just telling him what he knows I'd send him the link to the relevant article for him to read (during play, they're usually short and succinct) and then he'd be able to relay it from his point of view to the other players.

    However, this book might work as a good alternative for broader categories of knowledge. Like the general history of Thedas/Ferelden etc.

    Happy to see that it's labelled as Volume 1 as well! :D

  17. I think the book series it planned for two volumes, but who knows. It might go on longer than that, if Bioware keeps making more Dragon Age games.

    The idea of sending the the information to players during play is a nice one and should work if the text passages are short enough. I've used this same method in the past, but used to just slip short written notes to players that I'd prepared before hand. They were usually really short, like npc X is a traitor and plans to sell the players, you know Y about the village because of your past, etc.

    At the start of our Dragon Age campaign, before the first session, our GM asked what sort of character concept us players wanted to play via email. Along was a sort description of the Dragon Age Mine was a female roguish character of poor social standing with dreams of better life.

    So when the first session came around and we started to make our actual characters, our GM had compiled to one sheet of printed paper suggestions what Dragon Age backgrounds would likely fit the concepts we had made. Suggestions included little setting background info fitting for those backgrounds. Worked like a charm and the original concept refined to Anmelith during the first sessions. We also played the player "primer" stories, or how the player characters actually ended up to one place, during the first session.

  18. That sounds like a good way of combining player input and making it fit with a world they might not know all that much about. The short origin stories sounds just like how you start out in the original Dragon Age: Origins. Depending on race and background (Dalish or city elf, Noble or poor etc) you got a specific origin story to play through to tie you to the world. It worked really well and I was sad to see it go in Dragon Age 2.

    Now I really need to get a group of players together.

  19. I'm quite sure our GM got the idea for the "origin" stories from Dragon Age videogames. But I must say, it worked really well. And the origins were kept quite short so that we could play all of them for four players in one session. Three of them, including mine, were pretty much only roleplayed with only occasional dice rolls for skill checks. For one character, a professional Fereldan soldier named Marlowe, the origin was pretty much combat driven. But it was partly to demonstrate how the system handled combat, mainly the stunts.

    It didn't fare really well for Marlowe, to say. The patrolling force he was contracted to was ambushed by raiding Avvarian hillmen. The the dozen men and women of the patrol were outnumbered and most of them were dead or wounded from enemy arrows even before they got to melee. The commanding noble fled and so did the most of the surviving soldiers. Marlowe being a brave soul he stood his ground and took down a few of the hillmen, but eventually got struck by a spear from behind and was struck down. Mechanically speaking he was "dead", but since it was the primer our GM ruled that he'd lost consciousness and his horse had bolted taking Marlowe with it. Later he was picked up by travellers who nurtured him back to health. Marlowe was left with lingering badly healed wound and a good dose of cynicism. Marlowe's "demise" also set the tone of the game quite nicely. Combat can get brutal quite easily, since GM controlled characters also could use the stunts.

    I've done something along these lines with Vampire the Masquerade games in the past, but they were much longer one-on-one sessions with the player characters. But given the personal horror aspect of VtM, I think the longer one-on-one sessions were pretty much needed. As Dragon Age is Tolkien derived fantasy with darker twists, anyone whole's ever any read fantasy will "get" the basic premise of what it's play in a medieval fantasy setting.


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