gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Getting away from the book setting for a day, because something has come up that has me both amused and perplexed, and no it's not the water levels in Coyote Creek. It's how some people, how have been gaming for as long as I have, seem to shudder in terror when confronted with a game like FATE. Which, sadly for everyone, has become my favorite system.

The annoying thing is FATE is so bloody simple! To illustrate this, I'm going to generate character right here before your eyes! No dice, no calculator, just fleshing out a character concept. I'll wait while several of you finish swooning? Better? Then here we go!

The first thing the understand is the concept of Fate Points. Everyone has a small stash of these, including the Game Master. They are used to invoke Aspects. Everything has Aspects. Characters, places, monsters . . . they are details that can be used to further the story and to create advantages or disadvantages. As an example, the old warehouse the characters are searching might be *poorly lit* and an *utter firetrap* fill with *dozens of old crates and shipping containers.* Everything inside the asterisks are Aspects. If you wanted to hide from the bad guys following you you could invoke *poorly lit* by spending a Fate Point and get a bonus on your roll not to be noticed. Conversely, a player could invoke the *firetrap* aspect as a negative to get a Fate Point when he announces that his blaster shot as set the place on fire. Got it?

OK, making a character. First thing is your high concept. This is who the character is. Noble Knight of the Realm, Handsome Starship Captain, Secret Mage in the Big Modern City. An Aspect should be able to be invoked in both positive and negative ways.

For my guys, I'm going with Notorious, Allegedly Reformed, Smuggler. That can brought into play in many ways. So there's my big concept.

Next comes your Trouble. This is a flaw that is persistent. Ideally it should be something that would be difficult to get rid off. For my smuggler, he's a bit proud, and Has A Hard Time Resisting A Challenge. This can get him in trouble any number of ways.

After that, we have what's called "The Phase Trio." Three additional aspects that are ideally developed in consultation with the GM and the other players. This is where you build the story of why the group is together. Lacking other people, I'll wing it.

OK, first is "Entangled With the Thousand Suns Tong." My character is caught in a complex web of favors owed and obligations with an interstellar crime cartel.

Next, he is "Always Looking Out For (Character)", a long time shipmate and the one who usually gets the short end of the stick.

Finally I want him to have a nemesis, but phrased in a way that can be a positive. "Enemies At Court" means I've ticked off at least one powerful faction or family, but that group's rivals can sometimes be counted on to come to my aid.

So far, I'm liking this guy. On to skills! Skills are done in a pyramid, and the best way is to just show you.

+4 Pilot
+3 Contacts, Rapport
+2 Deceive, Notice, Resources
+1 Fight, Investigate, Lore, Shoot.

FATE uses dice with two sides showing a +, two sides with a blank face, and the other two showing a -. You roll four dice, and look to exceed a difficulty level, adding any skill modifiers. Simple!

Finally, I get three to five Stunts. Stunts change how skills work for the character. Sometimes, a Stunt will cost a Fate Point. Taking more than three Stunts lowers the rate at which you get Fate Points back. I'll stick with three.

"Who Can Resist That Smile?" When using social skills on receptive members of the opposite sex, I get a +2.

"Physics, Shmisics, I'm Flying Here!" by spending a Fate Point when piloting a ship, I can get away with seemingly impossible things.

"I Ain't Going To Hit You, OK, I'm Going to Hit You." by spending a Fate Point when throwing the first punch in a fight, I render the target unconscious if it was possible for me to damage him. (This trick would not work on a person in a hard helmeted vacuum suit, for example.)

So there you have it. I could go on a detail the aspects of my smuggler's ship, but I think y'all get the point. FATE is not a scary system, just different.
gridlore: The word "Done!" in bold red letters. (Done!)
Veni, vidi, nec respirare!

Finally finished my first successful game of Civilization VI. Only took about 28 hours (I logged the times.) Standard size world, Chieftain difficulty. I shared a continent with France and Brazil along with a double handful of city-states.

Getting a handle on the idea of city districts and the increased importance of trade routes took a few tries, but once I realized just how powerful trade can be, especially for the Romans, I embraced it.

I'm just amazed at the level of detail. Early on, one of my scouts discovered Crater Lake. I zoomed into to admire the view, and heard my scout's dog panting. Although the sound you get when you start building a Holy District sounds like a bagpipe being stabbed.

Fought a couple of border wars with France, taking two of her cities. As a Civ4 "Stack of Doom!" adherent, adjusting to the new ways was a bit of a struggle. I like the late game Corps and Army functions. Cities that defend themselves? Heaven! Later I finished off Brazil (who turned out to only have two cities) before ending the French Menace once for all. Over on the other continent, Victoria (who hated me), Gilgamesh (best buds 4evah!), Tomyris (who loved me as long as I was at war), and Cleopatra (make up your damn mind, lady!). Other than trade, and one ill-timed holy war declared by Victoria (during which I took one of her cities on my continent, and Adm Grace Hopper lead the Bug Fleet in sinking all English ships that dared approach!) I had little to do with that other place.

With peace in hand, and a solid technological lead, I went for a science win. The win was secure when I got Carl Sagan as a Great Scientist, and he cut my build times on the final two Mars projects down to nothing.

Going to play a few more games at Chieftain, trying different cultures and win strategies.
gridlore: A Roman 20 sided die, made from green stone (Gaming - Roman d20)
Working my way through The Babylonians I was struck by what a great setting Mesopotamia around the time of the Assyrian Empire would be. Because of the roots of RPGs, most fantasy settings are semi-coherent Medieval messes, with familiar tropes like castles, feudal states, and noble knights.

But in reality, by the time we reach the Middle Ages the world is fairly tame. Wild beasts have been eradicated, roads are patrolled, the land is divided up between noble houses and the Church. Sure, there are wars and crusades, but those don't make for good traditional epic adventures.

So let's look at Mesopotamia at the end of the 10th Century BCE. This was the end of the Bronze Age Collapse, a Dark Ages that wiped many states from the map. Assyria, though bent, never broke, and in the latter days of the 10th Century BCE  it began expanding, eventually conquering the known world!

Tell me this isn't a good setting. Ruined cities, dreams of empire, and in the game the collapse could have been anything. Dragons, orc hordes, someone summoned something bigger than their head . . . or any combination of events. The point is something really bad happened, and now the world is recovering. And you, you solider-of-fortune, are leading the way.

This would be an epic Pathfinder game in the tradition of Robert E. Howard. Ancient city-states, Sorcerer-Kings, lost cities, and the Zargos Mountains just packed with forgotten caves and dwarf-holds, all overrun now with monsters, of course.

The really nice thing is there are tons of empty space to be found. The Persian Achaemenid Empire isn't due for a few centuries, so all you have east of the Assyrian lands and the mountains are scattered tribal nations until you reach far India, which is ruled by evil giants with tiger heads and great fangs. There is great fun to be had with the existing tribal nations. For example, the Scythians are a pretty strong force around the Caspian Sea during this time. A lot of scholars believe they are the inspiration for the centaur legend, so let's embrace that! Oh, and there's another tribal nation coming off the steppes to make trouble . . . the Cimmerians. A few centuries early, but c'mon!

The Collapse could be the beginning of the end of my Great Dwarf Empire. Meanwhile, my tribal elves will be wandering far and wide, looking for allies against their hated foes.

Need to do the religions and some good maps, but I like this. A lot.
gridlore: The Imperial Sunburst from the Traveller role-playing game (Gaming - Sunburst)
[personal profile] kshandra here for Crazy [personal profile] gridlore's Used Starships, inviting you to come on down and make a deal!

Many thanks to everyone who has already purchased something; all but one of the completed purchases was shipped earlier today. Behind the cut, an updated list of the items still available, plus a more detailed inventory of the Harn material. As noted previously, we are happy to ship internationally, but be advised that the USPS raised their rates significantly over the past weekend, so this may no longer be as attractive an option for some of you.

The New and Improved List )
gridlore: A Roman 20 sided die, made from green stone (Gaming - Roman d20)
EDIT: [personal profile] kshandra here. Doug had to point this out in the original Great Sale in 2010, and it apparently needs to be re-stated. The whole idea here is you tell us how much you want to pay. I don't recall him saying no to a single offer the first time we did this. Flat-rate shipping in the US starts around $5; if you're outside the US and willing to pay actual cost to have something shipped to you, we'll pack it up and send it on its merry way.

Once again, I'm looking to clear out my gaming shelf of things that I have had for years and have no real use for. I'm taking this opportunity to raise a little money to purchase a bicycle and the related equipment for same; I'd like to start getting back in shape.

Here's how it works. Below, you will find a list of items that I have up for sale. Contact [personal profile] kshandra at purplekoosh(at)gmail(dot)com (I'm still mostly offline at this point, unfortunately) with a list of what you want and how much you want to pay; she'll get back to you with an estimated shipping cost. I will not reject ANY reasonable offer, and will accept unreasonable offers if I like them. Acceptable payment methods in order of preference are PayPal, money order, check, or well-wrapped cash if you're feeling particularly lucky. (If you choose to pay by personal check, shipments will be held until the deposit has posted.)

Please note: I AM NOT LOOKING FOR TRADE. This is solely to declutter the apartment and get me a good bike.

Unless otherwise noted, all items are in good condition, and all items are sold AS-IS.

Without further ado, The List )
gridlore: One of the "Madagascar" penguins with a checklist: [x] cute [x] cuddly [x] psychotic (Penguin - Checklist)
After I pointed out how decrepit our bookshelves were (these things have survived at least two moves are are close to a decade old) I convinced [personal profile] kshandra that we needed a new set. So tonight we're hitting Ikea.

Which means I'm now agonizing over what to get. I really like the EXPEDIT series stuff. But I keep dithering. My evil plan is to slowly replace all the storage stuff with Expedit stuff so we have an actual look to the living space.

I'm just not good at spending money. I've been poor so long I have developed an ingrained panic switch for spending.

Along with a new bookcase, I'm going to be culling books and games. We have a lot of things that are just gathering dust and need better homes. I may part with my accumulated Hârn stuff; I doubt I'll ever actually use it. That being said, I really wish they'd put out a CD with all the accumulated stuff for us fanatics.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Keep Calm)
After running a couple of errands this morning, I decided to see if I could get a good deal on Civilization V. I simply can't find my CivIV disks, and am jonesing for conquest.

Woo-hoo! Steam has it for $15! Log in, create an account, make the order and... nothing. I download the downloader, and it installs, but then I'm prompted to log in. And the fucking system tells me there's no such account!

I loathe goddamn downloader software. Give me a fucking link to the zip file. I can right-click with the best of them. You have my money, give me my game without having to install something else on my computer. Because that always fucks up.

Go to Steam's customer service area.. and find I need to create a new account there! Do so, and no see that there is no way to actually speak to someone. Just an email form that someone may or may not read. In the mean time, they have my money, I have nothing. Steam sucks.


gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)

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