Final Countdown

Sometimes the best thing you can do for your game is know when to call it quits. Now that the idea that I will be closing out Mirrors has finally sunk in with my players, we had one of the best sessions that we’ve had in many a month. Everyone was engaged, active, and appropriately paranoid about the cagey draconic changeling they are escorting out of The Hedge. All good practice for when I start up my Victorian Lost game in early 2015. (No, it does not involve a mysterious island with a smoke monster. We’re talking Changling: The Lost) There was a general feeling that since this was the end of the run, my players were all in, because it was now or never, and all those other fun “climax of the movie” cliches. I think these last couple of games should be much fun for everyone involved.

We also checked out the Gotham premier this week. Apparently, I’m in the minority, but I actually liked it. Having been through every Batman movie variation since Tim Burton’s 1989 version, plus multiple comic book variations, I feel like there is alot of room to play around with canon, as long as the basics are there, so I didn’t have a huge issue with the way the show approached it. I thought they did a good job capturing the feel of the various characters and that it will be interesting to see them take a Smallville approach to telling this version of Batman’s origin story. The casting seems spot on. I was especially excited to see a Montoya that seems pulled directly from her brief time in the comics spotlight – if we actually get to see her become The Question that will be one more thing off my comics to screen bucket list.

Thing I am geeking out on this week:

Smash Up!

This is a great card game from AEG, wherein you have serveral pre-set decks of cards arranged around a different classic antagonist archetype: robots, dinosaurs, aliens, pirates, etc. The players combine two of these decks into one big deck and battle each other for control of various bases and points. Thus, you can have Steampunk Dinosaurs battling it out with Mad Scientist Pirates, or things that make more sense like Ninjas and Superspies.

The game has a great sense of humor and knows it’s target audience well. There are numerous geeky references sprinkled across the game from Rocky Horror Picture Show to Doctor Who to an entire deck devoted to the Geek & Sundry peeps, which was created in a collab with Wheaton’s Tabletop show. The product is high quality – the cards are nice thick stock and the boxes are sturdy. They even have a special box for sale designed to hold and organize their many, many, many exsisting and soon to be released expansions. This feels like a card game made by tabletop geeks for tabletop geeks. We are enjoying the hell out of the newest Monster Smash expansion. I highly recommend checking it out.

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Dead Gamers University

As mentioned in the previous post, this past Saturday I did a presentation for the Dead Gamers Society’s Dead Gamers University workshop on building NPCs for your campaign. I think overall the presentation went well. My only real issues were that I went last, so everyone seemed to be getting a little burned out by the time I went up, and that next time I need to practice my timing more. I went too long, and even then didn’t get to cover everything I wanted to cover.

For those of you who could not attend, and the edification of GMs and potential GMs as a whole, here are some highlights from my presentation:

This is basic heirachy of various types of NPCs you might want for your campaign, including some samples and an outline of how they might relate back to your PCs:

Types of NPCs                

Antagonists – The NPCs working against your PCs

                                Villain (Joker, He Who Shall Not Be Named, Prince Humperdink, etc.)

                                Mid-Tier Villain (Harley Quinn, Snape, The 6 Fingered Man, etc.)

                                Rabble (Stormtroopers, Palace Guards, Gangrel Bodyguard #5)

                Supporting Cast – The NPCs helping your PCs

                                Patrons (Obi Wan Kenobi, Dumbledore, Clan Primogen)

                                Faithful Assistants (Chewbacca, Alfred, Samwise McGee)

                                Helpful People (Friendly Shopkeeps, Police contacts, Bartender you trust)

                Everyone Else – Making your setting seem more alive

I also had handouts (because I love hand outs).

One tool I love busting out for character creation, both of the NPC and PC variety, is a list of questions that help you explore more about who your character is to make them seem more fully fleshed out. I got this tool from a creative writing class we took several years ago, and it’s awesome. You can check a sample list of questions here .

I also suggested making a list of names or traits you can easily refer to during game play when you are having trouble making them up on the fly. I find this bit of prep especially essential if I’m doing anything set in a fantasy setting or with cultures I’m not as familiar with.

In other news – we are cooking up a new article for Topless Robot that is video game oriented, and might possibly be attending a certain local convention that relates to a certain local video game studio. But that’s still in the planning stages, so no promises on the later.

Thing I’m geeking out on this week:

Aisha Tyler’s Girl on Guy podcast – If you are a fan of Archer, or just strong geeky women who love “guy” stuff, this is a great podcast to check out. Aisha is a great interviewer. The “Self Inflicted Wounds” segment is especially awesome. I just stumbled across this a month ago and I actually started over from epsiode one because so far they are all so great. Go download an episode or twelve here.


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