Gaming

I’ve Drawn My Last Map of Mummy’s Mask (5/10/2018)

 

I used to be a kind and benevolent Dungeon Master (DM). I never killed a Player Character (PC). A Dungeon Master or Game Master (the terms are interchangeable) controls a role-playing game. The DM creates the story, draws the maps, and prepares what happens in the story for the players. The DM acts as all the other characters the PC’s interact. These other characters are called Non-Player Characters or NPC’s. Being a DM does give a license to kill the PC’s; it can sometimes happen, but the DM isn’t out to kill the player’s characters (players put a lot of effort into creating character so just slaughtering the character is frowned upon).

Several months ago, I met a group of people at my local gaming store and began to play the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. We all had a great time and I suggested we actually play the Pathfinder Role Playing Game. They agreed, and we started down the Mummy’s Mask Adventure Path. Pathfinder Adventure Paths are a set of six magazines containing a complete adventure. All six together from a campaign that can take a group of PCs from level 1 (The very beginning of a PC’s career in adventuring) to a high-level character (typically somewhere between level 14-18). Each set of Adventure Paths offers a different flavor of story. While not wanting to spoil the Mummy’s Mask Adventure Path plot, I might drop parts of the plot inadvertently. If you are playing or want to play in Mummy’s Mask or want to play, you have been warned of spoilers.

Mummy’s Mask starts very simply. The ruler of the fictious country has decreed that the city of Wati open its expansive necropolis to plunder by adventurers. The local priests aren’t all that happy about it and have set forth a lottery to ensure that looting is kept as orderly as possible. Enter the PC’s, who happen to have one of the many winning tickets and the adventure progresses from there. As a plot, Mummy’s Mask is very straight forward. The players jump from one tomb to another in search of treasure. One of the treasures they find gets the attention of the villain and the conflict continues till the very end. Because this is incredibly linear (for a game of this type, anyway!), this makes it an excellent beginning campaign for a beginning Dungeon Master. I might have been a DM and GM for many years, but I haven’t run a lot of Pathfinder until this Adventure Path.

I learned a lot going through this Adventure Path. Pathfinder runs best when a map is used, and players mark where they are on the map and I place the monsters they face. Tactics come into play with how far a player can charge to a monster or where a magic spell is placed. At that, Pathfinder becomes a tactical miniature game. So, I had to draw maps…. a lot of maps. I learned to hate drawing outdoor maps or mags in an underground cavern. Rooms with square corners are easy! And some of the maps were expansive. One particular complex took up several tables to lay out. The last complex could paper the floor of one of the bedrooms of our house. The gaming group played on the floor for that one. One thing I would beg for the makers of Pathfinder to do in the future, keep in mind the size of the map! Huge maps look great on paper, not so much when you have to draw it.

This campaign had a lot of firsts for me. It was the first campaign I ever completed. Before either the group or I would lose interest, or one horrible instance, I lost all the player character sheets. I got to play with rules and spells that I only read in the game book (the players are not allowed—BWAAAAHAHAHAHAH!). As the game progressed, the monsters that the players fought got more complicated requiring more attention and took more time. It wasn’t unusual for one combat to take hours of game time, not exactly a bad thing, but sure slowed the game down when we approached the end of the campaign. One particular first, I killed a player character in the game for the first time. The monsters in Mummy’s Mask can get particularly deadly and it seemed to take its toll on the Player Characters. None of the original characters from the very first game survived to the last game. The last character of the original group died in the fifth book when a fellow player character accidently shot him in the back. The deaths piled up till the second to last game of the campaign. At the end of the campaign, I created an “In Memorium” for all the fallen player characters.  I figured they deserved it!

I enjoyed Mummy’s Mask for the most part. While I enjoyed its straight-forward approached, the lack of sections in the game where the player characters could interact with other non-player characters outside of combat frustrated me as the game progressed. If your group isn’t into the acting part of role play, this Adventure Path is perfect. The Adventure Path offers little in deviation of the plot, the characters are pretty locked into one path through the game, which can actually make the player characters resent being forced into going to the next complex. Mummy’s Mask, great for beginners but more experienced players might not enjoy it as much.

Next issue:  the joy of TORG!!!

Kent

 

 

The Great GenCon Rush (4/28/2018)

Every role-playing gamer should go to Gen Con at least once in their life. Gen Con is the largest game convention in North America, and while it primarily caters to the role-playing side of the gaming industry, board, miniature, and collectable card games get represented as well. The retailers show upcoming products. Attending had always been a dream of mine, and now this will be my tenth Gen Con!

              Attending Gen Con requires a lot of planning. Tickets go on sale in January, and I suggest purchasing them early because of the two online stampedes that happen. In late January/early February, Gen Con housing opens for hotel reservations. You want to be part of that rush because the downtown hotels near the convention site sell out quickly. In years past, it was first come/first serve but those days of mad clicking on the day the Housing Portal opened to get to the housing portal are now history. A lottery replaced the first come/first serve system a couple of years ago. People love the new system when they get an early time, meaning they usually get the hotel that they want. When they don’t, they go to Facebook and complain. Every year Gen Con attendees are assured that the system will be more accommodating and downtown hotel rooms will be parceled out slowly. In reality, I have seen little evidence of that. This year by 3 pm on the first day of hotel bookings, all the hotel rooms were gone. Roommates increase the odds and there are still plenty of rooms in the outlying areas. The outlying hotels are cheaper, but the money you gain from the hotel room, you lose in rental car and parking fees getting to and from the Indiana Convention Center downtown.  Other ways to get a hotel room for GenCon that I have heard are more problematic and more $$$ – Air B&B, VRBO, or you can pay for a “Very Important Gamer” (VIG), though those go fast as well.  You can also check the Gen Con Forums for people who can’t make the convention or need roommates (obviously you take your chances with this method), or you could book from the hotel’s own web site (this can be very expensive because the hotels are already nearly at capacity).

              The next gear rush for Gen Con is purchasing events tickets This is first come/first serve and individual games tend to fill up fast. A week before opening day of event registration, Gen Con lists the events and can be downloaded as an Excel file. Get the file and find the events you want. In your Gen Con profile, you can create a wish list of events. You are able to also list in what priority the events you want. For example, I need to be in the Torg: Eternity game, then I want to put that as my highest priority. Pathfinder goes to the bottom of the list (trust me, there are plenty of tickets for Pathfinder Society events). When registration begins on May 6 at noon Eastern, submit your wish list and pray you got in early.

              Once event registration is done, sit back and get ready for the best four days in gaming!  I’ll be there again this year.  Let me know if you are and let’s game together!

 Gen Con website: www.gencon.com

Add me as a friend on the GenCon website!Dalhyp@yahoo.com

Kent

Welcome to my world of gaming! (4/23/2018)

Howdy everyone! I’m Kent, Bill’s husband! My page is devoted to games. As I grew up, my family played a LOT of games (and I mean that in a very good way!). My parents played bridge and canasta almost every week. I watched my parents play and I played Monopoly and Clue with anyone I could find. I eventually discovered my aunt and uncle had entire closet full of games! Every time we visited I would l play the multitude of games that they had. I fell in love with Risk. (To this day I want to go to Siberia and visit Irkutsk just because that was the name of one of the countries in the game) I didn’t understand the rules until we played and I lost quickly. So I played a lot of Parker Brother board games…until a friend introduced me to a new kind of game.

He called it a “role-playing game’ called Dungeons and Dragons. I instantly fell in love with the Magic-User class. I soon discovered other role playing games:  Traveler, Gamma World, and then there was the Star Trek Role Playing Game. Yes, I learned quickest way for me to part with my money is to slap “Star Trek” on the label of a game. I coasted while in high school, just sticking with the game I knew, and besides I didn’t have the money to pay for new games!

Christmas of my senior year of high school, my brother gave me the greatest gift anyone has ever given me. He got me a game called “Star Fleet Battles”. Star Fleet Battles technically isn’t Star Trek. That means it’s not licensed by CBS, the network that owned the original Star Trek series.  The game began from a book called The Star Fleet Technical Manual, which skirted under the eye of CBS and Paramount. In the book, there were other ships besides the Enterprise we all know and love. Based on the drawings provided, someone created a game where each person flew a starship and that damage inflicted during the game by other players was represented by a picture of the ship with boxes that were checked off as damage was given.

The rules of this game are incredibly complex as they were written by a copyright lawyer. You could play as a member of the Federation, Klingons, Romulans, or Gorn. I loved it!  It remains one of my favorite games of all time and I had just the first set (which, if it wasn’t worn out from use, would be amazingly valuable!). There was more to the game—expansions designed to broaden the scope of the game AND to make more money for the producers—and I had to go buy each and everyone one! That’s when gaming for me became a hobby. From that I now have a closet filled with games (much to my husband’s dismay). I have games in there that I’ve never played, which I discovered is a way to differentiate a casual gamer from an avid gamer. I still play both role playing and board games. I did have a brief flirtation with collectable card games. I’ll even bet you can guess the game. I’ll give you a hint – it has the word “Star Trek” and “Card Game” in it. I still have the cards, I’m sure they will be worth something in the far future. Actually, I just want to burden the kids with what to do with them after I die. That’s the Pakled in me.  (Pakleds were a humanoid race that were in an episode of “Star Trek Next Generation” but it’s also a play on words that I am a PACK RAT!  😊 )

Now that you met me and know a bit about me, let me tell you want I want to do with this blog. I want to explore new games and share with you some games that I love. I want to share my view of the gaming industry from the games themselves to conventions. I want you to share my journey.

In other words–I want to get you to love games as much as I do!

Please come back here often.  Like the other pages in this site, content will be updated often, and if you have questions of comments, please leave one.

And if any of you are going to GenCon in Indianapolis—let me know!  I’d love to meet you!

Kent