Sunday, May 8, 2016

[Review] "Wayward: Choose Your Adventure Fantasy Board Game" By Hirst Arts

As readers of this blog know, I'm a big fan of DIY RPGs, and I love to discover, play, and review those games that have that self-produced aesthetic. Today, I'm reviewing the first self-produced boardgame I've played, and it's becoming a favorite here at the house.

Wayward is a fantastic boardgame by Bruce Hirst of Hirst Arts, better known for fantasy architecture models and molds. Bruce not only designed the game, he also created it, produced it, manufactured it, and sells it directly from his website and at conventions. (Click here if you'd like to see Bruce's site where he discussed how he created Wayward!)

Before I blather on with my opinions, you'd probably like to see the game in action and hear about the gameplay. Well, Bruce has also thoughtfully produced a playthrough video of the game, so rather than having me summarize the game, I'll let him show you how the game works...

To summarize for those folks who don't want to watch a video, you and up to 5 players explore a huge 24" x 36" gameboard. Each turn, you have 12 "actions" in which to explore a forbidden dungeon or medieval village, amassing as much gold as you can while you fight monsters, dodge traps, and explore multiple "special rooms" with their own unique rules and gameplay. Once the endgame is triggered (usually by the first person to accumulate 100 gold pieces), the players have one remaining turn to escape the gameboard through the exit. Failing to do so, and the players are caught by the guards and tossed into jail, losing the game.

I stumbled across a discussion of Wayward on Facebook and, from the description, knew I had to get my hands on it. The initial description gave me a Dungeon! vibe, which is a good thing, as it's one of my favorite games. However, when the huge box arrived and I unpacked the contents, I saw that this game had much, much deeper gameplay.

Rather than just randomly move about the board, the game encourages you to explore and plan your actions. (After all, those 12 actions go fast on your turn!) According to the rulebook, the board is deliberately designed to be "busy" with a lot of objects and things to inspect. Some of those items can be retrieved from the room you're exploring...if you see them before moving on! Grabbing a weapon lets you try to push past the guards and monsters lurking in the shadows. You can access secret passageways to other parts of the complex if you've found a torch. Locked doors will swing open if you have the right lockpick in hand (There are three different ones!) Hourglasses give you more actions on your turn, and tarot cards allow you to reroll the dice. And as you explore, you have to keep an eye on the ever-dwindling endgame goal, as you'll never make it out in time if you're on the other side of the board!

Speaking of the board, look at the size of it! When you've explored every nook and cranny of the dungeon, flip it over and explore the city above ground.

 One side features Darrowell Dungeon...

And the other side features Darrowell City!

With two huge areas, there's a lot of explore. And there are a TON of things you can do during the course of play in either area, as there are many unique rooms and zones to discover and explore. Each of these special rooms is marked with a brazier icon with a unique number. You then refer to the rulebook (or the hardy reference card) to determine the specific actions available to you in that area. Fighting a dragon, pickpocketing a guard, and outrunning a flaming gauntlet are just some of the challenges you'll face in the game's 25 special areas. (But I won't discuss them here, and I'll let you discover them for yourself.)

The quality of the game's various parts is very high quality and are built to last. The player inventory cards are laminated for durability, and the gameboard is made of a heavy vinyl. The player pawns, endgame marker, and "retrieval pillar" are nicely designed and cast. And you can spend a LOT of time just looking over the gameboard, as it's truly magnificent. Here are a few scenes (from the creator's website):

One thing that drives me nuts when learning a new game is trying to grok the rules, especially if you're trying to learn the game on your own without an experienced player there to help you out. To combat any rule confusion from new players, Bruce has thoughtfully uploaded videos on his website showing the various rules and gameplay that a player may encounter, walking you through the nuances of the game. So if a special room's conditions are confusing, watch the video for the corresponding room as the game's designer walks you through.

And if this isn't enough, you can download and read the rules now before you commit to a purchase. You can also download and print the game for free, so you can try it before you buy it!

This delightful fantasy adventure boardgame offers plenty of replay value and hours upon hours of dungeon-crawling adventure. And for only $35 plus shipping? It's a no-brainer. I'll be bringing my copy to North Texas RPG in a month. If you want to try it out, look for me there! Sniderman says, "Check it out."

Saturday, April 30, 2016

"Changing" Airlines: Using My Saved Coins To Get Me To NTRPG Con

North Texas RPG Con is just around the corner. My hotel room is booked; my fees for attending are paid; and my spending cash is saved up and earmarked. However, there is one outstanding outlay that had not yet been settled -- the airfare from Ohio to Texas, and back. And -- once again -- my Yearly Gaming Change Jar comes into play.

As I discussed in two previous blog entries here and here, I have a change jar that all of my spare coins goes into. This change is earmarked each year for something "game convention-related". Last June, The Change Jar paid for an entire day's worth of fun at Origins. This year, the Jug O' Coins is taking me across the country for NTRPG Con. And how did it one full year's worth of saving my coins pan out?

 My former change jar was replaced with one of those big gallon-sized plastic jugs you get pretzel sticks in. When this photo was taken earlier this morning, it was half-filled, and weighed in the neighborhood of 15 pounds (by my estimating). How much was in here? Well, I also had a coin counter attached to the lid, and the grand total was:
Yup, I dropped nearly $400.00 in loose coinage through that slot over the course of a year. I took the jug to the bank, watched my teller get a hernia as she ran the coins through the sorter-counter, and she handed me eight $50.00 bills. To keep this transaction "pure" (steering clear of involving credit cards or other credit-related payments), I purchased a $400 Paypal My Cash card ($4.95 fee) and placed the cash in my Paypal account. And tonight, I booked my tickets from Expedia, and paid with that same Paypal account. So what started as coinage this morning became airline tickets to Texas about 30 minutes ago.

 What's that? My tickets were only $290.00? Well, looks like the change jar just put another $110.00 into my pocket for spending cash for the trip!

So, again, I implore everyone who complains that they can't attend conventions because "it costs too much" or "I can't afford airfare" to start saving their change. After all, a year ago, my coins pais for a full day at Origins, and this year, they're getting me to Texas and buying me some swag!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Adventures On The Ape Planet! "Apes Victorious" RPG Coming This Summer

This is a belated announcement on Goblinoid Games’ newest upcoming RPG, Apes Victorious, which will be coming out this summer! To make up for the delay in getting this posted, I’ve added a few tantalizing tidbits about the game at the end of this post!

In case you haven’t heard, Goblinoid Games’ Dan Proctor has written a new RPG that takes place on a planet where apes are the rulers and man is the beast!


You groggily come back to consciousness after a long cryosleep. Your ship’s warning system is telling you the ship has entered the atmosphere of a planet and is about to crash land under autopilot. Crawling to a seat, you buckle in, joining your fellow astronauts as you quickly check instrument readings.

Through the cockpit window you see a barren, desolate landscape flashing by. The ship skims a large lake before coming to a stop just off the pebble shore. The computer tells you there is a breathable atmosphere, and after gathering survival packs the crew exits the ship.

“Where are we?” you ask each other, as everyone wades to the shore seeing a wasteland with little vegetation.

“Which planet is this? We must have gone off course on our return from Alpha Centauri.”

Then there is the sound of hoof beats, adding to the disorientation. Hoof beats? Are we on Earth?

Around an embankment comes several riders bearing rifles. As they approach, the sun glares in your eyes and a shot fires, a companion to your left falls to the ground holding his stomach. A large rider stops in front of you, momentarily blocking the sun and providing a clear look at his face.

“An ape! We’re on a planet ruled by apes!”

Apes Victorious
is a roleplaying game in which you take the role of an astronaut from the 1970’s who finds himself marooned on a future Earth ruled by intelligent apes. Players may also take the role of an ape, a degenerated human, or a psi-active underdweller. Fight to survive in this post-apocalyptic future ruled by four species of apes. Or play apes who hunt humans for sport. For a different kind of campaign, play highly intelligent but insane underdwellers who have advanced technology and powerful psi powers.

This book contains:

* A complete game
* A post-nuclear apocalyptic setting in which apes have become the dominant species
* Seven player classes
* Animals and creatures of the post-nuclear future
* Campaign advice
* A complete introductory adventure
* Conversion notes for compatible games including Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future, and Starships & Spacemen 2e

By Daniel Proctor with additional material by  Leonard H. Kanterman and Tim Snider. Cover by Mark Allen, interior illustrations TBA.

And here are some of those tidbits I’ve mentioned:

* Want to stay up-to-date on developments of the game? There is a new Apes Victorious G+ group already up and running, created by Brutorz Bill of the Green Skeleton Gaming Guild. (It stands to reason, as he’s been running his Simian Saturday feature for a long time!) Stop by the group and watch for new announcements regarding the development of Apes Victorious.

* There will likely be a Kickstarter for Apes Victorious once the final pieces of the manuscript are complete and in place. The KS will be for funding of the interior art, so some evocative scenes are coming to the pages of AV!

* According to a post Dan made at the Apes Victorious G+ group, the game will be released as Open Game Content (OGC). Also, there will be a free trademark license available so third-parties can write and release their own offerings for adventures in The Simian World!

Friday, April 15, 2016

North Texas RPG Con 2016: And Now The Waiting Begins...

I attended North Texas RPG Con back in 2014. And after taking one year off, I'm heading back in June for NTRPG Con 2016!
This year, I'm keeping my "official" schedule a bit looser. Rather than running two games every day then cramming in several games in what little downtime I have, this time I'm running only two scheduled games and playing in two scheduled games:

Ghostbusters (running)  -- Thursday Noon-4 pm -- "Ragnarok-A-Bye Baby": The world has been plunged into eternal winter, and legendary Nordic creatures now roam downtown Dallas. In the center of all the chaos, one place seems untouched – The Wee Tots Nursery School. What connection does a day care center have with the approach of Judgment Day? The Ghostbusters are mobilized to babysit…and save the world!

Metamorphosis Alpha (playing) -- Thursday 6-11 pm -- “Radiation Road”: The Desert Clans war for resources on a forgotten level of the Warden, battling one another in customized vehicles on dusty stretches of pitted roads and deadly trails. When rumors of a newly-discovered cache of pre-catastrophe artifacts reach the clans, it’s every mutant for themselves in a race for the treasure. Does your crew have what it takes to survive or will you end up carrion on Radiation Road?

DCC RPG (playing) -- Friday 10 am-3pm -- “Holler Hollow”: The mountains are calling and you must go! Take a trip to the picturesque Shudder Mountains and sit a spell with its inhabitants. There’s strange doings afoot in the pine-filled valley of Holler Hollow and someone need to get to the bottom of things. Come explore the Shudders with their creator and see what’s in store next for those ancient hills and hollows.

TOON RPG (running) -- Saturday 9 am-1 pm -- “Dullards & Dragons”: Zounds! As a loyal knight of the Dodecahedron Table, Ye have been tasked with stopping Ye Dastardly Villain! Forsooth! Grab Ye Armor and Ye Sword in a comedic quest for justice in a world filled with fantasy clichés! Huzzah! Think fast and act faster in this classically maniacal Steve Jackson cartoon RPG! Verily!

Judging by the schedule, I have an entire Friday and Saturday evenings free and open for pick-up games, unscheduled nonsense, and oh-so-much drinkin'. Plus there's the informal Wednesday night pre-con gaming that surfaces! I have a few ideas of things to bring to keep myself and other interested folks entertained. I think some Drinking Quest is in the cards as well as some Super Secret Playtesting of Stuff Yet to Come. And for those folks who are up for it, I'll even be shlepping a board game featuring this charming guy:

Image result for nightmare gatekeeper

Thursday, April 14, 2016

[GameHack] Saloon Of Horrors: A New Drinking Quest Adventure Available For Download

As I've mentioned in a previous post, I love, love, love Drinking Quest. It combines two of my favorite hobbies: drinking and questing. Plus, it's a damn fun drinking game by way of role-playing. I have the Trilogy Edition that Kickstarted a few years ago, and I'm eagerly awaiting fulfillment of the recently funded Drinking Quest: Journey Into Draught. But I wanted to do more than play Drinking Quest...I wanted to create my own adventure for this humorous RPG. And that's just what I did.

One of my favorite classic adventure modules is a certain notorious deathtrap that takes place "under a lost an lonely hill." After a bit writing, designing, and some fairly-passable cartooning -- as well as getting permission and approval from Jason Wiseman, DQ's creator -- my parody dungeon for Drinking Quest is now complete. Folks, I give you...
"Under a lost and lonely hill, the foul demi-lich Bracererak has built a personal barroom to drink for all eternity. You’ve got a powerful thirst, so you’re not going to let rumors of the “World’s Deadliest Tavern” stop you from sneaking in for a drink!"

This 12-card Drinking Quest adventure is a high-level quest designed to be played after a Quest 4 set. (You'll need to have gained some XP, extra weapons, and more than a few Bellow Ales to get through this adventure!) Can you withstand the terror found within the Men's Room of Dire Foulness? Will you be able to survive the Obvious Deathtrap and Hell's Slip-n-Slide? Prepare yourself for the final confrontation with Bracererak, the demi-lich! (His over-tightened braces have made him cranky.)

The card set is designed to be printed using business card-sized templates for ease of use, or you can print the card sets onto cardstock and trim on the provided lines. Print the cards on one side, flip over the sheet, and print the card backs on the reverse. Download the free PDF, print and cut them out, get out your Drinking Quest set and a few beers, and play this new adventure with your friends! Jason himself said of Saloon of Horrors, "This is hilarious!" which I consider high praise indeed!

Saloon of Horrors for Drinking Quest can be downloaded at this link or by clicking the logo above. Enjoy, and remember: "Quest in moderation!"

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Moo Goo Gai Con Opens This Saturday

Moo Goo Gai Con launches this Saturday for its inaugural meet-up! The all-day event combines an gaming convention with an all-you-can eat Chinese lunch/dinner buffet. Held this Saturday, April 9, in Redford, Michigan, for 13 HOURS (!!!), Moo Goo Gai Con invites gamers to help themselves to an all-day smorgasbord of Chinese food while playing board games, RPGs, and miniature wargames.  I'll be there manning the Goblinoid Games/Pacesetter booth, so stop by, do some shopping, do some gaming, and grab an egg roll! Registration is now closed, but tickets are available at the door for $25 for the con and either lunch or dinner, or $45 for the all-day gaming feeding fest!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

200 Word RPG Challenge Now Underway!

Admit it -- you have a great idea for an RPG, but you don't have the time or drive to hammer out thousands upon thousands of words to see it reach fruition. Well, if you have time to type up 200 words -- less than one page of text -- you have time to put together your fantasy heartbreaker and enter the 200 Word RPG Challenge.
I love RPG design contests, as it really brings out the creativity in our corner of the OSRiverse. I also love minimization -- trying to do as much as you can with as little as you're given. Put these two concepts together, and you have The 200 Word RPG Challenge -- a contest that dares you to flesh out a full RPG game system or supplement in just 200 words. Spearheaded by game designer David Schirduan, the challenge began last year with a simple writing prompt:

"Design a Tabletop RPG, Setting, Hack, Expansion, or whatever in 200 words or less."

There were more than 150 submissions in last year's contest covering every genre imaginable with systems both complex and spartan. (Click here and take a look at last years' entries and winners!) After the contest ends and prizes are awarded, all entries will be compiled into a PWYW book with proceeds going to charity. (All entries are submitted under the CC-BY 4.0 license.)

The contest runs through April 16, so you don't have much time to get your entry in. (But it's only 200 words, so it's not like you NEED a lot of time!) So, what can YOU do with 200 words?