First contact with 4e.

Well, we finally played a short session. We didn’t record it, but here’s the main result.

I liked it, it’s very different, and definitely like a board game, but as the GM, I liked it. The monster stats in the first module, and the monster manual ones as well, are excellent and nearly all you need to run that monster I think.

Other people… not so enamored as I was. It has a much different flavor than 3.x, and is definitely not possible to run a low magic campaign with. Though it does give people something to do nearly the whole time, it also feels a bit like playing an MMO, with special powers being used constantly.

I played World of Warcraft recently, and after playing it a while, I questioned why I have a hotkey for a regular attack, when it is much better to just hit one of the several special attacks instead. Sometimes 4e seems that way too. With the regular attack being pretty much a waste of character sheet space. The other special attacks are definitely something to use over the unpowered attack.

Now as a GM I am wondering. How do I use one of my tricks of taking the powers from the characters would even work in this game?

Post Gen Con – Pre Dragon*Con, Vegas After Midnight, etc.

Ok, I had meant to post things earlier, but at least it’s sooner than the last gap was long.

Gen Con was a blast, at least as good as last year, I would say baring a few things, even better than last year. Vegas After Midnight ran very well, and we got both exceptional feedback and a host of possible playtesters. VAM was stripped down to start, but Daniel Perez ( focused in on something that I hadn’t been able to put a name to. That was that we only had half or less of the Madness mechanics in the game. We just had ways to incur Madness, but nothing about it’s effects, or how to track it. So we slashed the things on the character sheet that required Madness (really just a few things), and ran with the edited versions. As I said, they went great, and the feel of VAM without Madness is there, now we just need to add in the darker aspects of Madness to make it complete.

Going as press for the second year in a row was definitely worth it. I got a great interview with Greymalkin Press about their new game Desolation, which never got recorded due to a recorder snafu. I am working with them to get it redone soon. Oh, and btw, Matt Somers, one of the key designers, has been my friend since college. Full disclosure and all that.

I also got to play Hellas with Jerry Grayson (, and that was awesome. I had the pdf review copy before the con, but it was so nice I had to buy a copy. So you can expect to hear it played on The Game Master Show ( soon, along with Desolation.

Met a bunch of old friends, many of them podcasters, and met a fair amount of new ones. Played several playtest sessions with them, like: Mythender, and Mecha. Two excellent games, that just need a bit more polish. I expect to hear about them coming out within the next year.

I did get to go to the White Wolf party this year, thanks Matt – I think, but if you want to hear more about that, you’ll have to listen to the podcast for The Game Master Show that comes out soon. We’re recording it tonight.


Gen Con 2008 Day 2!

It’s been a looong time since I have last posted, but…

I am at Gen Con 2008, day 2 (Friday). Mick and I have run Vegas After Midnight ( three times now, and it has been excellent. We have learned a lot of the rough spots, and already started sanding them down. We have loved all of our players, and a good portion of them we think are going to playtest for us. We are going to run it at least three more times before the end of the con, and I can’t wait to run them!

I’ve also done an interview for The Game Master Show (, and ended up recording silence through my own fault. We also have played Hellas (, again, awesome – more to come on that front.

Ok, Erin is pulling me out to eat. So more later hopefully!

An experiment with Spirit of the Century

Ok, so last night was the first actual play night of my new fantasy campaign, and I am still surprised by the fact that I was able to convince the group to try out a new system other than DnD. What I am I using? You probably guessed by the title. I’m using the Fate system as represented in Spirit of the Century, modified by the work that Mick and I are doing on Vegas After Midnight ( The armor and equipment rules specifically, along with a slightly reduced power level from the standard SotC. (Less skills, only seven aspects)

Overall, I have an awesome group that I play with. We’ve been playing for several years now, with a few players leaving and a few new ones coming in, but in general a very stable group. I was worried about the game on several levels, the characters gelling being one of them, since they didn’t last game with another GM. It looks like most of that was due to people having shifting schedules and not a change in the group dynamic itself. *whew*

So, the game. As I said, it went quite well, the players only stumbling a little on the rules here and there. Once they got the hang of one though, we didn’t need to revisit it. Magic is going to be interesting for a while. The setting was formerly a DnD setting, so right now the stunts are more or less patterned after the levels in DnD. Oh, the characters are about 10th level in DnD terms as far as power level goes. The Fate system made for a much more cinematic style of play. I started them out with a combat and not so heavy on the roleplaying, since it would teach the crunch in a quicker manner. The combat and spellcasting was excellent! There is one player in my group who always plays a caster, but has always interpreted spells in his own way and never the same way twice. Fate has allowed him to do what he wants with spells, and not to worry about some description somewhere. It totally worked.

My big surprise of the night was another character who was also playing a caster, this one a mage, and his description for his spells were awesome. I found myself realizing halfway through the night that I was still in DnD running mode and not in cinematic SotC mode, but he totally got it even though it was his first time playing. Casting spells that would put aspects on the scene like “Portal to the realm of earth” and at the same time another one of “Sucking Vortex” so that they could push the elemental creatures they were battling into the portal and get rid of them, but also using the Sucking Vortex aspect to help them do it. 100% recycled SotC awesome!

Whew, ok, that’s enough for now. Next game is next Wednesday, and if it relates to VAM playtesting and design I might post more about it. Unless you comment and ask for more anyway.