jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

We have spent the last week-and-a-half, or so, moving out of state and moving in with [personal profile] burning_ground! Who has been working non-stop to clean practically our entire old apartment, and then half of her house when we got there, while we struggle with nervousness and altitude acclimation to try to get anything done. ^^;

Did I say altitude? Because we're now living on top of a mountain, just over a mile above sea level. The good news is, there's a freaking stellar observatory nearby and we can go to the visitor's centre, or actually see the Milky Way at night because minimal light pollution. The bad news is, there's no cellphone reception up here, and the nearest tabletop games store is like 2-3 hours away.

Speaking of tabletop games, we should hopefully be on track to help people make their characters for [community profile] capsulerp by this weekend. We also have a Skype meeting scheduled then, with the other players in the Time Fridge game, and are going to try to recruit some playtesters / miniatures gaming newbies from among the science geeks living up here.

Wish us luck! With the rest of the cleaning / unpacking, to start with.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

For an update on the state of the game that [personal profile] jewelfox is preparing, please see our next-latest-entry.



I don't have the energy to look up citations right now. But I feel like the history of tabletop games is largely the history of diverse, fannish groups adopting games that catch on because they are "good enough" for the time. And then watching as the next 30-40 years see the people who made these games get a lot of unearned power and capital, until they are dictating the shape of their hobbies to everyone else.

Read more... )

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Here’s what we’ve gotten trimmed and assembled so far, for our budding Tau Empire battlegroup:

Nearly two dozen small, infantry-sized miniatures on display. Each one has a base the size of a coin.

That’s about 300 points worth of models,* in two squads of six Fire Warriors each, ten gun drones (which we can use as their own squad or attach to regular units), and one Ethereal, which our mom [personal profile] burning_ground sent to us. Apparently she assembled and painted a lot of Tau and Kroot models herself, back in the day, but never got a chance to use them!

(You should see her Shadow-Samus conversion. Pics will be forthcoming eventually.)

These Fire Warriors were kind of an epic undertaking, as you can see from the instruction sheet beneath this one.

A closeup of one of the Fire Warrior models from the first photograph. It is crouching on top of a sheet of paper with instructions for building one on it. The instructions list about eight pieces for each model.

When we got a box of House Shyeel Battle Mages for our Ret list in Warmachine, we got half a dozen metal models which were fully- or almost fully-assembled. Here, we got like a half-dozen “sprues,” which are the frameworks the raw plastic parts are still attached to. It took us weeks just to clip off the pieces we wanted to use, trim the mould lines off of those, and then glue all the pieces together.

Our next project is going to be a Devilfish, which is like a combination hovertank and ground transport and is about the size of one of those squads of six soldiers. It’s so neat -- the hatch in back opens and closes and there are benches inside, and you can attach two gun drones to its wings or detach them as needed. We’re excited to work on it!

We also have yet another secret project coming up after that, involving some winged Warmachine models that mom bought to get into that game …



* A typical game of Warhammer 40,000 is played at around 1500 points. I am not going to be playing a typical game anytime soon.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

These cute little kor'vesa, or gun drones in gue'la speak, are our first legit "unit" of troops for the Warhammer 40,000 miniatures game hobby. We could actually play a game using just them if we wanted, although it would be ill-advised. ^^;

A photo of four models of Frisbee-like, hovering robots with antennae on top and twin guns beneath, mounted on clear plastic pegs. Next to them is a small book labeled 'Codex: Tau Empire,' with a painting on it of an anime mecha shooting at something off-camera. In the grim darkness of the far future, it's hard to take well-lit photos.

"40k" is perhaps best known for its "grimdark" aesthetic, as exemplified by the fascist religious fanatics of the Imperium of Man and their space marines' skull-tastic Bling of War. The Tau, on the other hand, are known for their anime battlesuits, as pictured here on their "codex." They're also the most co-operative and least xenophobic faction in the game, and allow you to field units composed of members of two separate allied species.

These models are a side project we're working on just for us, in between painting and assembling models for our family members (the Circle Orboros models now belong to [personal profile] rev_yurodivy). We've wanted our own anime mecha for quite some time now. ^^; Here's hoping we get them assembled properly!

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

We just finished assembling the unit of Blighted Ogrun Warspears, for the Legion of Everblight half of the Hordes 2-player box. Lylyth and the Shredders (great name for a rock band BTW) are already finished, which leaves only the Carnivean heavy warbeast to trim and assemble.

It's about a third of the kit by volume, though, so that might take awhile. >_o

Afterwards, we have a surprise project to work on for yet another miniatures game ... although it may not be a surprise to some of you!

A photo of the corner of Jewelfox's small work table, where five models of fearsome-looking Ogrun are waving spears around menacingly.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Our mom bought us the Hordes two-player set (Hordes is the "monstrous" companion game to Warmachine), and we finally finished washing the manufacturing chemicals off of every piece for the Circle Orboros models.

The gray plastic pieces and black plastic bases for nine Hordes models laid out on a white hand towel, along with the clear plastic toothbrush which was used to clean them off.

Now we just need to trim and assemble them, and then we can play robots versus werewolves.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Thinking about my attempts at roleplaying online, and the work that I've had to do for them, and whether or not I enjoyed that work.

With D&D 4e

  • Basic rule explanation: NONE

The basic rules are online, in a free PDF. Its explanation is very concise. In about 10 pages it goes over which dice you roll for what, and all the rules you need to know for combat and movement. Another few pages explain skills in detail. The rest of it is DM advice or premade characters.

  • Character creation: A LOT

4e characters are basically "plug and play." There's an enormous array of options, but very few of them are actually bad, and the newer Essentials classes especially make things easier by giving more comprehensive packages of abilities.

The problem? Almost none of the character creation material, except for the "Class Compendium" remakes, is available online for free. The rest of it is scattered through sourcebooks and Dragon Magazine articles, none of which it is easy to link to. Most people seem to use the Character Builder online, and/or the D&D Compendium ... both of which require a paid subscription. Without those online tools, you're screwed, unless you want to a) email PDFs to your friends and b) write up your own power cards.

This last part took us an enormous amount of effort to do in [community profile] nentir_vale, even compared to what it would have cost to write up the power cards in person. Theoretically, though, once this part is done I don't have to redo it; I can just copy the templates I've already made to introduce new powers.

  • Game preparation: A FAIR BIT

D&D 4e rules make it easy to put together an ostensibly "balanced" encounter, meaning one that won't murder the player characters. I'm personally not used to having to balance tactical wargame considerations on the one hand, though, and roleplaying concerns on the other. Like, the D&D Encounters games I went to were basically half listening to the DM exposit, and half killing mindless foes that won't back down.

I feel like I have pulled it off fairly well before. The encounter I'm most proud of featured a pair of wolves as antagonists, and I tried to roleplay them as actual people instead of as mindless combatants. They were surprised at the carrion (a revenant PC) that fought back, and extremely wary when another player character showed up. The PCs, in turn, didn't see their goal as "inflict enough damage to reduce them to 0 HP," but were trying to drive the wolves off.

After another encounter went poorly, though, to the point where one of my players left soon afterwards, I lost most of my confidence in my ability to create interesting 4e encounters.

  • Running the game: A FAIR BIT

My workflow for running a 4e game consists of setting up the map and its tokens, then taking pictures which my phone automatically uploads to OneDrive, where I can rotate and share them with minimal effort. The circular cardboard tokens included in the post-Essentials D&D 4e boxed sets work very well for this, because you can see them most clearly from directly above, whereas if I were using miniatures I'd have to balance making them look good with making the map itself legible.

When there are questions and time-consuming discussions, they tend to be around players not knowing which of their powers to use in a given situation. I've tried to mitigate this by writing little "strategy guides" for each of my players, and I also try to allow players to do things not explicitly spelled out in their powers; those aren't the only options they have, just the ones which are always available.

In Pathfinder

  • Basic rule explanation: A FAIR BIT

The online Pathfinder Reference Document does an extremely poor job of explaining to new players how to play the game. Which makes sense, I guess, from the perspective of people trying to sell a product, but the Core Rulebook is basically a printout of its section of the PRD.

The only Pathfinder RPG product explicitly aimed at beginners is the Beginner Box set, and it's a) not available for free online, and b) verbose and poorly laid out. So it's not really an option here.

On the plus side, the basic Pathfinder rules are simple. On the down side, they have a lot of edge cases and confusing inconsistencies. I will never forget the look on the face of the girl across the table, when she was told that she doesn't roll to attack with her Sorcerer's spell; her target rolls to dodge it. Which is the opposite of how it works for people who attack using physical weapons, and for everyone in 4e.

  • Character creation: A FAIR BIT

All the Pathfinder rules and options are available online for me to link to. I don't have to write up power cards or anything. The downside is that a lot of the options suck, and are basically "traps" for those who don't know any better.

Just this Friday, the guy next to me playing a Druid in Pathfinder Society got all excited when he realized he could convert any of his prepared spells into a Summon Nature's Ally spell. Then he found out it'd take his entire turn to cast, and the snake that he summoned would last only one round.

  • Game preparation: A LOT

The biggest challenge, in preparing to GM Pathfinder, is making encounters that will challenge but not kill the player characters. Its "Challenge Rating" system doesn't do a whole lot to help, because there are special rules and edge cases that can make it basically impossible for the PCs to defeat a particular foe, and unlucky die rolls can screw PCs over a lot worse than in D&D 4e.

Pathfinder GMs have to do a lot of non-obvious things to get around this. For instance, the designers of the adventure we played this last Friday had to give us a way to beat the boss demon's Damage Reduction. Also, since Pathfinder lacks a Skill Challenge mechanic, several parts of the adventure just consisted of "you spend X hours doing " and then seeing a result, instead of the players collaborating around the table and finding ways to use their skills to solve noncombat problems.

  • Running a game: A FAIR BIT

Not using a map, for online play, in some ways reduces the amount of work needed. Since Pathfinder also relies a lot on positioning, though, I've often ended up having to redescribe the setting each time a player's turn comes up, or having to correct someone about who was where.

Beyond that, the simple fact that the PCs are fragile means I have to be much more careful about how I approach them. In some ways I find this fun; there's a temptation, in DMing 4e, to throw lots of tough mobs at the players just because they can handle it. Whereas in Pathfinder everyone's much more inclined to resolve encounters through roleplay, instead of trusting their fate to the dice.

The winner?

I honestly don't know. I think I like 4e much better, and enjoy the work it requires more. I'm just not feeling confident about my ability to DM it right now.

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Content note: Enforcing of gender roles, lack of respect for others' identities.

After going to the psychiatrist the other day, we and [personal profile] rev_yurodivy went to the local games store to play Warmahordes. I still haven't finished painting my models, but I cut out a bunch of counters and cards so that we can play games using proxies for the models in the other starter box sets. Also things like blast and spray templates. (This was a lot of work, and I'm very proud of the results.)

Read more... )

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Without a permission slip, I mean boon. Source.

The good news? Now I don't have to worry about scrounging another boon if my character dies. Kitsune all the way!

The bad news? I traded away my get-out-of-death-free boon for nothing. :(

jewelfox: A portrait of a foxgryphon with a beak, black fur, magenta hair, fox ears, and a neckband with a large jewel on it. (Default)

Step 1. Pick up a copy of the Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Moon, at your friendly local games store. It, another softcover Player Companion, and the contents of the Beginner Box are the only Pathfinder books that you own.

Step 2. Discover the Lunar mystery for Oracles. Decide that it looks neat. However, it’s for a class that your books don’t cover, and it grants a lot of weird spells.

Step 3. Discover the following paragraph right at the start of the book:

Transcript

This Pathfinder Player Companion refers to several other Pathfinder Roleplaying Game products and uses the following abbreviations. These books are not required to make use of this Player Companion. Readers interested in references to Pathfinder RPG hardcovers can find the complete rules from these books available for free at Paizo.com/prd.

Step 4. Go online and get the rules you need to play your character. Show up at the Pathfinder event your friend told you about, at your local games store, with a Lunar Oracle.

Step 5. Confess that you’d much rather be playing a Kitsune.

Step 6. Find out that Kitsune do in fact exist, and are in fact a legit choice for Pathfinder Society. However, you need to have a “boon,” which is essentially a signed permission slip from your parents, I mean the Venture-Captains, saying you’re allowed to play a fox instead of a crow. The only ways to get these are to go to a convention in another state, which you wouldn’t be able to afford unless you sold your own body parts, or to go to a certain thread on the Paizo forums to trade a different boon for the Kitsune one.

Step 7. Remember that you have an honest-to-Daikitsu signed “get out of death free” boon because you participated in the Beginner Box Bash a few years ago.

Step 8. Offer it up for trade, and get a response surprisingly quick.

Step 9. Receive, via US mail, a sheet of paper that looks suspiciously like a photocopy or computer printout, which contains the following sentence:

This Chronicle sheet must be the first Chronicle sheet for the given character, and you must bring a copy of one of the above-listed rulesbooks [the Advanced Race Guide or the Dragon Empires Gazetteer] to all sessions in which you play this character as if access to this race selection were granted by the Additional Resources list.

Step 10. Ask yourself, “WTF is the Additional Resources list?”

Step 11. Oh.

Step 12. Read the following sentence from that link:

In order to utilize content from an Additional Resource, a player must have a physical copy of the Additional Resource in question, a name-watermarked Paizo PDF of it, or a printout of the relevant pages from it, as well as a copy of the current version of the Additional Resources list.

Step 13. Track down all the books that you need to duplicate the content relevant to your character from the Pathfinder Reference Document, which is an official resource published by Paizo itself and explicitly endorsed by a prominent paragraph on page 1 of Blood of the Moon, which says that those books are not required to use it.

Breakdown of expenses:

  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook. Rules for creating and playing a character. Not required; your GM is assumed to own a copy.

  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary. Game stats for the animal companion one of your revelations grants, and for creatures that your spells can summon. Not required; your GM is assumed to own a copy.

  • Advanced Player’s Guide. Game stats for playing an Oracle, and for three of the spells in the Lunar mystery’s list. $40 for a new hardcover, $30 non-mint, $10 for PDF.

  • Advanced Race Guide. Game stats for playing a Kitsune, along with the awesome Magical Tail feat. $40 for a new hardcover, $30 non-mint, $10 for PDF.

  • Ultimate Magic. Game stats for four of the spells on the Lunar mystery’s list, the first of which you obtain at level 2 after three sessions of play. $40 for a new hardcover, $30 non-mint, $10 for PDF.

  • Ultimate Combat. Game stats for one of the spells on the Lunar mystery’s list. $40 for a new hardcover, $30 non-mint, $10 for PDF.

Step 14. Realize that you have to pay a minimum of $40 to play a character you like, using rules that you bought and paid for and contained a large notice from Paizo itself telling you where to fill in the blanks. These PDFs would contain a prominent watermark with your email address, which is not information you want to disclose to men that you're casually acquainted with. Adding insult to injury, the PDFs themselves would be basically worthless for tableside reference, because it’d take much longer to look up rules text in them compared to in the PRD, on your phone. Even though that is the stated reason why you have to bring them on the Additional Resources page:

[…] we cannot assume that every Game Master will have the products listed below. As such, it's up to players to bring these items in order to familiarize their Game Masters with the rules.

Step 15. Realize that if your Kitsune character ever dies, you’re going to have to go back and repeat the whole process of finding another boon, if you want those $40 worth of PDFs that you don’t want to buy to do you any good.

Step 16. Go on the Paizo.com messageboards, to see if there’s any sign of the PRD being added as a legit “additional resource.”

Step 17. Find a ton of people like (and like-ing) this guy, who condescend to people who asked about it, dictate their own priorities to them, blame Paizo’s mixed messaging on them, ignore the fact that Paizo’s policies burden some players a lot more than others, and in general infantilize and insult them even more than Paizo already does by requiring things like signed permission slips.

Step 18. Give up and play other games instead, using books that you bought at the local games store that welcomes you and treats you like a person, instead of PDFs that you bought online from a company that doesn’t.

This is only a partly fictionalized account. I already knew about Kitsune and the Additional Resources list going in. What I didn’t know was that there’s a boon trading thread (i.e. that I had any hope of playing a Kitsune ever), and that newer Pathfinder Player Companions were explicitly telling people to go to the PRD to fill in the blanks, instead of burying the reference in legal text like they used to. So I tried to imagine what it would be like, for a newb to go into it this way.

Also, I’m still playing in Pathfinder Society, and buying Pathfinder Player Companions that I think are cool and want to use for my character (like the Animal Archive), instead of selling my Pathfinder stuff on eBay.

Why?

Because my PFS GM lets me use the PRD.

About us

~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

~ She / her ~

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