Sentinels of the Multiverse: Take One Tablet, Never Go Outside Again

Baron Blade glowers behind the heroes from lef to right: Tachyon, Absolute Zero, the Wraith, Legacy and Bunker.Sentinels of the Multiverse‘s adaptation for tablets went live in the software stores last week. I haven’t looked at the audience reaction to the app’s launch, but I would guess it’s been positive, tempered by the usual first day issues. The reason I haven’t looked at anything about the app, beyond knowing it is now available, is that I would probably never leave the house again — or at least for a very long time. When Hearthstone was in open beta, I sat on the couch playing for three nights straight before uninstalling that.[1]

I have given some thought to breaking my “no video games” habit with Sentinels of the Multiverse — as well as breaking my “no new technology” guideline, too. I picked up the base game up when I was looking for something to play solo, but only tried the solo version of a two-player variant once. The first try was promising, but I haven’t motivated myself to make a point of taking it out for further testing. I think I burned myself out on constant shuffling with that playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.

Sentinels has been my go-to at game days and nights when the focus is on group play. I could cheerfully play a lot more of it, but the opportunities haven’t been there and depending on who’s at the table and their familiarity with the game, it sometimes feels like less of a hit for the group at large than it is for me.

At the very least, it’s given me the chance to scratch the collecting itch when between Call of Cthulhu boxes. Greater Than Games has done a great job supplementing the core game with not only more boxes of cards, but also mini-expansions that give the acquisitional fix without requiring as much cash outlay as a traditional expansion.

[1] I had a similar experience with Warcraft II. I thought I tried it out for 45 minutes. That single session ran more like six hours. I never played it again.only

The Initiative: Superhero RPG Appendix N Blog Challenge

Theron of My Dice Are Older Than You turned me on to Barking Alien‘s Superhero RPG Appendix N Challenge:

I challenge you, the Superhero RPG GM, and/or player, to list between 5 and 10 Superhero comic books, and 5 to 10 Superhero live action or animated shows or films, that typify your style of Superhero RPG campaign.


Minimum is 5. Maximum is 10. This means you have to really think about the ones that best embody the type of Supers gaming you prefer. Who’s up for the challenge?

I feel like this could devolve into listing my favorite comics, rather than highlighting titles that convey the superhero ethos I want in the campaign I run, but let’s give it a try.

Comic Books

  • Starman: The Robinson and Harris series, in which Jack Knight is reluctant heir to his father’s legacy as Starman. One of the recurring motifs was a loving embrace of the goofiness of the Silver Age, and treating it straight-facedly. The straight face is key. The idea may be ludicrous, but the characters treat it as a credible threat all the same, not unlike a giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
  • New Mutants: A school is always a useful campaign frame for superheroes. The player characters may not necessarily be students, but a school or training facility setting offers so many options for supporting characters, interwoven story lines and a home base to contrast the familiar with new locales.
  • Excalibur: The early days of the comic felt more like investigating weirdness with a sense of whimsy than the soap opera of the other X-Men books at the time. And whatever happened to W.H.O., the Weird Happenings Organization, led by Brigadier Alysande Stuart, speaking of useful frameworks that give the right mix of structure and leeway to player character groups?

TV Shows and Films

  • Heroes: It was riddled with plot holes and idiot balls, but the basic concept of every day people “breaking out” with astonishing powers is a solid hook, and puts the players on the ground floor of a new era in history.
  • X2: This was the X-Men film that had the right mix of the sensibility of heroes in the contemporary world and the sweet point in their development, beyond having just broken out, but still developing and making new allies

Other Resources

  • Paragons: Green Ronin’s toolkit setting book for Mutants & Masterminds needs a shout-out here. It includes so many different approaches to modern heroes, from the explorers of weirdness that early Excalibur exemplified to the classic superpowers appearing — or reappearing after an absence — in the everyday population. And it heavily influenced my Paragons of Freedom campaign.
  • Suppressed Transmission: Once weirdness is on the table, you have to deal in Suppressed Transmission. It’s a trove of McGuffins and sources of superpowers.

Delta Green in Beta Test

Arc Dream Publishing opened the new Delta Green role-playing game to beta testing yesterday. You can add the playtest files to your Dropbox, or download a zip archive to your computer. The files include an introductory readme explaining the feedback Arc Dream wants from playtesters, and in what form. It also asks that people not redistribute the files, which is an interesting request in an open process.

I desperately wish I had the time and energy to read the rules and conscript a playtest group, as I’ve been listening to people like Adam Scott Glancy, Kenneth Hite and Shane Ivey talk about the development of Delta Green‘s very own role-playing game for what seems like years now, on podcasts like Role Playing Public Radio and Unspeakable! I will settle for skimming the documents when I have a few minutes with a computer.

The rest of you, though, have until November 23rd to run some sessions using the beta rules and existing free Delta Green material like Night Floors and Music from a Darkened Room. and then get feedback to Arc Dream.

[Hat tip to Paul of Cthulhu for sharing the news.]

Carnagecast 55: The Legend of Curly’s Errata

carnagecast-rss-image-300Our run-up to A Fistful of Carnage, Vermont’s tabletop game convention the first weekend in November on the slopes of Killington Peak, continues with a new episode of Carnagecast. We talk about the newly unveiled schedule of games, our first trips to Carnage and agree that, on reflection, taurine is not a meal.

The preparation for Carnage and professional commitments keeps me busy these days. After the convention, my plan is for the podcast will return to an every other Monday schedule. We’re on the final leg of 2014, but like winter, Carnage is always coming. It’s important to pace oneself through the winter and spring months in keeping the Carnage flame alive.

Call of Cthulhu LCG: For the Greater Good: The Agency’s Expansion is on the Horizon

For the Greater Good cover art: a blond man with a shotgun fends off an unseen creature in an alleyway.Last week, Fantasy Flight Games posted news of the next Call of Cthulhu box set: featuring the Blackwood Agency in For the Greater Good. I get the sense we’re being deliberately paced, as The Sleeper Below was poised to hit retail stores at the same moment — and, indeed, I found in my local game store that weekend.

Some folks have remarked that a faction-centric box after Cthulhu’s Sleeper Below goes against the “pattern” of the deluxe box releases, to go from the Syndicate to Cthulhu to the Agency. My sense is there has never been a pattern, at least not a discernible one because we’re in the midst of watching the releases unfold one by one. If there’s rhyme or reason to how the schedule is laid out, beyond “the designer had a really good idea for a box theme, can we fit it in the production schedule or get it in stores for the holidays?”, we won’t be able to pick it out until much later, or Fantasy Flight decides to share their thinking.

The previewed cards suggest the Agency’s getting some new tricks, or an expansion of some tricks they’ve had previously. Government characters are getting boosts in the Military Attache and Lt. Wilson Stewart. With Stewart, in fact, all those high cost Agency characters suddenly become a lot more attractive. Yes, let’s play around with T-Men and the Foundation!

One of the Agency’s sub-themes has been attachment cards. James Logan’s notorious for coming into play armed for bear, for instance. This first preview shows a Cthulhu faction card that attaches to a story, so I’m wondering if that will be the sub-theme for all the non-Agency factions, the way everyone got Tactics in Denizens of the Underworld, and Prophecies in Seekers of Knowledge.

And Fantasy Flight can absolutely keep up giving Silver Twilight more cards than the other non-spotlight factions. That was a real delight to see in Sleeper Below. After For the Greater Good, Silver Twilight will be the last human allegiance not to have enjoyed the amount of love this current run of deluxe expansions have showered on the factions to date. Silver Twilight has a box, sure, but they’re latecomers to the midnight struggles, and absolutely deserve the kind of bump everyone else is enjoying. Especially if a new Silver Twilight box focused on making their “no hand” effects more feasible and easier from which to recover.

Call of Cthulhu LCG: The Sleeper Stirs

Strange webbed beings float underwater, watching Cthulhu awaken.Had my first play with the new Sleeper Below cards the other night, using the sample deck list from Fantasy Flight — which, weirdly, was posted to their website, rather than appearing on the insert in the box; I suspect because the deck calls for a non-core, non-Sleeper Below card, Temple of R’lyeh. Ray, who learned the game recently, used an untested mono Hastur deck I drafted a while back, but not yet tested myself.

And with good reason, because the Temple facilitated this play to win the third story:

  1. Sacrifice Gustaf Johansen to the Temple of R’lyeh — and this may have been Gustaf’s most useful contribution all game, as Ray’s Dangerous Inmate had been steadily keeping him insane all game.
  2. Disrupt the sacrifice of Gustaf, a cultist, with Twisted Acropolis, thus paying 1 to put Fiona Day into play.
  3. Trigger Fiona’s own disrupt as she enters play, sacrificing three more cultists to place the final three success tokens on the third story.

After writing that out, I started wondering if it really does work. Fiona’s disrupt ability says “after you play Fiona Day,” which I understand to mean “paid her cost to play during your operations phase,” whereas Twisted Acropolis is a “put into play” effect. A similar distinction was made with Nug a while back, as people were using temporary “put into play” effects to use Nug’s ability to build up their domains on entering play repeatedly in a game. So now Nug has to be played from hand, not simply put into play, to benefit from its domain ramping effect.

And the brain trust over at agrees. Really, being Dormant is enough of an assist to play Fiona cheaply. And makes you work harder for what could be the game-winning move, since then you have to coordinate her being played with having enough success tokens on another store and having ample cultists in play.

My bad, Ray! Won’t happen again.

Carnagecast 54: Shuffle Up and Deal

carnagecast-rss-image-300Amid all the hubbub of the Carnage book posting on Monday, I didn’t get the chance to relay some other doings. Carnagecast posted a new episode as well: Shuffle Up and Deal. Ray and I talk about card games, mostly.

Ray’s a Magic man for a long time running. I got out at Homelands, because it was just that terrible, by all accounts. He informs me on the Elder Dragon / Commander format, and I carefully pick the moments where I ask him to expand on something.

I get to talk about as openly about Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game as I’ve ever gotten to without feeling the burning pity of someone who likes something else better.

And you know, after we recorded this episode, I did teach Ray Call of Cthulhu, and sent him on his way with Romance of the Nine Empires. I got to see the truly glory of the explorer Roald Ellsworth, bouncing in and out of play with Ultima Thule. Ray found that one. It was pretty cool to see in action.

A Fistful of Carnage Opens for Preregistration

The grim reaper rides a pale horse, wearing a tall cowboy hat and a rifle in each hand.Carnage posted their convention booklet yesterday afternoon. The convention’s just over a month away, taking place at the Killington mountain resort in Killington, Vermont.

We’ve got an astonishing number of role-playing games this year. Pathfinder Society remains a powerhouse. Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition has its Adventurer’s League getting into gear. We’ve got more cool game designers than I can fairly mention in this space, awesome GMs who have devised adventures in the games they love and a schedule full of all the other tabletop games you might want to enjoy in a single weekend.

The only thing missing is some Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game. I’ll have my decks, so come find me this year for a round!

Carnagecast 53: A Fistful of Carnage

carnagecast-rss-image-300A new episode of Carnagecast posted last night. Carnage staffer Ray joined me to talk about the upcoming A Fistful of Carnage game convention in Killington, Vermont next month, November 7th through the 9th.

We talked a bit about what’s on the schedule — keeping it spoiler-free, of course — and some things to keep in mind when planning a trip to Killington. It gets cool up there on the mountain in November!

The convention book should be mailing out and appearing online imminently, so I took this episode as an opportunity to get back into the swing of recording, as well as recognize the culmination of a great deal of background work is about to pay off for all the attendees who have been looking forward to another great weekend of playing games at Carnage.

And seriously, I will be hanging out at the Snowshed information desk most of the weekend. Come say hi!