The Game With No Name Math Trade

Matt Golec of the Penny Press design team has hosted a no-ship math trade at Carnage for some years now, coming up with thematic names to make us grin as we figure out what games we don’t want to own anymore. This year, it’s the Game With No Name math trade.

A math trade is a method of swapping whereby people list what they don’t want, list what they would like to get in return from other swappers and a computer figures out the details. The “no ship” part means no one ships anything. Show up to Carnage, drop off what you’re swapping, pick up what you’re getting. Done!

This year, I staked claim to the entirety of the third page of the geek list. You will find a bevy of light, popcorn games like Chez Cthulhu and the Cheapass family. You will find thematic bundles of HERO and GURPS sourcebooks. You will find Werewolf: the Apocalypse and Spelljammer books because I’m acknowledging that I’m not going to get around to running games in most of these settings.

You will also find lots of good stuff for which to trade with other folks posting to the list. Check it out, and offer up what you’re not interested in playing anymore!

Carnagecast 56: Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League

carnagecast-rss-image-300This week on Carnagecast, we talked with Al Spader from Jetpack Comics about Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, Wizards of the Coast’s new Adventurers League organized play structure and what Dungeons & Dragons-related fun folks can expect at A Fistful of Carnage in Killington this November.

Probably my favorite part of this episode was sitting more fully in the producer/engineer’s seat, which is my wheelhouse by trade and inclination. Ray leading the interview gave me the opportunity to focus more on making sure everyone sounded good. Sometimes this makes me feel hyper-critical, as I want to re-take every statement covered up by incidental noise, but having the freedom to watch the audio levels and listen for quality without also tracking the conversation and moving it forward was a rare treat for me, and greatly enjoyed.

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.

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!

The Game with No Name Math Trade at Carnage

I am pleased to hear that Matt Golec has again stepped up to coordinate the no-ship math trade at Carnage this year. He’s done the legwork the last four years, and every year the selection of games gets wider and more appealing. The math trade’s a little funny in that the hot and heavy part comes before the convention ever happens, when everyone fills out their want lists, then anxiously waits for the news of how the algorithm determines who trades what. During the convention itself, it’s a pretty sedate “pick up what you scored, drop off what you traded away.”

One math trade, I scored a pair of Call of Cthulhu starter decks, which sent me down a path to the living card game incarnation, which I’m still enjoying today. So I’m always hopeful that I’ll stumble on some unregarded gem that I wind up really enjoying.

Most of what I have to offer in the trade are role-playing books. I can’t recall if I’ve ever successfully swapped any of them, but I’ll keep making them available. This year, I’m also going to take a hard look at the card and board games on my shelves, and figure out what I’m likely never going to play again. That number is probably going to be higher than I want to admit.

Fall-loha 2014 on September 27th

Fall-loha 2014 graphic, yellow letters with autumnal leaf.Green Mountain Gamers return to the Burlington area for Fall-loha 2014, their annual autumnal game day, on September 27th. This year, they’re classing up the party by hosting it at the Windjammer Inn & Conference Center in South Burlington, convenient to the greater Burlington area, the interstate and some pretty good food nearby. It’s a free event, though a suggested donation of $5 is gratefully accepted to offset the costs of hosting the day.

It’s always interesting to see the turnout at a Green Mountain Gamers event, because it’s usually half people I know, and half newcomers. And in Burlington, my own stomping grounds, those newcomers may turn out to be from around the corner. Last year, that’s how I discovered the existence of Brap’s Magic, a new local game store. This year, who knows who I’ll meet?

I’ve been on a Sentinels of the Multiverse kick lately, so I’m hoping to play that, especially since my friends scored me two alternate hero cards at GenCon: Dark Watch Mr. Fixer and Super-Scientific Tachyon, which I will receive at the game day. I’ll have my Call of Cthulhu decks, too, of course. Doomtown, too, if there’s interest.[1]

Green Mountain Gamers always put on a good time, so I’m really looking forward to this game day — and the shorter commute.


[1] When did I turn into such a card-flopper?

[RPGBA Blog Carnival] The RPG Blogging Community

rpgblogcarnivallogoThis month’s RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Mark over at Dice Monkey, looks at the RPG blogging community:

What does the RPG Blogging Community mean to you? What are some blogs you read that you think should gain more recognition? What are your tips for being part of the community? These are all topics you can look at on your own blog as part of the carnival. Make sure to link your articles here on this post.

To me, the blogging community is a fairly nebulous idea. When I first got the notion to start Held Action, I was a passive reader of blogs via RSS feed. I skimmed, and rarely clicked through to articles to comment or browse further, unless the feed only showed excerpts. That’s still the case, for the most part, though the number of blogs I read has diminished, if only due to writer fade or broken feeds. The drawback to passive consumption via RSS is you don’t always get word that someone’s changed their feed or web host.

When I started blogging in earnest in 2009, I did all the recommended things to increase engagement. Held Action syndicated on RPGBloggers.com, and later, RPGBA.org. I made an effort to make relevant comments on other blogs, showing appreciation or asking questions. Twitter was then, and remains now, an endless firehose of fragmented thoughts that one can only glance at from time to time.

After a while, it turned out that active participation in a community, plus keeping up a regular blog, is really time- and attention-consuming. The reward for the effort was also more minimal than I would have liked, to be honest. We reach out to be reached out to in return, at least in part.

Since then, my engagement has tapered off. I still watch mailing lists like RPGBA and rpgpodcasters. I look forward to updates from blogs like Destination Unknown and its cavalcade of satellite identities and My Dice Are Older Than You because I feel like I’ve got a connection with the writers themselves, rather than only sharing an interest in role-playing games. Bonus points when they’re an actual friend like Geoff. In contrast, I glance at posts from Illuminerdy because they touch on secret history and conspiralunacy, but there’s no personal connection to the contributors.

The trend I’m seeing in my experience is that strong online relationships follow from strong real world relationships. It may be otherwise for other people, but I note a correlation between people who connect in the real world — even if once a year at GenCon or some other gathering — and continue that connection online through blogs, forums and other social media.