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Mastery in Modern Games

Thursday, January 29, 2015


My wife and I played Towerfall for about two hours today, an hour and a half yesterday and two hours the day before that. In all that time, we only played one level in Quest mode. We've been trying to beat Ascension on Hardcore for at least two or three months. Today we topped off our 200th attempt. We've improved so much, but the last stage still gets the better of us. We're determined though. However long it takes us, we'll soldier on through our bloody bicentennial. It isn't about just beating the game. It's about mastery.

Thoughts on Spheres of Power

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I feel like the best way to review Drop Dead Studios' "Spheres of Power" is to just post a reply I made to another gamer about my take on this system:

"It's ridiculously good. It's much better balanced than Vancian casting, uses a point-based mechanic that should feel comfortable and familiar to people who like psionics or mana casting, and instead of cantrips you get scaling at-will abilities. An example of one of the scaling at-wills would be the Life sphere's Invigorate ability, that lets you give an ally your level in temp hp.

The way the system works is that you've got spheres like Life, Conjuration, Destruction, Darkness, Light, Illusion, Mind, Nature, etc.

Full casters get 1 magic talent per level, which can either be used to buy a new sphere and its base ability (or abilities), or purchase additional talents from a sphere you've already gained access to. 2/3 casters, like the Bard or Inquisitor get 15 points over the course of 20 levels, and 1/2 casters get 10. Since spheres use a completely new system all together, they avoid almost all of the issues inherent to the legacy Vancian casters; you're generally going to see Tier 1 level power nixed completely, Tier 2 much more limited, and a lot of stuff falling solidly into Tier 3.

Currently Playing; Monsters, Alien Worlds and Moon Missiles

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I've stopped playing Destiny, at least for the time being. My reasons are best discussed at a later date, but its absence left a sizable portion of time open for other games to fill. Now that I've finished Inquisition, I've begun playing some other recent acquisitions on a rotation. Two of these I received as gifts over the winter holiday extravaganza and the third is a limited beta for a game I've admired since my first hands on time at PAX last summer.

The First Time I Played

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I was recently asked to help gather some data from ladies of the gaming persuasion that reminded me of my earliest experiences with video games by a rather unique manly "gift basket" company called Man Crates  (you open it with crow bar, how cool is that!).   The women I spoke to told me of their early days in the garage with Mario Bros, Duck Hunt, and Donkey Kong on barely functioning televisions. Many of their mothers didn't approve of their pastime, preferring them to spend their days in less "tomboy-ish" behavior. Nevertheless, those early game called to them, honing their skills to a razor-sharp competitive edge that put the rest of their family's high scores to shame.  While I personally have not ordered a crate as of yet, it's definitely something I would lean towards in the future if I'm at a loss for a gift.  If you are ever looking to re-create some of those nostalgic moments, Man Crates has some pretty cool gifts that include a super retro gamer crate!  While they do cater to men in these gifts, there are some women I know who'd get an absolute kick out of them!

In 2009 I May or May not Have Written Lovecraftian Erotica

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Occasionally when browsing through old posts I stumble across something that I can't quite decipher. Sometimes posts make more sense in the context of the time they were written but in this case the context needed to be wrung out of the piece like soap from a wet towel. It wasn't until halfway through the second reading that I realized that this was actually about a game and not the beginnings of some creepy erotic fever dream. Have a gander at it yourself and see if you can pick it out at all.

A Wee Challenge and Wonderful Character Generator

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


As my family and I have been experimenting with 5th edition, I've taken to the net to find a few tools to handle one or two elements to the game. I'm not looking for an out or saying that the game is too complex, rather I'm looking for ways to further streamline the experience for my daughters. One of the ways I streamlined the game for our old Pathfinder was to make up a pool of characters for players to choose from when their previous ones expired. It greatly sped up the pace of the game and kept players from having to be silent observers to the surviving party. I aim to keep my 6 and 9 year old daughters interested in the game so I focused my search on a character generator.

5th Edition Firsts; My Kids' First D&D Game, Part 2

Thursday, January 8, 2015


My last post ended with the creation of by daughters' first tabletop characters. To review, my youngest built a noble teifling paladin named Makaria who longs for adventure, renown and strawberries. The oldest made Yevelda, a half-orc fighter who is a former scout and soldier that demands loyalty and honor from her friends. Finally, my wife created Luella, a gnomish rogue and purser aboard a ship whose captain cheated her out of her fair share. With these three characters, I began building their adventure.

I set their story in a coastal trading town, ruled by Makaria's Merchant Lord father. Yevelda, fresh out of her service in the army and looking for work took a job as a bodyguard for the young paladin. Makaria is desperate for adventure and excitement and drags Yevelda all over town to find something worthy of her blade. After a few crappy jobs sweeping basements or setting rat traps, the pair decide to go into business proper and put out notices for a position in the company. Luella finds one at the docks not long after getting into port. After the first meeting it was clear that Luella was the perfect leader for the two fledgling adventurers. And so the Goodfellowes set forth.