Rogue Trader Pramas Returns to the Imperium

The past couple of years most of my miniatures gaming has been historical, with a focus on WWII. As a Warhammer 40K player since the Rogue Trader era though, I periodically get pulled back into it. Maybe 7 or 8 months ago Rick and I were invited to come play once a month with a group of guys downtown. Their office, it turns out, was full of 40K players. For many months we were doing one off battles, but with 10-12 players it was only a matter of time before we started a campaign. So now the forces of order and the forces of destruction are fighting it out in a city campaign and it’s been pretty fun so far.

What’s funny about this group is that it turned into a case study of “it’s a small world in the gaming industry.” Two of them, Sean and Kyle, were friends of mine from the WotC days and Super Unicorn. Haven’t seen much of them in recent years though, so it’s been good to hang out. Once we started playing I also discovered that two of the other regulars, Chris and Todd, were two-thirds of the team behind still hilarious RPG HOL (Human Occupied Landfill). When they were running their company, Dirt Merchant, they were at 5 Mossland St in Somerville, MA. When I started the original Ronin Publishing with my brother and friend Neal, we moved into an apartment on 3 Mossland St. And somehow Todd, Chris, and I all ended up in Seattle. To cap all this coincidence off, last night Flying Lab came up and another guy, Glen, asked what my connection was to FLS. When I told him it was my day job, he said, “Really? I wrote the Prima strategy guide for Pirates of the Burning Sea.” Wacky.

Speaking of FLS and the grim darkness of the 41st millennium, I also seem to have inadvertently started a 40K league there. Folks were talking about trying the beta of the new Dawn of War 40K computer game from Relic. I said, “We could do that, or we could play some real 40K.” Turns out there was a lot of interest in this idea, so I posted the rules for 40K in 40 minutes so can do some games over lunch. Now people are building armies and painting minis. I’m getting comments like, “I spent $100 this weekend because of you.” I tell them that I might have shown them the junk, but putting the lead spike into their veins was their own decision. Anyway, looks like we have about a dozen players for that, so that should liven up lunch at the lab.

In the Good News Department

First, GR’s A Song of Ice and Fire RPG has been approved and is heading to print. You can read more about that and future products for the line at Glad I never called this the “must have RPG of 2008.”

Also found out today that Pirates of the Burning Sea was nominated as MMO Game of the Year by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. There’s no chance we’ll win but it’s nice to get the nod.

The Incredible Shrinking Weekend

I swear weekends are shorter and shorter. It’s getting to the point where I feel the weekend is almost over by Saturday morning.

This past weekend I was a guest at local Seattle show Conquest Northwest, hosted by the always effusive Mondo Vega. I went the first year of this con and it was nearly its last. Monda has really turned it around though and Conquest is now a vibrant and fun con. A key, I think, was getting a lot of tournaments organized that would draw people to the show. There were Warhammer and 40K grand tournaments, a Flames of War tournament, and even an Advanced Squad Leader tournament. The Warhammer/40K room was hopping, with 30 odd battles going on at once.

Saturday afternoon I played in a Flames of War game put on by Chris Ewick from Tacoma store the Game Matrix. The scenario took place during the Battle of Kursk, the largest tank clash of WWII. Chris puts on a real spectacle, with over 100 tanks on the board. I ended up playing the Germans with a guy named Steve. Our objective was to take a Russian town. After several turns using long range fire to thin out the Russian ranks, I launched a classic blitz to try to seize it. The Russians blew away my Stug platoon but my Panzer IIIs got into town. The continued pounding of the Tigers, Panthers, and Elefants then caused the Red Army to break and flee. Victory was ours. Here’s a picture of the blitz. There are more on the Facebook page.

After that I stopped by the Bucephalus Games demo table and chatted for awhile with Dan Tibbles, Anthony Gallela, and James Ernest. Then Chris Ewick appeared and offered to set us up with DBA armeis and ref a game for us. Well, how could we turn that down? So Anthony and I played Western Romans vs. Eastern Romans in a tense game. I thought I had him when I killed his general, but I could not finish them off before my mounting casualties spelled defeat. Next time, Gallela.

Today I felt like crap. Conquest is not a big show, so you’d think I wouldn’t have to worry about con crud. By the afternoon though I was feeling really run down, had a headache, and was congested. I wanted to head home but I had a business dinner I could not miss. So I made it through that and then came home to chill out. On the upside the oyster po’ boy was excellent.

My Iron Chef Theory

I have a theory about Iron Chef America, which is mine. It goes like this. Bobby Flay is in more battles than any other Iron Chef for the same reason you groan when one of his episodes comes on: he’s a dick. I suspect that when these chefs agree to be on the show, they think, “God, Flay is such a dick; I want to crush him!” Really, who wants to lay the smack down on sweet Mario Batali or original Iron Chef Morimoto? No, they want a piece of Flay. That is my theory.

Open Fire? Thanks, I Think I Will!

Last week Battlefront announced Open Fire, a starter set for their Flames of War miniatures game. It contains an introductory booklet, a mini-rulebook, 3 American tanks, 2 German assault guns, and dice; everything you need to get started. I thought this was a great idea. Flames of War is one of the few historical miniatures game with good penetration into game store stores, and Open Fire may help recruit a lot of new players into a part of the hobby that could really use some new blood. Really, who could complain about that? Historical miniatures fans, that’s who! The bitching began immediately. Flames of War, they say, is already dumbed down, so what’s the point of dumbing it down further? The (large and intimidating) hardback rulebook already is newbie friendly so what’s the point? If your puny mind can’t handle a game as simple as Flames of War, you should find a different hobby anyway. Etc,etc.

It is so short-sighted it makes me furious. Hobby gaming, and especially historical miniatures gaming, needs to bring in new players. It’s that simple. Here we have a leading company in the field recognizing that and doing something about it, and all the trolls can do is fling crap at them. I guess that’s fine if you want all historical miniatures conventions to be held in retirement homes in 20 years, but I’d prefer to keep the gaming hobby vibrant. I’d like to see us old hands passing down to the next generation the lore and the fun of tabletop gaming. OK, so you may not like Flames of War. You may prefer a game that better takes into account the sloped armor of the T-34 when calculating armor penetration. Great, there are plenty of games that do that. But at least try to recognize that when Battlefront recruits new historical minis fans, we all win. It means more people to play with, more attendees at cons, and more consumers to help keep all the game and minis companies in business in the years to come. Well done, Battlefront.

Gaming and Working

I was amused to see how many people responded to yesterday’s post about a family RPG campaign with suggestions of games I had designed or published. Believe me, I am well-familiar with them! Here’s the thing though. When I play a game I worked on professionally, I find it difficult to detach myself from the job and just enjoy it. WFRP2, Mutants & Masterminds, Blue Rose, Faery’s Tale, and Dragon Fist are all great games I am proud of, but playing them makes me think about work and that’s not what I want on my mind on family game night. That’s why when I’m going to run a game for fun, I usually pick something from another publisher. Plus I just like trying out new games.

I know some designers are the same way, but others are the exact opposite. I’ve met folks who love their games so much they will play them anytime and anywhere. That’s never been me though. There’s work time and fun time and I’ve found it helps my sanity to keep them separate. This isn’t to say I don’t get some enjoyment out of running playtests or convention games, but such situations require me to be in an analytical frame of mind. It’s different than just relaxing and having fun with your friends and/or family.

Thanks for all the suggestions though. It was interesting reading. If we get the campaign going, I’ll blog about it.

Family Game

For the past couple of months I’ve been thinking about starting a family RPG campaign. Kate has long watched our roleplaying sessions and wanted to participate, but we rarely even got started before her bedtime when she was younger. She’s had a few cameos, like her duck with the “quack attack” who was working towards an invisible bill, but hasn’t really been part of a campaign. She’s 13 now, a night owl like her step-dad, and clearly interested in doing some roleplaying. Not a surprise I suppose when it’s our family business. And by her age I had been roleplaying for three years already.

The idea is that I’d run the game for Kate and Nicole. It’d be something we could do on off nights without having to worry about whether anyone else could show up. It’d be fun family bonding too. This, of course, led to the eternal question: what do I run? Nicole asked that we avoid any flavor of D&D; and that was fine by me. I considered games like Big Eyes, Small Mouth, Faery’s Tale, and Prince Valiant but decided they weren’t quite what I was looking for. After digging around in my collection, I had three serious contenders.

Star Wars (West End Edition): This used to be my standard recommendation to people as a starter RPG, because it was fairly easy to pick up and featured a setting that everyone knew. Unfortunately, the whole prequel trilogy has really soured me on Star Wars. Those movies were ultimately so shitty that it takes something on the level of KOTOR to make me feel even a glimmer of the fondness I used to have for Star Wars. Nicole and Kate were both lukewarm to the idea, so this was a no go.

Savage Worlds: I’ve wanted to try Savage Worlds for awhile but haven”t had the opportunity. The flavor I’m most interested in is Solomon Kane, but adventuring like a Puritan witch hunter doesn’t exactly scream 13 year old girl. No other setting leapt out at me so I put this on stand by. I could always make something up, of course, but I don’t have a whole lot of time for prep.

Marvel Superheroes Adventure Game (Saga): This is the second Marvel RPG, the one WotC published in the 90s. Kate likes comics and loves the X-men, and I always liked the card-driven design of the game. I was working at WotC when it came out, so I have everything that was published for the game. And letting Kate and Nik play established Marvel characters means we don’t have to deal with superhero character creation. The downside is they both asked about playing Wolverine! This is currently the leading contender.

I’m still considering options, but Saga is looking pretty good. If there’s something you think I’m totally overlooking, make a suggestion. Just realize that if you tell me to run Exalted or to use Dogs in the Vineyard to run the Chronicles of Narnia, I will punch you through the internet.

Hello 2009

2008 was like a psycho ex-girlfriend. Sure, there was some great sex but in the end I’m relieved to have escaped the relationship alive.

Hello 2009. I hope you’re not as a crazy as your sister.