Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fan Expo 2015 - Panel Schedule

Wow, so Fan Expo this year is all full of panels which I really appreciate. I like con games, but sometimes in Toronto it feels like it's the same people playing the games at Fan Expo. I'll still be around, but not officially running any games. I will have games there though, in case anyone wants to see what's new and what's coming down the pipe.

Panel: Humour in Swords & Sorcery
Time: Friday, 4:45 PM
Location: 705
Description: Can mighty thews and sinister sorcerors be funny?  By
Crom, they certainly can!
Fellow Panelists: Jonathan Lavallee, Jim Zub, Jason Anarchy, Rachel Kahn.

I AM SO LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS AND IT'S THE FIRST PANEL! Seriously you need to check out who is there. We've got a lot of people who have put time effort and energy into thinking about comedy and fantasy. Seriously, By Crom! is one of the best things I have ever read. Even checking out the panels on the site made me laugh and tear up at the same time.

Panel: Publishing your own tabletop game
Time: Friday, 5:45 PM
Location: 705
Description: Do you have a concept for publishing a game? How to get
your game into the hands of customers from prototyping to playtesting
to publishing and distribution.
Panelists: Phil Reed, Jonathan Lavallee, Jason Anarchy

This is one of those standard ones that we do every year. It's a good one to go if you're looking to ask questions about making a tabletop game. We do have all sorts of experience here for analog games, and a little bit on the video side but that's why it's called tabletop games in the panel title.. ^_^

Panel: Pathos and probability curves: Writing tabletop Games
Time: Saturday, 1:15 PM
Location: 703
Description: Do you want to create your own adventure games? Do you
want to help expand existing worlds and ways with your own unique
touches? These panelists will help you learn the secrets of great
game design
Panelists: Jonathan Lavallee, Malcolm Sheppard, Ed Greenwood, Andrew Valkauskas

This is another standard we do every year, it's a fun panel where we get to talk about the weird way we make stuff.

Panel: Getting Started with Tabletop Roleplaying Games
Time: Sunday, 12:15 PM
Location: 703
Description: Wait, do we all need to buy a player's guide? Do I need
miniatures? What's the deal with these dice?  You've wanted to try
tabletop RPGs but don't know where to start! Our panel of experts will
give you the guidance you need.
Panelists: Robin Laws, Jonathan Lavallee, Andrew Hackard, Sara McMillen

Sunday is the day where I don't shut up on panels, as opposed to the days where I just don't shut up in general. This is a good kind of intro panel, how do I deal with all this stuff going on with RPGs? I hope we get a chance to talk about the awesome stuff and the pitfalls that come with the social aspect of the hobby, because that's what it is.

Panel: Step Right Up: Promoting your game
Time: Sunday, 1:45 PM
Location: 705
Description: Making games is fun, but a huge part of games is selling
them to other people. From game publishers to the general public how
do you get people interested in the fun times that you've created.
We'll discuss things from elevator pitches, to demos, to various tools
that you can use to help make sure you generate excitement for your
Fellow Panelists: Jonathan Lavallee, Jason Anarchy

This one was one of the panels that I requested. We haven't had a "business" panel at Fan Expo yet and after some conversations with some people at some local events I think having a discussion about sales and demo work. Making people excited about your product is just as important as being able to make the product itself. Anyway, it's just Jason and me so it should have plenty of opportunities for people to bring up their questions.

Panel: State of the Game Industry
Time: Sunday, 3:45 PM
Location: 705
Description: Another year has passed, and the industry remains. What
new releases wowed the market? Are stores & distributors still
relevant in the age of Print on Demand and PDF sales?
Panelists: Robin Laws, Jonathan Lavallee, Phil Reed, Kate Bullock

This is the panel we have at the end of the con every year. I'll give the same spoiler alert. It's both going really well, and at the same time still has plenty of places that it needs to improve in order to grow and be even better than it is.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Chill Talk - Weapons

This may seem to be a weird place to start, considering I'm a person who hates weapon lists because I find them immensely boring like only a block of stats can be. However, this is a great place to start with a discussion about why  but trust me this is one of the things I love the most about this game.

If you've read the book, you may have gone over to look for a list of weapons to see what they might do. You might have done this as a player looking for weapons, or as a GM trying to remember what kind of damage each weapon does. You're not going to find it, the closest you're going to find for that is on page 223 and 224 of the Chill 3rd edition book. It won't give you "this weapon does this and this weapon does that" but what it's going to give you is a base default for what weapons do. You punch someone it's going to start at superficial, melee starts at minor, ballistic weapons start at serious and it kind of works its way up from there.

This is something beautiful with the game, because weapons are still incredibly effective. A colossal success with a gun can be a lethal shot killing someone instantly. But what's great is that you aren't bogged down with having to look up the precise stats of what everything does. Instead, what the game says you should do is apply what situational modifiers you think are appropriate. Someone goes for a chop to the throat, they make their roll maybe start their damage at serious and then apply any benefits from the roll. A monster on the ground, and thrashing about in a trap while an envoy has a pistol at point blank range. Good planning, that's stats at Critical. That pistol shooting through a door, well the damage might start at minor rather than serious, but if it's got special ammo maybe not.

Instead of dealing with a hard mechanical solution to a problem, that's the text that ends up being like 1343987aoshj;l09739 pages in a book where the writers try to come up with how the rules will apply to this situation. It's also one of those spots in games where you get a lot of people going, "Well this doesn't make sense" or where you get the arguments from rules lawyers going "well according to this page, because I'm behind wood it counts as halving the damage so I only take X from the bazooka." These kinds of things happen because there isn't any way to predict every situation.

With Chill we've removed all that kind of worry. If your players have planned well and their trap has gone off, rewards them by making their attacks automatically better. If your players have though things out poorly, then they're going to be in for a long night, or put themselves at a greater disadvantage. You can do all of this as the CM on the fly, because you can understand that this situation would create a specific type of advantage (either by increasing the TN, having it deal more damage or ... just working) or disadvantage without the rules telling you exactly what that kind of explicit advantage it its.

That's not to say that the game doesn't have general penalties for doing actions. Targeted Strike/Shot does have a listed -40 to the TN penalty on page 191, or that we don't have our own Counterattack modifiers (pg. 192) but this is the minority. What the game is really trying to tell you is have fun, make the game scary for your players and while we give you the framework for that, you are good enough to look at the situation and apply your own modifiers for the best effect because it's great, and faster that way. Which leaves you more brain power to think about how you can terrify your players.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Gen Con 2015 - Convention Games in Review

Gen Con this year was kind of amazing. I say that as someone who spends most of his time running between a booth and events and not someone who attends the convention. What I'm going to talk about are the two games of Chill that I ran this year.

Both games were Cold Dark Earth, which was a module that Matt created and was hoping to have on the website soon. I'm not going to spoil it too much, but it involves a nasty thing coming back from the dead.

My first group plotted, and planned and tried to figure out what to do and with some great thinking, great research and an "aha" moment they managed to defeat the creature without taking too much damage. Of course, they put the target at risk and almost lost her. In the end she survived but with dirty hand prints forever etched on her throat, and both of one of the SAVE envoy's arms aged 40 years from the fight.

The second group, did some research found the second body and was like "Screw it, we have to kill this thing." They tried their best, and they got some good shots in (a couple of colossal successes) but the creature had basically managed to Critically Injure two players before they decided to back off. That's when the person playing Jenny, one of the characters without combat skills, tried to hit the creature with a car. She knew that she was basically screwing her character over, but was like "this is horror, let's do it."

Finally they managed to get to the target, but since time was running short I flipped a chip and had the monster hitch a ride with them on top of the van. There was a great fight at the end, when they decided to try to find ways to damage the creature. It worked, and then they took the next mental jump to figure out how to stop the creature.

There were more things that happened, and I'll try to get some of it covered in another post but that's a quick run down of the games that I ended up running. Chill runs beautifully, there are so many things that I'm probably going to pick up and talk about because I really do think that this is a great game, and a great horror game. If you haven't gotten it you really should.

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