Monday, December 24, 2012

Dungeon World Review

Gygaxian Goodness or Mazes and Monsters?

Summary

The newest foray into the fantasy dungeon crawler is Dungeon World, a game which emphasizes narrative flow and player participation for fast action and old-fashioned fun. It is based on Vincent Baker's Apocalypse World, and Dungeon World carries on the design aesthetic and accessibility that its source provided. It has a few bumps and minor issues in the rules, but these are dwarfed by the originality and loyalty to the feel of the original Dungeons and Dragons.

In-depth Read-through

In terms of the overall structure, Dungeon World has a nice artful introduction. The opening text immediately impresses the aesthetics of the game and a notable focus on the unique character each class in Dungeons and Dragons. A simple one-column design and legible fonts provide a clean look, if a little sparing. We can see the influence of the role-playing game as party game style, reminiscent of titles like Fiasco, in the accessibility and brevity of the what is role-playing section. This continues in the basic play section, which outlines the mechanics of what makes Dungeon World work. This is a nicely written section, but is badly in need of the basic moves cheat sheet being moved right to the start, so that we have a depiction of the moves before laying out mechanics that depend on them strongly.

Dungeon World, like Apocalypse World before it, runs on a core mechanic of player-facing, player-guided rolls, with a GM painting the landscape, foes, and supporting characters just ahead of the players, as well as pasting together any gaps in the narrative. Moves are the basic unit in this rule system, a set of bins into which an action is categorized before dice start rolling. This is not unlike many other games, but the mechanic is player-facing, actions in the game are focused on the player characters rather than round-based with a lot of NPC actions.

Further, a player essentially knows what the roll result means, based on the move they took. This shifts a lot of the work off the GM once you have players used to the system. It also gives the players a lot more freedom to shape the narrative.

On this core framework Dungeon World layers on the flavor and combat mechanics needed to evoke the flavor of dungeon-crawling without a huge rules infrastructure to support it. Almost all of these add interesting flavor to the game, like the awesome henchman mechanic which can help with player absence, a fun camping move, or the flavor of classic spell-casting differences between classes. A few fall a little flat and seem to clash with the simple flavor, like Alignment or Encumbrance. I see that the idea with alignment was to emulate the source material, but it feels like the moral restriction clashes with the free choice aesthetic in the game, and allowing Evil PCs is perhaps more problematic as they can earn XP by clashing with other players. Encumbrance, similarly, seems out of place. Why are we tracking every piece of equipment when most of us house-ruled it away in most D&D editions? These could be easily fixed with some house rules, and perhaps this is just my personal taste, but a few rules seem like odd additions. Overall the flavor added by these secondary mechanics are evocative and fun.

On the GM side we have a ton of advice on how to run the game. This is quite helpful if you are not used to running as more of an improvisational GM. The GM section guides you on what to worry about and what to not sweat. There is also a nice list which tells the GM what their moves should be. In practice you might not need this at all, as many GMs do these things naturally, but it can be helpful if you are lost or hit a writer's block in the middle of a scene.
A nice structuring tool called Fronts is also described. A front builds up multiple tracks of unfolding events which come to a dramatic conclusion. Its a good solution for a GM if their players have a tendency to meander when given a lot of plot control. This is further supported with advice on campaign design and some neat rules for populating a campaign world as the players move to a larger and larger scale. Similarly, monster building is given a thorough treatment with an eye toward challenging the party. There is also a beefy section describing all the beasties, followed by the loot you might "liberate" from their corpses.

Finally, we close out with a few forward-thinking sections that really make this product. The first covers how to hack the system to do different things, everything from how to make a special set-piece to an adventure with unique moves to make on it, to creating brand new moves and even classes from scratch. It's neat to see the authors taking time to explain their ideas and design philosophy, and its a cool nod to its progenitor, Apocalypse World.
We also have several appendices to aid play, but I'll focus on adventure conversion. What long-time gamer doesn't have a favorite dungeon delving quest they'd love to scrabble through one more time? It's great to have a very explicit guide on what to use from the Dungeon World book, what to convert wholesale, and what to recast or omit. I think this is a good example of a small amount of extra work giving exactly what the fans want.

Overall, I recommend Dungeon World for a new take on a well-worn genre, good for a quick night of fun or a full-fledged revisiting of a classic dungeon adventure.

Note that this review reflects the full 410 page book, rather than the open license or demo versions.

Friday, October 26, 2012

We're only mostly dead!

Hello Faithful Listeners,

I wanted to let everyone know that the recent absence of activity is not due to the fading of the podcast, but instead the arrival of the newest gamer to our family. While only a few days old, I hope that she will soon help round out our adventuring party.

Look here again in a few weeks for new reviews and actual plays.

Kindly,
A Game of Whit's

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ep.44 Tremulus Sneak Peek - Part 3



The votes are in! Samuel is a reasonable sort, and ceilings to not collapse without a cause! He opts to puzzle things out, and rolls a 7 plus 1 for his Reason, for an 8 total. This is a partial success, and allows Samuel to ask one among a number of questions. He opts for the straightforward, "How can I get out?" The Keeper provides the information, and Samuel moves onward and upward.

Flashlight in one hand, Samuel edged forward toward the tumbled rock and stone. The jutting root and trickle of water were most at odds with his expectations of a cave-in. Three sweeps of the flashlight and he saw a network of sturdy roots. Although not a scholarly man, Samuel figured that there was some connection with the roots weakening the ceiling. None of that mattered much now though, Samuel had noted that the roots were old, and big enough

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Ep. 42 Sess.1 "Invasive Procedures" Trail of Cthulhu

The first session of the Miami Gaming Authority actual play of the ENnie nominated "Invasive Procedures" by Gareth Hanrahan and published by Pelgrane Press using Trail of Cthulhu.

We now meet the wardmates at Our Lady's hospital.

Show Audio

Monday, August 27, 2012

tremulus Kickstarter Launched!

If you've been enjoying our tremulus sneak peeks lately, you'll be pleased to know that there kickstarter has just launched!

As an RPG that strongly evokes the literary tone of Lovecraft, I encourage anyone who is a fan of H.P.L., horror, or story-games like Fiasco to check the tremulus kickstarter out.

It's definitely the most excited I've been about a new Lovecraftian horror game in a long time.

Let's all make this great idea happen!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ep.41 Tremulus Sneak Peek - Part 2

 

 The next installment in our tremulus sneak peek.

Show Audio




The votes are in! Samuel will try to convince the butler to act as a guide. It’s not a bad choice, faithful reader, as Sam has a pretty high Affinity with others despite any less-than-moral inclinations. He gets boxcars! That also gives you a point of Lore, this will give Samuel a dark insight down the road. Sometimes this has special effects too, but in this case it is just very successful. Perhaps the old butler has a fondness for the young master still after all these years. When you get 10 or more on a roll you generally get a result without a lot of strings. In this case Samuel will have to promise something, but does not need tangible assurances.


Samuel shivered uncontrollably for a moment, then wrapped his arms around himself to assuage an icy death that never comes.

“Heh. Ha. Yes. It must be my imagination and all, trick of the light. Yes, I’m quite sure that’s what it is,” said Samuel to himself.

He left the book where it was, crumpled on the embroidered rug like an overindulged party guest, as its pages began to fold. Samuel slid the library doors apart, and called for Horatio.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ep.40 "Invasive Procedures Character Creation" Trail of Cthulhu

Taking a short break from our regular Necessary Evil campaign, the Miami Gaming Authority play the ENnie nominated "Invasive Procedures" by Gareth Hanrahan and published by Pelgrane Press. We set it in the 1930's using Trail of Cthulhu.

This is character creation, preparing for some hospital horror!

Show Audio

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ep.38 Sess.10 "And His Faithful Ward" Necessary Evil



In this episode of Necessary Evil the villains show no mercy, and their potential to leave their mark in a way that no one on earth could miss.

Show Audio

Necessary Evil Intro Theme from Midnightman by Kido

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ep.37 Tremulus Sneak Peek - Part 1



In this episode you get a special sneak peak of tremulus. This is a game of Lovecraftian horror, which patterns itself off the compelling narrative of the author's dark tales. This is more than just a preview, we will all be playing this game together! 




To participate just listen to the podcast or read the text below if you prefer. 
Then vote at the top of the page to help guide the protagonist's path:


 Transcript:

The following narrative is assembled cold, using just the systems outlined within the tremulus rules. Please enjoy the story, and then help decide what twists the story takes next! If you vote you are already playing. So I sit down at a table, and glance through my character options. I whisk through

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ep.36 Sess.9 "Exchange Program" Necessary Evil

In this episode the villains discover relics from deep under the waves. We begin with a recap due to an audio mishap, and a most excellent joke we shall greatly miss.

Show Audio

Necessary Evil Intro Theme from Midnightman by Kido

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ep.35 The Occult Guide to London Review



This episode I review the Occult Guide to London by Paula Dempsey and published by Pelgrane Press.


Show Audio




Transcript:

The Occult Guide to London is a very unique supplement to a Trail of Cthulhu or any Cthulhu-themed game. It is a modern book, but it harkens back to the historic tone we love in Lovecraftian games with it's other moniker: Liber Fumo de Frater Vigilo (The Book of the Smoke) by Augustus Darcy, Deceased. With a name like that it's straight out of the forbidden

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ep.34 Miami Gaming Authority Interview

In this episode we talk with the members of the Miami Gaming Authority, the stars of our actual play podcasts. Sadly one of our players was out this evening, but we will fill in the rest on a future actual play.


Show Audio

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ep.33 Truth & Justice Review




In this episode I review Truth and Justice by Chad Underkoffler and published by Atomic Sock Monkey Press.



Truth and Justice on RPGNow


Show Audio




Transcript:

As you might have gathered from some of my reviews, I'm a big fan of super-hero settings, especially those which closely emulate the feel of comic books. Check out the reviews of Shikishima Heroes, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, or our current running campaign of Necessary Evil. Truth and Justice by Atomic Sock Monkey Press seeks to provide a rules

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Three to See: Great Crowdfunded Projects

This time on Three to See I wanted to feature some great projects which have secured my attention lately:

Project Zomboid has been around for some time, but each new test build improves the game. I'm a sucker for zombie games, and this scratches the itch for real survival game-play. While its a video game, there is a whole scripting language the developers have designed, which promises for custom stories and highly elaborated custom sandboxes. If you love this kind of thing and somehow haven't seen this, totally check it out at http://projectzomboid.com/blog/. You can even support the game early and test all the versions released.


Another new crowdfunded video game, Spy Party, has an awesome concept. It's early in development, but basically purports to be a thinking-man's spy game. It's a sniper with a single bullet itching to make an international incident versus a subtle spy trying to accomplish hidden objectives. Like all great projects funded by fans (whether on kickstarter, indie go-go, or all on their own) it just needs some help to be fully realized. A great two-player game that certainly evokes those feelings I look for in a suspense RPG. Check it out at http://www.spyparty.com/


Last, and probably what I'm most excited about, is Race to Adventure! This is a board game from Evil Hat Productions. These are the publishers of Spirit of the Century, Don't Rest Your Head, and the awesome Dresden Files RPG. This board game uses the same pulpy setting as Spirit of the Century, including the Century Club, Rocket Packs, and sentient apes! Best of all, this game appears to be targeted toward newbies to euro-gaming as well as veterans, and has a quick play time. These are both great things to have in one's library. Check out their kickstarter at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/evilhat/race-to-adventure-a-spirit-of-the-centurytm-board

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ep.32 Sess.8 "Walkers and Wreckage" Necessary Evil




In this episode the slightly waterlogged villains find a new ally in the most unlikely of visages, in our eighth session of Necessary Evil.


Show Audio

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ep.31 Destiny Beginner Review



In this episode I review Destiny Beginner by Alexander Schiebel.

Show Audio






Transcript:

Destiny Beginner is sleek volume at around 54 pages, but is packed with content without feeling too rushed or inaccessible. It is rather remarkable in that it aims to and largely succeeds in being a game for newcomers to role-playing. I have some personal quibbles with some of the presentation and mechanics choices, but take these with a grain of salt. This is an excellent product that tries to make the hobby accessible to new folks, in the

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ep.30 13th Age Thoughts and Feedback


What the Miami Gaming Authority thought about playing 13th Age and what we liked and didn't like about the system. Take with a grain of salt, as the game is only in playtest form. 13th Age is written by Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet, and the folks at Fire Opal Entertainment and Pelgrane Press.
Our thoughts and feedback to follow shortly.

Show Audio

Join in the discussion on our forum!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ep.29 13th Age Actual Play Part 4


The conclusion of our adventure taken on by the Miami Gaming Authority, in play-testing 13th Age by Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet, and the folks at Pelgrane Press.
Our thoughts and feedback to follow shortly.

Show Audio

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ep.28 13th Age Actual Play Part 3


The third installment of audio from our gaming group, the Miami Gaming Authority, play-testing 13th Age by Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet, and the folks at Pelgrane Press. Our Wizard Fifthicus is called off on urgent business, but a mysterious new ranger aides the adventurers.

Show Audio

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ep.27 13th Age Actual Play Part 2


The next installment of audio from our gaming group, the Miami Gaming Authority, play-testing 13th Age by Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet, and the folks at Pelgrane Press.

Show Audio

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ep.26 13th Age Actual Play Part 1

Check out audio from our gaming group, the Miami Gaming Authority, play-testing 13th Age by Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet, and the folks at Pelgrane Press. We had a great time trying 13th Age out, and this will be my new go-to game for D&D style play. Expect four more parts over the next few days, which will finish up our adventure and share our thoughts.
Show Audio

Check out Part 2

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ep.25 Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game Review



In this episode I review the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game by Margaret Weis Productions. This is an audio version of the original review, but it has been updated to reflect our Actual Play experiences, and the new and exciting resources that have been made available.

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Original Review

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ep.24 Shikishima Heroes Review

Show Audio
Transcript: In this episode I review Shikishima Heroes by Felbrigg Herriot.

PocketMod is a Luddite's answer to pocket PDAs, using origami paper-folding to make a great note-taking system. But who knew they would make such a great format for single-page short format RPGs. Following in this interesting new trend, Shikishima Heroes condenses an entire indie rpg into a single fold-able booklet.


Shikishima Heroes is set in an alternate 1900 in which the pride of the Japanese fleet disappears, only to appear again a year later, with the crew transformed into super heroes. I haven't heard of anything like this idea, so kudos for an original concept. I don't want to spoil too much of the game, since its a brief format. To summarize, the combat, character creation, and vibe reflect strongly the design objectives of the author's other RPG Lovecraftian Shorts and Gregor Hutton's 3:16. We've reviewed both so if you want to get a flavor, check those reviews out. It's quick and has no fat rules bloat whatsoever. It doesn't just copy these previous systems though, this is a brand new set of rules.

The format requires a lot of concessions to space as opposed to most RPGs, but this presents a unique design challenge. However, it requires a purity of concept that is a bit revolutionary. I think Shikishima succeeds at this quite well. In this little sheet you have background, chargen, a universal resolution system, a system for setting up opposition and an introductory adventure. That's a ton for one 8.5 by 11 sheet. The gripes I have seem a bit minor, and are likely due to the format length rather than any real objections. Also its a dollar people, I spend that much on itunes for things I never use.

Heroes of the Navy
  • A new and original idea, with a complete system for beer-and-pretzels style play.
  • A lot of bells and whistles for this format, I'm suitably impressed that an intro adventure is in there.
  • You can buy, print copies from the pdf, roll 2 dice each and be playing. That is an incredible statement.
Disgruntled Giant Sea Turtles
  • The bad thing about this format is also its brevity, with just what's here there can't be very much staying power without the GM creating material past the first session or two. Weigh this heavily against the price point, however.
  • The combat system has a quick death spiral, scenes are meant to be a round or two, if this is OK with you, you'll have a ball.
  • The system is fairly narrativist, so balancing is done via social contract, which is fairly standard for a lot of indie games these days.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Join us on our new forum!

Follow the link on the left to our forum, or click here, and join in on the discussion and tell us what you like and didn't like about the show. You can also find many other great podcasts over at RPG Crosstalk.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ep.21 Achtung Cthulhu Review - Zero Point Pt.1 Three Kings



This episode I review the Achtung Cthulhu! Zero Point Pt.1 Three Kings campaign for Call of Cthulhu.

Show Audio

Transcript:


Lovecraft and the related gaming materials have a definite special place in my heart, Call of Cthulhu was very revolutionary, so much so that we can still play it after thirty years without batting an eyelash or getting that dated feeling. That said it's been some time since I've been excited about a product for the original system, usually I stick to the classic modules. The new game company Modiphius does have me intrigued with their new Achtung Cthulhu! setting, which is being released for

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Three to See: Gaming Podcasts

I'm starting a new feature, Three to See, here on A Game of Whit's. The plan is to share three things that I think are great and want to share with our listeners/readers.

This time its great gaming podcasts you might be interested in checking out.

Critical Hit

I'm not big on D&D actual play audio, as I think the market is a bit saturated. However this podcast is very high quality, has great game play, and is a great way to introduce new players that like listening to podcasts.




Fear the Boot

Irreverent and entertaining gaming discussion with a great following. These folks really discuss the issues that we encounter in gaming, as well as the kind of table chatter that keeps me laughing after any given episode.


RoleplayDNA

The latest brainchild of the folks who put together The Game's the Thing. They have a neat roundtable setup, essentially a McLaughlin Group of gaming, in which they record both audio and blog. Their previous show was a staple of mine, and the new show is shaping up nicely.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ep.18 3:16 - Carnage Amongst the Stars & Death Bringers

I review 3:16 - Carnage Amongst the Stars by Gregor Hutton and Death Bringers by Felbrigg Herriot, in the audio version of the classic review.

Show Audio

Original Review

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ep. 17 Blood and Honor Review




I review Blood and Honor, the samurai game by John Wick, in the audio version of this classic review.

Show Audio

Original Review

Blood in the Black Notes

Shameless Plug

Hello All,

I hope that you've been enjoying our recent episodes, I wanted to take a few moments to shamelessly plug for the show. If you like the content in the podcast, please like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, Rank us on iTunes, or even better, submit a short review! Thank you for following the podcast and I look forward to putting out more content for everyone to enjoy.

We should be wrapping up the classic reviews this week, and you should see brand new reviews soon as well as our continuing MGA session. Feel free to comment on any of the shows, I love feedback on what you liked and what can be improved. Also please let me know if there is content that you would like to see added to the podcast.

Kindly,
Whit

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ep.16 So You Want to Euro-game?


I review Carcassonne, the Lord of the Rings, and Pandemic, my go-to games to introduce new players to the hobby, in the audio version of this classic review.

Show Audio

Original Reviews, Part 1, 2, and 3.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ep.15 John Wick's Play Dirty


In this episode I review John Wick's Play Dirty, a collection of articles from the influential Pyramid magazine column, in the audio version of this classic review.

Show Audio

Original Review

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ep.14 Zombie Run Review





In this episode I review Zombie Run by Jonathan Pierson, in the audio version of this classic review.

Show Audio

Original Review

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Ep.12 Sundered Skies Review



In this episode I review Sundered Skies by David Blewer in the audio version of the classic review.

Show Audio

Original Review

Ep.11 Elder Sign Review



This episode I'd like to review Elder Sign, published by Fantasy Flight Games and designed by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson.


Show Audio



Transcript:

Fantasy Flight is one of the better game companies out there, straddling many markets in a similar way to Wizards and other large companies, they choose to diversify to survive. Fantasy Flight have published some of my favorites, including

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ep.10 Mouse Guard Actual Play Review



In this episode I review Mouse Guard by Luke Crane and David Peterson in the audio version of the classic review.

Show Audio

Original Review

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ep.9 Trail of Cthulhu/Gumshoe Read-through Review

Trail of Cthulhu reviewed, the first game I think of when I hear the word investigation. It updates the well-loved Call of Cthulhu to a more modern-style game system. This is an audio version of the previous review posted to the blog.

Audio Show

Text Review

Thursday, April 26, 2012

News: WaRP, Dominion, TableTop, Classic Reviews

Hello Everyone, it's been a busy week, but there are some really neat things going on out there in cyberspace.


Close on the heels of the 13th age announcement, another Jonathan Tweet-related news item just began circulating. Atlas Games has announced that Over the Edge by Jonathan Tweet and Robin Laws will be released to an Open Gaming License. Over the Edge has inspired a ton of indy games since its release, and remains an awesome system and setting.


Have you played Dominion? Some of you may have just laughed out loud at that question. It's a bit hard not to, given its status as a Barnes and Noble board-game section mainstay. What's neat is there is an online website where you can play with others, without the need to harangue your friends and loved ones into another game. The art is sparse, but the game-play is spot-on. Check it out at http://dominion.isotropic.org/


There is a new episode of TableTop where they play another classic, Settlers of Catan. It's awesome stuff guys, and I really hope they start to work in things like Mouse Guard, Fiasco, or maybe a D&D 4e board-game. I think the coolest part of the show is all the nerd guests who are very successful and positive role models.


To help get the highest quality audio, A Game of Whit's will soon be upgrading its audio equipment. Once we're set up, expect less tin-can in the podcast, especially in Actual Play recordings. I'll also continue to re-record classic reviews in the podcast format, for those who prefer my dulcet tones to a screen.