The Boy Who Cried Werewolf is a game I’ve designed for this year’s Golden Cobra design competition. If you like party games with the word ‘werwolf’ in the title, you’ll get a kick out of The Boy Who Cried Werewolf.
You can download it for free!
The Boy Who Cried Werewolf is a game I’ve designed for this year’s Golden Cobra design competition. If you like party games with the word ‘werwolf’ in the title, you’ll get a kick out of The Boy Who Cried Werewolf.
You can download it for free!
This is my #YesAllWomen story.
I am so sick of male entitlement in nerd and geek culture. Can you guys, just for one moment, realize that it’s not all about you, that there is a whole other gender out there, who loves the same things that you love, is just as passionate them, whose participation can improve and grow your hobby, but that you are pushing away? No?
Am I just noticing this because it’s my subculture? Maybe, but as Arthur Chu of the Daily Beast points out, Nerd culture champions the idea that women are prizes, a reward for your hard work.
Fuck that noise.
I have been playing the Shadowfist collectible card game since the year 2000, after it was re-released by Z-Man games. I’ve followed the games through its highs and lows. In 2007 I was the Shadowfist World Champion. I have one card with my likeness on it to commemorate that event and another when I backed Inner Kingdom Games’ 2012 Kickstarter. I think it’s fair to say, that when it comes to Shadowfist, I’m kind of a big deal.
Inner Kingdom Games put out another Kickstarter this year, for a new set of expansions, which I was eager to purchase. I had only one compunction: this is the picture Inner Kingdom Games chose to promote their product.
Does the CCG world need another boobs and butt pose? Do we need to see the lovingly detailed line of her buttcheeks in such loving detail?
Is this representative of the “Equal Opportunity Card Game,” as Shadowfist bills itself, a cardgame with buttkicking men and women?
Yup, that’s a woman kicking ass.
I wrote a message to the Shadowfist CCG group entitled “Equal Opportunity Buttkicking Fail”:
The mechanics on the new cards look great- especially interested in playing Edie Tso and Crisis characters.
I have a concern about the art that’s being used to promote the game on the splash page for the kickstarter video for the mermaid looking woman. It has a very stereotypical “boobs and butt” pose that seems like a cheap shot for sex appeal. I would feel embarrassed playing this card in my decks (much like the alternate art Scrounging).
I don’t know why Edie Tso couldn’t have been the face of the project- there’s a lady I’m going to be proud to pack in my decks.
To see what I’m talking about Scrounging, here’s the original, extremely unsexy version.
This is as close to Beekcake as you’re going to get, ladies.
And here’s the new and “improved” alternate art version.
Why yes, I always stop at the junkyard on my way home from the club.
Daniel Greigo, owner of Inner Kindom Games and all around cool dude, did change the cover picture to Edie Tso, a badass looking lady.
I picked Daughter of Nu Gua as the cover art for two primary reasons: it’s a beautiful piece and because it fits the horizontal alignment necessary for Kickstarter’s banner. This secondary requirement ultimately proved more limiting than anything else in selecting an appropriate piece.
That said, I’m not insensitive to the perceptions of our Secret Warriors and I certainly want the best face of Shadowfist up front for new players to see. It’s definitely a well-done piece, albeit contorted slightly so as to be in a somewhat revealing pose.
So I’ve updated the cover photo with Edie’s image, saving the daughter for players who are looking to have her in their decks when the time comes.
Inner Kingdom Games
Edie Tso: Now that’s a woman!
I got some replies of consensus and support.
It’s true, although to be fair, it’s a very well painted boobs and butt piece
(enough that I really wish she weren’t contorted to show off her butt; it’s
entirely unnecessary). It’s almost certainly the best done female piece in the
set, which I’m guessing is why it headlined, but yeah.
Yeah agreed. I think the logic was nice art, rather than nice arse, but the piece is definitely less than equal opportunity. Its something we are aware of (I hate playing with cards with embarrassing art), so for this, and other reasons hopefully there will be less NEOBK art going forward.
I actually quite like the impressionistic style of Edie (reminds me of Pump Action Shotgun), but Lorraine Schleter is also pretty awesome.
I got other replies that were much less supportive.
If people are worried about a shapely ass for one sex then why would they not care at all that the other sex is frequently portrayed as overtly muscular or masculine ? What a silly thing to spend time worrying about. Humans are works of art in and of themselves. Appreciating curvature or musculature is natural and is naturally recreated in art the world over. Personally I enjoy having hotties in my ranks. A pretty face ( or nice ass ) that can hand down a beating is an awesome thing. Art is art, it imitates life and life imitates it. There are trillions of things in this world that are more offensive and embarrassing than having a booty turned toward your line of sight on a playing card. The most interesting part of this though is the one sided ness… No one wants to see a weakened or less muscular Big Bruiser.. He doesnt even have a shirt.. How embarrassing… See how silly this argument sounds when applied to the male sex ? It sounds just as silly when applied to female characters to me… Sex appeal will always exist, especiallyin art.
To which Joshua quite elegantly responds:
Please, don’t. If you want to get educated on representation, we can do it
Here’s the card he’s talking about, Big Bruiser:
Big Bruiser version 2:
Sorry anonymous troll, neither of those are beefcake. Until he strips out of that undershirt, removes those sunglasses so I can see his soulfull eyes, and poses like he’s in an underwear commercial, I won’t be able to properly appreciate that bod.
Shadowfist has always been a CINEMATIC card game. So we need to make sure the art portrays that… so all the female characters should be unattractive like Michelle Yeoh (beauty queen), Maggie Q (model), Angelina Jolie (model), and Scarlet Johansson. That list of unattractive women excluded the female actors in genre films that were there more for looks than their martial prowess like Amy Yip.
I won’t link any pictures from their movies or movie posters so as not to offend… but let me assure you they are not beating ass while wearing burqas.
Maybe that’s because the only way to get involved in movies is to be attractive? The only female action star I’m aware of who is known more for her physical prowess than her looks is Zoe Bell, who is hardly a big name.
Here’s what I had to say about all of this:
You are missing the point, which is that it is possible to portray a character in a way that is attractive, without being exploitative or cheesecake. The mermaid peice is well-done from a technical standpoint, but is in a pose that is anatomically unlikely, solely for the exciement of the (presumed) male viewer. If Shadowfist wants to attract a larger audience (and it does, and the audience is out there), alienating half of all potential buyers because a product is marketed with yet-another-cheesecake piece of art that focuses on women as objects. The Mermaid is not kicking ass; she is standing there looking sexy.
The Big Bruiser is depicted as ready to kick some ass. He is not depicted as ready to take it up the ass. This is the difference between the depiction of men and women in gaming.
There are female card players, we do have a problem with this thing, and if a game is marketed as Equal Opportunity, we are going to call you on it.
Anonymous troll tries to accuse me of having an echo chamber and tries the old free speech gambit:
Just pointing out the one sided aspects of the arguments being made here by other posters. This is a forum for discussion of beliefs and opinions is it not ?
To which Joshua once again brilliantly responds.
Nope. You must be thinking of a different forum. This forum is about Shadowfist.
Anonymous troll gets my name wrong and calls me a whiner. Nice.
I can agree and disagree with all of the points willy makes. Bottom line is this is for money… So reality and equality wont come into play. The chance of offending someone trumps artistic freedom and expression. Therefore offending less people is what is catered to. The whiny wheel gets the grease. Making every opinion about what is acceptable in art and society and card games moot. Perhaps A focus group should have been held for the artwork to see which people react best and worst to each piece of art? I honestly find very little offensive in our world save for crimes against children, censorship and double standards. If her butt is offensive so is the big bruisers macho pose. I am not that buff… Most men are not that buff.. why is he being portrayed that way, he is the barbie doll of lcg’s for sure.. By the way.. PLEASE NOTE: I am typing and thinking all of this with a smile on my face.. I take it all as very tongue in cheek. Just very amused that such little things can be so offensive to some :D My life would make some of you physically sick if a little cheek offends you :D
“You’re a whiner, but I’m not serious, just playing devil’s advocate, LOL.”
Another voice of reason appears:
That mermaid? was atrocious and embarrassing, and I’m glad that it’s gone from the Kickstarter page (which I have been checking daily to see how it’s funding). I really hope the art is cut from the set as well. Not only was it an overtly sterotypical t&a pose that could only be comfortable in an animated environment, but her hands and “feet” just look ridiculous. I hadn’t said anything, because I assumed that we were a minority and I’d rather see the Kickstarter succeed than not.
Thanks, Willow, for making the post, and thanks, Daniel, for making the change. Once our daughter is old enough (also a Willow!) we plan to teach her Shadowfist, and a card like that is inappropriate for the under 21 crowd. If Shadowfist has moved away from the topless art so as to be more family friendly, it’s also time to move away from t&a poses as well.
The MRA squad arrives to pick apart Paul’s parenting skills, seeing as how Shadowfist involves violence. Because if you can’t win the argument, change the argument!
So a mermaid showing her ass is inappropriate for the under 21 crowd, but a man eating other’s brains or shooting a machine-gun is perfectly appropriate…
I’m glad to live in Europe, where we usually don’t have this odd morality.
And the mermaid art is awesome and would make a better front page in the kickstarter project.
In the dark ages in England families mostly lived in one room huts where children would see their parents butcher animals, procreate their siblings and kill enemies or die by the hands of rivals. Violent pretend play is often considered ok and always has been. However saying that an image of a curvy butt is going to corrupt a child ( or someone of 18 19 20 21 etc years) MORE or LESS than images of violence is a very silly thing and really does appear to be a standard that other countries have less of. It is not ok for us to grow up with a perverse attraction to the opposite sex but an intricate knowledge of what spraying someones brains onto a wall looks like is ingrained into us early. Honestly sex and violence are natural parts of human existence and both are OK. We should not glorify these things to children ( or ppl up to 21 !!! what a fun number ) but also should not hide them and candy coat their use and prevalence on this planet. The artsy side of sex and violence, especially in a comic style is a nice escape from seeing it on the news and everywhere else. Media hard wires DISNEY role models and other such role models into a child and young adult well before they will ever see their first TCG LCG or CCG.. I dont think I would ever worry about a shadowfist character being a role model of any kind until you have a hit kids show, dolls and an amusement park :D In short dont worry. Most minds are corrupt before reaching you.
Meanwhile, Bruce Neiger chimes in with some sense.
Controversial topics. Oooh fun.
So, Big Bruiser is a helluva lot more masculine than I or 99.9999% of the human population. Yep. But it doesn’t upset me.
Why not? Should I be? I dunno.
Perhaps it is because I am not part of a super large group who have been told in countless ways by multiple aspects of society (although lead perhaps by Madison Ave at the larger scale and insensitive oafs at the smaller one) that YOUR looks count disproportionately to other aspects of you. Who have in large part been given unreasonable amounts of stress about appearance. Who have to put up with grossly disproportionate levels of objectification.
- What we (and Madison Ave) do to young girls’ self image is fairly revolting.
- This, and multiple other factors to extensive to list create a heightened sensitivity to certain images(…and words. Can we all agree that words can hurt? None of us would toss out racial epithets, even in the name of art, would we?), resulting in feelings that range from frustration to hurt.
- Would those feelings be as legitimate if these conditions didn;t exist? Yeah, but those conditions are a large force behind the feelings. That’s how it is.
- It is incumbent upon designers and developers of a gaming product that wishes to be equal- opportunity to be listening to (our) customers’ opinions and feelings of what can be hurtful or offensive, and being sensitive to that. Is that restrictive? Yes. But I hear restrictions breed creativity, anyway.
- Do we have to like it? It is better if we do. But if you are the one plopping down a pornographic playmat or a wearing a T-shirt with inappropriate slogans on it at a gaming store that permits under 16′s and actively recruits female gamers of any age, well… maybe those restrictions aren;t such a bad thing, eh?
- Gamers, in particular, shouldn;t have to feel unwelcome for being who they are.
Thanks, Bruce. Well said.
Anonymous Troll begins posting as Patrick Roach, and begins trolling some more:
Big Bruiser reference was purely for comparison.. That opinion could exist, although it is not my true feelings on the subject. :D
“Just playing Devil’s Advocate, LOL!”
Topless sting was bad ass ! It was a brazen and ballsy move that has created a card that is very well appreciated in my play group. We dont use it.. But we do look at it from time to time. I actually remember thinking ” Damn, they printed this, they are bad asses.” AH Nostalgia…
He’s talking about this card: Sting of the Scorpion
Yeah, you got some decent wank fodder right there.
And the topless Sting of the Scorpion promo (NSFW)
Funny story, after Z-Man games put out their first couple of topless promos, Robin Laws, creator of Feng Shui and Shadowfist and also all-around cool guy, heard about it, and told them not to print any more if they wanted to keep their license.
I try to redirect people back to the point:
This is getting way off course.
I don’t care about this because of the children, or morality. I care because for me, because of what I have to look at when I’m playing the game, and the Mermaid art is another stupid, lazy grab for cheap sex appeal.
It’s very simple. You can decide you’re going to market your game just towards men, and use sex as your signifier… as many, many games have done before. Personally, I think this cheapens the integrity of your product and is insulting towards your target audience, but several men on this list have gone on record as willing to be pandered to.
Or you can try to market your game to a growing audience. Did you know that thanks to the rise of facebook and mobile games, there are now more female gamers than male gamers? Gencon’s advertiser information lists Women ages 20+ as its fastest growing demographic.
IKG seems to be positioning itself in this direction, and I applaud them for it- their stance on “Equal Opportunity Buttkicking,” (which if you don’t know, is a reference to badass men AND women).
When I was at Gencon last year, I played many different games- Shadowfist, Magic Drafts, Ascension, Netrunner, and roleplaying games. I saw very few female players in the CCG tourneys I played in. However when I played a few games of King of Tokyo at the Iello tables, only a few tables away from the Shadowfist area, about half the players were female.
If that’s the approach IKG wants to take, then they have to walk the walk, and so far they have, but they’ve still got room for improvement.
Well, I was going to stay out of this, but since pat called me out, I will toss in my two cents.
Seems to me that taking offense at the sexiness of the mermaid is to give way too much weight to it, and ignore everything else that she is, or could be Isn’t it sexist to see her only for her body?
She is the “Daughter of Nu Gua”, after all, who is no less than a Goddess of Creation! Nu Gua, according to legend, actually repaired the pillars of Heaven, in addition to creating may species of creatures to roam the Earth. Seems like her daughter should be respected for her goddess blood at least. Plus what about that huge sword she carries. Looks to me like she would be a formidable enemy (hmmm 3 for 4 and cannot be intercepted by magic or tech characters. Her flavor text should be “Bring it!”). Shouldn’t you take this into account?
Mankind has been showcasing the beauty of the female form since we learned how to paint and sculpt. The Goddess Athena, for example, was often portrayed in clinging robes, and sometimes even with a breast exposed, Gasp! None more formidable in battle than Athena, nor in many other things such as weaving, and she was quite vain about her own beauty as well. Who would dare to call Athena sexist, or say that she “demeans” females by being sexy and also bad-ass?
Don’t feel offended. Feel empowered! Feel proud to be of the same gender as figures of such legacy and power. Don’t see them only for how they look.
Oh, I get it now! Perceiving sexism is the real sexism! (Eyeroll.) And I should be honored that there’s sexy art. Thanks for mansplaining. It all makes so much sense now.
I got a number of private emails from people thanking me for bringing this up. But I have to tell you people, that support kept me going at the time, but the best thing you can do is speak up against misogyny when you see it.
Should it be controversial for me to want to see artwork in a game I play that does not reduce women to sexual anatomy?
Should it be controversial for me point out to a game company that using said art is counter to their stated goals for the game?
Should it be acceptable for people to tell me I need to just live with it?
Should it be acceptable for our industry to think of women as a commodity, and not as people?
Timeslots for Forge Midwest 2014 will be as follows:
9 AM: Early Bird Session
1 PM: Afternoon Session
7 PM: Evening Session
11 PM: Night Owl Session
We will not be using the Big Board method of event sign-ups this year. While intended to be a means for GMs to communicate their games to players, it has become a pretty dysfunctional method of player-signups. This year we will be trying out Pitch Sessions: All attendees are invited to meet in one area, discuss prospective games for that timeslot, and split into groups. My goal is to further invite newcomers in the community. The first big Pitch Session will be Friday at 1 PM, but we will be opening up the doors to the room as soon as the hotel lets us.
Since these timeslots will not necessarily work for everyone (I can hear you saying “who gets up that early/stays up that late??”), in addition, a number of boardgames and other short games will be made available for anyone’s use in the con “main area.”
Apocalypse West: Ran a one-shot of my western Apocalypse World hack at Chicago Games Day.
Apocalypse World: Wrapped up my Apocalypse Northwest game. Abram ran a game of this, which lastest only a few sessions before he left Madison. I was playing the Quarantine. Doc ran a very large game where I played the fan-playbook the Radio.
Blazing Rose: Played a one shot, with a Kung Fu in Love quickstart.
Clay That Woke: Ran a short game of this game in playtest.
Deadlands Classic: Ran a short game featuring the adventure Monolith Beyond Space and Time.
Dog Eat Dog: Finally got to play this game of colonialism and sociology.
Dungeon Planet: Played in a oneshot at Games on Demand at Gencon.
Dungeon World: Played in Sabe’s ongoing game as Dahlia the Cleric of Death and later Astrafel the Bard. Sabe also ran a Planar Codex game where I played Zash, a Githyanki Sky Pirate Dashing Hero. Ran a game featuring the adventure Death Frost Doom. Ran a one shot at Forge Midwest.
Dungeons & Dragons, 4th Edition: Abram ran his Clan City Lockdown scenario, in which we all played Minotaurs in a superhard adventure.
Exploding Kingdoms: Continued to design, run, and playtest this.
Freemarket: Got to play this at Chicago Games Day.
Gamma World: Ran a combat-heavy, X-Mas themed one-shot since Colin wanted to try it.
Itras By: Ran a few session, played in Sabe’s ongoing game as a Grey Guard investigator.
Lady Blackbird: Shari ran a session or two of this that I got to play in; she’s added this to her gaming repertoire and ran a longer game that sounded very fun.
Legends of the Wulin: Sabe ran a game of this, in which I played some sort of sword princess, and Abram ran a session or two of a Gods of Cooking game where I played a Fire Sutra Doctor with very spicy cooking!
Microscope: Played a game. I think it had spaceships.
Monsterhearts: Played two one shots at Forge Midwest. Ran season two of my Red Bank game.
Mouse Guard: Sabe ran a one-shot of this.
Mythic Animist Playtest: Played a session of Abram’s Mythic Animist game; a little rocky but the concepts have potential.
On Mighty Thews: Played this at Forge Midwest. The map stayed up most of the con.
Primitive: Played this for the first time at Chicago Games day.
Quiet Year: Got to give this game a try.
Rustbelt: Played a session at Gencon.
Sign in Stranger: Sabe facilitated a one shot of this, good to play again, and provided inspiration for his Welcome Earthlings game.
Space War: Played Brendan’s playtest of the crew of two spaceships in conflict.
Torchbearer: Currently running an ongoing game.
Undying: Tim ran a playtest of this for us.
Vast and Starlit: Played this minigame. Cliffhangers.
We Set Out: Doc facilitated a game of this.
Wilding Tales: Played a oneshot of this.
World of Darkness: Sabe ran a nWoD game over G+.
XXXXtreme Street Luge: Played this at Forge Midwest. Failed to achieve my lifegoals, but at least my luger got Leonard Nimoy as a fan.
As always, I am likely missing odd one shots.
These games are for sale! All prices are plus shipping. Send me an email if you are firstname.lastname@example.org
A Touch of Evil: $35
Apples to Apples extra Blank Cards: $5
Are You a Werewolf? (Looney Labs): $5
Battle of the Bands, plus Expansion: $30
Car Wars Deluxe Edition Boxed Set: $35
Cards Against Humanity, 3nd Expansion: $10
Chez Dork: $20
Chez Geek: $30
Chrononauts, plus Lost Identities Expansion: $15
Conquest of Pangea (Mint): $20
Eminent Domain: $45
Hell Rail: $15
Hex Hex: $25
History of the World, 2001 Printing: $100
Illuminati plus Y2K: $35
Inn Fighting: $10
Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island: $15
Lord of the Rings (Reiner Kniza co-op version): $15
Mad Gab: $8
Miskatonic School for Girls: $25
Mutants and Masterminds Beginner Rules: Free to Good Home, along with other purchase
Scrabble Sentence Cube Game: $10
Soft Landing: $7
Spy Ring: $10
Star Wars Monopoly: $15
Strata 5: $5
Ticket to Ride: Dice Expansion: $10
Cheapass Games $5 Each
Captain Park’s Imaginary Polar Expedition
Escape from Elba
One False Step for Mankind
The Big Idea
Posted Today, 09:52 PM
Just had an 108 game.
I’m playing Raymond, and the other players are Nisei, Beckham, and Floyd.
Floyd and I were racing to fill out the Conspiracy grid, and each got 3 tokens before the board was closed off. The center of the grid was all connected, so everything except Sad Endings, Street Favors, and Innocent Hunches were worth +2 points. Jinteki and Haas links were not on the board.
After this happened, I pretty much camped out Melange Mining, getting a Corp favor each turn, and mostly playing cards. After maxing out the Corp favors, I got moved down to the War Memorial, then sat on City Hall. I had seen Caprice’s hand, so I knew that if I moved pretty much anywhere I could get hurt.
People were drawing just Raymond dark cards heavily the whole second half of the game. I spent most of my turn drawing to make sure I had enough positive baggage to stay ahead of things. Then I rotated a tile to make all those bonuses be +3.
Fortunately, the card that makes me lose all favors was drawn early, and I was careful to never have seven cards in hand.
And, at the end of the game, despite never playing any significant evidence, I got Obsession. How? Thomas Haas (Floyd’s guilty hunch) was dead, and Eve (Beckham’s Guilty Hunch, Floyd’s Innocent) had a pile of evidence, high and low, that ended out totalling to just 5, whereas the evidence on the Strangler totaled to 12. (I think Floyd was playing positive evidence there after Haas was killed to make sure he was higher than Eve, becuase the competition on Eve was really stiff.)
+12 (3 Conspiracy Links)
+48 (16 favors)
+6 (2 Kate Favors)
+17 (Happy Ending)
The Great Game Roundup and Inventory Reduction
I have too many games. So I’m going through them, in preparation to get rid of some of them.
I’m using the following Rating system:
An A game is one I actually regularly play, either by bringing to Boardgame Nights, Cons, or playing with Tim, All A games are staying on the shelf.
A B game is a game I like but haven’t played in a while, or a game that I have some emotional attachment to. I want to make an effort to play more of these, forcing them to justify their existence on my gaming shelf. A B+ game is one I really want to keep. A B- game is one that I will probably end up getting rid of.
A C game is one that I can’t really see myself playing again. These games are probably either not to my taste, or otherwise rendered obsolete by other games in my collection.
If a game is labeled (Tim), I’m pretty sure that’s Tim’s game, and I should probably ask him before selling it.
If you want a game that’s a B- or C, let me know, and we’ll talk price.
7 Wonders: A
Betrayal at the House on the Hill, 2nd Edition: A
Blood Bowl: Team Manager: A
Boss Monster: A
Castle Ravenloft etc: A
Carcassone, plus many expansions: A
Cards Against Humanity: A
Colossal Arena: A
Cosmic Encounter: A
Descent 2nd Edition: A
Epic Spellduels of the Battle Wizards: Duel on Mt. Skullsfyre: A
Facts in Five: A
Fairy Tale: A
Fortune and Glory: A
Get Bit: A
Glory to Rome: A
Infernal Contraption: A
Jungle Speed: A
Last Night on Earth: A
Liar’s Dice: A
Lord of the Rings: Confrontation: A
Lords of Waterdeep, plus expansion: A
Lost Cities: A
King of Tokyo: A
Kingdom Builder: A
Penny Arcade Game: A
Race for the Galaxy: A
Sentinels of the Multiverse: A
Small World, plus expansions: A
Smash Up!: A
Sole Mio!: A
Super Dungeon Explore!: A
Sushi Go!: A
The Duke: A
The Stars are Right: A
Tsuro of the Seas: A
Wiz War: A
Aladdin’s Dragons: B+
Battle for Alabaster: B+
Battlestar Galactica, plus all expansions: B+
Blue Moon City: B+
Carolus Magnus B+
Chaos in the Old World, plus expansion: B+
City of Thieves, plus expansion: B+
Copy Cat: B+
Death Angel: B+
Dominion, all the expansions: B+
Eclipse plus Expansion: B+
Gang of Four: B+
Girl Genius: The Works: B+
Ingenious (Mint): B+
In the Shadow of the Emperor (Mint): B+
Khet (Laser Chess)(Tim): B+
Kingsburg, plus expansion: B+
Last Night on Earth: Timber Peak: B+
Power Grid: B+
Puerto Rico: B+
Ticket to Ride: Europe, and Switzerland: B+
Tigris and Euphrates (Mint): B+
Torres (Mint): B+
Abalone: B (Tim)
Agricola, plus some expansions: B
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small: B
Arcane Legions: B
Arimaa: B (Tim)
Carcassone: Hunters and Gatherers: B
Campaign Manager 2008: B
Conquest of Nerath: B
Cthulhu Gloom: B (Tim)
Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb: B(Tim) I have no idea what this is.
Destruct: B. Whatever this is, it looks pretty cool.
D&D Command: B
Dungeon Quest B
Empyrian, Ltd: B
Entdecker (Mint): B
Fury of Dracula: B
Hacker: B (Tim)
Hero Card (Orc Wars, Shogun, Cyberspace, Nightmare): B
Hobbit Card Game (Mint): B
Horus Heresy: B
Lord$ of Vega$: B
Mage Knight: B
Mage Storm (Mint): B
Make a Scene: B (stupid party game, but entertaining)
Megachess: B (Tim)
Merchant of Venus: B
Rider Taror: B (doesn’t belong on game shelf)
Samurai and Katana: B
Settlers of Catan, plus Cities and Knights: B. I’m pretty sure Tim and I have multiple copies of this.
Settlers of Catan card game: B
Starfarers of Catan: B
Tales of the Arabian Nights: B
Three Dragon Ante: B (two copies, different editions, I think)
Ticket to Ride: Dice Expansion: B
Titan: B (I really need to find an excuse to play this.)
Vampire Tarot (Mint): B (Tim)- I don’t think this is even a game, just a tarot deck.
Carcassone: Princess and the Dragon: B-
Carcassone: The City: B-
Jump the Shark (Mint): B- (Tim?)
Star Trek Deckbuilding Game plus first Expansion: B-
A Touch of Evil: C
Are You a Werewolf? (Looney Labs): C
Arkham Horror, plus several expansions: C (Tim)
Battle of the Bands, plus Expansion: C
BSG CCG Cards: C, free to good home.
Burn in Hell: C (Tim)
Car Wars Boxed Set: C
Chrononauts, plus expansion: C
Conquest of Pangea (Mint): C
Doctor Faust: C
Dork Tower: C
Early American Chrononauts: C
Eminent Domain: C
Hell Rail: C
Hex Hex: C
History of the World: C
Illumuminati (plus at least one expansion): C
Inflatable Whack a Zombie: Not really a game, but on my game shelf, for some reason: C
Inn Fighting: C
Junta: El Presidente: C
Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island: C
Lord of the Rings (Reiner Kniza co-op version): C
Lord of the Rings CCG Cards: Free to good Home: C
Mad Gab: C
Miskatonic School for Girls: C
Mutants and Masterminds Beginner Rules: C (Free to Good Home)
Original Netrunner Cards: C
Pentago (Mint): C
Pictionary (Mint): C
Power Grid: The First Sparks: C (Tim)
Scrabble Sentence Cube Game: C
Soft Landing: C
Spoils CCG Cards: C
Spy Ring: C
Spycraft CCG Cards: Free to good home! C
Star Trek CCG Cards: C
Star Wars Monopoly: C
Strata 5: C
Ticket to Ride: Dice Expansion: C (A second copy!)
Warlord CCG Cards: C
Yu-Gi-Oh Cards: C, Free to good home!
Before I Kill You, Mister Bond: C
Captain Park’s Imaginary Polar Expedition: C
Deadwood: C (Tim)
Escape from Elba: C
Kill Doctor Lucky: C
One False Step for Mankind: C
Safari Jack: C
US Patent #1: C
Agent Double Double Agent: Missing cards.
Descent, 1st Edition: Special (strip for minis and bits, break down into fewer boxes)
Game of Thrones, first edition (missing Stark tokens) Strip for parts?
Risk Legacy: Special (am I going to play this copy again? Probably not, but I’d like to.)
In regards to Exploding Kingdoms, I’ve been thinking about what’s supposed to happen between the adventures in D&D, which made me think more than I have consciously done about how I run D&D when I’ve run it.
I’m going to mostly use examples from New Haven, Thunderspire Labyrinth, and Descent into Madness. The New Haven game was 100% original content; Thunderspire Labyrinth was mostly the adventure plus about 25% custom sidequests and elaboration, Descent into Madness was 100% original content.
For contrast, the Revenge of the Giants game was based on the supermodule and was probably 60% or more original content, but was much more adventure goal focused, and the Godstorm game was the accumulation of this style of play and the choices made earlier.
I identify style of play as a subset of Adventure Play, but it draws heavily on having a home base from which to operate. I’d probably run Dungeon World largely the same way (these steps look a lot like maintaining threats and fronts), and if I were to continue running the Deadlands game I’d expand the setting to include some of these techniques.
BEFORE THE GAME STARTS
Come up with an adventure filled setting with multiple possible adventure hooks. Set up multiple factions/NPCs with incompatible or competing interests that the PCs can help/hinder. Pitch general premise to players. Include short term opportunities and long term threats.
The New Haven game was set in a dungeon boomtown outside the newly rediscovered capitol of Bael Turoth, and had groups like two different families of dwarves, an adventurer’s guild, a gang of halfling bandits, an evil church, and a couple of other adventuring parties. There were multiple dungeon sites the players knew of worth exploring, and the initial long term threat that I envisioned was uncovering things Man Was Not Meant to Know.
The Thunderspire Labyrinth game used the module of the same name, so had the town inside the Minotaur Labyrinth, and dealings with duegar Traders, a drow Exile, the halfling inn, and the mysterious mages. While mostly focused on the main adventure thread, there were things like trying to figure out where Argent, a silver minotaur shaped warforged came from, and what happened to Maribelle’s paladin mentor.
The Descent into Madness game had two main locations, the Dwarven City of Goldenspire and the Vault of the Drow, both with their own backbiting factions and struggles. The overarching threat was the god of madness, Tharzidun’s influence escaping through a crack in one of his prisons, but in both locations there was lots to do to try to stabilize the situation.
FIRST FEW SESSIONS
Offer multiple avenues of exploration.
Find out about the PC’s backgrounds, and incorporate it into the setting.
The New Haven game was pretty simple for avenues of exploration: introduce a couple of ruined sites, ask the PCs which one’s they are most interested in. The various groups they talk to give them different sources of information. The Dragnarok plotline, which was essential to the later Thunderspire, Revenge of the Giants, and Godstorm game, was inspired by musing about the background James provided for Tor.
The sidequests in the Thunderspire game were entirely inspired by the information the players gave about their PCs backgrounds.
Descent into Madness didn’t feature as many player background quests, but the players had multiple options of what to do and who to support in the Vault of the Drow.
PREPPING THE GAME
Prep what you need to: find out what the players want to do and prep for that.
This means at the end of the session you need to know what you’re doing next week, and the players have to have enough information to make those choices.
LINEAR ADVENTURES, OPEN ENDED CHOICES
Most of the Adventures fell into a pretty direct 3 encounter gauntlet, with an opener (which was sometimes a “random” encounter on the way to the adventure), a middle, and a finale, with maybe a puzzle or skill challenge thrown in there.
I did very few adventures where mapping was an actual element; the only ones that come to mind were the Fortress of the Fire Giants in Revenge of the Giants, the Frost Island in the same adventure (where the players had a map, labeled in a foreign language), and the Temple of Chaos adventure at the end of Descent into Madness. In each of these, the maps were relatively simple, and the adventure required several forays to complete. The Temple of Chaos was the only one of those that was 100% original content.
However, while the adventures followed a pretty steady pattern of Warmup Fight-Rising Action-Finale, with scripting to ensure that the players moved from one encounter to the next, and little details like mapping and traveling staying out of the way, I put lots of choices into the adventures.
Who do you give the magical resources to? Which factions do you back? When these NPCs disagree, who do you side with?
Some memorable choices included the PCs naming the town of New Haven, ending up as a tie-breaking vote/voice of advise and installing Black Bart (the halfling outlaw), of all people, as Sheriff, giving an extra Warforged Creation Forge to the dwarves of Goldenspire, and most memorably, Zyorn at the end of Descent into Madness choosing to destroy the Vault of the Drow and everyone within.
What do you do between one adventure and the next? Figure out what’s changed, based on the ongoing factions and their actions, what the consequences of PCs choices might be, and what’s gotten worse due to not being given attention.
*W games with fronts and threats encourage you to think about these consequences upfront, and have them occur as they happened, but I generally only thought about them when they came up.
Meanwhile, the situation changes, you come up with new adventure possibilities and present them to the players. Some old options stay open, others get closed off.
So, what does this mean for Exploding Kingdoms? Should the game run like this?
Some people think you should start with these first for your hack. Here’s what I’ve been kicking around for CyberNoir. Most of these are just reskins of the Apocalypse World stuff, with the exception of calling out Being Generous with Information, and some drilldown into what this setting is.
Embody the cybernoir nature of the world.
Keep your world authentic to your cybernoir sensibilities. Portray a plausible and internally-consistent world, and your players will take it seriously.
Embroil the characters in a web of crime and intrigue.
Set up the Crime Web, get the characters hooked into it, and watch as they attempt to unravel the whole thing.
Play to find out what happens.
Your job is not to craft a masterful story arc. It is to set up the situation, wind up the PCs, and watch them go to work. When you allow the unexpected to happen, you get truly exciting play.
Always say what honesty demands.
Honesty, and the rules, demand you show fidelity to the rules, to the results of the players rolls, that you stay true to the principles, and be open, honest, and fair in your interactions with the players.
Be Generous with Information.
This is a mystery game. The players can’t solve the mysteries without clues. So you should be giving, even overly so with information. You have the advantage of knowing all the answers. Mysteries are meant to be solved, and secrets are meant to be revealed.
Consider your specific Shocks and other examples of futurism. Whenever you introduce a setting element, think of ways to emphasize the fact that the characters are living in the future. Exaggerate aspects and current trends, especially those you view as negative.
Play up the dark aspects of the world, the corruption, the moral ambiguity, and confusion.
Everyone is Expendable.
Don’t protect your NPCs. They are not there to provide physical challenge to the PCs, but rather moral challenge.
Everyone is Human.
Any NPC you introduce, give them a name, a motive, and think a little bit about life through their lies. What do they want? How do they fit into things?
Collaborate With Your Players.
Allow, or prompt the players to provide setting input. This way, you’ll all feel ownership of the setting, and your players will feed you ideas you never would have thought of.
Take What They Give You and Run With It.
Once the players give you input, take it, expand upon it, and make it your own. Turn up the Cyber and the Noir.
Be a Fan of the Players and their Characters.
We’re all here to have fun, right? The players are not your adversaries, and neither are their characters. Look for what makes those characters awesome and embrace it. Give them a chance to shine, and don’t try to grind them down.
Think About the Big Picture.
Keep your Crime Web map in hand. Between sessions, or whenever you have a spare moment, take a look at it, and consider how events onscreen affect those actors offscreen.
Zoom in on the Little Details.
Take moments here or there to showcase the little details. Sometimes this can draw attention to a useful clue, but often it’s just to show off the setting and characterization.
Sometimes, Delegate the Big Decisions
To play to find out what happens, you need to give up some of the big decisions. Let your NPCs make them in character. Put them on your player’s hands. You can even roll for it.
Address yourself to the characters, not the players.
Keep the players rooted in the fiction, and the players immersed in their characters.
Play by the rules, think in the fiction.
When you make a move, make it about the fictional content of the move. Never say a name of a move you’re using, instead say what happens. It should seem seamless to the players. This goes for players too- when they use moves, think in the fiction- what’s going on?
Draw Maps Like Crazy.
Maps. Draw them.
Assess a Person:
When you Assess a Person in a conversation, roll + Savvy. On a 7-9, hold 1. On a 10+, hold 3. Spend your hold 1 for 1 during the conversation to ask that character’s player a question from the list.
*Are you lying to me?
*What are you really feeling?
*What do you intend to do?
*What do you wish I would do?
*How could I get you to ______?
On a miss against an NPC, ask one question anywy, but they identify your attempt to read and manipulate them, so they clam up or otherwise react.
Assess Your Surroundings
When you take a few moments to Assess Your Surroundings, roll + Savvy. On a 7-9, ask 1 question from the list. On a 10+, ask 3.
If you make a followup move that builds on the answer, take +1 forward.
*What’s my best way in/out/through?
*What here is immediately useful to me?
*Where are my enemies vulnerable to me/which enemy is most vulnerable to me?
*How is my enemy most threatening to me/which enemy is the biggest threat?
*Where is the true danger?
*What should I be on the lookout for?
*Who is really in control here?
Search for Clues
When you take time to Search an area for Clues, roll + Savvy. On a 7-9, hold 1. On a 10+, hold 3. Spend your hold 1 for 1 as you search the area to pick an option from the list.
*Ask: What happened here recently?
*Ask: What is hidden here?
*Ask: What doesn’t belong here?
*Ask: What’s missing that should be here?
*Find a piece of physical evidence.
*Find a useful or valuable item.
Call in a Favor
When you Call in a Favor from one of your Contacts, roll + Moxie.
If your request puts them at great risk, take -1 to the roll.
On a 10+, choose one.
On a 7-9, choose three.
*It’ll take a few days to follow through.
*They can come up with something similar- close is close, right?
*They ask a lot of questions.
*You owe them one for this.
*Their participation draws attention.
*You have to grease the wheels- spend 1 Payola.
*After this, they’re out. Cross them off your list of contacts.
When you make a First Impression on an Npc, roll + Moxie.
On a 7-9, the character reacts normally as they would to someone of your position. At the very least, they’re willing to talk.
On a 10+, they are favorably predisposed towards you. Take +1 for your first Manipulate a Person or Assess a Person against them this scene.
On a miss, you get off on the wrong foot. Take -1 forward all Manipulate, Assess, or Threaten rolls against them this scene.
Manipulate a Person
When you attempt to Manipulate a person, you must have something they want. Tell them what you want and roll + Moxie.
On a 7-9, the character will tell you something they want. If you provide it up front, they’ll do what you want.
On a 10+, the character will tell you something they want. If you provide promises or assurances that you can get it later, they’ll do what you want.
On a hit, the character will tell you something they want.
On a 7-9, if they do what you wanted, they get xp.
On a 10+, additionally, if you do what they wanted, you get xp.
Resort to Violence
When you Resort to Violence, roll + Grit. By default, you will do your harm to your opponent, and if they are in a position to fight back, they will do their harm to you.
On a 7-9, choose 1. On a 10+, choose 3.
*You do +1 harm.
*You take -1 harm.
*You seize control something important: terrain, an item, or just the tempo of battle.
*You impress, dismay or frighten your enemies. They must change their current behavior or actions.
Take a Beating
Whenever you Take a Beating, roll + Grit.
On a 10+, you’re fine. You can fight and act, no ill effects.
On a 7-9, the GM chooses one:
*You drop something you’re holding.
*You temporarily lose track of something important.
*You fail to notice something important.
*You lose your footing.
On a miss, the GM chooses one:
*It’s worse than it looks, take +1 harm.
*You’re out cold, possibly for several hours.
*The GM chooses two from the 7-9 list.
When you Threaten Violence, say what you’re threatening, what you want, and then roll + Grit.
On a 7-9, your opponent must do something they think you want, or call your bluff.
On a 10+, your opponent must do what you want, or call your bluff.
If your opponent calls your bluff, choose one:
*Do nothing and back down.
*Resort to Violence now. Do not roll, instead use the result you got for this roll.
*Come back later to carry out your threats. Resort to Violence, with +1 forward to the roll.
When you are in a tight spot and taking a risky action, roll to Defy Danger.
Are you acting with tenacity, physical fortitude, or sheer physical ability? Roll + Grit
Are you acting with cunning, or implementing a well thought out plan? Roll + Savvy
Are you fast talking or otherwise trying to talk your way out of a bad situation? Roll + Moxie
On a 10+, you avoid the danger, and achieve your goals.
On a 7-9, you’re mostly successful. The GM will give you a mixed result, a hard choice, or a Pyrrhic victory.
Optional Rule: Psi-Powers
If Psi-Powers are in the game, each character has an additional stat, Psi, and access to the Hunch move.
When you get a Hunch, roll + Psi.
On a 7-9, the GM will tell you something interesting about the current situation. On a 10+, the information you get will be precise and detailed.
On a miss, you draw the attention of psychic threats.