Hunting the Messier Objects

It’s been an insane few months. I started a new job at work and with the holidays and everything gaming has taken a bit of a back seat in life. I still play D&D once a week, and we’ve been running a Blades in the Dark game for a few months now.

In December we picked up a new Telescope for the family. Ostensibly for Penny’s Christmas gift, but honestly for everyone in the family.

I’ve always wanted a big fancy telescope since I was a kid. My parents had gotten an old refractor at some point, but living in the suburbs and having a telescope that was super difficult to use, I never saw anything exciting and got discouraged quicklly. With that in mind I wanted to get something large enough that it would really scratch the itch I had for awhile, and also help foster Pens excitement for astronomy and not discurage her in the same way. I did some research on telescopes, which I had done off and on for months, and came across a reddit post for buying a telescope. 

This thread is perfect for getting you going and directed me at a 6” – 8” dobson. So I picked up the Orion XT6 6” Dobsonian Telescope for the family for the holidays and set it up.

Right away we started looking at the easy and obvious things. The moon, venus, Sirius and Betelgeuse. Those were really cool and Penny was getting exciting. I wanted to see some Deep Space Objects like Nebulae and star clusters and galaxies.Turn Left at Orion

We spent some time doing research on books and sky charts to help us find some of the more difficult items.

We found a few easy star clusters like the Pleadies (M45!) and practiced finding some constellations. Honestly outside of the constellation Orion I had no clue how to identify and of the others. I didnt even know Orion isnt visible at night during the summer! Maybe I only look at starts in the winter? The book lists items you can see with a telescope at home and gave us a ton of great recommendations on what to look at to start, how to find them and how easy it is to see them. It recommended we start with the Orion Nebula (M42!). It’s super easy to find and almost visible with binosculars.

The Orion Nebula was so easy to find I was shocked. It’s located in Orion’s “Sword” (aka penis) and we were able to find it in minutes. It was really breath taking to see it for the first time. I was a bit bummed however, because it didnt look like all the pictures I had seen online. This led me to doing some more research online about viewing Nebula and realized that the light is do dim that the human eye under normal conditions cannot take in enough light to see the colors you see in those fantastic pictures. Maybe some day we’ll make it to a dark sky site to see them for better.

Today Penny can find Orions Nebula on her own. The first three things she looks for each time she’s out with the telescope is :

  1. Sirius (she loves Harry Potter and gets a kick that there’s a character named after the star who turns into a dog!)
  2. Betelgeuse. I need to show her this movie some day. She’s excited that it’s doing some cool things lately, aka dimming drastically (maybe thinking about going supernova?). It was really cool to watch videos online of Sarafina Nance, an astronomer who studies Betelgeuse! It’s great for Pen to see a rad woman in science studying the things she wants to! We’ve watched a few videos on Youtube with her in them, and read her twitter feed. Such a cool woman.
  3. Orions Nebula. Again it’s so easy to find and it’s cool to watch her using the finder scope to find it in a matter of minutes.

Penny and I decided we needed to do a fun little project with our telescope. We did some research on the Nebula that we had seen and learned they are part of a list called the Messier Objects. Basically some old french dood discovered some while looking for comets and made a list of all the objects so he could keep track of all the NOT comets he had found. I figured, if some dood in the 1700s could find these with a primative telescope, we should be able to find them as well using our new fancy modern telescope. So we’ve ordered a poster that lists all the Messier objects and we’re starting a project to find them all!

Today we found M1!

It didnt look like this for us.. 🙁

M1 is also known as the Crab Nebula! It’s located in the Taurus constellation and using Taurus and Alderbaran (Alderan?) you should be able to find it! First we read the information in the book about M1 which is the remnants of a star that went supernova in 1054! Pretty cool that it was a star that went Supernova during humanity’s exisitance! Human being actually saw this star go supernova! Thats pretty fascinating when you think about how little amount of time humanity has been around on the cosmic scale.

We spent some time trying to figure out which of the damn stars up there were Alderbaran … Where was the Taurus constellation? Where is this star Tianguan thats next to the cluster?! So confusing.

Penny surprised me. She was able to find Alderbaran first and together we figured out the V shape grouping of stars it sits in. That we realized was the head of Taurus! And Tianguan is one of the tips of its horn! And the Pleiades we had found before was close by and part of the Bulls back? I guess? either way it was cool to see all these items that we’ve been able to identify all sort of close together and helping us to pinpoint what we’re lookign for!

So getting “in the area” of M1 we figured it should be pretty easy to spot! Here we are on a relatively moon less night, with clear skies, and living in a place with relatively low light pollution (we’re a Bortle level 4! Bortles!!!!)

Check out a light pollution map for more info on that or to find out what your level is.

Took us a bit but we eventually found a “smudge” on the lense that stayed in the same place when we moved the telescope. It was barely noticable, but we are confident to say we found it! M1 is checked off! We practiced finding it a few times, moving the telescope to a differnent spot in the yard, resighting on Orions Nebula, then Sirius, then Betelgeuse, then Alderbaran, then the Pleiades, and finally over to Tianguan, stepped down to Struve 742 and boom, there’s the smudge again. It was a really neat feeling to be able to walk through those steps to find the Nebula. The book Turn Left at Orion really helped walk us through those steps and made it really uncomplicated to find. I’d say easy, but it wasnt easy, but it was certainly uncomplicated.

Penbug with her Dob.

After that we were too cold to do much more, it being in the low 20s and the wind picking up we packed up and went in for some hot cocoa. Maybe tomorrow night will be good too!

Oops

So I had a post up here from October talking about how I was going to do 30 characters in 30 days. I made about 5 of them, but unfortunately, life just got in the way and kept me from actually diving into this.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to get back to this project this month! So stay tuned!

In other news, I’ve had some big game things going on the past few months! We are on session 14 of our D&D game running Waterdeep Dragon Heist. That’s been a lot of fun and really looking forward to wrapping that up sometime early in the near year. Not sure where I’ll be taking the game after that. I’ve laid some bread crumbs that could lead the squad down to Chult to run Tomb of Annihilation or even Saltmarsh along the way.

I have also considered just moving them right into Dungeon of the Mad Mage, so that could be fun.

Another option would be to make something up. But with how busy life is for a Dad of 2 with a very busy full-time job, that’s unlikely.

I’m also running another game. Our Scum and Villainy game morphed into a Blades in the Dark game, which I haven’t run before. But so far so good. It got off to a bit of a rocky start as one of the players is not playing anymore. Our first 2 sessions we ran with only 2 as our third hasn’t been able to make the game. But it still went great and was a lot of fun! So hopefully we’ll get to play soon.

So hopefully some more to come on my games. Looking good to talk to more people soon about gaming! <3 <3

“A Trowl is Not Tidy” – Deception Hong Kong

Hi Everyone! A quick break from the posts about D&D.

Wanted to talk about a game we played last night at our board game group that I wanted to talk about a little bit.

So we played a game that I’ve owned for awhile and have played a few times, but never as successfully as we did last night.

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

Deception Hong King is a reimplementation of an older game called CS-Files that was kickstarted back in 2015. I don’t think I got it as part of the kickstarter but i game across is a bit later seeing a friend post about it on Facebook.

At my bi-annual private cons we have here in Frostburg with my friends, we always have a strong group of 6 – 8 people we play games with for about 3 days straight. One problem with that is that there is not a whole lot of games you can play with 8 people and not get tired of them. There is only so much of Secret Hitler and Codenames you can play. So I’m always on the look out for good party games I can pick up that play well with 8 people.

I have alot of them!

I always like to look at the Board Game Geek top rankings for various games, and I tend to try and acquire games in my favorite categories that are listed there. So when i saw that Deception: HK was on the top 10 list on Board Game Geek I immediately wanted to pick it up. So I did!

The game itself is a bit like Mysterium in that there is a mystery component. You are an investigator and you are trying to unravel a murder. The Forensic Scientist runs the game (like a GM) and helps to coordinate all the pieces. The Forensic Scientist is similar to the ghost in Mysterium as they are trying to give you clues without talking to pinpoint the murderer and their murder weapon and the key piece of evidence. These two items the murder will show you in a Werewolf style “Everyone Close your Eyes” segment to start the game.

The first time I played this game at a Dan Con I didn’t understand the rules very well and it went VERY poorly. Everyone was confused and messed up and no one had a good time. I feel bad because I think i turned everyone off of the game as I haven’t gotten that group to play it again.

We played it a few more times with some other friends, but two of those people dont talk to us anymore, so maybe that went even worse? I’m not sure.

So to try and correct this problem I went for the best avenue to learn how to play a board game.

Youtube.

I found two great youtube videos that helped me learn how the play the game correctly! I’ll share those below so you too can learn the game! It’s really fun and quick and once you get the hang of it, it’s a great time accusing your spouse of being the murderer. It has the fun of accusational pieces of deception games, with none of the 2019 awfulness of accusing someone of being a Fascist or Secret Hitler.

Sidenote: I really do miss playing Secret Hitler. It was a always a blast to play and we have many great experiences playing it. Unfortunately in today’s world its too real and has lost some of its fun. Also, cant play with kids because having an 8 year old scream “YOU ARE SECRET HITLER! I ASSASSINATE YOU!” isn’t as fun as it sounds.

I finally got a chance to break it out again this week (Labor Day game fest 2019!) play it with a bunch of friends.

We played a few rounds of the game, and after a shaky start in the first game with myself as the Forensic Scientist (we lost, the murderer won, once again… I suck at Gaming) we had a better try the second round! In that one my lovely wife was the murderer and killed the victim with eggs laced with illegal drugs! Is that poisoning? I guess?

Either way the game plays really quick and is actually pretty light weight in terms of ruling. We got through 2 playthroughs in roughly an hour and a half. Game box says 1 game is about 15-30 minutes long, and we certainly could have gotten into that time range if we had cut out the cross talk and held people to 30 secondish long presentations between rounds.

Overall it’s a very fun game thats great for parties / party sized gaming groups that I will certainly keep in my bag for future game nights.

I probably wont get a chance to do another game night for a few weeks due to my sons soccer scheudle, but SOON!

Anyways, here are the two How To Play videos which helped me the most. Enjoy!

The Aftermath of Killing Mazzy

I talked briefly last time about setting a hookt/trap for my PCs. I had them fall in love (platonic?) with one of my NCPS by having her be a supportive helpful and kind old woman who helped to hand hold the group get their tavern started.

While we haven’t played again yet (we play tomorrow), I just wanted to share a few pieces of feedback I got from my group in the subsequent days.

So, I feel kind of bad? But also feel kind of awesome that I’ve gotten such emotional reactions out of my players over “just a game”.

🙂

Setting the Hook, AKA killing the parties favorite NPC!

I’ve talked before about the Dungeons and Dragons game that I’m running. I use roll20 for the virtual table top, and we’ve recently switched to discord for the audio/video. Roll20 is a great tool for virtual table top game playing and I recommend it to everyone who is thinking of trying to get into playing RPGs over the internet.

As part of the new campaign I’m running, Waterdeep Dragon Heist, the party was given a tavern. This got this tavern from the very opening of the campaign when they took on a job to find a friend of Volothamp Gedarm. Volo’s friend, Floon, was kidnapped by Zhenthariam thugs, and then double kidnapped by Xanathars Gang. Thats not the important however. The important part is they were given a tavern.

Unfortunately, the tavern was in quite disrepair, and if the group wanted to reopen it to make money off of it, they had to put in a lot of time doing repairs themselves, or hiring and paying workers to take care of it. When planning out the campaign, I really didnt want the players to get stuck playing Sim Tavern for too much, and rathered had them focusing on the overarching plot of the campaign, or engaging in faction side quests that , at least I felt, were more engaging and would keep the interest of everyone playing.

Another quandary i had was how to make sure the “Hook” for the 3rd phase, really the opening of the 2nd half of the campaign, would catch the party and ensure they were engaged in the plot to come. Its one thing to have a fireball explode in the street in front of the tavern your repairing and hear someone got away with something vs something a bit more personal. Some of the materials that help DMs run Dragon Heist call out this specific bit as a difficult point to overcome. There are actual NPCs (Officials of the City Watch) that tell the party to NOT be involved. And I worry the players will say “If the DM is telling you to not be involved we’ll go back to grinding Faction XP and fixing up our house!”. Definitely don’t want that to happen.

SO I figured I’d have someone close to the party die in the fireball that explodes to start chapter 3 of the campaign. I had some discussion on reddit about the best way to do it. In the hard cover module for the campaign, there are mentions of a group of halfling children who inhabit the alley the manor/tavern is set in. Killing random kids who live nearby seemed a bit heavy handed. Having those kids be NPCs that engaged the players often and nudge the players towards adopting or at least taking them under their wing… and then killing them (as some redditors recommended) seemed even worse and even more cruel. So I had to come up with another NPC who would ingratiate themselves into the good graces of the PCs, not be too obviously bait, and still grab the party focus and desire for vengeance. Enter Mazzy.

Oh Mazzy

So I spent some time drawing up (not literally drawing) an NPC that would be well received by the group. I made Mazzy a woman in her later years. Retired, if thats even a thing in Faerun, and helpful. In her youth she had worked at the tavern the PCs now own, and her familiarity with the tavern, the ghost who resided there and her connections with craftspeople of Waterdeep would allow her to help them make the repairs easier.She knew who to hire that was reputable in the quarter who could repair the roof, fix the plumbing and clean up the water damage. She knew where to buy brewing equipment and plates plans. She could help with getting the windows replaced and the kitchen restocked. I even gave them a discount on all the repairs they needed if they worked through her. In short she was their project leader for the Tavern. I also made sure to call out that she always wore vivid bright red dresses every day, and red ribbons in her hair. The PC’s probably assumed this was because red is my own favorite color…

I didn’t put her in for free. The party had to pay her a wage for the work she was doing, and she discussed being a partner for the party in running the tavern, while they stayed out adventuring. They offered her a nice wage and she agreed to take on the job and run the tavern in their stead. It seemed like a great setup for them to be the wealthy owners, but not be stuck with any of the drudgery of actually RUNNING the tavern.

But not only did I have Mazzy as the “tavern keep” of a tavern they were investing in. She also ran the home portion of the manor house, above the tavern. This was where the party lived and had rooms. Mazzy helped them repair their furniture, install new washrooms and clean up the house. And when the group would return back to house after a day of chasing Xentarium Thugs, or hunting down a talking horse, she was there to listen to their stories and pour them a mug of ale. She had sort of become the Edna Garrett of the house for the Party.

THE FACTS OF LIFE — Season 2 — Pictured: Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Edna Ann Garrett (Photo by Herb Ball/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

So with how loved Edna, I mean Mazzy had become, it made perfect sense that she’d be the unintended collateral damage of the fireball cast to kill the Gnome spy running from the Zhentarim. Here we had an NPC who had won over the hearts of the party, and had gotten into a place of trust and affection. I may have even laid it on a bit too thick by having the Fireball take place on the day the Tavern was set to open. I could tell my plan had worked when the party had decided to give Mazzy a raise for a job well done, and then open the first cask of their expensive wine from the Stoutfellow farm, (their special batch vintage even!) and one of the PCs gave a toast to Mazzy and all the hard work she had done. They seemed to be really grateful and appreciative of her! So it probably shouldn’t have been a surprise at how hard they took her death.

I closed the session with a brief description of their morning. The spirit that had taken up residence in the taproom, a former bartender who met an untimely demise, had even made them coffee for their morning. I then had a giant explosion shake the entire manor house. When the PCS ran out of the house they all rushed forward to see the unmistakable sight of Mazzys bright red dress on one of the charred bodies lying in the street.

Lunaria’s Poems

Today I want to talk a little bit about a neat experience I’ve had in my most recent game I’m running. We’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons for about 10 sessions now, running Waterdeep Dragon Heist, and it’s been a blast. I am the GM for the game and have a number of friends playing in the game. I have some post on my Patreon about game prep and occasionally twitch while prepping. Check it out at the links above!

Most are players who have played before and even who have played in some of my other games. One of my players is a local friend who had never played D&D before, and it’s been a very enjoyable experience teaching her the game I love so much, and to see how the experience is encouraging her.

My friend Erica was an English minor in college, so she obviously has a thing for words. She is often a bit more shy then others in the group, so its tough to gauge how much fun she’s having playing. But more frequently she’s engaging more in the role-play portions of the game, dropping great jokes and ideas in session, and most recently, writing a poem inspired by some of the events that took place!

A little backstory before I share the poem: The group was in a vineyard trying to find a scarecrow that was terrorizing the farm stead. They were hired to dispose of the scarecrow but couldn’t find it. They made camp for the night and the person on watch didn’t see the approaching scare crow. It beat them up pretty bad and even dropped on of the party before they dispatched it! Fun times was had and everyone enjoyed the brief encounter.

Erica wrote an awesome poem that really touched my heart. Not specifically for the words, although they are wonderful as well, but for the fact that my game that I’m running has inspired someone to write something about their character and their experiences in the world I’m building. Pretty cool!

Well enough about me, here is Lunarias “Ode to the Zombie Scarecrow. (That Almost Killed Us)”.

Friends on watch
In the dark.
Who would take this late shift?
Idle talk passes the time
and fends off fear 
of laughable monsters.
Scarecrows?
Zombie scarecrows.
How bad could they be?
One slash and they would be
Straw on the ground.
Doubting that fear has any reasonable basis.
As quickly as fear was forgotten,
Slash! In the dark.
Fallen on the ground and
Taken by surprise. In the dark.
Allies rally and circle the foe
(Who shouldn’t be!)
Zombie scarecrow?!
It slashes—-they stab!
In the field, in the dark.
Save the crops—
Save your friends!
I am useless, on the ground, hoping to survive.

Whose story ends with death by scarecrow?

Luckily, allies prevail!
The scarecrow returns to its inanimate state.
A shady plot has been revealed.
I am revived, my friends are safe.
The crops are safe.
All is well, the bard will sing!
Or is it?

Happy to have evaded death by scarecrow.”

A Problem with Legacy Games – Or How I’m lonely.

Gloomhaven, Pandemic Legacy, Betrayl Legacy, Charterstone, First Martians. These are just a few in a long list of Legacy games which have been big hits since they first came onto the scene since 2015.

I’ve played a number of them and I really do enjoy the play style of them. As someone who loves campaign style play in TTRPGs, being able to bring that consistency and game style to TTBG’s as well is really fun and exciting! You get to sit at a table with your friends and explore not just a fun game session, but the evolution of a whole story arc that grows and changes as you play the games. It’s a really interesting concept and board game mechanic that I really love.

But what do you do if you do not play board games consistently with your “Legacy Group”? Do you stall the game until you can gather everyone together? Do you continue to play the Legacy game with whomever you can get around the table? Do you try and run a separate “campaign of the legacy game for those other groups? Does playing through the legacy game with your other group spoil the game plot and story for you or others with your other group?

These are all problems I’ve run into myself and I’m not sure how to combat them. Lets look at those questions in order.

1: What do you do if you don’t play board games consistently with your main or prime Legacy group?

This is probably the biggest issue for me with Legacy Games. My normal game group is one I found back in my old home state of Delaware. Until recently they were really the only people I gamed with on a regular basis. Twice a year my friends would come and visit me in the Mountains of Maryland and we’d play my copy of Pandemic Legacy. We were not very good at the game and probably only advanced a few months in. Difficult to get an level of consistency when we played twice a year! I also picked up a copy of Gloomhaven a few years ago, and we added that to our biannual Mountain Cons. It was very enjoyable and we had a blast learning the game but still, same problem. 

I was often wary of playing the games with others as I did not want to spoil any of the legacy components in our game nor spoil the plot for myself and my game friends. Which leads us into question 2!

2: Do you continue to play the legacy game with whomever you can get around the table?

As a traditional TTRPG gamer, this is a bit anathema to me.  Your campaign is the 5 people you start with. Yes you might have a person or two who drops out, but it is built around the gaming group you start with. Call me a traditionalist, but that is my opinion. It’s also probably why I’ve played a grand total of 3 legacy games about 15 times in total.

Conversely, these games take quiet a bit of commitment from your players. That commitment gets more and more difficult to maintain with careers, kids, and when you move 200 miles away. Play with whom you can! The missions themselves tend to be pretty self contained. You should be able to enjoy them as one shots when you can.

3: Do you run separate campaigns for your legacy games?

The legacy games as they are designed, are intended for a single play through. You tear up cards, write on your board, put permanent stickers down. The designers intended this to be a single play through game. That is tough to swallow when you are paying $150 for a game. 

On the other hand, Pandemic Legacy, one of the first of these style of games, offered a Red and Blue box that were exactly the same game but in different boxes so you could keep them separate and run separate campaigns. After market products are sold so that the stickers are removable or you track your changes on a different sheet. Perhaps this is a viable option for some?

It seems that both are good choices, for me, i still do not think i can do it. There are moments of reveals and “oh shit” moments in these games that I do not think would be as impactful on your second or third play through. You could meta-game your 2nd play through to take the optimal path for something that is to happen 5 sessions down the line. It’d be like running a published D&D module and knowing whats going to happen. Being able to Roleplay what is going to happen and keep it fresh and new is important to me.

4: Does playing through the legacy game with your other group spoil the game plot and story for you or others with your other group?

I sort of answered this one in the question above, but I’ll follow it up here. Yes. You will spoil your prime group play through by playing ahead with another group. Nothing more to say here.

So in conclusion, I think for me you need to pick your Legacy game group for a specific game, and ride or die that. In hindsight to my experience you need to choose wisely. Do not play a Legacy game with people you see twice a year. It is not fair to anyone in that group.

With that said, I think i need some new people to play Pandemic Legacy and Gloomhaven with. Shoot me an email if you are interested and live in the 301.

The Rise of the Tit Cleric

THE Tit Cleric

For the past few weeks I’ve been prepping a game of Waterdeep Dragon Heist for my regular Wednesday night game. Since we finished off Strahd awhile back, I took a month or so off to prep by reading, taking notes, and building out the roll20 campaign. One of the neat things with Roll20 lately is the ability to create characters very quickly with using the Charactermancer. It’s nice and allows you to build a new usable PC.

I wanted to play around with the Charactermancer the day before our session started, mostly so i could help out one of our newest players with the build process, since it was her first time playing and building a PC.

I ran through it the first time making a Cleric using the name I use for most of my PCs, Alpaca Pepper. I made a cleric since i knew the group was without a healer, and figured if things went south in the opening encounter in the Yawning Portal (a fight against a Troll and a group of Stirges) I could drop a quick heal or two to keep the party up right.

I did a google search for “female cleric image” and probably due to the algorithms in my web browsing traffic I got some scantily clad images of women in armor.

Oh well, i took the first one there and copied the picture over to Roll20. Loading it up to the new character I made took a few seconds and i made a token for it and dropped it on the map as well. I also made a fighter and a wizard as well and made them a similar adventuring group to the PC’s that will probably show up from time to time.

Unfortunately however, this story has a side side. Doug, who is playing Tabby in the game, showed the roll20 interface to his wife. She apparently took offense to my clerics picture and called her “Tit Cleric”. 🙁 So I changed her name in the game to Tit Cleric now and thus she has entered into D&D lore (in my games) as TC.

LONG LIVE TC!

A Strange Signal In Gaming

There has been A Strange Signal popping up on the internet lately. No this is not about the WOW! Signal from 1977, nor is it about the recent radio signals seen from Deep Space.  It’s about some dark veins of thought that are appearing in table top gaming lately.

It’s really a very disturbing trend that makes me sad for the state of the internet RPG gaming. Following a lot of progressive TTRPG players and designers I get to see a lot of different perspectives that have historically not had a voice in gaming. LGBTQ, women and minority gamers are making their presence known in modern TTRPG in podcasts, blogs, and streaming, and it’s wonderful.

With the rise of more diversity in TTRPGs there is the inevitable backlash from Gamergate-esque personas as well as the typical “gatekeepers” that you see all over the internet in nerd culture. I’ve really come to hate social media, gamer culture, these troglodytes who feel encroached upon by women, minorities and the LGBTQ communities playing their games, but really it’s mostly women you get the most hate.

There was a recent twitter thread by @bluejay_712 where some gamers bragged about gate keeping women out of their RPG games. They pointed to a few bad experiences they had with women who they had in their games (significant others of some of their fellow gamers) who made them “change their style of game to suit them”, whatever that means. Through some of the discussion, which I admittedly didn’t follow too closely as it was just too depressing, it sounds like they asked to take out some violent game play content (read rape) and make it more open to others who don’t appreciate sexual or violent (or both) content. Is this really a problem in peoples games? Not having that content, because depending on the game or tone that MIGHT creep in, but why is it such a problem to NOT have it in? You are not eliminating any sense of realism by not including that but instead banning some disgusting material that some players might try and include to work out some bizzare fetish.

Some point to inclusion of the “X Card” mechanic in TTRPGs to flag offensive, sensitive, any content that makes one of the players feel uncomfortable as a solution to these problems. They can play the X card to stop the discussion or content, with no questions ask. I dont think I’ve ever had this problem in my games, but if I ever were to play with people I didnt know personally I think it would be a great mechanic to call in to help others feel comfortable.

This backlash on the internet for not just RPGs really makes me feel like the internet was a mistake. Yeah it’s great we can have the entire breadth of human knowledge at the tips of our finger tips, but the sheer volume of negativity and disgusting behavior that anonymity breeds on the platform is almost not worth it. I just hope that these types of behaviors and opinions just stay on their side of the internet and dont intrude on mine. That would be ideal.

Playing Scum and Villainy

Hello Internet Friends! (Probably just Friend. Thanks for reading my Blog Mrs Dan Sucks at Gaming). Welcome back to another installment of my awful blog.

Scum and Villainy

Today I wanted to talk about a new Table Top Role Playing Game I’ve started with some friends. It’s called “Scum and Villainy” by Stras Scimovic and John Leboeuf-Little, from Evil Hat Games. Its a fanatasic sci-fi It’s based on the Blades in the Dark game by John Harper, also published by Evil Hat Games.

We’ve played a few sessions so far, and I’ve liked it so much I started a second game with some more friends so I can play it even more.

The system is just so different from other games I’ve played in the past. While I cut my RPG teeth on TMNT & Other Strangeness and it’s percentile based dice system, I’ve mostly played Dungeons and Dragons over the years. I’ve mostly been a D20 or D100 system TTRPG player. Games like Dungeons and Dragons or Call of Cthulhu, or even Old School RPG’s like Dungeon Crawl Classics. I’ve played a few other games which I would label as non-traditional or maybe new wave like the Fate based Dresden Files RPG and Fiasco, but I’ve certainly been more into the traditional TTRPGs. And even games that are just trying to be different like the Fantasy Flight Star Wars system. I had played the West End Games version in my youth (so many d6’s) but havnt played that in years.

I’ve run D&D campaigns for 3.5, 4e and 5e with 4e being the game I’ve probably played the most in my history. My favorite system right now is absolutely 5e and I run a regular game of the on roll20.

Scum and Villainy, and it’s predecessor Forged in the Dark game, Blades in the Dark, is just so much fun. It’s narrative driven and much less crunchy then the other games I’ve played in the past outside of maybe Fate. It uses d6’s for all the skill roles, but relatively sparingly. There some really neat mechanics that I’ve never run into before with gaming such as the use of Position and Effect, and structured downtime activities and the Faction portion.

By far my favorite part of the system has to be the use of the flashback mechanic in play. I came across the flashback mechanic for the first time in Dusk City Outlaws from Scratchpad Publishing. Scratchpad is led by an amazing game designer Rodney Thompson who was part of the Wizards team that built D&D, the Lords of Waterdeep board game, Star Wars Saga edition and currently works for Bungie. I was in love with DCO when I found it on kickstarter and over the summer of 2018 I watched tons of actual play videos of the game in action. The Leverage style heist games really evoked the feel of one of my favorite series of novels, The Gentleman Bastards series (Lies of Locke Lamoa) from Scott Lynch.

The flashback mechanic in that game really helped to drive the fast pace of the game and give it a neat feel you don’t find in many other games. One of the most painful parts of d&d adventures can be the 30 minutes the group spends planning out how they are going to break into the villains compound. With a flashback mechanic you can skip those parts and still feel as if your characters are competent and planned for everything.

For example, in our game this past weekend, the crew was using a Deception Plan to get on board an asteroid scientific outpost to steal a prototype shuttle with a cloaking field. They used a sway roll to convince a group of guards and a technician to plug a coax cable for their music performance into a jack near an airlock. They flash backed to rigging the air lock to vent when the guards approached, allowing them to dispose of the guards effortlessly, all for some meager stress!

The mechanic is alot of fun and leads to some interesting interaction and ideas via game play.

This game is quickly turning into one of my favorites! Catch one of our streams when we play on www.twitch.com/danthehut !