Showing posts with label Games Workshop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Games Workshop. Show all posts

Thursday, August 01, 2019

My First "Real" Role Playing Game Experience #RPGaDAY2019 Day 1

Every year game designer Dave Chapman aka Autocratik (Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, All Flesh Must Be Eaten) issues his #RPGaDAY challenge where he asks gamers to blog once a day for a month using prompts he has designed. This is the sixth year of the project and I've started participating every year, but have failed to make it all 31 days. I'm going to try again this year.

As mentioned earlier, the goal is to use Dave's prompts to guide the posts. This year's prompts can be seen below and they begin quite simply with "First," so that's where I'll start.

I've blogged about my first experience with Dungeons & Dragons in a prior post, but that experience wasn't my first "real" experience with role playing games. It was my first experience to be sure, but it was such a bad experience and so unreflective of the hobby that I don't think of it as my "real" first experience. That honor goes to Citadel of Chaos by Steve Jackson. This is Games Workshop's Steve Jackson, not Steve Jackson Games' Steve Jackson, though Steve Jackson Games' Steve Jackson did write the Scorpion Swamp adventure (not confusing at all).

Citadel of Chaos was the second volume in the Fighting Fantasy Gamebook series created by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, but it was the first volume that I purchased. I bought the book at a local book store shortly after my parents purchased me the D&D Basic Set for Christmas. I had read the D&D rulebook several times, but I had not yet played the game so there were some gaps in my understanding of just how role playing games worked. Sure, there was the excellent example of play within the Basic Set, but it was still hard to imagine the array of choices that are available within a role playing game and it was Citadel of Chaos that provided the perfect demonstration of how rules affected narrative.

By the time I picked up Citadel, I'd already read a number of Choose Your Own Adventure books. I was comfortable with interactive fiction as a concept, so the Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks would have interested me even if I hadn't received the Basic Set as a gift, but there was something that set the Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks apart. They didn't just have a pick your path narrative, they also had rules for combat, magic, and interacting with the world. At least, Citadel of Chaos did. Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the first Fighting Fantasy Gamebook only has rules for combat and interacting with the world, it lacks a magic system.

Had Warlock been my first encounter with the genre, I don't think I'd have had the same excited reaction to the concept. In addition to lacking a magic system, the adventure in Warlock has only a single solution. There is only one way to complete the adventure successfully. That wasn't the case with Citadel. There are a couple of ways to have a happy ending playing Citadel and this fact kept me coming back to the book and replaying the adventure several times. By having a magic system and multiple paths to a successful conclusion Citadel gave me a better sense of how role playing games worked.

Sure, the mechanics of the Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks are simple to the point of being almost simplistic, but they are surprisingly flexible and have resulted in a complete role playing game that holds its own and that has a good fanbase.

I don't want to reveal too much about Citadel, only to say that it is worth checking out and that by bridging the gap between Choose Your Own Adventure books and full Role Playing Games, it makes a perfect introduction. Steve Jackson, unlike that cruel first Dungeon Master, wasn't arbitrary in his plot design. He wasn't cruel. He created an interesting and fun narrative that allowed sufficient choices that multiple plays resulted in different experiences. This fact alone, that the same book could result in different stories, was the revelation I needed to completely understand role playing games as a kid. They were stories, often starting in the same place and with the same modules, but where the players shaped what the end story would be.

After that, I was hooked.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

New 'Warlock of Firetop Mountain' Video Game Available on Steam

When the first 'Fighting Fantasy" gamebook The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was published in 1982, it helped to create an entirely new entertainment market. Fighting Fantasy gamebooks built upon the innovations of earlier interactive fiction like the Choose Your Own Adventure series and the solo role playing game adventures designed by Ken St. Andre and his compatriots for the Tunnels and Trolls roleplaying game.

Taking these two literary innovations as their inspiration, Games Workshop founders Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson created a line of books which contained both the narrative adventure and the rules for a complete role playing game. The game rules were simple, but very flexible. Throughout the series, Fighting Fantasy authors have found ways to add on subsystems that have allowed the basic mechanics to cover various magic systems, super powers, chambara-esque samurai abilities, science fiction, werewolf transformations, and much more. A complete history of the line of books can be found in Jonathan Green's excellent book You are the Hero! Green is the author of several books in the series and a fan turned professional.

The plot of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is simple. You are a hero, or at least an adventurer, who seeks to locate and acquire the Warlock of Firetop Mountain's fabulous treasure. The adventure itself was quite challenging and required players to carefully manage resources, develop mapping skills, and have more than a touch of luck. As difficult as the adventure was, it helped to spawn a total of 57 sequels and numerous books by competitors. Additionally, Warlock as been adapted as a board game, a D&D compatible adventure module, an interactive kindle book, and a couple of video games. Some of those games captured the excitement of the original, while others were less successful.

Tin Man Games recently released a new video game adaptation of the book and the results look promising. Rather than merely "converting" the book to graphic form, it appears that Tin Man has followed the lead of some of the best books in the Fighting Fantasy series and used the book and the rules as a skeleton on which to build a meatier product. This looks to be especially true with regard to the combat system. It appears that they've added maneuvers and other options to make the game more appealing to the modern PC gamer.

 You can see the framework of the original system, but options like "quick jab" and "piercing strike" add options unavailable in the original print book.

The game is currently available on Steam for the reasonable price of $19.99.

Have a look at the trailer and see if you want to risk the dangers that await you in Zagor's mountain stronghold.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Space Hulk Deathwing Looks to Be a Stunning FPS

I remember the first time I saw the Space Hulk board game being played at a gaming convention in the Bay Area. I was amazed. Watching as blip counters were turned over and revealed to be either "false positives" or hordes of Alien-esque xenos who's claws could rip through the thick armor of Space Marine Terminators changed what I viewed was possible in board game design. I'll admit I was young, but that was the effect none the less. It should come as no surprise that one of my favorite game designers, Matt Forbeck, listed it as worthy of recognition as one of the Top 100 Hobby Games of All Time.

Video game adaptations of the franchise have been hit or miss. The computer adaptation in the 90s, also ported over to 3D0 systems, was as difficult to win (as the Marines) as the board game, but due to the lack of the social component that exists in board games it never really captured my imagination in the same way as the table top version. More recent turn based versions have been much more successful. These games tend to use a top down POV and provide players with a robust gaming experience. The new Space Hulk video game goes beyond translation of the table top game to video game format and shifts the franchise fully over into the First Person Shooter genre. It's nice to see one of the franchises that inspired the action of early FPS games finally get, at least by what is shown in the new game play video, an exciting FPS of its own.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Chainsaw Warrior -- Coming to a Digital Device Near You!

It's the year 2032. A warp has opened up in the old Municipal Buildings in the heart of old Manhattan and bizarre creatures are flooding through into our dimension. Goading them on is Darkness, a malevolent entity who intends dragging the city of New York back through the warp - destroying it utterly! 

Many brave men died assailing Darkness' stronghold before they remembered you. In the past you have done the Special Forces Unit many favors... but now you must come out of retirement to face the toughest challenge of your glorious career. Equipped with all the latest in high-tech armaments you must battle your way into the very heart of Darkness' domain and defeat him within the hour - or the city you love will be destroyed!! 

Chainsaw Warrior is a nail-biting game for one strong-nerved player. Yes, it is a solo game - just you against the clock! Can you save New York? Remember, you only have one hour!

In 1987 Games Workshop released a game that was an almost perfect high concept mash up of THE WARRIORS, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, and EVIL DEAD 2. That game was CHAINSAW WARRIOR and it was published in the days before Games Workshop decided they were a miniatures company and fiction publisher rather than a game workshop. In CHAINSAW WARRIOR the player took the role of an Arnold Schwartzenegger/Snake Pliskin/Ash mashup in his attempt to save Manhattan and rid the world of some terrible evil that included Mutants and Zombies...and you cannot kill enough mutants and zombies right?

In the designer notes, Steven Hand mentions that he was hard at work designing a sequel that would be published if CHAINSAW WARRIOR did well enough. As far as I know that sequel, which would have featured mutant Nazi zombies was never published. At least I never saw it and I don't own it, though I do own the original (see those sweet pics?). The game dwindled out of print and is now only available as an over priced ebay offering...UNTIL NOW!

Aurauch Digital will be releasing a Tablet and PC version of the game in the near future. Now a whole new generation will be able to struggle against THE DARKNESS.

I would be remiss if I didn't note that I had been introduced to this magnificent game by my dear friend Ron Peck. Ron had exquisite taste in music, games, and film. He was a dear friend who I miss dearly. 

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

"Forlorn Hope" is a Must Have Addition to the SF Boardgamer's Shelves

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting the Victory Point Games office. While I was there, I playtested their upcoming title Assault on Galactus Prime with the game's designer and had a wonderful time. As the release date for that game approaches, I'll post a review of that gem. I was also able to meet one of my favorite game designers -- in both computer and print games -- Chris Taylor. When it comes to game mechanics and concepts, it just seems that Chris Taylor has a direct link into my subconscious. Either that or we have been having secret psychic discussions about games, books, movies, etc. for decades.

A perfect example of how his designs seem custom made for me is Forlorn: Hope.

Forlorn: Hope has a familiar and well loved theme...Marines vs. Aliens. Ever since I first read Heinlein's Starship Troopers, I have been a fan of the genre. I own a number of games that follow the theme: Bughunters, Starship Troopers, Space Hulk, Death Angel, Aliens, Doom of the Eldar, to name a few. Basically, if it has a small squad of outnumbered and desperate combatants facing off against a rapidly populating army of insectlike foes, I'm game.

When Forlorn: Hope was released last year, I was jonesing for a new addition to the genre. In actuality, I was jonesing for a game of Space Hulk 1st edition, but was having trouble finding one at an affordable price on eBay. I owned the 2nd edition, but I wanted to play with the original "d6" based rules. During this time, I happened to be reading one of Victory Point Games bi-weekly reports and noticed that they were featuring a new game by Chris Taylor called Forlorn: Hope. As I was already a fan of his, and of VPG, I immediately ordered a copy. Not long after this, Games Workshop released a limited edition of Space Hulk 3rd edition which used the mechanics of the 1st edition, so that itch was scratched. I carried my copy of Forlorn: Hope around for months, including to last year's Gen Con, but the stars never aligned to put together a play session.

That changed this last weekend, when most of my regular gaming group was unable to attend our regularly scheduled gaming schedule due to the game day falling upon a holiday weekend. It turned out that only one of my regular gaming group, Eric Lytle, was able to stop by. Thankfully, Eric is one of the few members of my regular group who loves board games as much as I do...and he's a fan of the Marines vs. Aliens genre to boot. I pulled out my copy of Forlorn: Hope, went over the rules with Eric, and played two quick scenarios. All of which took slightly more than two hours. The rules were clear, the play was quick, and the game exciting.

The rules to Forlorn: Hope are simple enough for the beginning gamer, but dynamic enough to satisfy the veteran.

One player takes the role of the space Marines who venture aboard a savaged space station named Hope. These Marines have been given a mission objective that must be fulfilled. The other player controls the Xeno "Mind" and seeks to devour all of the delicious Marines foolish enough to venture onto the Hope. The missions define the make up of the Marine squad and the forces available to the Xeno "Mind." The players set up according to the basic rules, and the Xeno player will draw a number of "mutation" cards which can affect game play as the mission unfolds. At the beginning of each turn the Marine player rolls to determine how many Action Points he or she has to spend on actions, every movement or shot that the player wants a Marine to do requires the expenditure of points. The Xeno player gets to activate every living Xeno during his or her turn. Play goes quickly and the combat resolution system is quick and deadly. The temptation is to play cautiously as the Marine player, but each scenario has a limited number of turns for the player to fulfill the objective and play must be fairly aggressive to succeed.

Our two sessions were bloodbaths, but the Marines did manage to recover the "Master Control General Function Neuralnet" from the Hope in both instances. Forlorn: Hope manages to capture the hopelessness, desperation, and horror of the best sessions of Space Hulk while keeping game play simple enough that the action never bogs down into rules discussions.

Like most VPG games the game is fairly expensive, but the games are crafted by hand by a company that is dedicated to making every gamer into a game designer. VPG is the only game company that I can think of that considers themselves both a company and a classroom. Given how quickly a session of Forlorn: Hope goes by, and considering the replay value due to different scenarios and mutation card effects, there is a lot of bang for your gaming buck in this product.