Tag Archives: RPG

Dungeons and Dragons – A Player’s Responsibility for Heroics

As part of our gaming at the moment I am performing the role of DM for the inhabitants of the floating citadel, we are even joined in our imaginary adventures by Mrs Servitob. We have yet to convince any other spouse/girlfriend to participate. This is a custom campaign we are currently undertaking, formed solely from my own warped imagination. This provides an interesting diversion from our other gaming and exercises a completely different set of skills from tabletop gaming. Things are more freeform and there really is no limit to what a player can do, save his imagination of course or an overly dictatorial DM.

D&D 4th edition is certainly different to previous incarnations, it introduced the idea of Tiers for character progression. A standard level one character is now supposed to represent an above average person, whereas before you were a regular joe who got butt-whooped by a Badger or some-such. Your stats reflect you as being a cut above the mundane populace of your world and therefore you start in an aptly named Heroic Tier. This doesn’t mean that combat is a walk over, there are still tough fights to be had as our group encountered when they met with the first milestone encounter I designed for them. Gribblin’s Elf bit the dust after feeling the attentions of one of the Guards patrolling a ruined temple.

As DM I am trying to portray a world in which the characters not only feel at home, but is believable, even within the realms that there is magic and various monsters of differing ferocity. So far all the players have encountered is humans, halflings and a dragonborn as their enemies. Not a horde of fantastical creatures, I am trying to create a very “real” world with a touch of the fantastic so as to achieve a decent suspension of disbelief. If this world lives on in the memories of the players and if it seems like a proper place to them I will have succeeded.

Now, as much as it is my job to try to craft a believable world for my players I think it is the responsibility of the players to live in that world in a proper manner. While we are all sitting around the table to have fun together acting like a douche is not really an option if you are thinking about the other players in your group. We have an interesting dynamic in our group between one of our dragonborn warriors and a sulking teenage human wizard. These players also happen to be the husband and wife team. Our group is composed of the following characters;

  • Dragonborn Fighter
  • Dragonborn Fighter
  • Halfling Rogue
  • Elf Shaman
  • Human Wizard

We therefore have a pretty good combination of roles fulfilled. After the last session where the players reached another milestone, following on from their trip through the catacombs of the aforementioned temple everyone left with very good feelings. I’d like to take a moment to share some of the goings on that characterised people getting into character and playing their part in bringing the story to life.

While our wizard is a sulking emo our rogue has a flair for the dramatic. So far she has launched herself sliding across table to get to otherwise inaccessible enemies to jab daggers in the ribs of an assailant, has run up the back of our dragonborn on several occasions to land behind the enemy after delivering a ninja like kick to an opponent’s skull and generally beaten the living crap out of anything we’ve come across. This indulgence into a character, providing an heroic flair, acting in character with how someone with decent skills could go about performing their role brings our games to life. It makes things seem more cinematic, we play using dungeon tiles so you can see the layout of the playing area, we use what is on them to enhance the game and make things look more lively than just a plain old grid or our own imaginings. Having a visual representation of the dungeon certainly adds something to our play (and makes me work harder when designing these adventures), it creates an atmosphere in which the players can exercise their creativity and as DM I (of course) welcome it with open arms. When I see a player seizing hold of their place in the world, acting heroically as Heroic Tier characters, it brings me great joy. The world comes alive and we spin tales there together. If we can continue this as we delve deeper into the story I look forward with eager anticipation to see where they go next and how they deal with the things that will be thrown at them.

6 Inch Move Review – Mass Effect 2 – Beware of Spoilers

Over the weekend I managed to complete the exceptional Mass Effect 2. As friends can attest I am quite a fickle gamer and therefore if I actually finish the single player campaign of any game it is heralded with fireworks and other celebratory effects. It is this singular fact alone that shows how remarkable the original Mass Effect was when I went through it three times! Once I had finished that game I was super-excited for the sequel, already knowing that this was going to be a trilogy. Of course, shortly before the release of Mass Effect 2 my Xbox took a dump and red-ringed while I was playing Fable 2 (I finished it eventually after getting a new Xbox 8 months later). Once the new Xbox was here I wasted no time in buying Mass Effect 2, it had also massively dropped in price by the time I picked it up too, every cloud…

After having imported my Paragon Shephard from the first game I fired things up, I knew a few bits and pieces from having watched the trailers but in the main the storyline was unknown to me. I loaded up the game, saw the Normandy get decked, enjoyed the awesome moment of walking out of a burning ship into the noiselessness of space and then the moments with Cerberus. Now that I have completed the game I have to say that I am very happy with the experience, I like how it integrated the choices I had made in the previous game and the fact that you come across your old team members really was a series of joyful reunions. You can tell a lot about a game if you actually engaged with and identified with the characters, books are more normally the medium for this to happen but it is great to see video games with this much detail lavished upon them where you feel a genuine connection far beyond the code and pixels.

I enjoyed spending my time recruiting and talking to my team, the old and the new alike. I performed every single loyalty mission and did every single sidequest that came up before doing the final mission. Unfortunately I haven’t got anything other than the autosaves after completing the game so I need to go through the final boss fight again and make sure to save this time as I played around a bit after the final curtain. I want to make sure I have the save in the right place when Mass Effect 3 comes around so I can import again.

Throughout the game the storytelling is fantastic, if you are playing this game for the combat side of things I believe you’ve got the wrong game. Bioware’s real strength comes from creating a believable world in which you can live through the actions of your party. I have loved Mass Effect’s world since the opening mission on Eden Prime in the first game. It was nice to see some old enemies from new perspectives in the sequel too. Of course there are the Bioware staple options of pursuing romance within the game (though no lady on lady action as was possible in the first game) but the campaign plays out beautifully. Nothing takes forever to do, in some cases the missions even feel too short, I remember things taking much longer in the original but this really is a minor criticism about a game that is executed so wonderfully. Everytime I landed for a mission it was a real decision to choose who was coming with me, there is a lot of diversity in the characters and they have some pretty useful abilities so depending on what you expect to face on a mission can have an impact on what you want to take along. I did tend to default to the same people with slight variations but overall I took more of the different team members in this one than I ever did in Mass Effect 1 where I took Tali and Liara on pretty much every mission once I had recruited them.

I like the addition of the Paragon and Renegade action triggers, I’m on my second play through to see how the Renegade ends up different and am enjoying being a badass for a change, although personally I find it easier to identify with an altruistic character, rather than one that is horribly self-centred. Sometimes things aren’t all that clear though as when I have chosen options that seem the most Paragon like I accumulate some Renegade points alongside the big hauls of Paragon from within the same conversation. I was very pleased to survive the final mission and not lose a single team member from any of the assignments I gave them, I imagine that will have an impact on the final game.

One thing that did frustrate me was the fact that your old romantic relationships have been completely closed off. While meeting Liara for the first time (the romance I pursued with my ME1 Paragon Shephard) there isn’t much you can do, what with Liara being focussed on kicking the Shadow Broker’s ass. Sure the story picks up two years later but you’d have thought that a relationship would last a bit longer but this is purely down to personal perception and I am not in charge of the characters nor how Asari deal with the death of a lover considering their longevity.

Everything is nicely setup for the final chapter of the game, I’ll be picking it up on release providing this Xbox is more compliant that its predecessor. What I am also hoping is that Mass Effect avoids the horrible fate that seems to afflict some game worlds these days of being transferred into the MMO market. I love Mass Effect and the story, however, porting it online where you’d have a veritable horde of Shephard wannabes I don’t think would work, at least not for me as a consumer. I’d like to see that Mass Effect stays as a single player RPG title, luckily Bioware are very good at these kinds of games and while The Old Republic is taking KOTOR into the MMO market I hope that we don’t end up with their sci-fi magnum opus going the same way. I love the experiences I’ve had so far and look forward to finishing the series and closing off a wonderful gaming journey.

Mass Effect 2 – 5/5 as far as I am concerned. Brilliant!

UK Games Expo – More News

More news forthcoming on the UK Games Expo held in Birmingham the first weekend in June. Any body that grew up during the 80’s and 90’s probably spent a good portion of their childhood reading the Fighting Fantasy novels. The authors of these esteemed series will be present at the Expo on Saturday 5th signing books etc… These are also two of the founding fathers of one of our favourite disposable income drains, Games Workshop. Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone wrote a score of books that I spent an age playing incorrectly. It was like a mini RPG just for yourself and I remember only one that I found really difficult to get to the end on, I might be more successful these days but I haven’t even seen these books in shops since I was a nipper, needless to say that was a while ago now.

This is quite exciting news and as I am planning on attending, hopefully with some more of the 6 Inch Move crew tagging along I’ll be trying to catch their exhibit and maybe have a small fan boy moment and buy a book and get it signed or something, future eBay fodder potentially. There are currently 60 exhibitors signed up for this thing which means that there will be stand catering to all kinds of gaming tastes.

So, support the community and pop along, a bunch of sweaty, bearded nerds in close confines in the middle of summer is always made of awesome!

The Eternal Dilemma

I had a look at the stuff on Bioware’s new epic, Dragon Age and couldn’t make head nor tail of it.  Apparently the first rule of Dragon Age club is that you don’t talk about Dragon Age Club.  I am a Bioware RPG fan though so I’ll probably check it out when it finally comes out from behind the sofa.

But…  Which platform to use?  This is the eternal dilemma which has faced geeks since the geekdawn of geektime.  Back when I was a youngster and finally realised there was a world outside of digging in sandpits the fight was between the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum.  We were quite young so had no concept of the technologies involved, and no ability to get involved in deep arguments, so we used to let our fists decide.  Hordes of kids would rumble for their cause, when in reality it made no difference because we had no purchasing power and therefore no choice as to which side we were on.

As time wore on, we became wiser and got jobs and better pocket money and eventually began fighting over the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST.  By now we knew what kilobytes were so could argue and sound technical.  The ST kids would forever go on about their better sound capabilities, but in reality the Amiga was unbelievably better in all other respects, most importantly in the games department.  Realistically, if you bought an Atari ST you were either a peasant (the Amiga was more expensive) or a bit of a masochist.

Around the same time other kids were fighting their wars over the consoles available.  Firstly the Nintendo NES versus the Sega Master System.  Both were pretty lame compared with the 16-bit computers available, but then some people just don’t have the dexterity to work a keyboard.  Eventually the kids became entrenched for either the Sega Mega Drive (AKA Genesis) or the Super Nintendo.  Both sides had their plus points and their followers willing to die for their brand.

Nowadays, we are older and have better jobs, so now the hardcore child gamer within us no longer has to pick sides.  Our younger selves had to fight for the cause because we could only afford one machine, so we had to justify our decision.  Our older selves could, if needed, stray from one platform to another.  The loyalty is no longer so strong.  Personally I have a PC for work, internet and a few games, and an Xbox 360 for gaming.  I ended up with the Xbox because it’s main rival, the PS3, is comparatively a bit overpriced with no discernable increase in game quality for the types of games I like to play.  Online play is important to me and I’m wary of anything that’s free.  Xbox Live does cost, but in return it’s an excellent service.  With the PS3’s online service you get what you pay for.  However, if things changed and the PS3 became the more appealing choice I would probably invest in one, because after all, I am no longer the battle-hardened platform zealot of my youth.

So back to the crunch of the matter – When Dragon Age comes out, do I go for the console version or the PC version?  At the moment I am not sure.  Yeah the PC version will be better, have better mods, be more customisable.  But it will also be as buggy as as a beetle colony, be more likely to have hardware conflicts and take ages to get running correctly.  The PC online servers are going to be full of hackers, bots and spammers.  The console version on the other hand will be way easier to run, and will work well.  In multiplayer modes there will be no hacking, but there will be a high likelyhood of getting yelled at by a 13 year old.  From Ohio.

Here be Dragons

In a break from our normal scheduled tabletop antics I bring you news from the computer gaming world. As you may or may not know by now RPG powerhouse Bioware are gearing up for the release of the modern successor to their excellent Baldur’s Gate series. The new feature, called Dragon Age takes place in a typical fantasy world where you get to fight off hordes of evil doers. Now, while this may sound pretty run of the mill check out the videos on the site. Not only are they awesome in and of themselves but Bioware has a long history of creating games with excellent backstory to help you really immerse yourself as you play.

For the most part I missed out Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 on the PC, despite the fact that I own both of them. What really brought me around to their side was the Knights of the Old Republic games. I’ve played the first one through many times and did complete the second one, which, while good wasn’t the same calibre as the first. I’m also a huge fan of Mass Effect and have finished that three times to date, all are amazingly detailed in their stories and worlds so I look forward to seeing the next incarnation of their brilliance. I’m notoriously bad at finishing off single player campaigns in games so the fact I’ve finished the Bioware titles I played during my adult years says a lot to me about just how good they are. I’ve pre-ordered my copy so am hoping it arrives on the release date of November 6th, I am then anticipating locking myself away for the weekend to play it. I could go through all the details I know but you’d be better of checking out the site and making up your own mind.

Personally, I can’t wait!