What makes me fund a Kickstarter

I like browsing through the newest Kickstarters every morning and looking for what’s new and exciting. There’s a few things that make it so I’m willing to spend money on a campaign.

Make it look interesting.

When I browse through Kickstarter, I spend my time skimming through the pictures and sometimes read the name of the project. The picture should be representative of the project, and look professional. Some scribbles on notebook paper isn’t going to get me to click on your project. If there is interesting beautiful art I will click on it just to learn more. I know it’s not always easy to get a great artist for your product (see our logo made in Powerpoint), but if you can get a picture of your product then do it! I want to know what I’m looking at. The title should be descriptive as well, and the more informative the better. Finally, if I’m on the edge of deciding to look at a project, the description is the deciding factor. Make sure it’s something that grabs me and makes me want to look for more.

Give details

I want to know why your project is worth my money. What makes it new, what makes it unique. Why is it so cool that I should get in on the ground floor? A while back there was a Kickstarter in which they promised they had come up with the coolest new rules for Yahtzee. But they refused to give any details about why it was better or different. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t get any backers.

Some projects do charts that show exactly what is included for each pledge level, and I find that to be incredibly helpful. What are in rewards level can get confusing easy, and simple summaries make things super clear!

Have interesting stretch goals

Stretch goals are a great way to motivate the people funding your Kickstarter to get more people involved. For the 64 oz. Games Kickstarter I was pushing it on social media everywhere because I wanted the stretch goal of a Braille d20. On the other hand, I dropped a Kickstarter because I was very invested in the cool stretch goals, but they weren’t available unless I was funding the project at a minimum of $90. That’s a lot of money, more then I was willing to invest in a campaign I already felt was overpriced, and it made me drop my pledge completely. Don’t get me wrong, they have every right to set at what levels you get to be included in receiving stretch goals, but most campaigns I’ve seen do it at about the $20 mark.

Answer questions

Before I hand over some amount of money to a stranger on the internet, I sometimes have some points of clarification I want them to make. Being prompt and helpful when contacted by backers or potential backers gives me confidence you’re going to be available later on in the campaign. Look at your comments and make sure you’re answering questions! If someone else asked the same question as me two days ago and you haven’t answered, it doesn’t instill confidence in me that you’re listening.

Show that you can fulfill requests from past projects before starting a new one

If you’re going to start another campaign, make sure you are well on your way to fulfilling other campaigns. Last year I funded a campaign for some cool dice, and waited and waited for them to come. While I was waiting past the fulfillment date they promised, the group launched another campaign. Since they hadn’t given many updates or done much to fulfill my original pledge, I didn’t even bother looking at this new project. Eventually my dice did come and they’re great! But I wanted to see they were taking care of what I’d already given them my money for. Similarly, I was looking recently at a campaign that was the third or fourth by one group that was doing pretty great. But if you looked at the comments, it seems a lot of the backers were people who contributed a dollar so they’d be able to post in the comments section their grievances from the past two campaigns and how they were ignored and sent faulty products. The company was pretty dismissive of the complaints being aired, and I resolved never to fund one of their campaigns.

I’m not saying you should have everything sent out and completed before starting a new project, but you should make sure your backers are happy, well updated, and know that you are going to keep your word and deliver before taking the plunge again.

Make sure Kickstarter is the right place for your project

There’s a Kickstarter campaign going on right now for a lamp base filled with polyhedral dice. Which is really cool. And why I went to Target, bought the lamp base for $15, then filled it up with the two pounds of dice I’ve bought recently. I need to buy some more dice to fill it all the way up, but even then that comes out at a cost of about $75 to make the same thing they have on Kickstarter for $125. Which is fine. They should make some profit, and they still have to ship them. But this is a wonderful creative idea that should be on Etsy, in a store for people to buy. It’s not something that makes sense to do on Kickstarter. If I can make it on my own, I’m not going to spend money on it on Kickstarter.

Interview: No Thank You, Evil! A new game from Monte Cook Games

NTYE-Logo

 

It’s no secret that we at The Redacted Files are huge fans of the Cypher System. So we were quite thrilled when Shanna Germain, Monte Cook Games co-founder and developer behind the new project No Thank You, Evil! agreed to answer a few questions for us about this project that launched on Kickstarter last Wednesday.

What inspired you to create a game designed and made for kids and families? What are your goals for No Thank You, Evil!?

The idea originally started with the name. When one of the kids in the MCG family was about a year old, she attended a day care that taught the kids that instead of screaming “NOO!” at the top of their lungs, they could politely say, “No, thank you.” Which resulted in the predictable screaming of “NO THANK YOU!” at the top of their lungs every time a disagreement arose.

When she saw a trailer for the upcoming X-Men movie on a store TV, and asked what it was, her dad tried to find a non-complicated way to explain superheroes and secret identities to a one-year-old, and finally just said, “They’re fighting evil, honey.”

So she raised a pointed finger, shook it sternly at the nearest TV, and with all her gravity told it, “NO THANK YOU, EVIL!”

When we heard that story, we said, “We should make a kids’ game and call it that!” and we all agreed and then we went back to working on our current projects. But then we started hearing from all of these players who were playing Numenera with their kids and loving it. Reading the blogs and essays from parents who were spending their family time playing Numenera (and later, The Strange) was inspiring and informative. Then we started getting drawings of characters, letters from young players, and papercrafts of creatures in our mailboxes and inboxes. It quickly became clear that many gamers with kids wanted to bring their families into the fold. So it seemed like a great opportunity to create a game that was designed just for that experience of bringing the family together around the table.

I think it’s super cool that you account for the age differences that you have in a family for character creation; for example a six year old playing a princess while a ten year old might play a super smart princess who experiments with science. Does this lead to an inequality to what they can do with their characters?

Playing at a higher level increases the complexity and variety for the player by providing more choices, but it doesn’t make your character “better.” In a story-drive game like No Thank You, Evil! the creativity of the player is the key; no matter what type of character you have, if you can think of it, you can try it—and potentially succeed.

Of course, what we’re really finding is that some six-year-olds want to play the same way that their older siblings are playing. And when you give kids that opportunity, they really rise to the challenge. So it works both ways – the younger player gets to feel smart because she’s playing with the older kids, and the older kids get to feel cool because they’re helping the younger players learn and understand the game.

In Numenera and The Strange you have three core classes the players can choose from. Is this the same in NTYE, or can the players choose any sort of class they want?

The character types in No Thank You, Evil! are mechanically much simpler, so it’s easy to offer more of them. So there are a larger number of core options–Spy, Superhero, Princess/Prince, Robot and others–and there are mechanical differences between them, but it’s mostly about flavor. So you can be a Spy, and use all the stats and special skills from the Spy, but actually call yourself a thief or a ninja or name yourself after your favorite cartoon spy. Nothing changes except the name. We wanted to make sure that players could play anything they wanted without making that variety a burden on the person running the game.

It’s a good way to introduce players to the concept of roleplaying, because at first they can emulate their favorite TV, movie or book character, but eventually they will leap into their own creations. We wanted to make sure there was room for all of that.

At TRF we are very invested in accessible gaming and supporting companies that care about the same. One of the things that caught our eye about this system (besides being a Cypher System game) is the emphasis you’ve put on making it accessible to players with color-blindness, dyslexia, visual-impairment, and autism. What inspired you to design your game with these kids in mind?

I come from a family that is deeply invested in helping all kids learn and have fun. My grandmother was a school librarian, my mom works with children with special needs, and my sister is a teacher. My family has a farm, and when I was young, we participated in The Fresh Air Fund, a non-profit that provides children from low-income communities in New York City with the opportunity to spend time on farms. As a kid, I couldn’t understand how someone didn’t know the difference between a cow and a goat. But of course, I learned that there was so much I didn’t know about their world too.

All of which is to say that I really believe that the younger generations will do better, greater things than we will—if they’re just given the opportunity. So I wanted to make sure No Thank You, Evil! was as accessible to as many young people as possible. It’s not that hard to open those doors, but it does take some work and attention. The most difficult part, I think, is that there is no “right answer” for making a game more accessible. For example, we looked at all the research on fonts, trying to find the most readable font for players with dyslexia. And the results were all over the board. Even the fonts designed for dyslexia didn’t work well for some readers. The same is true for players on the autism spectrum. Some children are highly verbal, others aren’t. Some are social, others aren’t. You can’t make a single solution that fits everyone.

So in all of these cases, the goal was to do as much research as we could—reading, but also making sure to include players with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, dyslexia, etc. in our playtests—and then choose the best options. Picking a font that seems to work well for most players, and staying away from known issues like italics and complicated backgrounds, for example. And giving players options: you can be verbal or not, you can be social or not, and none of that penalizes you during game play. In fact, you’re rewarded for being creative within your own comfort level and skill set.

NTYE-03-Cathy-Wilkins

We’ve been huge fans of how the cypher system makes tabletop gaming so accessible for the visually-impaired: was that a conscious decision on your part or just a biproduct of your design philosophy?

Thank you so much! I think that it has a lot to do with the lenses that we use when we’re looking at the confluence of game design and player interaction. Our goal is to make it easy to say yes, to take away impediments to fun, and to give players and GMs exactly what they need, but no more. I think when you have a goal of making a game that is accessible for anyone who wants to play it, then those kinds of things happen as a natural byproduct of that philosophy. Which then makes the game even more accessible. It’s like the world’s best domino affect.

Can you explain some of the ways you plan to make games accessible to people with disabilities?

I mentioned dyslexia and autism earlier. We’re also working to make sure that we’re using colors, shapes, and symbols that are good for people with color-blindness. Fonts are a big one—so many RPG books are beautiful, but hard to read. We’re trying to make things beautiful and readable.

For No Thank You, Evil! in particular, we’re also making the game playable with almost no reading or writing on the player’s part. If reading, writing, or drawing is something they love, then they can absolutely do that, but if not, they can use tokens, symbols, and cards instead. We’re making dice and tokens in a size and shape that are easy to grasp and we’re looking into braille supplements for the character sheets, tokens, and cards.

For me, another important part of accessibility for people with disabilities is visibility. So we also have characters in our world and in the art who have visible physical disabilities. One of our Superhero characters is in a souped-up wheelchair. And we have a another character with an artificial limb. This is so important because it makes players with disabilities feel included—they can see themselves, right there on the page—but it also helps the other players develop human empathy and understanding. When both of those pieces come together, that’s how we start to really create an inclusive, supportive culture.

NTYE-01-Cathy-Wilkins

Do you feel that the tabletop gaming genre has become more inclusive over the last few years? Is it an “easier” community to be a part of now than when you started?

It’s kind of hard for me to say for sure, because I’ve been very lucky in my own experiences. I never felt excluded when I was playing games as a teenager. My gender, my sexual orientation—none of that mattered to the people I played with. Even now, most my experiences have been positive and supportive. But I know that’s not true for everyone.

I think everyone has had a different experience with regards to inclusion. Your gender, race, sexual orientation, experience level, location – all of these can impact that. I’d love to say that we’ve moved past that, that everyone can feel welcome and safe at every table, but I know that would be blind optimism on my part. I do think that many people are working harder to be more inclusive, to create safe spaces for everyone at the table, and to create a welcoming, positive environment. But it’s a process, and often a cyclical one, so two steps forward, one step back.

What was the most inclusive gaming experience you’ve ever had?

Any game that treats all of the players like players. Without expectations or presuppositions based on the players’ gender, race, appearance or anything else. If a game isn’t like that, then I do my best to help turn it that way via education.

NTYE-04-Michael-Startzman

What are some of the major changes between NTYE and the other Cypher System games?

No Thank You, Evil! has a more whimsical sensibility, with just a bit of a dark edge for older players. It’s also stripped down to the bare essentials, allowing players a lot of flexibility within the rules, while making it easy for even younger GMs to run the game. The game also uses a d6 instead of a d20. This allows the game mechanics to never be more complex than subtracting or adding 1 to a single digit number, which most kids at four or five can do pretty easily. And there are tokens to help with that visually as well.

What are the rewards for backing this Kickstarter?

So far, we have a couple of different options: the PDF version of the game, the basic version of the game, and the KS deluxe version. The basic and KS deluxe version include the rulebook, an adventure book (that was added for our first stretch goal), dice, tokens, cards, and character sheets. The deluxe version also gets you extra cool stuff—next up if we hit our stretch goal is reuseable character sheets. We have a lot of ideas for additional stretch goals, which I’m really excited about!

NTYE-07-Michael-Startzman

What has been your favorite part of this project so far?

Watching the kids playtest the game. They get so excited and they are so creative. They just blow my mind with the ideas they come up with, and how willing they are to just slip right into being a character. Roleplaying is something they do all the time anyway—if you just give them some guidance and a problem to solve, they can just take off with it and do incredible things.

I know you have the Cypher System Core book coming out this year. Any other exciting releases coming out?

We’ll have Worlds Numberless and Strange coming out at the same time as the Cypher System corebook later this summer. Worlds Numberless and Strange is the worldbook for The Strange, and just like the Ninth World Guidebook, it’s stuffed with art and maps and all kinds of wonderful new places. Closer to the fall, we’ll have Into the Night – a Numenera book that looks beyond the Ninth World into the far-away places of the sky.


We can’t thank Shanna enough for sitting down and answering our questions. We wish her and No Thank You, Evil! every success! You can find the Kickstarter here! It has already been funded and runs through June 17, 2015.

What’s Cool on Kickstarter

No Thank You, Evil!
No Thank You, Evil! is the newest game from Monte Cook Games, which also makes TRF favorites Numenera and The Strange. This game is for families, and is designed for kids of various age ranges to play together, and even for older kids to run on their own! MCG put a lot of time and energy into making sure this game was accessible to players with color-blindness, autism, visual impairments, and dyslexia. The art is diverse and fun. Products like this almost make me wish I wanted to have kids. Instead I think I’ll play it with my eventual nieces and nephews (get to work siblings!) I can’t wait to get my copy!

“No Thank You, Evil! is tabletop game of creative make-believe, adventure, and storytelling. In No Thank You, Evil!, each player creates a character based on a couple of cool, descriptive, imagination-firing traits. The Guide (a special role often played by a parent or older sibling) presents a dilemma, and the players set off on an adventure of the imagination. Along the way they use their character’s special skills, companions, and equipment to overcome obstacles—perhaps fighting a slime monster, winning over the suspicious mayor, or beating a rabbit at a race.

Whereas conventional board games constrain players’ actions, No Thank You, Evil! sets kids’ imaginations free: Their options are limited only by what they can think up. Together, the players create a story as they work together to make their way through the adventure!”

 

Terralith Organic Metal Dice
These are some pretty neat looking dice, and would be nice to add to any collection. They’re also offering a lot of color options!

“We want to make the best, truely unique and most affordable set of metal RPG dice available today…the Terralith Dice. Terralith are a set of 7 metal RPG dice designed to offer practical style and fashionable elegance to gamers who want something more than just a standard flat face dice. ”

 

Crestfallen RPG
Crestfallen is a a new RPG setting for FATE. We haven’t managed to play a lot of games in this system yet, but what we have managed has been a lot of fun. This setting is interesting and pretty different from a lot of what I’ve seen out there. I really like the idea of the mortals fighting to keep their world from being torn apart by the gods. A lot of time and research has gone into making this setting amazing, and I think it’s going to live up to the promise.

“Crestfallen is a bronze age fantasy roleplaying game, set in a world of gods, spirits and wild places. It uses the Fate Core rpg system, and is written by Dan Hiscutt. It contains everything you need to play.

You play heroes struggling to survive in a hostile environment, the natural world is unravelling and trying to kill you. The Gods may help you, or use you as a pawn in their schemes. Your friends may help you, or pull you deeper into trouble. The spirit world may help you, or it’s inhabitants might possess you and take your body for a joyride.

Crestfallen is the result of over 15 years of historical research, it has a mythology crafted with real passion, and a worldwide fanbase that has been accumulating since the late ’90s. It’s 280+ pages of awesome.”

 

Calamityware Dinner Plate 6
This is the 6th plate in the series, now featuring volcanoes!

“Say goodbye to boredom. You and your guests deserve more excitement. Nothing adds excitement like an active volcano and a river of burning lava. Imagine finishing your meal and finding this marvel behind your lasagna!”

 

Tinker Dice II
If you love steampunk, gears, and screws, this dice set is for you!

“Once upon a time, Tinker Dice were proposed steampunk-themed custom plastic dice. That campaign didn’t get enough traction to fund, so the Tinker Dice designs were resurrected in metal. They proved to be more popular, largely because metal dice are really cool, but we still want to make the designs available in plastic. We can do more with color using plastics, and the dice won’t be as rough on your table.”

 

Still active!

NerdAche Cakes
The Cthulhu Breakfast Club
Perilous Journeys
BattleBards
Elsinore: A Time Looping Game
The Adventure Case
Titus and Dronicus
Ctrl-Alt-Del 1.0: The Box
Wink Pens
A Feminist Deck
CHIP- The World’s Smallest Computer
Fibonacci Clock
Fall of Magic

Get Your Asset in Gear

The Cypher System, as represented by The Strange and Numenera is versatile and simple. So simple I think, that some things can easily be overlooked. Take for example, the humble asset.

Need to get that artifact out of a deep pit? You can just climb down, grab it, and climb back out. What’s that you say, the thing masses 200 kg and the walls of the pit are greased synth? The GM calls for a Task Difficulty 7 climb check. maybe you need some help from that asset in your pack, rope.

    “…. but I do have my rope with me!”
Ilvarya Faelyn, a Clever Jack who Controls Beasts.
TRFP: Mysteries of the Ninth World, ep. 1.

Using the rope to help climb lowers that Task Difficulty 7 climb down to a, now possible, Task Difficulty 6. Not running solo are you? Have a teammate help with the rope and that 6 goes down to a Task Difficulty 5. Add two levels of effort and now you have a rollable Task Difficulty 3 with a Target Number of 9 on the dice. Oh, you’re specialized in climbing? So make that a Task Difficulty 1 climb now. Think you can roll a Target Number of 3 on the dice to climb out of a greased pit? Good thing you had assets to help.

The rules allow for two assets per action, they are a bit frustratingly vague as to what counts as an asset. I have elected to see this vagueness as freedom to use the world for assets.

The first place to look for assets is your PC’s abilities.  A player who Controls Beasts has an asset in combat, in movement, in survival, and even things like repair, if it is narratively possible. I.E., my monkey hands me tools. Someone who Consorts With the Dead also has a built in asset farm. I once had a NPC, a necromancer, who fought from within a mobile fortress of undead, I would call that a defensive asset.  Can you reduce gravity? That is an asset to movement, jumping, climbing, and lifting rolls.  Someone who Bears a Halo of Flame, would have an asset to cooking tasks, blacksmith tasks, or many other crafting tasks.  Do you Carry a Badge? That’s an asset anywhere laws are enforced, but not where laws are absent. Hedge magic is an asset to perform, cook, disguise, and other things.

One other source of assets is your cypher collection. Remember the artifact in the pit? Muscles alone might not get that out of the pit, but that gravity reducing cypher could help, even it only lifts 100 Kg, I would still call it an asset. Got some rocket boots and some super adhesive, yep assets. Cyphers are perhaps your most expansive range of possible assets, so get extra creative with them.

Your equipment list is a shopping cart of possible assets, get creative with your narrative to use what you have. The very first asset every Nano gets, is a book on Numenera. Other books and information devices are also knowledge assets, perhaps even a song or chant.  Your Spinner dressed to the nines? Oh yeah, that is an asset to talk their way into a club, or out of a problem. Anything on the special equipment list potentially is an asset. Brilliance Cloth would be an asset to disguise, persuasion, perform, and deceive checks. String, is an asset to fishing (and a thousand other things).

Cast off items could be assets. A spent torch is an asset for crafting ink, building a deadfall trap, or starting a fire. So you found a bag of old power cells, that’s a barter asset with the right NPC. Spent cyphers possibly still have a use, injectors could be refilled with venom or spices, to kill or cook with.  (Don’t mix those up.)

Don’t forget your friends. A player using skills can receive an asset from other players, but only if the other player is trained or specialized in the skill being used. But when doing something as basic as offering a hand over a wall, I feel this needs no training. Use a bit of judgment with this, but try to err on the PC’s side. Remember; “That’s not cheating, that’s awesome!”

An asset might take time to use, so be sure you use the right asset for the job. A book could add 30 min to identify a piece of Numenera. An expanding cypher might move a rock, but takes 10 min to do it. Keep the time to use the asset in mind when dramatically appropriate.

The idea of an asset in combat is even less defined, but things like scopes for ranged attacks come to mind. Direct Task Difficulty reduction from assets in combat, is limited with special items to their descriptions.  For instance a shield is specifically an asset to speed defense.  Situational assets, such as high ground, should be judiciously applied. Most of the things your companions could do as assets, are covered under cooperative actions rules and provide respectable additions to attack and damage.

From the GM’s chair, assets are also an endless source of GM intrusions. If it is a thing, the thing can fail, or go badly, in so many ways. If the asset is situational, say high ground, high ground can be unstable. Anytime a cypher is involved, it’s nature can be turned into a GM intrusion. Gravity was expected to be less, now your artifact is sinking into the ground.

I hope you have a better understanding of the humble asset and will try and include them in your game more. Why roll without an asset? Get your assets in your game, everyone needs a bit of help now and then.

Beyond the Threshold 2: Leavin’ on a Jetplane

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Trying to avoid capture, the agents flee across Europe and back to the United States, hoping to find an explanation for their new status as fugitives.

Featuring Aser, Brian, Matt, Megan, and Phil.

Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Hitman”

Direct Download!

What’s Weird on Kickstarter

A lot of times what I find on Kickstarter is really awesome. Other times….it gets a little weird.

For instance, one group is selling biodegradable pins to stick in dog shit you see that no one has cleaned up. People not scooping the poop is gross, but I can’t imagine being so obsessed with people not doing so that that you buy these biodegradable pins to stick in the remains. What’s worse is the gross pictures of dog shit all over the Kickstarter. I would have included one here, but I didn’t want to see it every time I look at the site. Ughhh…

Also while in the park, if biking isn’t your thing then you can skoot through the park instead. Like, why not just get a scooter? I don’t understand the motivation for this bike/scooter at all. Except for using it as a chair like in this picture. I’m pretty sure these are going to blow up in Portland or something.

For our final stop in the park you need the Sandwich Knife for your picnic! This doesn’t do something novel. It just saves you from making two cuts in the bread. And I don’t think having the two pieces not completely separated is that great.

Good Player Habits

I’ve spent the past few weeks focusing on GM tips and advice; I thought it was high time to dispense with some wisdom/requests to the players that read these articles as well. GMs have a pretty big job in store for them when they choose to run the games we enjoy; helping out by being a courteous player is something that will help them in their pursuit of a good story or exciting hack n’ slash and make your experience better as well. Here are a few things that will go a long way in doing so.

1. SHOW UP – No brainer. It seems a bit easy at first as generally playing an RPG is something you want to do anyway, but it’s more than simply being present. It means being ready to game and stay focused while you play. If your GM has to keep getting your attention on your turn or asking for your involvement you’re doing it wrong. Sure, we all have things in our life that may be distracting you, but if they are that bad think about bowing out of a session. Your party will understand if you have life things going on. If they don’t, find another group of people to play with.

2. COMMUNICATE – With your GM and party. Give them feedback about their game and characters. Let them know if you will be late or absent, preferably early. Coordinate what your character is looking at doing or how you plan to develop them. Let your GM know what choices you are making. A well informed GM is a GM that can shape the game accordingly. During the game, be clear with what you are doing. Don’t assume the GM will read your mind and extrapolate your finely crafted plan to assassinate the bad guy. If you don’t say it, it doesn’t happen.

3. PAPERWORK – Please, try your hardest to have all of the “clerical” work done on your character before your next session/game begins. It can be a pain if at the beginning of each game session, after XP was given or a level was gained, you spend an hour trying to figure out what you want to do. This is especially important if the advancement that you take requires more work from the GM, as in the case of the D&D/Pathfinder feat “Leadership”. I usually plan my characters out a few levels in advance so I can knock out the details as they arise. Keep an accurate record of what your character has on their person, it will lead to less tears when you reach for your wizard hat and robe just to find you didn’t note them and the GM calls bullshit on you.

4. MAKE A DETAILED CHARACTER – This one right here is my biggest pet peeve. Mainly because well fleshed out characters make my life easier. When one of my players hands me a character sheet without a background I usually hand it back and tell them, “It’s not done.” This oft leads to a look of bewilderment until I point out that I have a limit of one “Mystery Man/Woman from the East” per adventure. I want meat. I want a fleshed out character with motivations and reasons why they do what they do. I want my players to hand me a character that is dripping with the possibility of meaningful growth. It may take coaching some players through the process a few times but eventually they will think about their characters as more than a grouping of numbers and lists. Do this for your GM, provided they value a good story, and it will be a more rewarding experience.

5. SHOWER – This applies more to gaming in person, but it’s true. Please, don’t arrive smelling of last night’s pizza. Even if you play online. Give a damn about hygiene. Smelly players often don’t get invited back for another session. If you are coming fresh from work, think about packing some deodorant and a clean shirt. Expanding more on this, just don’t be offensive; not just in odor. If your group is relatively new, consider the words that come out of your mouth. I’ve excluded a few players as they just ended up being vile at the gaming table. There is a time and place for that kind of speech/thought, know when that is.

There you have it, a few quick guidelines for player habits. There is certainly more that can be on this list, but I feel I covered the biggies. If you have anything you want me to cover in a future article as a player or GM, please let me know in the comments.

Thank you for reading and happy rolling!

What’s Cool on Kickstarter

Fall of Magic
This is one of the most interesting looking RPG/board games I’ve seen. The primary piece is a scroll that you unscroll as the game progresses, revealing more locations and story. I really like the idea of the game being revealed as you go along in this way. They promise the game has replay-ability, which it better have at the price!

“Fall of Magic is a game of collaborative storytelling were we play a group of travelers in the company of the Magus. The game follows a literary tradition of the fantasy journey where the character’s relationships, transformations, and experiences take center stage.

The game features an elegant rule set and stunning presentation including a canvas scroll which unrolls as we travel, revealing perilous roads, strange hosts, and fantastic locales. The scroll is over 5’ (1.5m) in length and is masterfully illustrated by award-winning artist Doug Keith.”

 

Fibonacci Clock
I love the Fibonacci sequence, and this clock uses the first 5 numbers of the sequence to tell you the time. There is math involved and you have to remember what color means what. So I don’t think I want to think quite that much to figure out the time. But it looks really cool, and would be a fun clock to have around.

“I present to you the Fibonacci Clock, a clock for nerds with style. Beautiful and fun at the same time, the clock uses the famous Fibonacci sequence to display time in a brand new way. The Fibonacci Clock has been designed for curious and inventive people who like a time piece that keeps them on their toes.”

 

CHIP- The World’s Smallest Computer
This is a $9 computer. That’s crazy. It has 1 GHz processor, 512 MB of ram, and 4GB of storage, and connect to WiFi and Bluetooth. I want one just to play around with! If you spend $40 more you can get the PocketCHIP, which has a small touchscreen, keyboard, and battery.

“C.H.I.P. is a computer. It’s tiny and easy to use.

C.H.I.P. does computer things. Work in LibreOffice and save your documents to C.H.I.P.’s onboard storage. Surf the web and check your email over wifi. Play games with a bluetooth controller. With dozens of applications and tools preinstalled, C.H.I.P. is ready to do computer things the moment you power it on.

C.H.I.P. is a computer for students, teachers, grandparents, children, artists, makers, hackers, and inventors. Everyone really. C.H.I.P. is a great way to add a computer to your life and the perfect way to power your computer based projects.”

 

A Feminist Deck
This deck will be full of cards featuring feminists that are currently active within the community. I think it’s great to have a project celebrating women and their work in a variety of fields. Unfortunately, this project has come under attack from various internet groups due to it’s content. There will be a variety of decks to choose from, but here’s info on the main one being offered.

“The Main Deck: The main deck has 56 cards, each highlighting a feminist writer, artist, game dev, activist or other creator. Each card is in the style of the old Fleer Marvel trading cards, with a big picture on one side and facts, quotes and recommendations on where to find their work on the other side.”

 

Wink Pens
These pens let you use any liquid that has a staining pigment as ink. So if you’ve been wanting to draw with wine, coffee, tea, or beer you should check this out. I kind of want to write all my letters with cheap wine now.

“The basis for the branding, WINK, was derived from the concept of using “wine as ink” but the pen can be loaded with virtually any liquid that possesses a staining property.

The idea of using raw inks was something I thought of while working on a concept for a sustainable printer, during which I learned that inks—even those made with vegetable and soy—used in traditional printers are not 100% biodegradable. From the printer project, I re-evaluated my approach toward product design as a whole and began taking into consideration the full cycle of products; everything from how materials are first sourced to the manufacturing processes, as well as environmental foot prints pre and post-consumer use. Being inspired I ran with the idea of integrating alternative inks leading me eventually to the creation of the WINKpen!

In essence, the WINKpen was born from the desire to create a sustainable alternative to something that many of us use in our daily lives. Traditional pens are, more often than not, disposable products; once the pre-loaded ink stem is exhausted, they essentially just become empty plastic cases that inevitably wind up in a land-fill somewhere. With with the WINKpen, however, an ink reload can be found right there in your kitchen.”

 

Ctrl-Alt-Del 1.0: The Box
I used to read Ctrl-Alt-Del religiously, and now you can enjoy this long running webcomic in book form. If you’re a fan or have been a fan of this series, it’s definitely worth checking out!

“The Ctrl+Alt+Del 1.0 Box Set houses the entire first ten years of the comic. Everything from the first strip in 2002 to the end of the original Ethan and Lucas story arc in 2012.

Each 8″x12″ book is a cloth-wrapped, foil-stamped hardcover, and includes a matte dustjacket with front/back synergy artwork. The title and volume number reside on the spine. Inside, the comics are arranged two-per-page, side by side on quality matte art stock. Each comic is printed from my original, high-resolution Photoshop files and is accompanied by the title and original publish date.”

 

Still active!

NerdAche Cakes
Where’s Cthulhu?
The Cthulhu Breakfast Club
Snappower
Perilous Journeys
Innsmouth: A Joseph Hoffine Photograph
BattleBards
Elsinore: A Time Looping Game
The Adventure Case
Titus and Dronicus

Trail of Cthulhu: Castle Bravo

Detonation of Castle Bravo

Detonation of Castle Bravo

As the crew of the USS Bairoko watches the detonation of Castle Bravo, there is more fallout then the nuclear snow that is descending around them.

Featuring Aser, Brian, Megan, and  Phil.

Music by Kevin MacLeod, “Spiders Web” and “Classic Horror 1″

Direct Download!

Delay of Game! 5 HP penalty, still the fighter’s turn!

Or rather the flow of your game session.

Flow or pacing is a pretty big deal when running a game session. And it’s so much more than simply having a smooth combat where everyone is ready during combat. It’s one of the more difficult things to get a good grasp of and implement well. It took me a good long time to really suss out what worked for me with how my game. Part of it came down to good session planning and the rest was just practical table top gaming habits.

Planning how you want your session to run sounds easy at first, but it does take some finesse. Start with the basics; length, the plot points, and what you want your players to accomplish. I like to keep the game sessions that I run to be around two to four hours long. Being an arguably responsible adult (as are most of the people that I play with) this fits it with the time I have available as well as my players. It also fits the attention span of most people. Sure, we’ve all heard of the 8 to 15 hour games that people are down for playing when they were young. But from personal experience, they sucked. People tended to drift to something else, or thumbing through manuals and stop really paying attention.

Another important thing to mention is when running a session of decent length is to know when to break. Get the breaks in; I like to do it before boss fights. It gives me time to get the table ready, and give my players a chance to strategize and be back at the table refreshed. Ready to tear the boss up, or die horribly; AND they can’t say they died because all they could think about was using the restroom. If you feel your party start to slip into la la land, hit the brakes, and let them get up.

Good habits are the best way to keep a good flow for your game, but are sometimes hard to instill in yourself and your players. I’ll list a few, but know that as people are great and varied, so are the things they do.

First and foremost, make sure EVERYONE (yes, even the GM) has a good grip on how combat or skill check works in the system you are using. This can kill the flow of the game in no time flat. I know that not everyone has the capacity to memorize all of the rules and nuances for every system they play. And if people are having issues with it, the rest of the group should be there to assist. Perhaps jot down a note card with available actions or a sequence of actions from round to round. Anything to keep things moving.

Next, try your best to keep rule books off the table. Having to look things up right in the middle of combat or dramatic moments is terrible. If a player calls out a rule you flubbed, or you are unsure about something trust your gut, make a ruling and look it up later. Post session rundown or breaks are great for this. Research can wait, your game should not. If a player insists on challenging a ruling, die off for it. Then look up the issue later.

One of the more draconian things that I do to keep things on track is timed turns. Especially when things are dicey for the characters. Indecision is a killer, not only of characters but of game sessions. During stressful moments I will point to a player and ask directly what they are doing, anything less than a clear action is ignored and they are skipped for the next in initiative order. Some will claim that it is mean, and it kind of is, but rest assured they will be ready the next time their turn comes around.

Before I forget to mention it, there is one thing that all if not most RPG groups like to do is have side conversations that do not pertain to the game at hand and spin off into full blown tangents. How you deal with this is entirely up to you, but it is critical to recognize where things are going and when to try to get people back on track. This is one of those things that are really difficult to avoid, especially if one or two of the players have gaming history together. They will like to tell “war stories” of past RPG exploits. I myself am guilty of this way too often. I’d advise you as a GM to let them tell their piece, but the reign things in soon. Sometime the old stories can be long winded; a simple “Nice! You’ll have to tell me about that after the game/in the next break.” Is a polite way to say, “OI! Get on with it” and back to the current task.

Finally, limit distractions. Phones should at least be set to vibrate. The TV should be off. And if you plan to have music during your game, make sure the set list is long enough to last, or keep your remote handy to restart the playlist.

So there you have it,  a few things to think about for your sessions. If you are having trouble with keeping things flowing, reflect upon behaviors of the group and write down things that you want to change. Bring them up with the party, and gain consensus. It will make things loads easier.

Thank you for reading, and happy rolling!

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