My GenCon Schedule: Again

Posted on : 03-08-2011 | By : Brian | In : Board Games

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I’ve posted this before, but changes have been made, so I thought I’d post my revised GenCon schedule. I think that, initially, I made the rookie mistake of booking too many games, so I’m going to drop a couple of them. This leaves me with only two games scheduled, and plenty of time to do other things, like see the dealers’ floor, go to panels, and horn in on other games with generic tickets.

What it also leaves time for me to do is run some games of Bulldogs! at Games on Demand. I don’t have firm times scheduled yet, but I’m putting some tentative scheduling in below. If you want to play Bulldogs! with me, keep an eye on my Twitter account (@Zelgadas); I’ll be posting info there periodically.

Finally, I would not be completely adverse to running an after-hours game for someone, provided we could get a good-sized group together (four to six is what I’d want). Tweeting at me is probably the best way to organize something like that, though you could also email me at engard at gmail dot com.

  • Friday, 1pm: Conquest of Nerath
  • Friday, sometime after 6pm: Bulldogs! at Games on Demand
  • Saturday, 2pm: Games on Demand (I’ll be playing, not running)
  • Saturday, sometime after 6pm: Bulldogs! at Games on Demand

See you in Indy!

Bulldogs! Kickstarter

Posted on : 04-06-2011 | By : Brian | In : News, Role-Playing Games

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I just wanted to talk a little bit about the Bulldogs! kickstarter, which is going really, really well. Brennan Taylor, the primary author of the book, originally set his sites at $3000, the bare minimum he needed to fund publication. Now, because of the generosity and excitement of more than two hundred awesome people, he’s raised more than $9000, and there’s still eleven days left.

That’s just fantastic. If you’re one of the backers on this project, thank you. Seriously, I’m extraordinarily excited to be a part of a project that so many people are enthusiastic enough to give money to, sight unseen. And Brennan has been thanking his backers by providing extra rewards when he hits certain thresholds.

The backers have already earned one reward: an exclusive adventure for hitting $7000. Every backer will get this, and it won’t be seen anywhere else. If the project hits $10,000, another exclusive reward will be given to all of the backers: a supplement containing a new planet and a new playable species, again, not seen anywhere else. That’s pretty awesome, and we’re only about $600 away from that goal.

So, at the risk of turning this blog post into a telethon, I want to suggest something: if you’re planning on picking up the book anyway, back the project. Here’s why. If you contribute $50 to the kickstarter project (I don’t know off hand how much the book will retail for, but I imagine it’ll be somewhere in the $30-$40 range), you get a signed and numbered copy of the book. You also get a PDF of the book, and you’ll be listed in the credits of the book you just funded as an engineer. That’s all in addition to the free adventure, and the free supplement if we hit our next goal. Seems like a pretty darned good deal to me.

Hunter’s Quarry, and also Dresden

Posted on : 27-05-2011 | By : Brian | In : mbeacom

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So one of my contributors, mbeacom, has his own blog now, and you should go visit it. It’s good.

In other news, I’ve been spending a lot of time prepping for my upcoming Dresden Files RPG game. A while back I talked about my hurdles prepping for Bulldogs!, which came largely from my unfamiliarity with FATE as a system. Well, I feel like this time around I’m a little better equipped to deal with those pitfalls. Part of it is pure experience, but part of it is also having gone through the character creation/city creation session with my players, rather than making pre-gens without having ever played the game.

See, I have an idea of what my players will find interesting now, so I’m prepping with that in mind. I’m also trying to avoid prepping as if this were D&D, which it’s not. In D&D, I’d prep individual encounters which, while it leads to a lot of fun and dynamic fights, can lead to a somewhat more linear game. In DFRPG, what I’m doing is statting up all of the NPCs that are likely to be encountered, and then coming up with a couple of situations that are currently in play in the city. Then I’ll dump my players into that and see what they do.

Also, I think I’ve got a pretty good opening sequence planned, which I won’t share because some of my players read this blog. But I’m excited, and I’ll likely talk about it after the fact.

Why You Should Buy Bulldogs!

Posted on : 20-05-2011 | By : Brian | In : Indie Games, Shameless Self-Promotion

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Bulldogs! Is coming out at GenCon this August. What is Bulldogs!, you ask? I’ve heard it referred to as Han Solo: the RPG. And Han Solo, as we know, is all about freedom, individuality, entrepreneurship, being the scrappy underdog, and all the rest of the things that make America great. So really, if you don’t like Han Solo, you’re saying that you don’t like America, you Commie fascist. So, if you love America, you’ll go to GenCon and buy Bulldogs!, or you’ll wait until after GenCon and you’ll pick it up at the store, like a good American patriot.

Also, there’s a kickstarter campaign, which is going very well. If you really like America, you’ll go donate to it and buy the book. Also, it’s really, really good. And I’m not just saying that because my name’s on the cover (it is). I’m saying that because I’ve played it, and it was awesome. So go buy it. Please. I need new socks.

Bulldogs! Playtest: Retrospective

Posted on : 20-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : DM's Journal, Downloads, Indie Games, Session Reports

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Yesterday, I ran a playtest for Bulldogs! that went quite well, from my perspective. The group seemed to have fun (I certainly did), and I got an idea about what works and what needs work within the system.

One thing that struck me, though, was how effective my preparations were. In general, I think I prepared fairly well; I knew the system, and I had in idea of where things were going. There were areas where I think I over-prepared, and others where I feel I didn’t prepare enough.

The chief area where I was over-prepared was simply in the length of the adventure. We played for a good three and a half hours, and got through about half of the adventure. In a more traditional, longer-term play setting that might be fine, but in a one-shot playtest, it’s really better if you can get through the entire adventure in one sitting. I decided partway through that I was going to cut some of the fights out of the adventure because it simply didn’t need it, but we still weren’t able to finish (I had to get home and feed the dogs, after all). I think the reason that I prepared so much was simply because I’ve never run a FATE system game before, and I had no idea how long it would take to resolve a single conflict. Practice, I think, will solve this problem.

Bulldogs!, like any FATE game, is fairly easy to improvise with; it gives you a lot of tools with which to adjudicate player actions on the fly, and doesn’t require nearly as much preparation as, say, D&D does. In fact, the adventure that I prepped (the one that was too long) was only two pages long. I also had a set of cards with character stats and notes on them, though that stuff could have easily been included in the adventure document, and would likely only have increased its length by half a page or so.

It was pretty easy to run the adventure from this document, but I could definitely see areas where I could have prepared more. For example, simply putting stress boxes for the enemies on the document would have saved me a lot of time that I spent hand-drawing them before encounters. I also think that some of the fights that I planned were a little too hard for the party. This is partly due to inexperience, I think, and partly also due to the fact that it’s difficult to gauge how difficult an opponent should be for a particular set of PCs.

Despite these hitches, I do think that everyone had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed running the game (and I had a good, creative set of players), and I’d definitely run it again.

Bulldogs!: Crew of the Dawn Chaser (Part 4)

Posted on : 12-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Downloads, Indie Games

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Here are two more members of the Chaser’s crew; only one more to go!

An’k T’rbrik was born amongst her people, in Templari space. She was raised to believe that she was superior to members of other species, physically, mentally, and in every other way. She grew up being taught to strive for perfection. She strove for physical perfection, studying Templari martial arts and other physical disciplines, and she strove for perfection in her chosen career: the path of the space pilot. She became one of the better-known pilots in the Templari navy. Something, however, in the back of her mind always nagged her, some doubt as to the entitlement that was bred into her, the superiority of her race.

Then, one day, she made a near-fatal choice: she refused to fire upon a defenseless ship full of refugees from the Frontier Zone. For this, she was sentenced to execution; rather than face death, she chose exile. She ran from her home, haunted by her perceived failure. Even now, as a pilot for a rag-tag group of spacers on a Class-D freighter, she has trouble getting past the Templari indoctrination; she believes that she is superior in most ways to her crew, though she tries to get along with them. In the end, she is an exile and and outsider, tentatively accepted by the crew of the Dawn Chaser.

Lexi Stardust, like most Ken Reeg, started making deals at an early age. She had a natural talent for gaining peoples’ trust, and she used that talent to make a lot of money. Her penchant for compulsive risk-taking and her love of games of chance meant that she rarely held onto that money for very long, and she often made enemies just as easily as she made friends. When the chips were down, though, she managed to talk her way into a job on the Dawn Chaser, as the ship’s front-woman and dealmaker.

Since that time, she has more than earned her keep. She has contacts everywhere, and where she doesn’t have contacts already, she makes them quickly. She leverages those contacts to procure discounted goods that the crew ships and sells at a significant profit. Though she sometimes gets the crew into hot water with her thrill-seeking behavior, she is often worth the trouble.

Bulldogs!: The Crew of the Dawn Chaser (Part 3)

Posted on : 09-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Downloads, Indie Games

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Here’s the third member of the Dawn Chaser’s crew.

When ADAM-101 (Automated Defense And Maintenance) was created, he was without free will. He had not yet awakened to the world, so he was content (if he was even capable of that emotion) to go about his work on Infocity, keeping things running and defending it from invaders. He was just one of many ADAM units on Infocity, and because there were so many, the System (a militant organization of robots that sees itself as an immune system for the Galaxy, with organic creatures a disease) attacked and took many of them to swell their own ranks. They Awakened ADAM, and attempted to indoctrinate him.

The newly Awakened robot was grateful to his rescuers for his new state of being, but he did not agree with their radical philosophies. He bided his time (robots are nothing if not patient), and when the time was right, he escaped from them. He was soon captured by pirates, who attempted to reprogram him and wipe his memory so they could sell him. This worked in the short term, but gradually his memories and his free will started to return.

When he re-Awoke, he found that he was aboard a ship called the Dawn Chaser. He found that he enjoyed the company of the crew, even if he often didn’t understand them, and while they didn’t always treat him with respect, they usually treated him with affection. This, for now, was enough for ADAM.

Bulldogs!: The Crew of the Dawn Chaser (Part One)

Posted on : 07-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Downloads, Indie Games

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As I mentioned earlier, I’m going to be running a playtest demo of Bulldogs! in its current alpha state on the 19th. I thought that it might be fun to post the PDFs of the pregens for the demo as I make them. This first one is a double-whammy, because it’s got both a character and the ship’s character sheet.

The Dawn Chaser is an old ship (as are most ships in TransGalaxy’s Class-D program). Many of its systems are outdated or obsolete, and the ship-board AI has picked up more than its fair share of quirks and ghosts in the machine. As the AI, Navvy, has control over most of the Chaser’s systems, this often leads to what the crew refer to as “poltergeisting”. Lights flip on and off, showers change temperature, bulkhead doors open and close, and Navvy wakes everyone up in the morning with a rousing version of the Arsubaran national anthem. Despite the apparent inconveniences, most of the crew have come to regard this behavior with affection, and would not replace Navvy for the world. Thus far, he has never put one of the crew in danger.

Barg Drabog, like many Hacragorkans, is pugilistic, ill-tempered, and violent. He looks upon the other crew as weak, though he is quick to protect them when danger infringes upon their lives. He grew up on the planet Stakes, hiring himself out as a bodyguard or bouncer, or occasionally as a mercenary. He learned to love gambling there, though he never became truly addicted. He did, however, rack up a number of small debts to a variety of unsavory people. These were not much of a concern to Barg; these people had bigger fish to fry, and figured he’d pay them eventually. One day, though, somebody mysterious bought up all of Barg’s debts and sent someone to collect on them. Barg threw the collection agent through a window, then went to the nearest spaceport and signed on with the first crew he could find that would take him. It happened to be the crew of the Dawn Chaser.

On Bulldogs!

Posted on : 05-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Indie Games, Reviews

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Okay, so I just finished reading the alpha playtest document for Bulldogs!. Now, I may be biased (since I co-wrote the game with Brennan Taylor of Galileo Games), but I think this game is going to kick some serious ass. I worked a little bit on the first edition of the game, which used the d20 System back in the heyday of 3rd Edition (and before 3.5). Specifically, I wrote a supplement for the game that added psionics, as well as some races, classes, and gear. In the d20 system, the game was good, but felt a bit too much like D&D for my money, and it really deserves to feel like something different.

As I read the playtest document, it felt more and more like Bulldogs! had come home. The FATE system is a perfect fit for the game, and some of the modifications to the base game are absolutely perfect for the game’s tone and feel. Even the systems that I wrote and were modified or replaced before the alpha doc was released were well-thought out; I expected to feel some jealousy and resentment when I saw my work re-written, but it all just fit together so well that it was hard to begrudge the changes.

That’s not to say that the document is perfect. There are some rough edges; some of the examples in the book describe older versions of the rules, some rules could use clarification, and there’s one major thing that I feel is missing from the book (I’m going to tell Brennan about that privately, rather than airing it here). That said, I can’t wait to run this game.

On December 19th, I’m going to be running a playtest demo of the game at my FLGS, Family Fun Hobbies in Hamilton, NJ. If you live in the area and feel like trying this game out, shoot me an email at engard at gmail dot com to that effect. Note that, since I’m the only GM, space will be very limited. I plan on allowing only six people into the game, and it’s first-come, first-served. Also be aware that, as this is a playtest, I will expect feedback from everyone at the table. I’m going to bring questionnaires with me, and I’m going to ask everyone to fill them out. Verbal feedback will also be solicited (and appreciated). The payoff, of course, is that you get to affect the way the game works before release, which is kind of cool.

At any rate, I’m very excited. The document was a great read, and I think the final product will be even better. This is a fantastic, fun universe to play in, and the rules fit the tone of the setting so well that it’s going to be hard not to have fun. I hope to see you guys around the Galaxy!

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