Welcome back to season two of Dungeons and Flagons. The best laid plans of Nori, Von’thre, and Syldi go sideways pretty quickly on them. What is the next twist and turn? If you have questions for Nerdologists: Dungeons and Flagons emails them to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Month: July 2018
The sage is the scholar of the D&D backgrounds. While you might not be studying now, you have studied a lot in the past, even to the point where you might now be teaching or have taught in the past. This background is what a lot of people would use if they were going to play a Wizard. A Wizard has learned magic and has likely studied somewhere for it.
There are plenty of other classes though that could use the background, they give you a number of areas that you could have studied, but being a Dwarven metal work professor would be out of the ordinary and go against the normal teaching options that they give, or area of study options. It’s also a background that people will use to play a smarty pants character who is condescending or thinks they know more than everyone else, because they might actually know more than most people. I’d say if you are going to go that route, be aware of two things, make sure that if you are going to be condescending in the game, have it be clearly between characters so it doesn’t seem like it might be above the table and directed at a player. Secondly, consider it being a character arc, maybe this is your characters first adventure and they think they know everything and don’t really need others to make decisions but then as the game progresses, they can come to the realization that they need others, and that book smarts are not the same as street smarts.
Beyond that, I do think that there are two main reasons that people go with this background. It gets two nice features in the Researcher, which means if you don’t know the answer, you know where to find it. Very powerful in a game, especially a city game where you can always go and research. That means that you are going to probably be able to find that information pretty quickly and without much travel. The other being that you get two languages. Might not seem like that big of a deal, but if you are in a port or if you are going to travel a lot in the game, you are going to run into races and places where they might not speak common, or at least will drop out of common when they are going to talk about you.
Now for some story ideas using the sage background:
You grew up on the rough side of the city and it was your goal to get away from that. When you were a teen, you ran away from home and found yourself on the doorstep of a temple in the nicer neighborhoods. Pretending that you weren’t from around the city and that you had been mugged wasn’t that difficult when you had nothing your whole life. The temple believed me, or if not took pity on me and took me in. They started training me, and gave me shelter and food. As part of our agreement, I was going to work for them and pay back, in work, what I had been given. I got a job in the city library as a librarian, turns out it was run by the temple. After I paid off my debt, I continued to work there and get more training through the temple, then one day, some people who I had known as kids came in before hours and killed a guest from out of town who had gotten special permissions to come in early. They were caught, but they implicated you in the crime, that you had let them in. You were kicked out of your job, but the head of the temple believed you. Now you have to track down who actually called in this hit and clear your name.
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Your time in the university was fascinating and you got a great love for people, races, and creatures out of it. In fact, you got so much love for them that you decided to leave any chance at a easy job or well paying job at the university to go out and research some of them. Finding a tribe to follow around and study wasn’t too difficult, but getting close to them and really learning about them was very difficult. The tribe of orcs didn’t let you in easily, but once they were used to you, they opened up. After spending years with them, you were starting to truly understand them like no one had before and they were teaching you their ways. Then a plague hit their village, but it didn’t affect you. You watched as those you had known died around you and you felt powerless to stop it. When the chief became ill, he asked you to help save what was left of his village, because they couldn’t seem to get away from the plague. You took off with a handful of hunters and those who had dealt with society before. Then you met a strange woman in the woods and she offered to help. You needed to save them, so you agreed to go with her, but when you saw her place, you quickly realized she was likely the cause of the plague. Calling her on that, she fled, and while a small bit of the tribe was saved because she left, you want to hunt her down and keep her from experimenting on others.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Notes: This one I like because you are playing the dummies of the D&D world with a barbarian, but it’s something that you learned after you were a sage, so it makes a very uniquely flavored character.
Your family was poor and life was hard for you and your six siblings. Your parents had trouble keeping food on the table. When you were a young teen you told your parents that you’d drop out of school to go out and work at a farm to help make ends meet and to keep everyone fed, but they told you they wouldn’t let you throw away your chance at a better life. That night, you made up your mind, you didn’t want to work on a farm, but you didn’t want to be a burden to your parents and not help. Packing the little that you had, you snuck out of the house and made your way down the road for a week where you knew a wizard lived in a tower. You’d heard stories about them and how they sometimes used an apprentice. You knocked on the door and introduced yourself. It took some begging and testing to get the position. It didn’t make you much money, but you sent, anonymously, the little that you made home to your parents. It wasn’t until you had studied more under the wizard that you realized they were not a good person. They started to do experiments on you and run you through the ringer. One night a voice came to you offering to help and get you away, you took the chance and escaped. You went into hiding for almost a decade before the voice came back to you and told you that your parents had sold your youngest sibling to the wizard and that it was time for you to act.
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral/Chaotic Good
Less backstories than normal, but some longer ones than normal. I hope that you’ve enjoyed them. There are three more backgrounds left to do after this.
Have you played someone with a sage background? Why did you choose that background and what was your backstory?
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Welcome back to season two of Dungeons and Flagons. As our adventurers try a daring escape after stealing some books, can they escape the school where Von’thre studied. The audio isn’t the best on this one, but you can everyone, the balance just isn’t the…
Yes, this is a four way showdown between the heavy hitters that I’ve played of the Lovecraftian world. Now, there are lot more Lovecraftian/elder god games out there, including Eldritch Horror that could have joined the list. In fact Eldritch Horror would have made a…
I won’t promise that this the last part of the post because I thought that part 2 was going to wrap everything up, but I do think this will likely wrap it up. I mainly want to go outside of the party and social deduction games and look at some higher player count games. While those are two of the most common categories, I think there are other games ranging from very simple to a bit more complex that can work.
Zombie Dice is one of the simplest games on the list, but it works well because you can be gaming while you are talking. There’s every little involvement by people in the game when it’s not your turn and that works out just fine. Even when it is your turn you don’t have to pay that much attention as you are just grabbing dice, rolling them, and then deciding when to stop and cash your brains in. It’s a simple die rolling game of push your luck where you are trying to be the first player to 13 or 15 or whatever number people pick, by collecting brains, because that’s what zombies do. But you got to be careful, because if you get shot three times, you don’t cash any brains for the round. Once someone has passed the end game total, then everyone has one turn to try and beat them. It’s very much Farkle like, but simpler and less math.
Tsuro is another game that falls into the simple and fast games. You can plan out your turn in advance, but normally that’s a pretty simple process. Tsuro, the game of the path, is about staying on the board the longest and can play up to eight people. You play a tile in front of your pawn and move it each round and you can only use the tiles you have in your hand. It’s not a highly interactive game between players until later in the game when you have to put your pawns fate into someone else hands. A nice thing about this game too is that you have a limited number of tiles, so if you have two people or if you have eight people, the game is going to take basically the same length. Just with more people the game is more interactive earlier on in the game. It’s also a game where when you get knocked out, you know you aren’t going to be sitting there long. This can be an issue with some of the social deduction games that eliminate players.
We Didn’t Playtest This At All! Legacy also falls into the category of very simple games. It’s a draw a card play a card game and be the last one standing. There are several versions of this game, but I prefer the legacy version. It adds to fun of the game which is extremely simple otherwise. We just got rid of our non-legacy version, so just We Didn’t Playtest This At All!, because it’s a little too simple. However, I do think for some groups there is a good spot for this on their shelves. It’s a good game for when people are showing up, because a single game lasts only a few minutes before everyone is eliminated. It’s also a goofy game, so it’s a good ice breaking game as well for people to interact a little bit.
Sushi Go! Party falls into a different category of game with the card drafting mechanic and is a bit more complex. It also lasts longer than most of the others that I’ve mentioned in social deduction and in this post (the party games can last a long time if you want). As players you are drafting a card in three rounds, each round is a full hand of cards, and then passing the cards to the next person. It’s a fun game with a lot of variability in it if you have the party edition. I highly recommend that. It’s also a game that is a bit thinkier, and people can form strategies, but because the artwork is very cute, people who haven’t gotten all the strategy with a particular set of scoring food items will still enjoy it because of the artwork. It’s a game that is quite aesthetically pleasing, and for all the cards and options you get for the game, it’s quite cheap as well. This is the first game where I’d say there’s less luck involved with it than a lot of others.
Say Bye to the Villains is one of my favorite resent purchase games that I think works well on this list. It has a maximum of eight players and is a cooperative game. You play a group of samurai who all have their own powers trying to defeat a bunch of villains. You have ten days per character to get your samurai ready to fight. You can do this by increasing your stats, speed, health, and power, or by finding out information on the villains. It’s a very tricky game to win, I think in three games I haven’t won, though it’s been close a couple of times. But it’s cooperative, so even if one person finishes up their days sooner, they can still be part of the strategizing. This game plays as a puzzle but you never know if you’ve cracked it, because you don’t know if you have all the information that you need, which inevitably you won’t.
Magic Maze and Captain Sonar are two games that fall into the same category in some ways. They are both real time games that can handle a large number of players. I’m not sure what the max is for Magic Maze, but Captain Sonar can play eight, and I think Magic Maze is similar. In Magic Maze you, as a group, are trying to get an adventuring party through a mall and out after they have stolen the adventuring goods that they need. Yes, it’s actually that and actually that silly. Each player has a specific action or two that they can do which is moving the adventurer meeples (small wooden pieces representing the characters) on the board. So someone can only move them north, someone can only move them east, and so on. There is some overlap on things, but not that much. It’s a timed game and everyone is in there, trying to work together to get them on the gear and then get them out.
Captain Sonar is also real time, though can be done turn by turn, where there are two teams out trying to sink the others submarine. The captains are barking out orders, the first mate is trying to keep the systems prepped and ready to go, the engineer is trying to keep systems in working order, and the radar operator is listening to the opposing teams captain trying to figure out where they are on the board. This game is stressful and hectic, as is Magic Maze, but a ton of fun. There’s some strategy that can be employed and there’s some luck that goes into it as well. There’s also an expansion for this game, but I don’t know what it adds.
Both of these games are a lot of fun as they get the blood pumping for people, however, because they are stressful for some people, you have to know your group. In the case of Captain Sonar, there is also fairly high lower bound limit as while the Captain and First Mates jobs can be combined, you are going to want to have at least six people to really get the full experience of the game without it becoming too confusing. There’s also the issue with these two games that they are a bit more complex than some of the others on the list. They have good themes for the games so good ways to explain what is going on without it seeming like too much, but be careful not to over explain it.
This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the games that you could play with larger groups and each group is going to have their own sweet spot for games. Try and branch out and try a number of these games and see what works the best for your group. With these games it also helps keep you from getting stale. And if you want to play something heavier, like I said before, split into smaller groups, but a lot of these games are great for kicking off a game night before jumping into heavier games, or closing down a game night as people slowly leave.
One game or type of game you’ll see that I left off of the list is Escape Room Games. While these games can technically have an infinite number of players, they say that six is the max. I would say that is a pretty good maximum otherwise people won’t be able to see the cards being played. Id’ recommend splitting into groups if you have more than six for games like Unlock and Exit.
What are some larger player count games that I haven’t mentioned that you enjoy?
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This weekend, Kristen and I had a chance to see a number of films. We went to the drive in theater and saw Incredibles 2 and Rampage, but the movie that I wanted to write about first is fairly recently released out of theaters (what do you call it now, released on video, DVD?) with the Alicia Vikander led Tomb Raider. We watched it on the home big screen, which is great, because it always has a bit of a movie quality to it because of that anyways.
A quick summary of the movie. Lara Croft is living a fairly simple life. She comes from a rich family, but can’t access the money completely because her father has gone missing, and is assumed dead, but she hasn’t signed the paperwork for it. Instead she’s barely scraping by with a bike courier job. Things change when she runs into trouble with the police on a biking game. She goes to complete the paperwork and finds that her father has left her a puzzle box which soon leads her to finding out what her father was really up to. That launches her into her first adventure to figure out if her father is really alive or not. Then action and adventure ensue.
My initial thoughts are that the movie is quite enjoyable. There are some near shot for shot scenes from the game, which is a fun nod to the people who have played the reboot of Tomb Raider. The reboot changes it from pixels with boobs and guns into a more realistic character who struggles and is still able to kick some ass. That turns it into a movie that can have a coherent plot, for the most part, and while you still get the action, she is now more of sympathetic character.
Along with more of a plot and a better plot than the original Tomb Raider movies, this movie also carries with it a lot better acting. Alicia Vikander does a very good job in the role of Lara Croft. I know there was some talk that she didn’t look enough Lara Croft like, but she matches up nicely to the video game reboot rendering of Lara Croft. We also get nice performances surrounding her role. Seeing Nick Frost in there as a cameo was a ton of fun, and a great role for him. Dominic West and Walton Goggins do a nice job in their roles as well as Lara’s father, whom we see a lot in flashbacks, and the villain of this movie. Daniel Wu in some ways steals the show in his scenes. He’s a very sympathetic character throughout the film. I don’t know that I’d really knock any performances in the movie as even those who maybe didn’t have as much screen time or weren’t as good actors, they didn’t detract from the film as often happens in action films.
Finally, I want to talk about the production quality of this film. As compared to another bigger budget action film in Rampage, which I may review later, Tomb Raider has very high production standards. The aesthetic throughout the whole thing is well done. It also doesn’t have any of the goofy moments where you look at the scene and just blatantly tell that something was green screened in there. I’ve noticed with too many decently budgeted movies as of late that we’re seeing that happen, and it’s something that shouldn’t be happening in a film. So I’m grateful that Tomb Raider doesn’t do that. I also appreciate that it kept the aesthetic very close to the games aesthetic. As I said, there were some scenes in the movie that reminded me so much of scenes in the game, and while that made bits of it predictable for me, it didn’t hurt the enjoyment of watching the movie for me.
In closing, Tomb Raider is an enjoyable film. Is it a masterpiece of modern cinema, certainly not. But it’s a fun movie that deserves a sequel in my opinion and compared to the original Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider movies, it is a masterpiece. This movie won’t be for everyone, but someone looking for a good female led action flick, this movie hits that nail on the head. And, I think, one of the strengths of the film, is that it treats it just as an action film and doesn’t make a big deal about that it is female lead, so the movie stands on its own as a movie.
Overall Grade: C+
Critical Grade: C
Casual Grade: B