Month: July 2019

Grooming Techniques for Board Games

Grooming Techniques for Board Games

Let’s start with the obvious question, yes that is a tongue in cheek title, but it was a post on the Dice Tower Facebook group that got me thinking about this question. Someone asked the question, how do you take care of your board games […]

Friday Night D&D – Things that Go Bump

Friday Night D&D – Things that Go Bump

I think that this idea can be used as a campaign or as a one shot, depending on what you want to do with it. When using iconic monsters like werewolves, vampires, and other classic monsters, you can always turn it into a one off […]

Book’em Nerdo – Artifact (A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery)

Book’em Nerdo – Artifact (A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery)

Yes, that is the series name it’s a bit long and unwieldy. This is another book for my reading challenge, needed a book with an amateur detective, and I decided I shouldn’t just read an Encyclopedia Brown book. This won’t just end up being another random book for my reading challenge as I will continue the series at some point in time, because I enjoyed this book a lot.

The premise of the series is that Jaya Jones, a historian, keeps being pulled into these incredible adventures where there is some lost treasure that she needs to track down. With an interesting cast of characters around her, in Artifact, she travels from her apartment in San Francisco (don’t ask how she can afford it, I’m assuming blackmail), to Scotland to a dig where her ex has died in a car accident. But it seems suspicious since he sent her a package containing a bracelet from India that showed up the day that she found out he’d passed away. Is it fall play, and is something going on at this dig?

I will double down on the fact that I enjoyed this book. Jaya Jones is an interesting character and the author, Gigi Pandian, does a good job of fleshing out her style and characteristics. You feel like she’s generally a pretty complete character and while she doesn’t have any major flaws, in a fluffy summer book, you don’t feel like you are missing them. I think that the other characters are pretty well written. Lane, whom you meet early in the book has an absurd history, and I don’t think it was something that was really needed for how over the top it got. Now, that isn’t much of a negative, though, on the book. I just kind of rolled my eyes and skimmed those couple of pages to get back to the main plot.

You can probably tell that this story and character are basically a female Indiana Jones, and that is really the case. I don’t mind that it heavily borrows from that feel, because it is just a summer light read. And the plot isn’t something that is much more complex than an Indiana Jones movie. When you ask yourself, half way through the book, who is the bad guy, it’s pretty obvious. That’s fine, again, because it’s summer reading. And knowing that, you want to know where the story is going to end, because of the treasure hunt aspect it ends up being pretty interesting, again, much in the way of Indiana Jones. And while I don’t need another Indiana Jones movie, I would gladly read another Jaya Jones book.

I also liked how the book delved into some of the history of India. That might seem out of left field, because we’re in Scotland and San Francisco for the story, but Jaya is an Indian and American character, and has done her history degrees on India. I feel like when you’re talking about these adventure books, you get this mystical Asian culture or South American, but this feels more grounded in what it is doing. Pandian even adds some information about what actually happened in those periods of history and how it ties into her story. That was interesting to read through, though the discussion questions at the end are just weird to have there. This is a book that you really don’t need to think about as it’s a summer read, but apparently the author or publisher wanted it to be more. Even in books that are meant to be more educational than this one, those questions are generally dumb and not questions that I’d use, and this book isn’t an exception to the quality level of the discussion questions.

It’s summer and I like reading summer books, so this book hit a good spot for me. I’m curious to see how Pandian can develop the characters going forward and which characters will stick around from book to book. If they are all as straight forward as this one was, I’m not sure I’ll stick around for the full series, but with that said, if they keep up the fun romp and keep being fast reads they are a lot of fun. The quality is solid, and overall it’s enjoyable. I think that most people would like this series, but you have to know going in that you are getting a pretty light book.

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Malt and Meeples – Pandemic Legacy Season 1 – Game 13

Malt and Meeples – Pandemic Legacy Season 1 – Game 13

We’re back, the break was a little longer than I had planned, but with the 4th it made it hard to stream. So how is our game of Pandemic Legacy Season 1 going to go this time? And what is Pandemic Legacy? In the game, […]

The Weight of Games

The Weight of Games

Now, there are a lot of ways I could go with this. I could literally be talking about how heavy some games are, such as Gloomhaven which is over 20 pounds. I could be talking about how emotionally heavy a video game is like Life […]

D&D Alignment: True Neutral

D&D Alignment: True Neutral

The alignments are interesting because, in the middle you have this state of both being neutral on the good and evil axis and the law and chaos axis. And I don’t know that I have the greatest grasp on what this true neutral position is or that most people have that strong a grasp on it when I’ve heard it talked about.

The issue with true neutral is that it doesn’t give you something to grasp onto. With evil and good, you know those concepts, and between law and chaos, you know what those are as well. Neutral is the position is between those, but it doesn’t give you that easy thing to grab onto. The best starting point that I can come up with is talking about the druid.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

The reason for the druid is that as someone who gets their powers from nature, nature isn’t inherently good or evil. It has some chaos, but it also has an order placed on it from the food chain and survival of the fittest, but these aren’t laws with how humans place rules and order around themselves. So someone who is fully devoted to nature could find themselves in this middle ground where they don’t cling too strongly to anything, but they just see life, death, and survival as the cycle of things. This cycle is neither good or bad, but it is needed for the land to survive.

This is where you can get into issues with role playing in an adventuring group but also why you join an adventuring group. Some outside force is working on your land, whether it be a grove or the whole world. So the true neutral character would look at this one of two ways. Either, it wouldn’t get them to do anything, because it’s the natural order of things and survival of the fittest. If you develop a character like that, you aren’t really playing in the spirit of Dungeons and Dragons and need to come up with a reason why your character would care, or roll up a new character.

But that same thing can also be your hook into adventure. Some outside force is working to destroy the land, whether it be your grove or the whole world. Because it’s an outside force, that means that it isn’t a natural force. Your character now has a reason to go out adventuring to stop bad things from happening. Because it isn’t going to be survival of the fittest, it’s just going to be destruction and not from the natural order and chaos of things, but because someone has a plan to destroy it. This true neutral characters mindset wouldn’t be, in this case, to judge the person as bad, but instead to judge their actions as outside of the balance of things.

Image Source: D&D Beyong

This is the tension of the true neutral character. There’s a chance for them to be apathetic in what is happening in the game. So as a player, you need to really find those reasons, either because of the threat, or some other reason, that you’re out adventuring. For me, the easiest way that I’d do this would be to add in some relationship with another character or NPC that is a very strong bond for your character. By doing this, you’re going to always have a reason to go adventuring. And it give the DM something that they know they can motivate your character with as well. I personally like the idea of it being another player character that you’re connected to, because then it gives the true neutral character more of a reason to follow along and and adventure.

So, what classes work, again, I’ll start out with the disclaimer that really any D&D class is going to work for any alignment, you might have a few things that just make less sense. The ones that are going to have the strongest ties to True Neutral, I would say, would be Monk and Druid. However, another class that I think works well is a very tribal Barbarian. They are going to see everything as survival and not have the attachment to things that the more “civialized” characters might. Death, trials, and troubles are just going to be the natural way of things and neither good or bad. Harder to work in are going to be your Cleric and Paladin who naturally leaning towards more lawful or good.

Probably a wild card one that I think would be interesting would a rogue. Generally, you think of them as chaotic, but what about an assassin rogue who just does their job and they get money, but they dispatch the target with out any passion for it and they don’t judge whether the target is good or evil, they just take the job given. You can even give them a loose code, but not hard rules that they follow to keep them from being lawful It would be easy to stray into either chaotic or lawful with this character (as well as good or evil), but that could basically be the rule for the character. They will take any job (somewhat chaotic), but they need their payment and their details before they’ll take it (somewhat lawful), to keep them balanced in a neutral area.

True Neutral is definitely a tricky one for me to try and explain. It’s also going to be a trickier one to try and play, and in my experience is generally just a stopping off point for characters as they go to another alignment. It’s a decent spot to start a campaign for that reason as you figure out the character’s ticks and traits that will allow you to set-up their alignment.

Have you played a true neutral character? Did you find it easy to play or did you have to put a lot of work into it?

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The Freeze – First Impressions

The Freeze – First Impressions

I’ve been listening to the Daily Planet podcast lately, which is a fun podcast about nerdy things. They cover movies, comics, video games, television shows, all the nerdy things in a weekly podcast. And those things are fun, I really like the news at the […]

D&D Alignments – Neutral Good

D&D Alignments – Neutral Good

Neutral is an interesting position to talk about when it comes to Dungeons and Dragons characters. I mainly have a harder time nailing down what I think it is and how you use it in role playing. I think, the best way that I can […]

GenCon – The Games

GenCon – The Games

Oh man, it’s a month away from GenCon and I want to talk about the games that are coming out. And there are a lot of them, but also so many that you can demo. In fact, right now you can go to Board Game Geek and find a massive GenCon games list. These are all games that are are new at this con or quite new anyways. As of July 2nd when I’m writing this, there are 433 games on that list which is crazy.

It’s kind of crazy to look at all of those games and this doesn’t include any RPG related stuff, gaming adjacent stuff, etc., these are just the games. So with that many games, plus panels and events, the odds of me getting to all of these games, there is now chance. So I wanted to talk about a couple of different things with the game count.

The first is super simple, set-up a budget, there are so many things that it would be possible to spend way too much. I have a budget of what I’m going to be able to spend on games. And I’ve been setting aside money basically the whole year for this, once I knew I was going, and I am sure there will be some things that seem kind of cool that I won’t get because I have a budget. Also, with budgeting go around and look, don’t just buy immediately, or use the Board Game Geek preview to help sort through what you might want to rush and get.

The other thing, and more important, that I just mentioned, is use the Board Game Geek list. The person I’m going with hadn’t looked at the list yet, and was surprised when he realized that there were 396 (at that time) new games to buy and demo. We’re actually going to hangout sometime so that we can go through the list and figure out what we really want to see and possibly demo.

That’s the big thing, demoing games is going to take time. While you can probably walk around and see almost everything or at least glance at almost everything, if you don’t look at the list, you’re going to have no idea what to demo or what you might want to track down early for demoing. You want to know where a game is going to be, and if you are willing to wait for a demo.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

So, how do you use the list?

First off, if you are interested in board games, I would highly recommend using Board Game Geek and set-up an account. It’s a great way to keep track of your collection. It also helps you find games based off of what you like and I will probably do an article on Board Game Geek later.

The reason for setting this up is that once you have it, you can use the “must have” and “interested” or “not interested” options. I tend to think the “undecided” option is a bit weird, that just means that I wouldn’t have marked anything, and I actually don’t use the “not interested” option either, but it could be useful. This allows you to easily see what you’re interested in, and in fact, you can download a list of everything that you’ve selected and how interested you are in them. But it doesn’t just give you that, it also tells you the publisher, the location, the price. That’s great, because, again, going back to budgeting because you can see how much you’re interested in, though not every “for sale” game has an MSRP.

For example, how I’ve used it, I have 60 titles on my list (I think it’s missing a couple of them). Of those, I have 4 must haves. Of those 4, 3 of them are for sale. I can see what their booths are, and of all of those, I know that one of them costs $25. That means that I have 56 games that I’m interested in. Of those, 14 are demo games, and 42 are games that will likely be for sale there. I can see that 6 of them are at one booth (all expansions to Welcome To…). I can also use that, for when I’m there, to sort out what booths are near each other to make a plan of attack for visiting things on different days or in a certain order.

Now, that’s just what I’m doing to make things easier for myself when I’m there. I do plan on just wandering around the dealer floor and seeing what is there. I would definitely miss stuff if I only used the list. However, the list is helpful and I feel like the budget is a must.

What games are you looking forward to at GenCon? Have you looked through or used the GeekPreview before from Board Game Geek?

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GenCon – What to Bring

GenCon – What to Bring

GenCon is getting close, so I have a post scheduled to come out tomorrow about the different gaming options, but I think that it’s good to talk about some things to bring when going to a convention and what I’m thinking for GenCon. Now, I’m […]