Aldershot

Check out Aldershot on his YouTube Channel.

The Luckiest T-Shirt

Check out our own Dan Morton and his Magic: the Gathering Podcast.

JermEx Machina

Drop by and see Jermex on his YouTube Channel.

MichaelBtheGameGenie

Go See MichaelBtheGameGenie on YouTube.

The Science of Gaming: Do Video Games Turn us Into Cheaters?

While many of us might look down on others for using walkthroughs and cheat codes to finish a game, it is likely that we would agree that it is worse to cheat in school or in the workplace. The question is: does the greater acceptance of “cheating” in video games increase the likelihood of cheating in the real world? In a recent paper, Hamlen (2011) examined this possibility.

It may surprise many to learn that those who played video games were more likely to cheat at school and in the workplace. However, it's actually difficult to say that this is because people learn to cheat from video games. I would argue that some people who play a lot of video games might simply have less time to devote to school and work, and that they may cheat to get a good grade. This idea is supported by the fact that people who were interested in sports were also more likely to cheat in school, something that has been reported in other studies. Again, this may be due to having less time to study due to increased extracurricular activities. So video games may not teach someone to cheat, but may make it necessary to cheat to achieve success in other areas of their life.

Surprisingly, people who used cheat codes were actually less likely to cheat in school or in the workplace. It is possible that these people actually worked hard to earn access to cheat codes within the game. Cheat codes may also allow the player to experience the game in a new way, or to unlock areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Therefore, use of cheat codes may in fact reflect a greater dedication to a project, whether it be a game or in some other aspect of life. However, those that used cheat codes specifically to skip over hard parts of the game were more likely to cheat in school and the workplace. This may reflect a general lack of perseverance in these people, and a tendency to use shortcuts to solve problems. This suggests that the way a person plays a game can say something about how that person will conduct themselves in other aspects of their life. Something to think about if you know someone who constantly uses walkthroughs and cheat codes to complete their games.

Overall, the results do not suggest video games make us cheat. Instead, like any hobby, video games can take time away from other responsibilities. Therefore, video games are no more negative in this regard than any other pastime.

The Legend of Digital Zelda

Link chases Ganon through the digital world to rescue princess Zelda. Yes, this seems to be a blatant advertisement for apple products, but its still a lot of fun to watch!

The Battle Rainbow Rockman!

Did you know Megaman was originally going to be called "The Battle Rainbow Rockman"? Learn about this and other obscure Megaman facts in this video:

The Science of Gaming: Is Your Avatar's Height Holding You Back?

This is the first instalment of "The Science of Gaming", a series that will amaze and enlighten you all with scientific studies on the topic of gaming. Warning, this article contains educational content!

According to one scientific study your avatar's height and attractiveness may be linked to success in World of Warcraft. The study by Yee and Bailenson (2007) explores a concept called the Proteus effect. The Proteus effect, named after the shapeshifting Greek god, is the idea that when we use an avatar our behaviour changes to match our avatar.

The Proteus effect is based on self-perception theory, which states that we infer our attitudes from our appearance and behaviour. This may seem counterintuitive, as it seems out attitudes should guide our actions. However, this is backed up by scientific evidence. For example, people view sports teams that wear black uniforms as being more aggressive. When people are themselves asked to wear black uniforms and play a game they will behave more aggressively. The theory is that they look at themselves wearing the black uniform and say, I must be aggressive. They behave more aggressively as a result. The Proteus effect takes this idea but applies it to an avatar in a virtual space. In other words, our avatar is like a uniform that we wear.

The researchers looked at how the appearance of a player's avatar in World of Warcraft related to player success. In general, attractiveness and height are associated with a more outgoing personality. Would playing a taller, more attractive avatar cause a person to play the game in a more outgoing fasion? The results suggest that this may be the case. The researchers found that on average, taller and more attractive avatars tended to be associated with higher character levels than shorter avatars. However, this was not the case for shorter characters such as gnomes and dwarfs. Attractiveness was associated with lower levels on average when an avatar was short. The researchers theorized that this might be because these characters are viewed as being more cute and childlike, rather than more competent.

As you may have guessed there are a few problems with assuming that this effect is totally due to the Proteus effect. One explanation is that people chose avatars based on their own personality. In other words people that are more likely to reach higher levels also prefer taller more attractive characters. A second possibility is that other people will behave more positively toward someone with a tall, attractive avatar. These players might form more positive relationships with other players and gain support from this. As a result they reach a higher level. It is also possible that all of these factors may be contributing to the results observed.

So in the end, what can we say? If you want to do well in World of Warcraft you might be better off picking a tall, attractive avatar. Also, if you want to be short, it's probably better to be ugly, maybe go for a goblin instead of a gnome. It may seem rather superficial and unfair, but I guess World of Warcraft isn't so different from real life is it?

Cheap @#$ Gaming #3

Hey All, it has been a while since I put together one of these posts, which highlight a couple different things to help out the cheap/budget gamer.

The first thing I wanted to show you is a narrative RPG introduced to me by Jason King (Vicaroth on these forums). Anyone who knows Jason has heard of Lady Blackbird.

When I first met him a few weeks back, we sat and played this wonderful game at Coffee & Company. Though I was shy and not quite out of my shell, it was very fun.

Below is a photo of your ship, as well as a copy of the Synopsis which can be found on the Lady Blackbird Site.
Lady Blackbird is on the run from an arranged marriage to Count Carlowe. She hired a smuggler skyship, The Owl, to take her from her palace on the Imperial world of Ilysium to the far reaches of the Remnants, so she could be with her once secret lover: the pirate king Uriah Flint.

HOWEVER, just before reaching the halfway point of Haven, The Owl was pursued and captured by the Imperial cruiser Hand of Sorrow, under charges of flying a false flag.

EVEN NOW, Lady Blackbird, her bodyguard, and the crew of The Owl are detained in the brig, while the Imperial commander runs the smuggler ship’s registry over the wireless. It’s only a matter of time before they discover the outstanding warrants and learn that The Owl is owned by none other than the infamous outcast, Cyrus Vance.

How will Lady Blackbird and the others escape the Hand of Sorrow?

What dangers lie in their path?

Will they be able to find the secret lair of the pirate king? if they do, will Uriah Flint accept Lady Blackbird as his bride? By the time they get there, will she want him to?

Go. Play. And find out.

Now something we haven't updated about in a while is videogames. The following game, FORCED, is a kickstarter project by BetaDwarf, which is described as Diablo meets Left 4 Dead - Indie style! The game will be available for the Pc, Mac, Linux, Xbox360, PS3, and is DRM free.



I would suggest checking out their kickstarter here and backing the project if it is something you would be interested in.

Wreck-It Ralph Flash Game

I'm sure many of you have heard of the movie Wreck-It Ralph, but did you know Disney made an actual game based on the fictional game in the movie? The game is Fix-It Felix Jr., with Wreck-It Ralph as the bad guy, and its actually a decent game. Basically, you just move up the tower fixing windows while Wreck-It Ralph throws objects at you. 

You can definitely see that they are parodying the old Donkey Kong arcade game with this one. You have a large ape/ape-like man that destroys buildings, and a carpenter (which Mario was in Donkey Kong) trying to scale the building toward the villain. Not to say the gameplay is identical, but you can definitely see the influence conceptually. 

play the game here.

Find the right online game for you!

Here is a little thing I wanted to share from play-free-online-games.com. I do think some of the options may be a little controversial, but it is a place to start when trying to find your next game.

Humans vs Zombies NL: The Zombie Apocalypse Approaches

To many the word “gamer” conjures up images of people sitting around a table or in front of a tv/computer screen. However, there is another type of gaming that is often forgotten: live-action gaming. Live-action games have players actually act out the actions of their characters. Humans vs Zombies (HvZ) is one example of a live-action roleplaying game, and one that is highly athletic.

The game was invented by two students, Chris Weed and Brad Sappington, at Goucher College in 2005, and was played mainly on campus. With the rise of Facebook, the game spread virally across the internet. In 2011 the infection reached Newfoundland when a MUN student name Ryan Dillon decided to plan his own event on Facebook. Initially, the event was meant to be private but was accidentally made public. The response was overwhelming, with at least 60 people attending the event. With this first event, HvZ NL was born. Although Ryan has since moved on, the group is now run by a dedicated group of committee members. This committee has done a great job of adding their own creative touches to the game.

The rules of HvZ are very similar to tag and should be easy for anyone to learn. I should note that the game rules do vary depending on who is running the game, and that I will be describing the rules used by HvZ NL. To play the game all you need is a foam dart blaster (commonly called Nerf blasters, and must be brightly colored), a bandanna, and “hatred for zombies”. Most players will start the game as a human, with one player being chosen to be the zombie (marked by wearing a bandanna). However, there will soon be many zombies, since when the zombie tags a human they become a zombie. This player must turn in their blaster and wear a bandanna to indicate they are now a zombie. So what chance do the humans have? Well they are still armed with their trusty blasters. Unfortunately, these zombies are not only fast, they are tough. When hit by a foam dart the zombies will go down on one knee for 50 seconds, but then they are back in the game. The odds are against the humans, but even if you do get captured you aren't out of the game. Now you get to be a zombie and chase down more humans. Once most people have been turned into zombies the game ends.

Sounds pretty simple doesn't it? Well the HvZ NL committee members have come up with a few twists to keep things interesting. One of those is the addition of missions and storylines to the game. In general, these involve non-player-characters (NPCs) characters played by the committee themselves. In one scenario NPCs were pulled from different points in history to combat the zombie menace. In another the humans had to contend with a organized group of NPCs that had access to a zombie cure, but weren't particularly friendly to the humans or zombies. The potential for advancement was also added in the form of rewards for winning teams. For example, the last team surviving humans might win an extra life ribbon to be worn for the next game (would need to be tagged twice). If you like a story, don't worry, HvZ NL has what you crave.

HvZ NL holds their events every second month, with their final event of 2012 planned for the 24th of November. You can get more details on this event on our events page. You can also learn more about the group on their Facebook page or contact them email.
***Important: This event is for ages 16+***

Like Fallout? How about LARPing?

check out this link to a group of LARPers from Russia, who created and roleplayed a game set in the Fallout universe that was 300 people strong.

American Senate Candidate Harassed for Playing World of Warcraft

I read this post a while ago on GeekNative. It is about an American Senate candidate being harassed for playing World of Warcraft. I'm totally anti-prejudice of any kind, especially when its something as simple as a game you happen to play, so this story has been stuck in my mind.

read more about it here.

Vote for Atlanti-Con!


For those of you that aren't familiar with Atlanti-Con, they are non-profit organization that holds science fiction conventions in Atlantic Canada. In fact, they recently held one in Corner Brook. If Atlanti-Con is successful in the the Aviva Community Fund competition they will receive money to help fund their future events.

Go here to vote on Facebook (Click the Aviva Comminity Fund Box. Click Vote Now). If you don't use facebook you can also vote here.

This is a really easy way to support a great organization. I encourage everyone to stop by and vote.

The Video Game Bucket List

Hey All, I just wanted to share this list i just came across over here and it had a lot of things I would agree on with my personal experience.

Please note I copied the list only and all credit goes to the author from the above link.


 There are scenes, achievements, and spectacles that all gamers should experience in their lives. With technology digging back through gaming’s history to ensure titles once lost are resurrected on modern platforms, there are scant excuses left to not go back and appreciate all of the best moments in video games. After all, at some point you’re going to run out of extra lives and continues. Here’s our video game bucket list: 101 things you absolutely should do in gaming before you die.

1. Jump off the Agency Tower in Crackdown, but make sure you land in the water.
2. Execute a Fatality in a Mortal Kombat game. For a bonus, make it Liu Kang’s Dragon one.
3. Collect all 7 chaos emeralds in Sonic 2, activate Super Sonic and kick some ass.
4. In Fallout 3, step out into the Capitol Wasteland for the first time. Bring sunglasses.
5. Get to Area 5 in Rez, sit back, and prepare to have your mind blown.
6. Get to World 1 in Braid, and prepare to have whatever’s left of your mind blown.
7. Perform the Rainbow Road shortcut in Mario Kart 64, preferably against a noob.
8. Get a M-M-M-M-M-MONSTER KILL in Unreal Tournament.
9. Pucker up and go over the rainbow in Bully: Scholarship Edition.
10. Think pleasant thoughts as you serenely drift through Flower.
11. Play the ‘Stars game’ in Grand Theft Auto III. If you get 6 stars, declare yourself king.
12. Trash a car in Street Fighter II, and I mean really trash it.
13. Play Desert Bus, and maybe turn your marathon drive into a charity event.
14. Dig feet into the ground and ready chainsaw guns in Gears of War 2’s Horde mode.
15. Don the mighty Nintendo Power Glove – but please, not like this.
16. Watch yourself through the portal you’re jumping through in Portal – confused?
17. Trap your Sim inside a room with no toilet in The Sims, and revel in your evil.
18. Take in the view from the roof of the Shangri La Hotel in Uncharted 2. Then go for a dip.
19. Get 120 stars and meet Yoshi in Super Mario 64.
20. Choose between Tifa and Aeris in Final Fantasy VII – don’t get too attached.
21. Keep up with Through the Fire and Flames on Guitar Hero 3. Don’t try too hard, though.
22. Get to Dr Wily’s Castle in Mega Man 2 and enjoy the best piece of 8-bit music ever.
23. No-scope snipe someone in Halo, then brag relentlessly about it.
24. Fling yourself down the hill and over the trams to make some crazy money in Crazy Taxi.
25. Get the good ending in Bubble Bobble, and bask in your own glory.
26. While you’re at it, get to the sixth world in Rainbow Islands and bask in Arkanoid’s glory.
27. Play a ‘Jesus shot’ in PGA Tour ’08. If you’re lucky, you might get noticed.
28. Descend upon the eerie beauty of Rapture in BioShock’s opening moments.
29. Hold a boozy Wii Sports Resort party. Just make sure you let your boss win.
30. Get your ass whooped by Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out on the NES.
31. Make a Pac-Baby in Ms. Pac-Man. Beware, cartoon adventures may ensue.
32. Play as Oddjob in a round of License to Kill with pistols only in Goldeneye: 007.
33. Offend your sensibilities with GTA III: San Andreas’ infamous Hot Coffee mod.
34. Ditch your party and make a reckless lone run for the chopper and freedom in Left 4 Dead.
35. Do the same in World of Warcraft as your party lines up a boss, screaming “LEEROY JENKINS!”
36. Stick to your guns and reject the G-man’s offer at the end of Half-Life.
37. Then go G-man spotting in Half-Life 2 – he gets around, that G-man.
38. Find out what Snake’s codec intel is on the whole cast of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
39. Take down a colossus in Shadow of the Colossus – and breathe.
40. Let Psycho Mantis read your mind and shake your world in Metal Gear Solid.
41. Play Animal Crossing on your birthday. For bonus points, see in the new year with it.
42. Keep your head on your shoulders through the village assault in Resident Evil 4.
43. Light-gun the galaxy to safety, one terribly acted scene at a time in Space Pirates.
44. Play a 10 vs 10 online game of FIFA 10 and score a last-minute winner.
45. Find and shoot John Romero’s head on a stick in Doom II. Make him scream.
46. Take out a line of utterly hapless victims with Quake III’s railgun.
47. Clear 4 rows with a vertical block in Tetris while listening to this music.
48. Head to the arcade for some Dance Dance Revolution, and play it like you mean it.
49. While you’re there, take on Daytona USA with seven other players.
50. Rescue the late, great Space Michael in Space Channel 5.
51. Snowboard your way down from the top of Peak 3 to the bottom of Peak 1 in SSX 3.
52. Games can do whatever movies can; complete the Death Star trench run in Rogue Squadron II.
53. Take a trip to Monkey Island to engage in some good ol’-fashioned insult swordfighting.
54. Think you’ve lost your grip on sanity in the midst of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.
55. Switch between the dark and light worlds for the first time in Zelda: A Link to the Past.
56. Enter the inverted castle in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
57. Experience nuclear devastation up close in Call of Duty 4’s standout moment.
58. Use Midnight Bliss against Street Fighter characters in Capcom Fighting Evolution.
59. Don your cheerleader’s uniform and take on Ouendan’s Ready Steady Go in Insane Mode.
60. Stretch those arms and make that final leap of faith in Ico’s closing stages.
61. Hold back the tears as Tidus and Yuna have their first kiss in Final Fantasy X.
62. Master how to trap your cornered friends in a 10-player game of Saturn Bomberman.
63. Run like crazy to escape from Zebes and then take in Metroid’s final revelation.
64. Build up your metropolis in SimCity 2000, then lay waste to it with a firestorm.
65. Get told how disgustingly fat you are by something you paid money for, thanks to Wii Fit.
66. Get the ‘dog ending’ in Silent Hill 2, and wonder what the hell just happened.
67. If you fancy something a bit more disturbing, make a date with destiny in F.E.A.R. 2
68. Spend an inordinate amount of money so that you can play all five SEGA CD 32X games.
69. Create a LittleBigPlanet level that’s a love letter to your favorite game.
70. Finally finish the fight for Master Chief in Halo 3 – is it really the end?
71. Speaking of great endings, take down Zeus in the name of Sparta in God of War 2.
72. Cross paths with yourself in your second play-through of Resident Evil 2.
73. Beat Contra on the NES without using the Konami code.
74. Complete Turtles in Time in under an extremely radical time of 23 minutes.
75. Mourn your fallen men as you view their graves in Cannon Fodder.
76. Make love to an alien in Mass Effect and see if you end up on the news.
77. Swarm your opponent’s hospital with vomiting patients in Theme Hospital’s multiplayer.
78. Take on the Chicago Bulls with Bill and Hilary Clinton (in happier times) in NBA Jam.
79. Get all your bandmates together to play Portal’s Still Alive in Rock Band 2.
80. Take on Wipeout HD’s Zone Mode to the backdrop of DJ Fresh’s X-Project.
81. Go all fuzzy when you press the cuddle button in A Boy and His Blob on the Wii.
82. Compose your favorite piece of gaming music in Mario Paint – or least part of it.
83. Take to the skies in Call of Duty 4 and deal out some death from above.
84. While you’re up there, hop on a gryphon and take in World of Warcraft’s Azeroth.
85. Purchase a Virtual Boy and play the only good game on the system, Wario Land.
86. Execute an utterly satisfying, literal backstabbing in Counter-Strike.
87, See the sun burst out of the gap between the trees in Gran Turismo 3’s Trial Mountain.
88. Successfully dock your Cobra MK II at a space station in Elite.
89. Score a goal from the kick-off in Kick-Off! – because it just has to be done.
90. Get your fission mailed to you first-class in Metal Gear Solid 2.
91. Use a Master Ball on Mewtwo to catch all 151 of the original Pokémon.
92. Find 4 GBAs, 3 Game Link Cables, and 4 Game Paks of Four Swords – multiplayer Zelda!
93. Microwave a hamster in Maniac Mansion – and only in Maniac Mansion.
94. Roll your first school kid in Katamari Damacy – and only in Katamari Damacy.
95. Whisper sweet nothings to a Merc before offing him in Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow.
96. Convince the inhabitants of Oblivion’s Border Watch that it’s Judgement Day – woof!
97. Visit Minus World in Super Mario Bros. Keep playing the level until you complete it.
98. Get your amorous girlfriend from New York to Los Angeles in Turbo Outrun.
99. Die repeatedly as you try to rescue the scantily-clad Princess Daphne in Dragon’s Lair.
100. Celebrate Xmas the right way with 25 nights of Xmas NiGHTS, like this guy did.
101. And finally, swim with the dolphins… in Endless Ocean – bit less pricey than the real thing.

News: Steam for Linux Beta Released

"The Valve Linux team is proud to announce the launch of a limited access beta for its new Steam for Linux client.
The Steam for Linux Beta client supports the free-to-play game Team Fortress 2. Approximately two dozen additional Steam titles are now also available for play on Ubuntu.
Additionally, the Steam for Linux Beta client includes Big Picture, the mode of Steam designed for use with a TV and controller, also currently in beta."

Download here (read notes below before running)

Notes (using Linux Mint Maya (MATE Edition))
*You will get a message saying it is a closed beta if you try to run the program normally. Type this into the terminal to run: steam steam://open/games
*Clicking "Big Picture" may cause the program to become unresponsive
*You can't actually download the Team Fortress 2. From what I have read this is because you need a legitimate beta account. (Edit: Turns out you can't play any Valve games using the hack above)

Games that Give Back

“We're not good people, we just do good things,” the words of David Maher, one of three Goodwill Gaming members who NL Gamer had the privilege to interview last Wednesday. At its core, the statement gets down to what makes the non-profit organization so inspiring and so radical. Whether or not David, Jeff Smyth, John Michael Bennett, or any of GG's many other dedicated volunteers consider themselves good people, what they do represent are ordinary people who do amazing things.

For those who've never encountered the organization before (of which I was one), Goodwill Gaming is an officially recognized non-profit organization that raises money for children in need. They were founded in 2010 by John Michael Bennett, Donald Reid and Scott Whelan, who saw an opportunity to turn their passion for gaming into something practical, useful and moving. Since its founding, the organization has managed to raise thousands of dollars to support community efforts and underprivileged kids, has been interviewed by the CBC, and now looks to the future to expand what has already been an ambitious and work-heavy project.

All this and more you can find out on their own website at http://www.goodwillgaming.org , which includes a more detailed history of the organization, as well as volunteer bios and additional information about specific events.

Most intriguing to me was their mission statement of clearing the name 'gamer', which tends to evoke images of lazy slobs and insular homebodies in the minds of the general public. Increasingly the media harps on the ill effects of gaming (and video gaming in particular); its abuse; and its creation of obsessiveness, and perpetual bachelorhood in its defenders. To counter that, GG wanted to show Newfoundland that gamers could give back, that one's gaming talents could be helpful, and that gaming does have the power to create a sense of community and inclusiveness that has long been ignored. If you've spent any amount of time chatting with the staff at NL Gamer, you'll probably recognize some similarities in our desire to achieve that same sense of community.

How does it all work? According to John, Jeff, and David, friendship has been key in keeping the organization functional. Not only does a good relationship with each other help diffuse potential conflicts, but it also allows the team a detailed knowledge of each other's gaming specialities, as well as which tasks suit which team members best. Even better, the pool of friends is growing, as it isn't very hard to find new volunteers. It would seem, given the organization's success, that it's not just a small percentage of gamers who'd like to show the world we aren't the stereotypes they think us. Indeed, GG has even drawn national and international attention, with shout-outs on Montréal radio, and gamers visiting their forums all the way from Sweden and Australia.

The road wasn't all peaches and cream, with a few early naysayers and occasional technical issues that needed to be worked out on the fly, but the team was quick to express thanks at the enormous generosity and support they've received from family and friends since the beginning, as well as the attitude changes that took place once their detractors realized their crazy scheme was actually doing something. David glibly jokes that his mom still asks pointed, practical questions: “You're going to be able to put this on your resumé though, right? But you're getting a real job, right?”, but overall there has been an outpouring of understanding and enthusiasm.

Of course, when dealing with gaming marathons, tiredness is another problem that comes up (GG's record for staying up the longest goes to Sarah Boyd, who clocked in a whopping forty-five hours of game-time!). Not only are efforts on the job exhausting, but there's a lot of preparation that goes into GG's marathons, including playing hours of one's chosen game to make sure one can see it through to the end. For the members of GG, there is such thing as a “work-game” and a “game-game.”


Though the team would ultimately like to expand their efforts, they're realistic about taking it slowly and don't want to overextend themselves. Right now, GG is focused on gaining an office, as well as being able to offer paid positions. Relatively new is their involvement in helping kids from lower-income families afford self-improvement classes and activities, such as dance and baseball. This latest endeavour is called the R.E.A.L. Program, and seeks to support families in need by providing hobbies and entertainment for their children. If any organization sees the value in hobbies and the good they can do, it's GG, whose members' faces light up every time they discuss the results of what their doing, as well as the life-changing effects it can have on the children they're there to help.

If you'd like to take part in GG's events but are worried about fitting in, or your skill level at certain games, the team stressed they have a policy of openness and inclusiveness. All skill levels are welcome; and friendly, unscheduled tournaments often spring up alongside planned ones. Additionally, though their focus tends to be on console gaming, popular card games and boardgames have also found homes at GG events, with low-pressure Magic games taking place at their last marathon.

The next planned event is a game carnival scheduled for November 9th. The entry fee is $5, and proceeds go towards buying new equipment and other maintenance costs. Prizes will be awarded for tournaments, and GG promises that the experience will be “ten hours of fun!”. For more about the event, check out: http://www.goodwillgaming.org/event-listings.html

An Overview of Metropolis


Metropolis is a game I'm mostly responsible for creating, that was originally a joint project from the first MUN Tabletop Games Club workshop. The idea was to create a resource game where you would have to balance your cash, your workers, your resources, your property, and your plans all at once. Since then, it's gone through several completely different versions, one relying mainly on chance, one relying on getting the right plan for the right price, one relying on the bidding mechanic.
The current version of the game looks like it will be the final beta version. Flavour and some extras on some properties may still be added, but the fundamentals are solid.

The game contains 48 plans, 5 resources, 3 different permanent bonuses that can be bought, and the grid-block for the city.

Each turn, play progresses from the player with the least victory points to the player with the most. Victory points are gained from finished properties on the board, but to make turn order easier, they are also tracked on the income list. Each player collects rent determined by their victory points, then in turn, each player purchases property if they want to, plans if they want to, place plans on properties if they want to and it is possible, purchase resources, and then lay resources. Once a property has all the resources it requires, it is considered finished and flipped over.

A player may hold 2 resources for each warehouse they own, and must store all resources before they may place them. A player may place 2 resources per turn for every worker they have hired. The game has a fixed time limit, so you pay your workers completely in advance. Less arithmetic that way.

Resources are limited, and only a set amount regenerate each turn, depending on the phase of the game. More resources may be generated if any player buys a resource subsidy, which grants them 1 of that resource immediately, and permanently produces 1 more of that resource per turn. The less resources there are, the more expensive they become, ala Power Grid.

Properties, and plans, are 1-star, 2-star, or 3-star, and plans may only be placed on properties the same tier as them. Properties may be gentrified to higher tiers, but not modified to lower levels. 3-star plans are more expensive, in resources and in money, but give more victory points per plot.

The properties are stacked with the 3-stars all on bottom, the 2-stars in the middle, and the 1-stars on top. This guarantees that players will always be fighting over the same properties, and also that appropriate resources will regenerate each turn, because the game enters phase 2 when 2-stars become available, and phase 3 when 3-stars become available. When no more plans can be dealt out, the game ends and the player with the most Victory Points wins.


Currently, the game is played with a set of property cards and a board that I have mocked up, and pieces from Agricola. If you'd ever like to play, I bring it with me to MUNTGC meetings, or I can certainly try to drop by another meeting sometime with the game pieces. I do have a file with the gameboard & cards, but because the game is likely to change, so it's not worth your time to print and cut it out.

Ready for a Fiasco?


Good day internet! I'm Charles and I swear I was intending to write this article before Jason wrote his. I think it's fantastic, because he's talking about narrative RPGs, and I want to share my experiences with a game where everyone is a player.

While Jason did a great job explaining the meta behind narrative gaming, he didn't exactly touch on what it actually feels like to play a narrative RPG. It's very hard to understand what it's like to play a narrative RPG without playing one yourself, but here's my attempt to explain it through my experiences with Fiasco.

You may have heard of Fiasco from Wil Wheaton & Felicia Day's Tabletop, or maybe from all the people shouting their dislike of it. If you fit in to the latter category already, that's fine. You're allowed to dislike things that I like. But know this: I have led a flock of fairies with my righthand solider, a dog with the brain of Randy Savage, (and his sidekick the Ultimate Chihuahua), against an army of zombie miners led by Gilbert Gottfried who was possessed by the spirit of a Jamaican island.

Fiasco is a narrative RPG where everyone is a main character in a movie about plans going wrong. Like a drug deal that ends up with a hitman after the dudes who were late paying the boss back and also ended up sleeping with her lover. Who happens to be the leader of a political party and the one buying the drugs. Or like a team of news anchors all trying to break into a vault before their boss airlifts it out with a helicopter. Or a gambler, a merchant, a debtor, and a gunman all vying for a piece of the very corrupt governors fortune and a way out of town before he notices. I'm sure you're all familiar with the type of film that Fiasco tries to emulate.

The biggest difference between Fiasco and a normal RPG is that there is no GM. Everyone is a player, and while it is technically true that nothing is stopping you from making whatever you want happen, players limit each other and are also limited by their characters and the dice and the fact that you're trying to tell a story together, not win a game.

Every game of Fiasco can be completed in a single setting including setup. The characters and dice work very simply, and unlike other RPGs, you do not use the dice during any scene. Before the game begins, the players choose one of many settings, such as “Transatlantic”, “Dragon Slayers”, “Quest for the Golden Panda”, “The Dresden Files”, “Gangster London”, “Candyland”, and many others that the fine folks at Bully Pulpit games cook up on a monthly basis and post for free to their website.

After a setting is chosen all the dice are rolled (one of three times they will be rolled at all), and the players use the dice with the tables from the setting to determine their connections to the players to their immediate right and left, their needs, important locations, and important items. Additional to the characteristics determined by your relationships and miscellanea, it goes without saying that every character is very ambitious and has very poor impulse control. How else could a weather gorilla end up in the children's intense care wing with a bandolier of tear gas grenades while his handler tries to break into a bank vault after visiting the evidence room of the local police station? By the way, the gorilla was high on cocaine.

The type of options that are possible depend on the setting, but to give examples from a session we've had: a news anchor and his assistant, the executive bathroom, a very valuable videotape, a need to get even, an executive and her ex-lover, two competing news anchors, a pornographer and his model. We decided that Lucky Dog used to be an employee of Channel 9, but was fired after it was discovered he was using company equipment and personal to make his magnum opus, Magnum O'Penis, after hours. His model was a sexy news anchor competing with Nye O'Reilly, a very catholic 'science' reporter with a huge ego, whose assistant was secretly the sister of the other news anchor, trying to find some way to cause the big boss of the station, Lucky's ex, to fire Nye. And then we started playing. By the end of the game, the building had burnt down, two of the characters were dead or dying, one was hiding from the police, and Nye had a spot on Fox News.

There's absolutely no need to be as silly as my group is with our fiasco games. Indeed, if you watch the tabletop episode where they play a game of Fiasco, it's all perfectly serious, tense and dramatic without being insane, surreal, or ridiculous. What you should be getting from this paragraph is that your group can play Fiasco however the heck you want. Everyone ends up adding a lot to the game, because everyone has equal ownership of the story, everyone wants their scenes to be important, to be memorable, and everyone wants to have a good time. And everything builds up together to create amazing finales. Throwaway characters like talking dogs, and cameos like Gilbert Gottfried end up becoming integral parts of the very fucked up stories you tell. It works. I'm not going to say Fiasco is the best narrative RPG there could be, as there are definitely stories that are hard to tell with the system, it doesn't fit every gamer group, and the limitations aren't always enough. But my group has had a lot of fun with it, and you could do a lot worse for your first narrative RPG.

When you start playing, each player in turn has a scene that focuses around their character. They can either choose to set the scene, or to choose the outcome. Not both. During the first part of the game, if the scene ends well with them, they get a white die to give to another player of their choice. If the scene goes badly, they get a black die to give to another player. During the second half of the game, they keep the dice they earn.

Otherwise, dice don't do much during the game. Your storytelling skills, as you act out each scene with the other players, is the main mechanic.

The two other times you roll dice besides setup are at the midpoint in the game, and at the end of the game. At the midpoint, there's a twist. Well, two of them. Everyone rolls the dice they've earned, and the two people with the highest totals roll on the twist table, and two somethings go horribly wrong. Of course, things should already be going horribly wrong if you're playing right, but these are extra things that go wrong that you couldn't possibly have planned for. At the end of the game, you roll your dice, subtract the black die from the white die, or vice versa to get a positive number, and that determines how well your character does in the end. You want to get either a high black or a high white number. Because there are 4 dice per player, your character will get 4 scenes centring around them. Try not to get 2 white and 2 black dice!

Obviously, I'm skipping details, but those are all the mechanics. I could now throw you into a game with no explanation and you'd have a vague idea of what to do. More than just a narrative RPG, this is a pure story-telling machine. You are not playing a character who will carefully consider their actions to arrive at the optimal result, you are not playing to 'win', you are playing a character who probably fully deserves to die horribly, and you are playing to make it a true fuck-up worthy of legend. Go out in the most fantastic way possible, and aim to be so insane you instead break through the other side with a bag full of cash.

By the way, every story I've alluded to is part of a real session from my RPG group, not just things that could hypothetically happen. And I haven't even mentioned the Russians who shot down a zepplin staffed by bikini babes, the spaghetti western in space where a vixen literally dealt the poker cards, or the superhero in ancient china who was given advice about his family from an enigmatic wise man.

Every single one of our fiasco games becomes a complex interwoven web of lies, deceit, trickery, and sometimes we even consider telling the truth. In all my time playing D&D and pathfinder and 7 Skies and Paranoia and etc. etc., I have never needed a corkboard to keep track of everything that happens even in year-long campaigns. We need corkboards with multi-coloured thread for every single session of Fiasco. The system is incredibly well-suited to creating very complex & entertaining social situations. In our very first game, between 5 players, we had 17 rich relationships between our characters, only 5 of which were determined by the setup, the rest of which were emergent.

I have drunk the kool-aid of narrative RPGing, and it is good.

News: Newfoundland Gamer is on Google+

Newfoundland Gamer now has its own Google+ page! Add us to your circles to keep up to date on the latest news and events.

Check it out here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/112319186967214452807/112319186967214452807/posts

Changing the way we ‘role’



Greetings and salutations internet! My name is Jason and what I have to say might change the way you think about roleplaying. “How so?” you might ask. There have been some changes in the world of tabletop RPGs that you may not have been aware of. Maybe you've played every version of D&D in existence, maybe even every setting of Gurps, VTM and Palladium. Though this is an impressive list, there is still a huge genre of roleplaying you are missing out on: narrative RPGs.

Let me break it down. In the games I have listed above there are a few common rules that streamline the games into one single category. Each of these games runs on the principle that the GM has complete control of the setting, direction and rules. The level of control in any one of these areas may change depending on your individual group or the style of the GM; after all, Gamemasters need to adapt to their players to maintain interest in the game. This can be stressful for a GM, especially if the players seem to be moving in a different direction than what was intended.

As a GM, have you ever made an amazing dungeon only to have the players sidetrack and run off in a different direction? Have you ever developed an amazing plotline that took you hours to write up, only to have the players kill off a main character or misinterpret your direction and follow an unwritten path? For new GM’s, this can be a game killer and even for experienced GM’s, this can develop into an antagonistic relationship of player vs GM. Once a roleplay changes course, who has control of the directing?

Games that follow this mentality are referred to as traditional games, as it has been the accepted format of official roleplaying since 1974. Since then, roleplayers have run their games according to Rule Zero, an unwritten rule stating the GM is always right and that (s)he has the ultimate say as to whether an official, published rule can be set aside or modified.

A new wave has come and if you don’t want to be left behind I suggest you take it for a ride. Narrative games take the role of the GM and section it up among the players. This gives the actors the ability to input more into the story and get involved in the world creation. It does this by removing the three aspects of traditional games and replacing them with three others. It no longer requires the GM to take full control the setting, it lets the players direct themselves in their own challenges, and Rule Zero is negated. The three rules the narrative system offers are the following: 1. Say yes or roll the dice, 2. Stick with the fiction, 3. Every roll has dramatic results or consequences.

Now before I go on. I am a system matters guy. I love rules and find that true creativity can only come from limitations. Consistency is also a key factor. So how does one achieve this? Well, three ways: make your own system; take a system you know, love and understand then hack at the conflicting rules so they suit your group and play ball; or buy a game that has the rules built to suit your team. And yes, I did use the word team on purpose. In narratives the GM is working together with the players to develop a story, changing the mentality slightly from that of a traditional rpg.

Moving on! So why does all this matter? Why did I write a crap load about this subject thus far? I am passionate about narrative roleplaying games and this is why.

“Say yes or roll the dice” changes the way people view rule systems and storytelling, and refers to the acceptance that certain actions are assumed to be successful, unless otherwise challenged by the GM, or if rolling would make more sense for the plot. You may require a skill depending on the situation, but not always. The fundamental idea is that if rolling the die would disrupt the flow of the narrative for what would be an all-too mundane action, then it is better to say yes and move on. This keeps the pace of the game quick and heightens the sense of drama.

Speaking of drama and the dramatic, narrative games fully concern themselves with the dramatic side of roleplaying. Movies are almost always dramatic; it draws in the crowds and it keeps you in your seat. Narrative games offer the same experience. New Rule one helps achieve this by allowing a narrative flow to develop without too much disruption, but beyond that is the second rule, which states that every roll has dramatic results or consequences. The basic principle is that if an action is sufficiently important that it requires one's skills to be tested, then the result should be equally important and affecting.

A common misconception about narrative gaming is that there are no dice involved whatsoever. This is true in some cases but there is normally always a balance tool. Balance tools may include dice, coloured gems or cards, all used with the intention of making your gut twist before the final result is determined. Either way, the result should be dramatic. Even failure opens up new situations or challenges.

Where this differs from tradition failure systems and the idea of task setup and intent is in the execution. Rather than simply depending on the GM to mind-read and realize what the player's intent was upon attempting the action, the player makes their intentions known in such a way that it becomes a part of the narrative. For example, in a traditional game a player may want to unlock a door and sneak past the guards inside to steal a treasure. A common problem is that the player will simply roll to unlock the door without informing the GM of the intention of unlocking it carefully to sneak inside. The player may break in, but the guards are alerted, causing a disconnect between what the player intended and what the GM understood. This, too, disrupts the flow of the storyline and may result in anti-climax and more wasted time as the player struggles to find an alternative to what should have been a minor story point. In narrative gaming, the player would state their intent as though they were writing a line in a story. In this style, the playing might choose to say something along the lines of, “I take my lockpick and quietly twist it in the lock, hoping not to alert any enemies.” There is no confusion here. You want to go into the room, WITHOUT alerting the guards. In game-speak, what your intention says to the GM is,"If I fail I want to alert the guards." It is clear now that opening the door is not the focus, and that alerting the guards is. This means that even on a fail, the player can open the door required to move on the story, but not before having some browbeating soldiers locked on to your location.

This being said, fighting in narratives isn't the focus, so don't expect to be setting up minis on a table. By the time you've done this, the battle would already have been resolved. To keep up the pace of gameplay, most situations are summed up in a single dice roll, including fighting! Losing doesn't always means death, but it does mean your life just got a hell of a lot more complicated (and interesting).

Twists, bangs and challenges are the tools the GM has to use on the players, suiting the on-the-fly mentality. As you can guess, narratives cannot be planned out in detail like most other RPGs. Much of the time, the players themselves will be asked to add details to areas, items and npcs. A player connects more with a storyline and characters that they help to shape and detail. In particular, naming and describing npcs gives the player a sense of involvement in the overall plot and brings realism to the narrative (for instance, a player's character may be the one to introduce an npc to the rest of the group, so why shouldn't they have some say in what that npc looks like and how their relationship developed?).

This type of gaming isn't for everyone. Some people are more interested in the hack and grind, or games that place the narrative control squarely in the realm of the GM, and both of these preferences are fine. It is what you and your players like in the end that matters. For those that feel like something is missing, or the rules don't quite fit what you want, I would suggest trying another system. Hacking up rules isn't always the way to go when you have people who spent years making systems to suit your game style. Go out and explore the vast wonders of the RPG world. Grab a D. Vincent Baker, Jason Morningstar or Luke Crane game and have at it. For those that feel like breaking the D&D traditional mold, I know you will not be disappointed.

If you would like to know more about the terms used in this article, check out “The Forge” essay on the subject: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/narr_essay.html

News: MUN Tabletop Games Facebook Group

We recently gave an introduction to the MUN Tabletop Games Club. I am now happy to report that the group has a new Facebook Page. Check it out here!

LARPing Comes to St. John's


Live Action Roleplaying (LARPing) is a geek phenomenon gaining steam on the mainland and elsewhere in the world, and with Epoch on the Rock, Newfoundland may just have its first organized LARP community in the making.

The group in question is run by MUNLARP and is partly based on the successful LARP group, Epoch Toronto. Epoch is a boffer LARP, meaning the combat system is acted out using 'boffer' weapons (foam-wrapped pipes made to look good but be safe). As in many active LARPs, magic is cast by throwing or otherwise using seedbags. The presence of combat does not mean there won't also be plenty of drama, politics and story, which are all large parts of the fun of LARPing. For more of a teaser concerning the world of Epoch, the group has a tumblr account used for posting fairytales from the Epoch universe, which can be read at your leisure, but are not a necessity for those entering the group: epochontherock.tumblr.com

Though there has been considerable interest in Epoch on the Rock, turn-out to some of the starting events this past summer was disappointing. To combat some of the past difficulties the group has had, MUNLARP plans to host some light events to help ease people into the idea of LARPing and calm the nerves of those who are entering the LARPing world for the first time. Suggested light events including feasts (sort of like a medieval potluck!), and will take place over the winter and spring.

In the meantime, MUNLARP is working on the technical side of LARPing, stitching costumes and taping weapons. If you'd like to take part and help put together materials and gather items, please contact MUNLARP either via e-mail or tumblr:

e-mail: MUNlarp@gmail.com
tumblr: www.epochontherock.tumblr.com

Introducing MUN Tabletop Games Club


Anyone who's checked out a hobby store lately, or caught a whiff of Wil Wheaton's recent series, Tabletop, probably has some idea that tabletop gaming is no longer your grandmother's Monopoly. The popularity and undeniable fun of games that think outside the box is reason enough to try out some of the offerings available, but there are barriers to doing so (especially if you're a recluse like myself). Although some games have single player options, many do not, and in playing alone one often loses out on much of what makes these epics special. Cost and complicated rules are further impediments to tabletop gaming, since you often can't know if you'll enjoy something until you play, and you can't play until you splurge your paycheck on that $50.00 Arkham Horror reprint.

Enter MUN Tabletop Games Club, an open and enthusiastic group of individuals coming together on a weekly basis to share games, knowledge and fun times. Even if you've never played Munchkin in your life or don't know Settlers of Catan from Magic: The Gathering, the group is an inviting space created in order to promote community within St. John's gaming culture and make some new friends and hobbies.

Currently a small group of around twenty active members, MUNTGC holds a weekly meeting every Wednesday in MUN's Chemistry/Physics building from 5pm to 10pm in room 2026. Commonly played games include Magic: The Gathering, Arkham Horror, Galaxy Trucker, Settlers of Catan, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Race for the Galaxy, Dominion, and many many others. If you have a game you'd like to play and already own, the group encourages you to bring it along and it is very likely they'll play it at one of their meetings.

Beyond boardgames, MUNTGC is always trying to branch out and become more inclusive of other tabletop communities, and includes in its plan a roleplaying game night, to be held once a semester. The RPG night takes the form of a meet 'n' greet to help facilitate like-minded roleplayers meeting up and finding the GM and players suitable for their roleplaying tastes. The hope is that meet-ups like this one will make it easier for fellow geeks to find each other, and for solid RPG groups to form and develop on their own!

Likewise, MUNTGC is interested in expanding their events to include a women's only boardgame night (one should note that this does not in any way mean that women are disallowed from attending the weekly Wednesday meets!). It's an unfortunate truth that geek culture can be less than inviting for women at times, and that certainly has been the case for the MTGC. By providing a space only for women, the hope is that people will be more willing to try boardgaming who would otherwise be intimidated or be made to feel uncomfortable by the normal club meetings, which have a disproportionate ratio of men to women. If you think you'd be interested in helping run such an event, MUNTGC is still looking for a woman willing to host this event. Contact information for the club can be found at the end of this article.

The club also encourages members to create their own games, and for other members to playtest them. Several members were already creating boardgames before the club existed, and have further developed their games as a result of the club. There have been games workshop events in the past, which were reasonably successful, but the format is currently being reconsidered. The games that have been created at, or development has been furthered by, the club includes some fan-games, such as the Megaman board game (Ron Keating's) and the Final Fantasy card game (also Ron's), but also some original creations, such as Metropolis (Result of a games workshop), Plan 9 (club-designed card game), and Chaos Dungeons (Peter Deal).

Other types of tabletop gaming, such as wargaming and competitive-level go, have been discussed by a couple of members in the past, but the membership wasn't interested enough to do anything for these. If people are interested in starting up any of these on campus, it is part of the MUNTGC's constitution to help provide them with space (through booking rooms), and whatever else they can do.

Much like NLGamer.ca, the club was started to provide a place for games' clubs to talk to each other, especially since there was no gaming club on campus. MUNTGC's main purpose is to provide spaces on campus for gamers to meet and play with each other. The group is constantly trying to branch out and reach other tabletop gamers, as with roleplayers and female gaming groups. If you're interested in trying out tabletop gaming, or if you already love games and would like somewhere to share your geekery with others, MUNTGC invites you to any and all of their weekly 5pm meetings.

MUNTGC can be contacted at MUNboardgames@gmail.com

Local news. The road to tabletop is paved with Rolling Intentions.


Welcome all, myself and Azreal had the pleasure of meeting a local community organizer for tabletop gaming in St Johns. His name is Jason King, he operates a gaming podcast from a his website Rolling Intentions. There is a podcast interview containing portions of our dialogue available on his website.

Jason's local tabletop group has expanded wonderfully over the past several months. During our interview, I wondered what types of games there were currently enjoying. The one that caught my ear was "mystic empyrean" Essentially what he had been describing was beyond my ken. I was raised on traditional D&D rules. Jason had brought to my attention a game in which the players describe the world. This flew in the face of my knowledge of pen&paper. No DM plotting my adventure? Noticing my bafflement, Jason enlightened me to GNS Theory.After learning the distinctions between Gamist, Narrativist and Simulationist, I had a greater comprehension of pen and paper gaming as a whole. Jason asserted that he considered himself a Narrativist, I found the idea to be quite illuminating. It seemed to me that this form of RPing was much more character driven, which appealed to my more dramatic side.

Jason told us some of his story, and his goals. The most significant of which was the desire for a convention of gaming that we could call our own. Newfoundland is woefully bereft of any serious gaming event. The closest thing we have is our "Sci-fi on the rock" convention. This convention hasn't been limited to science fiction content only. Fantasy, Steam-punk, Anime, horror and more have all been integrated. While this celebration of our counter-culture is delightful, we believe there is still ample room for another convention focused entirely around gaming.

We will be updating our calender with events hosted or supported by Jason's groups. There is a bi-weekly meeting at the local coffee & company in St Johns, NFLD around 7:00 PM. Games and good times aplenty to be had by all!

We live again! Put your fingers to the keys for Scott Bartlett, our new guest writer.

Hello all, It it nice to write to you once again.
Today, we relaunch the blog with a commitment to regular updates. We will be releasing (at the very least) one post a week from here on out. This is my personal commitment to all of you who have followed this blog.
We mark this occasion with the addition of a guest writer, Scott Bartlett.
Scott is a self-published author who operates a blog of his own, www.Batshite.com(moved to www.scottplots.com) He has been a long time friend of mine and he games with the best of them. He is particularly dastardly at SNES Bomberman and Mariokart. I enjoy giving him a good N64 Smash Bros whooping, to nurse my battered ego that is. >_<;
To those interested in Scott’s first published novel, I am including a lengthy excerpt after the jump. It is a delightful medieval romp that will tickle the funnybone and split your sides with snickers. It would certainly make an outstanding adventure game (hint hint Scott ^_^)
Without further ado.

In this scene, the advisor, who believes it’s the King’s duty to marry, makes a bet with the reluctant monarch—a bet hinging on a game of polo, at which they are both terrible.
The King and his advisor squared off in the center of the field. The King had commissioned the construction of the polo field under the guise of promoting public recreation. Then he forbid anybody else from using it.

Outline the terms once more,” the King commanded.

Very well. If you win, I promise never to mention the prospect of matrimony again.” For some reason, the advisor’s words made the King think of last night. “If I win, however, you must agree to one date with a maiden of my choosing.”

Fair enough,” the King said. “Let’s decide handicaps.”

One of the primary reasons the King had yet to dismiss his advisor from service was that he alone matched the King’s ability in polo. This was not to say the King was in any sense of the word good—quite the opposite, in fact. Both men were so inept that serious players refused to play with them, even under threat of death. And so, the King’s abiding infatuation with the pastime granted the advisor superb job security.

The game of polo involved horses, mallets, a ball, and a lot of needlessly complicated rules. The King wasn’t completely familiar with all of them, but his favourite part was the declaration of handicaps that preceded the game. It had become a popular strategy with the King and his advisor to arrive in as miserable a condition as possible. This morning, the King expected to gain a staggering lead.

You start,” the advisor said. “And remember, the rain doesn’t count.”

I’m extremely hung over.”

Okay, that’s one point for you. My horse has colic. That’s worth two.”

Very well. I’m riding a goat.”

The advisor contemplated the King’s mount for several seconds. “Hmm, okay, that’s worth two goals.”

The King’s brow furrowed. “Do you jest? Perhaps you misheard me—I’m riding a goat.

The advisor sighed. “Fine, I’ll give it three. Now I’m two, you’re four.”

That’s more like it.”

I’ve got the flu.”

Just nasal?”

Nasal, chest and head.”

Okay,” the King said with reluctance. “You’re up to three.”

Any more for you?”

Of course. I’m royalty, and unused to physical exertion. You’re three; I’m six.”

Six?

Okay, five. Next.”

The advisor cast about for another one. Finally he said, “I have a lot on my mind.”

You have a lot on your mind? Are you seriously venturing that as a handicap?”

Um, yes.”

And how many is that worth?”

Two or three.”

Two or three? Well in that case, I can never get a moment’s peace because my insufferable advisor pesters me incessantly! That’s worth at least seven!”

The advisor drew himself up indignantly. “Is that so? Well I get nine goals because I’m an underpaid, underappreciated professional whose employer is a tyrannical jerk with the maturity of a six-year-old girl!”

The King and his advisor glowered across their mounts, panting.

What’s the score now?” the advisor snapped.

I can’t remember,” the King growled.

Let’s just play.”

They wheeled their mounts about viciously, each player riding fifty yards away from the ball, which sat in the very middle.

Are you ready?” the advisor shouted.

What a redundant question!”

Oh, of course—I’d forgotten! You never are!”

And the game commenced, the opponents barrelling across the pitch with abandon.

Halfway through its charge, the King’s goat suddenly tucked its head into its chest, horns aimed directly at the opposing horse. This had two significant effects: the advisor hastily turned his mount, fleeing in the opposite direction, and the King grinned widely and wickedly.

That’s right! Run, you self-important fleabag! Advise your way out of this one!”

The goat reached centerfield, and the King’s mallet connected with the ball. It traveled a pitiful five yards. Thankful the advisor’s back was turned, he chased after it. This time his mallet struck home with a robust smack, and the red orb followed a pleasingly broad parabola. The King let forth a triumphant roar.

Desperate to escape the goat’s horns, the advisor veered toward the left side of the field. The goat also steered left. The King’s heart sank.

No!” the King cried. “Bad, stupid, animal! Go toward the ball!”

Above the rushing wind and galloping hooves, the advisor could be heard laughing wildly.

The advisor’s strategy developed from there. He took to leading the King around the immense field in wide circles, looping around to seize control of the ball. The King tugged the goat’s horns and kicked it in its flanks, but to no avail. The mindless beast was content to chase the opposing steed indefinitely. By the second seven-minute chukker—polo’s rough equivalent to a period—the advisor had scored nine times.

When the game ended with a score of seventeen to zero, the advisor dismounted fluidly, giving his horse a hearty slap on the rump. The animal took off into the downpour. Doggedly, dim-wittedly, the goat followed.

Good game, Your Majesty!” the advisor shouted as the King hurtled past. “You owe me a date!”

Impotently furious, the King could only cling to his wayward steed as it carried him far into the wilderness.

Scott Bartlett has been writing fiction since he was fifteen. His recently released novel, Royal Flush, is a recipient of the H. R. (Bill) Percy Prize. Click here to buy the ebook ($3.99) or to order the print book ($12.99).