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.

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!