Fate Worlds Volume 2 Worlds in Shadows Review

So, this is my review of the second Fate Worlds book, Worlds in Shadow.  Again it needs to be stated that I am listing them from my least to most favorite. They are all good settings and I would play any of them willingly.

Crimeworld by John Rogers
I was excited about this one, mostly due to watching all over Leverage recently. I love that show and this kind of game is one I have wanted to play for a while (I really should actually play the Leverage game). Saying that, I had a harder time getting through it than I had imagined. I think mostly because it became quite technical about the cons and such that it just did not flow as freely as I wanted it too.

Saying that, great examples on the different components of the con/heists. It really did have a cool feel of a thieving gang and it would be a lot of fun to be a part of it.

Also, love the examples at the end of the different types of cons that could be run in the game. There were quite a few of them, actually.

Court Ship by J.R. Blackwell
Maybe the most unique setting of all. Versailles in 1754. Which means you are dealing with the Court of Louis XV, but then add political intrigue, invading aliens, and a supernatural aspect and you have a lot to take in.

That by itself is a bit insane.

But it does give you a lot of directions to play. Especially depending on how long the game is going to be. You get tips on how to run a one shot, all the way up to a campaign setting. I like that as you can play a completely different type of game depending on how you go about it.

The secret aspect is another way to really increase the drama. Everyone has secrets Do you reveal your secret to someone? Are you going to try to discover other peoples? Just adds a bit more to the experience.

Camelot Trigger by Rob Wieland
King Arthur meets big stompy robots!

Rob Wieland really came up with a cool idea here. Who doesn’t know the story of King Arthur and his knights? Hell, if for no other reason than Monty Python. J

Oh and you get to fight in a huge kick ass robot!

He did a good job of giving you background on the solar system and the different factions involved in the game. With all of the different options you can have with your own mech, there is A LOT of customization available to you. Making your own Armour and having your own heraldry. It is a cool starting point to get you going in the game.

Timeworks by Mark Diaz Truman
From the get go, this was an interesting read. Mostly due to the training video/transcripts way of describing the world of time traveling mercs. I like that parts were redacted and you could not read all of it, it just did such a great job of selling how hush hush this was supposed to be.

The shadowmen also seem cool. As someone that runs the game you can just add them to amp up the drama at any time.

The idea that major changes are much harder than a small change makes sense. I mean if you are trying to stop a war or something, it SHOULD be difficult.  The Timeline stress was always something that I found to be a cool thing. There should be consequences when you fail.

This was fun to read.

The Ellis Affair by Lisa Steele
A mystery!

This is another that I was excited about, mostly due to the fact that I love a good mystery. Yes, there are robots, time travel, and other things…but using Fate mechanics in this kind of setting was something I was really excited to read.

I also like that it is detailed and each step laid out for you. There are pre-generated characters, but you can obviously make your own if need be.  But either way the story is set up in a structured way that give the person running the game a lot of options. I also like at the end how it gives you tips on how to make a good mystery.

No Exit by Shohana Kessock
My other favorite one coming out of the Kickstarter.

I love psychological horror and again, I have wanted to see how it would work in the Fate Core system. Shohana Kessock did a really good job of setting up the Complex. Each character comes into the game with their own reason for being there, and their own issues with life.

The use of the Clarity skill is cool as it allows you to see past the illusions created by the Complex. The idea of it messing with you (and everyone else there) is a cool idea and it knows which buttons to push on each person staying there. Can you escape? Do you even want too? There is so much you can play with to increase the tension.

I like that is a simple thing. You wake up one day realizing things are not right and have to get out. Simple, but very difficult to achieve.

An odd mix of settings in this book. But the one thing that the Fate Core KS did was bring about A LOT of different settings in order to give you as many different experiences as you can get.


Fate Worlds Volume One Worlds on Fire review

So, if you know anything about me, you know that I am huge lover of the Fate Core system. So, I finally got the books in the mail recently and am posting my review.

Now, there are six settings in the book and I am going to be reviewing them from my least favorite to most favorite.

Saying that, please understand something. It is impossible to love everything the same. Some of the settings are interesting, but just don’t hit my particular niche in gaming. That doesn’t mean they still aren’t really cool (or that I would not play them). I just don’t’ want people to think I did not enjoy all of them…just some more than others. J

Tower of the Serpents by Brennan Taylor
Initially one of the ones I was most excited about, since I am a huge fantasy gamer. It was simple and clean and sets up a small setting with different factions in the city. This is both what I appreciated and was the thing I liked the least about it.

I am not sure if that was intentional (although it does look that way). This is one of the settings that would be the fastest one to start immediately. So, I am torn with it, as part of wish it was more complex, and another part of me appreciates the direct approach.

White Picket Witches by Filamena Young
This is another setting that I have a hard time getting my mind around. I love the setting of Moon Island and the idea behind it. There is a lot of cool stuff that was done to make this really feel like a dramatic tv show.

Not really my niche setting wise for the most part. That is not saying anything bad about this, but it feels like it would be a show on CW. Which can be a lot of fun (as I do want to play it), but not the setting that really tugged at me. I did LOVE the “monster” npc’s they created at the back of it. There was some cool stuff, and the idea of the compel flashback was cool as well.

Fight Fire by Jason Morningstar
Wow, what a unique setting! Of all the settings that came out of the Kickstarter, this was one of the ones I was most interested to read. Mostly due to the outside of the box idea of it.

It did not fail to deliver.

Just the idea of you being part of a firefighting crew is kind of cool. You have to trust each other, but that also doesn’t mean there isn’t some drama available there as well. Also, the rules are on how fire is an active thing are very well done and interesting as hell.

Lastly, Jason did a good job of example fires and even had a nice appendix with a glossary and table to help you on your way. Cool stuff.

Burn Shift by Sarah Newton
There is a lot that makes this unique. It is a post-apocalyptic world that not only deals with mutants, survival and such. But also adds community to the game. This is a cool thing as it allows the player more options in the game. Not only can you play your character, the scope of the game is increased by having potential issues with other communities.

They give you 9 different themes, which is a nice variety for a campaign game in this world. They aren’t anything earth shattering, but they don’t have to be.

The ability to play a mutant, techie, human, and others give a lot of options for character creation. A nice bestiary is included as well.

A lot of options are available here and it looks awesome.

Wild Blue by Brian Engard
The old west+ super powers=awesome. Not sure what else you need to say.

I love the idea of the players being wardens for the Queen. Maybe it is my love of good versus evil, but it just feels right to me. Another great thing is that each power also has a cost. It is a nice balance that can create a lot of cool drama in the game at worst (best) possible time. This is a very easy and cool thing to implement.

Example. Walk on air as if it were solid, but cannot say something that is not true.

You have a kickass power, but it comes at a cost that can be a lot of fun to play with in the game. I love the idea of this and the options are limitless.

There is just enough world information to really dig into if you wish. I love campaign games and I think you could do that pretty easily with this setting. A pleasure to read.

Kriegszeppelin Valkrie by Clark Valentine
Of the twelve settings, I may be the most excited about this one. There is something about being a fighter pilot aboard a zeppelin, hunting down a cyborg bent on world domination. Yep. That is all I need. But there is some cool stuff here. Like the 12 pilots you can choose, half of them are women…and they all seem different.  The nice addition of Hemingway being on the Zeppelin is kind of cool and how fame is used to push the pilots to the limits (which also could mean betrayal, lying, etc).

All of this was very neatly laid out by Clark Valentine. I also like that it had an actual walkthrough on the plot. Yes, you can change it up however you want, but not everyone is good at that. Very easily could slip this into a spirit of the century game as well. I really want to play this one.

There was not one setting in here I would not play. I obviously like some more than others, but that is how it should be as we are all different. I am really excited to start reading the second book and I will have a review of that as well when I am done.



Fate Core review

Reviewing Fate Core is an interesting thing as I know the system very well. I have been a fan of this system since I ran across it in a small convention in NYC back in 2007. Then I was lucky enough to playtest the Dresden Files RPG. So, as I said, I am fairly versed in the system.

I am going to assume that most people that are reading this at least have some knowledge of the system, so I am not going to go into great detail about mechanics.

The good
First of all the book is small. I say this, because at the same time I also got Star Wars Edge of the Empire AND Numenera…and both of those books are HUGE. So, it is nice that the book can be carried easily. The artwork is also very good. A lot of different genres are in display and it looks very good indeed.

I am not going to go into EVERY change they made to the system. But, the best thing I can honestly say about Fate Core is that everything is more fluid as the system was streamlined quite a bit. The reason I say this is as much as I have always loved the system, it could get bogged down at times. Especially in combat. Now when you are trying to overcome someone, either with a skill, or in combat…you have four outcomes. Which was a much needed and simpler way to do this. Awesome.

This means what it sounds like. You can still obviously fail a roll. But now you have the option of succeeding at a serious cost. This is awesome as it allows you to succeed, but then something will be made more difficult for you. Narratively, this is gold.
Again, you can succeed, but this time at a minor cost. Or if in battle, you can get a boost (an aspect that you get to invoke once for free). This right here speeds combat up SO much.
You get what you want with no cost.
Succeed with style
If you succeed by 3 or more shifts you do it with style. This means you get an added benefit beyond just succeeding.

The reason why I talk about this, is because of the above mentioned, it just speeds the game up in so many ways. Gone are the battles that just took forever because of really high health tracks and back and forth turns.

You also have less skills, and a smaller health and mental track (which DFRPG actually started). This makes the game much more dangerous. I remember the first time I played this and we played a Star Wars Fate game and one of the players almost died in the first fight against a rancor. Death is much, much, more a chance in this version of Fate.

Which I love.

I also like that they gave stunt suggestions for each skill. I have seen people get a bit intimated in trying to come up with them on their own. Three is better than none.

Again, they do a great job of giving people that run the game tips. They do this better than anyone I have ever seen. Plenty of examples throughout and just a tone that doesn’t feel condescending and makes the person reading really feel like they can take this system on. Even if they have not played/run it before. This is a great thing indeed.

Lastly, it is just such a versatile system. You can honestly play just about any genre you want. High fantasy, steampunk, Cthulhu, pulp, sci-fi, or anything else you really want. I love that and beyond the settings they have already published, it is the most hackable game I have ever encountered. I have personally played a Star Wars, Thundercats, GI Joe, and Transformers Fate Core game.

It doesn’t get better than that.

The bad
About the only thing bad I can say is that this game is not for everyone. Power gamers and people that just love combat can get frustrated with Fate mechanics. I have seen enough of this to know it is true, and I have even converted some of these people. But that is just a fact and that is why there are hundreds of other games out there for those gamers.

Rating 10 out of 10


New blog

In my attempts to get back into the flow for this blog (and my life in general) I have started a new blog to talk about just geeky things.


That is all. :)


There is much happening in my corner of the interwebs.

So, there is a lot going on in the next few months from my little spot on the internet.

So, let’s get into it.

Fate Points
So, the Fate Points hangout is going strong. There is a new post on our blog where I talk about how it is going and who are next guests are. Check it out here. http://fatepoints.blogspot.com/2013/06/fate-pointsan-update.html

Designosaurs Hangout
So, Brianna and I are starting a new hangout called The Designosaurs. It will be every 3 weeks and it will focus on the trials, tribulations, and victories of game design.

The idea is to have someone on the show and have all of us talk game design.  Hopefully we can get some questions from the awesome people of G+ and then have a good discussion. We also want to then spotlight someone in the community that is creating something. Whether it is game, novel, art, etc. It doesn’t matter. We just want people to know about all of the amazing people that create things on G+.

More information soon as I am confirming our first guest which could happen as soon as NEXT WEDNESDAY!

Last and the thing I am MOST excited about.  I want to announce the official launching of #Nerdpitt. An indie gaming day that will take place on September 7th here in Pittsburgh. We are hoping to make a weekend of it to attempt to get more people from outside of our city to come.

Possible itinerary: 
Friday night-We are considering having a Larp.
Saturday-Gaming from 12PM to 10PM
Sunday-A brunch to discuss game design.

So, as you can see we are hoping to have something going on all three days.

As of today, we already have a location chosen and secured.  So, now we just have to get the planning out of the way and find a way to get you to come to Pittsburgh. J

More on this soon.


Communities and why I miss NerdNYC

So, I was in a discussion today about a gaming day project a few of us are making, and it got me thinking about my days at NerdNYC and communities in general.

Now, when I moved to NYC in 2002, I did not really know many people. I cannot remember how I stumbled across their website, but I joined their community in 2004 looking for some gaming.

What I found was a lot more. I found a community that really was passionate about all things nerdish. From gaming, to board games, movies, comics, etc. It was also a community that welcomed new people into the fold and that isn’t always the case in our world. As sad as that is.

I was a part of that group for 7 years and I cannot deny that I miss them quite a bit. They are still going strong and if you are in NYC and looking for gaming, you should go to www.nerdnyc.com at once! It has also been a pleasure to see the group come together and see how much better the gaming days have been organized. They do a damn good job of it there.

But back to why communities can be very important. Flash forward to December of 2011 and me moving to Pittsburgh.

I came across the Gasp gaming day and it has been really cool. It is a bit smaller than Nerdnyc and isn’t quite as organized, but you get to play games and that is what matter at the end of the day. I have been lucky in both regards. Meeting quality people in both cities.  People that are passionate about roleplaying and for that I am damn thankful. 


Yesterday was awesome.

So, yesterday was the best day I have had in quite a while. 

I had plans to be at the gasp game day here in Pittsburgh, but had to work overtime yesterday morning and at the last second, my friends Henry and Dawn came to Pittsburgh to look at neighborhoods. It was a worthwhile exchange. 

Yes, my friends from New York are considering moving here soon. This fills me with much joy. Especially since I have come to realize over the lat few months that trying so hard to get back to NYC was putting my life on hold. 

Anyways. So, yesterday after work, I met up with them and we went around the city a bit to look at a few neighborhoods (they really like Squirrel Hill) and it was just amazing. I have not seen them but three times since I moved here from NYC in Dec of 11...and one of those was their wedding. 

It was just a great day. We laughed, we looked around, we had lunch and then laughed some more. By about 5 we headed to Chris's house as he was going to make pork. So in the meant time we pulled out a list villains that someone at my job made.

Yes, a list of villains.

We had a discussion about who the biggest villain was and then he decided that he wanted to make a bracket for it, like the NCAA tournament. So we spent most of Friday talking about who should be on it. A list was made up, printed and I brought it out with my friends so we could go over it.

It was fun to go over some of the ridiculous things that was on the list. Bluto from Popeye, Wile E. Coyote, angelica from rugrats…and even an evil care bare.

We also added some of our own. Moriarty, Pinhead, Saruman, Maleficent to name a few. It was just silly.

Then, we all started drinking and man I have to admit I got a little drunk. We started playing Cards against humanity, which is a more adult version of Apples to Apples. We had more fun playing this game, than I think we have ever anything before. It is equal 50% awesome and 50% really disturbing and awkward. Wow, there was some crazy stuff.

The point I am making is this. Sometimes in life you are lucky enough to meet awesome people and have them in your life. Relationships change and people move away. And well, sometimes people are just immature and don’t always know how to deal with that kind of change. That has always been my issue. But seeing them reminded me how much I love my friends when we are all together. It was the happiest I have been since all the mess started three years ago.

If you are lucky enough to have people like this in your life. Fight for them. Remember why they are important to you and don’t ever let them forget how much they mean to you.

So, this small shout out goes to +Amy Welch +Chris Whissen +Dawn Antoline and +Honwe Zi . You are the most important people in my life and yesterday was phenomenal. ;)