roleplaying

In collaboration with the Critical Role cast, Steamforged Games is creating a range of high-quality PVC miniatures that come pre-assembled and ready to paint right out of the box. These miniatures are perfect for roleplaying and perhaps even as some miniature bling for some of your favorite board games as well.

Critical Role is now in its second campaign, but miniatures from both the first and second campaign are included in this “one-pledge-level-only” Kickstarter campaign.

The first set of miniatures is based on a group of heroes from the first campaign called Vox Machina. This set includes 8 characters – Pike Trickfoot, the Gnome Cleric, Keyleth, the Half-Elf Druid, Percival “Percy” Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski de Rolo, the Human Gunslinger, Grog Strongjaw, the Goliath Barbarian, Scanlan Shorthalt the Gnome Bard, Vex’ahlia (and her animal companion, a bear named Trinket), the Half-Elf Ranger and Vax’ildan, the Half-Elf Rogue.

The second set of miniatures, based on a group of heroes from the second campaign called The Mighty Nein, consists of Yasha, the Aasimar Barbarian, Beauregard, the Human Monk, Mollymauk Tealeaf, the Tiefling Blood Hunter, Fjord, the Half-Orc Warlock, Nott the Brave, the Goblin Rogue, Jester, the Tiefling Cleric, and Caleb Widogast, the Human Wizard. Shakäste, a human cleric, has proven himself a trusted ally of the Mighty Nein.

Exclusive characters from both campaigns are also available in the pledge during the Kickstarter campaign. These include Taryon Darrington & Doty 2.0 as well as Pumat Prime & 3 Pumat Sol.

As a board gamer as well as a major fan of Critical Role, I am personally very excited about using these amazing miniatures to bling out some of my board games. Ranger, cleric, barbarian, wizard, whatever you need, these Critical Role miniatures have probably got you covered.

Critical Role is a weekly live-streamed roleplaying game created by veteran voice actor and Dungeon Master, Matthew Mercer. Each week, Matthew leads his friends (also fellow voice actors!) on epic adventures. Critical Role is a show on the Geek & Sundry online network.

mummy's mask banner

ANCIENT LANDS, ELDRITCH SECRETS AND VAST RICHES AWAIT IN PATHFINDER ADVENTURE CARD GAME: MUMMY’S MASK

Paizo, Inc., publisher of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, announces Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Mummy’s Mask, the latest edition of the award-winning strategy card game.

The publisher describes this new edition thus:

Heroes will brave terrible guardians, foul cults, and the burning sands of the desert to stop the rebirth of an ancient tyrant in this cooperative strategy game that pits one to four players against the monsters, curses, and traps of the Mummy’s Mask Adventure Path from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Players will choose their character’s class, build a deck of equipment, magic, and allies, and explore dangerous locations as they journey through an exciting fantasy tale.

This new edition of the game will include:

  • More than 500 cards, featuring 7 character classes, a wide array of gear and magical treasures, and dozens of allies, monsters, and villains from the Mummy’s Mask storyline
  • The Half-Dead City Adventure Deck
  • A complete set of 5 polyhedral dice

Also available will be Character Add-On Decks, Class Decks, and monthly Adventure Decks.   Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Mummy’s Mask is scheduled for an October 2016 release.  For more information about this new edition of the game, visit the game’s page on Paizo’s website.

dragon sheath long

Organize your gaming supplies in this high quality, customizable sheath. This solid piece of hardware is designed specifically for tabletop and RPG gamers – you pick the wood, the sculpts on each side, and the interior chamber.

Dog Might Games now offers a hand-sculpted, wooden carrying case for your RPG and gaming gear.  These elegant carrying cases come in a variety of woods, colors, and interiors.

Measuring approximately 8.5″ x 2.25″ x 2.0″, Dragon Sheaths are double coated with a custom mixed varnish, and use magnets that are 0.25″ rare earth neodymium and “give a satisfying snap when closed (they are incredibly strong!).”

This project offers at least ten different customized interiors, with more being created through feedback during the project.  For more information and to support this project, visit its Kickstarter page.

gen con 2

‘Playing Roles’ is our ongoing spotlight on tabletop roleplaying games, dedicated to introducing this wonderful hobby to the board gaming community. We’ll be looking at strategies for getting started, interesting developments in the industry, special events, and other topics pertaining to all things roleplaying. If you have any questions, hit me up on Twitter at @GCPDblue.

One Ring to Rule Them All

As many of you know, this week marks the high point of the gaming convention season. Gen Con is, without a doubt, the biggest gaming convention in the United States bringing in legions of publishers, retailers, press, and most importantly, gamers. It’s an unbelievable celebration of everything we love. Whether you’re going there to play demos of unpublished games, get the scoop on upcoming releases, buy limited print runs of games, or just spend some quality time with your fellow geeks, Gen Con is the right place to be. What you might not know, however, is that Gen Con is home to a slew of exciting roleplaying events as well.

One Ring to Find Them

One look at the Gen Con schedule this year and you can see how much goblin slaying and magic missile casting is done each and every day of the convention.  Events are divided into Role Playing Games (RPG), Role Playing Gamers Association (RPGA) games, and Live Action Role Playing (LARP). What does all that mean?

Role Playing Games are what you want, especially if you’re a beginner. These are one-shot games that take just a few hours to play. The gamemasters that run these sessions provide pre-generated characters, dice, and everything else you might need, and unless otherwise stated, these games are welcome to experienced and inexperienced roleplayers alike.  All you have to bring is your curiosity and a positive attitude.

RPGA games are organized events. These are akin to tournaments, though not necessarily competitive, and are designed for career roleplayers to bring their unique characters to the next chapter of an ongoing campaign. These sessions are certainly fascinating to watch, but definitely work best for experienced gamers that are very familiar with the systems being played.

Finally there’s LARP, which is a special category of roleplaying that melds stagecraft with traditional roleplaying. Players participating in LARP embody their characters often through costumes, gear, accents, and other affectations common to live theater. Even the mechanisms of the games are adapted to fit this hyper real approach to roleplaying with padded weaponry, vials of colored water representing potions, special lighting and sound effects, and more. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but you have to applaud the commitment these gamers have to the hobby.

One Ring to Bring Them All

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If you’re attending Gen Con this year, I recommend signing up for a session or two of regular roleplaying. The great thing about convention RPGs is that they’re meant to be self-contained and full of big memorable set pieces. As I mentioned earlier, these sessions are tailored for players of all experience levels (unless stated otherwise) and will often favor story and fun over rules lawyering and pedantry.

For a gaming experience that won’t have you scrambling to understand the rules, I recommend sessions that use the new Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, Fantasy Flight Games’s Star Wars games (Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion, or Force & Destiny), Fate Accelerated (FAE), or Savage Worlds for a good well-rounded easy-to-grasp experience. That said, no matter how esoteric the game or the system sounds, it won’t take long to grasp the rules and start chucking dice.

And in the Darkness, Bind Them

true dungeon beholder

Finally I wanted to spotlight something very unique to Gen Con: True Dungeon. True Dungeon is a live action cooperative roleplaying experience like no other. The organizers, consisting of hundreds of volunteers each year, erect amazing fantasy sets, covering over 40,000 square feet of convention space, full of devious puzzles and challenging encounters. Players take on the role of wizards, fighters, and rogues applying their specialized skills to defeat creatures and disarm complex traps. All of this is done through the use of item tokens, memory and dexterity puzzles, animatronics, actors, audio and video presentations, and props of all kinds. If you think of the escape room phenomenon that’s sweeping the country right now, you’ll be on the right track. This introductory video does a nice job of showing what True Dungeon has to offer.

Every year, True Dungeon ups the ante even more with harder to solve puzzles and ingenious interactive elements. With a brand new storyline starting next year, I can’t wait to see what they’ll do to top previous True Dungeon events. If you have the opportunity to give this event a try sometime, I highly recommend it even with the high cost of entry. It’s not exactly traditional roleplaying, but you’ll have a great time and that’s really what’s important.

Image found at: http://mothersofbrothers.com/crossing-the-streams/

Image found at: http://mothersofbrothers.com/crossing-the-streams/

Crossing the Streams

As fellow renaissance geeks, I’m certain that there are many among you who dabble in all sorts of tangentially related gaming activities that don’t necessarily involve quad-fold boards, colorful chits, and endless decks of cards. Video games, sports, trivia nights…any excuse to get together and have a good time is completely valid and makes us well-rounded social creatures.

Many of you also roleplay, an activity that is as near and dear to board games as peanut butter is to jelly. There are many reasons that the Venn diagram between these two hobbies overlap to such an extent. Many board games and roleplaying games have similar thematic and media influences. There’s also a collectible aspect to each that extends the life and replayability indefinitely. Both hobbies are also by definition social, and rather than offering a freeform experience that might turn off extroverts like myself, board games and roleplaying games provide a structured platform for social engagement and helps ensure that all participants have related interests.

There’s more to the overlap than just people sitting at a table chucking dice. Board games and roleplaying games evolved from a common ancestor: war games. Much like modern board game mechanisms, roleplaying spun out of an attempt to simulate many aspects of warfare. Roleplaying’s forefathers simply zoomed in on the action, designing experiences that simulated the struggle between one combatant and another. From one-versus-one, few-versus-few was the natural next step and thus was born the adventuring party that we’ve come to know and love.

As board games and roleplaying games developed alongside each other, each influenced the other. Today we can see roleplaying games like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition that actually includes cards and chits like a traditional board games. In the other direction, we see the proliferation of so-called dungeon crawl board games like Imperial Assault and the Wrath of Ashardalon series replicating some very common roleplaying elements: advancement, persistence, cooperation, tactical gameplay, and even the acquisition of wealth. Incidentally the publishers for both of these games, Fantasy Flight Games and Wizards of the Coast produce roleplaying games as well. The connection between these gaming styles is undeniable

So why should board gamers take the next step and dive into the crunchy world of Dungeons & Dragons, Shadowrun, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, and other lesser-known roleplaying games? The best answer, the only answer that matters really, is that they’re fun. Really fun! Roleplaying games are a platform for creative storytellers to weave grand epics and see those story beats come to life. They allow individuals to imagine strange worlds, evoke unique characters with interesting personalities, and work cooperatively with others to solve problems and discover hidden bits of story. As evocative as a theme can be in a board game, roleplaying games bring us even closer to living out our imaginations.

Getting Past the Gate

From an outsider’s perspective, roleplaying can seem extremely intimidating. Likely your friendly local gaming store has at least a few shelves of thick tomes full of complex rulesets and impenetrably detailed lore. Alongside those expensive books are miniatures, paints, gridded mats, weird dice in crazy configurations, and all the other trappings of the roleplaying hobby. It’s intense and can be more demanding on your wallet than board games.
war of rings figures

That’s a completely reasonable perspective, but I say ignore all that. Like board games, your investment can be as little as a $15 deck of Fluxx (not recommended) to a $2000 near-mint copy of War of the Ring: Collector’s Edition on eBay (also not recommended) and everything in between. You don’t have to go all in; in fact you can spend zero dollars on roleplaying and still have an amazing experience that will leave you wanting more. I’ll go into how to get started in another Playing Roles article, but suffice to say, price should not be a barrier to this incredible hobby.

The other element of roleplaying that intimidates many of the uninitiated is the perceived requirement to really get into it. Pop culture tells us that real roleplayers adopt their character’s personas like method actors. Accents, costumes, make-up, foam weapons, mock combats in parks populated by normal people- that’s a lot of geek to take on for someone who just thinks it might be cool to play as a Jedi for a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon. Well forget about all of that affectation. The only thing you need to roleplay is yourself, an imagination, and some basic social skills.

Roleplaying is really just a game of improv with some additional rules bolted on. It’s no different than charades or even the act of storytelling. It’s not hard and it doesn’t require an appearance on Inside the Actor’s Studio to do well. Chances are you’ve already done a little roleplaying and didn’t even know it. Have a favorite role in Pandemic that you’re drawn to? Have you acted like a pompous jerk while playing the sheriff in Sheriff of Nottingham? Have you felt a bit of a sting when one of your survivors dies in Dead of Winter? At some level, that’s roleplaying. Just like telling your significant other about the crazy day you had at work and getting an appalled reaction. You did it! Now how would you have told that story if you were a Cleric of Palor and facing down the zombie king was your day at work?

Entering the Arena

On more than one occasion, I’ve heard roleplaying referred to as “poker for nerds”. There’s even a Dungeons & Dragons podcast called Nerd Poker hosted by comedian Brian Posehn.

nerd poker
This comparison to poker is referring to the commonality of weekly poker nights that perfectly normal individuals have all the time. They’re playing cards, telling jokes, talking about the latest episode of The Walking Dead, complaining about work…everything you would expect from adults engaging in an organized social activity. Roleplaying is no different, just swap out “playing cards” with “fending off a goblin ambush”. Which one sounds more fun to you?

I encourage anyone with an interest in roleplaying to check it out. Look for meetup groups in your area, or pick up a rules-light game like Fiasco and try it out with your friends and family. Roleplaying is an extremely rewarding pastime with a ton of variety and a very welcoming community. They can played with kids and adults, geeks and civilians, and for as long or as short as you like. Just be friendly, be open, and don’t touch anyone else’s dice. That’s a crime punishable by death!