Friday, August 28, 2015

Mighty No. 9 - Dice Head News

The team at Inti Creates and Comcept released a statement today through a kickstarter update, announcing that all of their backers will receive a 1-month trial version of their upcoming game: Mighty No. 9

A few weeks back the game was delayed until 2016 in order to work out some of the online issues the game was presenting. Here’s part of the statement released today:

"We know that there are a lot of our fans and especially backers who were disappointed that the Mighty No. 9 release has been delayed from the planned September 15th date. However, we don’t want our backers to be completely empty-handed, and as a result we have a special announcement!

We are releasing an exclusive Trial Ver. for all of our Mighty No. 9 backers!!!
The team at comcept and all of our partners are currently working on solving the online issues with Mighty No. 9, however the single-player content is in a complete state. We would like our backers to have a chance to play the near-complete game, so we are releasing this Trial Ver. which has more volume and functionality compared to the original beta test we conducted. The release of this Trial Ver. is planned for September 15th, so make sure to clear your schedule! We will start sending out codes to our backers a few days earlier than the actual release. This Trial Ver. is planned to run for a full month after release, but will be taken down after that."


The trial Version will feature four fully playable stages from the game including all relevant cutscenes, voice and subtitle options (subs: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese Dubs: English and Japanese) Retro soundtrack, and challenge mode stages 1 – 6.





On top of that all backers will receive a steam code for the release of Mighty Gunvolt as a special thanks for supporting Mighty No.9.




I, for one, am really excited for this. I believe that if you're going to make a game, you better do it right the first time. A month of mighty No.9 might be just enough to get a taste of what's coming.

What do you think? did you back this project back when it was just starting? Let me know in the comments if you'd like to see me review this game once it finally comes out.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Stories from the Campfire - part 1

This is a true story, much like every other story about something that is perceived in a moment in time.

This is a story about how one of my friends died…

****
As the water priest and the shape-shifter fled the scene, Damian rushed to the clearing on the river bank and knelt by the druid’s side… The tiefling was the first to reach her, while the Goliath and the small boy followed him shortly after.

She had no pulse, her breathing had stopped, and her once flowing hair was now slowly dissolving into the ground beneath her.
****

“We are in need of strong arms to plow the fields and water the crops, as I mentioned before you may stay here in Summit Hall, but only after you’ve paid for your room and meal with hard work…” – The elderly lady clad in full plate armor looked sternly at the group of adventurers, making it absolutely clear that she would not give any of the foul smelling, ill equipped, strange looking adventurers in front of her one single piece of bread that they did not earn with the sweat of their brows.

In front of her stood a very peculiar-looking group of adventurers. At the front stood a dark blue skinned pale-eyed tiefling, a demon-born as evidenced by the horns that grew from his forehead towards the back of his head through the bone-white hair he had inherited from his mother. The tail that he kept wrapped around his waist was also a dead giveaway for those who had a keen eye for details. Damian was used to the strange looks of of, well... pretty much everyone else but his close friends. However, unlike most other tieflings he did not shy away from the looks of others; in fact, he loved being the center of attention, and enjoyed wearing very colorful clothes, as was the fashion of the people he grew up with, the Gur of the sword coast. 

To his right stood Shieldbuster, a Goliath both in race and stature. His body looked as if it had been carved right out of a mountainside, and wore several markings of his tribe upon his face and body. Although most of his kind had a cold demeanor towards pretty much everyone else, this Goliath had somehow managed to acquire a warm look of amiability after his travels along the sword coast. Shieldbuster was clad in the armor of the last orc he had slain in combat, a dark steel breastplate that covered most of his body, yet his pale skin also showed the scars of previous battles. One would not immediately guess it, but he was also a merchant, and was used to being among regular folk most of the time. 

The knight Helmdorn stood to the back of the group. He was clad in full plate armor, bearing the markings of Helm, the God of Guardians, protection and protectors. He was silent, stoic, and ever vigilant. He carried a large sword strapped to his back, which showed signs of use. He had removed his helmet as he entered Summit Hall, revealing a blond head of hair, a sun-baked skin, and the evidence of elven heritage in his factions. Not quite a human and not quite an elf either. He was robust and strong for an elf, but not quite as tall and thick as a human would look. Although at rest, he kept a watchful eye around their group, his grey eyes surveying their surroundings.

To Damian's left was Lauren. The druid's glistening turquoise skin always looked like she had just walked out of a lake. She had deep dark blueblack eyes, her hair flowed as if it was perpetually underwater and had a voice that sounded as if she was talking through a seashell. She was a water Genasi, a child born touched by a water spirit. In a completely different group she might have stood out; however, she was traveling with a tiefling, a Goliath, a half elf, and a kid who was too young to know and do the things he did. She had taken a liking to this kid, and treated him as if he was part of her family

The kid, Falken, looked like just that... a kid. A 14 year-old child that seemed to hang out with a crew of people who took care of him. This, was very far from the actual reality. Falken was a very lively kid, with very dark jet black hair and the bluest eyes you had ever seen in your life. He wore leather armor that was fitted to his small complexion, on top of regular clothes and a red bandana that he kept tied around his neck. After a few moments anyone could see that this kid was up to no good. His eyes never stayed fixed in one place, although contrary to Helmdorn, his eyes were not vigilant, his eyes were eager. 

Damian looked at the old lady, then back at the group, then with a sly smirk he replied gesturing towards the water genasi “You need someone to water the field and crops? Say no more, Lauren why don’t you go roll down the hills? You should be done in mere minutes”

After a short awkward moment of silence, Shieldbuster and Falken started snickering behind Lauren’s back while she gave the Sorcerer an unamused look. Helmdorn just kind of stood there, trying to keep his composure in front of lady Oriana.

“You are as lively as ever Damian… - Lauren said in the most dull tone of voice she could possibly make, she then turned to the lady captain of the Knights – We will be more than glad to work for the right to share a roof with the Knights of Samular ma’am. You need but show us the way.”

Lady Oriana gave them a disdainful look, and ordered them to present themselves before the farmers that were working the land outside of Summit Hall, except for Damian, who was instructed to go to the Hall’s library and act as a scribe and help the scholars to transcribe some old texts. The day passed and they all returned to the mess hall where the knights were to meet for supper. Bowls of hearty soup were passed around, along with slices of venison and lamb and rustic crusty bread. It was the best meal they had had in days and their appetites were quickly satisfied after a few courses of heavy soup. The sounds of loud chatter, along with the hustle and bustle of the cooks coming and going with the platters of food made the place look a lot more lively than it actually felt. 

They had arrived at Summit Hall after barely surviving a run in with a pair of Perytons out in the field. The first thing that came to their attention was that everyone in Summit Hall was carrying a weapon. Simple or martial, everyone had a weapon strapped to their belts. as the day went by and they talked to Captain Oriana, they realized this was because they had been attacked by bandits on several occasions in the last few weeks. Everyone was weary and on edge, so as soon as they entered the keep all they got were foul looks and nasty sounding whispers. As of now, everyone seemed to have gone back to their daily chores and was minding their own business and the food one their plates.

Lauren kept trying to keep the kid, Falken, from appropriating other people’s belongings, Shieldbuster started up a conversation with an old Halfling that was sitting on a table nearby, while Damian and Helmdorn remained at the table. Their group could be described as a motley band of mismatched members at best. Every one of them seemed to have their own reasons to be in the company of the others Shieldbuster’s company after a while, who seemed to be the glue that kept everyone together somehow.

The Goliath had been there when Falken tried to “borrow” some things from his caravan after offering to guide them around the city of Waterdeep, and also when Damian had stumbled onto his caravan while running away from the local guards after a little... misunderstanding with one of the local noblemen's daughters. Helmdorn had come to him as a hired sword, but seemed to be involved in a greater cause, and yet he felt like part of the group already.

And Lauren… Damian remembered that day when Lauren approached their group asking if she could join their company in order to look for a lost person who seemed to matter a great deal to her. Damian had tried to woo the druid into his bed, to no avail, and almost got murdered in the process. He used to laugh whenever he remembered the story… Now most of their relationship consisted of jokes and gags regarding their particular heritage, yet profound respect from Damian's side, due to the fact that Lauren had healed him back from the brink of death on more than one occasion.

They were currently looking for a lost caravan, carrying a Delegation of Diplomats from Mirabar who were by now likely dead or missing at least a few limbs. All investigations regarding the matter had been fruitless up until now.

“Damian!”  - Shieldbuster’s voice boomed over the noise in the mess hall – “Come here my friend!”

Damian stood up and walked slowly over to where the Goliath was standing.

“What is it big man?”

“I found this little old man, he likes to talk”

Shieldbuster was a merchant, yet he knew that in order to get the most information out of someone he could always rely on Damian. Who had a way with words and was a lot more calm than he was.

Damian’s pale white eyes looked behind Shieldbuster’s enormous figure and found an old Halfling sitting there, finishing his supper. The grey hairs on his head were a clear evidence of how many winters he had survived, and also gave a good idea of how many he had left. 

The Halfling kept rambling on and about how difficult life was in the Realms lately, with bandits raiding every homestead they could find, not to mention the appearance of so many fanatics around the area.

“Hmmm well you are a rare sight to behold sonny… you one of them Demon spawn?”

“Tieflings” Damian said with a courteous smile. The old man wasn’t the first or the last one to throw racial slurs at him so he paid it no mind.

“Ah yes, the spawn of Asmodeus… you know the people here aren’t too pleased to see your kind around, everyone’s an enemy these days… everyone…”

“Well yes, old man, but I assure you, my friends and I bear you and your friends no ill. We are actually on a very important mission regarding a caravan that left from Mirabar more than 5 tendays ago. It should have passed through Summit hall before heading for Waterdeep. Have you heard anything regarding any such”

“Mirabar?” – the old man gave him a puzzled look – “We haven’t seen anyone from Mirabar pass through here since last harvest, and that was quite a long time ago”

Another place where no one had ever seen or heard of the bloody caravan. To say that Damian was frustrated now would be a huge understatement. So far they had been attacked by Orcs, attacked by cultists, attacked by Griffons, Perytons, wights, wild animals and ANOTHER band of orcs that seemed to be led by some kind of Demon that had been a recurring sight in Damian’s nightmares ever since. But still no news of the missing caravan. All they had to show after that was a bunch of scars, traumatizing sights and a dead companion…

Draupnir was not your regular elf… He had a name that sounded like a Dwarf’s name, he behaved like a Barbarian from the North, and the last time he tried to guide them through the wilderness, they reached the place where he would eventually meet his end. He was part of their company, nevertheless, and his loss had affected them a lot more than they all let on. None of them had really talked about it since then, and Damian still had a hard time trying to reconcile the fact that Draupnir was still alive after the fall… but that was then and this was now.

The old man seemed to be trying to remember something, then he slapped his knee and touched his temple with his right index finger “Although I believe I did hear some of the young ones in the knight’s table talking about those bandits frequenting the roads to the north of here… And if a caravan did come from Mirabar then I believe your best shot at finding them is by following the north road out of Summit Hall.”

Damian smiled, and nodded courteously “Thanks old man, I guess we might as well give it a shot.”

Damian stood up and motioned for shieldbuster to walk with him. The Goliath left the Halfling behind and walked along.

“I’m not entirely sure if following the old man’s advice is a good idea but it’s the best clue we’ve been able to come upon since we started this whole thing… I’ll go to bed, inform the others that we leave tomorrow and please… tell Falken to put the Halfling’s purse back where it belongs”

“With or without the gold?”
  
Damian looked at his friend and smiled “I’ll leave that up to you, just don’t tell Helmdorn”


Monday, August 24, 2015

Cat Herding - DM thoughts

We’ve all been there.

Scenario #1

It’s the day before the gaming session, your friends have all been looking forward to this particular session, since every plot line seems to be heading to their respective ends. Your characters have all gone through some type of development, and on top of that you are very close to leveling up. This is it guys, this game is going to change everything. After this session, our lives will be completely different, for the sole fact that so much awesome stuff is going to happen in it, that your very way of playing RPGs is going to be completely redefined.

Oh.. what’s that? Billy can’t make it because he has a family party to attend to… Oh well, no problem, it’s a shame Billy won’t be there to witness the awesome, but oh well… you really can’t expect him to leave his family hanging right?

Oh wait… If Billy can’t come, that means his girlfriend Vanessa, can’t come either. And she’s the fighter, so… oh wel we still have a reasonably strong party without the mage and the fighter right?

Wrong, because now Franck is feeling kinda sick, and he’s the healer (oh irony, thou art a soulless bitch). Virginia actually feels more like going to the beach on Saturday, and Patrick hasn’t picked up the phone in FIVE (5) DAYS!  GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER PATRICK!

By now the party feels like they should wait until everyone is able to play. So you postpone the game until everyone is able to make it to the game. Then Patrick shows up at your front door, because he didn’t know the game had been postponed.

That’s because you didn’t pick up the phone Patrick. You didn’t pick up the phone…

Get it? COZ HE LIVES UNDER A ROCK!


Scenario #2

You’ve been preparing this game for MONTHS now. About a year ago you bought the core books for a new tabletop RPG that seemed interesting at the time, but you never had the chance to actually play it. So at one point you get your friends together and mention that you have a game that you’d like to play. You get them hyped explaining the way the system works, and how the character creation process is the coolest thing since Eskimo pies. You even go as far as creating a character for each one of your friends, just so you don’t have to waste a whole night in character creation. You set a date. The weeks go by… you’re ready for this…

5 days before the game

“Hey dude, sorry but I TOTALLY forgot I had this thing I have to go to. I know the game is like a week away, but you guys can play without me right?”

4 days before the game

“Hey, I’m not sure I can make it to the game on time, there’s this thing I have with this [girl/boy] and I might be a little late, is that ok?”

3 days before the game
“Yo, can we play on [xday] instead of [the day we agreed on 2 months ago]? There’s this thing I want to go to on that day…”

2 days before the game
“Hey guys, good news. I can make it to the game, but only for like… 2 hours, I need to leave after that because of things and reasons”

1 Day before the game
“Hey has anyone seen Patrick?”

There is a Patrick in every group... right Patrick?


So you postpone, pick a better date and hope against hope that everyone will show up this time.

This, my friends, is called “Trying to get a group of geeks together to play a game of ANYTHING”. Also known as “CAT HERDING”. Now, this is not a post about how to make your friends go to ALL of your games, and get rid of scheduling problems for the rest of your life.

No, my sweet summer children…

This is a post where I tell you how to deal with this situation and learn to cope with it. In all my years as a Dungeon Master and gamer, there has always been one thing that does not vary. And that is: We geeks have a hard time getting together to play a game. There’s always a thing that gets in the way, and let’s be honest, the older you get the less free time you have to play a game. So having a job, being married, having kids, and maybe another hobby in your life will inevitably take up some, if not all of your free time.

This is a thing that happens; this is life, and there’s nothing we can do to change that. What we CAN do is develop some flexibility, tolerance and understanding.

If you players can’t get to the game, you can try to re-schedule to a date that fits everyone in the party. After all it’s no fun to get to a second session of a campaign and then suddenly you realize that some really important stuff happened while you were gone and you weren’t there to witness it. Always try to get everyone to play in your sessions. Work around your schedule and have everyone agree to a date in your calendar in which you can all play.

What if it keeps happening?
If up to 3 of your party members keep having to re-schedule or simply don’t show up. It may be time to have a serious talk with them and let them know that their absence is felt at the table. You will probably have to remove them from your group in the kindest way possible, and open up their spots to other people who might be able to play on those days. It sucks because you probably wanted to play with them, but if they can’t, then there’s no way around it.

What if I have too many games?
Maybe you have more than one game that you’re running at the moment. Sit down and analyze how much time you actually have in a week. Take away the time you need to spend on your job, then your family life, then the time you need to spend on house chores, and finally add to that the preparation time for your games. If you can barely make time to run 3 or 4 games in that week, then it’s more than likely that your players also don’t have the time to play them all. Give it some thought, and learn when to drop a campaign. No DM likes it, but hey, sometimes it’s the smartest thing to do.

What about Patrick?
Kick Patrick out of the group. He’s a great friend, we all love him, but if you’re going to be MIA for weeks and then when you do show up you mess up the gaming schedule, just let him know that once you all finish the adventure, he may re-join when you play another game as long as he commits to showing up on time and be involved in the game. But right now he’s just messing with your schedule.

In conclusion, Cat herding is always going to be present in our lives, simply because we cannot spend all of our time gaming around a table. We’re human beings and as such we all have our basic needs and sadly, tabletop gaming cannot possibly fulfill each and every one of them. As gamers (and especially if you’re a Dungeon Master) we need to be able to understand that sometimes, game night is just not going to happen. But there’s always another day, another weekend, another chance to get together and play. And if your game is interesting and compelling, your players will go out of their way to make time to go to your games.




Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Age of War by Fantasy Flight - DICE HEAD REVIEW

Every now and then you come across a game that is fun, simple and easy to learn. Today we look at Age of War, a fast paced conquest card and dice game released in early 2014 by Fantasy Flight games, designed by Reiner Knizia (Lord of the Rings board game, Samurai, Beowulf: The Legend).

A few weeks ago I got together with some friends to play Eldritch Horror (stand by for a review of that one as soon as I get my hands on a copy of the game) and since most of the group still hadn't arrived yet, we decided to play a round of Age of War.




The game is pretty simple. You are a daimyo (Japanese general) and your goal is to conquer castles and unify the warring clans of feudal Japan. You do this by waging war against other players ( up to 6 others) who wish to do the same. Basically, you are all generals trying to conquer Japan and bring honor to your house, your family, and your cow.

MOST HONORABLE CONTENTS:

The playing field consists of several playing cards that represent each castle. Each card is color coded and has a clan symbol on the back of it. There are yellow cards (4), red cards (2), purple cards (2), black cards (2), grey cards(3) and one green card. Each clan(color) has a different number of castles(cards) assigned to it. 

You conquer each castle by rolling seven dice and assembling your army with your results. Results may vary between infantry (swords), archers (bow and arrow), cavalry (horsemen) and daimyo (red mask). Each castle requires a certain number of each of these symbols in order to be claimed by the player.

Each castle also has a number that shows how many points this castle is worth, along with the name of the castle inspired by an actual real-world Japanese location.

MOST HONORABLE GAMEPLAY:

One player is chosen randomly, the game then continues clockwise. Each player throws the dice to try and complete the requirements to conquer a castle. Once a player has a castle there is the option for other players to take that castle away from him or her by rolling the required dice for that castle plus an extra daimyo dice.

Once a player has all of the castles in a colored set (clan) he flips them over, revealing the total points for that set and claiming that clan as his permanently. This means that the castles in that set can no longer be taken away from that player. This allows for a lof of different strategies in the game, which makes it very fun and entertaining. 

Once all castles have been claimed, the game ends and the points are recounted. Whoever has the most points, wins. If there is a tie, whoever has conquered the most castles wins. If there is STILL a tie after that, the players share their victory and drink sake for the honor of their respective houses, families, and cows.

I AM MOST PLEASED WITH THIS GAME!

The game is quite fun, I recommend playing it while listening to some traditional Japanese ambient music. I also encourage whoever is playing against me to use Samurai trash talk.

Like so:

Me: I see you will attack the Kitanosho Castle... A most daring move.

Opponent: I shall teach your peasants the meaning of force. Do not worry though... I shall allow your Samurai to commit Seppuku to cleanse their families' of the SHAME AND DISHONOR they have brought upon their house.

*rolls dice*

Opponent: GODDAMIT! the archers! EVERY SINGLE TIME!

Me: Ho ho ho ho ho *strokes imaginary fu-man-chu beard*... It appears not only have you failed to seize my castle, but also shed the last bit of dignity your samurai had left. YOU HAVE DISGRACED YOUR PEOPLE AND DISHONORED MY LANDS! NOW! WE SHALL ENGAGE IN COMBAT!

Good times :)

All in all, Age of War is a good solid game that will guarantee a few rounds of fun. It's also pretty cheap at around 12-15 USD. On top of that the game comes in a small 7.5" x 5" inch box so it's ultra light and easy to carry around. It will make a nice addition to your tabletop games collection.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Alignments - Final Thoughts

After 3 weeks, 9 alignments and several hours of writing we've finally come to a close on the alignments series. Now before you go FULL DREDD on your party next time you play D&D, or any other tabletop RPG. Here's some final thoughts on the alignment system and its practicality.

Current state (5th edition Dungeons & Dragons)

As of last year, Wizards of the Coast released the latest edition of Dungeons and Dragons, and the way alignments work has changed dramatically. Before, your  characters alignment was an integral art of how you played him or her. It used to be impossible to make a Paladin that wasn't Lawful Good, or a Sorcerer that wasn't chaotic.

As it stands the current way alignment works is only seen as a vague guideline that doesn't even define your characters. They are now defined by their background and how they act upon their bonds, quirks, personality traits, and flaws. What this means is that if you give your character a well thought out background, then THAT is what will define him.

It basically means that Chaotic Good Half-orcs can now be Paladins.

Gul'Thak kill puny man... FOR JUSTICE!!!


Neat huh?

But let's try to look a bit further from what the books say about alignment.

Alignment as guidelines for NPCs

As a Dungeon Master, it is my personal opinion that ditching the concept of Alignment in characters is not really necessary. Player characters may not have any real use for this system anymore. But NPCs can be a lot more flat in terms of character development. It helps define the way they will act during the story arc that you are narrating to your friends.

You can use the alignment system and the titles we gave them in the last three weeks, to create compelling and well defined archetypes for the NPCs in your campaigns. Do you need a Villain that is pure Evil? Go Neutral Evil (The Villain). Do you need an NPC that will serve as an instigator and a revolutionary leader that will ask for the party's assistance? Chaotic good may be the choice for your dashing Robin Hood-type rogue.

Needless to say, keeping these alignments in mind when narrating or playing out the characters in your story will make it a lot easier for you when faced with the question "How would this character react to what the players are doing?" That is not to say that your NPCs should always be flat characters that never go through any type of character development. Any believable villain or hero has its own motivations and background as well. however when you think about them as characters whose morals are aligned to one of the 9 alignments, then it becomes easier for you to narrate and present them.

Also, it sort of gives you a tool to avoid voicing all of your characters the same way. When Bob the innkeeper sounds and talks in the exact same way than Robert the fighter, and Robbie Lightfoot the halfling rogue... then you might want to start thinking a bit more about the NPCs you present in your games. The alignment table could help you to think about the different motivations all your NPCs could have before running your game, and thus making it easier to differentiate each character from each other.

Alignment as guidelines for Player characters:

Player characters are the main protagonists of your story. As such, their personality (and maybe even their moral code) should go through some kind of development as the story develops. A Lawful Neutral "Judge" may start as a hard ass, black and white judgmental type with a stick up his ass.Then, after going through some dramatic story arcs, he realizes that sometimes the law does not cover every single possibility out there. He finally learns to see the good intentions behind the more chaotic members of his party, and learns to make exceptions to the rule and look the other way when the law just doesn't make much sense.

Instead of seeing the alignments as straight jackets that put your character in a cage, try to see them as starting points. Your background choices, and your personal history as an adventurer made you take some decisions that took you down the path of Chaotic goodness, but maybe through the experiences you go through while adventuring, you end up as Neutral Good, because you realize that Chaos can sometimes hurt more people than it helps.

To this effect I think the background system of 5th Edition D&D is perfectly suited to tell your character's story in a way that is easy to present and easy to understand as well. The backgrounds could be generated randomly by using the tables in the Player's Handbook, but they could also be created on your own. This means that you can ALSO modify your bonds, flaws and personal traits as your story progresses, with your DM's permission of course. 

Sure, it's fun to play as Bob the fighter and simply hit problem X with your B.A. Sword until X is not a problem anymore, but you're playing a Role Playing Game.  This means your role as an adventurer can be SO MUCH MORE than just a "tank" or "Damage dealer". You can be an iconic character within your adventure's setting, setting an example for all adventurers that come after you (they will probably be played by you as well... cool huh?)


Batman v Superman Spoilers: They end up as BFFs. FOREVAH

So I'd like to close off the alignment series by asking you: If you're a player, what alignment will YOU be starting off as next time you play an RPG?

And if you're a DM: What type of NPC alignment is easier for you to narrate? 

(you can answer both if you want)

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Joker - Chaotic evil

(As Nightwing pummels him) "Aw... Jeez... I hit Jason a lot harder than that. (Pause) His name was Jason, right?"

I'll be really honest with you guys. As cliché and mainstream as it may sound. To me there is only one way to describe a Chaotic Evil character. And that is doing it with the Joker in mind. 

Now… let's put a smile on that face.

Chaotic Evil is the type of dude you never want to give his morning coffee, because once he gets some energy and determination in him he will burn everything. EVERYTHING. Or he might just as well go on with his life and do nothing. These characters are the most unpredictable bad guys ever. If Lawful Evil is scary because of the way they can order regular people to do evil stuff, and Neutral Evil is scary and dangerous because their one single purpose is doing evil upon others... then Chaotic Evil is Scary and dangerous because you KNOW he wants to kill you, you just don't know how or when he's going to do it. The unpredictability of chaos added to the vile cruelty of Evil make one of the most unique types of villains in roleplaying settings, comics, tv series, movies, literature, you name it.

Unpredictability is pretty much the defining word here. Just as Chaotic Neutral is all about his own freedom, Chaotic Evil is all about his freedom to do Evil unto others. And forget about laws and morals and personal codes of conduct. These guys have none. Even when they say they have a code or a "way of doing things" they will drop their Modus Operandi in a second if it means doing what they really want to do.

Want an example? Here you go:




The dude has PRINCIPLES, he ONLY kills when it's funny! The problem with that is that his sense of humor is as sadistic and chaotic as it gets. So that kid has all the right to be scared shitless.

Here's the textbook definition:

A chaotic evil character does whatever his greed, hatred, and lust for destruction drive him to do. He is hot-tempered, vicious, arbitrarily violent, and unpredictable. If he is simply out for whatever he can get, he is ruthless and brutal. If he is committed to the spread of evil and chaos, he is even worse. Thankfully, his plans are haphazard, and any groups he joins or forms are poorly organized. Typically, chaotic evil people can be made to work together only by force, and their leader lasts only as long as he can thwart attempts to topple or assassinate him.
Chaotic evil is sometimes called "demonic" because demons are the epitome of chaotic evil.

Chaotic evil beings believe their alignment is the best because it combines self-interest and pure freedom.

Chaotic evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents the destruction not only of beauty and life but also of the order on which beauty and life depend.

So without any further ado, here's the final piece in the chart. 2 years ago I was absolutely sure the Joker was going to be in here, and none of the other alignment examples were as clear to me as his... ok, maybe Dredd... that's the only other one that had his spot guaranteed.

HAHAHAHAHAhaHAhaHAhaHaHahAHahHaaHhaHahhaHahahahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHA
Leto, you better nut up for this role sir... or else no one is ever going to let you hear the end of it. 

Ok, now... since I did just flat out told you who was my choice for Chaotic Evil for this post. Here are some OTHER also chaotic evil characters from film, animation, video games and such.

Majora - The Entity from The legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. This one needs no explanation. Suffice to say that this thing makes Ganondorf look nice.

Ramsay Bolton, from Game of thrones. This sick fucker likes flaying people alive, he loves rape, he loves murder, and excels at torturing people. Fucking. Evil

The Lich from Adventure time, whose sole goal is the destruction of ALL LIFE. He is also a Supernatural undead force, created from Nuclear waste. Can it get more Chaotic Evil than that? hmmm well..

"HeeeehehehehehehehHEHEHEHEHEHEHEhehehehhehehehehHEHEHEEHEH"
Kid Buu - Dragonball Z


And hey... you know the thing about Chaos?

It's FAIR



Thanks for reading

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Villain - Neutral Evil

"For mine own good, all causes shall give way."

Ever met an asshole in your life?


You probably have.

Today's alignment post is all about assholes and the way they see the world.

Neutral Evil is one of the most defined types of evil. I could summarize it by saying that as long as he gets his way, a Neutral Evil character will do anything as long as he can reach his goals. If that means following or breaking the law, then so be it. He will align with anyone, good, bad, tall, short, young, old, anyone who may help him further his own goals; and in the end, he will probably kill everyone who helped him get there if necessary.

These are not nice people. They don't care about anyone but themselves and they will remind you of that at every turn. As a matter of fact, if you've watched any type of cartoon there's a chance most bad guys were of this alignment.

"Next time Gadget... NEXT TIME!!!"
Dr. Claw - Inspector Gadget

"Curse you, He-Man. Some day I'll have the power to destroy you. Some day!"
Skeletor - He-Man and the Masters of the Universe


Robin: [wondering what Slade's motives were for helping Trigon take over the world] So, why did you do it? For money? Status? Those dark powers?
Slade: Not everything is so... cut-and-dry, Robin.
Robin: Selling out our world for your own personal gain seems pretty cut-and-dry to me.
Slade: With or without me, there was no stopping this.
Robin: But you played a part; And just like everything else you've ever done, it's made people suffer.

Slade: It's what I do best.

Slade - Teen Titans

Now, just as with Neutral Good, Neutral Evil is different from Chaotic Evil because they will respect law, order, and morals as long as it doesn't get in their way. Chaotic Evil, on the other hand, will burn everything and everyone including their (own) grandma on a whim. It's all about principles see?

They are Bad, ok? Evil, pure and simple. Lawful Evil and Chaotic Evil are simply two different interchangeable states of evil. Neutral Evil is PURE UNADULTERATED EVIL.

Here's the textbook definitions:


Neutral Evil can be the most dangerous alignment because such characters are willing to step on, betray, take advantage of, hurt, and kill other people to reach their goals and get what they want. The Neutral Evil have no difficulty working with others so long as their own needs are met. However, they also have no difficulty betraying former companions if there is some gain in doing so. They are also extremely susceptible to bribes.

Now, the quote at the beginning was from Macbeth... so here comes the chart:


YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE ABOUT TO SEE MACBETH BUT INSTEAD IT IS I... DIO!!


Zeppeli: "How many lives have you sucked in order to heal those wounds?"


Dio: "Do you remember how many breads you have eaten in your life?"

Oh man... THIS FUCKING GUY... if you look up "Unadulterated EVIL" on google, you get this picture in your search results:


Go watch the anime... just... go


In the first chapter of JoJo's Bizarre adventure - The Animation. Jojo, the protagonist, meets Dio, and after a quick exchange of words, Dio meets Danny, Jojo's dog. What does he do? KICKS DANNY IN THE FACE! WHAT THE HECK DIO! then later on he just goes and burns the dog alive. He does this and a whole bunch of other horrible shit just to make sure that Jojo is brought to his knees and taught a lesson about Dio's greatness. And the dude is still like 13 years old. If you still don't get he's the bad guy of the series after the first episode, then you need to go get yourself checked.

Ugh... he does know how to strike a pose though...

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Tyrant - Lawful Evil

“Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens.”


And now, for the more... unsavory... part of the alignment chart. 

Evil...

Lawful Evil. The Alignment that makes us all crawl with unease for the fact that it is so easy to be LED by one of these characters. Sometimes you see what they do, and you can't help but sympathize with their ways. They are cruel, tyrannical, Dictatorial, and yet somehow their way works. Because they follow an order, they follow rules and they keep chaos and Anarchy at bay.

The problem with that, is that they usually end up hurting others to get their way, they tend to have a total disregard for the suffering of others, and will do anything that is necessary, and within their moral code, to achieve success. 

These characters make for some of the best villains in any story. Mainly because they are Evil because they see it as a necessity. It's not unusual to read a book, or watch a tv-series and feel in a way charmed by a character who does HORRIBLE things, but still has a certain charm and well educated demeanor that keeps you wanting to see more of him or her.

Let's take a look at what most Rulebooks say about Lawful Evil, and their particular way of "Following a code".

Some lawful evil villains have particular taboos, such as not killing in cold blood (but having underlings do it) or not letting children come to harm (if it can be helped). They imagine that these compunctions put them above unprincipled villains.

Some lawful evil people and creatures commit themselves to evil with a zeal like that of a crusader committed to good. Beyond being willing to hurt others for their own ends, they take pleasure in spreading evil as an end unto itself. They may also see doing evil as part of a duty to an evil deity or master.

Lawful evil creatures consider their alignment to be the best because it combines honor with a dedicated self-interest. Lawful evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents methodical, intentional, and frequently successful evil.

Frequently successful evil... scared yet? no? 

Let's look at the chart.

And so he spoke... and so he spoke...
“Joffrey, when your enemies defy you, you must serve them steel and fire. When they go to their knees, however, you must help them back to their feet. Elsewise no man will ever bend the knee to you. 
Tywinn Lannister - A Storm of Swords


Lord Tywinn Lannister, Hand of the King, Lord of Casterly Rock, Warden of the West, Lord Paramount of the Westerlands, Savior of the City and Protector of the Realm. Tywinn follows a very strict code where he puts his family's name in fron of everything. Lannisters must rule, no matter what. He sticks to protocol whenever it is needed, and was smart enough to manipulate the Freys into killing Robb Stark. He pretty much had Westeros all for himself until Tyrion put a bolt in his gut.

But he was like-able wasn't he?

I'll leave you with a final thought.

The real danger in a Lawful Evil character is not how evil they are ... but their ability to have others do evil for him. A study in the 1960s by Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram seeked to find exactly how much harm a regular person could inflict upon another one after being ordered to do so by a person in a position of perceived authority. Here's the Crash course psychology video that explains the experiment and the results thereof.




Scared yet?

Thanks for reading...


Monday, August 10, 2015

Exploding Kittens - DICE HEAD REVIEW

Do you like cats?
How about explosions?
And lasers? Do you like lasers?
How do you feel about goats?
Are you curious to know what would happen if a Pterodactyl and a Bear had a lovechild?

If you answer positively to any of those questions then 1) we should hang out, and 2) We should play exploding kittens while hanging out.




Exploding Kittens is a card game designed by Elan Lee, Shane Small and Matthew Inman from the comic “The Oatmeal”. This project is the wet dream of anyone who has ever wanted to crowdfund a project. The original goal was to raise 10,000 USD. Within minutes (literally minutes…) they had reached their 10,000 USD goal. Then after 7 days they passed the 106,000 backer mark, breaking the record for the most backers in Kickstarter history. By the end of the Kickstarter campaign they had raised $8,782,571 USD in pledges by 219,382 backers.
That’s a lot of money.


So after much designing, playtesting and sending out surveys to their backers, they finally sent out the first batch of exploding kittens all over the world. I myself received mine last week and have played several times since. So today I bring you my review of the game, focusing on what it has to offer, the gameplay experience, and the feel of the game.

WHAT IT HAS:

My version of the game comes with 
1) The rules of the game
2) A regular exploding kittens deck (2 to 5 players)
3) A box to carry the game

In addition to this I opted to buy an additional deck called the "NSFW deck" which can be played as a standalone deck, or by adding it to the regular deck to allow for more players (and more 'SPLOSIONS!). As you may imagine the "NSFW deck" has more... "adult" illustrations, but if you've ever read any comic on The Oatmeal site, then you know what to expect.

The NSFW deck contains:

1) The rules of the game (including a guide on how to mix it with the regular deck)
2) An NSFW exploding kittens deck (2 to 5 players)
3) A box to carry the game

GAMEPLAY!

The game describes itself as a "Russian roulette". You draw cards until you draw an exploding kitten, which then causes you to explode, losing the game in the process. You win the game by playing cards to either avoid drawing a card, or avoid death by kitty explosion.

The types of cards:

Exploding kittens: The deck starts with a number of exploding kittens equal to one less than the number of players (4 exploding kittens for 5 players, 3 for 4, etc)




Green cards: These are the defuse cards, you use them to defuse the exploding kittens and avoid death by 'splosion. After successfully playing this card (see the red NOPE card) you may re-insert the exploding kitten ANYWHERE in the deck (which lends itself to some pretty nasty strategies).



Blue Cards: lets you skip a turn.

Pink Cards: See the future by looking at the top 3 cards of the deck and returning them in the same order.

Orange cards: Attack cards. Lets you skip a turn and makes the next player take 2 turns.

Brown cards: These cards let you shuffle the deck before you draw a card.

Black cards: Favor cards let you choose another player and have him choose a card from his hand and give it to you.

Red cards: The Nope card. This card negates any other card except for the exploding kitten and defuse cards, and may be played at anytime to stop another player from doing anything. MY FAVORITE TYPE OF CARD BY FAR.


Yes, that card does say "Don a portable cheetah butt"


Cat cards: There are other cards with kitty-related illustrations. These cards do nothing on their own, but if played together (two of a kind, three of a kind, 5 different cards) they let you execute other advanced plays, like picking a card from your opponent's hand, or picking a card from the discard pile.

 Everyone starts the game with 5 cards in their hand: 1 Defuse card, and 4 random cards from the deck. After the cards have been dealt, the remaining defuse cards and the exploding kittens are mixed with the rest of the cards, the deck is placed in the center of the table and the game can begin!

The game starts out at a moderate pace, and since everyone starts with a defuse card, everyone has a fair chance of not getting blow up in the first few rounds. But then as the deck becomes smaller, the impending doom becomes greater and greater. The tension builds up as players start exploding faster and faster, It's tons of fun because even when you blow up and lose you feel like you're having a great time!

GENERAL OVERVIEW

This game is fun. I tried it out at home, then with some friends at a party, and we had a blast. You could see the cards as simple colored cards, but it's way more fun to actually read the descriptions and appreciate the bizarre drawings on them. One of my favorite things is watching a person draw a card, and see how their face goes from a confused look to a snort and a laugh in a few seconds.

Now, about the nope card...

I've mentioned before how much I love the nope card, but you have to experience the thrill that comes with playing one of these by yourself. Imagine it's down to just two of you and your friend draws a card. It's an exploding kitten. He plays it and tries to defuse it via a Catnip sandwich card. But then you slap your nope card on the table with a loud "NOPE!". He smiles  cockily as the pulls out a SECOND defuse card, this time a "Cat therapy" card. He seems to have saved himself from the impending explosion but "NOPE!"... you had a SECOND nope card in your hand! Now he's done, defeated! BOOM!!! there goes the exploding kitten, and the game is yours!

So good... SO GOOD.

The game is very fast so you could play a good 3 or 4 rounds within an hour once everyone's familiarized with the rules and how to play. And learning the rules is really easy and fast. The game states that you'll spend 2 minutes learning to play, and 15 minutes playing it. I'd say this is pretty accurate.

The Illustrations by Matthew Inman are simple yet hilariously comical. One has to wonder how he comes up with stuff like "A Butt tuba spelled backwards is still A butt tuba" and then make an illustration for that. But like I said before, if you are familiar with his comics then this is exactly what you'd expect from him. 

As of right now only the backers of the Kickstarter campaign will receive copies of it, however the Exploding Kittens website has put up a mailing list in case you'd like to be notified when new sets of the game are available for purchase.

Considering all of this, I would definitely recommend picking this game up once it's available for purchase. Take it to a party and play it with your friends, have a few drinks and enjoy the sillyness of this very unique game.

Let me know what other products you would like to see me review next (If any). I'm working on a "Legend of the 5 rings RPG" review, on top of some other things, but I really welcome your feedback regarding this blog and I look forward to reviewing some other games for you, so if you have any favorites that you'd like to recommend to me, then leave a suggestion in the comment section below