Oswestry Library 2020 – Shropshire DM

At the time of writing, I’m about an hour away from publishing the dates for next year’s games at Oswestry Library, currently my most dependable source of income, and at this point places are so hard fought for that I am going to be disappointing more people than I will be entertaining… which is nice… I think.

By the time this article is published, this will already be plastered all over the local Facebook pages:

Here’s a quick rundown of the plans:

Wizards Only, Fools: January 11th, under 16’s D&D, and it’s an all-wizard party. Currently I’m thinking level 6 so we have lots of spells to play with but not so many that we’ll be overwhelmed. And of course with everyone playing as students of the arcane, something magic is bound to go wrong.

Bury Me Deep: January 11th, over 16’s D&D. An odd stipulation to find in someone’s will, a ten foot deep grave and a lead sheet over the coffin. Players will be a standard team at level five, and they might need a few extra magic items to get to the bottom of this mystery.

End of the World: A three session D&D game for the under 16’s, 8th and 22nd of February, and the 14th of March. Over three sessions a group of level 5 players will witness the beginning of the end, and maybe there’s nothing they can do about it.

Bear Hunt: A three session D&D game for the over 16’s, 8th and 22nd of February, and the 14th of March. Mighty hunters (level 4) will face a pack of bears that cooperate too well, fight too ferociously, and threaten a local settlement with complete extermination.

Sci-Fi Month, Era the Consortium: 11th of April, and yeah, I think April will remain sci-fi month for the foreseeable future. Another team of expendable mercenaries take up a job for one company in order to screw over another.

Night of Demons: 9th of May under 16’s systemless game. From the pit arise a new host of demons, insubstantial wisps of malice barely capable of influencing their surroundings, but bent on causing chaos however they can, in order to grow in power and return home stronger than ever.

The Train Heist: 9th of May, over 16’s systemless game. Flat caps a must, because a band of gangsters are hopping a train to lift something priceless on board. Screw this one up and you’ll end up on the wrong side of the next train going through, capeesh?

Dungeon: Now with Real Dragon! A three session D&D game, 13th and 27th of June, and the 11th of July. It’s a straight forward dungeon crawl for level 6 characters. Light on the story, heavy on the monsters and traps, possibly a dragon, I guess we’ll find out! You might even make it to the end.

Character Building Workshop: Twenty spaces in the morning and twenty in the afternoon, 25th of July. We’ll spend some time creating characters for roleplaying games, but easy on the rules, heavy on the roleplay, psychology, and creative writing.

Improv Month: 8th of August, D&D. Who wants to see me winging a whole game? Utilising some limited random writing prompts and a few suggestions from the players, I’ll be pushing my DM skills to the limit, with zero prep-time and all made up on the spot. Coherence is not guaranteed.

Dungeon Master’s Guide: Twenty spaces in the morning, twenty in the afternoon of the 29th of August. Ever wanted to do what I do? Good, everyone should at some point, you’ll finally appreciate how much furious paddling is going on behind the screen. Everyone will leave the room with an idea for an adventure, ready (or nearly ready) to run!

Weird West: 12th of September for both the over and under 16s, let’s dabble in Savage Worlds and the Weird West, a jaunt into a version of nineteenth century America, but we’re not just talking guns and gold. This frontier is crawling with stranger things than scorpions and bandits.

The Thing in the Ice: A three session D&D game for the under 16’s, 10th and 31st of October, and the 14th of November. Humans will raise a town just about anywhere, and while you’re stuck in a frozen port town in the middle of nowhere, strange occurrences surround the iceberg that’s floating in the middle of the bay. Characters should be 4th level.

Grave Dirt: A three session D&D game for the over 16’s, 10th and 31st of October, and the 14th of November. The death of a senior in the church hierarchy starts arguments about who is best to bring spiritual guidance to the people. Players will be required to keep the peace, as society begins to crumble during the “debate”. Level 5 characters most likely.

Christmas Special: 12th of December, another D&D game with a shameless seasonal theme because good goddamn I love Christmas and I love writing Christmassy games. Character levels tbd.

Now, I mention character levels for a reason, a lot of you have been asking about bringing your own characters. I’ve planned out as much of the year as possible because I’m usually happy for people to bring their own sheets but I rarely knew this year what I’d be running from month to month. If you want to bring your own character, talk to me first, I reserve the right to make alterations or outright veto a character but I’d still prefer you had characters that you really wanted to play.

And on the subject of reserved rights, a couple of important notes: All of the dates and game titles are subject to change and availability is extremely limited, in fact in the last hour and a half since I started writing this piece I’ve sold most of the under 16’s places for the year.

My Magic: the Gathering Commander Pet Cards

Guest contributor Murray Butler is back once more, this time providing us with an explanation on Pet Cards in Magic: the Gathering:

As is evidenced by an article on this very site, and to anyone who is near me for even the shortest amount of time, my favourite way to play Magic: the Gathering is in the Commander format.

I’ve already talked about it before, but I’ll quickly recap the rules:

  • Legendary Creature(s) or Legendary Planeswalker(s) as your “Commander”
  • 99 card singleton (one copy of each card) deck (You can have duplicate basic lands)
  • 40 life starting life
  • Being dealt 21 points of combat damage by a single commander is an automatic loss
  • Traditionally played multiplayer but is viable in 1v1

Continue reading “My Magic: the Gathering Commander Pet Cards”

Mobile Game Review – The Powerpuff Girls: Monkey Mania

Fighting crime, trying to save the world, they’re now on android, The Powerpuff Girls: Monkey Mania! Would you believe it if I said that this is a decent game? Probably, because the people who made this game also brought us Knightmare Tower and Burrito Bison. A well crafted, beautifully presented game in the city of Townsville? It sounds like a match made in heaven… So here’s a bit of information for those who’ve seen it around but haven’t taken the dive into the world of sugar, spice and everything nice.

Fighting crime, trying to save the world, they’re now on android, The Powerpuff Girls: Monkey Mania! Would you believe it if I said that this is a decent game? Probably, because the people who made this game also brought us Knightmare Tower and Burrito Bison. A well crafted, beautifully presented game in the city of Townsville? It sounds like a match made in heaven… So here’s a bit of information for those who’ve seen it around but haven’t taken the dive into the world of sugar, spice and everything nice.

Continue reading “Mobile Game Review – The Powerpuff Girls: Monkey Mania”

Blizzcon Trailers 2019

It seems like picking on Blizzard right now is the geek-culture bloggers equivalent of kicking a dead horse, but that horse knows what it did, and while an apology has been issued for the political controversy, it comes across has a rather hollow token, to say nothing about the mass-blocking of comments on YouTube videos from the event.

We are not here to stir the political pot, that’s not what we’re here for. I am here to pick on Blizzard for something a little less volatile, the games that were announced this year.

What? I said a little less…

Diablo IV

Blizzard do one thing exceptionally well, and have done since the 90’s: epic cinematics. They fall firmly into the “pros” column on pre-rendered cinematic cut-scenes and trailers and whether you are for or against them, there is nothing negative to say about Blizzards cinematics in their own right. As if to prove a point, oh wow that Diablo 4 trailer was pretty. There were times when the graphics quality bordered photorealism a little too closely, and there seems to have been a positive tone shift, which I will get to shortly.

Pretty pictures aside, we also got a good look at some in-game footage, and the level of detail is delicious, especially given the genre. Moreover, Diablo 4 is darker visually, and it sounds like they’re going dark in narrative, like it should always have been. My biggest issue with 3 was all the pretty colours, in defiance of the legacy left by 1 and 2, and it easily meant that Grim Dawn made a better successor to the throne. A more “medieval” version of hell has been suggested, and the little glimpses we’ve seen suggest hints of Hieronymus Bosche, and the brightest coloured things on screen – the blood red demon “fallen” – are stringy and drawn out horrors.

But of course it wouldn’t be Blizzard without compulsory online multiplayer elements, and sure you don’t have to engage with the other players, but so help me I don’t even want them around, and I don’t like the idea that they might try and engage with me. You’ll pardon me if I remain far more interested in Crate’s ARPG than the usurper to D2.

Oh, and can I get a citation on the claim “Best in class visceral and fluid combat” please? What I’m seeing is that there is a way to play the druid, a way to play the sorceress, so on so forth, with not a great deal of variety, only an optimised route to power. I’m going to hope that this has more to do with the demo than the finalised game, but I’m going to profoundly suspect that I am wrong.

Overwatch 2

Oh… good? Whatever happened to the days when Blizzard would wait over a decade between sequels? No, I’m not going to complain about this one.

As you may have already guessed, I don’t really do online or multiplayer, so I’ll keep my critique here short. Another of Blizzard’s fortes is great character development, we’ve seen it across the Warcraft legacy, and Overwatch really shows what they’re capable of. There’s a great Extra Credits video on the idle animations of Overwatch and how they communicate a great deal about the character you’re playing. I will watch Overwatch content because the stories are pretty cool, and I like that they’ve introduced some singleplayer content.

I hope that the new game will be more than just shooting while wiggling from side to side.

More World of Warcraft

Among the early announcements, onesies! Do you hear the sound of scraping? That’s the bottom of the barrel.

The former stranglehold Warcraft held on the market is broken, and I feel like now would have been the time to go completely revolutionary, bring back Warcraft as an RTS, I’d even take a World of Starcraft, just to see something that isn’t yet more WoW. There was a lot of talk about the Overwatch sequel being massively supportive, rewarding, and compatible with players of the original game, would a Warcraft 2 be so outlandish?

The game has been updated, modernised, more and more content has been brought to the game, and the original game has been repackaged and redelivered to us in brighter and shinier colours, which I cannot and will not disparage because I bought and played the re-releases of Skyrim, Myst, and Heroes 3 among others. And after fifteen years of World of Warcraft, it has now exceeded the lifespan of the strategy game that preceded it.

Board gamers can look forward to a Smallworld of Warcraft that looks like it’s close to a release date, and it looks like that’s as close as we’re getting to a Warcraft “original” style game.

The Point

Am I going to rag on Bethesda next week for only having Elderscrolls, Fallout, and Dishonoured? Well to be fair they also have Doom and Wolfenstein and whatever Deathloop is but it looks inte- y’know what? Bad example. And to be completely fair, I should also point out that Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Starcraft exist.

I suppose I look to Blizzard as an example of a bubble that looks set to burst, and recent events make that bubble look especially fragile. The popularity of their fairly narrow range of intellectual properties is undeniable, and one must pay respect to any company that can keep players enthralled and enjoying a game for fifteen years, and then still go on to produce another market-dominating title in Overwatch.

And yet I’m watching the opening ceremonies from this year’s Blizzcon, and there’s an astonishingly similar feeling to watching the advert for a “new” apple product. It doesn’t sound like they’re changing much, it doesn’t sound like they’re innovating in any way, and yet there’s a host of fans who’ll still pour their money into the new thing and keep the bubble floating for another year.

Board Games Focusing on Set Collection

Recently, I was talking to a colleague who agreed that it would be a fun concept to have a board game similar to Pokémon. In other words, a game where you have to collect a large number of objects, or creatures, or something. It could be that you had to collect a large variety of gems, or as mentioned, creatures. Whatever it is, we couldn’t find many board games out there that filled this strange niche. As such, I thought I’d look into it and this is the best I could find.

Recently, I was talking to a colleague who agreed that it would be a fun concept to have a board game similar to Pokémon. In other words, a game where you have to collect a large number of objects, or creatures, or something. It could be that you had to collect a large variety of gems, or as mentioned, creatures. Whatever it is, we couldn’t find many board games out there that filled this strange niche. As such, I thought I’d look into it and this is the best I could find.

Continue reading “Board Games Focusing on Set Collection”

Halloween As Celebrated in Video Games

For how much I love to discuss video games, it’s weird that I’ve not gone into greater detail about this. Halloween is really such a geeky celebration these days, as we love a good chance to get in our favourite cosplays, or to watch horror films (which, in its own right, is a huge niche that sorta sits neatly with us geeks). In truth, geeks and horror go hand in hand and today, I’d like to show how video games like to collaborate in their own way to the celebration of the spookiest season.

For how much I love to discuss video games, it’s weird that I’ve not gone into greater detail about this. Halloween is really such a geeky celebration these days, as we love a good chance to get in our favourite cosplays, or to watch horror films (which, in its own right, is a huge niche that sorta sits neatly with us geeks). In truth, geeks and horror go hand in hand and today, I’d like to show how video games like to collaborate in their own way to the celebration of the spookiest season.

Continue reading “Halloween As Celebrated in Video Games”

Camdrome, the greatest ARG?

In the spirit of the Halloween season, I guess it’s only fair to talk about a few potential horror stories. This may be one of them, as the greatest horror here is that the game has gone silent on us. Nevertheless, I wonder how many of you know about Camdrome, the mysterious computer that appeared at PAX13 in 2013? Is it still going, or has it finally gone to sleep and most importantly… Is it watching us? Here’s the story of Camdrome so far.

In the spirit of the Halloween season, I guess it’s only fair to talk about a few potential horror stories. This may be one of them, as the greatest horror here is that the game has gone silent on us. Nevertheless, I wonder how many of you know about Camdrome, the mysterious computer that appeared at PAX13 in 2013? Is it still going, or has it finally gone to sleep and most importantly… Is it watching us? Here’s the story of Camdrome so far.

Continue reading “Camdrome, the greatest ARG?”

A Colossal Discovery – A Paid Pokémon Go Event?

Controversial perhaps, Niantic have been selling tickets for Pokémon Go’s latest event. Until this point, events in Pokémon Go have been fairly straightforward and open. You can either get a EX Raid Pass, which allows you to go for a much rarer Pokémon. The first was Mewtwo, where EX Raids were the only way to get the hard hitting Psychic legendary. There have also been Pokémon Go Fests, which is where inspiration for these paid events come from. Here are the facts of the event.

Controversial perhaps, Niantic have been selling tickets for Pokémon Go’s latest event. Until this point, events in Pokémon Go have been fairly straightforward and open. You can either get a EX Raid Pass, which allows you to go for a much rarer Pokémon. The first was Mewtwo, where EX Raids were the only way to get the hard hitting Psychic legendary. There have also been Pokémon Go Fests, which is where inspiration for these paid events come from. Here are the facts of the event.

Continue reading “A Colossal Discovery – A Paid Pokémon Go Event?”

Top 10 Terrible Horror Tropes

Ah it’s the Halloween season, which means that we’re going to get the popcorn on. Let’s turn on a movie and… Oh no. Oh dear, oh my. These horror villains are so scary! No, not because they’re shocking, murderous and altogether evil beings. No, they’re so scary because even the most psychopathic of villains succumb to the most terrible of horror tropes, which is what we’re investigating in today’s Top 10!

GeekOut Top 10s

Ah it’s the Halloween season, which means that we’re going to get the popcorn on. Let’s turn on a movie and… Oh no. Oh dear, oh my. These horror villains are so scary! No, not because they’re shocking, murderous and altogether evil beings. No, they’re so scary because even the most psychopathic of villains succumb to the most terrible of horror tropes, which is what we’re investigating in today’s Top 10!

Continue reading “Top 10 Terrible Horror Tropes”

Angry Video Game Nerd Halloween Specials

Most years, James Rolfe, also known as the Angry Video Game Nerd, puts out at least one Halloween Special and each time, they’re some of his most adventurous videos. They’re always amongst his most memorable, so I thought today I’d pay homage to The AVGN by sharing three of his Halloween Specials and talking briefly about them. I’m gonna take you back to the past (and present) – To watch some Video Game Reviews. Though as a forewarning, the Nerd’s content is Not Safe For Work! Okay, warned now? Let’s do this and drink plenty of beers and watch amusing videos.

Most years, James Rolfe, also known as the Angry Video Game Nerd, puts out at least one Halloween Special and each time, they’re some of his most adventurous videos. They’re always amongst his most memorable, so I thought today I’d pay homage to The AVGN by sharing three of his Halloween Specials and talking briefly about them. I’m gonna take you back to the past (and present) – To watch some Video Game Reviews. Though as a forewarning, the Nerd’s content is Not Safe For Work! Okay, warned now? Let’s do this and drink plenty of beers and watch amusing videos.

Continue reading “Angry Video Game Nerd Halloween Specials”