Friday, May 23, 2008

Alas, too late - Pirates of the Burning Sea

For the last week, since my new computer arrived, I have been wasting away the hours playing Pirates of the Burning Sea. This was my MMO of choice to replace WoW for some time and but for one piece of off-spec hardware on my laptop I could have been playing it for months. Sadly, the game looks to be in a state of ill-repair. The not-particularly ambitious 11 server launch has been crushed down to 4 (interestingly, the EU servers) and even then the server loads on each Nation are 'light' or 'moderate' - nowhere near the Nation Cap.

The game itself, at low level, takes a little getting used to. Whilst it shares all of the common tropes that I associate with MMOs, the ship-to-ship combat is very different and the crafting/production stuff is very different indeed. I think it's a game where you have to be willing to make some mistakes in order to learn correctly, but when you do, it opens up into a nice little distraction.

One thing that strikes me is that it is slow. Hand-to-hand combat has a lot of whiffle, with parry, block and dodge counted in. I've discovered buffing drinks but no pots and in most encounters, which are instanced, there is little chance of you being able to escape. You win or you die. Ship-to-Ship combat can take a long time, even if you are a 'get up close and blow the fuck out of them' player like me - 8-12 minutes for an encounter. Its all very apt for the genre and you really do feel like you are a Captain, having to deal with reloading guns, wind, boarding and such but to can be a little dragging.

It is, however, a game that I reckon would be fun to play, PVP, with some friends. You could become the scourge of the seas etc. However, it just doesn't seem to have anything that gives it that biting grasp that would hook people in - and thats a damned shame because it has some innovations which really work for the genre.

Alas poor Lieutenant Tomas Cochrane - newly promoted officer of the Bermuda Sloop 'The Sea Wolf' - you may have sailed your last voyage as my attention turns to being a Bear Shaman in the Age of Conan.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Got Game?

Perennially I will use the old blog to set a challenge, or at least question something. This time it's a bit of reflection on gameplay at the table. The question is quite simple. What ONE thing could you do to improve your roleplaying at the table?

Naturally, I'll kick off.


Thats what I lack sometimes. Its the ability to settle down and focus on the game. Its something that I have been absolutely atrocious at in the past. I recognised that in the early days of Pendragon I was the instigator of maybe 90% of the WoW-analogies and it had to stop because it was spoiling the game. Nowadays, its about getting into my gaming headspace and staying there, quickly. It sounds pretty easy but sometimes its just not. The act of actually sitting down, putting the chat aside and getting down to the gaming can sometimes be gargantuan to me. Now, some of you might be thinking that this 'invitation to play' is the realm of the GM but I would disagree. I think it is totally the responsibility of the player to come to the game ready and willing to play or to have the guts to 'fess up to the GM that they are not ready to play. We're all adults and we should be able to gather that focus amongst a group of friends. Once I get started and worked into a game, I'm absolutely fine and indeed, for me finishing is as hard as I just want to play on and on. But starting - thats proving more difficult.

(I'll add that this is doubly so for GMing. My willingness to do anything but start a game is sometimes startling. I want to, but its so much easier not to. Tired, lazy, jaded? I dunno. But this isn't about GMing - this is about play)

So come on - on reflection, what could YOU do better at the table to enhance your gameplay?


Monday, May 19, 2008

Resolutions Revisited

Well, nearly six months on I thought I would look back at the progress of my five 'gaming' resolutions, that I made in December last year.

1. No More Games

Well, this one has been easy to achieve as the gaming calendar has become reasonably threadbare. Ben's shifts being haywire, Matt's sojurn to the Phillipines and the general craziness around this time year when four of a group work in and around education has wrecked chaos on anything that could be called a concrete gaming schedule. Group Three sort of fizzled at birth because of this as well, which is probably a good thing. D&D4e is on the horizon as a sort of spiritual rebirth of the groups focus.

2. Go
to more conventions

Easily achieved - Conpulsion was a cracking little convention and I'm off to Games Expo in a couple of weeks as well. After that we have Continuum in Leicester, Furnace in Sheffield and probably some D&H promotional work at Dragonmeet in London. We've also had CottageCon II in this timeframe as well. The casualty of this excitement has been GenCon US, which has had to be dropped for 101 reasons.

3. Finish Duty & Honour

Well, we're nearly there. I have one bit of fresh material to write (The French bit), one bit to seriously rewrite (the way the Missions/Challenges actually works) and the examples to rework and then it's edit/layout. In my head I've pushed release back a little because the end of term and my teaching course are simply eating my time. However, it's nearly there!

4. Resume by position as the Iron DM

Just not going to happen in the near future. I don't have time to dedicate to a game in the way that I like to and neither game group has the calendar space to incorporate one. Andrew is set for a long run on 4eD&D and Group Two has BAYUHC and BAYUHC:The Moderning in the near future. I'm not unhappy about this at all.

5. Start gaming with the kids again
As the summer approaches, this comes higher on the agenda. Both of them are still interested but in the end its a time/quality issue again. I suspect we will do something over the summer holidays


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Only The Good and the British, Die Young

Two things struck me (again) this morning:

First, why is it that in a society that increasingly seems to be typified by gangs of rude, violent and feral youths roaming the streets causing damage, chaos and death, do the young people who die always have exemplary school records, wonderful personalities and a great future? The tragic case of Jimmy Mizen is one in a long line of such deaths.

The second is whether it is wholly appropriate to point out that in the midst of tens of thousands of Burmeese dying in the aftermath of a typhoon and thousands being killed by an earthquake in central China 'we have lost contact with 15 British people'. I always find this inevitable news titbit to be so unnecessary, as if nationality makes their possible death or suffering more important.


Friday, May 09, 2008


I was sat in the car, telling my wife that I was roleplaying this weekend and a voice chirped up from the back.

"Daddy. Speaking of roleplaying - when are we going to play again?"

It would appear that it is that time of year again. Time to dust off A Faerys Tale


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Pleasant Surprises

What a pleasant twenty four hours I have been having!

Lets see? Eldest child has work shown around youngest child's class as an example of the quality of work they should aspire to when they reach Year 5. Proud Dad? Check!

Wife getting a simply ludicrous amount of job offers at the moment with the best being a 'Senior Training Advisor' which is a million miles better than the one she is in now.

Wife generously buys me a quite magnificent scale model of the HMS Victory to put into my study when it gets built. Its fantastic!

Use my newly found student status for the first time to get into the cinema for cheap tonight. Turnabout is truly fair play.

And the crowning glory - I thought my Aberdeen playtest group started their D&H playtest tonight. They don't. They finish the five week playtest campaign that they have been running and loving. How many games get an external campaign test? I dunno, but I am chuffed as a chuffed thing.

To balance things, Iron Man is destined to be monkey balls.