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50 Games in 50 Weeks: Cthulhu Dice

50 Games in 50 Weeks: Cthulhu Dice

Cthulhu Dice is an odd little game. On one hand, it’s dramatically simple: each player has three sanity tokens. On your turn, choose another player, roll a die, and do whatever the die tells you (take sanity from the other player, lose sanity, etc.). If you’re targeted by another player, you get a free die roll in response. Continue until only one player has any sanity […]

The Best of Margaret St. Clair cover

The Best of Margaret St. Clair

I have no idea when or why I bought The Best of Margaret St. Clair (public library). It sat on the bottom of my to-read pile as it grew to skyscraper heights. By the time I got around to reading it, it was an orphan. As it happens, Margaret St. Clair was a science fiction writer of the mid-twentieth century, a feminist and rough equivalent to Marion Zimmer Bradley. This book collects a handful of her short stories, all of which provoked total […]

Castellan, courtesy of GeekDad on Wired

50 Games in 50 Weeks: Castellan

Castellan is an unusual building game. Each player lays out plastic towers and walls, connecting them into courtyards, limited by the pieces listed on special cards (new cards are added and old ones removed as the game progresses). As soon as you enclose a courtyard, it’s yours, and you get points based on the courtyard’s size and the number of towers around it. However, both players are connecting their pieces to the same structure, […]

Wreck it Ralph Pixel Pic

Wreck-It Ralph

First off: see Wreck-it Ralph for its short film, Paperman. It is worth the admission price alone. The first question about Wreck-It Ralph is this: Does it make full use of its video game conceit? Yes and no. The writers clearly understand classic video games, and constructed a sensible shared world. I felt like I could write fanfic there. The voice actors all perfectly fit their roles, […]

Center for Puppetry Arts

A few weeks ago, I happened to have a free day in Atlanta. I drove up to Peachtree Street–the main one, not the hundred other ones scattered around Atlanta–and fired up my iPhone. I looked for interesting locations nearby. My eye fell on a dot labelled “Center for Puppetry Arts.” One long walk later, I pushed open the double doors, walked over to a ticket booth, and bought a ticket to a unique museum. As a kid, I loved the Muppets as much as anyone, and felt […]

Cover of One Hundred Years of Solitude

Reading One Hundred Years of Solitude

I’ve long held an antipathy for high art, including serious modern literature (the kind that gets major awards). I appreciate the classics, but I thought modern lit was like pretentious modern art, a dot on a canvas that costs a million dollars because it represents the inimitable sensation of modern ennui and man’s fundamental disconnection from himself. Which is why I’m so glad I know Nick. He’s dived deep […]

'indecision dice' by snigl3t on Flickr

What’s better: Rolling d100 or flipping a coin?

Somebody mentioned to me a few weeks ago that rolling a d6 feels more limiting than rolling a d20. That’s certainly how it feels. It’s fun to find a combination of bonuses that leverage the dice in your favor, and a d6 gives you fewer opportunities to do so. Indeed, lots of potential bonuses would quickly overwhelm the die’s randomness. However, when examing the math behind a system’s mechanics, one finds that […]

'Sexy Jen Lounging in the Hammock Hangout' by SanFranAnnie on Flickr

50 Games in 50 Weeks: The Hangout RPG

New online video tools provide new opportunities for tabletop role-playing. Games that used to require face-to-face meetings can be played by people from around the world. However, these games are still being played with systems built for heavily scheduled, face-to-face gaming. What would a system built for this new world look like? That’s what I […]

'Come sit beside me [grain]' by spaceshoe on Flickr

Pushing a Noir Story Forward

When telling a story collaboratively–as in a tabletop role-playing game–how do you know when to move on? Particularly if you’re running the game, how do you know when to push clues towards the players, and when to have two thugs with guns burst through the doors? I’ve been playtesting a new noir game, The Coin’s Hard Edge, recently. While the mechanics work beautifully, it can be hard to know where one is […]

Warrior, Rogue, & Mage cover

50 Games in 50 Weeks: Warrior, Rogue & Mage

I love Warrior, Rogue & Mage because of its statistical approach to fantasy role-playing. The System It’s a beautifully simple system. Instead of various attributes, races, and classes, WR&M uses three attributes: Warrior, Rogue, and Mage. Each player-character has 10 points total to divide among these three attributes. A character with many points in Warrior and […]

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