I told you not to play with those gamma rays! Now look what you did!

December 13, 2010

I bought the new Gamma World boxed set a little while ago, and I have run two sessions. These are my thoughts about it.

The past year or so, I have been buying and playing the so-called"indie games",(or "narrative games" or"story games") that include games such asDogs in the Vineyard,Mouse Guard, and,Freemarket. For the writer-type hiding scared within me, these experimental RPGs really provide fascinating and compelling ideas in collaborative storytelling. Maybe it is because that these RPGs hold rich play, that I haven't taken to the new Gamma World 4th edition D&D game(as opposed to the4th D&D edition Gamma World game.)

The latest iteration of Dungeons & Dragons is essentially an elaborate combat engine, a well-designed, multi-faceted combat engine. The game really shows its strengths with a tactically-minded set of players using full color poster maps of the combat arenas, and miniatures to represent the opponents and heroes. It takes the direction that the previous editions of D&D to its logical conclusion, and I don't fault the game for doing so. Previous iterations never felt that tactically rich, and the natural tendency was to revert to general descriptions of fights and the like without the use of a game board or figurines, but the occasional rule would jump out and demanded players to know exact positioning, which showed the reluctance of the game designers to fully adopt a minis-centric style of play or a purely fictional style of play.

This version of Gamma World takes that combat ruleset and pares it down drastically until you end up with a bare bones combat engine. It is sparse enough for me to consider that this box set is actually an introductory game for people new to this edition of the D&apm;D ruleset, but there isn't enough "How to run this game" advice to be a true introductory set to role-playing games, which makes me believe that the box set is designed for people who have been playing RPGs, but who haven't picked up 4th edition D&D. I'm not sure if that is good design or bad.

I own some of the 4th edition D&apm;D rulebooks, so the Gamma World rulebook feels way too light in material. It repeats the basic rules from the D&D books but doesn't give much background, setting, and DM information. I would have almost preferred if the box set required you to buy the Core 3 D&D rulebooks in exchange for more meatiness in the setting, or even simply have the character creation rules with a fully fleshed-out adventure.

For someone in my position, who owns the Core 3 D&D books, I would pay $25-$30 for this game, as the Core 3 really provides all the material to run a D&D-style game, and the Gamma World box set really provides a kind of skin over the existing ruleset.

For someone who doesn't own the 4th edition ruleset, it might be worth the full $45 retail price.

Whether or not you like the booster card concept for the Gamma World boxed set is a different matter entirely, since you start off with enough cards to play, but I would have paid extra to get a full, non-random, Dominion-style preset package instead of the current $4 for 8 random cards.

I'm a writer!

December 1, 2010

So I wrapped up NaNoWriMo at 90,183 words. Woo hoo!See for yourself.

What I Get for Winning

I'm sure every other NaNoWriMo writer will have a little blog entry about what they have learned, and being a lemming, I will jump over that cliff too:

None of this is particularly groundbreaking and insightful, really.

What I find more interesting is that being a semi-professional writer (semi-pro meaning that I have been paid for creative writing but not regularly enough for me to call it my "day job") I've gone past that "writing for the joy for writing's sake" phase.

People who have been writing for years in a semi-pro basis or people who have been in therapy will probably know that feeling. You get this personal joy out of the self-discovery, but once that afterglow has faded, you realize that there is real work to be done. Most people quit after that glow fades. A few push on and try to turn writing into a vocation or avocation (and those in therapy start to fix your bad habits and bad behaviors). It's that push phase that really feels uncomfortable because it's a lot of "three steps forward and two steps back" (with the occasional five-steps cowardly retreat).

For me, it's knowing that you have some skill (I hesistate to call what I have "talent") to turn words into worth, but not knowing exactly what your next step is to be. More classes? Going back to school? Write a novel? Am I selling that novel? How to sell it? What is sellable?