GMing (Part 6): Beginning a Campaign or Session

A road, beginning at the bottom of the image and stretching away from the viewer into the background, fading in the distance. In the foreground, the word 'start' is stenciled on the road in large white letters. Last time, we talked about running a game session. However, there is an important corollary that goes along with this idea. That is the the understanding of how to begin a game session. But this concept of a beginning doesn’t apply exclusively to game sessions: the beginning of a campaign is just as important (in some ways, more so!). So we’re going to talk about beginning things in today’s session.

For those less familiar with gaming, a trope exists about most campaigns beginning in a tavern. The location of the beginning is less an issue than the nature of the characters themselves. I wrote an in-depth discussion of the concern on my other blog. In short, the first session of a campaign often starts with the characters, who have never met, in the same tavern. There are problems with this approach, which we will discuss later in this article. The important point here: the beginning of a campaign or game session is very important.

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Board Game Review: Widow’s Walk for Betrayal at House on the Hill

A display photo of the Widow's Walk box.Back in 2004, Avalon Hill released an innovative board game called Betrayal at House on the Hill. A friend had a copy, and I got to play it, and loved it so much I bought a copy. It became popular, and many of my friends loved playing it. It soon went out of print, though… but demand increased. So in 2010, they released a second edition, with improved parts and corrections. It continued to be popular. So everyone continued to wonder why such a popular game had no expansions. Earlier this year, they announced the first expansion: Widow’s Walk.

This review is going to be a little different. Instead of reviewing the game itself, I’m going to review an expansion. If you’re not familiar with the base game, you can read my review over on my other site.  Continue Reading →

Fantasy: Defining a Genre

Fantasy: noun, plural fantasies. 1. imagination, especially when extravagant and unrestrained. 2. the forming of mental images, especially wondrous or strange fancies; imaginative conceptualizing. 3. a mental image, especially when unreal or fantastic; vision: a nightmare fantasy. 4. Psychology. an imagined or conjured up sequence fulfilling a psychological need; daydream. 5. a hallucination. 6. a supposition based on no solid foundation; visionary idea; illusion: dreams of Utopias and similar fantasies. 7. caprice; whim. Normally, when someone says the word ‘fantasy,’ a person is most likely to think of one of two things:

  1. A literary genre, or films and television shows in that same genre, involving magic in a world, most likely in the milieu of the European middle ages, that often includes elves, dwarves, goblins, and other semi-mythological beings.
  2. A desired or preferred sexual activity.

Obviously, we’re not going to talk about the second of these. But as gamers, we often find ourselves in games that fit the first. Continue Reading →

HavenCon 3 Announces New Celebrity Guests

haven-con-adHavenCon : “That’s So Retro!” is set to kick off next year in Austin, Texas April 28th – 30th. Year 3 will bring HavenCon to a new venue, the DoubleTree by Hilton in North Austin.

HavenCon has announced that it will be bringing in new celebrity guests for their 3rd year, including celebrity guests Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar) of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame and Claudia Christian who is well known for her role as Susan Ivanova in Babylon 5.

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Video Game Review: Please, Don’t Touch Anything

please-dont-touch-anythingI would highly recommend Please, Don’t Touch Anything if you have someone else to play with, it is a great couch co-op or online co-op (if you don’t mind a bit of stream lag) or streaming puzzle game, if no one in the group has played the game before.

You basically are given a single button on a panel to start, and have to discover (currently, it keeps increasing!) 25 different endings based on various clues and experimentation. Some are very simple, some are deviously difficult, but most of them eventually make some sort of sense, and having multiple eyes looking at the puzzle really, really helps, as different people tend to see and think different ways.

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GMing (Part 5): Running the Game Session

Four people sitting at a table playing a roleplaying game, one person is GMing, and the others are playing.Finally, the time has come to play! You’ve assembled a gaming group and you’ve chosen a game. You designed the campaign, and you’re ready with the story for the first session. Now you’re sitting at a table with your friends, dice nearby, and the players all look at you. What do you do now?

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