Fate Core – An Overview of a Great Roleplaying Game

The Logo for the Fate Core System, which is the word 'Fate' in large stylized block letters, with the A rising higher than the other letters, in white on a blue gradient background, with the words 'Core System' in smaller white block letters underneath.I’ve played a lot of roleplaying games in my life. I’ve talked about some of them here before, like Changeling: The Dreaming. The first I ever played was Marvel Super Heroes from TSR. I’ve tried the big, well known ones like Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve also played many small obscure ones, like AlbedoThe Whispering Vault, and Tales from the Floating Vagabond. Although I’d heard of the Fate system, it wasn’t until last month that I got to actually play it. A friend invited me to play in a two-session Dresden Files RPG game, which uses Fate. He then loaned me his copy of the Fate Core book.

I am a convert.

Let me tell you why. Continue Reading →

Board Game Review: Five Tribes

A view of Five Tribes being played. There are 30 square location tiles arranged in a five by six grid. Each tile has a representation of a location from a stereotypical Arabian city, as well as a victory point value and an action icon. Distributed amongst these tiles are meeples in various colours, wooden camel tokens in various colours, wooden palm tree tokens, and wooden Arabian palace tokens. Around this playing area can be seen various resource cards, djinn cards, victory point tokens, a turn order track with Arabian-style towers marking players' turn order, and reserves of the various wooden meeples/tokens. A couple of weeks ago, I was looking through the top 100 ranked games on Board Game Geek. I noticed, to my dismay, that I had only played about seventeen of them. That was when I decided I needed to fix that. So I made a new year’s resolution for 2017. Before the end of this year, I want to, at some point, be able to say that I’ve played at least 80 of the games on BGG’s top 100 list. This led to me playing Five Tribes with some friends last week.

I’ll talk more about this resolution on my other blog, where I’ll also keep track of how many I’ve played. But for now, I will use the opportunity to review a wonderful game. At first, I was hesitant to try it, based on the relevant episode of Tabletop. I have learned that I need to be less reliant on that series. Games that look uninteresting to me turn out to be a lot of fun. That was the case with Five Tribes; I really liked it. So let’s see why, starting with the numbers: Continue Reading →

Party Gaming: The Dangers of Playing with Non-Gamers

A group of people at a party sitting around a table playing The Resistance.I recently went to a November holiday party. We played The Red Dragon Inn and a few other games. I became quite angry during the course of the evening, as people were playing the game wrong.

OK, that’s not really a fair statement. Technically, there’s not a wrong way to play a game, as long as everyone is having fun. But, of course, I was not having fun. And that can be the problem with playing games at a party. People play games for different reasons. The problem comes in when those reasons are at odds with one another.

This is not to say that board games have no place at a party. Rather, that the decision to play a game depends on several factors. Not least of which is the people with whom you are playing. 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 →

Descriptive vs Statistic – An Evolution in RPGs

The current cover art for three descriptive roleplaying games: Bluebeard's Bride, Fiasco, and Fate Accelerated Last week, when I posted the interview with Whitney Beltrán, I had to cut out a lot of material. The transcript of our conversation was over 5,000 words long. I usually try to post articles of around one thousand words. Generally, I keep a thousand five hundred as an upper limit. Even cutting out entire sections of the conversation, it was hard to get the article down to two thousand words. This is especially disappointing to me, as there were some really interesting topics that I had to remove entirely. The interview I posted absolutely stands on its own. It does a great job of communicating the important aspects of the game. But one of the topics I had to eliminate was a discussion of the evolution of roleplaying games. In particular, we discussed how roleplaying games are becoming less statistics-based, and more descriptive. Continue Reading →

Divisive Behaviour in the Gaming Community

a circle of six red meeples surrounding a blue meeple, to symbolise the divisive nature of some peopleI was thinking about the way that people exclude one another. Once upon a time, humans lived in a society in which inclusion was essential. Before the advent of agriculture, humans did not tolerate behaviour that benefited an individual over the tribe. After we started farming, though, ownership became important, and it changed everything. Now we live in a society that stresses individual good over group cohesion. The divisive nature of modern society has a far reaching impact; it even affects the gaming community. Today, I would like to discuss the nature of that division.

Continue Reading →