Episode 16 – Inspiration

As gamers and geeks, we are also creators and innovators.  Whether it’s writing a campaign, rolling up a new character, or working on any sort of artistic and commercial endeavors, we all look inward and outward in order to fuel the creative process.  This week, we look at what drives each of us individually when it comes to finding the inspiration that turns our creative gaming sparks into (hopefully) artistic bonfires.  So, settle in, listen up and grab something to write with.  As you’re about the hear, if we’ve learned anything it’s if you don’t write it down, you might as well kiss it good-bye!

P.S.  Since you’re reading this, take a gander at our new logo, courtesy of Dennis Salvatier at Salvatier Studios and let both us and Dennis know what you think.  Enjoy!

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GameMastery Decks – Add a Little Fate to the Fire

While I’ve embroiled myself in the (very) long process of homebrewing my own campaign world, I have looked to many aspects of d20 and other game systems for mechanics and rule systems that I find appealing.  It’s natural for a GM to want to add as much flavor to a game, homebrewed or not, and the result is definitely more rewarding to the players, but what happens if the rule set becomes too familiar, combat bogs down, or everyone (players and GM’s alike) plain just draw a blank as to what to do next?  The minds behind Pathfinder over at Paizo Publishing seem to think that adding a little more fate and chance to a game seems just the thing.  Enter – GameMastery Decks!  This week, we’ll look at two of the decks I purchased for use in my upcoming campaign.

Critical Hit Deck








Now, in a d20 system, there are very few things as rewarding as a Critical Hit. That moment when your dice decide to play nice and offer up that huge damage boost can turn the tide of any battle, and sometimes, all the Players really want is for the fight to be over.  The Critical Hit Deck can not only speed up the untimely demise of the latest mad scientist or Orc chieftain a party face, it also adds a little flair to the organized chaos that is RPG combat.  The deck offers a couple of variable rule options based on critical modifiers for weapons, which can either boost or reign in the damage and dismemberment achieved, but Paizo greatly urges that GM’s use caution when turning the deck on the players.  Those nasty effects go both ways, and unless you’re looking for a dreaded (and unappreciated) TPK, use against your players sparingly!

Chase Cards

Everyone loves a good chase scene, and they are often some of the most intense and action-packed aspects of film.  From the Nazgûl chasing Arwen and Frodo in Fellowship of the Rings to the Hummer vs. Ferrari chase in The Rock, chases add a whole new dynamic action.  I became enamored with the concepts of cinematic chases in-game after reading the rule set in Spycraft 2.0, but had trouble adapting them to a less-than-modern setting.  Wizards of the Coast introduced Skill Challenges in 4E which were capable of fulfilling the role, but still felt lacking to me.  My hope is the Chase Cards Deck will give this GM what he’s looking for.  Designed for three terrain types – city, forest, and dungeon – the rules are simple.  The GM establishes how many cards the chase lasts, lies them face down in a row.  Once each of the players complete one of two skill rolls listed, they advance to the next card.  Rinse, repeat, escape.  It seems to be a solid process with the chance for plenty of variation, and also appears to take some of the awkward guesswork out of the 4E skill challenge while still presenting PC’s with options.  I’m looking forward to introducing this to the group, sooner rather than later.

Paizo currently has 23 other decks released, everything from NPCs to Magic Items, and all are compatible with 3.5 OGL rules.  Check them out and add a little more spice to your ‘brew.


It’s no Xavier’s School for the Gifted: Hero Academy

As a group we’ve been playing an obscene amount of Words With Friends, and while that has been fun, playing a game about words can only last so long. I decided to find a new game that had a similar turn based competitive element, but without the whole words thing. As luck may have it I found the recently released Hero Academy from Robot Entertainment, for the low low cost of free!

Hero Academy is a tactics style game where you and a friend (or random stranger if that is what you are in to. Pervert!) take turns controlling various in an attempt to destroy the others crystals or army. To accomplish this feat you start out with warriors, priests, archers, mages, and a single ninja, along with various items for upgrades and destruction.









Each minion has their own unique ability from the warriors taking damage to the priest’s healing. Robot Entertainment is planning to release more armies that will allow for different play for $1.99 each. Currently only the starter army and a dark elf army are available.








While simplistic looking, Hero Academy does require a great deal of thought and strategy. Do you take out the crystals first or do you go for the healer? The units and items you can choose from each turn are randomly selected for you and can sometimes make or break a good battle. You are also limited to the number of units and items you can use during a game so you must choose wisely or you will find yourself with only one unit left to your opponents full board.

I must give Hero Academy 12 cigars out of 8 tarnished sheriff badges. It is a fun game, but when you are on a roll it can get frustrating to wait for your opponent to finish their turn.


Unboxing: The Pathfinder Beginner Box

Shiny! Both literally and figuratively.

When I first heard of Pathfinder I was immediately intrigued.  As I have, no doubt, mentioned before I was inducted into tabletop geekdom with AD&D 2nd Edition.  For years the term RPG was synonymous with D&D to me.  When I started looking into other games I felt like a traitor calling myself a GM instead of a DM. Once I separated myself more and more from D&D the switch became easier.  I now run a modern campaign but I can’t deny that sometimes I crave a good fantasy setting.  At first I thought that setting was going to be D&D 4E and it very well may be, but I am open to switching things up and discovering a new world and new game system with Pathfinder.

Overview, anyone?

Box Components (courtesy of Paizo):

  • 64-page Hero’s Handbook, detailing character creation, spells, equipment, and general rules for playing the game
  • 96-page Game Master’s Guide packed with adventures, monsters, magical treasures, and advice on how to narrate the game and control the challenges faced by the heroes
  • A complete set of 7 high-impact polyhedral dice
  • More than 80 full-color pawns depicting tons of heroes, monsters, and even a fearsome black dragon
  • Four pregenerated character sheets to throw you right into the action
  • Four blank character sheets to record the statistics and deeds of your custom-made hero
  • A durable, reusable, double-sided Flip-Mat play surface that works with any kind of marker

Monster Tokens

The thing I noticed first was the great artwork by Wayne Reynolds and the heft of the box.  There is tons of stuff included in here!

Hero Tokens

I am excited to see how this game runs and how this particular box can transcend into the already existing game books.  But I will leave that to Matt since he will be reviewing the game on Monday.  I am just here to show off the pretty components and my photography skillz (yes, with a “z”).

Prefabricated PC's

It should be noted that the character sheets are very in-depth.  The sheets above open up to reveal a ton of character stats and information.  It makes for an easy start up by using these characters, however, you don’t have to.  There are also four blank characters sheets and the books included allow to make different characters.

All of us are new to Pathfinder and have heard it plays a lot like, if not exactly, like D&D 3.5.  Have you played Pathfinder?  How do you like it?