Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cubes for Cthulhu: Rory's Story Cubes in role playing games

 My wife received a review copy of Rory's Story Cubes a while back and, after playing with them for a couple of months with my son, I posted a review on her site. Baby Toolkit. Rory's Story Cubes are a set of nine white six sided dice with a unique pictogram imprinted on each face. The idea is to roll the dice and then construct a story incorporating all of the pictograms on the face up sides. Long review short, we really liked them and I have a lot of fun making up stories with my son using them.

But having used them all this time, the time that I am also reading up on role playing game rules as I prepare to start playing again, got me thinking. These cubes, or something like them, could be an interesting tool for a game master or Keeper to generate scenario ideas off the cuff.

Stumped as to what adventure to throw at you investigators? Roll the dice and piece something together.

The base set from Gamewright contains pictograms that have a few modern allusions such as cell phone, a jet liner, and credit card that might make it easier to "generate" a story in a modern setting. But a little creative leeway can interpret these in an era appropriate manner should you want to roll up a 1920s era Cthulhu scenario. Still other of the base game's pictograms are eerily suited for Cthulhu play including a boy who's shadow is a creepy monster, a scarab, a pyramid, a symbol of chaos, a falling star (they are right aren't they), a magic wand, a book (or is it a tome), a castle keep, and a fish (dagon?). I think the basic set would make a nice addition to a Keeper's tool chest.

What would be even cooler is if Paizo or Chaosium came out with their own themed story cubes with setting appropriate pictograms for the Pathfinder or Call of Cthulhu role playing games.

So, what scenarios could you come up with for the rolls depicted in the pictures above?

** Storied Adventures is a board and table top gaming blog. Others exits. We received a review copy of Rory's Story Cubes from Gamewright. Beyond the review copy of Rory's Story Cubes from Gamewright, I have no ongoing financial relationship with any of the publishers of the games listed. I am, however, attached to my wife's Amazon affiliate account, so purchases made through any Amazon links support the ongoing blogging efforts of Storied Adventures (many thanks!)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Funny what you find when you look: RPGs at Wal-mart

Call of Cthulhu: Horror Roleplaying in the Worlds of H. P. Lovecraft, 6th EditionThis Christmas, I received a very generous Wal-mart gift card. I don't go to Wal-mart very often, but it is close to my house and, as a general purpose store, it carries a lot of things that I could probably use. Still, while I was hanging out at home, I couldn't really think of anything that I wanted or needed off the top of my head. So I decided to check out the website knowing that they have more stuff there than can be found at any one location.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: GameMastery GuideI'd been hoping to pick up a few role playing game books and board games with any Christmas money I might receive. I wanted to buy the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player's Guide, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: GameMastery Guide and the 6th edition of the Call of Cthulhu role playing game. On a whim, I typed a couple of titles into the Wal-mart website search and, lo and behold, I found some of them!

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player's GuideIt took a while to search for everything.'s search engine stinks if you are trying to find items in a general category (say RPGs), but searching for specific titles works and you can have some success looking for general role playing game and board game titles with a little probing and guess work.

I was able to find the following role playing books:
I also found hobby board games like:
And if you choose the Ship to Store option, you get free shipping with the minor hoop of having to pick it up from the store to jump through.
    Generally, I'd like to support my friendly local gaming store, but unfortunately the closest game store to my house is over an hour away. We do buy games from this store when we get the chance to visit and we do buy games directly from creators and publishers while attending Gencon. If my new project/cause of playing games in public bears fruit, maybe someone will open a full featured gaming store in my town or the larger town that's close by. Until then, I like finding deals in interesting and unexpected places and I'd say that finding some of these core role playing game books and hobby board games on certainly qualifies.

    ** Storied Adventures is a board and table top gaming blog. Others exits. This is mine. Only the text product links in the bulleted list point to Buying from the image links or the links above actually point to my wife's Amazon affiliate account. Surely you'd figure this out, I'm just being up fron in this disclaimer. I have no ongoing financial relationship with any of the publishers of the games listed or Walmart. I am, however, attached to my wife's Amazon affiliate account, so purchases made through any Amazon links support the ongoing blogging efforts of Storied Adventures (many thanks!)

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Play Board Games in Public: The Wednesday Game Group at Work

    Carcassonne Big Box #3My wife and I have accumulated a lot of board games over the years. After college, we stumbled across some hobby board games like Wise and Otherwise,  Carcassonne and the Cheap Ass Games version of Kill Doctor Lucky in a gaming store and became instant fans. We had always played games like Taboo and Uno together with friends and family, but the theme and play mechanics of hobby games struck a chord with us and became a regular fixture in our lives.

    Fast forward over a decade and a half of marriage and we have a pretty big collection that is constantly growing and being pruned. The only problem is that we don't have as much time to play as often as we would like anymore. I was lamenting this fact to Adrienne, my wife, last year sometime and she told me to start gaming with colleagues at work over our lunch hour. I gave her every lame reason that I could think of why it wouldn't work and let it drop.

    A month or so ago, my daughter arrived earlier than her planned delivery date and I ended up missing my office Christmas party. Everywhere I have worked, I have generally become one of the people that helps provide entertainment for these sorts of gatherings. When the planning group starts wondering what we should do at one of these get-togethers, I generally offer to provide some gaming entertainment. After the first event, I'm generally expected to help out from then on.

    When I returned to work after taking some time off with the baby, my co-workers made a point of telling me that they missed playing my games at the party. When I relayed this to Adrienne, she brought up her old suggestion of starting up a lunch time gaming group again. Thanks to her gentle re-encouragement, I decided to give it a go.

    I sent out a general email to my department (I work in IT at a small university), inviting them to join a Wednesday Game Group email list that I would maintain. I relayed that each week, I'd propose a game to the list members to be played that Wednesday and the first responders would be signed up to play.  In the email, I'd list the number of players that I would need, a blurb from the game box, estimated game times and other pertinent information that would hopefully entice people to sign up.

    So far I have about 10 people on my list and others that say they'll stop by on the Wednesdays that they are free. At about the same time that I talked to Adrienne about all this, I found the suggestion from the Seize Your Turn blog that more hobby board gamers should play their games in public in order to keep the hobby alive and viable. The Play in Public Campaign encourages gamers to play their board games in cafes, bars, restaurants, and other public spaces in order to expose the general public to games that they may never hear of in any other venue.

    Inspired by this idea, I decided that the Wednesday Game Group would play its games on the tables in the snack area for our building instead of an office or conference room. This way we'd have more of a chance of getting passers by (and as I work at a university, hopefully they will include students and faculty) to get interested in our activity. Hopefully we can turn that passing interest into engagement, perhaps gain more players, and (hopefully) introduce new fans to a hobby that I love very much. You can follow other people's play in public activity by joining the Play in Public Campaign's Facebook Fan page or by following the Twitter hashtag #PiPCampaign (you'll probably see some of my activity there).

    Forbidden IslandOur first game two weeks ago was Forbidden Island and I had three players other than myself. The cooperative game offered an interesting conceptual challenge to the players. None of them had heard of a game where all the players won or lost together and where they worked together to beat the game board itself. Still, they caught on quickly and we just barely won on the Novice setting with some quick thinking and a little luck. It was a close enough ending (on essentially easy mode) that it definitely piqued the interest of at least two of the players.

    DixitWe took a week off, so this week we got back into it with our second game, the 2010 Spiel des Jahres winner Dixit. This time, we only had three players so we played the modified rules for the smaller group. Despite the smaller size, it was still fun and we actually got some interest from a passing student whom we invited to play (she couldn't at the moment) and encouraged to sign up for the mailing list (she said she would). We'll see how that turns out, but I am definitely encouraged to keep this up. Besides, the group may be small now, but the players are having fun and so am I.

    This post should be the first of many documenting my lunch time gaming (another fun twitter hash tag to follow is #lunchgames) with the Wednesday Game Group. I'll include links to the games that were played and general session impressions. Maybe I'll sprinkle in some reviews here and there. So, watch this space, or one suspiciously like it, for more.

    ** Storied Adventures is another attempt to document some guy's gaming habits. That guy just happens to be me. Though, your mileage may vary. I have no ongoing financial relationship with any of the games listed. I am, however, attached to my wife's Amazon affiliate account, so purchases made through any Amazon links support the ongoing blogging efforts of Storied Adventures (many thanks!)