Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday Night Gaming

In my last post I briefly mentioned Monday Night Gaming, the new weekly event for gamers in Cork. It's been running for four weeks now, and apart from missing the first one due to exhaustion (we had just gotten back to work after our Epic Holiday), Claire and I have been to all the rest. In just three weeks, we've seen numbers drop significantly, and if it continues, I don't see good things on the horizon for this fledgling event.

The first night we were there, we discussed the lack of space and tables, and I even lamented that all the big tables had already been taken. Two RPGs and one table of board games were in full swing, and there were a few people still hanging around. There was a good crowd, and Claire got into a 4th Edition DnD once-off. I managed to start up a game of The Big Idea on a spare table (it doesn't need a whole lot of space), and got five other intrepid entrepreneurs to join me, resulting in mayhem and hilarity! A quick game of SET after that, and the night came to a close. All in all, great time, great games, great company.

Second night, we arrived a little earlier and got caught up chatting about our holiday and the wedding with a few people that we hadn't seen up to then. Claire got in on a DnD game under the 3.5 rules, and I introduced four players to the madness that is a game of Until We Sink. Once again, we wrapped up the last bit of free time with a game of SET, which almost drove everyone over the edge. The attendance was good, with a few new people, but a few missing faces from the first night as well. Despite this, the room was lively and energetic, we played some great games, and fun was had by all.

This week was much quieter. Two RPGs started up, Mage and DnD 3.5. I looked around the room, and realised I was standing by myself. Thankfully, just as I was about to start up my DS, I spotted someone else not playing in either RPG and challenged him to a card game, which he happily accepted. In no time at all, our two player game of Infernal Contraption was a four player game with two others watching with interest. Once finished (I lost), we even got in a second game with one new player (I won! Yippee!). And, once again, we ended the night with a game of SET*. I think that's becoming a requirement of my night now! How bad?!? I love the game!

So it's still fun for those that turn up, but the numbers are dwindling. What's happening? I think that there is a bit of a settling in period, as numbers shift around while new people come to see what it's all about, and others decide that this isn't for them. That's fine. Nothing wrong there. Apathy is a big factor. Lots of people don't care. We've spent ages complaining about the fact that there is no good place to go gaming, and now that there is, we couldn't be bothered. Believe me, I know this one first hand. I spent weeks rounding people up for my original Spirit of the Century game, offering places to people I really thought would enjoy it, but very few were actually interested in making an effort to attend (honestly, I got very lucky with my final group). I'm not complaining here, just making a point. I know there are tonnes of things I'd love to do, but just can't build up the interest to pursue right now (NextWave customs anyone?). Dammit... I had more. I got stuck on apathy though... Ah. Who cares?

The other big challenge for the group is it's reliance on a small number of core members to run stuff, and the effects of upcoming external events. Brian Caball has been successfully running RPGs every night we've attended, but he's not going to be there next Monday, due to an army of miniature commitments he has had painted into the schedule for months. GaelCon is swiftly approaching, and I doubt many that make the trek to Dublin will be interested in dragging their exhausted husks into gaming the night they get back! Hits like this could weaken the still young gaming night, and if it can't stand by itself before Christmas rolls around, it may not survive into the New Year.

Monday Night Gaming has been a lot of fun so far, and I for one would hate to see it go. It's been a great opportunity to game with people outside my usual group, as well as share the love of some games I know aren't available in Cork with the Cork gamers. I'll be trying my best to continue showing up, bringing along a few fun card games, or an RPG now and again.

That's if I can be bothered to write one, of course!

*- I'm really awful at this game. I've never, ever won a game of SET. But I love it, so I bring it every night anyway. I don't know why I torture myself, but I do.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

RPG's And Tangential Learning

Ever since I got back to Cork I've been itching to run a new RPG, using the Spirit of the Century Fate 3.0 system. My last game was a huge success, of completely unexpected levels, filled with action, combat, danger (sorta), guest stars, a growing core cast, and generally a good time for all involved. It was the very first campaign I ran that lasted more than three sessions, and by the time we got to the wrap-up, we had put in 14 episodes, which is the Fox equivalent of a great first season!

With the upcoming release of Starblazer Adventures from Cubicle 7, Brian Caball putting me on to the 1990's setting Torg, my good friend Gar's Traveller available from Mongoose, the brand new Flash Gordon comics from Ardden Entertainment, and the recently started Monday Night Gaming here in Cork, I have tonnes of inspiration, adventure ideas, story arc seeds, characters and more to play with, all swimming around in my head, all battling for center stage.

In fact, I have so much stuff, I actually have three RPG's in various stages of development. I just like the setting of Torg, but haven't come up with much of a campaign concept yet. I really, really want to run an idea I have for a deep space Traveller/ Starblazers/ Spirit of the Far Future campaign but need to flesh out a few opening adventures before I'm happy with it yet, and finally, I have my most prized campaign seed, which, I have to unfortunately admit, Brian Caball inspired/ fully created!

This third one is the campaign I most want to run right now. It's also the one I have most ideas for already, and have started detailed research on. I like my games to be fast and easy, without the requirements of too much specialised knowledge on any areas, but at the same time, I like having hard facts upon which to hang my crazy adventure story.

So off to Wikipedia I went, and there I got lost. Thankfully, I was not alone in the depths of information overload; my wife* Claire was along for the adventure, clicking links on her laptop behind me, and passing back and forth interesting facts that caught our attention. If you have ever spent time on Wikipedia, you know this story already: you search for a subject, while reading that you click on an interesting link, repeat several times until you've forgotten where you started or you're reading an article on wet t-shirt competitions.

In our case, we started researching the origin of one of the English names for this chunk or rock we live on, Earth. From there, we got on to the etymology of the word Earth**, but not really being certain of the spelling of that term (I always pronounced eN-tim-ology, which is closer to a very different area of study), I wikied "origin of words", and discovered this interesting page as the third link! The list includes the obvious, such as banshee, as well as a few that surprised me, such as phoney, slob and Tory! And you'll be surprised where the word kibosh originates from!

I love tangential learning. Leaning things that you have an interest in is so much easier than being force to learning something that you might consider boring. I guess that's why I love to research facts for RPGs. It gives me the chance to learn about so many things that I otherwise might never have looked at. And, in a weeks time, in a months time, even in a years time, I'll still remember these facts. I'll still know who the various religions and cultures that worshipped Mars are, and the names they all gave it. I'll still know where the word galore comes from (it's obvious if you think about it as an Irish phrase).

Thankfully, I don't have to explain anything about the concept of tangential learning, or why it's valuable, not only in RPGs, but for books, comics and computer games. Daniel Floyd, with the assistance of James Portnow, has created a short video explaining the benefits of this method of learning. Click play below, and hopefully you'll learn something along the way.***

Via Rock, Paper, Shotgun; via Edge Online

*- I really need to actually add the post about all that to the blog at some point! If there is anyone out there reading this that hasn't heard that I'm now a married man, I'll try to post something soon!
**- Turns out, no-one knows!! Hah!
***- See what I did there? Yeah. I hate me too...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cork: Home

As most of you know, we've actually been back in Cork now for two weeks, so this is a very late post! In fact, the only reason you're getting it at all was because I'm sitting here waiting for the DownLoadable Content (DLC) for Burnout Paradise to finish downloading so I can crash some motorbikes! The Mercenaries 2 and Fracture demos are up as well, and they're queued right after the Burnout DLC.

Oop! There's the bing. I'm outta here already. More updates, with actual content, soon!

Edit: AAAAAAAHHHHH!! Through no fault of anyones, my copy of Burnout is in a friends house still after the holiday. Am I upset? Heh. No. Not really. I find it kinda funny, actually. I've been to his place since we got back, he's been to mine as well. It just never came up. I guarantee that he hasn't even played it much in the last few weeks. Oh well. Bikes tomorrow. Blogging now.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Seattle: Fraiser Is Leaving The Building

So despite my distinct lack of posts during our visit to this fine city, after a packed ten days of fun and games, including an incredible weekend at PAX, tomorrow morning around noon we're leaving on a jet plane, not knowing when we'll be back again... hey. That's catchy. I should use it as the basis for a song or something....

Seattle has been incredible. We have so much to post about when we get home and have nothing to do in the evening. I'll be writing blog posts about our Epic Holiday for the next year!! Well, hopefully not.

But we did get to eat in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. We got to see the Sci-Fi Museum and the Experience Music Center. We shopped in the Pike Place Markets and Pioneer Square. We ate in tonnes of great places, with a world of different styles, from French baguettes, to Thai noodles, to Italian pizza.

And we got countless amounts of free swag at PAX.

However, after six whole weeks in the US, filled to bursting with stunning experiences that just "couldn't get any better", and then did, we are coming home. I'll miss this crazy, messed up, amazing, sunny, warm place.