So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Splenda of RPGs - Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

In my last post, I mentioned that time seemed to be working against me.  This really isn't a new thing; its been true for many years.  Age does that to you.  Another thing age does is force you to think more about what you put in your body.  Maybe even change it.  This is why I use artificial sweeteners.  This is why I play Pathfinder Adventure Card Game - Rise of the Runelords (PACG).

This is the game for that RPG itch!
Because really, I just don't have time for a full-up role playing game (RPG).  They are some of the most time consuming of games, and are their own special type of rabbit hole.  Some of you out there know what I am talking about.  Like me, you played Dungeons & Dragons when you were younger.  You painted minis.  You bought, or wrote, your own adventures.  You constructed a whole world with all of the back-story to make characters come alive for you and your friends.  You  felt the rush that comes from standing with your flaming sword, the blood of the dragon dripping from your armor as you revel over his lifeless eyes.  Some of you - maybe.

Maybe, like me, you are looking for that experience again.  You are ready to grab all those friends from college who played and relive those days.  (My brother Burnouts, are your reading this?)  Perhaps you are looking to guide your kids into that type of gaming adventure, without trusting that his friend with the gummy bears in his pockets and the runny nose can keep it from being too flaky.  That the kid who comes into the house dressed only in black - the one who doesn't talk to adults - who's dog seems to suffer from Munchausen syndrome - won't have every character be chaotic evil in alignment, doing things teenagers shouldn't be role playing.  But once again there is that time thing.

This is the game.  Since I started board gaming again as a hobby in 2008, I have been looking for the board game that scratched that RPG itch.  I looked for the game that tastes great, without all the time calories.  The artificial sweetener of role playing.  I tried a few, only to find out that they are not cooperative enough, or way too long themselves, or are just not a really good game.  When I read about Pathfinder, I thought this might be it.  I got it in trade (I won't say for what because I have family members who would cry) and in reading the rules it seemed to hit the mark.  I found some in my gaming group who were familiar with RPGs, and we found that PACG was the one.

Skull & Shackles is the second game in the series.  A third
is in the works.
Don't get me wrong.  This is NOT an RPG.  Some of the mechanisms in the game would not make any sense in a role playing scenario.  However, it definitely has the feel of a role playing game.  Cooperatively, you and your fellow players explore the scenario, overcoming traps, defeating monsters, and subduing the villain.  The story develops.  Each player's character advances in skills and abilities.  The enemies and obstacles get harder to defeat.  The weapons, armor and spells available to your party of adventurers become more powerful.

And all the work is done.  The scenarios are already written.  Out of the box the game has eight different scenarios.  With the expansions, there are 33, making an entire story arc - a quest if you will.  There is back-story available, since the entire story arc is based upon the Rise of the Runelords adventure series from the Pathfinder Role Playing Game.  (In fact, some incredibly patient and creative soul distilled the back-story down to a series of prologues and epilogues to be read with every scenario, base on the RPG game.  It's available here.)

This ranks right up there with the greatest gaming discoveries I have made.  There may be better games, but we would be comparing apples and oranges.  This is a fantastic game (pun intended!), and could easily be played with the family.  Kids will really enjoy the story, and once they are old enough to roll a fist full of dice, they could play with the guidance of an adult playing with them.

It's Your Move!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Time is Not on my Side

Any loyal readership I have left is probably wondering where I have been.  The past six weeks have been very busy, and life is a little hectic.  I thought I would provide a little insight into what is going on, offering both an excuse and an intention in the process.  The craziness comes in these forms:

School.  As I may have mentioned before, my wife is a school librarian.  There is a lot going on there for her, and I am First Volunteer.  Our son is starting his junior year in high school, and with that comes taking him out for driving lessons.  That's where it starts; not sure where it will end.

Illness.  Both my wife and my son have fought a bit of the Classroom Crud.  I am pretty sure this is a bug very similar to what gamers and other geeks know as Convention Crud -- due to sudden changes in sleeping and eating habits and exposure to lots of germ carrying individuals in enclosed spaces.  I have been spared, but I have been the 7-up cabana boy keeping them in fluids.

Youth Group.  Our whole family is involved in our church Youth Ministry.  Specifically, we all are part of the junior high leadership team.  That has involved more stuff than usual as we approached the school year and began the planning.

Redecorating.  Our basement is in chaos. We decided to make the basement have a warmer feel, so that our son would have a cave to entertain his friends in.  This is also where my games are stored/displayed.  We are replacing the existing shelves, which have an industrial look, with something warmer yet still masculine.  My wife had the brilliant idea of putting some of the games with better artwork on their ends, so that they show their art much like a painting.  It means the shelves aren't used as efficiently, but it does look much more inviting.  It's okay, because at this point in time, I am trying to keep my collection at equilibrium.  I am trying to up the overall quality of games and reduce he overall quantity of games.

Work.  This has been absolutely great.  About this time last year I was out of work, and I was picked up by a consulting group in December.  Each of the consultants is responsible for their own clients, and personal income is derived directly from client revenue, so it was a little scary.  I am happy to say that things are going very well.  However, it takes a lot of time and energy.  (It's a lot of fun too!)

Play.  Okay, let's face it.  If it's a choice between writing about playing games and actually playing them, it's going to be the latter that I pick.  Every time.  So the fact that I have also now have a bi-weekly group playing Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (PACG) just means that I am having more fun.  In fact, this has been the best year of gaming I have ever had.  I have played 49 different titles for a total of 166 games, and 17 of those titles are brand new to me.  That last number is a little down compared to other years, but that's to be expected as my gaming career expands.

Now it's time for me to be better.  My plan is to review PACG in the very near future, and then to go into some of the other games that I am playing.  That's my intent. I just need to carve up my time a little differently.

It's Your Move!