Mar 252017
 

Fenris Games has been at the forefront of miniatures creation for a very long time. They know the business and what it takes to survive.

fenris_games

Having a modelling company and producing miniatures is a lot more glamorous from the consumer side than the side of the business and staying abreast of the market is a very tough nut to crack.

In this episode I speak to Ian Brumby about the hardships and rewards of owning a miniatures creation company.

Enjoy the show!  

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Mar 242017
 

geeky foodIn this episode we are not going to do anything with games. This is all about geeky food and cooking, because, contrary to what might appear, we geeks like to eat. A lot!

I met Ilana Greenberg-Sud in Facebook and I was interested right away. She has a pretty neat store in Etsy that sells all sorts of geeky morsels for the empty stomach. Or the full one, because I think I would eat her food even if I weren’t hungry.

If you wanted to try Elvish Lembas Bread, this would be your place. Or if you are a Dr. Who fan, these would be his Jammie Dodgers of choice… and like that many, many more.

But have a listen… you might find more inspiration than you think!

Enjoy the show!

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Mar 112017
 

What’s going on?

Well… as you might have noticed, G*M*S Magazine hasn’t been the most active for the last year and a bit. Mostly, this has been because my business has taken most of my time and it has been literally impossible for me to get enough time to do anything. Working 12 hours days to launch a business truly takes all your time and energy.

That has changed now and the time has come to turn G*M*S Magazine into a much better site.

Our plans for the very near future are:

  • Revamp the website: We haven’t updated the look and feel of the website for a long, long time now, and it needs it. We want to make it so it has a responsive layout that will fit in your phone and a much more interesting look so you can find all the information very easily.
  • Retake Dice & Slice: I know we have failed on that front and we should have done a lot better. The formula we used for the initial episodes was much too complex to organise and too people-dependent, so things are going to change. The format will be shorter, faster, clearer and more fun and useful.
  • Record more videos, make them more professional: I have spent the last few weeks honing my skills in video editing and compositing. Videos will have more interesting format and formula. We might not do “unboxings” again (to be decided), but we have something else for you that no one is doing (as far as we know) that should prove to be very good fun. More on this very soon!
  • Make more podcasts: The interviews are back, but this time we are not getting into Kickstarter projects anymore. We can cover Kickstarter projects that have funded and delivered – or not- to learn lessons, but we don’t want the channels to become an echo chamber for adverts.
  • Get a studio: We are going to work hard to get our own studio so we can have all the equipment setup and ready to record at the drop of a game. That should help us create more content, better and faster.

To achieve all that we have setup a Patreon campaign.

Please help us if you can. Share if you can’t. We want to increase the rhythm of production, but we desperately need your help for that. Every penny counts. Please take a look at the Patron page and tell us what you think.

Or just tell us what you think, period. We would truly love to hear from you.

Thank you.

Mar 082017
 

Justin Mason is one of those prolific RPG creators who isn’t known enough. With a great talent for map making and graphic design, he has worked on a cool ton of projects, but it seems he hasn’t worked on enough yet!

Justin Mason

For years Justin Mason has honed his skills to become a skilled cartographer with a pretty immense portfolio for companies like Adventureaweek.com, Paizo, Dark Naga Adventures, AAW Games and many, many more.

But I was curious to know how someone like him can actually survive using the world of RPGs as a means of income, considering how hard to is to make a living these days.

And we also talked maps… lots of map!

Hope you enjoy the show!

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Mar 072017
 

Mayhem is an RPG from Midnight Campaign that was published in 2013. Product of the minds and effort of Rob and Aubrey Hicks, the book contains everything you need to play the game.MAYHEM Volume one, core content

Mayhem comes in a POD book with over 200 pages in full colour and, in the edition I have, softback. Although I don’t know what POD service was used, the quality of the printing is pretty good and the paper is thick enough. The binding has seen a lot of use in the last few weeks and yet all pages have survived without a problem.

Layout of the book is actually very good, with great attention being paid to design and detail. Although it could do without the background pattern in the pages, the frequency of the illustrations is enough and, dare I say, pretty impressive for a book that is the product of just two people.

The indexing system is actually very good. On the left page you will find an icon for each of the ten chapters and on the  right page an icon for each section within chapter. Although the chapters are not long enough for those icons to have any real practical effect, they have been very well designed and look pretty awesome, so I like having them there.

Artwork throughout Mayhem is a mix of good and mediocre. Although usually I would make an issue out of this, the fact that this is a book published by enthusiasts I can’t fault it too much. Yes, it could be much, much better, but what is there does the trick and there is a fair amount of it, so I won’t fault it too much.

The game takes a fair bit of time on the rules and they do sort out, or try to, a number of issues. The core system is simple enough. Depending on the skill level you have, the die will be higher. For a skill of 5 to 6, one rolls a d6, for a skill of 8 or 9, you would roll a d8 and so on.

Although this requires to keep track of a few dice depending on what level skill your character has for each ability, it also provides with a nice progression path that reflect how much better the character gets on a skill by skills basis.

There are two truly interesting things about the rules for me. One is the hit points chart. Hit points are calculated based on the Endurance and the Willpower of the characters. Endurance marks how many total hit points a character has. Willpower, however, determine how many hit points of damage a character can take before falling unconscious. Although this might make it easier for the character to be put out of order, it also means they are likely to be more durable.

The second thing that got my eye was the feedback chart. Every spell and similar in the book has a feedback cost and character with more Willpower can take more feedback than those less. Feedback points are like hit points for the mind. You can use a number of them, but if you overexert, then you are in trouble and get mental damage. What I liked about it is that it provides with a fairly clear method to keep track of the ability of the character to cast spells – perhaps psionics in the future – and at what point they can start to be harmful, as well as decide how many points to use for spells too.

The rules section also cover combat, movement, flight…

Character creation is a relatively simple affair. Although you don’t have to do a lot different from other roleplaying games, the sheer amount of races and curses that can be applied to those races means you have to do a lot of reading.

Mayhem comes with 22 races and 11 talents and curses of which only one is human and there are no elves, dwarves or the more common races typical of fantasy worlds. Races are divided in several sections that include demonic and celestial races and among them you will also find animal races. This is actually something interesting, though it could also lead to some problems if you try to use demonic and celestial, or undead characters in the same party. So a lot of preparation work would be needed.

The curses and talents are another good addition. They are there to add depth to the characters with abilities and conditions to expand their nature. Not all races are compatible with all talents or curses, but they do add a lot of variety.

The sections on equipment, magic, abilities… they all have enough options to enhance your character, but not so many that it becomes overwhelming to actually learn them or manage them. They are divided in small sections and the information is concise enough to be easy to find and remember, but detailed enough that you can actually use the skill at hand.

Mayhem’s setting is rather interesting and very, very rich. Although there is nothing overly original in the setting, the background itself is solid and well described. A world with several continents and an interesting cosmology, the world has enough foundation for many adventures. Also adventure hooks are dotted all over the description of the land to help you come up with some ideas.

The game ends with a short chapter on storytelling with description on how to create adventure, type of plot hooks, managing the rhythm of the game… very handy and full of tips that are always good to learn if you are new, or be reminded of if you are a seasoned player or GM.

Conclusion

Mayhem is very clearly a product that needs a lot of work, but also one that shows a great deal of potential.

The writing is very good but could do with some editing. The artwork is in the right places, they are right illustrations and they are numerous enough, but they need an overall improvement in style. The layout is sound but needs a bit of tightening…

The rules, although not the slickest to get to grips with, truly work. The hit point system gives a great deal of flexibility to allow players to play as they see fit without the fear of instant death.

The feedback system is probably my favourite bit of the game. The idea that you can use your points and force their minds a bit to use more powerful spells or powers, recovering some of those points to recover enough to use the power again… That I enjoyed a lot.

The number of races is pretty amazing and well worth considering. Although not all have the same level of information – or indeed the same information – the are all very intriguing and congruent with the world where they are located and although the sheer diversity makes it complex to create a coherent party, the potential is truly huge.

To have over 600 feats, skills and spells might sound daunting, though the way they have been located in the right place and in the right numbers make them easy to use. Being divided by weapon, skill set, magic area, etc, means they come in chunks small enough to be very easy to use.

In terms of world building, the thing I liked the most is the potential for epic storytelling. In Mayhem, even the Sun, the Moon and Stars are actually sentient beings that can, somehow, be interacted with if you are the right type of adventurer.

It is also massive, which is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because, although the book only covers one of the continents that create the geography of the planet, it is so rich that it will never be too small for the players.

However the amount of information about locations, empires, landmarks… it feels like it is not enough and needs much more. It is pretty obvious this book needs another 200 pages just for the world where it is played.

The storytelling chapter is very handy. Although it doesn’t give any ground-breaking advice, for a beginner it will go a long way to help get to grips with RPGs.

I am not sure, though, if this is a good game for beginners. Although all the premises, rules and backgrounds are explained with sufficient detailed, the variety in the races, richness in the story and complexity in the rules could make the experience a bit frustrating for those with little experience.

Overall  Mayhem should be praised. It is a solid game even if it feels it’s unfinished. This is all because the authors are just two people and have created the whole thing from scratch, with money from their pockets and doing the best they can.

And the best they can is pretty good.

I am not going to compare this with any other well-established publisher material. That would be unfair.

If you want a game that has a ton of information to offer and a lot of truly excellent ideas but needs a bit of work to bring to the table, this is for you and I thoroughly recommend it.

If you want a fully finished product that will allow you to play with little extra effort, look elsewhere. But you will be missing out on a lot of good things.

 

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Mayhem is available from here in PDF. The printed version can be bought from here.

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Mar 052017
 

In last episode Jim and I discussed if casual gamers are actually bad for the hobby or not. With polarised opinions, Jim believes they are a lot less needed than hardcore gamers in order to sustain the hobby, whereas I believe the more we have, the better.

Regardless of who is right or wrong on this one, he fact is that the presence of casual gamers and their numbers do help shape the state and direction of the industry for keeping a casual gamer interested is a much different task than keeping a hardcore gamer hooked.

So, based on that, what games are no longer made because of the proliferation of casual gamers?

Are indeed casual gamers responsible for the disappearance of any game at all?

Once again, Jim and I have different opinions on this one!

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