Author Archives: roseij2

Campus Gaming Event: Metamorphosis Alpha

I was sitting in Armstrong back in early March when I saw an advertisement for the Western Center. They were looking for people to join their Metamorphosis Alpha roleplaying game, so I figured I would throw my hat in the ring. The DM of the group was The Western Center Coordinator, Billy Simms. We set up a time to make my character and explain how the game works. 

Metamorphosis Alpha is a D6 system set in the far future when humanity has left earth and lives on a gigantic spaceship. This ship has been drifting around a radioactive black hole for thousands of years, causing the humans to mutate into horrifying monsters that now roam the ship. My character was one of the lucky humans frozen in cryosleep and protected from a majority of the radiation. He was woken up and tossed into a vast wilderness section of the ship armed only with a plasma rifle and a knife. The party later discovered this area to be an old zoo. My character is named Atom, a moniker he gave himself after realizing he could adjust the space between his molecules, which grants him the ability to grow and shrink. Characters in Metamorphosis Alpha have eleven skills ranging from amazing to hopeless. The standard role in using a skill is d6, with a certain number of successes needed for the overall action to succeed. An amazing skill adds 3d6, a good skill adds 2d6, a competent skill adds 1d6, a weak skill subtracts 1d6, and finally, characters cannot attempt hopeless skills. Atom was a sniper and mechanic back on earth, so he was disciplined, knew a lot about technology, good with a rifle, and constantly alert. 

Since I joined midway through the semester, Atom first appeared as a threat to the adventuring party. He guarded a swan bridge and thought the party was his next target. Out of the bushes walked a humanoid venus flytrap (think the piranha plant from Super Smash Bros), an owl holding a futurist tablet, and a Gila monster wielding a vibrosword. The negotiations were tense, but they won over Atom with clever wordplay. From then on, Atom journeyed with the party battling mutated armadillos, robotic zookeepers, a holographic dinosaur, and a totalitarian turtle bent on taking over the zoo. 

I had such a good time that I decided to keep coming back each week until we wrapped up during finals week. This semester has been a really stressful one and so sitting down at my computer on Tuesdays from 2:30-4 and laughing with a bunch of people I’ve never met before helped me not get lost in the isolation that covid brought with it. Playing online RPGs like Metamorphosis Alpha has been an essential part of my Covid isolation survival, and I bet lots of other people felt the same way.

DnD Reflection

The allure of Dungeons and Dragons began all the way back at the beginning of the semester when we first designed characters. I decided to build a big red Dragonborn paladin of
Bahamut. Personally, I was most excited about this game because I play Pathfind on a regular basis and was tangentially familiar with the DnD system already. Everything revolves around your stats which come from the point buy system. I have never used it before as instead I have always rolled three d6s and totaled them together. From there we divided up into two adventuring parties based on our classes. My group had a paladin, rogue, and sorcerer who were there for two session and then a fighter and cleric who swapped out between them. We were hired by a dwarven merchant to protect his caravan from dangers in the forest.

Session one began with us pulling up to a crossroads with two dead horses in the road. On high alert now, we spread out to look for the source of danger. The rogue and the sorcerer found the trouble hiding in a few bushes off to the side of the forest while I carefully examined a cliff face for any danger. The goblins opened fire on us with their short bows, but being goblins missed nearly every attack against us. It was here the first proper bit of roleplaying immerged with a friendly rivalry developing between myself and the rogue. It was very similar to the back and forth between Legolass and Gimili. The challenge was to prove who was the best fighter between us. Little did we realize, the sorcerer would turn out to be just as deadly with her cross bow as I was with my hammer or the rogue was with her knives.

We made quick work of the goblins thanks to a critical hit and slashing blades until only one remained. As the paladin and moral compass of the group, I elected to offer the goblin its life and eternal redemption in the eyes of Bahamut in exchange for information on where the goblin base of operation. This goblin turned out to be named Maglub and became my squire, torchbearer, and student. I carried them in like Luke carried Yoda in the swamps of Dagobah. Maglub guided us through the forest and past a few traps that may have spelled out doom. The journey presented itself as great opportunity for roleplay as the other characters joked about how devote in my faith to the Great Winging One. Sesson one wrapped up with the rogue and sorcerer sneaking ahead to knockout and drown a pair of goblin senties while I taught Maglub about the tenants of Bahamut.

Session two began right where we left off, in front of the goblin lair. It was pitch black inside and only our sorcerer could see. She and the rogue lead a scouting party inside before they stumbled upon several wolves that were chained to a rock. They were by far the most dangerous threat to our group because they could actually deal damage to us. One almost killed me, but thanks to my divine healing, I pulled through. There was also a tied up captive in this chamber who shadowed us for the rest of the trip so we could keep them safe. Then came what I think was the most enjoyable part of the adventure: the trash shoot. The shoot rose 30 feet up into the cave to presumable the boss room. We thought it would be good idea for someone to do some recon so we could figure out what we were up against. Turns out that a bugbear was running this goblin gang. Once the rogue was about half way up the shaft, the bugbear decided that he would releave himself into the shoot. I was at the bottom to catch the rogue if she fell, but I think Bahamut smiled on me because I remained dry. The rogue was not so lucky.

We decided it would be better to go through the cave normally as our shortcut was now wet. This is when our sorcerer became a dead eye. She shot three goblins before they even knew she was there. The rogue took care of the other two within second and we were clear to approach the boss’s lair. We stormed in weapons drawn. I let loose my massive fire breath, the rogue threw a dagger, and the sorcerer shot some bolts into the fray. We left without a scratch on us. Victorious. The hardest part about DnD for me was getting the rules mixed up with Pathfinder. They are just similar enough for me to feel confident in a ruling and be wrong. I would recommend DnD to everyone. Where the challenge comes in is that it can be hard to find a group that you feel comfortable playing with. Once you do however, DnD can be a great experience for everyone involved.

Free Play: Lazers and Feelings

Last week, we had the option of choosing a game to play. The group I joined was playing Lazers and Feelings, a quickstart SciFi RPG all about using your laser or your feelings to solve all of our problems. I decided it would be fun to play the ship’s engineer, an android named distribution android model R-3 class Double L or D.A.R.3.L.L for short. Darell had a 5 in lasers which meant he was an expert in all things technology and logic. Lasers and Feelings only as one stat which determines how you can interact with the world. If you have a high Laser score like D.A.R.3.L.L, then you want to roll a 5 or lower on a d6 for your action to be successful. The opposite goes for Feelings, in which you would want to roll above your chosen number. The hardest e part about playing Lasers and Feelings was remembering that if you rolled your chosen number (5 for D.A.R.3.L.L), you got to ask the Storyteller one question about the situation.

After the unfortunate comatose state of our former captain, the crew picked up on a distress beacon from a derelict ship. We found no life signs aboard and decided to board through an airlock. I powered up the ship to reveal a bloody mess. The crew appeared to have been massacred by an assailant known to them. We decided it would be a good move to secure the armory to gear up against the threat. While looting the armory for everything we could, the assailant hailed us from the bridge. We negotiated a parlay and prepared for the worst. It turned out that an android spy worked its way on board and was trying to turn the ship into a planet killer. Thanks to our new weapons, we quickly turned the machine into scrap and blew up the ship ourselves.

Lasers and Feelings really shine in its light mechanics. Having only a single number determine how good you are in two opposite fields is a really cool way to build roleplay into the mechanics. Since my character was amazing at mechanics, I found it really fun to roll for feelings hoping that I would get a 6. My weird robot brain would understand humanity a little bit better with each successful roll. Quickstart RPGs like this one are great microcosms for leadership. Each of our characters had the opportunity to guide the crew’s choices and how we handled different situations. Our robot doctor would assess corpses, I would take any engineering concerns. Our security officer and explorer would guide us through the ship, and our science officer would keep us all sane. It was a great experience, and I recommend it to everyone.

Game of the Week: Incan Gold and Can’t Stop

A week or so ago, we played Incan Gold and Can’t Stop in class, and overall, I enjoyed both games. The theme that week was weighing risk vs. reward, and man, did I feel that. For a leader, considering risk vs. reward is an essential skill to learn because the risk impacts the whole group, but then again, so can the reward. Being placed in a position of leadership, one must toe the line very carefully. You might have to be more reserved than you might typically be to protect the group from harm. In a game sense, Incan Gold and Can’t Stop both emulate, risking it all for a sweet reward.

Incan Gold bursts to the seams with an Indiana Jones aesthetic. The premise is that a team of archaeologists/grave robbers are excavating/plundering an Incan temple for all it is worth. Throughout five rounds, the players delve as far as they can go into the temple, picking up emeralds, obsidian shards, gold nuggets, and the occasional artifact while also trying not to trigger any of the traps of the temple. As the players progress into the temple, they leave small amounts of treasure behind, and thus, the game’s strategic elements become apparent. The first person to flee the temple picks up all the leftover treasure. The further into the temple everyone goes, the more treasure is collected overall, but more traps can trigger. When the second type of trap comes up, any player in the temple loses everything they have gained on that round. The question becomes to delve or not to delve? Incan Gold was a lot more fun for me, even though I ultimately lost. My downfall came from me playing too safe. I was often the first to run back before my two companions would stumble upon a huge score. Can’t Stop, on the other hand, was a very different story.

The version of Can’t Stop that we played looked like it had not changed since its initial debut in the 1980s, but what Can’t Stop lacks in an aesthetic flair it makes up in pure strategy. The players roll dice to determine how quickly they climb up the board. A player wins by having three of their markers reach the top of three separate columns. Each round, after a player moves 3 markers, they can choose to stay or roll again. If the player stays, then their tokens advance to the markers, but if they roll again, they risk the chance to bust and lose all progress. After coming off of my complete defeat in Incan Gold, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for broke. It was this reckless strategy, coupled with lucky dice rolls, that played me in the lead by the time we had to stop playing. Can’t Stop is my grandparents’ speed much more than Incan Gold because it is not bogged down by complication. The simplicity of the gameplay is Can’t Stop’s key to its longevity.

What Type of Gamer Am I?

Overall, I agree with Quantic Foundery’s assessment of my inner gamer. As long as everyone is having fun while also focusing on the game itself, I end up having a blast. The only part of this assessment that differed from my expectations was the limited strategy and discovery. I love building a strategy up in a persona in social deduction games, working with other players to stop some disaster, or trying to build the best dungeon in that sense of the word. I think I scored low on this aspect because I do not enjoy deckbuilding or the likes of Warhammer 40K. The long-term strategy games do not do well at holding my attention. 

On the other hand, short social deduction games like One Night Ultimate Werewolf or Secret Hitler are right up my alley. Whether it be in a TTRPG or a smaller roleplaying game like the ones above, I love bringing a character to life. It is so fun when everyone comes together and adopts a character for the evening. Games like Fiasco are right up my alley for this very purpose.

The aesthetic of a game can further elevate it from good to great. One prominent example of this type of elevation would be the Call of Cthulu roleplaying game set during the Roaring Twenties. Solving occult mysteries while drinking at a speakeasy with the police captain is reminiscent of such a specific period that the aesthetic could not replicate it in any other setting. Looking at the game art can serve as a great way to feel the immersion of whatever environment you find yourself in.  It is another way to understand how the game makers wanted you to feel while playing it. 

Fiasco: A Review

Over the past three weeks, we played a roleplaying game called Fiasco. Overall, I really enjoyed Fiasco because of the openness of the game proper. Everyone gets their time in the spotlight because of how the game is structured. This can be an issue in some TTRPGs that rely heavily on roleplaying.

Session one consisted of selecting the wild west playset, Boomtown, character creation, and Act One. We rolled all the dice in the center of the board and then went round-robin, choosing how our characters’ relationships. This was the hardest part to understand for me. Your character traits, relationships, and everything else are pulled from the communal pool of dice. For players new to roleplaying systems, I think this works really well at giving them a place to start, however I would have liked to have more agency over the choices I made as I could see much more interesting plot threads that what we got. However, the game we played was a total blast, as you will soon see.

I ended up playing Lonnie, the horse whisperer whose most prized possession was the tear-stained love letter left by his husband, Dino (A player in the game), who had up and disappeared in the middle of the night. Character creation is one thing that Fiasco does right. Conflict of interest is one of the main focuses of the game, and by working together to establish motives, the plot of the game became clear. Lonnie goes to his outlaw cousin Annie, another PC, with a half-baked plan to kill his husband in a fit of rage. As the session progresses, it becomes clear that Annie has her own agenda. She robbed Dino way in the past for a whopping $20,000 and maybe planning to finish him off once and for all. Annie meets up with her old partner in crime Samira, another PC, to pick up some firearms, and the spark of an old romance ignites. As it turns out, Samira works for Dino at his general store next to the old church. At the end of session one, we were primed and ready to go for the tilt.

Session two was where **** hit the fan. Lonnie and Annie were determined to off Dino. Meanwhile Samira in crime was hatching her own plan so that she and Annie could ride into the sunset while everything burned around them. Dino, now played by a new member to the group, tried to reconsile with Lonnie at the church where they first came together as a couple. Then Annie arrived and tried to convince Lonnie to pull the trigger and off the man who caused him so much pain, but Dino had succeeded in planting a seed of doubt in Lonnie’s mind Our tilt was someone panic and panic, Lonnie did. Seeing this moment of doubt, Annie shoots Lonnie in the leg and gets into a scuffle with Dino. Samira arrives and tends to Lonnie’s would while thinking about stabbing him. The fight continues until Samira suggests that Annie and her just leave Lonnie and Dino. Annie agrees yet she sets the church on fire on her way out. The session ends on a cliff hanger with The Aftermath saved for meeting three.

Session three was a rather short one for us as all we had to do was cover The Aftermath. Throughtout the game when each seen ends, the PCs where not involved get to decide if the characters involved got good or bad endings. Now is when you total up the die to determine your ending. Lonnie got a bitter end where he lived through the encounter with his cousin however the wound never quite healed right. Lonnie blamed everyone but himself and this sour attitude caused Dino to leave him again. The game ended as it began, with Lonnie reading a tear stained love letter.

Fiasco works to facilitate leadership in numerous ways, chief among them being: knowing when to step down and let someone else have the spot light. Fiasco heavily relies on improvisation and the best improv scenes work best when everyone is complementing each other and building on what everyone else establishes. In our game each person had several opportunities to lead a scene in the direction they wanted it to go and we supported them in that moment.