Category Archives: Games

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! among the stars

Shenanigans among the stars

THE SCORE

Reach for the stars

Faster than light travel has been discovered and commodified. Everyday people can get jobs piloting between planets or even upon stars. The stars were always pretty from Earth but who knew they could be even more pretty when you’re rocketing past them. We’ve explored every inch of the galaxy by now. It’s not the most common of jobs but it really gets you away from the life at home and out there. We’ve always had our eyes on the sky and now we’re there. Space is a fresh start for many. Is this your chance to start anew? What all can you find out there beyond the stars? Maybe you can do some good for everyone? After all, what’s there to lose?

Relationships

1 partners

  1. Lab partners
  2. Captain and second mate
  3. A scientist and their helpful robot assistant
  4. On a honeymoon trip
  5. In crime, in life, in death
  6. For however long that lasts

2 coworkers

  1. Working in the bowels of the ship
  2. Assigned reluctantly
  3. Who bunk together
  4. The two who know the ship best
  5. A scientist and their helpful robot pal
  6. The only 2 who can communicate between 2 groups

3 friends

  1. Since day one of the assignment
  2. Traveling the worlds together
  3. From back in college
  4. At a time that isn’t right now
  5. Who share a secret
  6. For as long as this is mutually beneficial

4 shady

  1. Captain and head smuggler
  2. Dealer and druggie
  3. Blackmailer and blackmailed
  4. Person onboard officially and the person they smuggled in
  5. Mercs hired to oppose the rest
  6. Dealt together in the distant past

5 intrigue

  1. Alien and scientist
  2. Mysteriously ill and doctor 
  3. You recognize each other but you have no memory of meeting
  4. Recently you two agreed to a risky deal
  5. Detective and suspect
  6. You both suspect each other of something nefarious

6 rivals

  1. Vying for the captain’s notice
  2. In scientific discovery
  3. In owning the smuggling world
  4. Captaining the two best ships in the galaxy
  5. Siblings assigned to the same ship
  6. Captains of the two fastest ships in the galaxy

Needs 

1 scientific discovery

  1. You want something named after you before you die
  2. you need more patents than your sibling
  3. You need to cure this disease
  4. You need to make the first contact
  5. You need to crack this code
  6. You need to invent something great

2 truth

  1. Something here isn’t right
  2. These glyphs mean something
  3. Your father disappeared in this sector years before
  4. Everyone needs to know this before I die
  5. They told me one thing before they disappeared
  6. They died and you need to know why

3 to get out

  1. Of a bad situation with worse people
  2. Of debt 
  3. Of the country with no way to track you
  4. Of this ship and away from these people
  5. And finally make something of myself
  6. Of this part of the galaxy

4 to get money

  1. And live life as stress free as possible
  2. To get your parents off your back
  3. To bail out a buddy
  4. To rid yourself of your past
  5. And start a new life half-way across the galaxy
  6. By any means necessary

5  to gain respect

  1. Of the crew
  2. Across the galaxy
  3. Of another person of science
  4. And accolades for my abilities
  5. From my family by finally doing something good
  6. Of that jerk who dismissed me

6 surviving

  1. This trip to the end
  2. To see someone one last time
  3. Because you promised them
  4. To prove them wrong
  5. To live a better life
  6. In spite of the situation

Objects

1 Tech

  1. The trustworthy AI aboard
  2. Bug codes on a zip drive
  3. Malware infecting something
  4. Robotic prosthetic or necessary accessory 
  5. A new invention you want to test out
  6. Your spaceship has just been fixed up

2 Alien

  1. Egg that might have just hatched
  2. Weapon accidentally activated
  3. Glyphs appearing on your arms
  4. Plant that just destroyed the observation room
  5. Baby smuggled aboard
  6. Parasite that just bit someone

3 Useful

  1. Wrench got from the engine room
  2. Fire Axe broken out of its box
  3. A single spacesuit
  4. The last functioning escape pod
  5. A medkit with all the works
  6. 3 days worth of rations

4 Dangerous

  1. item never meant for zero gravity
  2. Illegal weapons the captain doesn’t know about
  3. Deal with the mob that better pan out in the end
  4. Modifications done to a ship
  5. Meteorite headed straight for you
  6. Notification appearing with no sender

5 Secret

  1. Experimental drugs
  2. Smuggled goods ready for the market
  3. The last message from Earth
  4. An extra person
  5. Instructions from the local gang
  6. Part of an alien ruin still untranslated

6 Brings back memories

  1. Picture of a lost lover
  2. A personal journal
  3. Locket that won’t open
  4. Letter from a former friend
  5. A switchblade from dad
  6. A stuffed animal you still can’t sleep without

Locations

1 Past the milky way

  1. On a trip to the furthest star
  2. On the galaxy super highway
  3. In an alien blackmarket
  4. In an observation tank
  5. At the biggest space auction house this side of Pluto
  6. On an ordinary mining operation

2 in our galaxy

  1. Exploring Martian ruins
  2. Observing earth
  3. On a mission to Venus
  4. Escaping Earth
  5. Headed straight for the sun
  6. And leaving as fast as possible

3 Onboard a spaceship

  1. Owned by the US government
  2. On its maiden voyage
  3. Doing a cargo run
  4. Not necessarily your spaceship
  5. Hidden with the supplies
  6. Trapped in the medical center

4 in the middle of nowhere

  1. In an asteroid belt
  2. Far from anyone who could help
  3. Caught between two ships
  4. Found by smugglers
  5. Ready for a deal
  6. Hiding from the mob

5 Wrecked

  1. In hostile territory
  2. On an inhospitable planet
  3. And tied up by masked people
  4. Trapped in the ship
  5. On some random comet
  6. With your translator dead

6 lost

  1. On a planet not on your star charts
  2. Way off course
  3. Somewhere that has oxygen at least
  4. On a strange green planet
  5. With enough gas for one jump
  6. On an empty hunk of rock

Honey Heist

Honey Heist is a fun, one-page, one-shot RPG with a great story and a fun atmosphere. The group I played with was willing to step out of their comfort zones and become bears conducting a heist. It’s a great game to embrace the absurdity of its premise with, and to allow cartoon humor to run wild. The hardest part of the game is probably taking yourself seriously and immersing yourself in the absurdity of the role-play scenario, especially if you aren’t a bear, which I assume most players are not.

I think this is a great game for literally everyone. Everyone should play this game, even if they aren’t big on RPGs, it’s a great introduction to the roleplaying element of the game and it does a great job of being an entertaining concept to mess around with. It is probably not a great game for you if you’re a bear, because bears can’t necessarily talk.

This game is great for leadership, afterall, every heist team has different skills that need to be applied in the proper plan. This game allows for the players to work together to find the best plan that will definitely never go wrong, ever…ever. This game is great for teamwork, for improvisation and for a creative outlet.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Ladies and Gentlemen was an interesting take on representing identity in games, it allowed the players to step into the role of Victorian caricatures and through two different, but related gameplay loops attempt to outperform the other teams to be the richest guy and the prettiest girl at the ball. Overall, the loop of the ladies side of the game, the side that I was able to play, was fun and if not taken seriously this game has a lighthearted tone with very strong parody elements to its aesthetic and how it treats itself.

The hardest part of the game is trying to not only strategize with your partner,but also to take yourself seriously with such a silly premise and tone. With the limited communication between teammates until the purchasing stage of the game, the “lady” must not only think about what will score the most points but also what is affordable, while the “gentleman” needs to get as much “money” as possible to take advantage of the “lady’s” choices for the sake of scoring more points.

I think this game can work for any group of people that are comfortable with each other, I think part of the fun is playing into the silliness and that definitely works best when people are comfortable with one another. This game ties into leadership because of how it addresses and circumvents the idea of identity by making a mockery of the Victorian stereotypes it uses as its aesthetic.

Dungeons and Dragons

In class, we played Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition for three weeks, it was an interesting experiment in roleplaying and an interesting way to demonstrate leadership. Having played Dungeons and Dragons before, both Fifth Edition as well as spending about 5 or so years toiling away with the Revised Third Edition, I would consider myself fairly experienced with D&D, I always think the hardest part about D&D is the role-playing, especially when the game is played over the internet, whether it be a voice call or a text chat. It is difficult for many players to step back from themselves and into the role of a character that has (likely) never existed before. The mechanics of the game can be taught and learned by anyone, roleplaying on the other hand is more difficult and depends on the person, it will come more naturally to some than it will to others, but it can be learned with practice and time. All of that said, D&D is a fun game, I enjoyed the three short sessions I played in class.

I think D&D is a game for everyone, every player will get something different out of the experience, and with 5th Edition especially, it is a nice introduction to Tabletop RPGs. I think the main drawback to attempting to play D&D in a classroom setting is that the sessions felt a bit rushed, each time a question arose of what to do and where to take the party of characters next, there was a solid minute of staggering silence. While this would not normally be an issue in D&D, the shortened time frame to accomplish the goals of the session made the lack of decisive action a bit frustrating. I had resigned myself to a background role, as I wanted to make sure that other players had a chance to take the spotlight more often, given that I consider myself experienced and I would hope that everyone who was playing for the first time would have a good first experience.

On the other hand, I understand that roleplaying with a group of people you don’t really know can be intimidating and that there is a bit of shyness to the first couple of sessions. I had never attempted the “Lost Mine of Phandelver” module, so I was going in blind, but the game was run well enough by our guest DM and I had fun with my Blue Dragonborn Tempest Cleric, and I figure that’s all that really matters.

Honey Heist RPG

Honey Heist is a rpgwhere the players are bears that are trying to pull off a heist to get honey. The complication is that the two stats each character has means that they are only a few rolls away from betraying and abandoning the crew and becoming a criminal full time or going full bear and possibly eating the crew. 

I was very happy with my bear since they were able to balance the ridiculousness of both pure criminality and pure animality. Stealing some lovely honey, but eating it out of a hat. Each of our characters were unique and contributed hilariously to our cause, stealing a honey fountain. Our luck in rolling die meant that none of us went full bear or full criminal.

Working together to infiltrate the gala led to some wonderful displays of leadership, such as an impromptu cover of Wonderwall, a dance with a security guard, car theft, and a beary large brawl. All of this somewhat coordinated since the rpg was focused on being a crew that planned out a heist so we really had to talk it out and work together to reach the clear goal of honey. Reacting to the various conflicts and traps that we came across meant we had to adapt quickly together and still make sure that we did not expose our sticky paws. We were extremely chaotic and utilized it by aiming it at our shared goal, honey.

Dungeons and Dragons

Once again, a key part of my experience is how it was impacted by being virtual. It made it hard to work together and see how the others felt about each group decision. It was extremely amusing to see my fragile warlock get down to 2 and 0 hp in the first two sessions, with a long rest in between. I knew my warlock would be soft when I made him, but since it was my first time playing a character that is primarily a magic user I wasn’t expecting that level of squishiness.

We spent time enjoying my near state of death and trying to get closer to the solution to solving the issue of where all these goblins came from. No one was quite willing to be the one to speak out and offer a course of action. Likely due to not being able to see the reactions of the other players and their reactions to different options. At least, that was why I kept fairly quiet. It wasn’t fair to our DM and definitely increased the uncomfortableness, but it was hard to get over it when trying to not speak over anyone. 

Overcoming these obstacles happened more easily and more often towards the end of the three sessions. While we still struggled to communicate, the plot motivated us to work better together and get involved and invested. Leadership was shown when everyone trusted our DM and each other and put in the effort to try and work with each other to have fun and follow the goblins.

Ladies And Gentlemen

Though we got off to a delayed and scrambled start, by the time we got to the second day phase we were all trying our best to figure out how to play and have some fun with the voices. We had fun trying to address each other in outrageous posh voices and attempt to understand our partners.

I started playing as just the gentleman, but then partway through, after it would have taken too much time to start over with the odd person playing the courtesan, a player playing a lady seemed to lose all connection and after several attempts to bet in touch with them I played the part of their lady as well until they could either return or time was up. I was pleased that everyone was so willing to work around misunderstanding parts of the game at first and relax together to have fun.

Leadership in this game was a little less obvious to me than in previous games. To me it came through in having to be able to trust your partner to pick up on your cues and pick the best choices. It was a balancing act of preparing and trying to make the most of your side and trusting that your partner will do the same.