Friday, September 28, 2012

DM Advice - What's My Role?

Picture this: your GM just told you that you can play anything you want to play using any of the current Pathfinder books available that are not specific to the world of Golarian.  Many people after hearing this would jump right into books like Advanced Races Guide and Ultimate Combat without really thinking about what everyone else in the group is going to want to play.  This can create issues with a party later down the line when people see what they feel was the role that they expected to be filled by their character being filled by another.  This can create resentment and can lead to the destruction of a game.

(From Wikki) Role: A role (from the French rôle, and sometimes so spelt in English) or social role is a set of connected behaviours, rights and obligations as conceptualised by actors in a social situation. It is an expected or free or continuously changing behaviour and may have a given individual social status or social position. It is vital to bothfunctionalist and interactionist understandings of society. Social role posits the following about social behaviour:

So the question becomes how do you prevent this from happening?  One thing you can do as a GM is to try to have the players meet together before they create their characters.  During the meeting you can specify that everyone speak openly about what they want to play and ask them to try to get a niche for their characters.  Giving each player a choice in what they want to play is a good thing and letting the party decide for themselves how they are going to each fill their roles is also a good thing but be careful and make sure that the party has at least one fighter, one magic user and one healer or some proximity thereof. Nothing cuts a game quicker than a party that cannot heal itself.  Alternatively, you can give the party clerics and mages in a bottle (potions) or swords for hire (mercs) if they decide they want to all play casters or fighter types.

The trick is to try to get everyone thinking on the same level so that people know what to expect from one another.  Trust me.  It can be difficult when player’s roles overlap and both people (rightly so) feel that it is their job to explore and investigate if that is the role that they created their character to fit.  So be sure to try to get people to talk over how they see themselves working within the party.  If all else fails you can assign roles. I tried this in my Dragonlance Steampunk game and we have three casters (Gunmage, Witch, Magus), a Cleric, a Bard/Cavalier, a rogue trickster and an Archer. 

Having all of these similar classes overlap could lead to potential problems if say the gunmage suddenly decides that she is supposed to be the only one to do research on arcane happenings. Luckily, for the most part, our group works well together and everyone fits into a specific role within the party. The mages for instance fit into the witch being an expert in the occult and strange happenings, the gunmage in technology and magic and the magus in general mage combat and combat magic.

It also helps that within the campaign setting mages are identified by a specific color robe that they wear and is magically attuned to their alignments. This helps too with the differences in the characters which lets people have their time in the spotlight.
The time in the spotlight is another tricky thing when considering characters that have niches that overlap.  How do you decide who gets to disarm a trap when two or more people have that ability?  How do you decide who finds the arcane scroll?  I usually let the players work those details out by letting whoever gets there first be the one to find it.  Naturally, I want the group to work together so sometimes, as in the case of a scroll that was ‘borrowed’ by the gnome alchemist npc (follower of the kender), I create situations where they must work together to achieve their means. 

In the above example, the kender Kaz had learned through offline roleplaying via emails (a topic for another column) of the scroll.  The next session during the game Kaz tried to use magic device to figure out how to open the tube.  Unfortunately, there was no obvious way to open the tube but it had several strange characters written on the case.  Kas then enlisted the help of his friends – Xochitl, the Irda Cleric of Melikki was able to determine that the writing was a code written in abyssal, Firenaze the Centaur Magus was able to determine that it said that it must be opened on the full and Talane the Gunmage was able to determine that the next full moon for Nutari (the bad moon) was in a few days.  Together, they were able to figure out how to open the tube and in a few sessions they will have their answer as to why the alchemist ran away from her master.

In closing, whenever you are running a game try to define the roles of the characters or have the party determine what roles they see themselves as fulfilling.  This will create a more streamlined game and allow each person to have spotlight time showcasing their character’s strengths and allowing other characters’ strengths to shine through their weaknesses.  Happy gaming!

In the next DM Advice column I will talk about offline roleplaying.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Grays and Ceph Tripod

Here are the photos for the Grays and the Ceph Tripod.  We anticipate a release of November 2012 for the Hatfields, Grays, Cephs and Blob factions and a little later in December for the Ceph Tripods and McCoys.


Heading off to Hurricon with some of my team for some steampunk hillbillly goodness!  Look for us at the vendor area Saturday and Sunday.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday - Dragoncon Steampunk

It is Friday and we are fast approaching tonight's Dragonlance Steampunk game.  Last adventure, the party was able to ambush the cultists.  The cultists summoned a nasty servitor demon creature but ended up being wiped out by the players. One of the cultists was unmasked and the party was astonished when they saw that it was a member of the noble houses of Palanthas! Apparently this group of cultists working for the yellow king was in cahoots with the blackguard from Icereach?

I have absolutely not a clue what is going to happen tonight as I sent out emails to all players for various plot pieces.  They could try to take their Dragonspine Airship to Icereach to rescue the Lord Knight or they could try to ferret out the political influence in Palanthas that is behind the yellow cult.  They could also follow up on a lead that the Irda got regarding an ancient sword buried in the elven bloodwastes.  Then again, perhaps Bombottle's Mistress will make an appearance...

I picked up an airship map of the Strumpet from Scrying Eye Games while I was at Recruits for exactly this purposes!  Hey, we've been using Piazo's maps but an airship map is so much more in style with what we're doing!

The anticipation is really fun and I love days like this!


I also see that you guys have been very busy voting for our mission statement!  I really appreciate that!  So far it's looking like We Make Stuff Up is still in the lead but there are nine days left!  Keep those votes coming!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


We are working on a new layout.  Please bear with us as we improve your experiences.  We are also working on a new layout for our websites and

ACG Mission Statement

We have recently been told we need a mission statement and while I think that something along the lines of Chum is Fum would be a great start my marketing people have told me that I cannot do that.  With that in mind we have set up a little poll --->

Vote and be heard!  Call it practice for November.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Demo Team - Hurricon Demo

I am painting up additional German and British 1/72 scale troops for my WTNW game that I am running at Hurricon in a couple of weeks.  The Germans are easy as thier uniforms were pretty similar from the turn of the century to World War 2.  The British pose a bit more of a problem.  They used both a tan and an olive hued uniform during the Great War.  I am leaning more toward the tan as that was more common in the colonial areas.  If you are at Hurricon, drop by my event and check us out.

Fall Recruits Report

A Shaggoth on a roof...
We had an absolute blast at Fall Recruits! I arrived about midnight on Friday so I missed all day Friday but Saturday morning I was up early when James Miller of Scrying Eye Games (aka my ride) called me to tell me to get down to the hotel breakfast at 7:00 am.  We enjoyed a very quick but strangely satisfying breakfast and I met Shawn (the Zombie guy) and we proceeded to talk gaming, weather etc. It was very nice catching up with friends.

That morning was very good. I announced that we have released the presales for the ICFBTS Factions (Blobs, Hatfields, Cephs, Grays, McCoys and Ceph War Machines) with a price of only 24.99 per faction and 14.99 for each tripod!  We had several people drop credit cards right there on the spot and sign up for the prerelase of the miniatures which we anticipate will be November 2012.

I then schmoozed with Shawn and Peggy of Ambush Alley Games and we made the announcement that we are working on a secret project. The secret project is that I am writing the Steampunk Supplement for Tomorrow's War using my When the Navy Walked universe.  Unfortunately we didn't make a big announcement of it as the convention was already full steam ahead and we continued to sell and chat with customers.

A big thanks to Duane for getting me enough table space to run demos at my vendor table while I sold the product.  It allowed me to use James' wonderful Woods and Cabin in the Woods tile sets together to run demos to show everyone that came by how easy it is to get into a game of ICFBTS and how much fun too!

Mike Williams of Bring Your A Game ran a game of It Came From Beyond the Still which I had the fortune of sitting in and helping GM.  It was nice not having to do it all and I commend Mike on his knowledge and his ability to run a fantastic game! The Big Scary Monster was summoned on TURN ONE and well I played him and tossed goats, horses and cows at random people and had its fire breath attack the aliens. Hey, he was an equal opportunity kinda guy. Mike will post a full AAR on that game as I kept having to run back to the vendor table and sell games and keep an eye on our booth.

At five PM both ACG and AAG closed shop and went to play THE BIGGEST PIRATE GAME IN NORTHEAST FLORIDA!  I hardly type in all caps but this game deserves it.  Scott and the Mutineers put on a hell of a pirate game and I found myself really getting into the real-time feel of the game. I played the same ship that my friend Darby Eckles played last year - a Dutch Merchantman named Bangkok. While I didn't win enough gold to get the Old Glory Ship (Yep they were handing that out as a grand prize) I did sell a good deal of stuff and buy rum and hire a privateer.  Luckily we avoided the Kraken and all was well when we delivered the Rum back to the Dutch Port (cause war broke out and we couldn't bring it to the French).

When I say big I mean BIG.  There were three 30 foot plus tables and three giant tables with islands setup on them - Pirate Cove, Adventure Island and Cannibal Island... That last one makes me kinda not wanting to run off the map eh mate?

A great convention. I highly recommend it.

To recap:

ACG is writing the Tomorrow's War Steampunk supplement using the When the Navy Walked universe.

ICFBTS miniatures and book III are now ready for preorder! and are currently under construction and will be ready soon!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Recruits

Heading out to the convention today.  Will have photos and con report soon!  Look for me if you are out there. I will have copies of books to sell and miniatures top show!

We are making a special announcement in partner with Ambush Alley Games!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering the Fallen

Today, eleven years ago our country and our way of life was attacked.  The towers fell and many of our friends and family lost their lives. 

Our president then George W Bush vowed to apprehend and punish those responsible.  We began a campaign to fight terror that has persisted to this day.

Years later the mastermind was found and eliminated by Seal Team Six in Neptunes Spear. 

What has followed has been an outpouring of love and support from our countrymen and allies. 

Today let us remember freedom isn't free.

Today let us keep those heroes who fought and died for our way of life and those who continue to stand against the wolves. 

Let us not be divided by politics but stand together for freedom. God bless you and thank you.

Where were you when the world quit turning on that day?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fall Recruits

Remember that I'll be at Fall Recruits this weekend! Our guys will be running demos of the game and we will have one big game with some of our master cast models! We will also have books for sale including gaming books and our fiction!  Due to time constraints and my full time job I cannot come until Saturday but will be there all day Saturday!  Hope to see you there!

Thinking of using kickstarter?

Bring your a game recently interviewed several industry professionals including me to ask about kickstarter experiences.  It is a good article that gives pointers and things to avoid when using the crowdfunded app!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Blisters or Boxes?

We are putting together our order forms here at ACG and we are looking at the very high costs of printed boxes versus the much cheaper alternative of blister boxes.   We are setting our price points at around 19.99 for a faction box of six models per pack.  This amounts to only just under 3.34 per model! Would you purchase a blister box of six miniatures if it was msrp 19.99? When you are purchasing miniatures do you really care about if it is packaged in a blister or a box? Your comments are greatly appreciated!

WTNW Errata

We have updated the WTNW errata to include rules for combat in buildings and rules for attaching leaders to units!  Go download it free from Wargamevault!

WTNW Errata 2.0

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

ICFBTS Hatfields Painted!

Here are some photos of the painted Hatfields.  These models were painted by Rick Weaver.  An update to the kickstarter contributors is that the models are currently being molded for production, the grays are being master molded and the McCoys are being sculpted by Brad.  We are well on our way to having official miniatures!  Thank you all so much!

And finally a ceph....

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sunday, September 2, 2012

AAR September 2, 2012
Morningstar Games, Savannah GA

I went the opposite scale with this latest game of When the Navy Walked. The British Land cruisers were from the Dystopian Wars range by Spartan Games, the Walkers are old GW epic dreadnoughts, and the buildings were by Tamiya from their old 1/700 waterline range. The counters were from Junior General.  Command Stands were poker chips noted with the type of leader they represented. My aim was to show the flexibility of the system to use a variety of scales.

We played scenarios 1 and 2 from the basic rule book, When the Navy Walked. 

We used the Errata for initiative for movement.

Scenario modification: double forces.  We doubled the forces and added a C in C to both sides.
Orders of Battle (all are units from the basic rules)

1 C in C Major General Holtz
1 Sub C in C Colonel Johann Schultz
2 Rifle Battalions
2 Scout Destroyer Walkers (Operating Independently)

1 C in C Major General Winston II
1 Sub C in C Colonel John Churchill
2 Rifle Battalions
2 Littleton Class Land Cruisers

Scenario 1 A basic meeting engagement

Turn 1 saw march columns moving into position in an attempt to gain terrain and flanking advantage.  No firing in turn 1.

Turn 2 had and exchange of gunfire that saw some infantry casualties, but no damage to any machines or capital units.

Turn 3 both sides attempted to improve their positions while still exchanging relatively light fire.

Turn 4 The Prussian walkers engage the British Land Cruisers while the cruisers focused on continuing to chew up the Prussian infantry.  One British cruiser took heavy damage but stayed in the fight.

Turn 5 The Prussians continue to pound the damaged British cruiser wrecking it.  British counter fire damaged one Prussian walker.  Prussia for the Win!

Opening Moves

Opening Moves


Scenario 2  Defend the Supply Depot

This scenario has a great deal of replay value and frankly, I can’t wait to give it a go again. 

The British opted to deploy “Turtle” for set up until they could see how the Prussians would come in.

Turn 1 saw the Prussians march into their initial battle positions and form line of battle to bring maximum firepower to bear in an attempt to damage as many British units as possible.  First was exchanged on both sides and one British and one Prussian walker took damage as well as a battalion of Prussian infantry taking some damage.

Turn 2 the Prussians began their assault in earnest and damaged units and buildings including doing more damage to one of the British cruisers.

Turn 3 the Prussians move into the woods on their left flank within rifle range of the depot so as to reduce their casualties from the defending British infantry who are pouring out a solid fire.  They pour fire into the nearest building damaging it severely.   The British lose one cruiser and the other is on fire while one Prussian walker collapses in a pile of smoking metal and steam.  On the right flank, that Prussian Battalion is getting chewed on by both the land cruiser and the British who are in the buildings on that side of the depot.

Turn 4 the second British cruiser falls to concentrated rifle fire from the Prussian rifle infantry in the trees while the return fire from the British on that side causes only light casualties.  The Prussian walker on the left flank fires on the read most building and finished destroying it.  The British Rifle battalion on the Prussian right flank pushes the Prussian rifles away from the depot with heavy fire. A Prussian spy plants a bomb in the building on the right flank causing some damage.  The British persuade a company of Prussian infantry to surrender and the leave the field reducing that battalion to half strength.  The battalion passes its morale test and keeps the field.

Turn 5 the Prussian walker takes a building across the compound under fire while the British infantry nearest open fire on the walker damaging it.  Prussian rifle fire on the left flank causes casualties among the British holding out in their shot up building, but they hold firm.  On the Prussian right flank, that rifle battalion is reduced to a single company that refuses to break!   The colonel Churchill takes his command unit around to the left and finishes destroying the building on the Prussian left flank.

Turn 6 the remaining Prussian walker goes down but the British rifle battalion under the direction of General Winston on the left flank breaks under the pounding that they are taking from the Prussians under General Holtz.  The lone Prussian rifle company moves in and begins attempting to demolish the remaining British building, but their tools are not up to the task.  They are a victim of a wild grenade explosion and are finally rendered combat ineffective and cease to take any meaningful part in the fight.

 Turn 7 with General Winston’s force temporarily out of the fight, the Prussians go after the remaining building with rifle fire nearly destroying it.  The remaining British rifle battalion goes to column to bring itself across the back side of the compound and bring Colonel Schultz’s command under fire, but the woods keep them safe.  The Prussians attempt to charge in and finish the destruction of the remaining building with charges and grenades, but the burning British cruiser in the middle of the compound’s street causes the units to lose cohesion and in the confusion units have to pause to reorder themselves. 

End game, British win on casualties caused as the Prussians withdraw to their part of the South Africa province.  With the damage to the depot and the other units, it’s a hollow victory for sure.

Force on table at end of game

1 C in C Major General Holtz
1 Sub C in C Colonel Johann Schultz
3 rifle companies of one battalion

1 C in C Major General Winston II
1 Sub C in C Colonel John Churchill
1 complete rifle battalion
1 half strength rifle battalion
Pictures of the Carnage
The Objective

The Fighting Rages

End Game