Blog: June 2019

Most of these posts were originally posted somewhere else and link to the originals. While this blog is not set up for comments, the original locations generally are, and I welcome comments there. Sorry for the inconvenience.

True Dungeon

Both last year and this year at Origins we played True Dungeon adventures (one each year). I don't want to spoil either of the adventures we played (which they continue to offer), so I'll speak here in generalities.

True Dungeon is something like D&D adapted for physical sets. An adventure consists of a story played out in a series of seven rooms. You play one of a dozen or so character classes and each has some special rules and abilities. Spellcasters usually have to memorize things (cleric: identify this prayer bead to successfully cast your spell, etc). To disarm traps, rogues have to manipulate a gadget that is akin to playing the old board game Operation (move a pointer through a maze without touching any walls). Combat is done on shuffleboards; monster hit areas, including vulnerabilities, are drawn on one end, and you slide disks from the other to attack. (I'm not sure if monster damage is pre-determined or randomized; I didn't get a good look at what the GMs were doing.)

Before the session starts, the players get together to choose classes (no duplication allowed) and equip characters. Equipment comes in the form of tokens; each time you play you get a bag of ten (most common, a couple uncommon, one rare -- this should sound familiar to anyone who's played collectible card games like Magic). Naturally, you can buy specific tokens from them. Both times we played, the assortment we got for that session was not, by itself, particularly useful (I don't think my bag included a weapon, for instance), so you're relying on the experienced players who show up with their vast collections who can say "sure, you can borrow this sword" or "hey cleric, here are some healing scrolls, just in case". At the end of an adventure you get a few more random tokens. "Equipping" consists of laying out the tokens you're going to use (armor, weapons, cloaks, rings, etc) for a GM who records your final stats on a sheet that is carried through the adventure and given to each GM. You can then put most of them away, aside from weapons and any expendables you want to have on hand. Read more…

Summer CSA, week 3

  • one kohlrabi (this is new to me; suggestions welcome)
  • one head red butterhead lettuce, with some wear and tear (several detached leaves in the box)
  • unidentified greens (more on this below)
  • bunch white turnips with greens
  • small bunch baby red beets with greens
  • large bag kale
  • large bag swiss chard
  • bunch garlic scapes (these are new to me)
  • two yellow squash

(Small share contained: garlic scapes, turnips, kale, zucchini or squash?; and snow peas, salanova, green onions. The uncertainty is because the email said zucchini for both but we got yellow squash; I don't know if the small share did too.)

Last time I missed the clue to separate the turnip greens from the turnips right away, and a couple days later they were wilted and unappealing. Tonight I separated them and cooked the beet greens with onion, a garlic scape, a can of white beans, and seasonings. That was good but soupy where I expected a side dish I could eat with a fork; next time I'll reduce the liquid. (I expected more to cook off.)

The advance email listed endive. That bunch of greens in the back left doesn't look at all like the picture in the email and I didn't recognize it, so I went to the elves Internet. Here's a better picture: Read more…

New games

These all came today. I think we need to tip our mail carrier. (I never expected some of these to be as heavy as they are!)

stack: Endeavor, Auztralia, Skylands, Railroad Revolution

Origins game con

We played a bunch of games at Origins Game Fair, most of which we liked. Here's my summary of them, in order of play: Read more…

Bards, simplified

At an upcoming gaming convention we'll be playing in a session of True Dungeons. This is, sort of, RPGs meet LARP -- you go through a series of (actual, physical) rooms and face challenges (monsters and puzzles). But instead of actually fighting with weapons like in LARP or rolling dice like in RPGs, the combat system uses something like shuffleboards, and each round you slide a disk (representing your weapon) down the board and where it lands determines what happens. One of the advantages of taking a fighter class is that you get to practice with this shuffleboard first. Mental abilities including spellcasting are implemented through a system of symbols that you have to memorize -- to successfully cast this spell, tell us the name of this rune (or whatever). I've only played once and we didn't have a spellcaster in our small group, so I haven't seen that part in action. In each room, there is a (human) GM who manages the events in the room and adjudicates as needed.

One of the classes you can play is bard. One of the bard's abilities is "bard-song": everybody else gets a combat advantage while you're singing.

I have questions. :-)

Does the song need to be topical -- for example, do you get better bonuses if you sing a song about fighting a dragon while fighting a dragon? Does the song need to be of a particular type, like inspirational battle songs or ballads about heroes? Does the song need to be in English? Does the song need to have actual words or do fa-la-las and niggunim count? The character description is silent on these important matters. (In the back of my mind I wondered if I could just prepare "Horsetamer's Daughter" or "Maddy Groves" and be good for the whole two-hour game -- just pick up where I left off in the previous battle. :-) )

Last night I found the detailed rules and looked it up. Most bards sing, they say, but you can play an instrument (not a loud one!), recite poetry, or even dance. And then, it says, there is no actual requirement that the player really perform; you can just say you're invoking bard-song.

How disappointing. Fighters need to actually aim. Spellcasters need to actually remember stuff. Rogues (I didn't mention this before) need real dexterity to manipulate certain puzzles. But bards don't need to sing, even if they accept any song at all? Huh. Perhaps this is defense against people who sing badly off-key -- "no no it's ok, we believe you, here's your bonus"?

I won't know what class I'm playing until I get there; it depends on available equipment (each player gets a bag of tokens) and party balance (each class can only be represented once). But bard is on my short list because it sounds like fun, and I will ignore the nerfing and sing actual songs if I do it. They might be 13th-century French songs or 15th-century Italian songs because, hey, why not? But there will be actual singing.

Summer CSA, week 1

We signed up for a biweekly standard share for the summer. This is the first week. (We were initially assigned to even-numbered weeks, but I asked to switch to dodge Origins and the main week of Pennsic. They only allow you to switch three boxes a year, and there's a delivery on Yom Kippur so that would have left zero wiggle room.)

  • bunch scallions (big ones!)
  • head butterhead? lettuce
  • bunch swiss chard (manifest said "rainbow")
  • bunch lacinato ("dinosaur") kale
  • bunch turnips (yay!) (about a pound?)
  • bag radishes (about a pound?)
  • 2 zucchini
  • bag salanova greens

(Small share omitted radishes, turnips, and salanova, and got strawberries.)

In the winter share we got baby turnips once and we both liked them a lot. (Before that I'd only ever had big grand-daddy turnips.) We've been looking for more ever since. These aren't baby turnips, but they're not large either. Dani dubbed them "youthful turnips".

We had some salanova greens (the last of last week's, actually) in an omelette tonight, along with some cheddar cheese. It wanted something more -- maybe scallions?

Read more…