Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gaming For The Holidays!

by Randy

Happy Holidays!

The Growing Up Gamers crew is getting ready for Christmas! As usual, our gift giving is heavily influenced by our gaming hobby. Sadly, I'm not going to ruin any surprises for people on our list (but we'll post pictures after the holidays of some fun game-inspired projects we've been working on!). But I will say that I hope those of you reading are enhancing your holidays with games. For parents out there, you're probably on board already if you are reading this blog, but in case you do need some convincing, here's 10 Reasons to Game With Your Kids.

You're probably already giving someone some games, though. And even if you aren't, you still may be playing some games with family members. Maybe for the first time! Julian wrote a great post about teaching games to people. It's full of useful tips for getting people to the table and gaming, and making that experience fun.

If you're gaming with the kiddos, the above tips are great, but this article by Angie is where it's at. She gives some excellent advice and considerations for gaming with the little ones. We've been playing games with our kids for years, starting very early and Angie really has some great observations to share. Common sense + teaching experience = WIN.

And also, if you happen to be into Magic: The Gathering (like us!!!), and introducing that game to others in on your agenda, you should check out this other article by Julian about Do's and Don't's For Teaching Someone To Play Magic the Gathering. Magic can be a complex game, but it doesn't have to be. I'm of the opinion that one of the Duel Decks sets would make a great gift, but make sure you take a look at that article first. Supplementing that with a couple tailor-made simple training decks could really get them up and running before introducing them to the wonderful complexity of the game.

And I want to wrap things up with a shout-out to our pals at the Wired GeekDad blog. I recommend following them (as well as our friends at GeekMom). GeekDad Jonathan has 5 Gaming Tips for the Holidays you might want to check out. The GeekDads & GeekMoms always have some great & geeky stuff up, so pop over sometime.

I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful holiday season! Spend some great quality time with your family and friends. We encourage you to play some games while you're at it  (make it a new holiday tradition!) but whatever you do, have fun and be safe. And if you have some holiday gaming tips of your own, please share them with us!

Monday, December 17, 2012

That's How I Role: Day & Night

By Randy

The Pathfinder character below is one that I custom-made for the winner of an auction for the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund that ran on BoardGameGeek. After winning the auction, he challenged me to make a character that had different powers during the day and at night. He seemed to like what I came up with, which is a Mystic Theurge with an interesting but integrated dual nature. I hope he gets a chance to play this character, and I hope you all like it. During the process of making this, I made use of the D20 PFSRD, an excellent resource for open-source Pathfinder material. For those counting, Devin is a 20-point buy. 

Devin Renzik
Cleric of Sarenrae (Separatist ) 3 / Wizard (Shadowcaster) (Fire Elementalist) 3 / Mystic Theurge 2
STR 8, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 18, Wis 16 [18], Cha 13
HD 3d8 + 5d6 +3  HP  41
BAB +4
Armor Class  20   [+2 Dex, +6 armor, +2 Deflection], Resist Fire 5
Saves Fort +5 Ref +5 Will +11
Skills Knowledge (arcana) +15, Knowledge (religion) +15, Stealth +18, Knowledge (history) +20, Diplomacy +12, Spellcraft +15, Perception +12
Feats  Skill Focus (Stealth), Arcane Armor Training, Scribe Scroll, Eldritch Heritage, Theurgy, Spell Penetration, Blind-Fight
Traits Magical Knack (Wizard), Indomitable Faith
MW Sickle +4 1d6-1  20/ X2
MW Light Crossbow +7  1d8  19-20/X2

Domains Night (effective level 1st), Sun

Cleric [Caster level 5, DC 14 + spell level]: 0—4, 1st—4+1, 2nd—3+1, 3rd—2+1

Wizard [Caster level 7, DC 14 + spell level]: 0—4, 1st—4+1, 2nd—3+1, 3rd—2+1    (Shadow Spells: 3 levels) [Arcane Spell failure 10% if swift action not used for Arcane Armor Training]

Channel Positive Energy 2d6 [4/day, 2d6+3 when used to harm undead, Will Save DC 12 for half damage, channel resistance does not apply]

Wizard spells known:
0: Spark, detect Magic, Read Magic, Message, Open/Close, Mage Hand, Mending
1: Identify, Sleep,  Burning Hands, Dancing Lantern, Grease
2: Dust of Twilight (APG), Darkness, Scorching Ray, Haste, Burning Gaze
3: Dispel Magic, Daylight, Fireball, Twilight Knife (APG)

Languages Common, Varisian, Shadowtongue, Celestial, Infernal, Ancient Varisian

Equipment [33,000gp, expected starting wealth for an 8th level character]
+2 Shadow Mithril Shirt, Headband of Inspired Wisdom +2, Ring of Protection +2, Scholar’s Ring,  Wand of Cure Light Wounds (50 charges), Spellbook, Silver Holy Symbol, Masterwork Sickle,
Masterwork Light Crossbow, 2234gp

The Separatist archetype for clerics’ Forbidden Rites feature  allows the character to take a domain not normally available to his deity, which is how this character has the Night domain (Night is a subdomain of Darkness), but loses automatic proficiency with Sarenrae’s chosen weapon, the scimitar. The Shadowcaster archetype for wizards allows the wizard to store a few levels of spells in their shadow in place of the arcane bond feature.

Character background
Devin’s grandmother Calla was a shadowcaster and a casual worshipper of Zon-Kuthon. A twisted person, she sought to infuse shadowstuff into herself to gain power, but was unsuccessful. Or so she thought. She eventually married and had children, all of whom were a bit sickly and only one of whom survived until adulthood, Umbra. Umbra had little love for her mother, for Calla was aloof and neglectful.

Umbra came to learn that she manifested some slight powers over shadow, which initially frightened her. She eventually came to accept this as harmless, but it did worry her enough to seek counsel from the local temple of Sarenrae. Umbra appreciated their kindness and converted, eventually developing a personal philosophy about the symbiotic relationship of shadows and light, which she later imparted on her son, Devin.
Devin grew up worshipping Sarenrae, and influenced by his mother's beliefs. Though he found his views to not be entirely aligned with the clergy of their provincial temple, he was allowed to study there and eventually become a cleric. Upon ordination, he had all but abandoned his heretical views, but a couple things happened.

First, Devin started to manifest the powers over shadows his mother had. And shortly thereafter Calla died, and he inherited a book from her which turned out to be her spellbook. He sought answers in that book, some of which he found. He also found that he had a knack for the incantations he discovered there. To reconcile this with his faith for Sarenrae, he fell back on his mother's beliefs with fervor, believing himself to be a living embodiment of Sarenrae's dual nature as both the light, and the shadows she creates.

And with that, Devin has taken to wander to seek evidence of his revelations and spread his message. He has already seen in a vision that the chosen weapon is the sickle (which he refers to as "the eclipse"). To this date, he still is unaware of his grandmother's Kuthonite faith, though it would matter little to him. His daily routine, which may differ on the road, is to pray to Sarenrae at dawn and study at dusk.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Good Causes & the Value of "Quirky"

by Randy

Hello, readers!

A couple weeks ago I wrote about an auction on BoardGameGeek for the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund. The Growing Up Gamers/Escapade Games crew stepped up and contributed a couple things, and we're proud to say that with the help of the generous buyers, we were able to raise a little money for this great cause. We hope the JVMF is able to be a force for good and help many gamer families in need for years to come. I hope you all take a moment to look at the JVMF and its mission, and if you are the type who plans charitable giving for your year in advance, consider this as a recipient.

So what did we put up? Well, first, and probably the most interesting, Angie and Julian offered up an opportunity to contribute to their game, Story Realms. The winner of that item is going to be designing a custom Enemy or Ally Lore Card for the game... in addition to getting a copy of the deluxe set (available for preorder here). How cool is that? Not only an awesome game... but one they got to contribute to!

And second, a generous guy took my offer to create a custom-made Pathfinder RPG character to his specifications. I had a lot of fun with this one! I just love making characters. You can see the results of this one here. He gave me permission to share this with everyone, and I hope you find it entertaining. In addition, I want you to consider one more thing.

Everyone has their own skills and passions, and these things are not always easy to put a price on (should one even want to). Sometimes, though, like in the case of this auction, it may be worth the effort to offer up one of your skills as a service, or something you have made, or something else along these lines. I saw a few amazing-looking handcrafted things up for auction, for instance. I just want to point out that you don't need something from a store shelf nor be a game designer to participate in something like this.

I want to challenge our readers a bit, too. When was the last time you made something for someone else, or offered a minor service? How about you try doing that in the next month or so? A lot of people I know are doing handmade holiday gifts. For that matter, many are also offering a variety of services from the practical to the absurd online at Fiverr. Take a little inspiration from that the next time your child's school has a fundraiser auction, or a birthday is approaching, a friend or online acquaintance needs a hand, or even just to make an extra few dollars. And then tell us about it!

What I'm trying to say is that not everything of value has a price, and not everything with a price has a value. We are all unique, special beings with our own quirky skills. Gamers, especially... some of us have been rocking "quirky" for decades. Let's enrich each others' lives, and the ones around us. So... what have you made lately?