Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas (or substitute your holiday of choice). Board Enterpries is getting ready to hit 2010 hard with new products and some new promotions. If you think we've been resting too much, please realize that we have been building our strength! Enjoy the holidays and we hope to see you back here in the New Year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Character Names

For many of us, character names are the most difficult part. You don’t want to make some bad-ass barbarian named Melvin. Even Tom is useless. He needs a name like Badassbarbarian. See - not easy. So what to do? Well, one thing that works pretty darn well is to use foreign languages. Heather, who runs our sales and advertising, uses misspellings of the Italian word for evil for all of her online characters. Anyone who’s gamed with her knows that “evil” is an appropriate term! When I was back in high school, I just morphed words I didn’t know well. Sometimes this worked. When I morphed Nemesis’ name (the Greek goddess) into Nebethis, I thought I was pretty darned smart. Not such an unknown word now though and a touch too obvious.
So how does it work? Get out to an internet translation tool. (I like Babel Fish) Choose a language that sort of matches the person you’re describing’s race. Then twist the word. This works along several means. #1 - it’s a cheap way to get cool sounding ideas. #2 - It might even give you a pronunciation guide. Play testers will tell you that I have had my share of NPC character names where I wrote them but still couldn’t figure out how to say them. This often degraded into calling the person something offensive - probably not appropriate to continue ...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reading other products

OK - So I’m working on Book of Wishes. The formatting on this thing is as big a nightmare for on-line publishing as it was for print. But I have to admit, even just rereading pieces of it is giving me ideas on things I haven’t used or haven’t used in a while. Now of course, this happens mainly because Board Enterprises products are vastly superior to other companies’ products (they really are!), but it does happen to a smaller extent with other books. If the content is good, it will spark good ideas, even if you have to put in a little extra time “making them your own”. (See Forge of Imagination). So - For those of you who do not play Legend Quest - You still should buy Book of Wishes. It is a fantastic source book for any fantasy game and will give you ideas for your game. Now I just have to finish getting the files ready and on line with our distributors.

Dr. Who continued

Can I make another Dr. Who analogy? Look at the amount of fighting they do in that show, or more importantly, don’t do. There’s a lot of running away! Too often we’re wrapped up in this whole combat system nonsense, when the best adventures are about solving puzzles and thinking. Yes - This makes it harder on the GM, but when it works - it’s solid gold! If you can - stop using the combat system to fill the whole adventure. If your game rules only allow for combat and don’t foster role-playing - switch to Legend Quest. Otherwise, focus on the adventure and not the action. Hey Indiana Jones - another great example of some fighting, a lot of running away and a lot of adventure without all the need for constant warfare. The original Allan Quatermain stories - sure the armies of natives were dangerous and all, but it was typically the trying to cross the desert that nearly killed him.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chained Adventures

OK - So what really made me think of this was that my boys were watching that new Marvel superhero show/cartoon. The only thing they ever seem to do is chase after these fragments of some massively powerful device. That’s it. It reminded me of when Dr. Who was going after the Key of Time (Key to Time? whatever). For those old folks like me out there you probably remember - That thing went on forever! By the time we got to the end of the story line, I just wanted to never hear of the Key of Time again. I really didn’t care what he fought next, as long as there was no connection.
Then the smoking hot Romana got turned into the weird looking Romana and Tom Baker actually dated or married the goofy looking one. OK - no relevance, but I’m still upset that they stopped using the hot one. So...Forget this paragraph
The point is this - Linking adventures is a good idea, but it can be taken too far. Fighting dragons is a good idea too - lots of daring and adventure, but come the eleventh dragon fight it's, yawn, another dragon, pass the Cheetos. Dr. Who is actually a really good example of this. Why does that show work? Well, you have action and adventure, but not too much fighting. There’s a strong element of being afraid, even if you’re armed with a super powered laser rifle. There are recurring bad guys (“permanent enemies”). Let’s look at those. Dr. Who would not be what it is without the daleks, cybermen, sontarans, and the Master. The risk is over using these main stays, but Dr. Who seems to dance the tight rope well, coming up with new stuff while hitting some of the old stuff every once and a while. For my money, that’s where the best campaigns sit as well - lots of new stuff, with enough reminders of the past to keep everyone nostalgic.