Podlight: The Lovecraft Tapes (Podcast Recommendation)

Four years ago I was looking for a way to get into the tabletop RPG Call of Cthulhu, having already familiarized myself with the basics of a D100 system and was always a fan of HP Lovecraft’s work it sounded like it could prove to be a fun thing to run for my group someday as we all enjoyed horror as a genre of game, novel and film.

While scouring YouTube and Facebook for something worth checking out I actually stumbled upon The Lovecraft Tapes in the podcast app later that day on my cellphone. I decided to start from the first case / season (Lights, Cameras, Chaos)episode and never looked back.

The Lovecraft Tapes Logo (awesome Tees in the merch store)

The podcast is an actual-play series with a video and audio component in which the Keeper / Host Jeremy runs sessions of the Call of Cthulhu, with Matt, Bryan and George playing the roles of investigators in an episodic format. With George mysteriously disappearing after a case the boys would recruit the talents of Gabe to continue their investigative efforts. Jeremy’s narration and chemistry with the players make for enjoyable listening but also helps in explaining how the mechanics in the game works for novice players. The party banter never gets stale and the way they approach the problem solving keeps the game fresh from episode to episode.

The boys at Lovecraft Tapes have grown through the years and have an impressive back catalogue of content worth checking out for anybody who is a fan of COC or someone new to the system and looking for a fun way to figure out how you could run the game. Jeremy never overcorrects and lets his players doom themselves but that is what is the fun in this specific game, the party seldom makes it to next week yet here they manage to survive to laugh another day…for the most part.

Apart from providing listeners with the podcast they also have Recommendos where the guys review and recommend video games, movies and a wide range of other cool stuff worth checking out. They always give a shout out to indie stuff when they can and are very responsive to queries and emails which I can vouch for myself. I can only apologize that it took me this long to get around to doing a piece on these guys. I salute their commitment to the culture and fun and hope to hear more from them for many years to come. Even how they would interject comedic ancient one commercials would bring cool intermissions between bad rolls and horrific consequences was but one of the many ways the team crafted brilliant entertainment for all fans of the genre. If you are somebody who cannot get enough of COC or HP Lovecraft this could be that casual listening for your down time between plotting sessions or reading novels.

When I first started listening I must have binged through the first 3 investigations in no time as I was working a warehouse job which was tedious to put it mildly somewhere in the countryside of Sweden. With a nagging supervisor and coworkers who did not care too much about the new Slav I was left to my own devices and forklift. Jeremy and the guys played a huge part in me not letting the company’s BS affect me as much during the day to day grind as the provided enough humor and intrigue to keep me going through eps. I soon found myself downloading 2-3 episodes at home and looking forward to work just cause I knew I would go through more of the adventures. For that I am indebted to you bros and supremely grateful.

So for any of you looking to get a fix of audio horror within a comedic yet interesting narrative look no further than The Lovercraft Tapes. It is hard to bring light to unspeakable dark cosmic horrors such as the ones contained in the tomes printed by Chaosium and Delta Green but this team will bring you out the end of it with some good laughs and a smile on your face.

The site offers several tiers of support from a Student of Miskatonic to The Dreamlands granting you different levels of access from prior rewards and benefits to including opportunities to play videogames with the guys and even the chance to play an NPC in an episode of the podcast! This group of gamers have truly been able to translate their passion into something great that can be monetized and inspire us here at Nerd Dimension to stick with our passions and make sure to have fun on the journey.

If you would like to find out more about The Lovecraft Tapes and see how you could support them please do click the links bellow and make sure you like their page and subscribe. There is a ton of cool content on their website and more information about the now expanded team of contributors and players.

Patreon

YouTube Channel

Twitter

Discord

Dungeons & Dragons : Shadows Over Mystarra – Coop Arcade fun for 4 (Xbox, PC)

I can recall first the first time I watched the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon in the early 90’s and loved the idea of heroes adventuring in a fantasy world. Not comprehending the complexities of tabletop RPGs I just loved the stories and that was enough. Then I remember going to the arcades with my brother and we loved playing coop games like Metal Slug and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which even allowed for up to 4 players. I would read about Dungeons & Dragons Tower of Doom that was released in 1993/94 for the legendary CPS-2 machine by Capcom, a developer and publisher all kids we all too familiar with. Tower of Doom would not be the first D&D game released by Capcom with TSR after signing their deal in 1990 which resulted shortly after in the porting of Eye of the Beholder to the SNES.

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The artwork in the magazine was evocative and the cover featured the standard party with the Dwarf, Cleric, Warrior and Elf. At the time races were classes as they were using the AD&D Rules Cyclopedia rules when designing the game which also made it unlike any other side scrolling beat em up game. Not only had they gotten the rights from TSR for the system but they also were using a popular setting from the AD&D books. At the time fans of D&D had gold box computer games and other iterations of their favorite tabletop game ported to the PC but nothing that looked as good as what Capcom released and no game allowed for up to 4 players couch coop! The game would eventually see it packed with the sequel Shadows of Mystarra (Dungeons & Dragons Collection 1999) for the failed Sega Saturn console but only Japan with the removal of 4 player capabilities.

tower of doom opening screen

The things that made this a different gaming experience for arcade goers was that it allowed players to do more than just simple attacks, infact Capcom wanted to remain true to the abilities existing fans of the tabeltop game loved so much.  Capcom would enlist the talents of video game and anime concept illustrator Kinu Nishimura (Street Fighter games and Capcom Vs SNK) while leaving the writing duties to Alex Jiminez who did great in translating the feel and narrative of Dungeons & Dragons to a more mainstream audience. Players would be able to select abilities and feats while picking up items and loot which was stowed in their inventory. Prior to this inventory functionality and the differentiation of what each character to do made this a gamechanger in the early 90’s, the last era of arcades still being relavent in gaming culture globally.

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The game had miles of depth on the competition at the time, it was hard to complete and it played different depending on the choices the players made in game. A store and and the addition of a block function helped players survive a few more kobolds. D&D fans coming to arcade would be pscyhed when they saw the inclusion of their favorite spells including, magic missile, fireball, cloudkill and invisibility along with the same limitations from the book meant their exzisting knowledge would allow for them to get the game from the first quarter. Levelling up and loss of gold and points when dying made it a game where you had to think more than your would for other beat em ups like Fatal Fury or the Simpsons. The replayability of Tower of Doom and its difficulty had us dumping money into the cabinets and for those who got to see the ending at the 7th level we were amped after seeing the cliffhanger ending which hinted at a sequel.

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Shadows over Mystarra would be the second Dungeons & Dragons game released for arcades in 1996, adding more to the game and expanding the choices for playable classes. The thief and magic user class were added to the joy of many D&D players. Each class had alternate costumes so two players could play as the same class if they wanted to and believe me have two casters is nothing to sneeze at in this game. Capcom also jammed in more combos for the fighting classes and threw in more spells along with diverging paths for specific classes and alternate endings added more replayability to that game that already did it right the first time around.  By far the 4 possible endings for each class is something I think no game has done since.

 

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Now that we have laid on the praise real thick with our nostalgia goggles on it is time to get into what we don’t like about the games. Seeing as the games were originally designed for the arcades it was common practise for developers for have money grab levels and cheap bosses who were so hard that you would HAVE to have a fair amount of coinage to survive. Pay to pay at it’s finest but this is truly visible when fighting the Red Dragon in the first game where you do not even see his health bar after a barrage of hits connect and his insta-death fire breath killed many one second into the encounter. Also, there were glitches in the sequeal where you could cheat through entering certain words when given the choice of naming your character along with a few other glitches which could give you powerful items helped some cheaters get their names on the highscore charts. Other than that my gripe is more with Capcom than it is with TSR which was going through hell in the 90s.

Imagine if Capcom did not sacrifice the 4 player option for the Saturn, better yet try picture them releasing these game on the Sony Playstation as a bundle in 1996? I could not find any explaination as to why Capcom would not pursue it further, one of the reasons could be that D&D did not catch on as fast or grow as much as it did in the west. Alex Jiminez who wrote the scenario for Capcom said the Japanese staff were not understanding the concept or much of the mechanics behind D&D. The heads in Tokyo even were debating whether the game should have a Western or Eastern theme prior to Alex’s arrival.

Let us recall that RPG fans in the early 90s had slim pickings for games especially when discussing consoles with Diablo 1 coming to the Playstation in 1998 with only a two player option, beating Capcom by a year for their collection which was exclusive to Japan. Baldurs Gate would not hit PCs until 1998 meaning Capcom had more than enough time to capitalize on a severely under served genre with most of the titles remaining exclusive to PC platforms. Waiting as long as 2013 to repackage and release the collection globally on most platforms seemed like a long wait and I’m pretty sure if they had ported it to the Playstation, PS2, Dreamcast, or Xbox they could have gotten some more sales and perhaps rekindled the interest of Wizards of the Coast in a time where consoles were not even a thought for developers. Proof of this is that we had to wait until 2001 before console gamers would recieve the critically acclaimed ‘Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance’.

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REMINDER: The titles listed were gamechangers and all came towards the end of the 90s, not to say there were not games on the PC and Playstation that did not have Dungeons & Dragons licensing but these products fell short of the mark when it came to graphics, replayability and never made the arcade. With the exception of Eye of the Beholder which was well reviewed no D&D computer game would make a splash prior to Baldurs Gate in 1998.

Hoping you enjoyed reading this post and we cannot recommend this enough if you have 15$ lying around give the game a shot as it is packed with nostalgia while also providing hour of fun in a familiar setting.  I give this collection 9 out of 10. 

If you liked what you saw on the site please squeeze us a Like on our Facebook and follow us on WordPress if you have an account. Any and all support is much appreciated but what could really help us is if you put Nerd Dimension as you homepage if you want to, Google has enough traffic as is lol.

Diablo IV is coming ! So lets talk about it!

Nerd Dimension tell you what they think about the announcement from Blizzard and what we hope the game could look like. So far it does not bode well for the veteran publisher which has seen an avalanche of backlash on social media. Nerd Dimension cut out the bs and get to the guts so read on to see if you should be excited about Diablo IV!

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Diablo IV as of now has 3 playable classes in the demo

 

written & edited by Mykal Grimm

Many YouTube feeds have been flooded with initial impressions and reactions to Blizzard’s announcement at Blizzcon that a forth installment in the classic series of Diablo was on the way…kinda. The publisher has released an well produced trailer including gameplay but also allowed attendees to play a demo while streamers were given 5 minutes to stream it for their fans. With the recent dark cloud hanging over Blizzard involving censoring and banning players who were vocal on the current political situation in Hong Kong to recent failures that the fans are not letting go of teasing gamers with Diablo IV could buy them some much needed time to try save face.

The last Diablo game announced by Blizzard was Diablo Immortal which disappointed fans wolrd wide with the news that it would be a mobile device only game. What added to the sting was how the company leading up to the announcement were very vague and appeared to ignore feedback from the community after the announcement. Fans of Diablo have been asking Blizzard for a HD remaster of the older the titles as now Baldurs Gate has been ported to all current gen consoles offering fans more product at affordable prices. Immortal would be pushed back and no hype was really generated and with the talks of it having a 2019 release I don’t see it bringing in the big bucks for Blizzard any time soon. The success of the Warcraft movie in China saw the franchise double up for a sequel further promoting their world to more potential players in the largest growing market while the the return of World of Warcraft Classic saw them capitalize on the nostalgia of the previous generations of PC gamers. Though many feel that WOW charging 14$ a month for a subscription and then charging you 60$ for expansions is a bit steep but who are we dictate their pricing policy.

The announcement of Diablo IV comes as a breath of fresh air to fans of the franchise, especially those who grew up playing the PC games and were waiting to see what a forth title would like after our disappointment with Reaper of Souls. What worries many gamers who are fond of the older games and all too familiar with Blizzard track record of missing deadlines the company did not even hint at a possible release date. This is not a good sign because Baldurs Gate 3 was the talk of cyberspace the past two months and are confident that they will have the game out in 2020 and that it will be on most platforms.

Other things we did not like reading was that Blizzard intend on making it playable online only! This writer believes that games that have campaign and solo content must be playable offline however developers have now made the online component critical to a lot of the game mechanics and not just skins and customizations. I may like to also remind folks that Blizzard’s online store was marred with scandal when real money was changing hands and pay to win became prevalent, not to mention the dealys for the first 48 hours and enduring download times should have taught them something.

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Diablo IV will offer multiplayer but have not been fortcoming with information

Something of the promising things on first glance is that this game looks closer to the original design and art style of the earlier games. The cinematis and gameplay still looks like Diablo but it is darker and not as smooth as in Reaper of Souls. The 3 playable glasses we saw in the gameplay footage online showed a Druid closer to that of Celtic legends while the Sorceress and _Barbarian did not look too different from the older games. The graphics and visuals for certain spells including the overall mapping of the controls seemed streamlined and intutitive. The introduction of mounts does raise eyebrows, though developing the game to be more open world than previous editions the needs to accelrated travel makes sense but steads and mounts are also common place in mmorpgs, something that Diablo is not…or so they the want us to think.

For our readers who might be new to the Diablo series in general I can recommed everything from the litrature to the games as they can provide hours of entertainment and ooze nostalgia of a simpler time in gaming. The games are action rpgs for the most part where you take on the role of a character with a specfici set of skills belonging to a certain class with accompanying talents. Many games would be inspired by Diablo in decades to come and is pretty simple to understand with stories that do lead you wanting to see the conclusions…for the first two games at least. Diablo III is still availible on all consoles with couch & online coop modes which allows for you to quest with friends while for those more techy savy you can throw a lan party and quest with your buddies through Diablo II: Lord of Destruction which is considered the definitive Diablo game. If you are more of the tabletop enthusiast Wizards of the Coast would release a setting for their D20 system which allows your party to play out adventures from the games that are easy to incorporate in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition and Pathfinder.

Diablo IV Combat Nerd DImension Review
The effects and visuals for spells and abilities are a huge step up from previous games

Now to to get in the cause for concern for some of the older players. Diablo 3 was a drastic change from the previous games which did not prove make it a better game. The game is one of the bestselling games of all time but also a debacle. Blizzard has long parted ways with the creators of Diablo David Brevik and Eric and Max Schaefer and with the return of Allen Adham to Blizzard they need Diablo IV to be big. With the hits Ubisoft and EA have taken in previous years all executives are sweating bullets with so much money invested into these projects failure can be devasting. The peculiar timing has helped Blizzcon by giving attendees and those of us at home something big and unexpected like a Diablo IV announcement.

Our gripes with Diablo III ranged from reducing the customization options for play, the lack of modding ability for PC versions to the killing off of characters and a short campaign and dull end game. If Blizzard can address these issuess perhaps we can be given a game with a long life and support from the publisher but despite not mentionning Diablo IV as an MMO we cannot help but feel that is could be the direction we are going similar to Neverwinter and Paths of Exile instead of going the Original Sin Divinity route which had proven to be better titles.

I can recall hours in lan parties playing Diablo 2 and have fond memories of carefully distributing my points in the skills tree to debating with my comrades which class to select to make for a better party.  The feeling of triumph after slaying demons with my friends through what felt like endless caves and finally saving the folks of Kingdom of Khanduras. Yes, good times indeed and hope that my scribblings may encourage you to give Diablo a chance and perhaps enjoy the game and setting that changed gaming forever. We hope to write more content on the series and the story behind Diablo so feel free to request and article to expedite our efforts.

 

You can purchase Diablo on GOG including the Hellfire expansion HERE

You can buy Diablo II base game from Blizzard HERE

 

Be sure to like and subscribe to our Facebook Page to be in the loop with all things nerd. Newsletter and Podcast coming soon and thank you again for your support.

 

*Nerd Dimension claims no ownership or copyrights of Diablo or any Blizzard properties

Witch of Salem : Fun for 4 with a great theme [Board Game Review]

Mykal discusses one of his go to Horror tabletop games with Halloween coming up, maybe your group would enjoy Witch of Salem.

I first came across Witch of Salem (Mayfair Games ) designed by Michael Reineck (Pillars of Earth, Cuba: El Presidente) whilst watching a Dice Tower Top 10 with Tom Vassel and his buddies. I was searching for a coop board game with a good theme that did not take too long to set up and play yet still was interesting enough to my group that we play it again. Off the rip I liked the Cthulhu mythos with the it being the early 20th Century New England involving ancient ones, demons and intrigue.

My initial fears after playing Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror (Fantasy Flight) was that I would pay a lot of money for a game that the group would not play enough to warrant its price. An issue for many people entering the hobby of board games especially those who intend to collect is the price on some of the best games are pretty steep, add in postage you are looking at a hefty some of cash for something you won’t get to use that offten. I have paid for games that I only ever got to play once and wished I could have got another honest opinion on the game before buying it. Board Game Geek did not have it scored too high (6.6) yet what I could read the game seemed straight forward, challenging and did have a tone of play that matched the theme.

The game’s designer Michael Reineck is a German designer who was nominated in 2008 for Designer of the Year, the year Witch of Salem was released along with some of his other projects. I could not find a website or social media page to dig up some more info but he has worked on more than 6 published board games and the list is nothing to sneeze at. The artwork (Franz Vohwinkel) even when looking at reviews seemed interesting as it did in Dragons Lair when I went to purchase it.The artwork looks great from the box to the cards to the map you play on with the right dark tones to bring the setting to life.

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The box contains all your standard board game pieces, tokens, cards and a board with a manual to read which could have been streamlined a little more but was easy enough to comprehend. The game is limited to 4 players max and is a cooperative game involving strategy and combat. Not really a mystery game despite the description on the front of the box but the horror theme and the the progression mechanics are easy to use and build tension as time passes in the game.

This is a fun game and is pretty simple to learn after one playthrough. That being said, Witch of Salem is not an easy game and scales well for a maximum of 4 players. There are a variety of ancient ones you can find yourself grappling with as the time mechanics don’t seem to stress the players more rather keep the tension and pace consistent. Towards the end you and your players will have to come together to seal the gates and prevent the demons from entering our world. This is something you can play for a while as games seldom feel the same and it is great for a halloween board game before the movies or after dinner. I recommend this over Eldrith and Arkham as it plays faster, is taught easier and the price is fair considering what you get out of it. If you want something that will have you on the edge of your seat for most of the game and don’t want a million things to set up Witch of Salem is the horror coop game for you.

 

Rating: 8 out 10

I gave it a lower score because I feel that the game could be fun with more players and there were no expansions released. The rules are not as straight forward and all of the characters are the same with no significant diffirences in skills and abilities.

What are TRPGs and why do we quest? Why we think you might like them too.

By Mykal K Grimm

If you are new to role playing games then I hope this piece will shed some light on the hobby and help further your interest in this truly enjoyable form of social entertainment. Table Top Role Playing Games are not like other games the majority of your friends might play when they hangout in their free time as it has a heavy reliance on the players imagination and it is narrative driven, a story is unfolding throughout play and you can change the course of events by decisions taken by the player. The dice have more than 6 sides or less depending on which ones are needed to be rolled and the game is not competitive in the sense that there is a winner and looser at the end. The game also lasts longer than most traditional board or card games and is played in a way that most people have not encountered as it is vastly different to Uno, Chess or Poker. We will go deeper into the mechanics at another time but it is a very different game that offers a truly unique and fun experience for the players and game masters. I will do my best to help explain what it is we do around the table and why I enjoy it and think more people would if they tried to play TRPGs.

Role Playing Games are games in which the player takes on the role of a character of a certain class and race in often a fictional setting where they are given a quest to resolve. When generating this character you roll or calculate Points for your ability score and distribute them among your skills and attributes which is done during the character creation phase. Different classes possess different talents and abilities as do races which can include dim light vision if you were an Elf or resistance to poison if you were an Orc shaman. Classes can range from the combat focused Fighter to the versatile Wizard and Elves, Dwarves and Halflings are but some of the playable races and classes in some of these systems.  These tabletop games are not merely restricted to medieval fantasy settings but those are the ones I prefer and will use them for most of my examples.

Games can be set in any era, in any environment and classes and powers vary from system to system as do the rules of play.  Mutants and Masterminds is an RPG system which sees you take on the role of a super hero or villain and battle it out Marvel style while Call of Cthulhu has the players play as Investigators trying to solve a murder before dying or loosing their collective s##t in the process. Some RPGs require a  gaming surface and miniature figurines for staging combat, others may use index cards to tell a story while some do not require anything but a piece of paper and is entirely spoken. RPGs come in many forms , levels of complexity and have actually been around since the 70’s with  Dungeons & Dragons being the first leading name in the industry and remains so until today.

Gary Gyax and Dave Arneson were enthusiastic war gamers who wanted to create a game in which you controlled a single soldier opposed to an entire unit or platoon. They would eventually brainstorm a very basic Dungeons & Dragons system and later Gary Gygax would publish it through his company TSR. D&D would change the face of gaming forever as many video game developers would use the character stats from their game to develop and design their own games with them serving as a template. In time their brand would have bestsellers popularizing the genre of fantasy further and familiarizing the reader with their RPG settings and lore. They would push the envelope for the entire industry while creating it at the same time. Fantasy was the first setting but later they would release futuristic science fiction settings in Gamma World  and other books including D20 Modern where players could use SMGs and helicopters. The whole idea was to give players a chance to enter their imaginations and with their guidelines play out epic adventures all from the safety of their own home and in the company of their friends.

Me and my guild first really got into RPGing because we all enjoyed similar things and for most of us, none of us had a chance to really play an TRPG. We would come together and after long discussions about D&D we decided to give it a shot and start playing. At first most of us were brand new to Dungeons & Dragons TRPG games but we enjoyed reading the books, seeing the great artwork. We did start with a more complex system (3.5 Edition which later evolved into Pathfinder) that did have many stats, numbers, reading and may not have been the best choice for newbies in hindsight. The learning curve is not as steep as it may appear at first glance but it does require reading the material in order to have a basic grasp of how it the game is played. Coming to the gaming table without reading anything is a mistake. With the resources available online today a new player can get a decent idea of what the game is about and a basic comprehension of stages of play and how a turn goes. We ourselves plan to put out tutorial videos down the line.

In the beginning your eyes will be overwhelmed with many of the Character sheets but after a few gaming sessions you will know what to look for and where what goes. With every session we ran we would feel more comfortable with the rules, questions would get addressed and answered and the deeper we delved into this imaginary world. My first character was Marcus Marvella, a Half Elf Ranger with a cliche backstory and I remember how much I like attributes of the class. My brother player a more advanced class of a War Mage, Boris of the Bash Bros was a Human Barbarian and Medeni played a dwarven cleric. All of us enjoyed figuring out which skills and weapons to use depending on the situation they found themselves. We learned very fast that there was a big coop component to playing the game, communication and teamwork is the only way to survive an attack or escape a potentially fatal argument. We also grew closer as friends and before long we are snapping D&D puns and jokes and it was something we all would continue to look forward to until this day.

When you quest you are playing a character other than yourself in a fictional setting where you are not bound by our current reality and norms. Want to slay dragons and rescue the princess, you can do it from the safety of your home with your friends as your allies. Ever wanted to be part of a story as it was written? Solve mysteries in a Victorian city or escape the Death Star with you friends, yes and yes guys. Questing is always going to have more options than any video game because there is no limit to your imagination. Many have described the RPG experience as the players are characters in movie and are playing it out as the Game Master is the director responsible for crafting the obstacles and supporting cast. I cannot describe the laughs had at the table and the tension when the Health Points were low and nobody had any potions and our Cleric was out of heals! The immersion is a big part of why I enjoy playing and running the game. No one session is the same and if done right a session involves just as much role playing as combat encounters.

The community of tabletop RPG players is diverse and the passion for the hobby is very real. There are dozens of groups and pages on social media and websites (cough) including Nerd Dimension who seek to make this hobby more accessible and make it easier for those wishing to pursue it as a hobby. RPGing can be a truly liberating experience, being able to break away from the problems in the real world and it can also be very social if you schedule games with new players once in a while. I hope that this post can help motivate readers to consider playing or maybe return to it now as there are so much more options now. Reach out to members in local gaming groups or go to game shops and see if there other players who need an extra player. The experience can be rewarding and it is better than solitary gaming in my opinion. At the end of every session I feel I did not waste my time, I was socializing while playing a game by telling a story. I do not have the same feeling after playing 4 hours of a PC game or console and my eyes get tired.

If you love playing RPG PC or video games, this is something you should at least look into to get some insight into how your pass time originated. I have noticed it seems harsher for video game players crossing over but there are systems that let you do awesome stuff in the early levels so don’t worry about being bored.

If you love fantasy fiction then I cannot recommend this enough for it is the closest I have gotten to playing a character from one of my favorite novels and immersing myself into a setting. It could also serve as a helpful tool to flush out your own settings and characters if you group are open to trying it out.

If you are looking for something different that could sharpen your writing, voice acting or social skills in general than this is something that could be beneficial to you.

 

Game Systems I can recommend for new players:

GURPS : A very basic system which is good for a first session as there is less attributes and a basic rule system. A great way to introduce basic character creation and principles of play found in the more complex systems especially for younger players. There are many itirations of the system with loads of settings to choose from and is the cheapest to get price ways compared to the bigger systems.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (2nd Edition): A step up in complexity but still easier than the later editions and other RPGs on the market. Despite having more rules than GURPS the AD&D system allows for more options in play and character creation. Good starting point if you have a group thinking of playing D&D the amount of materials and campaigns online to me make this the most fun to run and play for new players from teens to adults. Our very own DM Pat still runs the system until this day and you can catch him on Roll20 running sessions.

Shadowrun: A science-fiction / cyber punkish game which is more focused on skills opposed to class for solving problems and resolving combat. It is a more modern setting and is rich in theme and flavor and serves an interesting alternative to players not looking for Swords and Sorcery. The weapons and races are just as diverse as you can find in most fantasy and the twist of entery this ‘Matrix’ like cyber dimension makes for a unique experience. You have hackers to tanks and working together while one of your runners is disabling a security program is pretty cool. If you want to get a feel for the general idea of the game you can get the Shadowrun PC games for fair prices on GOG and I recommend them.

Call of Cthulhu: A horror science-fiction RPG based on the HP Lovecraft’s Mythos in which you investigate mysterious events and have to maintain your sanity and safety as the Ancient Ones hurl every demonic thing it can at your party. The basic role playing rules make it easy to get into for new players and the horror setting will have players on the edge of their seats until the very end where everyone dies…because it is very very very hard to survive in COC. A must play for all horror and Lovecraft fans thinking of entering the RPG realm.

Star Wars Roleplaying Game: What more can I say. This game was designed to be easy for those taking their first steps into roleplaying games and the theme is there in buckets. It is new and you can buy beginner boxes for cheap and I think this goes over well with younger players the most. Unleash the force with your buddies while recapturing some of the magic of the movies.

Vampire: The Masquerade :  A system unlike the others which is more story orientated opposed to combat. The system has a strong community and following is designed with those looking for more storytelling in the game and the setting and theme of vampires is very well done. Take on the curse of the night in the form of unique vampires as you and your party have to decide how to operate in this hidden world. There is a great PC game developed by Troika of this system which I recommend.

There is something for everybody in the world of tabletop RPGs and maybe this post helps somebody choose to give them a shot. Until your eyes gaze upon my humble writing once more please let us know what you think of our content in the comments section below. If you like what you read so far we welcome you to subscribe and follow our social media pages and podcast.

*Nerd Dimension also have started recruiting members and players for our Sci Fi Fantasy Club in Kungsbacka, all you need is the app Meet Up to find and get in touch with the group.

Nerd Dimension Podcast : The Couch Coop Convo

New podcast up, twist up, flip the cap and lay back as the nerds take you for another joy ride through fun fantasy and f##kery

 

In this episode our three terrible hosts discuss couch coop titles, some of the best games, a few undiscovered gems and give you their usual spiel. Apollo is still the overbearing intellectual, Gus is always trying to bring the balance as Mike continues to throw out crazy comments like they are going out of style. So sit back, relax and enjoy  🙂

 

Aliens : Colonial Marines ( Xbox 360 Game Review ) * Couch COOP Gaming *

We take on the the Aliens in this splitscreen shooter, read more to see how we faired and what we think of one of the worst reviewed games in console history.

To clarify for all of our readers that the guy who wrote this review was a fan of Aliens from the jump. The first Aliens game I played was on Sega and I spent hours of my early teens in Lan gaming spots playing the first Aliens Versus Predator with an IV drip of soda and pyramids  of snack wrappers littering my immediate surroundings . All fandom aside this will be an honest critique of the game where the franchise history factored only slightly in regards to ‘theme’ and ‘story’. Having hear many negative things about the games AI I still held out hope when I heard writers from Battlestar Gallactica worked on the plot, trying to approach the game without bias proved harder than I expected.

It would be wrong to ignore the power a brand can have on influencing your first impression or motivations in purchasing a game. The Ridley Scott classic movies made Xenomorphs one of the most identifiable aliens in popular cultural putting them in the same category as ET, the Predator, the Grays and the green men from Mars. Every kid wanted to blast those aliens and if nothing this game promised you that out the gate.

Needless to say we were curious to see the campaign Sega managed to pull together with all the existing source material available and if would play as well as it should compared to previous shooters under the same brand. It was their second game after purchasing the franchise and took the developer Gearbox which had worked on a version for the Playstation 2 earlier butt hat project was scrapped. Sega had a lot of pressure to deliver and I would be lying if I said this game even came close. In fact after playing the game the first time I read that it was considered to be in the top 10 worst games of all time. This game was released in a time when Sega had long given up on consoles and were making the millions in intellectual property so they did not have that many games in the works.

Off the bat the graphics are not the best we have seen as the campaign opens with you and your player 2 getting briefed on the USS Sephora before things start blowing up. As expected for the classic first person title the controls are standard and easy to learn while the darkness and shadows are done well making it feel more authentic adding to the overall horror theme. Despite the graphics seeming kind of blocky in the some of the cut scenes when compared to other titles out at the time. The designers and developers dropped the ball so much that at a few times while playing I was genuinely disappointed because I expected more from Sega.

The are arsenal contains all time fan favorite pulse rifle with upgrades and gadgets to add to your enjoyment such as red dots beams, scopes and grenade launchers to boot. Shotguns, pistols and smart-guns make for more passionate slaying though we feel more weapons should have been offered and the option of dual wielding pistols would have been something good to see.

Its reminiscent of the newer Doom and its predecessors as my brother and I swept through corridors shredding xenomorphs while remaining silent and on edge. the tension adding to the immersion of the game. The game is not as easy as expected and will leave you frustrated but in a good way because you really want to pass that next checkpoint. We recommend having a 40″ TV or monitor and up minimum to be able to enjoy the splitscreen experience in the its fullness.

Sadly the game clocks short at 11 levels with an extra level with the Limited Edition we played. The game does have highs and lows as the short campaign, less than smooth graphics and no DLC or expansions leaves Aliens Colonial Marines with much to desire. The upside is that it is fun to play, it won’t have you as glued as Borderlands but there is something in the nostalgia of it that leaves you on the edge of the couch. The game is too dark at times and turning up the brightness highlights some of the bad graphics but after some fiddling you can reach a playable compromise. I feel Sega were banking on releasing something that could keep gamers interested in Aliens but failed in creating a classic game let alone breathe new life to such a titan of a franchise. Bodying waves to Aliens, acidic highlighter colored ooze splashing everywhere, covering your other players back and the gore and explosions will test even the best of friendships. There were time I found myself taking a smoke break after being frustrated at certain points in the game, partly because of my paper thin nerves and mostly because of glitches and some stupid game architecture. Be warned, if Left 4 Dead has you screaming at your teammates this might having you choking them !!! We strongly advise playing this with the lights down low and in coop because it seems to be intended to be played that way. The short campaign and difficulty in solo play points to this being a two player experience.

All in all a fun game, worth the purchase and can be found cheap second hand. You have to stick together so the coop is emphasized and is a must have if you are looking for something other than zombies and terrorists. A good game to play through a few times but don´t expect it to be in your top 20 and it will not be something you come back to often. However, I do enjoy pulling it out after I watch of the Aliens movies so there is always that.

Giving this game a rating of

5 out of 10

Let us not get it twisted or misconstrued, ACM is far from a good game but it passes the minimal requirements. If we look at the third gen console library you will be hardpressed to find that many couch coop titles and this is one of the less than 20 titles availible. With XBOX live and PSN removing other titles the list is even shorter so that helped give ACM that extra point to get it to a passing grade. The sound is on point and you do feel that paranoia when scanning corridors with your pulse rifle. The lack of weapons, customization and personalization is a downside along with no extra content to spice things for repeat play. We factored in how cheap you get a copy for and it does give a decent coop experience if you have run out of things to play. Despite the short campaign and visible glitches of the developers made this a game Sega probably wishes never came out. This is a game which you can buy for cheap and breeze through in less than a dozen settings but do not expect to revisit it much after you have finished it.

Stay tuned for more reviews on Aliens games that we will be posting and commenting on in our podcast and on this site. Let us know what you felt of the game, did the carnage even satisfy even the least bit? Was the the story as boring to you as it was for me? Did this leave a permanent dent in Sega and its legacy as a developer?

Info Zona & Carta Magica ST : Board Games for the people of Split !!!

Yours truly decided to accept the invitation of Carta Magica Split & Info Zona to their ‘Modern Board Game Night’ ! Read further to see what we thought.

 

I am glad to tell the expats and locals alike in Split that gaming is growing and it is thanks to to Carta Magica Split and Info Zona. The shops ownership decided to take their efforts a step further by aligning themselves with Info Zona to give the people of Split a place to game on Saturdays. As I stated in my very first blog post Split does not have a large, hell even mid sized gaming community. There are only 2 gaming clubs which are only for consoles and PCs and apart from the shop itself (which cannot work long weekends) the promotion of gaming was limited. After a successful convention last summer Marko Mlinar and his team are hoping to garner more interest in board games and RPGS. The biggest problems they face are resources and spaces, games in Croatia sadly are expensive for the younger demographic and places to play is a problem for the older demographic. The third would be, WHO TO PLAY WITH? So instead of giving up they have been doing these game sessions every Saturday back to back and last weekend broke the record for attendance with more than 35 gamers present!

ZONA 1

Walking up to the venue you go through the very heart of the city so I knew if I would get thirsty or hungry the solution is walking distance. You go through a small door and are energized by the vibes when you enter. A room full of people, packed like sardines but everyone is all smiles and there is no yelling ! Polite socializing, open door policy and most of all friendly faces. It was my first time attending was glad to see a game I was dying to play for a while (7 Wonders) and to my luck Marko brought the Leaders expansion :D. There were classic favorites such as Settlers of Catan, Cosmic Encounter and the party time favorite Avalon were some of the arsenal they brought out that night. In short its a bright light for gamers and every gamer would have something for themselves. The level of gamer also varied so that made it a little more enjoyable for me. Nobody wants to get owned as a newbie, especially not their first time. The whole time I was there everyone was friendly and helpful, forthcoming with information and for the first time in a while I was somewhere where the majority of people were not staring at their cellphones or texting. Info Zona run a tight ship and have a great space especially for those living in the center or who simply find themselves strolling can easy find the location. As you can see in the picture above, it is well furnished and everyone present came to game and have a good time. No loud music, no loud patrons and above all a decent game bank to choose from. An added bonus is also that the crowd is very mixed ranging from ages, backgrounds and if you are an expat most of the gamers speak very good English.

 

ZON 2

 

In short I would to thank them for their noble pursuit but I must also state why I am wary of their efforts. As of now in Split if someone is searching for a place to game and learn about gaming you can visit the store during working hours and you can also game Saturday’s at Zona. Problem with Zona is that it starts a  bit later in the day and the place is pretty much always crowded so people looking for earlier sessions are on their own. I heard from some people that it is usually the same people which slightly irritated me. As you well know I am the head of a guild and in one year our board game collection is at 7 games ! I feel its wack to come every Saturday and not at least consider buying a game for yourself to game with your friends or by yourself, in fact I would go as far as saying its downplaying the efforts of volunteers and taking advantage of their generosity. Maybe Im old school but owning a game always gives you the option of introducing gaming to your friends and new people. These people invest their time and energy into something decent and pure and I believe the only way to repay them is by doing right and grasping their commitment. None of them get paid to do it and they can just as easily be at home gaming with their friends but they gift you their time and themselves, selflessness…it’s a beautiful thing. I say this in the hopes of people considering that the games offered at these places are out of someones private collection and if one was to be ruined I highly doubt the hurt party would be compensated. I urge people who have not yet visited Carta Magica Split or Info Zona to make an effort to swing by, you can meet some interesting people, if your lucky you might even meet me (kidding). Characters to look out for would be Gordan ( the gentle beard ), Toni ( The Sci Fi guy), Jerko ( Star Fly ) Kruno ( Troll Vader ) Romana ( Scroll Vader ), Marijana ( Sweetheart Zombie Slayer ) & Marko ( Pancho Splicho ) who are very helpful to guests and do their best to ensure you have a good time.  It is because these individuals put in the work we have such a treasure in the city and I will ALWAYS speak highly of them and it will only be a pleasure to do write ups on their events. For these events to continue other people outside the volunteer circles MUST start participating because Split is the second city of Croatia yet there is only one board game and RPG guild (G.O.L.T.) . So to all the the people who are on the fence of buying a game here are some suggestions :

  1. Watch reviews online : this way you can at least get an idea of a game you may like
  2. Visit the store and become a member : 5% discount with membership!
  3. Try out different games
  4. Gather a group of friends and split the costs

 

and if you are truly interested in gaming or have games but no one to play with then apply for membership with The Guild of Lost Travelers. Bare in mind the screening process may take a couple of days as all senior members must vote on granting admission to the group. If you reach out expect to receive a message and a meeting to be arranged but fear not young padawan for no one in the guild is a dick…except me (kidding again). Until next time quest strong, drink responsibly, roll 20 and watch out for that ORC !!!!

 

*the opinions of The Fantasy Dimension do not reflect those of Info Zona or Carta Magica and the nicknames provided are aliases which I carefully crafted to maintain the privacy of these heroes of gaming! Like the pages now so you don’t have to later !!!

 

pages to checkout:

Fantastikon (Only Sci Fi / Fanstasy / Gaming Con in Dalmatia)

Carta Magica Split

Info Zona (FB Page)

Guild of Lost Travlers

NERD DIMENSION FB PAGE

 

 

 

Dungeons and Dragons : Legends of Drizzt ( Review )

It’s Drow Time at TFD as we sink our teeth into Wizards most popular popular board game. Read on to see more.

My guild and I decided to purchase The Legends of Drizzt board game (Wizards of the Coast) from  Carta Magica to make the winter a little more fun. The reviews we managed to see online from Dice Tower and other channels on YouTube all praised the game and what truly drew us into it was that it is a 5 player coop board game using the characters from the Forgotten Realms novels. We all were familiar with classic Dungeons and Dragons so it was not hard to make our decisions and don’t expect me to trash the game. They provide you with minis that you can use for your traditional D&D campaigns as well as a decent D20. As for adventures they provide you with a simple rulebook and an adventure book but fret not my fellow gamers there are also home brew and custom scenarios you can find online to keep the steam going.  What made this more interesting is that the original D&D Fantasy adventure game was only 4 players and required a DM whereas Wizards fixed this kink so that everyone can quest together. The coolest part is that the game is one of 3 released (Wrath of Ashardalon & Castle Ravenloft) which all serve as stand alone expansions meaning you switch treasure cards, heroes, tiles and adventures. In the last 6  months Wizards released Temple of Elemental Doom which too is a standalone expansion. The fact that Wizards provide advanced decks to keep the game playable longer than other similar products which you can get bored of recently. The hero selection is impressive but the lack of female heroes did not farewell with the female guild members but what can you do. I personally would recommend the game for anybody looking for a tabletop game one can play with family or friends and have a good hour and a half to kill.

drizzt

My rating would be 9/10

A must buy for anyone trying to get into fantasy RPG and a great gift for someone trying to get their friends into it.

 

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