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.

Summoner Wars Master Set (Boardgame Review)

Plaid Hat Games deliver a stellar addition to their collection and a must play for any deck-builder or card game player who enjoys fantasy and battling.

I am glad to finally review my favorite card game / deck building game on the market. Plaid Hats really delivered when they designed the game. Summoner Wars boast numerous nominations for Game of the Year from Dice Tower to the International Gamers Awards which in itself should speak on the quality of this game. The game is set up with a battlefield and each player uses a faction deck of his choosing. The board is used for movement and dice are used to determine attacks and spell damage. The player takes the role of the Summoner, each faction has one Summoner who is like a wizard who calls up his units using his magic pile and places them on the map adjacent to a wall card.

box

The rules are simple and straight forward with a beautifully drawn and brief, easy to read manual providing players with all the necessary information needed in simple english. Our first game ran an hour and some change but after a few games you should be playing 45 minutes without rushing. The mechanics are interesting so you never getting the feeling of being bored and the game play is very dynamic. Another plus about Summoner Wars is that though there is decking building in the form of mercenary decks and faction packs you are ready to play out the box and the investment is far less than its competitors. For a hundred bucks you have a hefty collection and for a little more u can own the ENTIRE collection of factions with secondary summoners.

Another thing that truly blew me away was how diverse yet balanced each faction was which made the game that much more fun to play. You have factions that have cheap units, some even costing 0 but then you also have powerful ranged units from another faction or a summoner that can control your enemy’s units !!! This makes the gameplay that much more competitive and leads you  to having a favorite faction early on as you can play 6 factions out of the Master Set. The set also includes a quality map and rules how to play 4 player with another matching map. I truly recommend this purchase because of such a low entry point expense and as a game it is a fun deck builder that is easy to teach and has a high replayability factor.

The site provides decent support and there is also a free app you can download for you mobile devices so you can try the rules out before buying. With the existing popularity and so much added content and product finding it at an online store will not be difficult and it is fairly priced.

You can expect an a more detailed break down of factions and how to play them in the near future so stay tuned, subscribe to the NERD DIMENSION FB Page and let us know what you think in the comments sections.

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Citadels + Dark City Exp (Boardgame Review) G.O.L.T.

 

The weather has been foul the past couple of weeks in Split and a few of the guild members had not seen tabletop in action in quite some time. The once regular Dungeons & Dragons game fell apart due to unforeseeable circumstances so the G.O.L.T. was on hard times. I can speak as a DM it hurt watching dust accumulate on my books, missing the sound of dice hitting the table and watching players squirm. Good times. Thankfully this changed recently thanks to Lil Joey and the senior guild members.

An office space belonging to a relative of Joey’s was being renovated and he had time to use it prior to the work starting. The boy notified the guild and a session was booked. This is a review as much as it is an article because the first purchase of the guild of 2016 was Citadels. After seeing several reviews and playing the game myself over the holidays with my girlfriend I grew fond of its mechanics to it immediately. I was surprised I had not heard of it before and proposed it to the guild that we consider getting it for our game bank. After a short vote we managed to buy the last one from Carta Magica Split. Not long afterwards I tested the game with a few members but it was not until a couple of weeks ago we played it in its entirety with 6 of us.

Citadels

Citadels is a card game of bluffing, diplomacy, intrigue and plays up to 8 players with the Dark City Expansion (which is standard with the 3rd Edition) and was designed by Bruno Faidutti whose last game priror to designing it was was Mystery of the Abbey. The box contains everything you need to start playing and fits in snug, the box itself is small so carrying it around is not going to be a problem for anyone choosing to purchase it. The one thing is I would stress to anyone looking to buy Citadels is to be sleeves for all the cards because they will get worn out fast after playing regularly.

In short in the game a player takes on the role of a city builder and the point of the game is to have the most valuable structures and total points at the end of the game. The game ends when the 8th district is built and upon the final players turn you tally up the scores. This card game which also has strategy involved is why it can be fun even for non gamers but the luck factor also comes in so one game can truly be hectic if you keep drawing bad cards. Character cards are numbered 1-8 (9 if you are playing 8) and the order of play starts at 1 every hand or next number. At the end of every round of play the character deck is reshuffled and the characters vary from the Assassin who plays first can kill characters while the Warlord can destroy any district card except for the Bishop’s whose lands are protected. No one character is overpowered and you can really mix it up by including the expansion district cards and characters. The box says that the game can take up to half an hour but in all honesty I am yet to play a game under an hour and that is with only 1 new player but unlike most cards games this one is engaging and you always have something to do.  The artwork in the manual and cards is interesting and the gold tokens look decent though I would have loved more of them because we at certain times had nothing in bank and that was with only 6 players so Fantasy Flight should step their game up but u can always play with other tokens.

cit session 1

Citadels is a very fun game to play and I was skeptical that a card game could be so intense but I have witnessed cards fly across rooms and tokens roll off tables after someone gets robbed for the third straight round. This is not a game if you want something quick paced and short because there is thinking and you have to pay attention to who is building what and anticipate who they may be. The mind games run a muck especially once you really get the hand of all the cards and the expansion cards truly make the game that much more interesting. The game cost 250 Croatian Kunas and it has the expansion built in and the only other investment you would have to make is getting sleeves for the cards to enjoy the game forever 🙂 This game has a high play-ability rate but because it is a card game which is competitive so don’t expect much depth while throwing down cards and pissing off your neighboring players. A game that is fun to play, relatively cheap to buy just don’t expect this to be your go to game and its not something you can play more than twice in one setting but the positive is that it is something you can do while having beers and still have a chat without missing too much.

Until next time, don’t touch my board with greasy hands, don’t include monopoly as a board and never never EVER let a bro blow on ya dice.

The numbers (out of 5 *):

Price: **** (4)

Playability: **** (4)

Build: **** (4)

Design: ***** (5)

 

Where you can buy it:

CARTA MAGICA SPLIT ( 5% DISCOUNT IF YOU SING UP AS A MEMBER)

SPEIL OFFENSIVE (Deliver to most European Nations with varied discounts)

BOARD GAME GURU  (UK based store with affordable prices)

 

Please be sure to check us out at NERD DIMENSION FB Page to stay tuned and never miss an update or article. We need you and look forward to hearing you feedback.

 

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