Monday, December 24, 2018

My Favorite Things - 2018

The end of the year is as good a time as any too take a look back. As I've found more time and energy for my hobbies, I've run across more things that I'd like to share. Below are five noteworthy things that I'm happy to recommend. As this is a tabletop gaming blog, all of them have a connection to that theme, even if it is a pretty tangential one. The list is in no particular order.

A gamemaster's work is never done.

Star Trek Adventures

Some may find the following statement to be heretical: Modiphius Entertainment's Star Trek Adventures is currently my favorite Star Trek role playing game. The game was created by fans for fans and does something that many licensed games fail to do - convey the feel of the setting. The writing assumes that the reader has a working knowledge of Star Trek. This means that the word count saved by not having to explain things like "what the Borg are" can be used for "how the Borg are going to ruin the player characters' day" and other stuff that is useful in play. The streamlined version of Modiphius' 2d20 system implemented in the game provides a strong mechanical framework without being cumbersome. The rules are also flexible enough to allow for some tinkering without too much effort from the gamemaster. I had fun trying it out as a player and am having a great time running the voyages of USS Yamato for my group.

Sharpies in Metallic Silver and Gold

Painting small details has always been a challenge for me and my hands aren't as steady as they used to be. The marker and its firm tip seem to be easier for me to control than a fine detail brush. Additionally, the reflective metallic color is as good as any acrylic metallic paint I've used. These came to my attention thanks to Adam Savage's Tested (see below). He uses the silver version to weather props - a little applied to the edges simulates bare metal showing through worn paint. In addition to that, I've started using them to pick out metallic details on miniatures and terrain pieces. Even better, I've found out that Sharpie also offers metallic bronze, sapphire, ruby, and emerald.

Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff

I listen to many, many podcasts while driving around. This one rarely fails to inform and entertain me. Kenneth Hite and Robin Laws cover a wide variety of subjects including, but not limited to: tabletop gaming, history, food, the occult, and all things Lovecraftian. Their knowledge as game industry veterans shows through in their conversations about rules mechanics and game development. They aren't speculating as relative outsiders, they are laying out facts drawn from decades of experience. Their discussions on game design and gamemastering advice have greatly improved my own understanding and skills. The history segments - usually presented as time travel scenarios - promise to be handy for a campaign I'm planning to run down the road. And their cooking segments have given me a few things to try in the kitchen! Odds are that there will be something of interest in a given episode.


Chupacabracon is a local roleplaying game convention and Chupacabracon V the was the first tabletop gaming convention of any kind that I've attended in awhile. Although I wasn't able to attend the whole weekend, it was good to get out again. I discuss my experience in more detail here, but the short version is that I enjoyed the chance to meet folks outside of my regular gaming circle. I'm looking forward to attending again next year!

Adam Savage's Tested

I usually listen to the podcasts from Tested, but their videos have been inspiring and helpful as I work through my pile of unfinished miniatures and terrain pieces. Both their podcasts and videos cover a range of nerdy topics - science, nature, technology, the latest in geek entertainment, and the hosts' most recent "builds" or other projects. While Adam Savage - the same one from Mythbusters - mainly works on props and costumes, his work on those and on models has informed my approach to tabletop miniatures and terrain. He freely offers up tips and tricks that he's picked up from his long career in the special effects industry. Plus, he's generally got something cool to see or hear about in the works!

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