Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tommy's Take on Wicked Quills, Old West Violence and Infinity Dungeon


WICKED QUILLS




WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Wicked Quills is a new microsupplement for Wu Xing, tying in nicely with Land of Seed and Blossom which released last month, introducing a new clan called, well, The Wicked Quills. They are a clan of ninja that are constantly besieged and don't get along well with others...oh, and they have crazy wushu involving their hair. In fact, this supplement introduces the Way of the Piercing Jacket, which allows them to use their hair to great effect as a weapon...and I don't just mean the hair on their heads. The effects include hair jackets, stiffening their hair into quills - and firing them, and hair strangleholds.

WHAT WORKS: Well, a new Wushu and a new clan are always nice. The hair powers are very interesting, if a bit niche. There's only one piece of art here, and it's gorgeous.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Well, they're hair ninjas. That's a pretty big oddity, but that's also a good reason why they weren't in Land of Seed and Blossom, and are instead floating around for hardcore completists to buy or ignore. I did catch a typo or two in the text, but nothing major.

CONCLUSION: Thoroughly unessential for someone who likes Wu Xing but doesn't get to run it very often, but a very cool, quirky and unique option for the hardcore Wu Xing group, or even for a GM who just wants to toss his PCs a curveball.

RANDOM ACTS OF...OLD WEST VIOLENCE

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: A system-free chart for western RPGs by 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming, this essentially amounts to 100 "if you're stumped"/random encounter charts, just roll 1d100 and go. It's 6 pages (really 4, once you get past the cover and credits) and has no names or stats attached to the encounter seeds, so you could use it for Aces and Eights, Deadlands, whatever.

WHAT WORKS: IT'S A RANDOM ENCOUNTER TABLE. If you read my reviews, you know I LOVE this crap. Roll the dice before the game and BOOM (a few encounters work better with a little set-up). For instance, #22 has a pack of coyotes wandering into camp while the PCs are sleeping. #43 has the sheriff shot after a violent criminal has been brought down. #64 involves a tornado whipping through town. Like I said...I love this stuff. And, it's system free, so it's a simple matter to use it with whatever system you like.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: A few of the seeds make too many assumptions, or place the PCs in peril without them being able to do anything about it. Now, if you have a group that doesn't mind being shoved a bit, that's not a huge deal, especially in a system like Savage Worlds that has bennies or adventure cards that can be doled out to ease the pain. Some of these involve PCs being scarred by whips or PCs being challenged to duels for the love of a woman.

CONCLUSION: Even if you hate the idea of random rolls dictating where the events of the game go, there's still 100 ideas to run with here in case you get stuck. Many of them are fairly common western tropes, but sometimes you don't THINK of that until you have a list in front of you...and there you go. Thumbs up.

INFINITY DUNGEON: PERIL WITHOUT END

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This 68 page PDF include the Infinity Dungeon game, as well as the Legendary Guys RPG. The Infinity Dungeon game is really as much of a geeky party game as it is an RPG. You select one of the premade character archetypes, then venture through an insane dungeon, and both the archetype and the dungeon is randomly determined. Basically, you have the party's archetypes' powers, equipment, drawbacks and random items that you use to formulate a plan to solve each "room". The players all vote on whether the plan is good or bad, and that determines the target number you need to roll on a d20. If you fail, then you are horribly killed in the attempt and the next player has to figure it out.

Character types include Dwarves, Matadors, Railroad Conductors, Opera Singers, Superheroes and Imposter Dark Wizards. The dungeon consists of rooms such as the Spider Chasm, the Glass Bridge, the Quiet Room, the Explosive Hedgehog and the Meat Grinder.

The Legendary Guys is really just a very basic fighting game, with player defined attibutes (like Over the Edge or FATE), and dice depending on the points spent. The last man standing gets the win (each attack, attributes are rolled against each other, with the higher rolling pC inflicting damage to the lower rolling PC).

WHAT WORKS: It seems like it would be some good, "beer and pretzels" style fun in a goofy, over the top way. A Vampire, a Tycoon, a Reporter, a Ninja and You stomping through a dungeon? And if a character is horribly killed, you just roll up a new one for the next room? Definitely not to be taken seriously, but a group could get some laughs out of this. However...

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The difficulty number is based on the number of party members who approve of a plan. However, there is no penalty for going along with, or going against, a plan...other than making it harder for the active character to pass the room. Basically, there is no reason for the group to ever not back every plan...a pretty huge oversight.

CONCLUSION: Infinity Dungeon seems to have so much promise, but it's either a) lacking a crucial element (reason for players to not back plans) or b) it has a huge error in the writing because I read it a couple of times and if it was there, it was far from clear. One little addition to tweak this and I would give it a strong recommendation for those who want a change of pace in their gaming some weekend, and the Legendary Guys minigame is a nice, goofy, narrative fighting game, although it also has a flaw: The rules state each attribute can only be used once, but there is no provision for a PC running out of attributes. I assume they would flee, but it isn't made clear. Lastly, Infinity Dungeon is also available on the iTunes app store, though I have not tried out the App version yet.