Category Archives: Board Games

An interview with ghost busting gamers, Grant Wilson and Mike Richie

Mike Richie and Grant Wilson from Rather Dashing Games
Mike Richie and Grant Wilson from Rather Dashing Games

Grant Wilson is best known as one of the co-founders The Atlantic Paranormal Society from which sprang the shows “Ghost Hunters”, “Ghost Hunters International”, and “Ghost Hunters Academy.”  In recent years Grant and his childhood friend, Michael Richie joined forces to form a gaming company, Rather Dashing Games.  These industrious gentlemen now have published five games, a steampunk novel and much more to come.

John N Collins (JNC):Could you give us a quick lineup of your products?

Grant and Michael: As far as books go, we have only released the first one so far. Our second book should be out late summer/early fall. As for products from our company Rather Dashing Games, we currently have five games out with two more to be released sometime this year. Our two bestsellers, Dwarven Miner and Pirates, Ninjas, Robots, and Zombies are fun, approachable titles that scratch the itch of more complex games. Our next game, Graveyards, Ghosts, and Haunted Houses is going to be a blast!

JNC: You also have a novel that you co-authored that is of the steampunk genre. Tell us a bit about it.

Mike: It’s called “Brotherhood of the Strange”. It’s the first of our hopefully many Steampunk adventures. We both love Steampunk, and wanted to make an immersive sandbox style world that included the many various aspects of the genre, rather than only focusing on one or two of them. The story focuses around an inventor named Degory Priest who is trying to secretly undo the damage done by the Brotherhood of the Strange, a secret society to which he and his estranged brother Edward belong.

JNC: How did you two become involved in steampunk?

Grant & Mike: We have always loved Jules Verne, Sherlock Holmes, & H.P. Lovecraft, as well as old machinery and clockwork. Once we saw this emerging genre at cons such as Dragoncon, we both fell in love and dove head first into it. Grant even cosplayed as a steampunk ghostbuster. A “Spectral Eradicator” if you will. Mike enjoys prop making and coming up with believable ways that the fictional technologies could work in the world of Steampunk.

JNC: Now Grant, this may surprise some of your fans, but I hear you also have been pursuing another career, this one in music. Tell us about that.

Grant: Well, I taught myself how to play piano and guitar when I was 14. I’ve been composing every since. I’ve been in a few alternative rock bands over the years but it wasn’t until relatively recently that I was able to focus on it. I have my band, Carpetshark, that is currently on hold for a few, but my big push is with my solo piano music. I have one album out right now “1.618” and another on the way “Liquid Earth”. It’s just very relaxing piano music. I was really surprised by how people reacted to it. I get emails from people saying they are getting married to it, meditating to it, and how it helps kids focus, or rest. All good stuff!

JNC: Will you be bringing CD’s and Games to sell to the convention in addition to copies of your books for signing?

G&M: I imagine we will!

JNC: Games, Books, Movies, and Ghosts! Do you have any other surprises coming our way?

Grant: I don’t know about any more surprise categories but we will have many surprises in each of those categories. After our the Kingship series, we plan to write our baby; our series of high-fantasy novels we have been working on since we were teenagers. It’s an epic story that has grown and matured over the years. One we are very excited to tell.

JNC: Where can folks find more information on your games, books, music, and such?

Rather Dashing Games
The Brotherhood of the Strange Books
Grant Wilson on CD Baby
Grant Wilson’s official website

JNC: Many of us were disappointed you couldn’t make it to the Wizard World Fan Festival in Chicago a few weeks ago but we are looking forward to seeing you in Cincinnati in a few weeks! Thanks so much for the update!

Grant: I was just as disappointed. Let’s collectively blame the weather!

Grant and Mike will be at the International Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati this weekend April 24 to 26, 2015.

Grant and Carpetshark will be performing at Origins in June and Gen Con in July.

For more about John N. Collins, find him on TwitterInstagram, Youtube, and Facebook.

Treasury of Games: The Spirit Chase

Today, the treasury releases a developer notebook scribble for a future board game, “Kitsune: the Spirit Chase.”

The two sets of fox twins, Cori and Akira and Ai and Midori, are fighting over who gets the last piece of inarizushi (fried tofu wrapped around sweet rice), when they knock over a spirit jar at the fox shrine. This jar contained the essence of the sins they had purified from fools to earn their tails – and the spirits of those sins have now escaped! If the young foxes don’t recapture the sins before their elders find out, they will be stripped of their recently earned nine tails for sure!

Board Locations:

Black Tortoise Gate: In the north, this gate symbolizes longevity, and sins which have been expelled and must be subdued.

Sun Gate: In the east, guarded by an azure dragon, this gate symbolizes rulership and beginnings.

Phoenix Gate: in the south, this gate is associated with femininity and virtue.

Moon Gate: In the west, guarded by a white tiger, this gate is associated with the dead and punishment.

Golden Dragon Gate: In the center, this gate is associated with heaven, masculinity, and spirituality.

All gates have the ability: activate to move to any other gate. The gates may also be traversed through adjacency (north is not adjacent to south, nor east to west) using movement.

Fox Shrine: Connected to the Golden Dragon and Phoenix gates, this is where the kitsune live. Ability – hoshi-no-tama – seal away mortal sins in your soul pearl so other foxes can’t steal the credit from you.

Heaven: Connected to the Golden Dragon Gate only, this is where the fate of the mortal world is decided. Ability – guide fate – spend your movement to move sins.

Hell: Connected to the Moon Gate only, this is where demons torment the souls of sinners. Ability – judge sin – spend your mischief to discard sins from the board.

Palace: Connected to the Sun Gate and Golden Dragon Gate, this represents the seat of mortal authority. Ability – injunction – ban foxes from moving to a location, only one location may be subject to this at a time. May be used to lift the injunction so all spaces are moveable again.

Grand Temple: Connected to the Golden Dragon Gate and the Black Tortoise Gate, this is where mortals go to conquer their sins. Ability – purify – ban sins from moving to a location. May not choose the Black Tortoise Gate, and only one location may be purified at a time.

Bank: Connected to the Sun Gate, the Bank controls money, which is also symbolic of spiritual energy. Ability – cash in – restore a foxfire (effectively, trade mischief this turn for foxfire stored; magic is still the maximum for foxfire)

Market: Connected to the Sun Gate and the Bank, the center of trade is very important to the flow of the mortal world. Ability – stock up – invest foxfire in movement or mischief, and this foxfire will not regenerate, but continues to give a bonus every turn.

Mischief: number of non-movement actions per turn. Actions possible per point of mischief: capture a sin at the same location, steal a sin from a fox at the same location, shift the blame to a fox at the same location, activate a location’s ability.

Movement: number of spaces to move per turn.

Magic: foxfire which can be spent to increase mischief or movement, or activate fox power.

(Each player gets 9 points to distribute between these three attributes, represented by tail tokens)

Ai: Cunning trickster – activate to interact with another fox at an adjacent instead of the same location.

Midori: Elegance – activate to capture a sin at an adjacent location instead of the same location.

Akira: Energy – once per turn, activate to add +2 Movement or Mischief, or +1 each to Movement and Mischief.

Cori: Enthusiasm – activate to use the ability of an adjacent location instead of the current one.

Sins spawn at the gates during play, after an initial wave at the Fox Shrine (equal to number of players for the initial wave). The gate associated with the color drawn on each turn’s sin draw is where the new sin spawns if a sin is spawning on the turn. Sins move based on a draw from a deck at the end of each fox’s turn. Sins spawn based on sins ending a turn in non-gate locations. Location abilities are disabled while a sin is there, and any location which is not a gate can trigger more sin entering the world – one sin enters the world if any non-gate locations have a sin.

Objective of the game: Capture all the sins before the sin movement deck is empty – which is when the elder kitsune shows up! In competitive play, the fox with the blame loses and other foxes compare how many sins they’ve accrued. In cooperative play, all sins must have been captured by foxes who do not have the blame (or be stored in that fox’s hoshi-no-tama).

The blame: a fox with the blame causes sin to spawn just like a sin would. One fox will always have the blame. Determine this randomly at the start of the game. The fox with the blame goes first.

Sin Deck: 5 directions (north, south, east, west, center). 4 of each “move 1.” 2 of each “move 2.”

When told to move in a direction, move along the path colored for that direction in the direction of the arrow, unless already as far in that direction as possible. In that case, move the indicated amount away from the nearest fox, as long as this does not take the sin closer to a fox. Failing that, move into a location to allow another sin to spawn. Each path will have arrows for each color labeled with the direction name so it will be obvious what paths comprise each direction.

At the end of each fox’s turn, draw a sin card and that fox chooses one sin to move accordingly. A sin also spawns if any non-gate locations have sins on them, at the gate corresponding to the card drawn. On the turn of the fox with the blame, do this twice. (Shifting the blame does prevent you from ending your turn with it and drawing twice!)

Ian Price, author of the Tabletop Treasury posts on this site, is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem. Bad Decisions has a Kickstarter project live now!

Ascension at The Throne of Games – Long live the King!

The ENnies at GenCon 2014
The ENnies at GenCon 2014

As formerly noted, one of the secrets of the gaming industry, comparable to “The Emperor has no clothes!”, is that the former King of roleplaying games, Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons and Dragons, was deposed from, or more abdicated from the Throne of Games and dropped out of the top five roleplaying games.  The gaming mega-con, GenCon 2014, was held August 14 through 17 and it was clear there was no vaccuum of power left in their absence at the ENnie Awards.

Evil Hat Productions, publishers of the Fate Core System, ranking #4 in ICv2’s top five role playing games, received eight ENnie awards at GenCon, including the Silver award for Best Publisher.

Monte Cook Games, LLC, Numenera ranked number five of the ICv2’s top five role playing games and took nine ENnie awards including the gold for Product of the Year.  Monte Cook formerly worked on Wizards of the Coast’s on their newly released version of their dungeons and dragons genre game, “Next” but left due to differences of oppinion with the company.

From this year’s ENnie awards it is clear that Evil Hat Productions and Monte Cook Games have truly risen to the level of Lords of Gaming but who has risen to the top?

The Paizo Publishing Company‘s Pathfinder ranked number one on the ICv2 list of the top five role playing games and at the GenCon Ennies their pathfinder products took eight ENnies for Paizo as well as two for Whiz Kids for their Pathfinder miniatures.  Among their eight awards, all gold, was the gold award for the Best Publisher.

According to the ENnie Awards website:

“The ENnies were created in 2001 as an annual award ceremony, hosted by the leading D&D/d20 system fan site, EN World in partnership with Eric Noah’s Unofficial D&D 3rd Edition News. Since they were originally conceived the ENnies have expanded from an Internet-based awards selection to an annual award ceremony at Gen Con Indy.”

So, while Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast failed to produce anything worthy of a nomination by the dungeons and dragons playing community at GenCon’s 2014 ENnie awards, Paizo’s Pathfinder has clearly risen to claim the throne with Monte Cook Games, LLC and Evil Hat Productions at their sides.  While Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast struggles to keep their brand alive, the dungeons and dragons genre thrives on without them.  So, in the meantime, if your kids say they are playing dungeons and dragons, chances are high that it is Pathfinder from Paizo.  The King is dead!  Long live King Paizo!

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The King is dead! Requiem at the Throne of Games

Winners of the Ennies at GenCon 2014 - Can you find Wizards of the Coast? Nobody could.
Winners of the Ennies at GenCon 2014 – Can you find Wizards of the Coast? Nobody could.

On Friday August 15, 2014 at GenCon in Indianapolis, Indiana the Wizards of the Coast held a party to mark the launch of Tyranny of Dragons for their latest release of their dungeons and dragons genre role playing game.   Wizards of the Coast are copyright owners of the original Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game, once the undisputed king of role playing games.  Now the Wizards of the Coast roleplaying division doesn’t even make the list of the top five role playing games.

GenCon 2014 attendees hit the food trucks while the Wizards of the Coast music drones on
GenCon 2014 attendees hit the food trucks while the Wizards of the Coast music drones on

The Wizards held their launch party under a tent on Georgia Street where the food vending trucks were selling their wares.  As far as parties go it was more lively than a typical wake but less celebrative than a New Orleans funeral procession.  They had distorted music blaring on substandard speakers and it was difficult, at best, to enter the tent without earplugs.  The exciting gift for those attending was a cardboard face mask.  While most of the folks on the street were there for the food trucks, the attendees of the party were kept moving as they looked at the few cases of items on display, much like an open casket viewing.

A few members of the press were on the fringes of the tent discussing how much Wizards of the Coast had dropped the ball in terms of marketing and, indeed production of quality gaming.  In 2012 they put on an extravaganza that impressed all who attended even though it was all smoke and mirrors with no substance and was followed by problems and delays in producing a replacement for the much maligned fourth edition.  This year at GenCon 2014, Wizards of the Coast doesn’t even have a booth in the Exhibition hall.  As far as the demonstration gaming, Michael Tresca, veteran gamer, respected game reviewer, and National RPG Examiner commented that he had played  one of their adventures and experienced TPK, total party kill.  Even though the players had played intelligently, they were slaughtered without mercy.  This is not what one might expect from a company that is trying to gain new players for their system.

A Wizards cardboard mask rescued from the trash
A Wizards cardboard mask rescued from the trash

After paying appropriate respect to the Wizards of the Coast the next stop for the evening was the Ennie Awards.  While it was no surprise that Wizards of the Coast didn’t take any Gold or Silver awards, it was a bit of a surprise that they didn’t even place in the top five in any Ennie category.  The Wizards’ “party” had already disbanded and the displays were being packed up after the Ennies had ended.

Cosplay at GenCon 2014
Cosplay at GenCon 2014

Will 2014 truly mark the end of Dungeons and Dragons as a viable brand as the dungeons and dragons genre continues to expand with Paizo’s Pathfinder, Monte Cook’s Numenera, Evil Hat’s Fate Core System, and others?  Will Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast pull a true resurection or are they just pumping good dollars after bad and doomed to earn the titles of Hasbeens and Withereds of the Coast?  While only time will tell as it is not yet a total flatline, the future looks pretty grim for the brand.  Speculation has already begun on who will next own the Dungeons and Dragons name when Hasbro pulls the plug.

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Games, movies, costumes, shows, and even girls at Gen Con 2013!

Shawn LeGrand and Eric Federonich from Dubuque, Iowa
Shawn LeGrand and Eric Federonich from Dubuque, Iowa

It is likely that most every motel within twenty the Indianapolis area had gamers arriving last night.  Many of the folks in line to check into the Indianapolis Northwest Days Inn had official Gen Con badges already and others were excited waiting to get theirs for Gen Con 2013.

Shawn LeGrand and Eric Federonich left their jobs and families in Dubuque, Iowa for the next for days of awesome gaming.  Check out the Gen Con eve interview.

While the gaming goes on around the clock at Gen Con there are many other great things happening including great opportunities to cosplay, a zombie walk Friday at 8 p.m., and the film festival.

The Costume Parade is Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. with the 28th annual Costume Contest following from 4 to 6 p.m.

9 p.m. looks to be a great time to catch a movie this weekend with the award winning indie science fiction film, “Found In Time” on Friday, “Death In Charge” on Saturday, both at 9 p.m.  Tonight at 9 p.m. is the world premiere of the new indie film “O.G. Original Gamester.”

Of course the beautiful but bawdy Damsels of Dorkington return to tickle your funny bone and many other great entertainers will keep you entertained between games.  More on that later!

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