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Dice Goblin – all the more

I have a previous post about dice, but thought I’d make another, This time to talk about the wonderous explosion of hand made art dice that has been spawned by the mainstreaming of TableTop RPGs.

Confession time: I’m a Dice Goblin, and I’ve infected others with the fever.
The Dice Goblin Mantra – the shiny math rocks make click-clack sound. Needs the more. All the more.

My gaming didn’t start out with dice, my first D&D boxed set was the print run where they ran out of dice to include, instead I got numbered chits to cut out and randomly draw from a cup. Living in the edge of Appalachia there was no dice to be had. Luckily my grandmother lived in Dayton, Ohio and there was a game store that carried them. I will forever be in my grandmother’s debt for my first set of polyhedrals. Shortly there after I picked up the Gamma World boxed set and it had dice. Both my first set and the GW set were, by any standards, pretty crappy dice. I still have them, but the plastic has deteriorated and they are ugly as sin. TSR later provided sets with their box sets and you had to fill in the numbers with crayon. Still, in my youthful mind they were beautiful.

For a quick fix for your dice goblin heart there are sellers on Amazon that can get you a bag full of nice sets for not a lot of money, pretty, but not necessarily the prettiest, but good for extras to loan out. But the true dice goblin must have a set or two of the specially crafted shinys. Metal, wood, sharp edged, hand made, liquid core, with everything from gold foil to rubber duckies included, the art of dice has taken a myriad of directions in recent years. Etsy is full of people selling beauties and the prices can be down right reasonable. Some, like Crystal Maggie, source their dice from China, so that might be an issue to consider. I have bought from Crystal Maggie and my purchases have been quality product, though they take a little longer to ship. Elsewhere on the internet are the purveyors that raise the humble dice set to staggering heights, along with prices that wound. Fans eagerly await the next release of stock into the wild and they sell out quickly. New dice sets are lovingly produced and some of the reputable artists even auction them off,

Making resin dice looks deceptively simple, I got a set of molds and gave it a try, the results were less than spectacular. Less than serviceable would be a better description. Resin can be a pain to mix in small doses, the smaller amounts are less forgiving in the mix. For truly professional looking dice without bubbles I hear that having a pressure pot can make the difference. Resin dice are usually a bit lighter than the old reliable acrylics like you get from Chessex but well within the “good feel” range.

I’d recommend rolling your special shinys on a dice tray or even just a mousepad to protect them. I’ve not had any issues, but one can’t be too careful with your investments.

Scavengers TTRPG

This week I picked up the Scavengers TTRPG from Metal Weave Games. The pdf is available from Drivethrurpg and the print copy is from Amazon’s print on demand service. The print copy is a good print, 142 pages, color interior, the colors pop and the binding is solid. My only quibble is with the covers, the outer edges are the tiniest bit rough, and the covers tend to rise up at that edge. I’ve worked at a print bindery, so I notice these things and it’s unfortunately a problem with Amazon’s printing service. That said I doubt most people would notice.
Note: I haven’t played this, only read through it.
The art in the book is fun, without being funny, and uses the same artist throughout. Travis Hanson’s work captures the mood of the game and I always appreciate it when a game can have a cohesive look.
For the game itself, players take the roles of crew members on a salvage ship that visits the locations of space battles to salvage anything worth credits, survivors included. Unlike most RPGs there is a “win” condition; whoever has the most credits at the end of a campaign wins. This should lend itself to the desired play experience/ character attitude of “anything for a buck”. Rules for the money grubbers include getting payment for assisting others, acquiring loot, and getting the survivors to go with you, which can be an issue.
The setting uses bungee drives, you teleport out to a battlefield then teleport back to your original location. This makes it easy to give new assignments and allows development of an anchor station. The setting has 5 factions in conflict, your crew is Randians who are just out for the sweet sweet lucre.
The rules are light. For characters, 8 crew Positions take the place of classes, spending 16 points across 8 Skills flesh them out, pick a talent from your Position, spend a few credits and you are off. The system is a dice pool, count successes. 5 and 6 bring success. You can Risk It – where you keep successes and 1s, then reroll the remaining dice. If you risk it, all 1s from the roll and reroll gives you danger points. Danger points accumulate and if you lose your last one your luck has run out and you die. You check to clear them when you are back at the station. Rolling a 1 on these checks can result in a permanent loss of a danger point. Losing a danger point permanently gives you an experience point with which to bump up a skill or buy a new talent. Combat is very abstract, using the same type of skill rolls as overcoming other threats.
Game play has the GM rolling dice to determine threats and loot, describing the scenes and roleplaying interactions. The debris field provides random ships and for a more structured encounter you can use scenario ships that the GM designs. Problems and threats prompt die rolling to test your skills.
The game ends based on the accumulation of Danger Points, or when the characters decide to retire.

All in all, I’d call this an excellent beer and pretzels game. I see potential to while away a few hours with friends, maybe have a bit of a plot on the anchor station, maybe some espionage, but mostly shaking down other player characters for credits in exchange for favors.

Apollo 47 Technical Manual

Received my physical copy of Apollo 47 Technical Handbook in the mail from http://www.drivethrurpg.com, The thing is a 1200 page Monster.
The premise is that it’s the late ’80s and you are on one of a long line of Apollo moon missions. The game play is purely improv, you take turns being the spotlight astronaut, while everyone else is voices over the radio. Everything is part of the conversation, and nothing interesting is supposed to happen. You use call and response with exciting exchanges like:
“Once the dust shroud is off, use the G27 wrench to loosen the restraining bolt.”
“Copy that Houston, Dust shroud is off, and I am loosening the restraining bolt.”
“Loosen the bolt, do not remove the bolt at this time.”

On its own, it is the most amazingly simple, yet potentially fun game I’ve run across. The game itself is like, 1 page. If it’s so simple what’s with the 1200 pages? NASA manuals. Lots of NASA manuals. There’s no table of contents! No index! No continuous page numbers!

The rules are Pay What You Want. The hardcopy has around $40 as a minimum to cover printing. Seriously, pick up the rules. This would be great for road trips (say, to GenCon).

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