Hey everybody!
It’s time for another game day blog here at spalanz.com, and today I’m doing something a little different, as I ramble about the amazing series from Geek & Sundry, Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana!

So I know I’m a bit late with this, the series having ended back in August, but I’ve inexplicably only now been able to actually catch up with this! Well, finished watching it last week, but anyway.

I love a good roleplaying game, so when it was announced during the funding for season 3 of Tabletop they were going to produce a RPG show, I was really intrigued. I mean, most of the joy of playing in a RPG campaign comes from the imagination as you weave this tale with the group. So how would that translate to the show? Well, “fabulously” is the answer there!

If you have watched only one of the ten episodes from this series, you’ll see the amazing way in which footage of the group is interspersed with full-on art depicting the action, combined with the special effects that make this almost like a real tv show.

But what about the game?

The RPG itself is the relatively straightforward d6 Fantasy AGE system from Green Ronin Games. I’ve talked about RPGs briefly here, so moving on from that, the system uses three six-sided dice, one of which is a different colour, when completing any skill tests. If doubles are rolled, the differently-coloured die is used to give the player stunt points, which can be used to make the test more interesting that merely pass or fail. It’s quite a straightforward system that seems to allow more focus for storytelling than for working out dice results, as is sometimes the case other systems. This really shows in the show, where the characters roll the dice, a pass or fail is determined, stunt points are applied if rolled, then the story advances with what that roll actually meant.

For me, this is where the show really shines as a truly beautiful creation. Watching Wil take the group through the story he has come up with, from the relatively inane saving of the beer quest, to the fight with the hellions and all the way up to the battle with the Prophet, it reminds me of just how amazing a role playing game can be – not just as a game, but as a whole experience. The structure is classic, throwing more and more at the characters as they level up, and allowing plenty of player-creativity as the story moves along. Indeed, I was quite surprised by the ninth episode, which almost does away completely with the latter, and takes on the mantle of a choose your own adventure, almost. While I’ve played that sort of RPG before, it’s usually done because the players aren’t coming up with enough story by themselves, and yet we’ve obviously seen the group is more than capable of doing this.

The setting is also worth mentioning as being astonishingly interesting. Wil says it was inspired by Thundarr the Barbarian, though that was a little too old for me – I grew up with He-Man, which is another of these science-fantasy type shows, so I still feel a little bit of nostalgia creeping in by watching this. Inspiration aside, it’s awesome to see the sense of history and the dramatic depth come out as the show moves ahead. While in retrospect I felt that the confrontation leading up to the finale could perhaps have benefited from a greater sense of mystery, with the players uncovering information as they moved through the story, it nevertheless felt like a really immersive experience just as a spectator!

I don’t get to play RPGs any more, so I haven’t bought the book for this game. However, it looks like it’s certainly worth checking out, and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for season two!


Happy Easter!

Hey everybody!
It’s a four-day weekend, which is always more than welcome in my book, and whether you’re celebrating Easter or just relaxing with as much chocolate as you can bodily cope with, I hope you’re having a great time so far! As for me, well, this has been happening…

Easter has long had strong ties to the Star Wars franchise for me, and every year I re-watch the original trilogy, usually accompanied by a re-read of a lot of the fiction from that point in the timeline. I am, of course, a massive Star Wars fan, and it was many Easters ago that I discovered the expanded universe of novels and comics. So my big plans will be, as per, a re-watch of the trilogy, interspersed with a lot of comics. Aw, yeah!

I’ve mentioned it before, but A New Hope is my favourite of all the movies. For a long time it was Return of the Jedi, but the original movie supplanted that a few years back now, mainly because it’s such a truly wonderful story.

Continue reading “Happy Easter!”

Elder Sign!

Hey folks!

I’ve found myself playing a lot of Elder Sign again recently, which has been partly spurred on by rewatching a lot of the shows over on Geek & Sundry, primarily TableTop. For the uninitiated, here’s the Elder Sign episode that I’m mainly referring to here:

Elder Sign is a really great game, in case you skipped the video, and I can definitely recommend it if you’ve yet to experience it! I featured the game in my blog last year for Halloween week, which you can read here. It’s had two expansions released for it, the most recent of which – Gates of Arkham – has made it under my spotlight of awesome here, as well. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, I’ll be making it to the first expansion on this blog, also!

Elder Sign

I’m a big fan of the Arkham Horror universe, anyway, but this is beginning to take over the big guy as my go-to Lovecraftian game, predominantly due to its ease of set-up. The new Streets of Arkham mode is the closest yet to bringing the Arkham experience to a card game, and I’m still really impressed at how well the designers have implemented this change while keeping the spirit of the base game almost intact.

This evening I had another trip through the Streets of Arkham, which ended in a victory, though saw the demise of poor Patrice Hathaway to the all-seeing Yibb-Tstll…the little devil! Streets of Arkham mode is definitely more difficult than the base game, and as already mentioned, brings an entirely new feel to the Elder Sign experience. I had initially thought it was a curiously hybrid experience, but after playing it some more, it’s actually just a really great way to play!

Of course, I still really enjoy the base game of Elder Sign as it is, with no need for expansions. The other week I had a game against Hastur, prompted by the TableTop video as I couldn’t recall the last time I’d played against the King in Yellow. It was a very close call, where a run of bad luck saw all manner of die-locks while seven doom tokens were added in far too quick succession, but good prevailed and the King slumbers still…

While there have only been two boxed expansions, FFG has released a fair few bits for this game as promotional material, such as for the Arkham Nights events. Four new Ancient One cards have come out in this way, and you can download them from boardgamegeek now:

Yog Sothoth (distinct from the new version)
The Dark God

There are also two location cards that were available through tie-in novels to the Arkham Horror universe. I’ll be taking a look at these novels in future blogs, but suffice it to say, a lot of people bought these books for the cards alone, though I can actually say that they’re really good reads in their own right!

Anyhow, Elder Sign remains in my top-ten all-time favourite games, and while I can wax lyrical about it all day, it’s so much easier if you just go out and get yourself a copy! You won’t regret it!

Roll some dice, and save the world!