Archive for the In the Gaming Realms Category

Game of Thrones Board Game

Posted in In Real Life, In the Gaming Realms with tags , , , , , , , on December 16, 2012 by Bekka

I love the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R. R. Martin. The board game is really well done and is fantastic at emulating the feel of the plotlines and situations in the story… We always dive into a game with happy anticipation, general friendliness and understandings of alliances. By turn three, it’s pretty much like this:

GoTAnyone else played this game? Ever had one where Westeros was politely divided up without making you hate your friends? Didn’t think so.


Where I’ve Been Lately… or The Wild Die

Posted in In Real Life, In the Gaming Realms with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2012 by Bekka

It has been far too long since my last post, I know, but I have an excellent excuse which can be presented as a gaming metaphor (yay!). So, who has played the Star Wars Roleplaying Game (D6 system)? It’s fun with the right group of people and a flexible GM. I am only going to explain enough of the system to make my point. You do things in the game by rolling various numbers of 6-sided dice (D6). This is your character’s “dice pool” and it can be added to or subtracted from by conditions and the situation. For example, if my character wants to fire a blaster pistol at an enemy (pew!pew!pew!) I would look at her skill in blaster and see that she gets 5 dice. If the GM determines that it’s a very difficult shot or if the character is wounded or trying to do multiple actions that round, I would get less dice. If it is an easy shot or the target is stunned or otherwise unable to dodge, I may get extra dice to hit. You want high numbers in this system, so more dice is good. Now the fun part is that no matter how many dice you roll, one of them has to be the Wild Die — a D6 that is a different size or color or something to distinguish it from the rest. The Wild Die represents  the luck, karma, coincidence, or sheer randomosity that one encounters in life. So if the Wild Die comes up a six, it “explodes” and you add the six to your total then roll the Wild Die again, also adding that to the total. If it keeps coming up six, you keep going ’til it doesn’t and your character has probably just done something really awesome or narrowly avoided a horrible and seemingly inescapable fate. However. If the Wild Die ever comes up a one, you must tell the GM and then remove the Wild Die and your highest other number rolled from the dice pool. Your character has likely just shot himself in the foot or something just as spectacularly bad. The entertaining element there is that the GM gets to decide what happens and use these occasions to throw in plot twists or otherwise escalate the circumstances.

So, in the Role-Playing Game of my life, here is what happened a long, long time ago (ok, this January) in a galaxy far, far away (my house):

SOoooo, I am waiting for the glowing and the rainbows and the unicorns to kick in that I’ve heard about. So far, I’ve experienced all-day morning sickness and lots of fatigue which is why I haven’t blogged in like ever. But things are looking up now — yay, 2nd trimester! — so life will be getting on sort of like normal for a while anyway… And my blog will not turn into a pregnancy documentation with graphic descriptions of ooze and fluids and ecstatic cooing. But this is happening, so be warned that I may be hormonal or whiny(er) at times and you will just have to cope because it turns out to be really hard work to grow a half-evil-gamer-geek-motorcycle-riding-stunt-pilot-astronaut-ninja in your tummy.

How Many Gamers Does it Take to Make a Pot of Coffee?

Posted in In Real Life, In the Gaming Realms with tags , , , , , , , on January 15, 2012 by Bekka

Photo by netmonkey on Flickr

Ever have one of those surreal, out-of-body moments where you look at yourself and your friends and say, “Damn, are we really having this conversation? Sitcom writers would pay through the nose for this stuff”? It happens with some regularity in my life — I need to start carrying a notebook to just write down the wacky situations and clever quips that pepper my existence. One such recent and memorable instance of hilarity was at “BrendaCon,” a weekend-long sleepover at my friend Brenda’s house for the purpose of board gaming ourselves senseless (goal achieved!). Garian and I arrived on Friday and (late) that evening, the group began grappling with the logistics of the coming morning. A key component of this strategizing was How Much Coffee Will We Need??

It began simply enough; I stated that I always have one cup of coffee in the morning and that is all the caffeine I require. Garian and Brenda’s husband Ben don’t drink coffee at all. Brenda drinks two cups, her Uncle John drinks about three. The Unknown Variable was that another friend, “Maire,” was joining us in the morning, and I knew that she drank lots of coffee. However, she would have already had some in order to be functional enough to drive over, so she may be all right with one cup or possibly two… To be safe, we thought we’d set the coffeemaker up to make 10 cups. And then. It occurred to Brenda that as strong as she usually makes the particular brand of coffee that she had, we may have to put so many grounds in, that the filter would overflow and spill grounds in the coffee (she usually only made her two cups, so this was a novel problem). There was a discussion about how strong the coffee should be then. No one wanted to sacrifice strength for quantity because you can dilute strong coffee with milk, but if it’s too weak all you can do is make a face and drink it anyway.

So she measured out how many coffee grounds she usually used, this makes two cups, so while she was extrapolating how much she’d need for ten cups, some rules lawyer pointed out that her “two cup” travel mug held 8 ounces — two 4 ounce cups — while the coffeemaker was assuming a standard cup of coffee was 6 ounces. Out came the paper and pencil, the calculator and the smartphones to google standard measurements and conversions. About this time, I gained some perspective and pointed out that by the time we figured all this out, we could’ve just set up the coffeemaker to make as much coffee as it safely could and then…. if it wasn’t enough, we could make another pot!

The silliness of the situation then hit everyone, and after the laughter and joking subsided that was the solution we decided on. And then the next morning, as these things tend to do, all plans went awry as Uncle John selfishly consumed four 6 ounce cups, I drank about 5 ounces, Brenda had her usual two cups and when Maire arrived she was greeted with, “Welcome to BrendaCon! You may have one 4.5 ounce cup of coffee.”

We made another pot.

OK, I have more of an Ironic GM…

Posted in In Real Life, In the Gaming Realms with tags , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2011 by Bekka

So, my recent blog posts have evidently tempted Fate (my GM is named Fate). Today I had to roll to walk downstairs into my basement, and failed. Critically, catastrophically failed. My foot just slipped off the step and for some reason, the other one followed and I proceeded to thud solidly down 5 or 6 steps on my butt (yay for padding!) while my shoes flew ahead of me, my glass of water showered down on me, the stairs, and the dogs; and my bag of craft supplies landed neatly and upright on the top step. I slowed my descent by absorbing much of the impact with my left forearm right below the elbow. It hurts, but the doctor doesn’t think it’s broken. They are sending xrays to a radiologist to be sure. So, as I am icing my elbow now, I won’t be able to draw any pictures for today’s post. A photo will have to do… stay tuned…

Life is Like a Role-Playing Game — Part 2

Posted in In Real Life, In the Gaming Realms with tags , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2011 by Bekka

My dear husband, “Garian,” has requested that I preface this post with the following disclaimer: Garian has incredibly high Dexterity. The Critical Fails mentioned in this post were made, not due to low Dex, but because his dexterity is SO HIGH, he rolls for routine tasks subconsciously — or just takes the average — so it catches him off guard when the GM suddenly increases the difficulty rating while he’s distracted. Also, he requested that as evidence of his remarkable dexterous skills (in a particular specialization), I tell the story of The Day Garian and “Ford” Went Shopping. As that story is One Of The Most Embarrassing Things Ever in the Vault of Embarrassing Things, I will let you look forward to that coming out at a future point in time.

Now then, that was an exhaustive preface. We will start with the little endearing things that regularly occur around poor Garian.

Sometimes, he has to roll to continue holding things… and fails.

This evidently goes back to his adolescent growth spurt days and has continued unabated in the time I have known him. He can be holding something, say a bottle of soda, a deck of cards, a bag of game bits, a plate of food — really anything guaranteed to make a mess — and not doing anything else; maybe he’s talking, but usually just holding something. And suddenly he will fail to continue holding it. It’s like the muscles in his hands suddenly rebel and just drop the object. Occasionally, those around him can make extraordinary Saving Throws and catch the imperiled item before it explodes everywhere. But usually, not…I give you Exhibit A — The Black Bean Soup Incident: We’re getting ready to go to a funeral one day. Ford was going with us and I had made black bean soup and cornbread for lunch. Garian and Ford were already in their suits and eating while I was getting dressed. I left them both seated at the table with their food and plenty of napkins. I’m putting on my make-up when I suddenly hear Ford shout, “OH, SHIT!’ while Garian simultaneously yelled “Nothing!” to reassure me that everything was under control and that I should stay in the bathroom. I did not stay in the bathroom. I went into the dining room and discovered the Black Bean Soup Massacre.

Ford -- in his only suit -- rolled a successful Dodge and was spared the worst of the carnage, as well as from having to wear his Geek Squad uniform to the funeral -- the stakes were high...

I have no idea how a bowl of soup went from quietly sitting on the table to being Jackson Pollucked all over the room and the only witnesses aren’t talking. I don’t think they know exactly what happened either. We then had to frantically find another suit for Garian to wear and clean up the worst of the mess before slamming out of the house to just make the funeral… But who makes you roll to EAT SOUP?!

When he fails dex checks for routine tasks, he rarely makes the saving throw for damage.

I have spent far more time on the inside of emergency rooms and hospitals than someone my age (who isn’t in the medical profession) ought to, but I myself have never been hospitalized in an unplanned sort of way. I am usually there because Garian has failed a saving throw (often Ruby is also the culprit, but she is less accident-prone and more just susceptible to weird illnesses). Way back before I knew him, Garian evidently had to roll dice to dance at a party. He is a good dancer, so I would have liked to see what he was attempting that prompted the GM to set the difficulty level so high… Anyway, he danced into a concrete bench. And dislocated his knee. I’m talking kneecap all the way around the side of his leg dislocated. He says that’s the worst pain he’s been in ever in his life.

More recently, we discovered that my youngest brother is some kind of modifier on these sorts of situation, and not in a good way. We had been dating for a while when Garian was teaching my then 14-year-old brother how to play roller hockey in a parking lot. They weren’t doing anything crazy, just skating around and shooting the puck back and forth a bit, when there was some sort of minor collision and Garian fell badly, or rather landed badly. I had been shooting hoops with my dad not far away and yelled, “Are you OK?” He answered “No, I think I sprained my wrist…” I went over to look at the wrist in question and it kind of looked like this:

this is not where a hand should normally be in relation to an arm...

We took him to the ER and they did some x-rays. Evidently, surgery would not have been helpful because you have to have *something* to attach pins to and his wrist bones looked more like “cornflakes” than bones (yes, that’s the medical term… well, a doctor said it anyway). They called in a great orthopedic surgeon who just took the wrist in his hands and reset it while I asked Garian math problems to distract him. The plan had been for him to come over to my family’s house for dinner and Settlers of Catan post-hockey, so Garian insisted on proceeding with that plan, morphine be damned. He won the game, but we didn’t want him to drive home what with the cast and drugs and all, so he stayed over that night and then spent the next day finding out what he could do one-handed. Turns out he could still hold a hockey stick decently, but couldn’t really handle the puck that well; he could shoot a BB rifle (resting it on his cast); and he could hit a target with a compound bow and arrow (lying on the ground, holding the bow with his feet and pulling back with his good hand). You can see why I like him 🙂

Much later, after we were married, he and the same little brother went sledding and Garian failed a perception check, sledded into a concrete culvert and broke his back in 5 places. I mean, SLEDDING?! The man does full-contact martial arts, rides a motorcycle, skateboards, shoots guns, plays roller hockey and basketball and he breaks his back sledding. His GM has a twisted sense of humor. I don’t let him play outdoors with my little brother anymore. The event did spawn a recurring party around the date that Garian didn’t die, however, so we now celebrate Garian’s Not Dead Day once a year and usually invite over all the friends who helped us out during his recovery for a weekend of gaming and festivities — but no sledding. Our sled was broken in the accident and no one has dared to give us another one.

What routine rolls have you failed at and with what disastrous results? Commiserate in the Comments!

Life is Like a Role-Playing Game — with a Sadistic GM

Posted in In Real Life, In the Gaming Realms with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2011 by Bekka


In my experience, a lot of life can be understood or expressed in role-playing game (tabletop) terms. Unless you are expressing yourself to people who don’t know what that is. If you are one of those, read this summary from wikipedia. It’s not weird or a cult or anything. It’s basically playing make-believe with complicated rules, formulas and polyhedral dice, preferably with a good group of friends, some junk food and lots of beer or soda. I have made a few references to rpg terminology in previous posts, so presumably most of my readers are in the loop or at least pretending to be (style points for that, I’ll give you some dice to roll against your Bluff or Perform Skill and see if I believe you)

This particular blog entry was inspired by an incident last night. I was just getting a drink of water after dinner and yelped as I managed to pour it down my front instead of into my mouth. Sadly, this isn’t that uncommon for me — I refer to it as “my drinking problem” and it’s the reason I usually request a straw or stick to water; saves on dry cleaning you know. Naturally, Garian laughed at me and then exclaimed, “Who makes you roll for that?!” He was implying that the GM running the game of my life had required me to roll dice against my Character’s Dexterity rating to determine if I (a coordinated, unimpaired human adult with full use of my appendages) could in fact drink some water and that I had somehow managed to roll a Critical Fail. No one should make you roll for that. So, today I regale you with real things that have happened to me and my friends because we failed a metaphorical roll we shouldn’t have even had to make. I may make this into a two-part post because so many occasions are springing to mind…

Roll Perception… to walk into your own backyard.

My backyard kind of looks like this:

not to scale

And on a fine summer day last year I was going to go check on my garden, maybe pull some weeds, pick some snow peas, that sort of thing. NOT epic quest material. The GM must have been bored because evidently, I needed to make a perception check to walk into my backyard. And I failed it. So I’m walking to the garden when:

Yes. That is the rose bush grabbing me BY THE HEAD and flinging me backwards. I never saw it coming, didn’t have a clue that I was so much as in danger of brushing against the roses. No, it was not even windy or anything. I had a decent cut on my forehead for a couple weeks that my hair fortunately hid pretty well so I didn’t have to explain that I apparently can’t stroll through my yard without walking into pointy foliage with Non-Lethal Damage (1D6).

Roll Dexterity… for Routine Tasks.

Now, I only wear mascara for special occasions — it’s messy to put on and aggravating to get off and my eyelashes are really dark enough anyway. My friends “Ruby” and “Elle”, however, are pretty justified in avoiding the stuff for the rest of their lives. They have both failed some Dexterity Roll in an epic way while applying it and scratched their eyes so badly, they had to go to the doctor and get special medicine and eyepatches and everything. Ruby has done this multiple times and then reopened the scratch in her sleep. You want to laugh about it but it sucks so much to have eye damage that you feel sort of bad being amused by it…

Elle has also thrown her back out while brushing her teeth. She didn’t slip and fall or anything. Brushing teeth one minute, agonizing back spasms the next. I did laugh at her, but also drove her to the doctor. I mean, seriously — who makes you roll for that?!

Which brings us to one of my favorite Elle stories so far. She was coming over to visit one afternoon when I get a call from her: “Hey, Bek… I’m going to be a little late I think…”

Me: “Sure, that’s fine. Whenever… are you ok?”

Elle: “Um, I think so. I stopped to get gas and when I was getting back in the car… I … slammed my head in the car door… so… I’m just going to go ask the gas attendant to look at my pupils. I think I have a concussion… and I may sit here until I can drive again.”

Whatever else she said was drowned by my howls of laughter. Sorry. It’s true. When I got a grip, I asked if she needed a ride or something, but she was ok after a few minutes and if she had a concussion, it was a very light one. I mean, how do you even do that? Elle’s retort to this is “If I knew how I did it, don’t you think I would’ve been paying enough attention to not do it?” Sometimes I just wake up in the night laughing about it. When Garian is having a rough day, I will text message him: “Elle. car door. lol.” Cheers him right up.

Speaking of Garian… well, I shall have to get to his critical fails next week, as he has quite enough to merit his own whole post. When have you critically failed something you shouldn’t have even had to roll for (in game or in real life)? Tell me about it in the comments! And be careful getting in your car this weekend…

The Worst Thing I Ever Said

Posted in Evil Deeds, Sneakiness & Skullduggery, In the Gaming Realms on October 21, 2011 by Bekka

Continuing the trend of confessing the Worst Things Ever, I’m going to relate the circumstances under which I uttered probably the most vicious profanities of my life thus far. Has anyone ever played Serenissima? I have, once. In the game, players represent a merchant family during the Renaissance and attempt to balance trading and commerce with economic piracy. You have a fleet of ships to purchase and move various commodities around the Mediterranean while also keeping well manned ships to attack and defend against other player’s fleets.

Well, Garian and Neal were teaching me the game and we all were more or less going about our trading businesses without so much as a minor skirmish. Every time there looked to be a confrontation, Garian would insist, “We are a Peaceful People” and his ships would pass mine in safety.

Eventually, I had to invest most of my ships in securing a critical delivery which, if made, would give me enough points to win the game. Garian chose this time to attack and capture my capital city out of the blue despite our ongoing alliance because “there just hasn’t been enough conflict in this game yet” (Losing control of your capital is crippling and I could not then win).  I shrieked at him, “Hey! I thought you were a Peaceful People!!” His smug reply was something like, “Oh we are. A Very Peaceful People. Now.”

I proceeded to say the Worst Thing I Ever Said. If I transcribed it here, I’m afraid I’d have to give this post a Mature Rating and it could not really compare anyway to hearing it firsthand in all its enraged glory. It took about 3 minutes to finish saying and involved the creative use of every curse word I know in a couple of languages combined with very unladylike speculations as to the Peaceful People’s ancestry, activities, and appearances. I don’t know if Garian had heard me say so much as “damn” before then, as I only use curse words when I really mean them.

Finally, I ran out of breath and colorful expletives and turned my fleet around in a cold fury to retake my capital and destroy the offending invasion force, which I did. With Garian’s fleet sufficiently decimated, Neal seized the opportunity to mop up what was left of his territories and become the dominant power while what remained of my sad armada went to try to take the delivery on anyway. Neal prevented my delivery and won the game. And we never played Serenissima again.

After the game there was no resentment on either side; we trash talk in game, but always leave it at the table (Garian’s ex, however, once gave him the silent treatment for several days after a surprising in game betrayal). We laugh about it now, but all anyone has to say is “We are a Peaceful People” in any game to set me off on a swear-riddled tirade about what they can do with their Peaceful People.

“Untrustworthy are the Peaceful People, for they shall stab you in the back.”

What are the worst things you’ve said over a game? Have you ever lost real life friendships over gaming? Discuss! And play some Peaceful Games this weekend!