Wizards ‘n Zombies II

Wizards ‘n Zombies Part 2

This week’s comic is a continuation of the story begun here in last week’s comic. We are playing Fantasy Flight Games’ ‘End of the World’ RPG series. As I alluded to in last week’s blog post, the USP of this RPG is that the character you play is based on yourself. In fact, it’s more than just ‘based on’. The character you play is yourself.

You can find a complete (and very interesting) article on character creation here but, briefly; there are three categories: physical, mental, and social. Each of these categories has two different stats: physical, for example, has dexterity and vitality. Working from a limited number of points, you assign values to each of these stats. Then, the group you are playing with votes on whether to adjust these, i.e. they decide that no, you aren’t an Olympic level athlete and reduce your vitality to a reasonable number.

Even more fun is then introducing a unique characteristic in each of the three categories. What this will be is up to you. Short-sighted, grumpy, tire easily, great sense of direction, martial arts.

The only thing that then remains to decide is what gear or equipment all of your characters have. As the game begins with everyone sitting around a table at their current location, your items are easy: what is currently in your pockets?

Of course, this kind of character creation is absolutely not going to be for everyone. Typically, roleplaying is about creating a character from imagination. It’s about playing a role, after all, and this is exactly the opposite of that. It’s an exciting, funny, and fun prospect for me, but I understand it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

The system does allow you to just create a character from your imagination if you choose, but if you want to do that, there are probably 100s of other RPGs to better suit your taste. In the coming years, I hope to explore more than a few of those RPGs myself.

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Wizards ‘n Zombies

Wizards ‘n Zombies

Fantasy Flight Games’ End of the World line is an incredibly cool sounding series of RPGs. The different manuals in the series each focus on a different apocalypse scenario: zombies, aliens, robots, petting zoo uprising, that kind of thing. Regardless of how The End came about, the scenario you find yourself in will be familiar: a ragtag group of survivors trying to escape the city/find help/make it home.

What’s different about these books is the character creation. In the ‘End of the World’ series, the character you play is yourself. The character creation process is an honest appraisal of your own strengths and weaknesses, which are distilled into usable attributes in the game. The game you will be playing is as if the apocalypse had actually landed on your own doorstep, and you and your actual friends need to get to safety, with nothing more fantastic than the tools that might actually be to hand.

More on that next week though, as this is part one of a two-part comic! Wooh story arc! Kind of. While I don’t want to spoil what’s going to happen next week, long time readers will know that both Gary and the word ‘zombie’ appearing together can really only mean one thing. Here’s a hint or two, if you are unfamiliar.


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Hide the Wizard

Writer_smallerChristmas is Coming

If you live in, around, near, or even just in the general landmass that supports the city of Cork, you should come along to the Tabletop Cafe pop-up this Sunday. It’s upstairs in the Roundy Bar on Castle St. If you come along say hello! I’ll be helping out all day, and would be delighted to meet some readers, and if it’s not too busy, maybe even play some games as well. I am even willing to play a wizardy game, if you ask really nice. Maybe.

Next week we begin our now-annual tradition of Guest Week. This is where we get our excellent friends and collaborators to make some comics for the site, putting some variety into proceeds, and allowing us a break over Christmas. Well, I say us, but really, I mean Aileen. While I can knock out a script in about an hour, in between writerly naps on the couch, it can then take Aileen the better part of two days to pencil, ink, and colour it. Guest Week also allows us to recharge our batteries, and I always feel we come out of the break making better comics.

The plan as it stands now is to have two ‘guest comics’ over the next three weeks, and also include our own Christmas special (yes, Guest Week runs for three weeks, it’s a thing). I am not yet 100% when our comic will run in that three-week period, but obviously, I would encourage you all to come and check out the guest comics as well.

We have some returning guest creators with Damien Duncan and Dave McNally, and a couple of exciting new faces as well. Everyone involved in Guest Week is someone I have worked with before on other comic projects. They are all people I trust to deliver great work. They are as good as, and in some cases, clearly better than, our own work. I will also continue to include a blog post with each comic, so while we get to take a break, you don’t actually get to take a break from me.

Soz. LOLZ.

Also by this time next week, I will have seen Rogue One, so I will likely be unable to think about anything else at that point – so expect a blog post about it. I am so excited! Is everyone else not this excited as well?

HO HO HO Star Wars!

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Another Wizard Did It

Writer_smallerThe Importance of Rolling Dice

If you’re a newer reader, here is a reminder of how I feel about wizards.

I think I just find it hard to move past that old stereotype of the pointed hat, white beard, and purple robes. Having never played D&D growing up, that stereotype was never challenged. And by the time the Wizard’s Guild hired publicist JK Rowling to radically transform their image, it might have already been too late for me. I have seen a couple of the films, and while I did think they were fun, they failed to really captivate me. Although I will admit that having never attempted to read the novels, I am likely to be missing the real magic.

However, I’m not a completely heartless monster, and I will admit to being charmed by the look of the trailer for Fantastic Beasts. Potter-verse aside, it looks like it could be a really fun, colourful adventure. Exactly the kind of film that would make for a good cinema trip in a cold winter month.

While this week’s comic might not be based on real events, it is certainly true and faithful in spirit. If Aileen, or indeed some person more nefarious than her, did ever need to lure me unwittingly into a trap, dice would work 100% of the time. I crave dice in my games like others seem to crave miniatures in theirs. And it’s not for the random element. I much prefer the balance of a game to swing on planning, strategy, scheming – any one of these wonderful things. It is the tactile nature of dice that appeals so much.

Whenever a new game comes into our possession (oh, what a glorious thing!), its unboxing will follow a by-now standard procedure. Once the shrink comes off, Aileen will occupy herself with the olfactory delights contained within. Nothing makes her happier than the smell of new board game, and she could easily lose hours to this pursuit.

Meanwhile, I will be digging around in the box for the dice. Once in my hand, I will assess their heft, feeling their weight, design, quality, and colour. And of course, test them. In the parlance of a younger generation, see ‘how they roll’. Do they make a satisfying noise as they collide in my hand, and then hit the table? Are they clunky, or clacky? Do they bounce, spin, or stop disappointingly? Will the test rolls produce a good omens, or ill?

For my birthday this year, Aileen got me the Pathfinder box set, a brilliantly packed box full of manuals, maps, cardboard, and a lovely-looking set of dice – a full complement of those required for roleplaying, in fact. Although reasonable looking, they felt a little light, and didn’t roll very much when cast into the box lid. My very first rolls produced three ones in a row on the D20, followed by a two. The D6 then rolled two ones in a row. I can’t speak for the other dice, as I immediately re-bagged them, and hid them at the very back of our gaming shelf, never to be spoken of again. The very next day, I bought a replacement set at the gaming store (after spending close to half an hour testing and rolling various sets at the counter, obviously).

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A Wizard did it

Writer_smallerThe Union of Wizards

It’s strange to look back and realise that in over 100 comics we have never featured a wizard. We have had most of board gaming’s staples: zombies, dice, dungeons, Catan, combat, cards, dice, collectibles, expansions, war, Shia LeBeouf. But oddly, no wizards. Or mages & clerics, as I gather they are more commonly known now.

I guess there a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, neither Aileen nor myself ever did any roleplaying. In fact, Fiasco is as much as we have ever done. So we don’t have that grounding in D&D that is very common to gamers of our age, who would have been weaned on swords, magic and D20s.

Secondly, once we leave the grounded realm of trading, settling, economics and historical settings, we both tend more towards sci-fi than fantasy. This is broadly true in our other interests as well: reading, TV, video games, dressing up like aliens and pretending our couch is a spaceship. That kind of thing.

As good a game as Descent is, it never grabbed us until Fantasy Flight put it in a Wookie suit and called it Imperial Assault. The same with Mage Knight: now that it’s had some pointy ears glued on to make it look like a Vulcan, we’re all over it. Theme is just too important to both of us. A game needs good mechanics, obviously; otherwise, it would never cross our table. But that alone is never enough. Its setting, its world, the story it tells has to interest us as well. Gaming is more than just sitting around a table rolling dice and playing cards. It’s weaving stories with our friends. It’s creating characters and worlds. It’s that unique alchemy where cardboard, dice and cards become something so much more. And that something is the experience of playing games and creating stories. It is, ironically, magical. Almost as if a wizard is always involved, regardless of setting.

We are hoping to do more roleplaying in the future, so it does seem likely that this will put us in touch with our bearded side. Will this be enough to keep the Wizard’s Guild off our backs? Time will tell. Right now, I think it’s more important that we keep the Zombies Union from sending around a representative. Took us weeks to get the gore out of our carpet the last time that happened.

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