Donnerstag, 21. Juni 2012

"CONTACT - Das Taktische UFO-Rollenspiel" Review

About a week ago I stumbled across something that piqued my interest like nothing else has for a few years now. Browsing for d20 modern campaigns I by chance found the pretty much fresh of the press CONTACT role playing game. It was advertised, as the german title suggests, as a tactical UFO role playing game. And as a long time fan of games like UFO: enemy Unknown and X-COM: Terror from the Deep I was almost immediatly hooked.

Contact Cover

The only thing that kept me from buying the game immediately was the rather steep price. A price tag of about €50 is quite something, even among other rather expensive German role playing games. Still, I decided to indulge myself and to go ahead and commit the sin of wanton spending. Now, not quite a week later, I'm the proud owner of the book shown in the picture above. And it is just about everything I expected and then some more.

I haven't read it throughout yet. That will still take me a day or two. But even after just giving all its major sections a brief glance I couldn't suppress the urge to recommend the game to others, and maybe write a little review.

The Rules: like advertised the game uses a percentile system. Thus I take the liberty to call it a d100 system. Character Creation is done with a point buy mechanic. Characters could be roughly described as the combination of abilities, traits (advantages, disadvantages and neutral traits) and skills. I must admit, that I am rather fond of percentile RPG systems in general, but here my first impression went even way beyond that. This system is in my opinion as close to perfect as it can be.  

Addendum - Character advancement: I still have to mention this, which is mostly done by a leraning by doing approach that gets progressivly harder the better you are at something. Just rememebr dear game masters, if your players decide to level by frog jumping everywhere (or something similar) whack them with a big stick.

Combat: You could argue that combat is obviously part of the rules in general, but I felt it necessary to mention it on its own. Combat in CONTACT is Action Point based. Every character has a number of action points available on each "turn" of combat and all actions cost a certain amount of APs. APs determine how much you can do, and when you can do it. I probably should not go into much more detail here. Anyway, the system as described in the book should guarantee both smooth and action loaded combat sequences. And anyone familiar with the old UFO games should feel some nostalgia.

The Setting: As could be expected the game is firmly set into a slightly dark future version of our earth. The setting as described reminded me of my old Shadowrun experiences as well as, again, the old UFO games.

The Book: Weighing in at 320 pages the hard cover is in my opinion best described as a high quality product. From front to back it is illustrated in full color and all the illustrations match in style and are appropriate for the setting. In addition the book comes with an attached bookmark.

Everything considered, I must say I am very impressed with this product. And I think it is well worth its price. An additional plus is, that the official page has bonus material for download, including character calculators. The one big wish of mine left unfulfilled up to now would be a release in other languages, especially in English. 

As always, feel free to leave a comment or correct me if I got anything wrong.

Sonntag, 17. Juni 2012

Adventure Mapping

I talked about my project "Fire!" a few times already. It is still going slow. Especially writing up extensive NPC descriptions (descriptions, not combat stat blocks!) is taking quite some time. But I think every character worth mentioning deserves a good description and some decent back ground story.

But that is not what I want to detail today. I migth do it another time though. Today I want totalk about maps. For this project I originally decided to go with hand drawn maps. I had them pretty much sketched and then decided to redo them. Noticing some problems with stairs and chimneys prompted me to do that. I will most likely include them as simple blind floor plans, for handouts.

I have been hanging out at the Cartographers' Guild lately though. And some of the genius work posted there by others has sparked a bit of ambition within me. Among other things it made me rediscover the isometric perspective for myself. Thus the idea was born to add the maps in another format for the game master, although there is nothing to stop a game mast from sharing these maps with his players. Not quite as a classical isometric map, but I like how it has started to turn out.

"Fire!" map prototype

Obviously the maps are not finished yet. I still need to redo two more floorplans. And the ones I used as textures for this snapshot still need to be inked and/or digitally cleaned up. For the final version each floor will probably get its own page sized high resolution render.

Samstag, 9. Juni 2012

Stock Art

Recently I mentioned a 4E Mech release and posted a first teaser image. As anyone visiting my Deviant Art page could tell I have been working on modeling some more Mecha since then. Although given my fantasy centric mindset when designing them I'm inclined to call them Golems rather than Mecha. And with all the rendered pictures already at my hands I decided to make them available as a stockart collection.

A spur of the moment decision and as a result the collection deviates slightly from my other stock render collections. This one has more images than the last releases in this line, but they are JPG images ratehr than PNG images with transparent background as they were originally rendered for my own use only. Still I hope you can make use of them.

As always, feel free to leave a comment. Especially if you need the collections content in a different format or with a resolution higher than 300 dpi. Want to see more and/or different Mecha designs? Let me know as well.

Samstag, 2. Juni 2012

One Page Dungeon, 4E "Fire!" and Hyperlinking

First of the results for the One Page Dungeon Contest are out. I would link directly, but it seems their page is currently down. For the time being have a look at the list of winners at Alex Schröder's blog. Sadly I didn't win anything, although honestly I didn't really expect to. Anyway I had a ton of fun creating my little entry and I shall try again for the next contest. Until then, heartfelt congratulations to all the winners.

In other news, I managed to finish my next map (due on Monday the 4th of June) a few days early. This gives me time to do some serious writing for my next 4E short adventure "Fire!". I already posted the current cover in my last blog post and by now I have sketches for half the maps finished as well. For a change they will be hand drawn maps and among them will be not a single battle map.

Writing this adventure is an entirely new challenge for me. Besides constructing a plot without railroading players and game masters the biggest challenge is completely hyperlinking the module. Something that almost instantly wins my favor when I read some one else's adventures or rule books. Mention a rule? Hyperlink it. Mention a side bar? Hyperlink it. Mention a location? Hyperlink! Mention a NPC? Hyperlink it! This sounds easy enough, but by now I know why not more writers do it. It is quite a chore, even if you do it from the start. Still, if you have the chance to do it you really should. I am certain just about any game master will thank you for it. Or at least that is my opinion. How do you feel about that?