13 Spooky Games for Halloween

Comment

13 Spooky Games for Halloween

Hey there Active Players! It’s October, which means it’s time to get spooky! We have selected 13 games for the Halloween season, separated into 3 different categories: The Classics, The New/Not as Heavily Featured, and Your Favorite Game Mechanics but Zombie-Themed. Whether you’re looking for a quick 10-minute game or a three-hour tour, a party game or a 2-player game, we’ve got you covered.

 

The Classics

These are the games that you’ll see on several other lists, but we like them so much we have to include them anyway.

Betrayal at House on the Hill/Betrayal Legacy : Avalon Hill

If you’ve followed Active Player Network and read pretty much any of our Player Character interviews, you’ll know that Betrayal at House on the Hill is an excellent gateway game. You star as characters in a B horror movie, and as you explore the haunted house you lay out different room tiles, creating a new house every time you play. Once the “haunt” is triggered, one of you becomes the traitor, and it becomes one player versus the others. It’s a very easy-to-learn game and has tremendous replayability. For those of you who already own it and have played through all 50 of the haunts (or you just love expansions), check out the expansion: Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk. And if you want the choices you’ve made in a previous game to carry over, try Betrayal: Legacy, where you play as different generations of the same family.

Betrayal_gallery_2_0.jpg

 

One Night Ultimate Werewolf: Bezier Games

Do you like bluffing games? Werewolf was one of the OGs. One or more of you are werewolves terrorizing the town, and the rest of you are various villagers, some with special powers such as the ability to swap or steal cards, trying to find and kill that werewolf. There’s no board, it’s just you and your friends, in a room, yelling at each other. You have a limited amount of time to argue your case about who you think is a werewolf, and you don’t want to get the wrong person accused or else an innocent villager will die and the werewolf will run free to kill again. One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a short-and-sweet version, and an excellent party game for up to 10 players. It even has an app to talk you through the “open your eyes, look around, close your eyes,” opening sequence. If you’ve played this game before and you always get grumpy when you’re just a normal villager, try the Daybreak expansion, in which everyone has a special power.

ONUW-components_800x.jpg

 

Fury of Dracula: WizKids

Another option for the one-versus-many style game, Fury of Dracula has one player as the titular Count, and the rest as famous hunters trying to work together to bring him down. The hunters will be trying to find Dracula’s trail and kill him, while Dracula will be trying to elude the hunters and increase his influence until he has taken over the world! Well, at least Europe. There have been 4 editions of this game, with the most recent being published by WizKids, and each edition has streamlined the rules and produced better components. But hey, if you’re a collector, track ‘em all down before you take on Dracula.

FuryofDracula5.jpg

Gloom: Atlas Games

Making other people happy is supposed to make you happy, right? Well in this game, you’re trying to make your characters as miserable as possible. Each player controls one family, and you want to bestow the worst possible circumstances upon your family, while preventing the other families from being too sad by giving them good things. It’s all very backwards. First player to humiliate their family enough to kill them off, wins! This game sounds super morbid, but is actually quite lighthearted and farcical due to the artwork and the nature of the mishaps. 

wellington.jpg

 

The New/Not as Heavily Featured

Here you’ll find some games that aren’t as popular or well-known, but have caught our attention for one reason or another. Definitely a good place to look if you’ve played the previously-listed games or want to find something a little different.

 

Escape Tales: Low Memory/The Awakening: Board and Dice 

Spooky Escape Rooms in a box! We’ve talked about these games before, but we’re SUPER excited about Escape Tales: Low Memory, which should be hitting game store shelves on October 24th, just in time for Halloween. It looks like Black Mirror as an escape game, and we are all about it. And if it’s anything like Escape Tales: The Awakening, the game is replayable, with multiple endings and story paths! Gather yourself and up to three of your friends, and then the next night find three MORE friends. These are the perfect options if you want a cooperative, but still spooky, game night.

 Nyctophobia: Pandasaurus Games

This is a 1 vs. Many game mechanic with a bit of a twist: the many are wearing blackout glasses and cannot see the board. Your goal is to stumble your way into each other, find the getaway car, and avoid the Hunter (played by the 1 player). This is a game that involves all the senses and really gets you invested in the story, which is only aided by the Hunter player also acting as a Game Master of sorts as they guide the players’ hands on the board. The Hunter player can really get into it too, making noise on the board so that the other players hear them coming, or providing other sensory effects. Out of game talking generates noise tokens and alerts the Hunter to where you are. You are completely enveloped in the experience, and if you’re afraid of the dark, or getting chased, or just being scared in general… well you’re going to hate this in all the best ways. 

 

Kids on Bikes: Renegade Game Studios and Hunters Entertainment

You didn’t think we would make it through a list without including at least one RPG, did you? Kids on Bikes is a horror-themed collaborative RPG where you play normal people dealing with some paranormal forces. You get different stat boosts based on if you play a kid, a teenager, or an adult, and it has an incredibly accessible mechanics system good for newcomers to RPGs, or people who just want something nice and easy to change up their RPGs. It absolutely feels like one of those nostalgic 80s stories like E.T, The Goonies, or Stranger Things.

RGS7119_l.jpg

 

It: Evil Below: The OP

Speaking of nostalgic 80s stories! It’s always nice to work together trying not to die, and It: Evil Below is a great new co-op game to scratch that itch. You play as members of the Losers Club trying to make your way through the town of Derry and defeat Pennywise before he amasses too much influence, too many victims, or just flat out kills you. If you like those “million ways to lose but only one way to win” co-op games, you’ll love this one. It has a strong theme, great art, and fun game mechanics.

IT Evil Below.jpg

Disney Villainous: Ravensburger

It feels good to bad! This insanely popular game offers you a unique experience with each villain you play, and with 6 villains in the base game and 3 in each expansion you’ll have a ton of ways to be crowned the fairest of them all. Each villain has a different end goal, and you have to try to achieve yours while simultaneously trying to prevent the other players from achieving theirs. It requires a lot of strategy, just like any good Disney villain has. 

Villainous also has two standalone expansions: Wicked to the Core gives you the Evil Queen from Snow White, Dr. Facilier from Princess and the Frog, and Hades from Hercules, while Evil Comes Prepared gives you Scar from The Lion King, Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove, and Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective (where else can you find love for that incredibly underrated movie?). You can play with any of the three, but once you see how differently each villain plays, you’ll probably want to buy them all.

60001739_1.jpg

Your Favorite Game Mechanics, but Zombie-Themed

Kind of self-explanatory.

Zombie Dice: Steve Jackson Games 

Zombie Dice is a press-your-luck dice rolling game. You, as a zombie, want to eat people and not get shot. You can keep re-rolling your dice trying to get brains and not get shot, or you can stop early and play it safe. It is probably the shortest game to play on this list and has the easiest rules, so it’s also a good game to play before/after trick-or-treating. 

Screen Shot 2019-10-11 at 2.10.31 PM.png

Zombie Fluxx: Looney Labs
Fluxx is the game where the rules are constantly changing, and you never really know what’s going to happen next. You’re trying to survive the changing rules, survive the zombie apocalypse, and achieve the goal before someone plays a new goal card and dramatically alters the direction of the game. It’s a fast-paced game that usually runs around 15-20 minutes, unless you have that one player who would rather stop you from winning at the expense of losing themselves (everyone stop looking at me okay?!). It offers great replayability and works as a good opener or palette cleanser.

ZF.contents.jpg

Munchkin Zombies: Steve Jackson Games
Munchkin is likely the most well-known screw-over-your-friend game, and Munchkin Zombies is pretty self-explanatory. Now you get to screw over your friends and be a zombie! This particular iteration of Munchkin has some hilarious cards, particularly for the types of “armor” you can put on. 

munchkin zombies.jpg

Tiny Epic Zombies: Gamelyn Games 

With zombie-themed games you have to either play as the zombies, or play as the people killing the zombies. But like, why not both? The cool thing about Tiny Epic Zombies is that it is actually 5 different gameplay styles in one: you have two different cooperative modes (one in which it’s all of you versus game-controlled zombies, and one where one player controls the zombies), two different competitive modes (one in which you’re free for all-ing against game-controlled zombies, and one where one player controls the zombies), and then a solo mode! Each one has similar objectives and mechanics, but the gameplay feels different each time. As with all of the Tiny Epic games, it is condensed into a small box perfect for fitting in a purse, backpack, or slightly large pocket, so it’s easy to take around with you and bust out when the need arises. 

 

 

Which of these games are you most looking forward to trying next? Do you already have a favorite? Let us know in the comments and get your spooky on!

 

Comment

Casters and Cantrips Session 1!

Comment

Casters and Cantrips Session 1!

The first episode of Casters and Cantrips, a live, interactive D&D show at The Cauldron Magical Experience in NYC, is here! Join our four heroes as they enter the magical world of Fai'Dai, sitting just outside the view of humans, here in the world of New York City itself.

You can always see the newest episode on our Twitch channel (twitch.tv/activeplayernetwork) Mondays at 7pm EST. Episodes will be uploaded to YouTube the following Friday at 3pm EST.

Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Miles Duffield, Dungeon Master for Casters and Cantrips!

Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Miles Duffield, Dungeon Master for Casters and Cantrips!

Our final Casters and Cantrips Player Character Spotlight is our illustrious Dungeon Master himself: Miles Duffield! Miles talks about being a professional DM, the difference between a group gathered around a table and a live show, and the charity work he does with Geeks4Good!

PC spotlight miles duffield.jpg

RP: Tell us a little bit about yourself!

MD: I’m Miles Duffield, I’m a geek, a weirdo, I love birdwatching, sword fighting, storytelling, and food and drink, but especially when it’s a secret.  I’m an ex-actor/stuntman/dogwalker from Telluride Colorado, and I’ve lived across the US, but I currently reside in Brooklyn NY, where I stream on twitch.tv/geeks4good, and am a professional Dungeon Master.  My service is specifically for the busy, the curious, and the serious: i.e. people who don’t have time to prepare and run a game, people who want to learn but are daunted by the size of the rulebook, and people who know exactly what they want, and need someone to deliver it for them.  I run a bunch of systems, and can learn any you are interested in trying. People can email me at bookagamewithmiles@gmail.com to, well, book a game with me.

RP: What is Geeks4Good?

MD:Geeks4Good is a twitch variety channel that streams tabletop RPGs, video games, and board games in order to raise funds and awareness for different nonprofits and charities.  I started G4G in 2017, confused and disillusioned with the world, and just started… Doing it! We had a great year, shot up, gained an amazing following, and raised $15,000 for various nonprofits and charities including Child’s Play, Game To Grow, and Paws and Stripes.  We went on a hiatus in 2018 when I realized that my do first, ask questions later had made a fragile structure that was going to fall down, so we’ve been restructuring hard for the last year and a half, and I’m gunning for a re-opening of our tabletop content mid-2020! Meanwhile though, I’m streaming video games, and GM musings 5 days a week from 1-9 with a dinner break somewhere in there.  Come hang out at twitch.tv/geeks4good!

 

RP: When/why did you start playing RPGs?

MD:  I started playing RPGs in freshman year of high school.  I remember seeing the 3.5 edition core pack of Dungeons and Dragons in my local Hastings, who for those of you not from the southwest in the mid new-millennium, was the Christian-acceptable Hot Topic with way more books and movies. I brought it to my mom, and told her that I thought I needed it, the 100+ dollars for the core set still being a massive expense for me. I remember her looking at me and it a little suspiciously, and saying, “are you sure,” and I said, yes, I am sure.  

I rolled up 10 characters on the car ride home.  Got so sick I puked.

 

RP: What are some of your favorite RPG systems to play?

MD:  I am in love with D&D, especially as a Dungeon Master.  It gives me the flexibility I need to shine. I’m also a huge fan of Starfinder, and the new Pathfinder, while I haven’t gotten to play it, is the future of stimulatory RPG systems. It’s brilliant. Recently I’ve developed a deep obsession with Arc Dream’s new Delta Green Edition, and the written modules for that are unlike anything else I’ve seen written down other than the maddening scrawls of my own prep.  I also have a soft place in my heart for Shadowrun, which has my favorite fictional world ever, and Rememorex, an 80’s nostalgia indie game by my friend Sean Jaffe, of Nerdy City has some of the best character creation mechanics in the business.  

 

RP: How do you find people to play with?

MD: This is something I’ve always struggled with.  I have trouble making friends, and finding friends who are also interested in playing TTRPGs is doubly hard.  But honestly, there has never been a better time than now for it! I see more people daily that I never would have expected getting into D&D!  Ask around! Be Bold! Be kind and welcoming!

 

RP: Do you prefer to be a player or the DM and why?

MD:  I am now pretty solidly a DM.  I love storytelling, I love improvising, and I love the illusion of control and shattering it, for both my players and myself.  Riding the wave of being a DM on their high is as good as the feeling of perfectly blocking a sword cut you had forgotten was in the choreography.  DMing is that feeling over and over again. Constant inspiration and expiration. Riding a strange edge.  

 

RP: Do you play board games at all? What are some of your favorites and why?

MD: I do!  I love board games!  A special favorite of mine is Everdell which is about woodland creatures making new towns around the Evertree!  It’s so precious, beautifully crafted, it merges pieces of about 6 different mechanics from other board games seamlessly, and at the end it’s really pretty to look at and everyone feels like they made something, no matter how many points they got.

 

RP: Do you consider gamer an integral part of your identity?

MD: Yes.  I started playing video games when I was very young.  I cried over Mario, threw controllers over Ocarina of Time, and celebrated my first perfect Call of Duty win with pizza.  I found board games much later, but in-person gaming has become the part of my life I chase more and more. Tabletop roleplaying games are my favorite things in the world.

 

RP: How do you balance gaming with your real life?

MD: This is not good, but I don’t. I love it so much, I made it work.  That has led to a bunch of personal problems and a solid degree of psychic pain as I figure out work-life balance when everything I love becomes work.  I’m finding that I am able to find greater peace when I’m actively taking time to do things that I don’t like the most, but that calm me; long walks, meditating, physical activity.  It’s been a balancing act that I’ve failed at quite a lot. But you learn to juggle primarily by dropping balls, so I’m on my way.

RP: What are you most looking forward to for Casters and Cantrips?

MD: The audience. I’m not trying to butter you up. Live audiences change everything. And with our interactive mechanics that we’ve designed, based on the metagames we played on Geeks4Good, you are going to have greater opportunities to reach into the game and change it!  I’m very excited to see where we take each other. And this weird wacky world I’ve built... I did it all live on stream on Geeks4Good, so feel free to go check out the VODs for a preview.

 

RP: What are some things you do as a DM to prepare for a new campaign? What do you have to change to prepare for a game that will be streamed?

MD: I largely write out sensations of places.  Things that help me describe the places I think we’ll end up in.  I dream a lot about problems that might arise, and solve little things before my players even get there.  I try to fall deeply in love with the ideas I have, so that adoration carries over to my players, and they love and fear the things I bring to the table.  The thing that a year of running games on stream taught me is that the only difference between running a game in private, and running a game in front of people is that you speak a little louder, and you make eye contact with the audience as well as the players when you story tell.  People want to be at the table with you. D&D is performative by nature. I don’t need to work at it.

 

RP: How do you think the interactive audience will make this game different than a “traditional” D&D game?

 MD: Chaos.  Pure chaos.  Showing favor or animosity towards the players, you are going to heighten the amount of impulses in the room, which is going to raise the stakes, which is going to be remarkably exciting.  Interactive games are my actual favorite thing in the world.  

 

RP: Do you have any advice for people just starting out with RPGs?

MD: Yes!  It took me YEARS to realize this: The game is yours.  D&D once you’ve bought it no longer belongs to the designers. Play the game your way. Find players who like to play the same way. Be respectful.  Be kind. Be understanding. Listen. LISTEN. Don’t pay attention to the FB groups or the message boards, or anyone who tells you how D&D “should” be played.  In fact, avoid people who use the word “Should.” Have fun. It is a game after all.

 

Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Amy Chrzanowski, Leiya in Casters and Cantrips!

Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Amy Chrzanowski, Leiya in Casters and Cantrips!

Meet Amy! A long-time cosplayer who took her love of roleplaying and put it towards a roleplaying game; Amy brings her bright-eyed, positive wonderment to the role of Leiya, Half-Orc Paladin and lover of herbology.

PC Spotlight Amy Chrzanowski.jpg

RP: Tell me a little bit about yourself!

AC:  My name is Amy Chrzanowski and I’m a proud Jersey girl from Central Jersey (which is definitely a place. We’re close to the shore but still know that New York is what you mean by “the city”). I’m adopted from South Korea and totally view myself as more Italian/Polish.

In my normal, “every day” life, I work in food marketing. In my (lack of) spare time, I’m the Global Membership Director for a Star Wars fan organization called Saber Guild and am currently in rehearsals for Elf the Musical with Narrows Community Theater in Brooklyn.  I love the color purple, all things Disney, have an unhealthy obsession with dogs, and can eat my weight in popcorn.  

 

RP: So I hear you have quite the extensive cosplay history…

AC: I lived in Orlando, FL from May 2008-May 2009 while doing the Disney College Program. When I returned to the tri-state area, I wanted to find a way to volunteer and connect with others in the NYC community. 

I had just missed a volunteer meeting for Make-A-Wish when I moved to the city, which was a bit disheartening; but then, my friend Molly sent me an article about “lightsaber classes”. I mean, they had me at “lightsabers”, but watching their video about their day at St.Mary’s Hospital really touched me and it was like a sign. Dress as a Jedi and perform with lightsabers to raise awareness and money for amazing charities - including Make-A-Wish? This was my calling. 

I reached out to Empire Saber Guild on Twitter and attended a class a month or two later. It then took me a year to pull together my first costume - my generic Jedi, Kamyos Rehnard - but since then I’ve upgraded my Jedi, gotten 2 Sith costumes, joined Rebel Legion (as a Jedi and Rose Tico), and the 501st (as an Imperial Officer). 

Amy Rose BB8.png

My time with Saber Guild: Empire Temple has allowed me to embody what I believe to be the principles of the Jedi. We have raised thousands of dollars for local charities such as St.Mary’s Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House - and we’ve been fortunate enough to perform for the families at both locations. I also aided our Local Director, Rubin Polizzi, in the formation of a kids lightsaber training program called “Padawan Training Institute”. We’ve trained younglings at high profile events such as Star Wars Celebration Chicago, Star Wars Celebration Orlando, Hascon, and Play Fair (to name a few). 

Amy John Boyega.png

Currently, I am the Global Membership Director for Saber Guild International and finishing up a year as the PR Director for Saber Guild: Empire Temple. I’m so proud of the amazing work this organization does around the globe. Our members are incredible. 

 

RP: How much overlap do you see between cosplay and roleplay?

AC: A ton! Truthfully, I’ve been looking into pieces to wear during Casters and Cantrips!

I’m not necessarily saying you need to cosplay to roleplay, but it’s definitely a lot more fun! To me, for cosplay (especially on a Saber Guild Level, where many of our characters are our own, unique characters), there’s an element of storytelling. One of my favorite cosplays is Rose Tyler from the episode “Idiot’s Lantern” - not just because of the pretty pink heels and skirt, but I really enjoyed the episode. Yes, it was a fun episode about the Coronation, but it also dealt with abusive families, a mother taking a stand, and a son learning to forgive (“of course, he’s your dad”). 

11147060_928268710196_2711060980768345261_n.jpg

 When it comes to cosplaying for roleplay, I think it only enhances who your character is on a deeper level. Knowing that my Casters and Cantrips character is into plants and botany, I purchased long, brown gloves. They felt D&D-ish to me, but I felt it would be good for her to have something to protect her arms when digging in the dirt, especially around plants with thorns. 

 Yep, these are things I ponder in my everyday life. But that’s all I’ll say about that. Sorry for talking your ear off!

 

 RP: Don’t apologize for passion! You have such an incredible insight to character building. When/why did you start playing RPGs?

AC: Unlike some of the other players, I did not grow up playing table top games like D&D. My experience with “RPGs” stemmed from online RPG forums and games like Knights of the Old Republic. I recently fell into tabletop and RPG games thanks to my friends Anne and Miles (oh hey! They’re in this show too!)

RP: Do you play board games at all? What are some of your favorites and why?

AC: My family was big on board games, especially since my parents were brought up on the classics like MonopolyClue, and Battleship. I actually just brought some 80s and 90s vintage board games home to play with my boyfriend and his kids. The collection includes such gems as The Full House Game (“Have mercy”), the Are You Afraid of the Dark Game (“I call this session of the Midnight Society”), and Disney Trivial Pursuit. My most prized game is a TaleSpin game signed by Jymn Magon.

 To me, games (board games, video games) are very nostalgic, and I have a lot of great family memories playing games. In a world of technology, sometimes it’s nice to disconnect and focus on a great game.

  

RP: How do you balance gaming with your real life?

AC: I feel like gaming has found me just at the right time - during times when I feel like I’m missing performance or improv, and it’s allowed me to clear a space to be able to focus on something I really love with really great friends.

 

RP: How did you get involved with Casters and Cantrips?

AC: I previously worked with both Miles and Anne during Hearts of Kyber with Geeks4Good and Anne knows that I’m a big fan of the Cauldron. I’m fortunate enough to have been invited to join them on this adventure!

14632927_10105423661355969_1662411028868633864_n.jpg

 

RP: What are you most looking forward to for Casters and Cantrips?

AC: Learning more about the D&D system, role playing with other experienced players and quite frankly - learning from them and testing the boundaries of what mischief I can get away with!

 

RP: What was your character creation process like?

Casters+%26+Cantrips+Press.jpg

AC: I actually first started thinking about my experiences at the Cauldron and what always stood out to me - e.g. the Tree and the herbs that were used in potions. I was watching Outlander at the time and it got me thinking about plants and herbology (especially for medicinal use - always important during a campaign) - and with Anne’s guidance, that’s how I fell into my Half-Orc Paladin character. 

Since then, I’ve started looking into herbs and the history of alchemy - which has been fascinating! 

For my character, I want her to bring a childlike wonder to the group. While I’m nervous being a newer player, I’m really excited - and I want to bring that enthusiasm to her as well. 

 

RP: How do you think the interactive audience will make this game different than a “traditional” D&D game?

AC: For players in the game, it keeps things fresh. We don’t know when the audience will choose to assist us (or possibly the DM - duh duh duuuuuuuh), but they will be an integral part to the success of our adventures and I look forward to seeing who we meet and the energy that they’ll bring to this every week!

For the audience, I think this is going to be an extremely unique experience to help influence the storytelling of this game - and I love it! You don’t necessarily have to be seated with us, but they’ll always have a place at the table - and for someone who’s a bit newer to all of this, I’m honestly grateful. 

 

RP: Do you have any advice for people just starting out with RPGs?

AC: Jump in head first with a smile on your face.   I’m not gonna lie - I’m nervous and slightly intimidated by the amazing people I will be joining for Casters and Cantrips. I think it’s important to have a level of trust with the other players, and to not be afraid to make bold choices. 

And read the Player’s Handbook. That has been really helpful. 

But there’s only so much a book can teach you - so go out there and RPG your little heart out! 

IMG_6649.jpg

Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Scott Morris

Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Scott Morris

“The number one key thing I hear from the people that I work with, which are primarily retailers… It’s being unique. Whether it’s physical, or whether it’s mechanical, something that makes it stand out from the pack."

Meet Scott Morris from GTS Distribution. As someone behind the scenes in gaming, he talks about what makes a game unique, what he enjoys playing at his own table, and how games have helped him both meet new people and strengthen the relationships with people in his life.

Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Deanna Amoia, DP for Casters and Cantrips

1 Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Deanna Amoia, DP for Casters and Cantrips

The theater has a saying: without a crew, actors are just people standing on a dark stage, screaming to be heard. And Caster and Cantrips is no different! Today’s Spotlight is on our irreplaceable Director of Photography: Deanna Amoia.

Deanna talks about her excitement for Casters and Cantrips, the difference between streaming and at-the-table playing, and combining her love of nerd culture with her skills and a photographer and filmmaker.

Photo Credit: Mareson Yates

Photo Credit: Mareson Yates

RP: Tell us a little bit about yourself!

DA: Hi! I'm Deanna and I've worked as a photographer/videographer for about six years now. I'm 27 and live up in Salem, MA, but I grew up just north of NYC in Rockland, NY. My nerdom began with Pokémon cards in elementary school and grew out into video games from there. Most of my free time in high school was spent in Azeroth, and when I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons in college, I was completely hooked. That's been my go-to game ever since. Because life is a little tricky sometimes, I'm just finishing up my bachelor's in Photography/Video/Film at Montserrat College of Art and I'll be done this December. I've done a little bit of everything production-wise - sound, video, stills, etc. - and that's what I'll be doing for Casters and Cantrips!

 

RP: What projects are you working on now?

DA: I started working in only still photography, but as I've developed as an artist, I've started working more and more with video. I was drawn to documentary projects in my personal work and decided to combine my two loves - video and Dungeons and Dragons - in a series of documentaries. The first was a short feature I did on the Critical Role community where I conducted street-style interviews with people at PAX Unplugged. It was a lot of fun to make and, while there are things I would do differently about it now, it had a great reception. Matthew Mercer even took the time to comment on it, and Geek and Sundry wrote an article about it! The second piece is currently in post-production and covers the length of a one-shot run by our very own Anne Richmond earlier this year. I'm hoping to have it finished by late November and start submitting it to festivals after that.

 

RP: How did you get involved with Casters and Cantrips?

DA: I was at GenCon this past summer (for the first time!) and I made sure to take some time to check out the Active Player Network booth while I was there. Anne and I knew each other from working the New York Renaissance Faire and we got to talking about current projects. I mentioned that I wanted to start streaming a live-play D&D game and when she mentioned Casters and Cantrips to me, I was really excited to be a part of it. I can't wait for the games to begin!

RP: What are you most looking forward to for Casters and Cantrips?

DA: After seeing a little bit of what Miles has in store for the party, I'm really interested in seeing the world he's built. It's such a unique combination of elements that I'm afraid to spoil anything! You'll just have to come watch!

 

RP: How do you think the interactive audience will make this game different than a “traditional” D&D game?

DA: I think the interactivity of this game allows for another layer of improvisation to the story. With the mechanics we've created, the audience feels like another player at the table and I'm excited to see how they will affect the story.

 

RP: What are some of your favorite board games to play and why?

DA: I'm very classic when it comes to board games. My favorite by far is chess, but I gravitate towards anything with a deep strategy to it.

 

RP: Are there any specific types of games you look to play or collect?

DA: My friends started buying me older editions of Dungeons & Dragons and I fell in love with them. I've started a small collection of modules and other RPG systems that I add to almost every time I come back from my local comics shop. I also have a small chessboard collection.

 

RP: How do you find people to play with?

DA: My favorite gaming session I've ever been a part of came about when I asked my friends if they knew anyone who wanted to play D&D but never had the chance. I ended up running a one-shot for 10 complete beginners and it was the most fun. My advice for anyone who wants to play but doesn't have a group is to just start asking people around you if they want to start a game! I can't tell you how many times I mention D&D in a coffee shop to someone, only to find the person at the next table is looking for a group to join. Nerds are everywhere!

 

RP: How on Earth did you handle a one-shot for TEN new players? That’s incredible.

DA: Hahah, thanks! It wasn't easy, but I got very lucky with the players I found. All of them were very focused and respectful of each other, which made managing the game much easier. Honestly, looking back on it, I think the hardest part was finding a time that worked for everyone. We spent about 3 hours building characters and 3 hours actually playing. I went in with a setting - a carnival - and a few mini-games for them to play and the rest was a wild improv session. There were only one or two rounds of combat involving a few players and the rest was roleplaying and skill checks which made the pacing pretty quick as well. I also enlisted the help of a couple experienced players to act as coaches. They helped answer questions while the rest of the group kept moving forward - I definitely couldn't have done it without them. Thanks Astin and Mike!

 

RP: How do you think streaming has affected the RPG and the game communities? And for you personally, do you prefer a streamed game or the ol’ fashioned group of people around a table?

DA: Streaming and recorded games (like the very many actual-play podcasts that exist) are a fantastic way of developing a community around the game and I think it's played a huge role in TTRPG's resurgence in recent years. The diversity of the visible community does so much to dispel the stereotypes of what an RPG player looks like, and invites everyone to be a part of the game, regardless of gender identification, color, sexual orientation, or anything else. I find it very inspiring and taking in all of this media has given me the confidence to fully embrace this part of my nerdom. I personally prefer sitting around a table for my own games, but that's not always possible. I usually play in person, but GM online, and I find that works really well for my schedule and style.

 

RP: Do you attend conventions at all?

DA: Yes! PAX Unplugged last year was my first convention, so I'm no veteran by any means, but conventions are so much fun to go to. I spend a day in cosplay (usually as Beauregard from Critical Role) and at least a day taking photographs. Both things get me talking to a lot of people during the day and making some friends in the process.

 

RP: How do you balance gaming with your real life?

DA: That's the trick, isn't it? I'm in a unique situation where I can make my hobby my job, which means I'm pretty much always involved with some part of gaming at one point in the day or the other. Sometimes I'm doing more work (editing, researching, etc.), sometimes I'm playing more (I do a lot of guest playing), and sometimes I'm just sitting on the couch doing nothing - the balance changes week to week.

 

RP: Do you have any advice for people just starting out with playing games?

DA: For TTRPGs, don't feel like you have to know everything about the game to start playing! Yes, it's good to read the books and know all about what your character can do, but no one expects you to know every detail right out of the gate. A good group will understand and help you through the session so that everyone is having a good time. That's the most important thing - have fun! 

1 Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Dexter Warren- Jyn in Casters and Cantrips

Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Dexter Warren- Jyn in Casters and Cantrips

Meet Dex Warren, the genius behind Jyn the Dragonborn Ranger, and his giant bat companion, Dame Shirley Batsy! Dex talks about being an actor that plays RPGs, how gamer and storyteller are two sides of the same coin, and what he is most looking forward to with the upcoming first show of Casters and Cantrips.

PC Spotlight Dexter Warren.jpg

RP: Tell us a little bit about yourself!

DW: I’m a recent college graduate trying to make it as a performer in the city. Professional actor, amateur writer, full-time shady queen. 

I was born and raised in Maryland and got my acting career started out of spite at preschool when I didn't get the solo in our class's performance of Celine Dion's Because You Loved Me. I'm currently in the cast of Rebirth of Rabbit's Foot which is an Off-Broadway Vaudeville hip-hop musical. We performed this March overseas in Amsterdam before bringing the show back home. I do the sing and act and dancy things. As for writing, I'm an amateur fantasy novelist. I grew up writing novels on wattpad though I've since taken a hiatus because life is busy. I look forward to getting back into that though. 

 
RP: When/why did you start playing RPGs?

DW: I think the first RPG I played was my brother’s Pokémon red version because 90’s. It was the coolest thing because it was like playing pretend with friends but more structured. Play at home, then play pretend battles with friends at school.


RP: What are some of your favorite RPG systems to play?

DW: D&D 5e is what I’m most familiar with in the tabletop world so it’s my favorite. 5E feels a lot easier for me to pick up than earlier editions of D&D. I like that everything seems more streamlined, and as a new player that's very helpful for me to feel confident in what my character can do. I was first introduced to 3.5e which while exciting, was intimidating. For better or for ill the 3.5e campaign never got off the ground and I was able to hop into 5e. As a new DM for my own group, I felt that character creation was a lot easier to do in this edition. I doubt that I would have felt comfortable enough with previous editions to be able to Dungeon Master a group. 

 
RP: How do you find people to play with?

DW: In college my friends found me to play. Then people got busy and scheduling became an issue so I decided to run a game if no one else would. I’ve now found that there are online groups for games which blew my mind but makes a lot of sense in retrospect.

RP: Do you prefer to play in person or online? How do you think the different playstyles affect the game you’re playing?

DW: I think they each have their benefits, and online allows you to circumvent distances that would otherwise be a barrier to playing. I personally haven't played online yet, but I'd love to try it because it means more games. My experience with in-person feels like my best fit where I can utilize body language as we go about gameplay. There's a nice intimacy with face-to-face that I enjoy. I think in terms of communication it's easier to address people quickly. In my own campaign it's a lot clearer to just speak to a character rather than letting someone know to whom I'm speaking if they have to video call in. I think if I played online then my videogame brain would kick in more in terms of strategy. 

 

RP: Do you play board games at all? What are some of your favorites and why?

DW: My family loves Monopoly and we take it entirely too seriously. My favorite board game is Betrayal at House on a Hill (not to be confused with my favorite horror tv show Haunting of Hill House).  I think I have an affinity for spooky type mystery thrillers at houses on or near hills. It’s my favorite tabletop because no two games are alike, because the board is made of tiles, and different events trigger the goal of the game which will change depending on whose side you’re on, which no one knows at the beginning until the haunt happens. 

 

RP: Do you consider gamer an integral part of your identity?

DW: I absolutely consider gamer a part of my identity as a subset of my being a storyteller. I feel fortunate that I know my purpose in life is to tell stories. They are how I relate to the world around me and connect best with people. It’s one of our oldest and most important traditions teaching us lessons we wouldn’t be able to learn otherwise. To be removed enough to get the point without being blinded by proximity.

 

RP: How do you balance gaming with your real life?

DW: I have a survival job and rehearsals, voice lessons and dance classes when I can afford them, and the time required to sleep so I’m not a shambling mound. That being said there are a few hours in the evenings and weekends to get some gaming in either with friends or solo. 


RP: How did you get involved with Casters and Cantrips?

DW: I recently joined a podcast and through that connection was able to hop aboard this project. 


RP: What was your character creation process like?

Casters%2B%2526%2BCantrips%2BPress.jpg

DW: The team had an idea for a Dragonborn Ranger which coincidentally matched up with one of my earliest character ideas for a campaign that never happened. So in a way, indirectly I’ve been prepping this for a while. Then over the years I had an idea for a hybrid between Fallout and D&D where Shirley Bassey had a giant bat as she flew over a battlefield inspiring troops beneath. It should be said I have an overactive imagination. That turned into the pun Dame Shirley Batsy. 


RP: What are you most looking forward to for Casters and Cantrips?

DW: I think I’m most excited about the live elements of interaction with an audience. As an actor I’ve been on stage my whole life but never in this capacity which is exciting and scary. As part of my acting training we did a lot of improv, and periodically still do when certain friends visit. I feel so much of it is being flexible saying yes and to make things more interesting and juicy.  I’m relying heavily on improv skills because I’m confused about everything, but I’m just happy to be here.  That's not really a game-based thing. I just am lost with what's going on in life. 

 
RP: How do you think the interactive audience will make this game different than a “traditional” D&D game?

DW: I think the interaction will be a fascinating take on how story of each episode will go. I think our decisions have a lot more weight because the audience will get to express their support in various ways. I’m excited to see what y’all do.


RP: Do you have any advice for people just starting out with RPGs?
DW: For anyone starting off in RPGs I’m right there with you since I’ve played maybe twelve hours being generous. Listen to a podcast to see what kind of games you might like. Peruse books and see what catches your attention. And when you actually start playing, try and let go of whatever obligations you feel you have to be a certain way. Some campaigns are serious high fantasy some aren’t, some are quite campy and silly. I think a healthy portion are both. You’re here to have fun so set yourself up to have fun with your friends. Channel your inner six-year-old playing pretend. That kid’s onto something. 

 

Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Risa Petrone

Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Risa Petrone

"I misunderstood being good at something with loving it"

APN's own Risa Petrone talks about her previous life as a teacher, how anything can be a roleplaying game if you try hard enough, and finding her place in the gaming world.

Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Chris Bailey- Donovaine DeMonet in Casters and Cantrips

Comment

Player Character Spotlight: Chris Bailey- Donovaine DeMonet in Casters and Cantrips

Welcome to the first in our series of spotlights on the performers and producers of Casters and Cantrips! Today we talk to Chris Bailey, the player behind Donovaine DeMonet, fire genasi bard and king of the one-liners.

PC spotlight Chris Bailey.jpg

RP: Tell us a little bit about yourself!
CB: I was born and raised in Norwich, England and moved to the US when I turned eighteen.  I've bounced around the US since, starting out in California and gradually moving Eastward until I finally moved to NYC in 2014.  It's been my lifelong goal to pursue a career in theater or the performing arts in a wider sense, and that's what I came out here to try and accomplish...and then immediately landed in the tech industry instead.  Now I'm finally starting to take steps back in that direction, which has been an exciting and terrifying experience.


RP: When/why did you start playing RPGs?
CB: The first RPG I remember playing was the old Warhammer Fantasy RPG - I have a recollection of going through that book in my Grandparents' house with my cousin and little brother.  Growing up in the UK in the 90s, Warhammer and Warhammer 40k were extremely popular, so a great deal of time (and basically all of my birthday/Christmas money...) went into the world of tabletop wargaming.  

It wasn't until years after that I found people to return to the tabletop with, at which point I started playing Changeling and D&D 4th Edition.  That caused me to rediscover the love for it and it's only grown ever since.

As for the why, I've always held a massive love for fantasy writing and worlds in general, especially the more whimsical aspects of them - my favourite author of all time is Terry Pratchett, basically the UR-example of that.  I've also always loved the role of the storyteller and beyond that, enjoy little more than collaborative creation.  RPGs scratch all of those itches perfectly.


RP: What are some of your favorite RPG systems to play?
CB: I prefer different systems for different things.  Overall, I default mostly to D&D 5e - I really love the way it's struck a balance between combat mechanics and roleplay accessibility.  I'm also a big fan of the World of Darkness setting if I'm in the mood for something more roleplay-heavy, particularly Changeling.  What I'm really keen to try out is the Dresden Files RPG system, which I've never been able to find a group for - I'm absolutely in love with the Dresden Files series and the collaborative worldbuilding approach that RPG takes is really intriguing to me.


RP: How do you find people to play with?

Screen Shot 2019-09-26 at 9.55.36 AM.png

CB: With great difficulty.  As much as I love living in NYC, I understand the feeling of being alone in a sea of people more than ever after moving here.  My solution?  Become a DM!  I'm fortunate in that I work with some absolutely amazing people who were extremely receptive when I raised the prospect of running a game after hours at work...which also made getting the group together far easier.  

...now I'm running two.

Beyond that, I found people to play with through shared interests.  At last year's New York Comic-Con I attended a meetup for fans of Critical Role, where I met people who have become wonderful friends of mine as well as a new gaming group.  I've also joined a few discord servers for that purpose (particular shout out to the excellent community Satine Phoenix has been building in Gilding Lights) and while I simply haven't had the time to add another game into my schedule, I've seen a lot of people find success that way.

 RP: Do you prefer being a DM or a player?

 CB: I like to strike a balance.  I LOVE being a DM but I cannot really handle more than one game at a time in that role - right now I'm running my own homebrew campaign as well as Waterdeep: Dragon Heist which is a huge amount to manage.  I couldn't do it if Dragon Heist weren't such a well laid out module.  So with that going I currently prefer to join new games as a player for my own sanity.  Should I ever wind up not actively DMing though, my preference would shift and I'd want to find a game where I could do that. 

I just want to do everything, y'know?'

RP: What was the process like transitioning from player to DM? What were your biggest challenges and your best surprises?

CB: Shifting to being a DM was honestly a LOT easier than I anticipated at first. I prepared myself by binging a lot of Matt Colville's "Running The Game" series, which I highly recommend for any new DM - it takes a lot of the nerves away and really helps pull you out of your own head. That was my biggest challenge - getting caught up in the death spiral of worrying so much about having to know everything, having to be responsible for everyone's enjoyment...which is just unhelpful. Once I actually started something just...clicked. It really helps that I have great, engaged players who respect my setting the expectation that up front that if we're unclear on a rule, I'll make a call in the moment and we can look it up later for future. Keeping the flow of the game going is by far the more important thing, in my opinion. What I will also say is that my improv experience is really paying dividends as a DM - while it's far from a requirement, I highly recommend anyone who is looking to DM long term try to take an improv class - not only will it make you a better DM, improv is just FUN.

drake2.png

RP: Do you play board games at all? What are some of your favorites and why?
CB: I absolutely do!  I actually keep my collection at work these days, where I've taken on the role of librarian for a shared collection that other coworkers have been bringing in their own games to help grow.  I'm a big fan of Betrayal at House on the Hill (though the time commitment makes it a little harder to get people to play that one...), due to the shifting nature - I love games that change up things frequently, and I find Betrayal to be fantastic for that.  Recently, I've also developed a great fondness for Villainous and the various expansions.  Why Villainous?  Because it actually features Disney's Robin Hood.  Which is one of my favourite movies of all time and is amazing and never gets enough love and I will die on this hill, fight me.

 

RP: How did you get involved with Casters and Cantrips?
CB: Remember that gaming group I mentioned?  The one I found through the Critical Role meetup?  Well, Anne is also in that gaming group.  She's the one who approached me about getting involved - we'd talked about my return to performing and my experience with improv which luckily for me, made her think I could be a good fit for Casters and Cantrips.  When she mentioned it to me, I jumped at the chance.  Poor Anne, she knows not what she has done...

Terrible puns are always so much more satisfying to make when you have the largest captive audience possible.

 

RP: What was your character creation process like?
CB: I like to use my characters to explore concepts that I either find interesting, or to help figure out something I'm struggling with inside my own head.  Donovaine is a mix of both of those.  In this case, I wanted to try and do something to break out of my comfort zone - historically I almost always play rogues, or bold swashbucklers (I have something of a deep love for pirate mythology).  Usually chaotic good, really fitting the Robin Hood archetype.  Donovaine is...not that.  At all.  With Donovaine, I want to explore someone who got a taste of what they were after but fell slightly short and has settled where he is.  I also really wanted to try something different, so the idea of a bard who doesn't play music came to me and was something that really resonated - particularly as someone who loves theater and performing but can't sing a note myself.  There's a lot more to this that I'm not going to go into right now because there's aspects to the character that will only be revealed as the game goes on.  Guess people will just have to watch to find out, huh?

 

RP: What are you most looking forward to for Casters and Cantrips?
CB: Exploring the world Miles has put together, while seeing how this band of...let's face it, idiots, comes together.  Miles has been playing a lot of things close to his chest so far, but I'm really fascinated by the things he has explained to us and I can't wait to get to exploring it.  I'm also a natural extrovert (despite being fairly quiet in personal interactions) and love getting to know new people - so the fact that out of everyone at the table, Anne is the only one I've ever gamed with before is extremely exciting to me.

 

RP: How do you think the interactive audience will make this game different than a “traditional” D&D game?
CB: I have absolutely no idea and I cannot wait to find out!  I did wonder if the audience would make me feel more inclined to "mug for the crowd" but...let's be honest, as anyone who has ever had the (mis)fortune to be at a gaming table with me can attest, I generally tend to do that anyway!  I'm very keen to see how the favours and wand votes work out...

RP: Do you have any advice for people just starting out with RPGs?
CB: Don't overthink it.  RPG systems are extremely complicated and you're going to make mistakes - that's okay!  Just let the DM make a call (or if you're the DM, make it!) to keep the game rolling and look it up later if you need to.  At the end of the day as long as everyone at the table is having fun, that's really the only thing that matters.  Also - if you have a group that wants to play but can't find a DM, please just jump in and DM yourself!  I was terrified to do it at first myself, but when I finally took the plunge I found it's an incredible amount of fun.  I know I screw up rules all the time, but I learn and grow from it - and some of my most memorable experiences at the table now have been from behind the DM's screen.

  

Comment

Introducing Azul: Summer Pavilion!

Comment

Introducing Azul: Summer Pavilion!

Introducing the third installment in the Azul line: Azul: Summer Pavilion from Next Move Games! You take on the role of master artisans crafting the finest summer pavilion for the Portuguese royal family of King Manuel I.

Follow Active Player Network to learn more about this exciting new game!

Comment

Announcing Cauldrons & Dragons!

Comment

Announcing Cauldrons & Dragons!

APN is proud to announce Cauldrons & Dragons: a brand-new gaming experience in partnership with The Cauldron NYC! With board games downstairs and Casters & Cantrips: an interactive Dungeons & Dragons dinner show upstairs, now is the perfect time to brew a potion, cast a spell, and be an active player. Here’s a sneak peek at this 6-week magical event starting October 7 at 7pm EST. 

Cauldron Flyer (1)-2.png

 

Try new board games while sampling a magical brew

Downstairs in “The Apothecary” of The Cauldon there will be board games aplenty to enjoy. Play an old favorite or try something new! While you’re there, enjoy a molecular cocktail meticulously crafted by The Cauldon’s bartenders using science (the magic of our world). You could spend the whole night down here, but if you’re looking for something truly unique, purchase a ticket for the upstairs event: Casters & Cantrips

 

D&D like you've never seen before! 

Casters & Cantrips is a ticketed, live, interactive Dungeons & Dragons campaign in which the audience affects gameplay and triggers new character abilities through Favor Tokens, magic wands, and other forms of audience interaction. 

Set in the modern magic of The Cauldron NYC, this event brings tabletop gaming to the next level. Enjoy fantastical food and beverages from the Cauldrons & Dragons specialty menu -- featuring some of The Cauldron’s signature Potions!

Whether you are an avid fan, a new fan, or just simply curious, we welcome you to this event co-presented by Active Player Network and The Cauldron NYC that is focused on audience inclusion and accessibility. 

 

Welcome to the World of Casters & Cantrips

Downtown, amidst the twists and turns of the guts of Manhattan, past the suits, the proliferation of chain coffee shops, and the swarms of bedraggled locals and lost visitors, there is a very old stone street.  

A tree stands on that stone street, around which a pub has been built.However, this is no ordinary pub - far from it. It is a gateway to somewhere else, both closer than you can imagine and yet more alien than your wildest dreams. 

Welcome to The Feyde! 

Join us as we accompany four soon-to-be heroes through the root-wreathed door and into the magical floating city of Fai’Dai’, where a strange sickness has begun to spread through the Tree of Life - the root of all magic - and even threaten the future of New York itself!

 

How Does the Audience Interaction Work?

We’ve created items called Favor Tokens that allow you to affect gameplay and story progression while you watch! You receive a number of Favor Tokens with the purchase of a ticket, so you are automatically able to interact with the game. From there, you can receive more Favor Tokens with every purchase made from our specialty menu created for this event.

Your Favors can fill the flasks of our adventurers and give them access to new tiered abilities that increase in potency with the amount of favor you bestow!You’re encouraged to collaborate with fellow conspirators at other tables to consolidate your favor and create incredible results! 

 Tickets are available for the live, interactive event at The Cauldron NYC. Tickets include 1 free drink and a starting supply of Favor Tokens, and are available at: www.thecauldron.nyc/dnd. Can’t make it in person? This event will also be streamed on the Active Player Network Twitch channel: twitch.tv/activeplayernetwork
 

What do I do until October 7th?

Keep following Active Player Network for exclusive insight into the world of Fai’ Dai’, the players of Casters & Cantrips, and their characters. And make sure to free up your Monday nights so you can join us from wherever you are!

Comment

Getting Comfortable with RPGs

Comment

Getting Comfortable with RPGs

So you’ve decided to get started with RPGs! Congratulations! Whether you’re getting ready to play your first session, or you’ve played a bit and you’d like some tips to feel more comfortable at the table, look no further. We’re going to give you a few basic suggestions to get you feeling more comfortable, and then one for those overachieving, extra credit types (like me).

Screen+Shot+2019-09-19+at+11.56.43+AM.jpg

 

The Basics

1. Get familiar with the rules

There are a LOT of RPGs out there, and each one has different specifics. Dungeons and Dragonsa nd Pathfinder both use the same 5 attributes, but D&D uses different ability checks than Pathfinder. Vampire: the Masquerade uses a D10 base system. Overlight uses “tests” instead of ability checks. Whatever system you choose, when you decide you’re ready to start a new RPG system, make sure you take the time to familiarize yourself with the rules, game mechanics, and your character sheet. You should always feel comfortable asking questions at the table, and the people you play with should be willing to help you out, but the game will flow better, and you’ll feel more comfortable the more you prep. That doesn’t mean you have to read the entire rulebook cover to cover (Pathfinder 2E’s is 640 pages), but you should definitely check out specific chapters, chat with your game master (aka your GM), or watch some helpful videos to get you started.

 

2. Use the phrase “yes, and”

“Yes, and” is the very basis of improvisation, which is what RPGs essentially are: a very structured, longform improv. The idea is that when someone says something, you agree and then add to it.

The GM may say something like, “The local guard approaches your party. ‘Where were you all last night when the mayor’s daughter went missing?”

One player at the table thinks fast and replies, “We were at the pub, having a pint with friends!”

You can then add to that by yes, anding: “We won the drinking competition! That we invented, but that’s not the point. We are champions!”

Think about how many choices you’ve now given your team. They can now talk about how they did in the contest, who they competed against, what the contest was, and more. Now players have more to talk about to make your story believable (whether or not you’re lying to the guard). You’re saying “yes, we were at the pub, and here are some things we did”. It helps move the story forward faster than simply agreeing with your teammate, and it encourages you to make on-the-spot decisions that can lead to something funny, exciting, or influential about your character. You don’t have to literally say “yes, and,” but keep that phrase in mind as you play. 

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_38d5.jpg

3. If you don’t say it, no one else knows

It’s easy to think of RPGs as a book you’re all writing together. But while in a book you get insight into a character’s thoughts and motivations that the rest of the characters don’t have, at the RPG table there is no way for the other players to know something about your character unless you tell them. Sure, in a book the normally timid character hauling off and punching the leader of a dogfighting ring made sense because we knew that he had a beloved pet as a child. Or perhaps that’s the moment in the book where we’re treated to the flashback. But if your character does that and then offers no explanation for it (maybe your character doesn’t trust their party with that information yet), the other players are just going to be left confused. It’s totally okay if you’re not ready to reveal parts of your backstory. But again, think about the clues a book will give you that a character is hiding something. Maybe afterwards you point out that your character clenches his fists, or tries to wipe his eyes without being noticed, or stares off into the distance when someone tries to talk to him. Show, don’t tell. It will make for a more interesting story. Remember, if you don’t let the players know your intention, there’s no other way for them to know.

4. It’s ok to mess up

Not only is it okay for you to mess up, you’re going to mess up. You’re going to flub a rule, or forget an ability, or make a choice you regret. It’s 100% okay. Everyone has done it. Literally. I feel pretty confident saying literally everyone who has played an RPG has messed up at some point. Join the club! The best thing to do is acknowledge it, fix it if you can, and move on. Don’t harp on it, don’t beat yourself up over it, and please don’t stop playing! 

Screen+Shot+2019-09-19+at+11.48.03+AM.jpg



The Extra Credit

Take an improv class

This one sounds pretty intimidating to a lot of people. Isn’t improv just for actors? Not at all! Improv at its core is just practicing how to “yes, and”. Some people at the class will be actors, some may be people trying to get comfortable with public speaking, some may be teachers practicing thinking on the fly; there are a lot of reasons to take an improv class. Practicing for a role-playing game is an absolutely valid reason. You’ll probably play a lot of games that help you practice making big choices, listening to your scene partners, and thinking quickly. These are all skills that are indispensable for RPGs.

Screen Shot 2019-09-19 at 12.16.46 PM.png

 We say this is extra credit because it’s certainly not necessary in order to play an RPG. You’re already spending money on a rulebook, and dice (shiny dice!), and maybe minis, or playmats, or other accessories. But if you find that this is something you love, and you want to get better, definitely consider it. Then let us know how it went!

Comment

5 Fun Cooperative Games to Play at your Next Game Night

Comment

5 Fun Cooperative Games to Play at your Next Game Night

While it is certainly fun to leap from your chair, point at your friends and laugh in their face as you celebrate your victory, sometimes your friends don’t like that. Sometimes you want everyone to celebrate a victory, and you win or lose together. Here we have 5 fun cooperative games that are all about working together and being a team.

5 Minute Dungeon (Spinmaster Games)

This game is a cooperative, real-time dungeon delver. In order to defeat a monster, players must match symbols from their hand with ones on the monster’s card. At the end of each dungeon is a boss, and you can keep playing to defeat hard and harder bosses. There are ten heroes and the game plays up to five people, so there’s a lot of replayability built right in. Plus, it moves so quickly, you can get multiple playthroughs at once, or just use it as a palette-cleanser between bigger games. It’s easy to learn, plays quickly, and you’ll be working with your friends instead of against them like other real-time games. Its expansion: 5 Minute Dungeon: Curses, Foiled Again! releases this month. Definitely worth checking out.

SPN6039196_l.jpg

Legends of Andor (Kosmos)

Legends of Andor is an adventure game in which a band of heroes (you, the players) work together to defend a fantasy realm from invading hordes. You can play good guys or anti-heroes, humans or mythical creatures. Even the character cards are reversible so you can play as a male or female-identifying character. This is a cooperative game, but it doesn’t require tons of commitment, because it’s not a campaign the way a legacy game or an escape room game might be. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate how the game is so user friendly and helps teach you how to play the game as you play. (If you’re interested in different ways to learn to play a game, check out our article about that here) There are a LOT of expansions, and a lot of customizable options, so it’s a great choice for people to find a good game and stick to it.

 

Gloomhaven (Cephalofair Games)

If you haven’t heard of Gloomhaven you’ve been living under a rock, or you don’t play a lot of board games (in which case, welcome! Glad you’re here). It has been on the Board Game Geek Top 10 list every month for what feels like forever, and it has won tons of awards including the 2018 Origins Game of the Year award. This is NOT a light and easy game. This game has some heft, both in size and in gameplay. It has a lot of mechanics and a lot of minis. It’s awesome. You’ll be playing various campaigns as wandering adventurers forced to work together to survive, and your actions have consequences on the future of the game. It’s hard to summarize this monster of a game in less than a paragraph, but I will say if you don’t know anything about it, and you like Euro-style, complex games, but want something more, you’ll like Gloomhaven. Finally, if that’s not enough for you, its expansion, Forgotten Circles, was released this summer with 20 new scenarios and 7 new monster types. 

pic2437871.jpg


The Mind (Pandasaurus Games): 

You know how close friends can kind of read each other’s minds? Want to put that to the test? In The Mind you and up to 3 other players will be trying to lay down cards in ascending number order without talking or otherwise communicating. It’s like that game you used to play in school where you had to line up by birthdays, but you couldn’t talk to each other. Well now you can’t gesture or grab and yank either! It’s all about just knowing what the other people are going to do. This game is highly-awarded, including a 2018 Spiel des Jahres nomination, a 2019 Origins Awards Best Card Game nomination, and the 2018 Golden Geek Best Cooperative Game winner. Find it at your FLGS!


Escape Games: Escape Tales (Board and Dice), EXIT the Game, Adventure Games (Kosmos) 

We’ve talked a bit about these types of games, and I’m about to do it again. These games are awesome. You get to hang out with your friends, problem-solve, make choices, and maybe roleplay, if your group are those types of players. Or even if you’re not. Tom from Kosmos said even he felt like he was getting into character when he played through Adventure Games. Some of these games can be played in one sitting, and others are so long and in-depth that you’ll want to break it up into multiple sessions. This is great for a single game night, or recurring; family gatherings or date night. And with certain games like Escape Tales and Adventure Games, they’re replayable! Some have different endings, some just allow you to take a different path to victory. So play it with different groups of people, and enjoy a different experience each time.

 

Which of these games do you want to try at your next game night? Have you played any of them before? Let us know in the comments!

Comment

Critical Hits- Dune Trailer

Comment

Critical Hits- Dune Trailer

It's finally here! Gale Force Nine brings you the updated board game from 40 years ago, recreating the world of Frank Herbert’s Dune as you fight to control the world's most valuable resource. The spice must flow.

Comment

APN Plays 5211!

Comment

APN Plays 5211!

Anne and Risa give you an inside peek into a player's mind during a game of 5211 by Next Move Games. Take advantage of their strategy (planned or improvised) when you play your next game. You can get 5211 at your Friendly Local Game Store now!

Comment

Different Ways to Learn a New Board Game

Comment

Different Ways to Learn a New Board Game

Picture it: You’ve returned from your FLGS with a brand-new game that you’ve heard great things about (perhaps from Active Player Network?), you gather your friends for a game night, you present the game box magnificently upon the table… and no one has played the game before. Now, rather than a fun-filled 3-hour venture into a new game, it’s a confusing 3-hour slog through the rulebook with a lot of “no, wait” and “are you sure?” and “let me check”. Granted, even seasoned players have those moments, but too many at once can definitely affect table morale. 

IMG_2974.jpg

 

So how do you avoid this? Ideally, someone at the table already knows how to play the game. But how do you learn a new game? Do you read the rulebook? Do you watch a video? Do you learn by playing? And do you have friends that learn differently than you do? That could be because of Multiple Intelligences, which is a learning theory created by Dr. Howard Gardner in 1983 and is used a lot in schools to advocate for different teaching styles.

 

Long story short, different people learn differently, and knowing how you learn best can help you both in the classroom and in life. the 8 intelligences are: Linguistic (word), Spatial (visual), Interpersonal (people and interactions), Intrapersonal (self-awareness), Logical-mathematical (numbers/reasoning), Bodily-Kinesthetic (body awareness), Musical (music), and Naturalist (nature).

 

I could do a whole other article about different games that highlight these different intelligences (and perhaps I shall!) but for now we’re going to focus on how knowing how you learn in general can affect how you learn to play a new game. Some of these don’t really apply (I mean, I guess you could just go play the game outside for those Nature-inclined learners), but I’ll be covering as many as I can.

 

Verbal learners: Read the rule book

This one is the most traditional way of learning a game. You open the box, pick up that rulebook, read it cover to cover and emerge victorious and ready to play. Seeing everything laid out in front of you step-by-step with the designer’s words and intentions can be super helpful, and it serves as a great reference if there is ever a question while playing. Publishers have gotten so good at condensing their rules to something as concise as possible, so even the heavy euro games aren’t a slog to read anymore.

DnD books.jpg

 

Visual/Spatial learners: Watch a How to Play video

Visual learners around the world rejoiced when YouTube How to Play videos began emerging. From what board set up looks like, to seeing how a turn plays out, or just being able to follow along with the video. How to Play videos are like having someone teach you only they’re not in the room. And you can’t ask questions. For that you have to turn to…

 

Interpersonal learners: Have Someone Teach You

This is the go-to method for game nights. Someone comes in with a game they love, and then they have to wrangle everyone’s rapidly shortening attention spans long enough to teach it. People who teach others to play board games are saints, so if you’re someone who learns well by being taught, be sure to thank your teacher.

IMG_2808.JPG

 

Kinethsetic learners: Learn While Playing

You have to touch the pieces to remember what they do. You have to perform the actions to understand how they work. Kinesthetic learners are a bit rarer, but they’re definitely out there, and they can find themselves the most frustrated when being talked at or trying to read a new game.  These learners do best with a trial game first, just a few rounds to get the feel of everything and test actions without consequence. Then you can go back and start the game for real.

IMG_2990.jpg

 

If you have trouble learning a new game, maybe you aren’t leaning into your learning style. Try changing it up and see if a different way to learn eases that frustration.

 

If you already know what your best way to learn a new game is, let us know in the comments!

Comment

Get the Game- Pathfinder: 2nd Edition

Comment

Get the Game- Pathfinder: 2nd Edition

After a year of playtesting, it's finally here! Anne sits down with Erik from Paizo Inc. to talk about the highly anticipated 2nd edition of Pathfinder! With streamlined combat and a new heritage system, it's perfect for fans of the original, or other RPG players looking to try a new game system. Head to your FLGS to check it out!

Comment