Too Many Dots…

Every year I count down the days until GenCon, excited for the adventures waiting to be experienced. Ten consecutive years have taught me that no two people go to the same convention. With more than 17,000 events to choose from, your adventure is entirely unique from everyone else’s. Over the next few days my posts will share some of what I did between Wednesday at 1pm and Sunday at noon of GenCon 2018. Is it August 1st yet?

While Warmachine/Hordes is undoubtedly my primary game both in time and money spent, my second gaming love is RPGs of all types. Escapism is a huge part of gaming. In my humble opinion, no type of game does that better than a well run Role Playing Game.

A brief aside: If Dungeons and Dragons had been as popular in my middle and high school as it has become now I might go back to class reunions! …. Nah!

One of my annual GenCon goals is to get some table time with at least one new RPG and I wanted that one RPG to so very badly be The Expanse by Green Ronin Games. Although I had my finger poised over refresh, the log jam of GenCon event registration locked me out for eighteen minutes. In that time all twelve games of The Expanse filled up and all that was left was the seminar Saturday around dinner time. Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game ended up being my RPG for GenCon. It was alright. There will be a core book eventually I guess (the starter has been around for a year). I also listened to the artist and designer talk about a third RPG Overlight: A Roleplaying Game of Kaleidoscope Fantasy that had GenCon pickup for backers. It deserves a closer look later. Let’s talk about the Expanse for now.

Saturday evening I stomped the entire way to Lucas Oil Stadium. My irritation meant I did not really read the description of the event and was pacified upon seeing James S.A. Corey themselves along with Steve Kenson and Chris Pramas, the game’s designer and publisher, ready to share some excitement for the impending launch.

The big news at GenCon was the introduction of two new stretch goals. At $300k there will be a flash fiction reward tier where your player character will receive a one page story written by Ty and Daniel. If $400k is hit one last stretch goal will result in a new canon Expanse short story which I thought they said would star characters of those who buy into the tier, but their online announcement does not seem to imply that. Perhaps my notes from the seminar were wrong. The official update can be found on their Kickstarter page. Exactly one more chair to the left of that guy with the phone is my bald head. Almost made the crop, damn!

Flipping through the rule book, the AGE system has been modified in a gritty, realistic, and possibly violent way. AGE involves three D6, one of a different size or color. Tests are accomplished by using those three dice plus an ability score and a focus bonus along with any relevant modifiers against a Target Number. Opposed Tests simply replace the Target Number with a Test made by an opposing party.

The “different” dice is called the Drama Dice. Although it counts toward the total normally, it also pulls extra duty by showing how well the task was accomplished. A one on the drama dice means you just squeaked by and something bad might have happened. A six means great success HAHA! Advanced Tests add the Drama Dice to a Running Total trying to reach a Target Number before resources run out. A final role the Drama Dice plays, hehe “roll,” is with Stunts. Stunts are a mechanic in which something special happens when doubles are rolled on any of the three dice. A number of Stunt Points equal to the Drama Dice can be used to grant an additional attack, move an opponent, complete a task faster, or convey a hidden message among many other options. Situational charts help define the options. Use them or lose them. A player has one chance to use Stunt Points before they expire. Interesting use of a dice pool, but they will not help you much if a situation turns violent.

Just like the book, and real life for that matter, get hit by a Point Defense Cannon and you will be red mist, there is no save or enough Fortune in the world to survive that. Ingest some protomolecule just to see what will happen? Here, this is what will happen and it will not be pleasant reaching that point. Damage is reduced by a character’s Armor and Toughness and then can be wiped away using Fortune points. Fail to wipe away enough damage and some penalty ranging from injured to death can be imposed. Max damage on a pistol will one shot the weakest pregen character in the quickstart book so be careful. Essentially, “violence is what people do when they have run out of good ideas.”

While much was shared, two last bits of news need mentioned. First a ship-to-ship combat example will be put onto the Kickstarter page soon. As excited as the crew was for that, be sure to check it out. Second a question of Organized Play came up. Any wargaming enthusiast will tell you about their joys and frustrations with organized play. In RPGs the Pathfinder Society and D&D Adventurers League fill that gap. The answer for the Expanse organized play was not so enthusiastic, Daniel liked the idea once explained but didn’t know what it was previously. The designers’ response was, and I quote, “Ehhhhh… It’s hard.” Despite that sad report, prodigious adventure support is promised and the game will launch with a full campaign ready to go.

The Expanse Roleplaying Game looks to be an interesting take on the setting. Whether you are a fan of the books or the show we can all escape together into the gritty and dangerous coldness of empty space.

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