Rise Through The Ranks

Rise Through The Ranks
A Tactikon 2 special edition:
Game Review and Interview with Eidolon Industries founder James Payne

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Tactikon 2 game logo

>>>Tactikon?

   Tactikon 2 is a FREE turn based strategy game available in the Google Play store  here.. It launched the 17th of April 2014. It was created as an upgrade to the original Tactikon with more units available, better A.I., and even more features.

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A tank in Tactikon 2

   It is reminiscent of other 16-bit TBS games like Advance Wars. It has a retro look that doesn’t hamper the gameplay. In fact, don’t let the graphics fool you, the larger the armies get and the more units are on the battlefield;  I’m sure your device will thank you for the simpler graphics.

  While the gameplay is fairly simple, it does take some strategy to win on a map. Gameplay consists of you starting with one city (your HQ) and at least one unit. The initial goal is to grow your army as best as possible and to reach the map goal: which is one of 3 Victory goals, Total Annihilation, Take over Enemy HQs, or take over all Enemy Cities. Only 2 unit types may take over a city that is neutral or razed, Infantry and Tanks. Each unit type take a certain number of turns to build and each city has a maximum of 4 slots.

   The additional unit types are:
*Destroyers (massive ships that can attack up to two squares away).
*Carriers (Can hold/refuel/repair aircraft).
*Transports (boats that can move 2 ground units at a time).
*Submarines (can submerge).
*Choppers (can carry a max of 2 infantry).
*Fighters are Jets with aerial superiority.
*Bombers are Jets designed to target ground units.

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A view of some of the units in action

   These units get upgraded to skilled veteran status for each successful fight they’re in that they survive. In addition, unit may be healed/repaired in any city you own after receiving damage. This will stop any current unit being built until the damage is resolved. 

   Terrain plays a pretty big role in your overall strategy as ground units move over different terrain types at different speeds, water units are (obviously) limited to water tiles unless docked at a city; and air units have the longest range but have limited fuel and must land on a carrier or in a city to refuel or fall from the sky. Each unit has strengths and weaknesses and there is a robust help file in-game to help you see how they stack up. Plus, each time you attack, you’ll be able to see the odds of your success.

   This game is difficult to master and the A.I. is pretty intuitive which will give you some challenging gameplay. If playing offline, you can play against the A.I. in a single player mode or multiplayer by handing your device to your friend/family member to take turns (Local Multiplayer). It is recommended that you put some time into the Single Player & Local Multiplayer modes before taking on the online multiplayer mode as you’ll need to learn how everything I’ve described plays out and how the pacing works. You can play with up to 8 players total in a multiplayer game.

>>>Tactikon 2 Online Multiplayer

   One of the best things about this game is the multiplayer support online. It uses its own setup and servers to host and run the games. You’ll have to make your own profile by choosing your Commander’s name and your Army’s Icon and colour. After that, you can join or set up online games. The servers keep track of your total number of games you’ve played, how many you’re currently playing, your win/loss ratio, and provide you with two sets of rankings.

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A massive war brews on

  The first ranking is your Rank as a Commander (following military titles of rank) and the second ranking shows how you rate overall amongst all of the other players at your rank worldwide. After further research, it appears that your Rank improves by virtue of the number of games you completed. You move from Private after 10 games and the remaining Ranks open up at the double of previous Rank. So 10, 20, 40, 80, 160, etc. How you rate at that Rank is determined by your W/L ratio out of all of the other players with the same Rank. To my knowledge, there aren’t any perks with each promotion…just the ability to show that you have risen the ranks to be the best player (or not) in your overall rank.

   You can also add friends from the other players you face (long press the match from the title screen to bring up this option) and even block players should they be an issue to you. I’ve never experienced any issues which have led me to blocking any player, but I have to add that there is even a simple and effective game chat built into each match. You simply drag a tab located at the top center of the match you’re in to access it. There is a character limit, but you also have the option of whispering to certain players instead of just talking to everyone at once.

>>>Maps and replayability

  The other superb portion of this game is the map editor which features in all modes. You have many different options available to you to play with in regards to the map you play on which include but are not limited to:
*Basic size of the overall map.
*Amount of water available.
*Ability to turn on/off forests and mountains.
*Ability to set city densities.
*Ability to mirror the maps with many options for mirror types.
*Many randomly generated maps for you to work with.
*Set online games for friends only
*Turn on/off Fog of War
The only thing you’ll not be able to do is actively edit/build the maps on your own on a tile-by-tile basis. The game handles that all for you by using what appears to be Simplex Noise. You will also get a balance rating before you start a game based on how balanced the map is overall. Finally, you can set a time limit for each turn, number of players, victory goal, and one or two other options to tweak.

  These map options alone give this game a massive amount of replayability.
With so many options to tweak and permutations available,  you may never play 2 games on the same map (unless you specifically try to). It adds to the overall gameplay because nothing will ever be very stale and also enriches the mind to ever deepening strategy.

!!!-The Verdict-!!!

   I’ve never been one to really use a number review system, but there is no better time than now to start. So, to make it fair, I’ll be using a maximum of 5 stars (*) in each category of:
¤Gameplay
¤Graphics
¤Sound
¤Multiplayer
¤Overall
   Each category will have a small blurb about why the rating was given and at least one Pro & Con. The ratings for each of the first four categories will be averaged to get the final overall score followed by my final thoughts.

¤Tactikon 2 Gameplay: *****
   The gameplay is fairly deep for a game that uses very simple gameplay mechanics. It is simple to learn and difficult to master.
-Pros:
~The simplified gameplay allows for anyone to play.
~The maps can be made to incorporate many different strategies and massive replayability.
-Cons:
~For its simplicity,  the rules could use a few small additions.
~Some have asked for additional units/unit types and/or a tech tree or upgrade system.

¤Tactikon 2 Graphics: ****
The game uses simple 16-bit graphics to give it a retro feel and keep the processing power down. The Sprites and tiles are animated to give it a sense of motion and make the maps feel alive. Simple palette swaps for color differentiate between player’s Armies.
-Pros:
~The simple style allows to easily make out units and terrain types with relative ease.
~There are also small icons to show veteran status on the units and to alert you of lost units or cities when your turn starts
-Cons:
~The simplified graphics may be overlooked by many who would miss out on a great game by judging the graphics alone.
~The terrain needs more variable tiles like roads, bridges, sand, snow, etc.

¤Tactikon 2 Sound: *
As of yet, there is no background music or sound effects to accompany the gameplay. As you’ll see in my interview (see after the final score), those ideas are currently in the works to be added;  possibly in a future update.

¤Tactikon 2 Multiplayer: *****
This is really where the gameplay shines. Whether you are playing against friends in the same room or playing online, you’ll have more fun playing this in multiplayer mode. This game does MP in such a simple way that many other Developers need to take notice.
-Pros:
~ Up to 8 players on one map
~ Chat is built in and can also be used strategically
~ Turns can be set to 24 hours so you don’t have to miss out. There are also notifications that pop up.
-Cons:
~ The community has yet to really embrace this aspect fully.
~ It would be nice to see Google Play Games Achievements, Quests, and Scoreboards

¤Tactikon 2 Overall score: ****
While the actual score was 3.75 as an average…it is closer to 4. This game is still early and there are many things that can and will hopefully be added to make it an even better experience. If you are a fan of strategy games and especially TBS, then this game is a must have. There is a toggle for difficulty, so anyone can try it out. Like a fine game of chess, it gives back when you find a good strategy that works. Plus, it can be a on the go game when you have a few minutes to kill or can eat hours away. There is a lot of promise to this game and I hope that a community grows around it even more and embraces it.

There is a Google+ Discussion group specific to this game and that can be found in the About option. There is also a Facebook page dedicated to it. Tactikon 2 Facebook page
The stage is set for some explosive community activity.

If you haven’t played it yet, I highly recommend trying it out. It will continue to grow and just needs dedicated gamers to help it grow further. The main website is Tactikon 2 main webpage
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A Star Trader is You! Interview with Andrew Trese of Trese Brothers Games Studio

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A Star Trader is You!

Interview with Andrew Trese of Trese Brothers Games Studio

*** THIS JUST IN!! STAR TRADERS 2 WILL BE A REALITY. THEY WERE FUNDED at 122% See the links in this article and keep a look out for their other games already available:
*Star Traders RPG
*Cyber Knights RPG
*Templar Assault
*Age of Pirates RPG
*Heroes of Steel
*Star Traders 4X
The gaming community needs and deserves to keep Developers like this going and strong. Thank you!
***

With over 1000 updates across 6 games and a massive, thriving game community; Trese Brothers Games Studio has since 2010 brought some of the best gaming available today to its fans. It all started with a little gem called Star Traders RPG,  released on the Android platform. That game has not just changed the lives of its creators but has also been a catalyst in shaping a successful business model for the true power of Independent Developers in the gaming industry. All hail the future of Indie Devs!

Star Traders RPG was pretty original in scope. While it includes some fairly basic marketing and trading ideas: ie buying supplies and goods from one planet and selling them at another with the familiar mechanics of ‘buy low, sell high’ that any gamer who has played Dope Wars or any similar type ‘trading’ game would recognize; it also gives a lot more.
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Under the hood the mechanics are far deeper. Your Captain actually has stats and gains experience. You can recruit crew members and search alien planets.  Of course, who could have a space opera-esque game without crucial ‘ship-on-ship’ combat? The best part is that you can actually board ships and fight there…even taking the enemy crew as captive personnel to replace any lost crew.

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View from upcoming ST2

As I don’t want this to be a full review of the game, I at least wanted to gloss over a few of the features that made (and still make) this gem shine. So, my final words before the interview are this: The Trese Brothers know how to make a game that is fulfilling and still retain some brutal difficulty.  You can set the difficulty level and play as casually as you wish…or go for even deeper and tougher gameplay that is, at times, especially ruthless. The choice is yours.
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Andrew, thank you for taking the time to interview for this piece.

*What made you get into creating games?

I am not sure exactly why Cory and I started making games. We created our first game together when I was in first grade, about six or seven years old.  We got a giant piece of paper, the kind you could roll out from a spindle, and drew a sprawling dungeon map on it.  Then we drew things into the rooms in each part of the dungeon – a wolf, a murky lake, a pile of gold.  We played by pointing to a room and saying, “I go there.”  And the other brother would make up what was in the room. It was wildly rudimentary, which is perfect because it was all about imagination. That is the first game I can remember making with Cory, and once we started we never really stopped.
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*What is your current project?

We are in the final 10 days of our Star Traders 2 KickStarter! This is a game that our community has been asking about for over four years now, and we are so excited to be working on it again.  In this space RPG and trading sim, you are the Captain of a space faring ship.  As you travel the open world universe, you’ll make choices that will define your morality, friends, and career. It’s a game all about having the freedom to live, fight (or not fight), and die in a deep setting with rich history and a colorful backdrop of political and economic turmoil.

*You’ve made 6 games so far, and are working on your 7th. What is your favorite game you have made and why?

For me, it’s about the genres.  In my years as a pen and paper RPG, I have always gravitated toward cyberpunk worlds and fantasy RPGs.  Cory has more Pirate and Space Pirate in his blood.  For me, Heroes of Steel is my favorite game, simply because it was such a revolutionary moment in Trese Brothers progression.  If you hold Cyber Knights up next to Heroes of Steel, you can see Heroes is a really a giant leap forward for us, in every aspect of our work.
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*To many, this is a dream job. What tips would you give to other Independent Developers or someone looking to start?

Share your game.  Don’t hide it.  That might mean post it early, or sharing a dev blog, or starting a forum and a closed alpha.  But find ways to start building a fan base and getting feedback.  Developing in a vacuum is not the best environment and you can go astray without realizing it if you don’t have other people giving feedback.  You’ve got to make a game that you love, but that others love.  So, share early!

*What do you attribute to Trese Brothers success?

Trese Brothers has a couple of core mission statements that have really helped us stick out.  They make us who we are, they are what our gamers remember most about us, and I think they are why we have a killer community – the very best, in my humble opinion.  They are to

(1) treat other gamers as we would want to be treated, which means no ads, low permissions, no crappy IAPs, pay-to-win or pay-to-play-now.  I don’t play any game that includes that junk, so I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else!

(2) deliver amazing customer service and true community engagement.  We put our personal emails out there, we respond to every request and question.  We believe customer service and community engagement are huge parts of what makes Trese Brothers … us!  We read every forum post, and have made over 26,000 posts on our forum.  Hours a day go into talking with our fans and communities – but let me say, i there is one reason why we will succeed with the Star Traders 2 KickStarter – it is because of our amazing community.

*Is there any game/type/genre you’d eventually like to tackle?

I’ve always wanted to make a game in the village building genre.  My mind wanders the village into a place with dark woods, scary nights more and more often these days. Something kind of Transylvania, which would put the village in really dire straits.  I love games with permadeath, so I’d love to see a kind of “how long can you survive?” village builder.

*What features are you most excited about that will make your new game different from your others and stand out?

I can’t wait to turn procedural generation and simulation models against relationships in Star Traders 2.  I am really excited to see how crew, officers, your Captain, and the planet-based characters of the Factions all get to know each other, love each other, or hate each other.  Every will have their own strengths, quirks, and weaknesses.  Much of their character will be hidden unless you learn more about them, so there will be a really exciting social ecosystem to navigate.  You’re going to have friends and enemies, loyalists, friends, and nemesis. I think its going to create an amazingly compelling story, like watching a series like Firefly.
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*You make games all day, in addition to wearing multiple hats within the company and its administrative tasks, so what do you like to do in your free time?

I have to admit, right now there isn’t a lot of free time.  The KickStarter is a full time job, and we are also developing and updating all of our other 6 games at the same time – releases out every week! 

But, I still love to run pen and paper RPGs.  I just wrapped up a year long campaign in the Heroes of Steel world with five friends of mine.  It wasn’t the story from the game, but it shared a lot and the two cross-pollinated each other – a great experience.

I’m also like my seasonable sports and activities – skiing, running, training for short and long races and the like.  Having exercise every day is a huge part of keeping myself sane so I can keep up with the break-spine pace of our day to day lives as game developers.

We hope you will join the our Star Traders 2 KickStarter project and help us make the game a big success.
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https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tresebrothers/star-traders-2-rpg

And follow us on Twitter!  Say hi:
https://twitter.com/TreseBrothers

And, find us every day on the Trese Brothers forum:
http://startradersrpg.proboards.com/

   This recent game has just moved into bigger exposure. There are now over 1000+ Captains who have back Star Traders RPG 2 and the project was just given front page treatment by being picked as a Kickstarter Staff Pick. 10 days to go in funding to get the minimum funding of the project and it is projected to be released next year. It is indeed a lofty idea for mobile gaming…but if anyone can do it, these guys and the awesome community can. Please help them today!

-Thank you for taking the time to read and enjoy this today. All of their current games can be found in the Google Play store (search Trese); and a few of them can even be found on iOS, Steam, Kindle, and Desura.
–Harbinger Owl of Syn
(As always, please feel free to share…comment…and I’ll see you next time!)

2014 : Day 20

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Somehow yesterdays post was lost in the ethereal limbo. It should have saved as a draft, but didn’t. Actually it should have just published…but it didn’t. Barring that, it normally saves as a local draft but magically disappeared.
Oh well.
Have a bad migraine today and it is playing havok with my thought processes.  Especially my writing.

Yay me!

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Hilarious little comic.

Speaking of comics… visit fallen comics for a little window into our world. You can also visit our fanpage here.

Also check out www.gamers-heaven.info. They are a good source of video game fun and knowledge. There is also a group on FB, if you’re so inclined. 

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Squee!!!!

I did finish The Raven. Really damn good movie. Can’t help that I almost teared up at Poe’s death. He has been one of my literary heroes since I first started reading.
Also watched Kickass 2 last night. It was ok…but nothing to go on about. Really only recommend it if you’ve seen the first one.

Well that does it for me today. Migraine making it difficult to focus on any more. Until tomorrow. …

~ Harbinger Owl of Syn

2014 : Day 18 or W.I.P.s

Since I have decided to try and ePublish this collection of short stories after I am done with the Legion URPG ePublishing project, I need to decide which stories will make it into the book and also brainstorm a few others to add real meat to the bones of the book.
I currently have 3 stories In Situ that can be finished and incorporated : Gecko”s novella, The Nautilus, and Cass and the 16th step. All of them are based in the same Arcology ( the first wasn’t planned this way but all three so far have had interlinking ties and I suppose I subconsciously kept them within the same “‘verse”. )
I would like to have at least 5 stories of varying lengths make up this book. I might well add more later, or write another collection for a second book. These 5 stories should vary in length between short story ( no more than 15 pages maximum) and novella length ( no more than 100 pages).  Even at 4 stories total: 3 short and 1 novella, I am looking at about 72500 words total. This was derived by taking the maximum page count for each story by approx 500 words per page ( I need to figure out what the average word count per page truly is).

This got pushed back a little longer, but is still on track. The biggest setback was the tablet adapter that didn’t work. Leaving me with the virtual keyboard and USB keyboard. My phone was also screwed and now waiting on the replacement phone to be sent to me. I should also be getting my mini HDMI cable to have my tablet all on my HDTV. 12/5/13

12/6/13= this test is evernote with the usb keyboard, mouse and the HDMI connector to my little HDTV. There seems to be next to no lag now as there was using GDrive when i did my other test about an hour a go or so. This works for me as I am glad that the setup will be workable for my writing needs. Now to test and see if it will scroll as I type, and it sure did. the only real issue I can state that I have, is that the HDTV view does cut off a tiny bit of the screen on top, bottom, and each side; and since there is no way to choose the ovescan mode for HDMI, i suppose I am stuck with it. Still, not a bad and minor compromise for having a much bigger screen with which to do my writing, especially since the type comes in crisp and clear and is much bigger on the TV screen than it is on the tablet.

 201311081514: 
This is the plan to finally publish Legion Universal Role Playing Game in an ePublishing format, especially a digital format (specifically for Amazon platforms and Kindle devices). Originally I intended to give the game away, but realized my dream of finally getting published and Amazon has made it incredibly simple to publish writing works in a digital format. This will also allow the Core Rules Document (henceforth referred to as the CRD) as well as the Character sheet and further expansions or Plug Ins (for the mechanics portions and possibly “generic” game settings and worlds/mythos. 
The new plan is to:
Rewrite portions of the 2.1 CRD to allow for a quicker set up
Rewrite portions of mechanics to streamline game play to a more rules-lite approach while retaining the URPG aspect of the game
Write an updated foreword giving a brief history of the game and its revisions
Find copy write free artwork to include in the CRD (and further documents) or artwork from the Creative Commons for internal portions of the entire document set as well as Cover Artwork for each book.
Reformat the entire 3.0 CRD to fit withing the KDP and Kindle ePublishing model and guidelines
Add quick character Templates to make it easier to play the game quickly
Reconfigure inherent game tables to be either in a better read format (that supports and is supported on digital devices) or remove them altogether
Add the stock *(read as redesigned) Character Sheet to the 3.0 CRD
Pricing for this book should be between $3.00-$5.00 USD (all subsequent expansion, plug-in books, etc should only be $1.00)
There is no need for a players handbook, per se; but I hope to write a fairly comprehensive guide for Judges to better run the game mechanics and also any genre they chose to with Legion URPG.
Additional Resource Guides (henceforth referred to as RGD) include: Magic and Ley Spheres, Psionics and Superpowers, and Plug-In RGDs include: End of Days, Medieval/Fantasy, and Futurist/Cyberpunk. There may be other RGDs planned for later {possible} publication.
I also plan to work on and publish a website (not sure if I plan on buying a domain or using a free webs format again) to support the game launch in publication format and I will still retain the proboards website for the game as it has the history to back up just how long the game has been in production.
I have looked through the RPG books and documents available on Kindle and through the Amazon website for digital copies of games. I was shocked to find 2 things:
There aren’t many RPGs available for kindle devices
Because of the formatting involved heavy image documents didn’t work well across all Amazon platforms, or spotty work in PDF format, made most games virtually unreadable or load took forever.
I set out to resolve these issues using Legion URPG as a testbed for my writing (it is the most complete WIP I have and closest to a published format) which would not only allow me to start getting published, but also get my works out for others to read, enjoy, and share. I do not plan to make tons of money from this, nor do I plan to become famous using this platform. I may even have to change up the ideas and formulas as shown in this outline to better accommodate gamers and consumers. As a writer and gamer on a shoestring budget, I can understand the need for having the most robust version of document possible for the most inexpensive cost appropriate. I also WILL NOT be adding DRM to this project, and understand that it will probably be made available for free by Amazon from time to time and may very well have bootleg copies freely distributed. I also know that the subject matter I am tackling by making my first publication a tabletop game that most people choose not to/will not play which seriously compromises the ability for it to be seen. My goal is to make tabletop gaming still comparable to other forms of gaming, extend the longevity of gaming with imagination, getting new players to try a game like this, and keep the monetization of said project to as bare a minimum as possible. I also hope to be a trend setter in making gaming books more available to digital markets on devices which are already out there in the public, in other words: I do not want the Kindle devices to be tarnished further and make it aware that gaming books can indeed be made to work well in digital format on kindle devices with no hassle. I will be keeping the game format in D6 format as it is the easiest way to keep the game available so that ANYONE can play it or run it.

Maybe more to work on too.

~H.O.o.S

I am a G.M.

G.M. or Game Master. It is an older term for anyone who runs tabletop or Pen & Paper RPGs (Role Playing Games). As a natural storyteller, I was drawn to the 1st edition AD&D. I had played the tabletop DnD too, but found it awfully limiting in scope. With Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (the older TSR products) you were only limited by your imaginations and were free to get out of the dungeons. It allowed for far greater story themes and epic chronicles. 
I had even written my first PnP RPG game mechanics and world setting by the time I was 10 years of age. It was influenced by those medieval hack and slash adventures with a wonderful twist. I moved on to over 40 other game systems created by others. Everything from Traveller and Call of Cthulu to ElfQuest, and Shadowrun. So many games. I found I preferred Science Fiction, Cyberpunk, and Horror games especially. I even modded Shadowrun rules into White-Wolf’s Storyteller system to make the games even more interesting and very nasty.

Since 2003, I have been working on my newest game. Legion: Universal RPG. I have folded many of the older games I have created within its engine/mechanics and have made it easy to play any genre/setting. I did allow it to be downloaded for free to help push RPGs as a wonderful way to spend time with friends, entertain imaginations, and to do my part to spread the joy of real RPGs. I felt they were a dying art, and in many ways; I still feel that way.

I am now in the vein of restructuring the rules a little. Streamlining them for easier gameplay and fleshing out areas that need a little meat. With the advent of much easier self publishing (via internet and especially epub), I plan on hopefully getting the core book published into a few formats, especially on Amazon, and allow those with tablets/smartphones the ability to play and run games still on tabletop without much need for actual pencils and paper.

So, I am indeed looking for Playtesters in the Tucson, AZ area. Everyone who playtests will not only get their names mentioned in the credits of the game, but will also get one digital and one print copy of the core book(s) for free. My move to getting published means that I will indeed be charging for the revised game, but I will not be charging very much at all. Again, I am a gamer and I understand the need for inexpensive gaming habits. I know piracy being what it is that I won’t make much money on it, and I am no artist. I hardly have any commissioned artwork in the game, and have had to use whatever copyright free images that are suitable.

I may also eventually have another interesting publishing format available down the road. More on that at a later date.

Inspired by Tolkien and other authors who went above and beyond the scope of merely creating characters and a few set pieces, I really enjoy the creation of worlds and settings. I love Role Playing games in their truest forms where anything is quasi probable. Where Player Characters drive the plot and action and allow for suspension of disbelief within the confines of Free Will and Imagination. To me, there is nothing more pure than a group of friends coming together to collectively tell stories and engage their creative minds. There are no real linear rails, no right or wrong way to play; no true winner or loser.

I, like many GMs, used to play with pre-written adventures…but found them rather limiting too. I prefer the wonderful ad libbing and impromptu nature of gaming on the fly of stream of consciousness. I like to keep an outline of where the game might be headed, but allow the players to shape how and where the storyline is headed. Give them a great sandbox and allow them to play. Give them the descriptions that tease their minds eye, engage their 5 senses of their characters…and make the game world a living and breathing thing; and you’ll have gamers that will keep coming back for more.

As of late, I have been looking at free Apps for smartphones and tablets to help run games and I am chomping at the bit to play almost any tabletop RPG right now. Aside from playtesting Legion, I am looking for other games to play and troupes to play with. I need to get my game on…
And soon!

~H.O.o.S
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