Summer Kickstarter Picks!

kickstarter-logo-lightMy Kickstarter “problem” (I can quit any time) continues, and I have three campaigns I’m currently backing which I think will be of particular interest to all of you. I’m talking about them in order of closing soonest to closing, uh, not-soonest.

Knuckle Sammich – I have been an unabashed fan of the Kobolds Ate My Baby! RPG since I first discovered it at my FLGS *mumble, mumble* years ago. So it was a no-brainer that I would back Knuckle Sammich, a KAMB! card game based around my favourite baby-eating psychopaths. It seems King Torg (ALL HAIL KING TORG!) wants lunch. But so do you and all the other kobolds, so it’s a race to make your sammich before the other kobolds get theirs. I could explain further, but really, you should go to the Kickstarter page and watch the musical introduction to the game. I mean why would I deprive you of that, I’m not a monster. The jumping-on point for a physical copy is pretty darn good, too, at just $19 (plus shipping). And with delivery expected in January 2017, you’ll have a sweet post-holiday game to wile away those cold winter evenings. Did I mention baby-eating kobolds? Get this game!

Attacking the Darkness – A Feature Mockumentary – The folks over at Zombie Orpheus Entertainment are back again, lining up another satirical shot at the anti-gaming movement. Attacking the Darkness¬†follows the efforts of a church group to create the ultimate anti-gamer movie, and all the hilarity which ensues. While I didn’t have to endure too much in the way of Christian anti-gamer hysteria (growing up in Canada has many perks), I still take every opportunity to laugh at the ridiculousness of that movement. And you should, too! $12 gets you the DRM-free download, $25 gets you the physical DVD (or Bluray, is stretch goals are hit) as well as the download. The best part? The film is in the can; this Kickstarter is for distribution only, so your product is ready, just waiting to come your way in November of this year. I plan to curl up Christmas morn with eggnog and my copy. You know, really celebrate the holidays the right way.

Massive Darkness – Okay, I’ll admit, the price point for CoolMiniOrNot’s Massive Darkness is not for the faint of heart. I may or may not have let a whimper escape my lips when I clicked my backer level. But one look at the minis included with this board game, and I knew I had to have it on my shelf. I haven’t even looked at what the game is about, really, because…the minis! The minis are just so damned pretty; in the parlance of the kids today, I can’t even. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll play the heck out of the board game, because I think I and my friends will have a blast. But I’m backing the game as much to have sweet new miniatures for my RPG table as anything else. Painting them will be as much fun for me as playing the game, so a little involuntary whimpering wasn’t going to dissuade me. If you agree, this is definitely a game to back.

Those are my picks. What’s got you excited on Kickstarter these days? Drop a comment and let me know!

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Sounds Like Fun!

cropped-cropped-brent-chibi-96.jpgI haven’t always been great about including sound in my role-playing sessions. I used to at least run an iTunes playlist of cool fantasy/sci-fi soundtracks in the background, but even that has fallen by the wayside in the last few years. But I’m starting to look at audio options for my games again, for a few reasons. Mainly, I just really like having that audio component and I’ve missed it. Even if it’s just a playlist of appropriate background music, I’d forgotten how much music can keep the players focused on the game, and help them become immersed in the session.

But a second contributing factor (and one which you might get sick of hearing about) is Matt Mercer’s DMing on Critical Role. Recently Matt has been using Syrinscape to build custom audio files for his sessions. I didn’t notice it right away, and then only when he brought it up during a special Goblins episode of Critical Role. But once I noticed the sweet background music and sounds, I realized how effective it was at enhancing each session. Going back and listening to earlier episodes I found that, while still enjoyable, the absence of background music/soundscape was definitely odd.

So audio is returning to my sessions. I’m starting slow, not just for myself but for my players. I don’t want to go from no audio to full-on customized soundscape; I think that will be jarring for everyone involved. Plus, using a system like Syrinscape has a bit of a learning curve, and I’d rather overcome that away from the table before I try to make it a part of my GMing routine. So we’re going to start with some background music during sessions, just to ease everyone back in to hearing something besides my mellifluous tones during the game. I’ve got an extensive collection of movie and gaming soundtracks, so it should be pretty easy to put together a 4-5 hour playlist of suitable music.

If you aren’t as well-stocked with soundtrack music, I highly recommend two resources to use at your table. The first is Radio Rivendell, an online radio station which streams music from various video games, new age albums, and fantasy soundtracks. Very few commercials most days, so it makes perfect background music for your game as long as you don’t mind having no say over the music you get. If you want a bit more control, I recommend getting a Spotify account (or using it for free, but get used to periodic commercials during your games). Spotify allows you to build playlists, and you have access to a damn extensive library of music to pull from. You can get as granular as you like, pulling together lists of music to suit whatever campaign you are running.

Later, once I have a handle on how to use Syrinscape, I’ll introduce more focused soundscapes to my sessions. I might start by using them just during “boss fights”, and then introduce them in to other situations until I’m comfortable using the system. I’d recommend taking a look at Syrinscape, even if you don’t think it’s for you. It appears to be pretty user-friendly, and I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with it. Count on a full report of my experiences with it in future posts.

Have you been using sound in your games? How much or how little? Let me know in the comments.

Update: Ran a session of my Council of Thieves campaign yesterday afternoon, and contrary to what I said about easing in to Syrinscape use, I went full Syrinscape during the session. And it worked! Players enjoyed it, it wasn’t distracting, and it did help focus the players (and me) on the game. 10/10 would use again.