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  • Draw Yokai, Bust Piñatas, Collect Old Toys, and Play My Favourite Things

    by W. Eric Martin

    • UK publisher Play For Keeps will release a new edition of Daiki Aoyama's trick-taking game Eye My Favorite Things under the name My Favourite Things.

    Aoyama's design, which first appeared in 2016 from Japanese publisher するめデイズ (Surume Days), combines card play with a party game spirit. In this game for 3-6 players, each player gives their neighbor a topic, and their neighbor writes their five favorite things and their least favorite thing for this topic on six cards, secretly ranking the cards from 1-5 and 0. You get these cards as your hand, then you play a round of trick-taking, trying to figure out what to play based on how you think your neighbor ranked what you hold.

    You score a point per trick won, then you play a second round by giving the neighbor on your other side a topic. Whoever scores the most points wins, but beyond that you get to learn about your fellow players.

    Play For Keeps will run a Kickstarter campaign for My Favourite Things in 2023 for release in 2024. (PFK notes that its edition will have new artwork and "deluxe components designed to improve usability", but it's not clear whether anything about the gameplay has changed. If not, we'll merge these two listings.)

    • Play For Keeps debuted in 2022 with Overstocked, a card game for 1-6 players from Mandela Fernandez-Grandon that seems reminiscent of Jog Kung's Magazynier, a.k.a., Veggies, yet turned inside out:
    In Overstocked, players must stay up to date with the latest 90s toy crazes, filling their warehouse with the most in-demand toys and avoiding stocking the least popular.

    Each turn, players place cards into either their personal warehouse, which increases the number of each toy they have to sell, or into the central area, which is shared by all players and represents the popularity of each toy.

    Sample game
    Once everyone has played all the cards in their hand, players score points for all the toys in their warehouse. The more popular the toy, the more points it scores. However, the toy with the largest area in the central area scores negatively! The craze for this toy has peaked and as with many 90s crazes, everyone is ready to move onto the next thing.

    In Magazynier, which I covered in March 2022, each player builds their own grid of cards, then you choose one of the items in your grid and score points equal to the size of your largest group multiplied by the number of groups of that item — but everyone else scores that item as well, so you're trying to build a grid that will maximize points for what you think others will score while trying to monopolize one item for yourself.

    Overstocked flips that concept so that everyone builds their own multiplier for a shared area, while slipping in a poison pill that can tank your score. The game also includes three expansion modules and a solo variant.

    • And since I already mentioned Veggies, I'll follow up my recent post on Devir's 2023 line-up with two small games not covered there.

    Yokai Sketch is a two-player game from Ignasi Ferré due out in 2023 that is probably more intuitive to play than the description below makes the game sound:
    Children who go into the forest may come across some yokai, that is, supernatural creatures and phenomena. Moved by boundless curiosity, the little ones draw these spirits in their notebooks to understand their nature and learn from them.

    With a set-collection core mechanism, the goal of Yokai Sketch is to score more yokai points than the other player by completing sketches of the elusive forest spirits. The game consists of two decks of cards: in one are four types of yokai, each associated with an element (water, fire, earth, and wind) and a numerical value that corresponds to victory points, and in the other, sketches made by humans, two of the four elements, and possibly a special ability.

    At the start of the game, the yokai cards are stacked in four decks (one for each element) and three sketch cards are dealt face down to players. On their turn, players draw a new sketch card and slide one of their four cards under one of the four decks in the center of the table so that it reveals the element associated with that yokai. If by doing this the yokai reaches or exceeds the number of sketches needed to draw it (adding the sketches on both sides of the card), the player who has accumulated the most sketches on their side of the table takes it.

    Sample cards
    The winner's sketch cards will be placed in the discard pile, and the other player's will stay where they are as they will be used for the next yokai card of that type. If there is a tie in the number of sketches on both sides of the card, the yokai is frightened and lost. In this case, neither player manages to finish the drawing and all the sketch cards on both sides of that yokai pile are discarded. Sketch cards can also include powers: calling the yokai or distracting it to move cards. The game ends when one or more yokai decks are empty.

    • The other Devir title is Blind Business, a 2-5 player game from newcomer Andrew Roy that will have you making wild swings for points:
    There's festivity in the air! Ricky is also in the air, the 10-foot-tall donkey-shaped piñata that is the mascot and symbol of the town. The mayor has announced a contest to take down Ricky, and the whole town is invited to participate.

    No one can break Ricky open by themselves, though, so you have to gather the best teammates from the four districts of town, each bringing their own abilities to the challenge. Snatch the right people from the hands of your competitors and gather the best team of piñata-poppers — but you never know who could be on the other teams until it's too late. Hurry up and pop Ricky before anyone else can, and you'll win all the candy inside, the Big Trophy, and never-ending prestige!

    Blind Business is made up of a deck of 50 cards that are numbered from 1 to 11 in four colors, along with six jokers. You start with four cards in hand; after seeing them, shuffle them and place them so that all other players can see them, but not you.

    On a turn, the active player requests a card from an opponent. If the opponent refuses to hand it over, they keep in their area for scoring at game's end; if they do hand it over, they can try to claim a card from the active player's hand — and the active player can then agree to this trade (with players swapping cards and scoring them) or refuse (with each scoring their own card). Whatever happens, players refill their hands to four cards.

    Each player arranges cards in columns according to their color, with colors corresponding to the four zones in which the city is divided: the playground, the boardwalk, the central station, and downtown. At the end of the game, depending on the majorities, players earn points based on their card combinations. You can also win instantly by collecting five consecutive cards of a single color.
    Read more »
  • Herd Dragons, Build a Temple from Ice, and Travel Europe with Celts at SPIEL '23

    by W. Eric Martin

    Publishers have been previewing games that they plan to release at SPIEL '23, so let's take a peek at what they're offering:

    Drachenhüter ("Dragonkeeper") appears to be a small card game from KOSMOS with design and art by Michael Menzel.

    Here's the brief pitch on this 2-4 player game:
    Two stacks of cards form the "Magic Book", which indicates which and how many dragons can be herded. With each card taken by the player magicians, this information changes, but luckily you can cast spells and return your cards to the Magic Book to change it in your favor and score! But which of your dragons can you spare to cast spells?

    • The second title revealed by KOSMOS is Nunatak, which is a geological term for a hill or mountain completely surrounded by glacial ice.

    In this three-dimensional construction game for 2-4 players from Kane Klenko, you build a step pyramid together in a mountain of ice — but this game isn't co-operative, so watch your step! In brief:
    For each pillar stone placed, you receive cards with different values that will affect your score at game's end. For every four pillars built in a square, a new level of the monument opens up, with the temple of ice growing step by step. Who can place their stones most wisely and rise to the icy challenge?

    • After debuting with Applejack at SPIEL '22, German publisher The Game Builders is going larger with its next release: Arbor, with design courtesy of Uwe Rosenberg, Michael Keller, and Andreas "ode." Odendahl.

    Here are pics of the prototype from LeiriaCon 2023, a game convention in Portugal that took place on March 23-26:

    • Speaking of Portugal, designer Orlando Sá and publisher PYTHAGORAS are prepping the 1-4 player game Celtae for release at SPIEL '23. Here's an overview:
    Celt — Latin Celta, plural Celtae — were an early Indo-European people who from the second millennium BCE to the first century BCE spread over much of Europe. Their tribes and groups eventually ranged from the British Isles and Portugal to as far east as Transylvania, the Black Sea coasts, and Galatia in Anatolia, and they were in part absorbed into the Roman Empire as Britons, Gauls, Boii, Galatians, Celtiberians, and Lusitans.

    Cover artwork by Mihajlo Dimitrievski
    Celtae is a "worker swapping" game powered by a rondel in which players choose actions to perform during their turn. On their turn, players swap one of their three active workers with one of the three workers on the action space they wish to perform, then they perform the action — which will be boosted if they have in their worker pool specific types of workers: farmers, builders, soldiers, and nobles.

    —The farming action allows players to draw cards, and it's boosted by farmers. Cards have three types of uses in the game: building, preparing for battle, and engaging with the druid order.

    —The build action allows players to build and expand citadels on the board by placing their discs on them, and it's boosted by builders. At game's end, only completed citadels will score, and players have to work together to complete them and score their presence on them.

    —The battle action, which is boosted by soldiers, allows players to defeat increasingly stronger Roman armies and to garrison the outskirts of the citadels on the map.

    —The recruit action, boosted by nobles, allows players to recruit workers to their tribe, increasing the number of available workers to boost future actions. However, if you manage to send certain types of workers from your tribe into the druid order, you'll get their favor and a druid worker who functions like a joker and boosts almost every type of action.

    Each time players engage with the druid order, battle a Roman army, or build in a citadel, they gain a bonus that was randomly assigned during set-up. The combination of these bonuses with a timely performed action often results in powerful combos.

    Playtesting the game in March 2023
    Every player has a leader card assigned to their tribe at the beginning of the game. If the player meets the requirements of their leader, they can decide to leave it like that and gain a small number of points at game's end or forfeit those meager points and flip it to its heroic side, which has much harder requirements for much larger endgame points.

    Each time the action marker on the rondel completes a full turn, the player who currently holds the favor of Teutates places a progress marker on one of the progress cards next to the game board. At game's end, only progress cards with progress markers will score, so as the game advances, players determine what will score...and what will not.
    Read more »
    - Newest Items

  • Trinket Generator
    Publisher: Atelier Clandestin

    Rather than treasure, adventurers often come across uncanny items of little monetary value but great sentimental value. Find out what those may be with the help of this generator!

    This product contains:

    • 1 table for the type of trinket (small sculpture, natural item, fashion jewelry, other),
    • 3 tables to generate small sculptures (condition, material, shape),
    • 2 tables for small natural items (items, container),
    • 2 tables for large natural items (items, finish),
    • 8 tables to create fashion jewelry (type, bracelet/necklace, circlet, earrings, ring, beads, charms, pendants),
    • 100 other trinkets,
    • 6 miscellaneous tables to go into further detail (animals, gemstones, metals, rocks, tableware, woods).

    It is in A5 format and has a black and white cover page.

    Trinket GeneratorPrice: $1.25 Read more »
    Publisher: WHITEFRANK

    LIMITATIONS is a small document listing all Limitations currently in use in FASERIPopedia its associated sourcebooks and the current TIDAL WAVE PRODUCTIONS licensed sourcebooks and new sourcebooks not yet complete.

    This small document can be printed out for personal use as needed. All FASERIPopedia Limitations are included in the alphabetical list in this product as well as quite a few new ones, many of them from the as yet unpublished EVIL sourcebook.

    When enough new Limitations have been discovered in play this document will be updated with them.

    This document is mainly for "basic" FASERIPopedia users who just want more enumerated Limitations and aren't as interested in all the other sourcebooks. 🙂

    FASERIPopedia LIMITATIONSPrice: $0.00 Read more »

    Gnome Stew

  • mp3Gnomecast 161 – Introducing New Players

    Welcome to the GnomeCast, the Gnome Stew’s tabletop gaming advice podcast. Here we talk with the other gnomes about gaming things to avoid becoming part of the stew. So I guess we’d better be good.

    Today we have myself, Ang, along with JT and Senda and today we’re going to talk about introducing new players to roleplaying games.

    Read more »
  • World Building at the Library


    In the days of yore (e.g.: prior to my introduction to the Internet in 1994), I’d spend countless hours at the library doing world research for RPGs and game design and generally educating myself. Sure, there were some “crossover years” where I tried to do research on the Internet, but eventually found myself at the library again. This was in the nascent days of the Internet where search engines were rudimentary, Wikipedia didn’t exist, Encyclopedia Britannica wasn’t online yet, and the billions of resources at our modern fingertips had not been imagined yet, let alone created.

    Even though we have those billions of resources ready for access from the comfort of our home, I’m going to encourage you to head off to your local library for a field trip. Make a day of it. Plan for hours and hours of wandering the stacks, making piles of books, and delving into the wonderful, musty smell of old tomes. If you happened to have a family or partner, take them with you and cut them loose in the library. Maybe even take your gaming group with you and see what they can discover.

    Dewey Decimal System

    Libraries organize their collections according to the Dewey Decimal Systems. Books are classified using numbers that range from 000 (Computer science, information, and general works) through 999 (History of other areas; extraterrestrial worlds). There are sub-categories in each of the 10 major classes of books, and even more sub-sub-categories below those.

    It’s lots to take in and ingest. If you have a good library, there are going to be tens of thousands of volumes. If you have a great library, you might even get upwards of a million (or more!) books to crack open and learn from.

    It’s also difficult to know where to start. That’s where the card catalog comes into play.

    Card Catalog

    In my heady days of almost living in the library, I knew the card catalog system inside and out. You could search by author, topic, or book title in the highly organized physical cards that lived in really long drawers. You had to write down the Dewey Decimal System classification number and sub-category information on these little slips of paper using pencils like you find at mini-golf locations. (Author note: I can smell the paper and wood/graphite in my memories as I describe this.)

    At modern libraries, the bulky, hard-to-update, sometimes missing cards have been replaced by computerized terminals that allow more precise searching. They allow searching by all the different criteria books can be organized under, and a good system will even provide related material. This might allow you to find resources you’d never thought about searching for.

    Focused Areas

    Even with the computerized systems, it’s good to come in with a focus. If you type “history” into the search, you’re probably not going to find anything directly useful. Come into the library with a general world or setting concept. Let’s give it a try on my local library system.

    Let’s say I’d like to emulate the culture, society, holidays, religions, and other aspects of ancient Korea. I hit my local library’s web site and enter “ancient korea” under the catalog search. Two books about modern events related to Korea show up. Fail.

    I shift gears to search for “korea history.” This brings up lots of noise to the signal that I’m looking for. Quite a few items on the Korean War, North Korea, various battles of the Korean War, K-Pop, and so on.

    Shifting again to the advanced search, I enter “korea history” in the “search for” field and then I enter “north” in the “exclude field.” Apparently there is a whole series of graphic novels fictionalizing Korean history for young children. This dominated my search results, so I used some filters to get down to a single book that is 256 pages long that covers the “entirety” of Korean history. Somehow, I think Korea has a deeper, richer history than what can be captured in a single tome.

    This example has been, quite frankly, a failure, but this is where your local, friendly librarian can come into play.

    Personal Assistance

    I’m not a librarian, but I know a handful relatively well. They’ll take tall and proud about the stories where they helped a library patron find some strange, obscure, or downright hidden resource for the patron’s research efforts. They live for this. They love these moments.

    Since my online searching failed to find any great resources for “ancient korean history,” I’d next turn to my flesh-and-blood librarian to help me out. I didn’t do it in this case, but every time I’ve approached a librarian for assistance, they’ve come through with amazing results.

    Comfort of Home

    Most library districts also expose their book search functionality over the Internet. This allows you to dig into concepts, ideas, books, and thoughts from the comfort of your own home. You can also leverage the “hold” system where a librarian will generously pull the book(s) you desire and hold them for you for pickup at a later time. Then you can take the books home and really delve in.

    Gems in the Rough

    Using the “similar books” references in the online catalog search can also expand your reading selections. I tried that with my above example for Korean history, but since the offerings from my local library district were so poor, the references were equally poor. However, if I do a search for “german history” the referrals to other books is glorious in nature.

    You might also find resources and other materials (like DVDs, documentaries, CDs, audiobooks, ebooks, and more) that you might have never considered in your search for information.

    Using the Books

    Once you have the materials in hand, you’re going to be as overwhelmed as when you started looking for the books. That’s okay. Just take a breather. Make a list on your own of various things you’d like to learn about the part of the world or culture that you chose. Here’s a starter list for you:

    • Geography (including maps)
    • Social Hierarchies
    • Major Cities
    • Minor Cities
    • Important Locations
    • Food/Diet
    • Industries
    • Imports
    • Exports
    • Wars (either being invaded or invading others)
    • Rebellions
    • Other Important Events
    • Important Political Leaders
    • Important Influencers
    • Education
    • Religious Beliefs
    • Important Religious Leaders
    • Strange Laws
    • Money System
    • Clothing

    Once you have your list, focus on one element at a time. Fictional stories are usually meant to be read from front to back without deviation. Non-Fiction books, however, are meant to be read scattershot. Read chapter 11, then 8, then 47, then 12, and so on.

    As you’re doing a deep dive into the element of your choice, make notes. The notes are like your session prep for an RPG. Write down what you think you might not remember. Jot brief notes on ideas that are clear to you to remind of you of those ideas. There’s no need to transcribe the book. Just make sure you can ingest and recall what you’re going through.

    Once you have your notes, ideas, thoughts, and concepts all together, then you can start playing with them. Change the historical events, change the industries, change the food, change the money system, and so on. Just be aware that every change you make will have a ripple effect that cascades into other areas. If you read that a region produces lots of beef, but you change the diet to vegetarian, then you’ll probably have to do something with all that beef, either as an export or eliminate it from the industry section.

    Be Respectful

    By using a real world basis for your fictional settings, you can provide a true “lived in” feel for your players. This is a great thing, but please be respectful of the source culture. You have two options here. You can “file the serial numbers off” and make your creation completely unrecognizable as being soured from a real world culture. If you’re going to this extreme, then you’re probably better off just making up things from whole cloth.

    If you’re going to leave glimmers and aspects of the original culture intact for the players to recognize, do your best to not abuse or abscond with in a negative way something from the culture or region that you’ve researched. Plenty of harm has already been done to various peoples around the world via poorly worded RPG products. Even if you’re going to only use your efforts in a home game, I urge you to do your best to avoid abusing existing (or past) cultures for the sake of enjoyment.


    Hit that library! Have fun! Do some research and take some notes. Make sure you take a good notebook (or a well-charged electronic note-taking device). Don’t forget to take at least two pens with you in case one gives out on you. I also recommend a small pencil bag that contains different colored pens/pencils and maybe some highlighters. Just don’t write in the books belonging to the library, please.

    I hope you enjoy your journey into the wonderful world of researching topics in person instead of just online.

    Read more »

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    Sly Flourish

  • VideoMultiple Solutions to a Single Problem

    We're on the last week of the Forge of Foes Kickstarter! If you haven't yet checked out the 30 page free preview and pledged to get the book, now is the time! If you're as excited about the project as we are, please share this link wherever you think you can help get the word out:

    Forge of Foes is built to address a lot of hard parts of running monsters in our 5e games. Many times these problems don't have one single solution. If they did, we'd be using that one and it wouldn't be much of a problem anymore. But some things are hard. How do you balance encounters? How do you design encounters? How should you modify monsters? How do you choose monsters? How do you run great boss battles? What parts of a monster can you modify during play and when should you? How do you run dozens to hundreds of monsters in a single battle?

    There's no one perfect solution to the problems above, so we offer multiple. In Forge of Foes you'll find multiple solutions to these common problems. We don't just offer one way to run hordes of monsters — we offer three ways of both managing damage done to monsters in a horde and handling a horde's dice rolls. You pick and choose the tools that work best for running hordes at your own table.

    We have entire chapters looking at problems from different angles. Do you choose monsters based on the story or build a story around cool monsters? We talk about both approaches.

    This idea of having multiple approaches to a single problem doesn't just define how we write about the topic in Forge of Foes — it's also how you can think about your own GMing toolbox. We each have so many ways we can run our games. There are so many ways we can build and develop NPCs, run scenes and situations, spice up encounters, build magic items, and share the story of the game at our table. There's often no single right solution. There are many right solutions for different circumstances.

    When you're putting together your own toolbox of GMing processes and ideas, don't feel like you must have only one solution for each problem. Keep a wide range of tools — choosing the best one at the moment to share our fantastic tales with our friends.

    Last Week's Lazy RPG Talk Show Topics

    Each week I record an episode of the Lazy RPG Talk Show (also available as a podcast) in which I talk about all things in tabletop RPGs. Here are last week's topics with timestamped links to the YouTube video:

    Patreon Questions and Answers

    Also on the Talk Show, I answer questions from Sly Flourish Patreons. Here are last week's questions and answers:

    RPG Tips

    Each week I think about what I learned in my last RPG session and write them up as D&D tips. Here are this week's tips:

    • Ask your players to take notes. Refer to their notes during your recap.
    • Write down one cool character-focused event for each character in your next session.
    • Ask players for a loose wishlist of magic items every few levels.
    • Give magic items a unique name and history.
    • What is the history of your fantastic location? What happened here before?
    • Offer choices. Ensure the characters have something to do.
    • Leave mysteries unanswered.
    • Spotlight character traits and backgrounds through the eyes and actions of the NPCs.

    Related Articles

    Get More from Sly Flourish

    Buy Sly Flourish's Books

    Have a question or want to contact me? Check out Sly Flourish's Frequently Asked Questions.

    Read more »
  • VideoUse Static Initiative for Monsters

    There are lots of little lazy tricks we can use to streamline our 5e RPGs. I'm a big fan of using static monster damage for example. I find anything to help speed up and streamline the game worthwhile.

    Forge of Foes (currently on Kickstarter!) is packed with tips and tricks for running awesome 5e monsters. Some tips offer fast and dirty tricks for streamlining your game. The book also has lots of tools and advice for adding detail, changing up tactics, and building big and engaging encounters. If you're a tactically-focused GM, you'll find as much to love in Forge of Foes as those who prefer the simple tricks to speed things up. Take a look at the free preview and back it on the Forge of Foes Kickstarter page!

    One trick I've been using, which shows up in the "Lazy Tricks for Running Monsters" chapter of Forge of Foes, is static initiative for monsters. I started doing this a year or so ago and I really like it.

    For a video on this topic, check out my Use Static Initiative for D&D 5e Monsters YouTube video.

    With static initiative, you skip rolling initiative for monsters and instead give monsters an initiative of 10 + their dexterity modifier. If you want to group different types of monsters together, use the best dex mod of the group, or split them up with their own static initiative scores if you want.

    Want an even easier way? Just make it 12.

    There are some big advantages to static initiative. First, it saves you the time of rolling initiative. If someone else at the table is managing initiative for you (another lazy trick I really love), tell them the monsters have an initiative of 12. Like static monster damage, it's fast and it's easy.

    Static initiative also puts monsters in the middle of the initiative order. This ensures the characters don't destroy half the monsters before they ever get a chance to act. Acting in the middle of initiative gives monsters a small but valuable edge, especially at higher levels.

    Also, in my experience, players don't tend to care. In years of doing this for multiple groups, I've not had a player even mention it. I'm sure they know it's going on, but it just doesn't matter to them. Beating the monsters' initiative matters to them but when they know it's a static number of 12, they now have a reasonable number to beat.

    You'll still have circumstances where all of the characters go before the monsters. That's fine. But it won't be because the monsters rolled low. It'll be because all of the players rolled high and that's cool and fun.

    If you're more of a tactical DM who likes all the nuances of 5 foot squares, prefers rolling for monster damage, runs lots of different types of monsters in a battle, or likes rolling individual initiative for every monster in a battle — you can still do so. You might keep this idea on hand and use it for some of your battles where speed is more important than detail and tactical accuracy. Battles with less consequential outcomes or battles against easier opponents might benefit from static initiative. If you're like me, though, you might end up using it all the time.

    So, to speed up your game and balance things out a little bit, try using a static initiative score of "12" for your monsters. It'll surprise you how much it streamlines your game.

    Last Week's Lazy RPG Talk Show Topics

    Each week I record an episode of the Lazy RPG Talk Show (also available as a podcast) in which I talk about all things in tabletop RPGs. Here are last week's topics with timestamped links to the YouTube video:

    Patreon Questions and Answers

    Also on the Talk Show, I answer questions from Sly Flourish Patreons. Here are last week's questions and answers:

    RPG Tips

    Each week I think about what I learned in my last RPG session and write them up as D&D tips. Here are this week's tips:

    • Put big decisions towards the end of the game so you know where things are heading next.
    • Always consider what the characters can do in any given scene.
    • End just before a big battle and you have a strong and meaty start to your next game.
    • Aim for four players at your game. It's the ideal mix of character synergy and focus.
    • Build fantastic locations. You have an unlimited special effects budget.
    • Instead of rolling monster initiative, just give them a static score of 12.
    • Ask your players to take notes. Refer to their notes during your recap.

    Related Articles

    Get More from Sly Flourish

    Buy Sly Flourish's Books

    Have a question or want to contact me? Check out Sly Flourish's Frequently Asked Questions.

    Read more »

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