Geek Etymology – Mana

Today I bring you the next post of Geek Etymology! If you missed my first steps into the past of our favourite geeky terminology then take a look here!

This time I will be tackling the mysterious origins of the word that we give to the power source of wizards and spellcasters, the very essence of magic: Mana! It’s in our name so I thought it was the obvious next choice. Unlike with the Paladin last time, there is far less actual etymology to follow with the evolution of the word, so I won’t be going down much of a rabbit hole this time. The origins of this word are however still rather interesting and maybe unexpected.

mana_potions_by_isaac77598-d6pxj8c Continue reading “Geek Etymology – Mana”

Divines Amongst Us: American Gods, and Fantasy Beyond Fantasy

Just this Sunday gone was the season finale of American Gods, and oh boy, did I enjoy that!!

I have noticed, however, that the series is still a bit low-key in the audience markets I am familiar with: the UK and Spain – and actually, from what I hear, it has not really made much of an impact in Europe yet. This has got me wondering and coming back to something I talked to you guys a while back, about modern fantasy and the certain decline we are experiencing these days. I wonder if perhaps American Gods has fallen a bit out of the radar because of that. But of course, here we have another problem to factor in, which is the network that distributes the show: STARZ. STARZ are the fellas that brought us the wonderful Black Sails, and I feel American Gods is having the same distribution issues. We do not get this network here in the UK, so it may become more popular when probably Sky decides to strike a deal for its consumption. Nevertheless, at the moment the only place where you can watch it in the UK is through Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime have been very clever about their deals particularly in what regards high budget TV shows of a geeky content: Vikings, Black Sails, Gotham, Lucifer, etc…So, we are having some of the coolest TV shows one can have these days, but thanks to network shenanigans, some of you folks are, sadly, missing them.

Continue reading “Divines Amongst Us: American Gods, and Fantasy Beyond Fantasy”

Europa V America: Reflexiones sobre los tableros de Aventureros al Tren

Hoy voy a daros la chapa un poco sobre algo a lo que le llevo dando vueltas desde hace ya un tiempo, y que por fin he conseguido asentar, al menos conmigo misma. Este es el dilema que me llevo planteando desde hace un par de años sobre las dos versiones standard de Aventureros al Tren: el mapa de los EE. UU y Europa. Salí de dudas el pasado fin de semana cuando fuimos al torneo, o liguilla, que tienen montado todo este mes en Board in the City – del que seguro ya me habéis oído hablar con anterioridad; el café de juegos de mesa en Southampton (UK). Esta liga se juega con el mapa europeo, por tanto, fue con esa versión con la que jugamos. Éramos cuatro, y todos hemos jugado con ambos mapas, y la cosa que tiene cuando juegas con gente que conoces y con la que has jugado más veces, es que más o menos sabes por dónde van los tiros. Así que, este era buen escenario para observar y cuantificar, en comparación con otras partidas que hubiésemos jugado con el otro tablero. Así que aquí os dejo mis reflexiones; muchos supongo que habréis llegado a la misma conclusión; o tal vez no, tal vez vuestras experiencias sean completamente distintas, pero ya que hay tanta gente que pregunta en que se parecen o cual el mejor para principiantes y distinto tipo de jugador, pues aquí dejo esto.

Continue reading “Europa V America: Reflexiones sobre los tableros de Aventureros al Tren”

Geek Etymology – The Paladin

Have you ever noticed a recurring word that’s used commonly among various geeky things? It could be a piece of terminology you see only in roleplaying games, or perhaps a word that has been appropriated and changed for use in fantasy or sci-fi settings. I come across a few of these, and I always wonder where they come from, so here I’m going to explore them with Geek Etymology!

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To start with I thought it would be appropriate for me to look into the origins and evolution of the word ‘Paladin’. As most of my friends will tell you, I usually end up playing a paladin or similar character in RPGs, and I also go for a paladin style in other games such as Magic: The Gathering. To be honest it is probably this word alone that got me to think of looking into the origins of words used in RPGs and other geeky stuff, but once I started to look around I found many others that warrant some research.

Before we look into the past of the paladin, let’s see what it means to us today. Although there are some other minor uses, the primary way we see the term used is to describe a fantasy character, either in a narrative sense, or a mechanical sense as the character’s ‘class’. They are usually characterized as a holy warrior who fights for the forces of good against evil, usually heavily armoured, wielding a shield and some holy magic and healing ability. As of today you’ll find the word most closely linked to Dungeons & Dragons, but also plenty of other RPGs which were influenced by D&D, as well as many Videogames. Continue reading “Geek Etymology – The Paladin”

Power Creep – Why MMOs, MOBAs and TCGs Die Early

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If you’re ever stepped away from your favourite competitive or collectable game for a while, only to be demolished by the new expansion content when you return, then you’ve felt the sting of power creep. Or maybe you were always bad at the game? But for today we’re going to assume it was power creep.

So what are we talking about when we use these dreaded words? For many the term has simply become a way of accusing developers for not keeping an eye on game balance, frequently seen between Massively Multiplayer Online games (and more recently, the MOBA epidemic) and more traditional card games. Is it really just every new axe that’s better than your old axe? Is it every card in a block that uses that broken new mechanic? Actually before it became a catch-all term the phenomena of Power Creep warned of a very specific problem that occurred usually over years of development on a particular game. The idea that as time goes on the ‘power curve’ that carefully maps out the value of something with its power will skew higher and higher, making low-cost tools even stronger and completely negating the more balanced content that came before. Continue reading “Power Creep – Why MMOs, MOBAs and TCGs Die Early”

Y a ti como te gusta tu Carcassonne…? (Expansiones y variantes)

Hoy me voy a poner a comentar una cosa que es realmente gustos más que nada – pero bueno, de gustos también hablamos. Así que hoy me voy a dedicar a comentar las expansiones del Carcassonne que a mi personalmente me gustan, las que son mis preferidas y el por qué – Y si hubiese alguna que no me hace ni pizca de gracias, pues también.

Lo primero comentar que, a mí, personalmente, me gusta jugar el juego original y no las nuevas variantes – que hay algunas que son muy chulas e interesantes, pero prefiero lo clásico. Sobre todo si estoy jugando con gente primeriza que se puede hacer todo un lio, prefiero no complicarme la vida. Y de esa forma, luego ya si quiero,  me lio yo la manta la cabeza y le pongo las expansiones que me apeteca. Normalmente, de la lista que os voy a dar a continuación juego con todas, o casi todas al mismo tiempo. Así que aquí os dejo mi listilla:

El rio I & II: ésta, para mi, es obligatoria. ¿Por qué? Pues yo creo que al tener el rio ahí por el medio le das más gracia al juego. Tienes que pensar más desde el punto de vista de distribución de las granjas. Y también cambia algo el sentido y dirección en el que se ponen las fichas. Normalmente veo que en juegos sin rio, hay muchos mas cuadraditos en blanco, y no un mapa coherente (y a mi me gusta que estén todas las fichas unidas de una forma u otra, sin espacios ni nada). Además, el rio es una puñeta honesta: no como ese caminillo a medio cerrar que te han plantado ahí para que no puedas terminar tu ciudad, ahí a mala sangre. El rio pasa por el medio, y si te va bien, pues bien, y si no, pues chimpum. También hay algo que me tira mucho a mi, y es la coherencia. Muchas ciudades medievales se construían al lado de fuentes de agua. Me gusta saber que mis chaneros chanereantes y cerditos tienen donde beber; es cuestión de inmersión, supongo. (También pueda ser que sea yo muy rara). Continue reading “Y a ti como te gusta tu Carcassonne…? (Expansiones y variantes)”

Really Cool Awesome Chat with Nic & Stack from Owlman Press!

Today we bring you an interview with our good friends from Owlman Press Nic & Stack. Here they will tell you a bit about themselves, their company and projects, which are all very exciting. You have already heard about their work in this space from our review of Skum of the Stars -Skum of the Stars Review

It is thanks to their game that we met and we want to share their awesomeness with you – so hook up 🙂

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Dear Stack and Nic, please first of all could you tell our readers, how did Owlman Press get to be? Could you explain to them a bit of your background as individuals and how this all ties in together? What are your roles?

Nic: I was raised on a farm in rural New South Wales. I grew up with a lot of Western movies and developed from a young age a love of the genre. As I grew older, I really wanted to make my own. That said, for someone who grew up wanting to write the area near us didn’t cater to many interests. It was either football or fishing (there was also tennis, but that was for the weird people). Writing certainly wasn’t one. So, I pretty much felt lost all the time, unable to explore my interests until I discovered that the nearby town had a comic store. There I discovered roleplay games in the form of Deadlands: The Weird West. My first experience playing was as the Game Master and I quickly found that the role gave me a vehicle to tell stories and develop writing skills in a way that I just didn’t have access to anywhere else.  Again, after playing that for a bit I really wanted to make my own. By the time I was doing my PhD, examining the role of Tonto in the Lone Ranger, I’d consumed enough Westerns and a wide enough array of games to get a sense of what I both wanted to do and do differently with both. My first game, Frankenstein Atomic Frontier, really started as a vehicle for me to both – write westerns and roleplay games. Owlman Press came out of that.

In terms of roles, Stack and myself often initiate concepts jointly, talking about them back and forth. I typically flesh them out into actual background and add the rules. Stack manages the “public profile” side of things for our games along with managing the contacts and so forth. She is also the quality control, reading over everything to make sure it’s up to scratch. We also have great body of friends who help us develop our concepts and come around regularly to play. If you look in our books, you’ll see the same names popping up over and over again.

Stack: So, I grew up in a couple of small country town called firstly Clunes and then Scarsdale both of which are several hundred kilometres away from where Nic grew up. I enjoyed reading and writing from a young age as well as sports such as Roller Hockey until I experienced a sporting injury which has caused life-long complications and a chronic pain condition. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do once I finished high school. All I knew was that I really loved circus/sideshow and writing. So I enrolled into a professional writing and editing degree which is where I met Nic. I hadn’t played any table top RPG type games till I met him so a whole new world was opened up to me at that point. After we started dating we started several projects together, various magazines with other writers, a local writers group nothing really stuck, and eventually Owlman Press sort of developed out of these experiences, and as the games developed further. I look after the social media side of things mostly cause I’m a internet junkie and edit everything developed through Owlman.

I deferred my writing degree several times over the years as we grew our family – being a stay at home Mum for six years while Nic studied his PhD. I eventually went back and finished the final units to attain my writing degree in 2014 (three kids later!) I considered going onto BA Honours but personal experiences helped me find a new passion in women’s healthcare and pregnancy and birthing rights. So now I find myself studying nursing which I’m loving.  

I guess this is just a fancy way of asking, how did you guys get to be so cool?! Because you are parenting, working, researching, making games, photography…I mean, do you guys sleep?! It takes some pretty special kind of people to get going what you have – apart from the fact that as people you two are just Cool, nice and pretty awesome. What is your secret? Do you struggle? We all know it is hard for independent creative people like yourselves to keep things going.

Nic: How did I get to be this cool? Easy – I do what every other cool Australian does. I hunt and kill a Dropbear every morning before sunrise, and then eat it for breakfast. Science and other sources show that eating a Dropbear is guaranteed to make you cooler. In all seriousness, however, I’m going to take the first part of that question as a compliment. I’m honestly just following my passions.

Continue reading “Really Cool Awesome Chat with Nic & Stack from Owlman Press!”