Dylan's Savage Worlds Nerdery

Geek life and custom content for Savage Worlds

Category Archives: Board Games

Extra Life and One-Shot Thoughts

The Extra Life fundraiser was last weekend, and I participated through a local group called Table Talk Games. Had a pretty decent time, though I didn’t end up playing as many new games as I expected to while we were there. I played…

  • Pandemic, twice. Didn’t survive either attempt, though we did get fairly close on the second one – we had two diseases cured, then hit a triple-outbreak that wiped us out. That’s a very difficult game, but V wanted to keep playing until we won. She got frustrated enough that we stopped after the second game, though.
  • Tsuro, which was a fun little game, though I’m not sure how well it would hold up to a lot of repeat plays. You try and navigate a series of tiles placed on the board without getting forced off the playing area. It’s quite a neat little game, but I doubt I’ll ever buy it.
  • Family Business, a Guillotine-like elimination game where you control a crime organization. I didn’t like it as much as V did – I much prefer Guillotine.
  • Cargo Noir, another crime game where you try and build up a crime family through purchasing resources around the world and building a fleet of ships to enact your will. It’s a flawed little game, or at least it was explained to us poorly. The order of play seems kind of off, making it difficult to keep track of who’s turn it’s supposed to be.
  • Last Night on Earth, a zombie apocalypse game where some players control zombies and some control heroes trying to escape. I was a zombie player. We were supposed to invade a manor house, but they managed to hold us off.

I also ran a Pathfinder one-shot that took several hours. Had a decent time with it – I think the pre-generated characters I put together can work pretty well for a variety of games, depending on what kind of stuff I want to throw against the PCs – in this case, the big bad was a goblin alchemist who was transforming creatures into monsters. I can see running a variety of games based on the same premise and setting.

I tried to do some of the things that I’d have liked to see in other one-shots I’ve played in.

For one thing, I kept the character sheets simple. Pathfinder is a complicated game, but I tried to keep things relatively easy. I was helped with this by a friend who does the organization for our Wednesday game, and also does character sheets for the game she runs with her kids. She’s got a simplified Pathfinder sheet that looks a lot less intimidating than the more complicated ones that we grown-ups use.

Second thing I did was give everyone a name card. I didn’t give the pregens names, just a description. The name card had that description – say, “Half Orc Ranger”, and then a blank for the PC’s name and the player’s name. This makes it easier for everybody at the table.

Third thing was an index-card sized synopsis of the character and their background, along with a complexity rating. It included:

  1. Race and Class
  2. Good At: A brief synopsis of what the PC is good at.
  3. Complexity: Ranked from one to five, telling the prospective player how hard that PC would be to play. The big fighter-types (fighter and ranger) got 1 star, while the casters (like the magus and the witch) were up a lot higher on the scale.
  4. Background: A brief paragraph or so on who the PC is and what their role is in the adventure.

Here’s a link to all the material I prepared for the one-shot.
Anybody else have any thoughts about how to run one-shots at conventions or game days? What do you try and do to make things easier for your players? For yourself?


Dominion is awesome!

I played my first two games of Dominion last night, and already plan on picking it up. It’s a fantastic game so far – looks like it has a lot of depth to it, and a number of expansions. I see now why I’ve been hearing about it for quite some time.


It seems the Red November stuff I posted has been by far the most popular thing on this blog. To my knowledge it’s being or been translated into two other languages, and I’ve gotten linked from at least one other language. It’s odd for something I did as a weekend lark.

Red November Variant – Characters

Red November is a fun board game by Fantasy Flight Games (see here) about gnomes stuck on a sinking submarine, trying to survive. The game has a feel somewhere between Jules Verne steampunkiness and black comedy depictions of World War I. It’s quite fun, as you run around the sub trying to prevent one disaster after another before your gnome is killed.

Our gaming group tends to play a lot of this kind of game, and there’s one thing I immediately thought was missing in Red November – distinct characters! Most cooperative games I’ve played (Arkham Horror, Shadows Over Camelot, Last Night on Earth, etc) have each player controlling someone with a unique special ability.

To that end, I came up with this: Red November Characters.

(That’s a PDF – if that doesn’t work quite right, use this instead – it’s a .docx file and the font I used. This is what I printed from, to 3″x5″ index cards. It worked well.)

Here are a couple of them, as a preview.