Monday, March 26, 2012

Gaming Through Illness

When you become sick or chronically ill, it can affect your gaming routine. In previous posts I have talked briefly about my own health (which hasn't been good since January of 2011. It has made it harder to run games and forced me to cancel sessions from time to time. Since it started, I have met (mainly online) other gamers who find their health interferes with their hobby. This entry is just a laundry list of advice I came up with based on my own experience, intended to help out my fellow gamers.

1) Don't be embarrassed: If you are sick, there is no reason to add self consciousness and shame to your troubles. It is natural to feel embarrassed by illness. But just realize you aren't sick by choice and that people are generally a lot more understanding than we often think. In my own case I have to excuse myself from the table frequently. At first I felt awkward about it (especially since I am the GM) so I just explained to my players that it was important for me to stay on top of things, even during a session. Everyone understood. If anyone didn't I was happy to talk with them after the game.

2) Let your group know your limitations: I can only game at my house and have to play laying on the couch. Because of this I told my players about these restrictions. It certainly makes scheduling games a bit tougher, and I would much rather play at the dining room table than in my living room. On the other hand, it really hasn't had much of an impact on the game itself. If people know what you can and can't handle before hand it is less likely to become an issue during play and you can go into the campaign with less anxiety.

3) Health before gaming: It is fine to challenge yourself and try to game through discomfort, but don't risk your health for the game. If you need to stop a session or cancel, do so. Sometimes symptoms creep up unexpectedly and there isn't much you can do about it. I once made the mistake of gaming despite needing to get myself to the doctor. I turned out fine, but got a lot sicker than I needed to be.

4) Share what you are comfortable sharing: Only share what you are comfortable sharing about your health with your players. Generally the more you can share, the better their understanding of your situation. Still, it is up to you.

5) You are not superman: I have a habit of taking on more than I should. When I was healthy this was fine. But if I try to tackle too many projects and play too many games I get run down.

6) You have every right to game and have fun: Just because you are sick, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself. Illness can be very sobering and make pastimes seem frivolous. I would argue it is essential when you are sick to find ways to relax and unwind. If you are a gamer, then game.

7) Schedule games around treatments and medications: Treatments for illness can sometimes be worse than the disease itself. It may take some trial and error, but learn how they impact your ability to play RPGs. I find some medications for example make me forgetful, so I try not run a game if I know I will be on them. Other treatments can weaken your immune system or make you feel more sick, so tell people if you can't handle company.

8) Find comfort in gaming alternatives: There may be times when you simply can't hold a session due to health. If you still really want to game look into online alternatives (skype, iTabletop, play by post, etc). While nothing beats a live campaign with your friends, these alternatives are a great way to stay connected to the hobby. Staying active in gaming forums is another way to remain connected (though there is a difference between talking about games and playing them).

9) You aren't alone: People get sick. Few of us go our entire life without running into health issues. You may feel like the only person sidelined by illness but you aren't. There are others going through just what you are going through (many of them gamers).

10) Let your group assist you if you do have an emergency during a game. This won't apply to everyone, but if you have a health emergency during play, tell people and allow them to help you by calling 911 or driving you to the hospital. This happened to me once, and I was too proud to explain what was going on or ask for help. Instead I simply drove myself to the hospital with a vague explanation about being unwell. In hindsight this was both foolish and impolite (though I think understandably so, as I was frightened). One of my players later asked that I keep them in the loop as they were more than happy to drive me to the ER.

So there is my laundry list of advice for sick gamers. If you have anything to ad, or just want to share, feel free to comment.


Friday, March 16, 2012

I, Claudius 35th Anniversary DVD

Just recieved this image of the I, Claudius 35th Anniversary edition DVD. Very excited about it hitting shelves this month and can't wait for my copy to arrive. Started re-reading the books this week to make the most out of the experience. The great thing about both the books and the miniseries is they stand up to repeated readings and viewings. Each time I go back to them I notice things I missed before.

Apparently this DVD will use the 2008 remastered version of the miniseries (which is a good thing). My current copy is a bit ancient on its owns and the transition from film to DVD was less than stellar, so I am eager to see it polished up.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Embrace the Ides of March

It is the Ides of March, and what better way to celebrate than with our new game Servants of Gaius. So enter a world of gods, intrigue and gladiators: SERVANTS OF GAIUS PDF

About the Game (a preview)
The System: Servants of Giaus has the same game engine as our other systems but revised for the ancient Roman setting. It is rules light, allowing for speedy character creation and gameplay. We designed it to fade into the background so you can focus on roleplaying your character. In addition to the standard Network System elements (d10 dice pools, skills, expertise, etc) we have added a few new mechanics for Servants of Gaius including magic skills based on Roman practices and Combat Techniques for gladiators:

Character Creation: Character creation is easy and full of options. Players start by choosing their social class, which determines skill point allotments, bonuses and penalties. There are also occupations, patrons/clients, vices, combat techniques and expertise to select from. As Player Characters develop they can pursue the Cursus Honorum and acquire authentic Roman titles:

The Characters: The game book includes a full array of historical personalities, including Caligula, Claudius and Macro:

The Setting: Servants of Gaius offers a unique and deeply Roman setting. The gods exist, divination is real and Caligula is a god at war with Neptune.

The Servants of Gaius: Play centers around a secret organization called The Servii Gaii. These brave servants of the emperor investigate and hunt Neptune’s minions within and beyond the Empire:

But Servants of Gaius is much more than a simple alternate history rule book. It is packed with enough information and ideas to serve any game set during the Early Empire.

About Rome: With a focus on the Early Empire, the book is capped with a chapter on Roman culture and politics. This section includes a stunning map by Michael Prescott, modeled on the writings of Roman geographer Pomponius Mela:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Slayers Playtest Report

We had another playtest for Slayers yesterday and things are coming along very well. As some of you may know, Slayers is a gritty game of anachronistic fantasy in the spirit of films like Excaliber and Dragonslayer. We have spent the last month conducting inhouse playtests (and getting playtest reports from external playtesters). Now that we have seen the system in action, here are our basic observations:

1) The system is quite lethal, but in a good way. Because hit points range from 6-12 and some weapons can inflict up the thirteen points of damage, death from a single blow is entirely possible. It is also easy to hit targets in combat. So this makes for some deadly battles.

2) Armor matters a lot. Because it provides Damage Reduction up to DR 5 (when combined with a shield) armor frequently means the difference between losing 12 HP or losing 7.

3) Slayers works well without a battle mat. We designed Slayers for gaming without miniatures. So we avoided things like tactical subsystems and tried to keep combat relatively light weight to achieve this goal. Every playtest so far has not involved any miniatures and this hasn't posed any issues.

4) Magic is dangerous and flavorful. These aren't meant to be D&D style combat wizards (though I personally love hurling lightning bolts and casting polymorph). Magic in slayers is very powerful but less useful in a pinch. It is also a double-edged sword. So far we have seen wizards suffer casting consequences such as coma and disease.

These are the most significant things we observed. We have also discovered and fixed some minor mechanical issues. The rulebook itself is likely going to be fifty pages or less. We want to keep it light. If people like the PDF we hope to incorporate feedback into developing it for a larger print release.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I, Claudius 35th Anniversary Edition to be released this month

Exciting news for fans of Rome, this month the 35th anniversary edition of I, Claudius comes out in DVD. Here is a link to the press release:

Press Release

It looks like HBO is still developing its own miniseries based on the Robert Graves novels (according to most reports this will be based entirely on the novels and not the original BBC miniseries).

If you haven't seen I, Claudius before, I highly recommend checking it out. The series is quite long, but well worth the viewing. It contains all the right elements (the perfect mixture of suspense, humor and drama), has a magnificent cast (Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed, John Hurt, Sian Philips, Patrick Stewart, and John Rhys-Davies), and the dialogue is simply brilliant.

I pre-ordered my copy and can't wait for it to arrive.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Servants of Gaius Province Books

We are working on our first Servants of Gaius supplement, The Guidebook to Aegyptus. These will be PDFs (later bound into one large print volume) and each covers a single province. Let us know what you want our guidebooks to contain and which provinces you hope to see soon.

For those who haven't heard, Servants of Gaiusis our new Roman RPG (PDF HERE). it was just released in PDF and comes out in print soon.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friends, Romans, Countrymen

For those who haven't heard the news, Servants of Gaius came out this week in PDF (you can find it here: Servants of Gaius PDF). I am very proud of what we achieved in terms of content and presentation (my thanks goes out to everyone involved in the project). I am so confident customers will like it that I pledge to send two free PDFs to those who aren't satisfied with the purchase. If you buy Servants of Gaius and don't like it, simply let us know by email ( and I will send you two Bedrock Game's PDFs of your choice.

Bedrock Games only makes games we are passionate about. As with Crime Network, Horror Show and Terror Network, Servants of Gaius is built on decades of love for the genre to which it belongs. I've always loved Rome, for a variety of reasons. I am certainly no expert, nor a canon lawyer on Roman settings, but films and books set during the empire and republic hold a unique fascination for me.

The most influential source of inspiration for Servants of Gaius was I, Claudius the miniseries (to a lesser extent the book). I love I, Claudius the way some people love Star Trek. During the writing of Crime Network I even managed to work in a reference or two to the series. It goes without saying that John Hurt's portrayal of Caligula had a big impact on how I role played the emperor in my own campaign. It is also one of the chief reasons we decided to make Caligula a hero in Servants of Gaius. Other influences include the original epic Spartacus, Steven Saylor's Gordianus the Finder, Gladiator, and the countless Roman History text books I read while in college. But the lIon's share of credit goes to I, Claudius. Those who haven't should immediately check it out.