Tuesday, October 06, 2015


coming in the morning with pain of war
my hearts beating loud in my sores

My dogs are sounding
But im not going to the door

There is no you and me anymore
lets wash away everything before

I'll walk away and lose my voice
never to say a word evermore
Can't feel my fingers
because of pills and steal
can't feel my fingers
or they're burning in the rain

keep talking I hear you
Even though I shut the door

walking across the mountains
I hear and want to hear more

Somewhat sick this morning
hearts beating in my sore

Can't feel my fingers
because of pills and steal
can't feel my fingers
or they're burning in the rain

grey skin in the mirror
touching hurts like its torn

Can't feel my fingers

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Rickel's guide to Lock Picking for Role Playing Games part 1

I have been putting off doing something on lock picking until I had a better handle on the subject.  I think I have enough of the basics to cover the subject with some depth.  It is important to know I am a novice who has read a bit and watch quit a few videos.  I have picked a practice see through lock, but nothing real. There is a guy named Solomon whom authored a great booklet on the art of picking. It fills out the information better than I could, and in colorful language.

Lock picking in role playing games is a bit weird as they are often presented as a technology in advance of real world locking tech.  In fantasy gaming there has always been this vision of clock work locks that contain self resetting traps.  This is not the case in the real world.  You could imagine the legal repercussions of someone getting hurt by a trap in the modern world.  There is also a terrible secret you will learn if you being picking locks yourself.  Many modern locks offer little to no security.

There are all sorts of locks in the world; historical and modern.  For gaming purposes Lets treat all pre modern locks as of two types; pin and tumbler and other.  Pin and tumbler type locks are defeated by the art of picking.  Locks that fall into the "Other" category are defeated by exploiting known design flaws.  When we talk about picking locks in fantasy gaming are talking about pin and tumbler type locks generally.  Opening handcuffs or cracking a safe in a pulp game would fall into the exploiting "Other" category.

Pin and Tumbler locks are those in padlocks or your door.  You can imagine nearly everything in the fantasy realm is going to be pin and tumbler.  Solomon does a great job of explaining these locks in his article, you should read it.  Generally locks have two part pins that prevent them from turning.  When the key is inserted the pins are raised to the exact magic height where turning splits the two parts of the pin.  When you are picking you are manually raising the pins to this magic height.  Normally they would spring down but because of the voodoo of tension and imperfections in the locks manufacturing tolerances picking becomes possible.  Its fine if you just take this as black magic but understand the operation involves to processes.  The application of tension through a tension wrench typically executed through the non dominate hand, is the first part.  The second step is manipulation of the pins with a pick held in your most dexterous hand.  This is not to say this cant be done one handed, it would be difficult or require a weighted tension wrench but would be possible.

For gaming obviously one roll can cover the entire lock picking experience, but you are here for  depth.  Rickel goes deep on shit like Phoenix Command, that's right Barry Nakazono I love you too! So here is a general series of steps to flesh out picking.

  1. (Optional) External Identification - Identifying the lock type and external search for traps.  here we are looking to see if this is a known lock type that may have a known exploit.  The rules for picking in most games are stacked against newbie rogues.  Living in a small town with few locksmiths they are probably going to have a fair bit of understanding of the local locks and their faults.  I would give 15 to 30 Percent bonus in situations like this.  Visual checks for traps are going to have poor results but are also completely safe.  When you roll this make sure its is Skill plus Intelligence.
  2. Internal Identification - Here we are identifying the number and type of pins we are playing with and looking for traps.  There are things called security pins which increase the difficulty of the picking process.  I would not allow taking 20 on a lock without doing an internal identification.  Traps are another concern and performing an internal identification successfully will alert the rogue to their presence.  On the other hand a fumble ( Or failure if your a nasty DM, are you nasty?) will trigger the trap.  This is both a mental and physical process as you are probing the lock and creating a mental picture of its mechanism.
  3. (Optional) Disabling Traps - Here you are disabling any traps that are present.  This can be both mechanical disabling and simply activating the trap in a safe fashion.  Here I am going to deffer to the game master, if you think your player has a good idea of how to accomplish the task give them a bonus.  You can have activating the trap require a fumble or just a failed check.  I would give some sort of saving throw.  You may be wondering about how this step is optional.  The player may be in a hurry and just attempt open the lock.  Its a mistake but give your players the rope so they can make their own noose..
  4. Actually picking the lock - Here you are manipulating pins and applying tension.  You are welcome to apply a 5% penalty per security pin in the lock if you like, but in reality these things increase time to pick more than they do difficulty.  In game terms that can be pretty much the same I understand, but there is a subtle difference.  In D20 I would do something like increasing the time to take 20 rather than not allowing it. You can do a similar Bonus or Penalty  if you have more or less pins. 

    Lock Quality         Number of Pins        Bonus/Penalty
Crap            Less than four        +15%
Poor            4                              +5%
Average       5                             None
Good          6                           -05%
Great         7                          -15%
 Exceptional   More than 7           -25%   

Going back to those that skipped disabling traps.  If they fail or succeed they are getting hit by the trap.  I guess give a save maybe.  If they fumble don't even give that.  If you are playing in a system that allows for superior success you can think about having that be the requirement to not activate traps.

For those picking the exact same lock again and again its worth noting that I gets easier.  This is due to something called binding order.  A particular lock binds up in the same fashion because of its imperfections.  If you open and lock again and again you are going to become accustomed to it.  Game Masters please consider this when assigning difficulty.

Environment is another factor when dealing with locks of all sort.  Locks in the outdoors have a tendency to wear heavily and be difficult to use.  Anything submerged will be in even worse repair, perhaps rusting parts together.  The other side of environment is the general affluence of the area. Wealth buys better locks.  And also there is the consideration of what it guards.

I also wanted to call out another lock that is functionally similar to the pin and tumbler called the Lever or Mortise.  These are locks that have a series of levers that lift up like a railroad crossing sign.  When all are in the stop position they prevent the lock from opening.  Picking these locks requires a different tension wrench and picking wire.  You are pushing the levers up like an open railroad crossing sign and opening the bolt.  Rather than a pushing of pins its a turn of the wrist and working through the lever stack again and again.  I would not change the rules outlined for pin and tumblers as both can be modeled with the same rules presented above.

Other locks are going to be less common in your fantasy game but shackles would certainly fall into this category.  These are easier to defeat and will almost always have some sort of flaw in design. If the player can identify the lock they can take 20 to defeat these sort of locks, excepting a combination safe lock.  I would give the player a roll should they want to attempt these tasks quickly. 

Combination style locks can be cracked with feel and mathematical processes.  A Combination padlock is going to be easy enough but a safe is exponentially harder.  The padlock may be more easily shimmed in truth though.  This is a process of using a disposable piece of metal to depress the locking mechanism. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rickel's guide to Pick Pocketing for Role Playing Games

Pickpocketing is a much overlooked aspect of thieves bag of tricks.  Players may find the risk of being detected does not out weigh the rewards.  Game Masters would generally be unwise to hinge completion of an adventure on the party thief succeeding on a single die roll.  In first edition Dungeons and Dragons the best possible chance for a first level thief picking pockets was so low players would not consider an attempt until several levels higher.  The thieves guild game did a great job of expanding pickpocketing rules but that material can be difficult to find and is intrinsic to rules of the era.  I want to express my debt to the Gamelords material in writing this post.  My goal is to look at pickpocketing in depth with a eye toward modern games. 

Any time a pickpocket check is made there is potential for a great deal of drama is introduced to the gaming session.  Players, even of low level, should be able to create situations where odds are in their favor.  The game master should feel new avenues of role playing are opened up to them.  A ball or social evening could becomes a goldmine of thievery.

Many games have presented pickpocketing as a skill check that measures the ability of the rogue attempting the theft.  There was the the assumption that failure would be bad, but little was concrete.  I would advise before any roll is made four quests need to be answered.

1. What is being stolen?
2. What is the disposition of the target?
3. What are the environmental conditions?
4. Who else might see?

What is being stolen?  Cutting a coin purse or lifting a wallet are easy tasks for professional thieves.  Taking a watch or jewelry that is being worn if far more difficult.  Removing a dagger from under a belt is going to be easier than removing it from a sheath at least without detection. 

  • Bag        +2    +10%
  • Rings,necklace    -1    -5%
  • Earrings    -2    -10%
  • Small weapon    -3    -15%
  • Large weapon    -5    -25%

What is the disposition of the target? Stilling from someone in a drunk stupor is far easier than someone on the alert.  I wear my wallet in my front pocket and will often check to assure it is in the correct location.  Assume items in hand as not being able to be pick pocketed.  Rogues or anyone whom professionally steals has and additional state that can be applied on top of their disposition.

  • Drunk        +10    +50%
  • Distracted    +3    +15%
  • Apprehensive    -2    -10%
  • Alert        -4    -20%
  • Rogue        -1    -5%

What are the environmental conditions?  Darkness and crowds aid the rogue in their attempt.  Also a particularly engrossing activity can help make the job easier. Apply all conditions that are present.

  • Daylight    -2    -10%
  • Dusk        +2    +10%
  • Night        +3    +15%
  • Crowded street    +6    +30%
  • Alone        -1    -5%
Who else might see?  People generally will alert the target if they witness theft.  The problem is most folks are not often looking.  As we see above crowds actually make theft harder to detect.  If the target is part of a host apply -1 or -5% to account for the added difficulty of being an outsider.  If a bodyguard is present at the time of a theft; the rogue makes a single skill roll that is first used to determine success and then used as part of a contested skill roll against the guards alertness.

There are a few special situations I wanted to address.  Pickpocketing can also be used to plant an item on a person.  This is usually just popping an item into a pocket.  You can apply penalties for larger items as you feel is best.  Spells also can mimic the above effects.  While others will not see some sort of alertness check should be allowed by the target to feel a shift of the weight on their person.  You also have a few groups or individuals I call amenable observers.  These can be anyone from a culture that does not have solid ownership of individual property like kinder, tricksters and other thieves.  These observers often represent even more role playing opportunity.  Thieves will not rat you out but may demand a cut.  A guild may take even stronger steps to assure no one poaches from their patch.  A spy network would perhaps coerce the players co operation .

Monday, July 20, 2015

Never silent my muse

I didn't think I would stick
to this thing so long,
but I know the stories come together
better with you there. 

I wouldn't be lost to the country
if the sunset didn't hang so well. 
I wouldn't need to be lost
if I didn't need be undone. 

I would be at home
in everything I own. 
I would make peace
if I was peaceful.

Lets cut the car off
and walk on home.
It's not too late
I don't want to be alone

Sunset hangs in the country
Pink and broken blue
each made for the other
another day made anew.

Monday, July 13, 2015

I Keep Forgetting

In the far flung veils of autumn is where my home decays.  Time and gravity chewing at the structures that once held me safe.  I am a wing and undone with the winter rain. Unsettled and thrown to flight.  Come to lands forgotten by light.  Give me peace and love but regret and guilt are laid at my door.  How am I to repair when you choose to rush headlong into the fray.  Away through the summer is where I will stay.

Monday, July 06, 2015

The Rose

Last night's true detective was weird, real weird.  first off they failed to execute Colin Farrel, missed opportunity.  I like the thing they are setting up where the actors represent three state organizations trying to stick it to the others, but any Colin Farrel death is a good thing. 

The dream sequence that came out was wacky.  I though OK Elvis but the blue suit was clearly wrong.  The voice was also country and too me back to forced drives in rural California with my parents.  The car would be a Pontiac Bonneville and I would be the dead man Casper.  I am not sure but i think they lip synced over Conway Twitty.  I tracked that info down I couldn't pull that it was Conway off my head but it quickly registered that it was a traditional country star.  I just couldn't place whom it was, I guess i have never been that far before , bum bum bum bum.  I checked and Jake La Botz is actually playing Conway per the imdb credits.  weird man weird.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Skill UP! Roleplaying

I have been checking out the numerous monthly crate projects folks are advertising. I really like them but what I would love to see is a crate that is sent to me with a new Hobby or Skill to try out each month.  I actually passed this along to the folks at Loot Crate.  I doubt they will do anything with it so I figured I would create a DIY version.

This first month I will start with something near and dear to my heart; Roleplaying!  I am going to give you a list of the basics you are going to need to get started.  I have looked for cheaper or entry level products.  This gives you the basics without too much of cash outlay.  All the products to follow are new and can be purchases through their producer or Amazon.com

DICE: Dice are a mandatory component of role playing game.  Even if you are playing a dice less game you need to own dice to be in the milieu of role playing.

GAME:  You are going to need a game to actually play.  So why am I putting forth Splicers as that game?  Cost is the first reason.  A complete game in a single book for under 25$ is a great deal in this day and age.  Also I have always thought the palladium system was a great starting point for the new gamer.  All of the rules are easy to apply and adjudicate.  Percentage chance rolls for skills is something everyone can wrap their head around.  The combat system is simple but plays big and over the top.  This is a great choice for teenagers as it offers a Mondo experience they often enjoy.  Finally the rules are very reflective of the role playing experience as a whole. 


GRAPH PAPER: We really don't use this much anymore.  You can download full adventures and information from a ton of websites.  But it's still very much in our blood.  You are going to need to draw up at least one dungeon or villain infested warehouse district.   I don't think you can call yourself a game master if you haven't.  I really don't want to know in all truth!

DORKNESS RISING:  This is not something I have seen but it is said to include some spot on depictions of gamers.  I personally find the gaming scene in Freaks and Geeks a bit to close for comfort.  I don't know how much self loathing I want to conjure up.


The last few odds and ends you are probably going to find around your house.  Pencils for writing this all up.  Pencil Sharpeners for the game session.  Erasers for mistakes and hit points.  I think that will total up to somewhere around 55$ bucks which is a fair new hobby.  You only really need the Game and dice so that is around 30$ which is very fair.  You can not get a good set of darts for that.

Friday, May 08, 2015

The Original New York Seltzer in my Fridge at this very moment

Yesterday I was greeted with a treat years in the making upon coming home.  What you are seeing are new bottles of The Original New York Seltzer.  I scored 12 bottles of my two favorite flavors and was thrilled to dive into them.  At this point I have tried a bottle of each but am constantly tempted to guzzle down the rest.

For those of you not in the know this is one of the best beverages to come out of the 80's.  It's a seltzer that is light and crisp with fantastic full and complex flavor.  From the photos below you will see it is clear focusing on its seltzer water appearance rather than going after a soda appeal.  It drinks very clean!  Its a drink that best chilled but not diluted, shaken with ice not stirred.  The nearest comparison is going to be Clearly Canadian or one of those flavored waters they are selling at the grocery store.

For those of you who remember ONYS this is the real Mc'coy.  The taste is unchanged from the 80's.  Even the packaging is unchanged.  The caps have the same perforated tabs.  The is the same strange paper label that was so rewarding to tear off.  This is truly a perfect recreation of the product you know and love.  The flavors are exactly the same and that is a wonderful thing!

You are going to want to go to http://drinknewyorkseltzer.com/ to pick up a case for yourself or wait until it hits stores in June. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pandora Don't Prog

Dear Pandora I am a little confused by your suggested listening.  I have been doing my best to create a station to my liking, but we have a disconnect.  I started with a song by Genesis called The Lamia which is pretty hard core prog.  From there I have added various Progressive groups. Yes and Marillion for sure but also the German side of prog with groups like Neu and Egg.  I have given any Prog Metal you have suggested a big thumbs up.  Symphony X, Dream Theater and even Queensryche all have nice thumbs held high.

Adding Voivod was a bit of a bad idea, sure I love them but it added a bit too much metal to the station.  I like my Thrash but this station I want to keep progressive, like an episode of Stone Trek.  I think liking Opeth may have also confused you.  I understand they were heavy and went weird so you didn't know I enjoyed just the art rock stuff.

But Champagne Supernova what the fuck is that Pandora.  Is that Muse or Oasis?  God what the hell do you think of me?   Perhaps this is because of the Peter Gabriel?  Understand he once sang for Genesis and has always maintained a bit of the progressive sound I enjoy.  Oasis my God it's personally insulting!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Movie Review: Last Knights

I rented Last Knights starring Clive Owen a few days ago and wanted to throw up a few quick thoughts.  It was alright, with good action but a little slow in getting there.  The presentation was good, with nothing feeling hoaky as some indie action movies have a tendency.  The design of things was a little confusing, often seeming an amalgam of ancient, modern , eastern and western.

The story seemed something akin to 47 ronin.  A lord is disgraced and his retainers seek revenge by storming a fortress is the general outline of the story.  That would have been cool but there is a fair amount of time spent on the commander of the forces proving he is a broken man who has fallen into drinking and whoring.  That could have been a bit shorter, but it at least felt convincing.

The actually attack on Gezza Motts , read bad guy, fortress could have been longer or filmed with a bit more impact.  I didn't really have much concern when on of the good guys died and non when baddies did.  I am not sure but some of the sets seemed to be the same as A Game of Thrones and there was a water skin that looked the same as Sandor Cleganes.  That was a

All in all sort of a meh.  I have seen worse movies, Solomon Kane comes to mind.  This is not as good as Children of Men though. 
bit distracting.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Original New York Seltzer Back Soon

Well apparently they have heard our players!  Original New York Seltzer is coming back!  I have very few details other than this facebook link https://www.facebook.com/Originalnewyorkseltzer?

They actually showed up in a comment to one of my previous posts about trying to recreate this stuff.  I contacted them and they said my new home of Washington should get some.  Looks like most of the west coast will as well, I see a post saying California will have ONYS.

I know i am going to probably buy out all the vanilla cream and raspberry they have.  I will probably grab one of each and pass some around to friends actually.

I am looking for more info on when and exactly where.  I am ready to get my eager hands one some I may even bring a cooler to get it chilling right away.  I will keep looking and update when i can.  I know that post got some ongoing interest and I will help with any info I can.  

Right now i need to console myself with memories of peeling of the Styrofoam label and pulling out the semi perforated tabs on the caps.  My weird habit as a kid.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Wonderous Stories

Well being a gamer I have finally realized I need to find a game.  Think we have started to be all set up in the house.  Now something feels like it is missing in various places in my families lives.  I have been intentionally staying away from online gaming as it takes too much time for the reward it gives me. I even deleted Svegrund on Khyber server for D&D Online. But a table top game sounds great.

I am been trying to reach out the through http://www.rpggamefind.com/ but have yet to hear anything.   The funny thing for me is you almost have to be looking for a relationship when hunting a gaming group.  I often say i am looking for something Fun but Serious.  Which sort of means i want to role-play but a few jokes are great.  What I am actually trying to get at is I want to play with folks who are not drunk or on drugs.

So with everyone shocked and outraged I should probably explain.  I am a black and white sort of person and endeavor to be so.  I was raised up in the 80's with the just say no to drugs thing going on. For me drugs are out of the question and even being around pot smoke makes me very uncomfortable.  If pot was a pill I may not feel so weird but I don't even want to smell it.  I would say whatever for other folks partaking but not in a game.  I want to be playing with people active and contributing to the whole.  I'm a game snob i guess.

Well it makes hunting for a game a bit of a challenge.  It this point I am even considering games I actively dislike.  If you are in Vancouver Washington and have an extra seat at the table, maybe give me a comment or email at jameslrickel@gmail.com

Friday, March 27, 2015

Not One of Us

I miss my old haunts and I miss my youth.  I miss the dilemmas of driving to boulder creek or finding a gas station along five. I miss memories rising up with roads near my old homes.  I miss poor friends who never showed up when we needed them.  I miss my marginal successes I've turned into triumphs in retelling.  I miss tables where I first said I love you and parking lot fights.  I miss needing to escape because we escaped.  I miss understanding it was all too much but being too tied in to get out.  I miss sitting on the hillside waiting for the world to end, we missed it and now its time to head on home.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bethorm first impressions

Howdy friend.  I recently received my copy of Bethrom from the kick starter Jeff Dee ran some months ago.  There was trouble with my address after moving from San Jose to Vancouver.  I have been going through the book and looking over rules for the past couple of weeks.   I wanted to give you not a real review but a few general thoughts.

I have always been a person who favored rules over fluff in roleplaying games, until recently.  I think with Bethorm I was actually hoping for more of the Tekumel back ground than I got.  I was wanting to get into MAR Barkers works, but this is book is not a great resource for those not already familiar with The Empire of the Petal throne.  You almost need to dredge up some old books to get the source material to drive stories in Bethorm. 

That this book tackles is a rules system with an extensive set of magic and creature rules that are setting specific.  I say that not as a bad thing, especially for Tekumel, which has seemed to have more system free sources.  This gives a crunchier setting for adventures in that world.

My general impressions are the book is very content heavy per page.  The material is packed on to each page.  This has come with at the expense of organization and layout.  If anything this book reminds me of the original The Mechanoids book from Palladium, in its lay out.  It can bee a bit of a challenge looking for certain information.

All in all I see this as a good book but a very niche one.  The empire of the petal throne is just weird and any buyer needs to know this going into it.  Folks familiar with Tekumel will enjoy it and those of us wishing to get to know Tekumel will understand its a set on a larger undertaking.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Magic Hour

I just want a warm day to sit under a tree with my dog, jasper.  I want to sit there and be warm and loved.  I want to look at clouds turning pink with softened light with no expectations of any more.  I want not to hope or fear some dissolution. Not worry about flesh or oil not feel acid running though my veins telling me to run.  Not want or scheme anymore.  Not even memory to feel the loss or have any imagination of cost.  Only a soft seldom wind and a broken lust for me.  Fur for my fingers a lap for my face love again eternal.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

This is my friend Dittmer he is the wizard of meat

I have mentioned my struggles with food here in the Great North West in my previous post.  I had an experience today that clarified to me whats wrong here. 

Often I am shocked at how much cheaper food is here, but they just give you crap.  I paid 7.99 for a turkey sandwich I could have made at home today.  It was on some bland ass bread they tried to pass off as sourdough.  I want a sourdough roll, homes!  I want a kick ass sausage you made from scratch!  I want Dittmers!

I am sure I am not going to the fantastic foodie places Portland has to offer, since I have no idea where to go.  But!  So far nothing has been a place that makes me want to make a special trip.  I think some of this may be the parking situation dictates you walk.  But also nothing here haunts my nights with vision of awesome lunch.  I am never sated with deliciousness!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pink Elephants on Parade

Having established a new home for myself up in Vancouver Washington I still miss The Bay.  Being fat I hella miss the food, mexican specifically.  There is one decent place in Vantucky called Don Taco, but damn do I miss Mountain View.  Taqueria Los Charros, Fiesta Del Mar, and King of them all La Costina.  Fuck I miss Lard!! 

It's like nobody knows that Tueday is the day for Tri Tip.  People hear my words and get yourself an awesome steak sandwich.  Get yourself to Kal's in sunnyvale!  Go to Steve's my redwood shores brothers and sisters.  Work by the Airport go get Henry's awesome blue cheese Caesar salad.

And for Dinner, lets throw down some Stromboli at Tony Dimaggios.  Damn I miss you my dives!  I grow fat trying to sate my lust for you, yet only the real things may due.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Please Help with Samurai Shodown V MVS Cart

Howdy Folks, this is not going to be much of a posting.   I am looking for help with this video game cartridge.  This is a Neo Geo MVS cart I received when I bought my MVS cabinet many years ago.  It says Samurai Shodown V and then the following weird characters.  I don't know if they are Japanese or Korean or supposed to be funny little monster faces.

Funny anecdote is this cartridge was not even supposed to be in the machine.  I bought the game as a two slot MVS with only one cart.  But when i got it home I found this cartridge at the bottom of the the cabinet.

I have since grabbed a multi cart along with a few other games I like.  Cyber UP (lip lol) , Magician Lord, Super Spy and crossed swords.  I am not much of a fighter game player. Someone always came along to kick my ass when i tried to solo play so I could learn.

Ok well i opened this thing up and have a few more pictures.  So Here is the full cart so you can see it.  I don't see a serial number is that bad.

 Back of the first printed circuit board.
 Back of the second.
 Front of the second.
Front of the first.  i am not sure but the printed board itself looks like of the pirated roms.  Not sure what this thing is though.

Well as a final update the good folks at the neo geo forum indicate its a bootleg copy.  Good to get some closure on it.  I was considering selling it, and I really don't want to pass off something as real when its not.  I guess someone who visits my garage can have some fun with it maybe.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Collecting Shadowfist in 2015

I recently started collecting the Shadowfist collectable card game again.  It was sort of a strange lark that got me going on this but I have already bundled up a better collection than my original.  This may not be for everyone but here are a few thoughts if you are wanting to give it a try.

Why Shadowfist?  Well I really liked it in the past.  But there are other reasons as well.  First off there are few games with very many expansion sets.  Really only Shadowfist, Legend of the five rings, and Vampire the eternal struggle (Jyhad) have enough for me to consider.  I understand there are loads of new games games produced by Fantasy Flight but I am looking for things i can grab cheaply.  Of these Shadowfist and Legend of the five rings are actually still being produced.  As for Shadowfist there are actually a couple of planned tournaments at Kublacon which sort of locked up my choice.

I have found the two biggest keys to buying up these cards are patience and knowledge. As for patience I am really getting at waiting on solid deals.  There are loads of folks on ebay right now trying to sell off unopened Shadowfist cards.  They for the most part are asking retail for their cards which seems crazy.  If you wait you can find people offer an old collection of cards every month or two, these are usually around 20 bucks or so dependent on size.

Knowledge really wasn't the best term to use.  There are really just a couple of things I realized that I had not thought about.  First is a concept we use in Atari cartridge collecting.  Some cartridges have no value, you just will get them in the process of collecting.  Common and uncommon Cards from the Limited and Standard sets are like this in shadowfist.  You are going to get them so don't pay for them.  Work at getting cards from any other set Dark Future, Flashpoint, whatever.  The second weird thing I found was ebay is not always the best price you can get.  That sounds obvious but I mean the seller on ebay may offer an item cheaper on their own website.  I have found this to be the case for unopened packs on multiple occasions.

SO where do I look for cards?  Ebay.com and shopgoodwill.com have been my primary sources.  Moving from The Bay I have no idea where to look for cards here in Portland/Vantucky. If I was back home I would look at places like the comic collectors shop in sunnyvale.  Old shops that have been around through the card craziness in the 90's.  I scored a box of Vtes cards off those folks for ten bucks. Also check your toad and troll or other online game source.  Keep in mind you may want to get more cards than you need and pass them around to folks to give yourself to play against.  I have some unopened packs I will think about giving out at to drum up interest.

Update:  I sort of forgot to mention the new stuff that is being released.  Buy that stuff from FLGS and the kickstarters they release.  I would recommend supporting the company as directly as you can.   Funding the source of new cards is a great way to support the Shadowfist community.