Monday, August 31, 2015

#RPGaDAY 2015 Day 28-31: Finishing Off the Month

Day 28: Favorite game I no longer play

My Favorite game that I no longer play is Hackmaster Basic.  When our group first came together it was led by a GM who was (and still is) a hardcore Hackmaster fan.  We played Hackmaster 4th edition and then switched to Hackmaster Basic as soon as it came out.  Our GM moved and I took over, starting a new campaign using Hackmaster Basic.  We played that game for three years.

There are a lot of fun memories that we built with Hackmaster Basic.  There are also mechanics that I liked, such as rolling for defense instead of using an armor class.  There are also some mechanics that I don't miss, such as shield rules.  Hackmaster Basic strikes me as the OSR game for the sophisticated gamer.  I enjoyed it but I don't think I can play it anymore.  There are just other fantasy rpgs that I would rather play.  It is a good game and you can download it for free.

Day 29: Favorite rpg website/blog I use this website every day.  I've played in play by forum games on it, I read game news, I have downloaded games, and I use it to keep track of my ever growing collection.

Day 30: favorite rpg playing celebrity.

Vin Diesel, becuase he got Dame Judy Dench to play D&D

Day 31: Favorite non-RPG thing to come out of RPGing 

The Wild Cards series.  I read that George R. R. Martin was playing in a Superworld campaign with his friends that inspired the Wild Cards series of books.  I have only read the first one but it is genius.

And that is it for the month of August 2015. #RPGaDAY 2015 was fun and I look forward to next year.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 27: Favorite Idea for Merging Two Games into One

I am a recent fan of the comic series Gold Digger.  The series follows Gina Diggers, an extreme archaeologist, as she searches for treasure and adventure in lost civilizations and other dimensions. She is accompanied by her were-cheetah sister and an assortment of bodyguards, pilots, scientists, family, and friends.  The creator is a fan of rpgs as there are many in-jokes throughout the series. If you have never read Gold Digger you can read the first 199 issues for free online.  

If I was going to run an rpg based in the Gold Digger universe, I would combine the FATE games Atomic Robo Role Playing Game and Unwritten.  Atomic Robo is already based on a comic; one that is full of action and high-tech hi jinks. Thus is would cover the action part of the Gold Digger universe as well as the advanced technology.  Unwritten is a game based in the Myst universe that is about exploration and awe-inspiring worlds. It would cover those aspects of the Gold Digger comics.  Jam them together and you got yourself a Gold Digger campaign.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 26: Catch Up - Snacks, Keys, and Dead Ewoks

Day 24: Favorite House Rule

My favorite house rule has been to give out bonus xp for players who bring snacks and who bring their own miniature that resembles their character.  The snacks helped out because I had one less thing that I needed to plan for game day. The minis helped out because my players stopped using random Mageknight figures as proxies.  It was confusing when the halfing had a zombie centaur as his figure on the battlemat.

Not a hafling!

Day 25: Favorite Revolutionary Game Mechanic

My favorite revolutionary game mechanic is the concept of keys from The Shadow of Yesterday.  Basically, keys are ways that your character can earn xp for doing things that make sense to your character.  They are guides for how your character should behave and reward your character for behaving that way.  For example, a pacifist gains xp for not fighting.  Another cool aspect is that a charter can buy off their key.  Once per game they can get the max xp bonus for shunning or renouncing their key, i.e. The pacifist decides to finally pummel some guy in the face, gets 10 xp, and gains a major character change.

Day 26: Favorite Inspiration for your Game

I was reading the designer’s website for a game called 3:16 Carnage to the Stars which is basically “Space Marine the RPG”.  On the site someone talked about a session in which they played as Imperial Stormtroopers.  I took that inspiration and created a scenario where the pcs were stormtroopers who were scouting Endor for locations to build the shield generator for the second Death Star.  My favorite part of 3:16 Carnage to the Stars is that when you roll damage the number on the dice is not how much damage you do, but how many aliens you kill.  The players had a good time mowing down Ewoks.

This was the handout I used for the 3:16 Carnage to the Stars game

Sunday, August 23, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 23: Perfect Game for Me

The perfect game for me is Zombie Cinema.  Zombie Cinema is a GM-less rpg about a zombie apocalypse.  Each player gets three cards that describe their character.  Then the group starts to narrate what happens in the world.  The game comes with a board that has a track describing the level of zombies in the game.  At first they start out as rumors or items on the news, but as the game progresses the zombies become more numerous and can even gain new powers.  

The reason Zombie Cinema is the perfect game for me is that it can be run with no prep.  This is a game that can be taken out, explained in 10 minutes, and then played for an entertaining 3-4 hours.  It is short, simple, and captures the feel of a zombie movie.  The only time dice are rolled is when characters have a conflict with each other, so you really feel the stress of the zombie outbreak destroying the fabric of civilization.  It is also inexpensive, portable, comes packaged in a VHS case, and is a lot of fun.  If you live in the US Indiepressrevolution has copies for sale.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 22: Playing Catch Up with Marvel Superheroes, Call of Cthulhu, and Eclipse Phase

Day 19: Favorite Supers RPG

My favorite supers rpg is TSR’s Marvel Superheroes.  This was the first rpg I bought and the first rpg that I GMed.  I still have my original boxed set in my collection.  I love comics and this game felt like a game about comics.   Also, the nostalgia behind it being my first rpg purchase makes it my favorite.    

Day 20: Favorite Horror RPG

My favorite horror rpg is Call of Cthulhu 6th edition.  I decided that I really loved this system when I was able to run an entire scenario from the quickstart rules alone.  It is simple, the sanity mechanic is genius, and I love the system for how skills improve.  I know the 7th edition is out but I think that I will stick with 6th.

Day 21: Favorite Setting

I would have to say the setting from Eclipse Phase.  I have never played Eclipse Phase but I find the setting fascinating.  There is so much going on.  You can play in post-apocalyptic Earth fighting crazy robots, you can play in a cyberpunk orbital colony, or you can play a stellar explorer jumping through a stargate.  While you do all this, your character can be a human, an uplifted animal, an A.I., an augmented human, a human in a robot body, or some other crazy sh#t.  There is so much going on in this setting and yet it all fits together so nicely.

Day 22: Perfect Gaming Environment

My perfect gaming environment is a nice, big table with friends, snacks, and room to roll dice.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 18: Favorite Sci-fi RPG

Mongoose Traveller is my favorite sci-fi rpg.  I feel that the rules do a good job of evoking the feel of Classic Traveller while bringing in some modern game design.  I like that the core rule book covers everything you need, and I like the fact that they give you three different types of interstellar travel so that you can customize space travel to your universe.  I ran a play-by-forum game of Mongoose Traveller and I loved how the rules would fall into the background.  There is a free quickstart if you have never looked at the game.  Mongoose Traveller , my choice for RPGaDAY 2015 day 18.

Monday, August 17, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 17: Favorite Fantasy RPG

My favorite fantasy RPG is Tunnels and Trolls.  It is a quirky game based on a simple set of rules.  It only requires 6 sided dice, so all you have to do is scrounge through some board games and Yahtzee sets to play.  The list of playable species is crazy.  Leprechauns and fairies are considered playable, and it is just as easy to play a dragon, tiger, or ape-man as long as you get GM approval.

One bonus of T&T is that it has long been supported by solitaire modules, allowing you to run your character if you don’t have a group.  The rules have their idiosyncrasies but they also encourage you to make your own rules.  I love the gonzo and DIY ethos of the game.  If you have never tried it, the new deluxe edition is out now.  You can also try out the system for free with this quickstart.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

#RPGaDay 2015 Catch Up: Day 12-16

Day 12:  Favorite RPG Illustration

My favorite rpg illustration is the cover of GURPS horror (1st and 2nd edition) by Michael Whelan.  The picture shows a skeleton, dressed in a duster and hat, peering out from behind a door while brandishing a knife. 

I remember seeing this picture in the Steve Jackson Games catalog as a kid and thinking, "What is that thing?  He is creepy.  I want to play in the universe where he exists."  I saved up my allowance and ordered a ton of gurps books based on that picture.

Day 13: Favorite RPG Podcast

I listen to three rpg podcasts regularly: Role Playing Public Radio, Fear the Boot, and System Mastery.  I enjoy them all for different reasons.  If I had to pick a favorite it would be Role Playing Public Radio.  One of the things that i enjoy is how they talk about interests in their life and how they relate to their gaming.  For example, Ross Payton often talks about his interest in architecture and how how he tries to emulate architectural horror in his games.  I also enjoy how they end each podcast by talking about books, movies, video games, and other things that they enjoy.  I always think that our rpg playing can be made better by enriching it with outside influences, plus I have found some great books and movies from their recommendations.

Day 14:  Favorite RPG Accessory

My current favorite rpg accessory is Google Hangouts.  It has allowed me to play games I have always wanted to try and to game with people around the world.  I still prefer to game face to face, but Google Hangouts has opened up a window in my game playing opportunities.

Day 15:  Longest Campaign Played 

I started GMing a Hackmaster Basic campaign in a homebrewed world.  The setting was 15th century Earth but with high magic.  We ran the game in Hackmaster for about 3 levels and then converted the rules over to Pathfinder.  I GMed that campaign for three years.  I have currently passed the reigns on to one of the players.

Day 16:  Longest Session Played

I’m not sure which session was the longest, but I know which one felt the longest.  I was a player in a Hackmaster game.  We were tracking a group of slavers.  We weren’t sure where they were going to strike next but we did have a general idea.   Our party headed to a farm to warn the family there that slavers might be coming.  We spent the session sitting on their barn roof waiting for the slavers, who of course never came.  So we had a session with no combat, the only role play was between our party and a family of walnut farmers, and we sat on a roof. We did buy a few barrels of walnuts from the farmers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

#RPGaDAY 2015 Day 11: Favorite RPG Writer

Favorite RPG writer?  I am going with Jeff Grub and Steve Winter.  What did they do?  They are listed as the designer and writer of the old TSR Marvel Superheroes Role Playing Game.  That was the first rpg that I ever bought.  I loved the writing style, especially how Marvel characters would explain parts of the rules. This was one of the first rpgs I read and it is still one of my favorites.

Monday, August 10, 2015

#RPGaDAY 2015 Day 10: Favorite RPG Publisher

There are a lot of great publishers that I love and respect.  Posthuman Studios, the makers of Eclipse Phase, produce awesome books with high production values.  What is totally awesome about their Eclipse Phase game is that they have released it under the Creative Commons License.  Evil Hat is another publisher who produces great looking books.  Their release of FATE core rules under the OGL and Creative Commons License has allowed a stream of interesting games to appear.

My favorite is publisher is James Raggi and his company Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  I know there is controversy surrounding his death metal aesthetic, of which I am a fan.  I have mentioned good production values because I am a true bibliophile.  I love books.  I love reading them, holding them, collecting them, and looking at them.  Nothing warms my heart like a book bound with qualify materials and true pride.

The products that James Raggi publishes are labors of love. The art, the writing, the paper, the bind of the book, all of it comes together in a gestalt of greatness.  When I look inside the book No Salvation for Witches I can honestly say that there is the most beautiful picture of a woman throwing up her own leg that I have ever scene.  His printed books are true artifacts. I strongly recommend that you read one.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 9: Favorite media you wish was an RPG

The one media property that I would love for there to be an rpg of is Silent Hill.  When I played the original Silent Hill it was the first time that I was truly scared by a video game.  I love the mythos of Silent Hill.  

I love it so much I tried to include a Silent Hill adventure in a Hackmaster campaign that I was running. My idea was to have a town that would transform into a weird demon realm at night.  Of course one of the players in the group was left behind when the town transformed, and he decided to go around the normal version of the town and set it on fire.

Anyway, I would love a Silent Hill rpg.  I love the setting of a West Virginia coal mine ghost town that transforms into an even scarier version of itself. I love the idea of being trapped in a town and solving puzzles in abandoned hospitals.  I totally dig how the town acts as a character.  The weirdness and desolation of the setting draws me in.  The monsters are freaky, and  of course there should be stats for pyramid head!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 8: Favorite appearance of RPGs in the Media

My favorite appearance of RPGs in the media is a tie between the Community AD&D episode and the old film Cloak and Dagger.  The Community episode made some great jokes about D&D and gamers while still unabashedly showing its love for D&D.  The jokes about Chang in Drow makeup are hilarious, and the episode just keeps getting funnier from there.

Cloak and Dagger is a film that I saw as a kid.  It opens with a boy playing a secret agent role playing game.  What really struck me about this film was that the rpg portrayed in the film wasn’t a fantasy game.  Role playing is synonymous with the fantasy genre for so many people, and seeing a movie show a spy rpg was groundbreaking to my childhood brain.  Also, I loved the scene where the main character is attacked by giant polyhedral dice.

I feel that I need to add the movie Astropia for honorable mention.  I watched this on Netflix one night.  The best way to describe it is that it is an Icelandic romantic comedy where a girl ends up taking a job in a game store and finds true love in a D&D group. Definitely a movie I never thought would ever exist!

Friday, August 7, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 7: Favorite Free RPG

My favorite free rpg is The Window.  This is a simple system in which characters assign dice to their skills.  For example, my character might be “a crack shot with a rifle (D8)”.  To accomplish something you roll your skill and try to get a 6 or under.  If you are in a contest with someone, you both roll and the lower roll wins.

The Window is very simple are is made for narrative games.  I enjoy it so much because it is easy to understand and I was once in a play-by-forum zombie game that used The Window as its ruleset.  That game was a ton of fun.  All of the players just focused on doing stuff; we never thought about stats or rules,  We just role-played and had a ton of fun.

You can read and download the rules for The Window here.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 6: Most recent RPG played

The most recent rpg that I have played is Fate Accelerated Edition.  This was actually my first play of this ruleset.  I was a backer of the FATE Kickstarter and I have been trying to get these rules to the table for a long time.  I ran a treasure hunting scenario inspired by Indiana Jones and the Gold Digger comic series.  I was very impressed with how well my players took to FATE.  I always considered myself to be the storygamer of the group but I think that they actually grokked the system better that I did.  I look forward to running more FATE, although I think that I will move on to the FATE core rules for the next game.

If you haven’t tried FATE or Fate Accelerated Edition, you really should.  The rules can be downloaded for free or for pay-what-you-want pricing, and there is a great FATE SRD available online.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 5: Most recent RPG purchase.

I am a collector of role playing material.  I scour used book stores for rpg material.  I waste hours on the internet looking for sales and deals on rpg books.  I rationalize these purchases by telling myself that even if I don’t run all the games I own, I can always use the material for inspiration.  The truth is that I like to read role playing books.  They are fun, they often have cool artwork, and they provide some escapism.

The most recent rpg purchase that I made is a that I picked up is used copy of the book Passion Play.  These are the LARP rules for the Fading Suns rpg setting.  Fading Sun is a Dune-esque feudal space opera setting.  The game is published with its own house system for tabletop play.  I love Dune and Fading Suns has interested me since I first heard about it.  When I saw LARP rules for the system I grabbed them.  I’m not sure if I will run a Fading Suns LARP.  I’ve never LARPed, and I would want to play in someone else’s game before I tried running my own.  However, a Dune-inspired LARP would be awesome.  If you are interested in trying it out, let me know!

By the way, the Passion Play rules can be purchased in pdf format from

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 4: Most Surprising Game

The most surprising game that I have played is Dead of Night which is published by SteamPower Publishing.  

This is a tiny rulebook that can fit in your pocket.  The game is designed to give you the experience of a horror movie.  The rules are very simple and the characters are rewarded for acting out cliches from horror movies.  For example, if a character is being chased by an axe murderer and decides to run into the abandoned amusement park instead of towards the brightly lit downtown, they would be rewarded.

The surprising part of this game was how smooth it ran and how easily it emulated the horror movie genre. I ran this game for a small group and the scenario played out just like a slasher film. I was truly surprised that such a tiny rulebook could do so much.  This game goes to show that good things can come in small packages.  The second edition of the game is available here.  Grab a copy for Halloween and have fun.

Monday, August 3, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 day 3: Favorite New Game of the last 12 months

I only played two new games this year, and I am using the term new to mean that the game was released in the last 12 months.  I played D&D 5th edition, although I did run a session during the playtest phase.  I also started a play-by-forum game of Silent Legions, an OSR horror game, although that game fizzled out.

I really like D&D 5th edition.  I like the simplification of the system.  I like the advantaged/disadvantaged mechanics.  I really like how WoTC has made the basic rules available for free. 5th edition D&D really captures that feeling I had when I played 1st edition and combines it with updated mechanics that are fun and make sense.

I also really like Silent Legions.  Kevin Crawford, the designer, consistently puts out good products.  Silent Legions follows that model, and he released the art for it into public domain.  At first glance Silent Legions looks like an OSR D&D clone with a skill and sanity system grafted onto it.  However, the meat of the book describes how to create your own elder god mythos.  This is a complete game plus a toolkit that you can use to create unique weird pantheons for other games.  Silent Legions also tells how to run a sandbox investigative horror campaign.  

I really like both of these new games.  I am going to say that Silent Legions is my favorite out of the two, mainly because of the toolkit nature of the book.  I can use Silent Legions to create weird gods and alien beings for a 5th ed D&D game, a Traveller game, or just a plain old modern horror game using the Silent Legion rules.  The core rules are simple and fun.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day 2: Kickstarter game most pleased you backed

The Kickstarter game that I am most pleased to have backed is Call of Catthulhu. I was an early bird backer for this one. I tried this game with my daughter and she loved it so much I had to order a print copy of the rules just for her. This is the only game that I have been able to run for my whole family. In fact, why don't I just write a review of the game.

Review of Call of Catthulhu

Call of Cattulhu is a role playing game where you play cats fighting against supernatural threats.  The new edition of the game is made up of two books; the Nekonomikon and the Cat Herders Guide.  This review will cover book 1: the Nekonomikon.  The Nekonomikon is all that is required to play.

The Nekonomikon is available as a 40 page pdf or print-on-demand softcover book through  The Nekonomikon is the player’s guide and core rulebook.  The layout is easy to read.  The artwork consists of different cats with weird Lovecraftian appendages attached to them.  One thing that I really like about the book is that there is a great section of rules summary sheets in the back.

The premise of the game is that cats are intelligent beings who have carefully groomed humans to care for them as the cats fight against the forces of Lovecraftian darkness.  The system is very light.  Characters create a cat and decide on a background and class.  Most of your character sheet is descriptors.  In fact, there are no numbers listed at all on the character sheet

Whenever a cat tries to do something difficult, they roll a number of six sided dice.  A 1 or 2 is bad and 3,4,5, and 6 is good or a success.  This is also true for when the bad guys roll, so the odds are always in the favor of the players.  Characters can receive a bonus if their cat is particularly suited for the task that they are attempting. The book tells the players to use cat dice, which are custom dice with two cat faces that are crossed out and four cat faces that are not crossed out.  A batch of these dice were manufactured during the Kickstarter and are currently not available, but regular six sided dice will work just as well.  Players get treats, which are used for re-rolls.  Everything done in the game plays off of this success mechanic.  Combat is a contest as to who rolls more successes,  There are special moves that you can do in combat, critical successes and failures, and a few other exceptions but otherwise the core game mechanic is simple, nice, and great for keeping the story moving.

I liked that a 3-6 is always good and a 1-2 is always bad, even when the GM roles.  This is great for playing with kids, as the odds are more likely that things will go well for the players. My daughter wants to play this game often, and the easy mechanics are perfect for family gaming. She can easily add her own rules for magic and flying cats to the system with minimal effort.

Another aspect of the mechanics is that players are expected to method act as cats.  Treats are used for re-rolls, and one way to get treats in game is to get petted by humans.  If a cat is carrying something they are not allowed to talk, and cats who are not near each other can only communicate in meows and noises.  I run my game in a more cartoonish fashion, however. Our cat characters talk to each other all the time, and the game runs just fine.

What I liked most about this system

The core book is short and simple.   There is a great set of reference charts in the back.  The rules are easy to explain and to implement in play.  A group can create characters and begin playing in ten minutes.  The game is full of cat flavor.  If you have gamers or potential gamers who love cats, this is a great choice for them.

What to watch out for

This is a narrative, loosey goosey game.  There are virtually no stats, no list of monsters, no list of skill challenges, etc.  Players and GMs should be ready to play this game with a healthy dose of imagination.  If you need a solid system with a lot of rules to sink your gaming hooks into, this doesn’t have it.

There is also no setting in this book.  The setting information is in the second rulebook, The Cat Herders Guide.  The Cat Herders Guide contains some great information, but it is in no way necessary to play the game.  You can get hours of enjoyment out of the Nekonmikon alone.


Of all the games that I have backed on Kickstarter, this one has gotten the most play time at my table. I love the game and look forward to running many cat adventures. I give it two paws up.