Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review of Under a Black Sun - A free Star Wars Edge of the Empire Quickstart PDF

Under a Black Sun is a PDF produced by Fantasy Flight Games.  It includes quick-start rules for the Edge of the Empire (EotE) rpg, four pre-generated characters, and an adventure.  The PDF is currently available on the FFG website in hi-res and lo-res formats.  There are also separate PDF files for each of the pre-generated characters from the module, plus two additional characters who are not in the module but are designed for it.

The artwork for Under a Black Sun is amazing and evocative of Star Wars.  The cover features Han Solo and Chewbacca standing against a background picture of Curoscant.  All of the images appear to be pictures that have been re-purposed from the Edge of the Empire core book.  The pictures are full color illustrations of characters and scenes from the Star Wars universe.

The module starts off with a credits page and then goes into an explanation of what type of game Edge of the Empire is.  On the same page there is a description of what materials you will need to run the adventure.  The Edge of the Empire rules system uses special dice, and you will need at least one set or the Star Wars dice app for iOS or Android.  You will also need some tokens.  The module includes a chart that you can use to translate regular polyhedral dice into Edge of the Empire dice.

It is time for a little aside on the Edge of the Empire dice system.  I own a few sets of EotE dice so I had plenty to use for our game.  The dice have symbols on them.  Some symbols represent a positive result and some represent a negative result.  In the game you are rolling a bunch of dice and comparing how many symbols you get.  You create a dice pool out of positive dice that represent your skill and aptitude and negative dice representing the difficulty of the task and hazardous conditions.  After you roll positive and negative symbols cancel each other out and if your roll is net positive you succeed.

Those wacky dice!

The system takes a while to learn and I am not completely sold on it yet.  I can not imagine playing Edge of the Empire with a standard set of polyhedrals and translating them via the chart.  It would feel like using the Rosetta Stone to play an rpg.  However, I applaud FFG for including the dice conversion chart so that the average gamer can try out the system before they sink money into specialized dice.  My recommendation would be to fork over $5 and buy the dice app.  The app will calculate the results of your dice roll for you.  The app also rolls standard polyhedral dice as well as dice for all of FFG's Star Wars games such as X-Wing, Armada, and Imperial Assault.  A set of Star Wars dice costs $14.95 and are only good for FFG's line of Star Wars rpgs, while the $5 dice app will at least let you roll dice for your D&D game.

Back to the book.  After explaing the dice and materials you will  need the module then launches into the rules.  We get an explanation of how the dice work,  Besides the success/failure mechanic, the dice also have advantage and threat symbols.  These symbols do not affect the success of your roll, but if you have more advantage symbols something positive will happen and if you have more threat symbols then something negative will happen.  Advantage symbols can also be spent by the players for in game effects such as critical hits and bonuses.  The GM can spend threats to hinder the players by giving enemies bonuses or making the characters' actions more difficult.  There are a few more cases but that is the basic mechanic of the game.

The rules then describe characters and skills.  Characters have six characteristics and a set of skills.  Each skill is linked to a characteristic.  When a character wants to do something they use their skill and characteristic to build a dice pool.  The module then describes combat.  Combat uses initiative, free actions, maneuvers (move actions in d20 speak), and actions (standard actions in d20 speak).  Range is figured in abstract range bands (i.e. short, medium, long, etc.).  There is a critical hit table and a description of different types of enemies (minions, rivals, and adversaries).  The rules mechanic that I like the most is obligation.  Characters in EotE are supposed to be scoundrels, rogues, and shadowy figures.  Each one has an obligation stat which represents how in debt, whether financially or socially, they are to a person, group, or personal code.  In the module each character can add upgrades to their character at a cost of increasing their obligation score.  The higher a character's obligation score, the higher the chance that their obligation will come into play during the adventure.

The module has a one page description of Coruscant, followed by the adventure.  The plot involves the characters being hired to track down a bounty hunter.  I won't go too in depth into the actual adventure to avoid spoilers.  What I will do is cover some highlights and things that I liked about the adventure.  It starts the players off right in the middle of an action scene.  The adventure has an opening, middle, and climax.  The GM has various options to add during the adventure.  The adventure is not linear and the characters have a good degree of freedom as to how to pursue their goal.  The GM is given multiple optional encounters to include.   There are specific examples for the GM as to how to have the characters' obligation come into play at certain points.  There is a good mix of combat, social, and skill based encounters.  This adventure is a great way to try out the EotE system for free.  At the least this adventure could be reworked by a GM and used with another system.  At face value it gives players and GMs an opportunity to see the EotE system in action and play through an authentic Star Wars adventure.

Pros: With the inclusion of the dice conversion chart this module is truly a free way to try out the EotE system.  The adventure is well written and the production values and art are phenomenal.  The quick-start includes all the rules you need minus character creation and advancement.  The module oozes Star Wars flavor and the modular nature is a plus.  A hard working GM could possible squeeze one or two more sessions out of this adventure.

Cons:  The dice system used in the game has a learning curve.  I felt like it slowed the game down.  I also felt like it didn't live up to its full potential.  My players never rolled enough advantages to score a critical hit with their weapons, and the advantage/threat mechanic felt like a burden.  The characters provided in the adventure are a good mix, but it is vital that the splicer (hacker) character be included among the party.

Final Thoughts:  This is a great free product from FFG.  It is a near complete taste of the EoftE rules.  Despite our mixed reaction to the system my group had fun with the adventure.  If you are curious about FFGs new line of Star Wars rpgs then this is definitely worth downloading.  FFG also sells a beginner box for EotE for $29.99.  While that set includes a set of dice, it is still more of an investment that downloading Under a Black Sun.  If our are a Star Wars fan or even a sci-fi gamer then there is something here for you.

You can download Under a Black Sun and character sheets here.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Holiday Geek Gifts for $25 and Under Guide for 2015

The winter holidays are coming up and one of the joys of the season is giving gifts to the people we care about.  I wanted to share a few gift ideas that are appropriate for geeks and gamers.  I have tried to only include items that I have personal experience with, and to limit the list to items that cost no more that $25 (not including tax or possible shipping fees).  As always, I encourage you to shop at your local game store whenever possible.  If they don't have an item in stock ask if they can order it. Whether you need a gift for a GM, friend, yourself, holiday party host, or secret Santa recipient, this list will have some ideas for you.  All prices given are MSRP.

Role Playing Games - Need a gift for a table top rpg player?  Many rpg core books will usually run around $40-$60.  However, there are some quality inexpensive products out there.

FATE Accelerated Edition - FATE Accelerated by Evil Hat Productions is a great way to experience the FATE rpg.  The book sells for $5.  At that price you can get one for everybody in your group.  The rules are great for players who like action and narrative-style gaming, and they are flexible enough to handle multiple genres.  You will need FATE dice to play, but normal six-siders will also work.

Savage Worlds Deluxe: Explorer' s Edition - Savage Worlds by Pinnacle Entertainment Group is a generic system that focuses on action.  I played in a game where Jem and the Holograms were undercover CIA operatives giving a concert in Cold War Russia.  The paperback rule book is $9.95.  The only other thing needed to run the game is polyhedral dice, a deck of cards, tokens.  Rules for miniatures are included but optional.

Burning Wheel Gold - Buying for a connoisseur?  Burning Wheel Gold is a narrative rpg that uses a d6 dice pool.  This is the system that powers the Mouse Guard and Torchbearer rpg.  Burning Wheel is designed for epic, dramatic fantasy.  The physical hardcover book is gorgeous.  Price: $25.

Palladium RPGs - I know Palladium has some critics out there.  I agree that their rules are a bit dated, but their concepts are fun.  I recommend Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles rpg.  The softcover core book costs $16.95.  Another good choice is After the Bomb, where you get to play mutant animals in a post-nuclear war world.  Just to be clear, After the Bomb has rules for creating turtles who are mutants and are also ninja.  Price for the core book, $24.95.


Dungeon World and Monster of the Week - Dungeon World (Sage Kobold Productions) and Monster of the Week (Evil Hat Productions) are published by different companies but are based on the same game engine.  Both use the Apocalypse World rules system.  Dungeon World is a fantasy game while Monster of the Week is for Buffy the Vampire Slayer/X-files style monster-hunting games.  Both are narritive systems and both books cost $25.  Note: Evil Hat Productions will give a PDF for their games when you buy it from a brick and mortar store,


RPG Accessories - What about the gamer who has a bunch of books already?  How about some accessories?

GM Screen - I used to think that GM screens were unnecessary.  Then I bought the Pathfiner GM Screen and I used it every time I ran a game, even when running online.  GM screens are full of useful charts and are great gifts for GMs.  The current D&D screen is $14.95 and most other screens run from $15-$20.

The Noteboard - The Noteboard is a fold-up dry-erase board.  It is blank on one side and has a square grid and hexes and the other side.  It fits into a black bag that can also fit a marker, dice, and a mini.  It is perfect as a portable battlemat.  You can order one direct from the maker for $13.50 (which includes shipping).

Meeple Miniatures - Smoking Salamander, makers of the rpg Tiny Dungeon ran a kickstarter for Fantasy Adventure Meeples.  I backed it and I now have the cutest party of meeples ever,  These character meeples are shaped like your average board game meeple, but they are painted to look like D&D characters.  The nice thing about meeples is that they are sturdier than your average mini.  A set of adventures will run you $14 from Meeplesource.com (shipping not included).

Gamescience Dice - Gamescience dice are unusual, great dice.  I recommend watching Lou Zocchi's video for more information.  These dice will stick out in any collection.  They have precision edges and are made of quality plastic.  They also make some unusual dice, such as d7s.  Please note that some of the dice that they sell are not inked.  A set of seven polyhedrals will cost $13, but I definitely recommend that you browse around the site as they have some cool stuff. Their dice can be ordered off of the Gamescience website.

These are a few ideas for gamers.  Have any suggestions of your own?  Happy holidays, and remember that friendship is one of the best gifts that you can give.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Kickstarter Shout Out - North Wars: The Martian Conquest

I am always on the lookout for a good alien invasion rpg.  There is currently a FATE-based one on Kickstarter.  It covers an alien invasion scenario, although it is a little unorthodox.  The game is called North Wars - The Martian Conquest.  The game is loosely based on the movie Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.  The artwork for the game looks insane.  They will have yetis as player characters, Santa as a wizard, and an invading Martian army that looks like it could give the Justice League a run for their money.

You can pledge for a PDF for as little as $1 and you can pledge for the printed book and PDF for as little as $6 plus shipping.  It is being done as pay-what-you-want so you can always add more to your pledge.  Check it out for some holiday themed awesomeness.

North Wars Kickstarter

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Review of The Armory's 30 Sided Dice Gaming Tables

I found this gem at a used book store.  The Armory's 30 Sided Dice Gaming Tables is an interesting artifact from the early days of fantasy role-playing.  The copyright date is 1982.  The cover advertises this book as a supplement that is suitable to be used with "Dungeons & Dragons, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Runequest, Chivalry & Sorcery, Tunnels & Trolls, and other fantasy role-playing systems."  That is a nice selection of old school rpgs, and it is interesting to note that all of these systems are still available.  Another clue to the product's age is that the words "patent pending" appear next to the image of the 30 sided die on the cover.

The cover, complete with price tag.  I only paid $2.50.

The book is 40 pages and stable bound.  The inside front cover has an about the author section and an awesome drawing of a dragon on top of a hoard of treasure.  Page one is an introduction where the author shills the idea of using a d30 in your game.  There are also two ads for the company's dice. We then get a table of contents on page two and and instructions for reading a 30 sided die on page three. At this point I should explain that the die pictured in the book is numbered differently than other 30 sided dice that I have seen.  The d30 in the book has 30 faces.  10 of those faces are labeled -0 to -9, ten faces are labeled 0 to 9, and ten faces are labeled +0 to +9.  Negative numbers are the integers 1-10, regular numbers are 11-20, and positive integers are 21-30.  The author gives a handy chart summarizing this information.  My research found that a revised version of this book was released soon after that feature the tradition d30  which was numbered 1-30.  I found this old d30 an interesting historical oddity.  It reminded me of older d20s that had 0-9 engraved twice on their faces, where one set of numbers would be inked in a different color and would represent 11-20.  There are also instructions on how to use the d30 to create a number from 1 to 300.  This part tied my brain in knots upon the first reading but eventually I figured it out.

The rest of the book is made up of charts.  The first is a critical hit table that covers body locations. The next few tables cover lists of gems, jewelry, and their worth.  Then we get height and weight tables for humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, and hobbits (yes, the term hobbit is used).  These charts are meant for male characters, and the author includes conversions for rolling for female characters by subtracting a certain amount of pounds or inches.  Apparently female adventurers where dainty back in the 80s.  

On page 23 we get the one and only table used for rolling a number between 1-300.  Oddly this table only has 150 entries.  The table is a language table and includes entries as esoteric as horse, pseudo-dragon, and yeti.  The author points out that the table can be used as an encounter table or a reincarnation table, as he has used it in his campaign.  My favorite table is next, which is mundane experience.  I will be using this table in my next game so that characters can roll up backgrounds such as tanner and gemologist.  There is a weapons table, slaves table, tables for animal skins and their value, a table listing 30 ancient civilizations, ancient ships, diseases, poisons and their severity, animal trainer tables, spell effects, and magic items.  The book ends with a bibliography, index, and price listing for the Armory's various products.  The back cover has an ad and price list for 30 sided dice (available plain or inked) and an ad for pens to ink your dice.

The book is filled with artwork by Greg Barrett.  The majority of the illustrations are of fantasy miniatures that include the company and product code of the mini (such as Ral Partha #02-102 Sea Elves).  The rest of the pictures are of dice, treasure chests, and other stuff.  The pictures of the miniatures are a cool touch.  They seem to call out and say, "Use me in your game."

Bibliography along with a picture of barbarian miniatures

30 Sided Dice Gaming Tables is an interesting piece of rpg history.  It was obviously written to help the Armory sell their d30s.  If you owned the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide then you already had more random tables than you could handle.  The author tries to sell you on the idea that increasing your choices is a good thing for your campaign, i.e. 30 options is better than 20.  The charts are conveniently laid out at one per page and this book would be easy to use at the gaming table.  In my opinion the book's main value is that is is an example of the hobbyist nature of early rpg culture.  The pictures of miniatures and ads for dice-inking pens look back to the days when playing D&D meant assembling a hodgepodge of materials from various sources.  The author's tone throughout the book says, "I made my own d30 tables, and so can you."

I am glad to have this book in my collection for the nostalgia factor.  There are a few tables that I would use in a game.  I wouldn't go searching this book out unless you are the curator of the 30 sided dice museum, but if you see a copy it might be fun to grab to open the window onto the fantasy rpg scene of yesteryear.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Zine Review: Tales from the Game Tavern #1

Tales from the Game Tavern is a zine put out by P.E. Pace, aka the Grand DM,  Issue one is 28 pages and features an orange and black cover with some nice silhouette artwork featuring two fantasy adventurers going trick-or-treating.  The issue features system neutral articles for OSR style fantasy rpgs.  Disclaimer, the Grand DM sent me a free copy as part of a give-away on his blog.  Many thanks, Grand DM!

Tales from the Game Tavern includes seven articles and a copy of the Open Gaming License.  The first article is a variation on the flesh golem.  The second article, my personal favorite, covers cursed armor.  There is a nice selection of pieces that provide protection but also carry some troublesome malediction that will keep your players busy.  They are perfect for the munchkin in your party.

The third article is a table for providing haunting encounters for taverns.  The fourth article is an adventure.  I was surprised to see that this adventure included an outdoor hex map as well as a mini-dungeon map.  The adventure has depth beyond being a hack-and-slash crawl (although it could be run as one if you wish) and it has the right dose of whimsy.  

The fifth article contains tables for alien abductions.  The author wrote the tables for a fantasy setting but the results would fit in perfectly for Call of Cthulhu or any other horror game scenario.  The next article discusses a scenario for running a zombie outbreak in a fantasy setting.  The final article contains a recipe for "Game Tavern Goulash",  The OGL closes out the zine.

This zine is an enjoyable read.  The Halloween theme is present throughout the issue.  I see myself using something from every article in my game.  The art is a mix of public domain images and drawn pictures that look medieval and spooky.  Tales from the Game Tavern is fun to read and ready to use at the game table.  I would recommend this as the perfect treat to pass out to the adventuring parties that knock on your door.

You can order your own copy at ultanya.com.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Donate Your Campaign Notes to Posterity!

I discovered Plagmada.org (The Play Generated Map & Document Archive) the other day. Their goal is to collect and preserve documents that have been generated by people playing role playing games. They are looking for maps, campaign notes, character sheets, and other miscellany for the archive. They will scan it, put it up on the internet, and then ship the documents off to a museum.

One of the things that I love about the rpg hobby is that it is a creative venture.  Role players are constantly creating their own worlds, maps, adventures, and stories.  All it takes to modify a game, destroy a planet, or create a hero is a pen and some paper.  Now there is a project dedicated to saving all of those sheets of paper that gamers have used to create awesome adventures.

I was cleaning out my GM notebook and I was trying to decide what to do with my old campaign notes.  They were about to go into the recycling bin but then I found out that plagmada.org will take them and save them for posterity.  Now gamers, academics, historians, and internet surfers can browse through my old game notes.  Their archive is a great place to see gaming notes, maps, and other cool stuff.  There is a great homemade AD&D module on the site (check out Habitation of the Stone Giant Lord!).

Stats for TSR's Marvel Super Heroes RPG written by my brother; This sheet will live forever at plagmada,org

Consider this post a public service announcement.  Head over to plagmada.org and check out their collection.  Send them your stack of gaming papers.  Tell your friends.  I bet you or some friend of yours has a stack of graph paper maps and notes just taking up space.  Send in your stuff instead of throwing it away.  They will even help out with shipping.  Share this message with as many gamers as you can.  It is our duty as gamers to make sure that our story is preserved for future generations.

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

Rpggeek.com. 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!