Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Terminator

With a new film in US cinemas with the James Cameron seal of approval, The Terminator is back. Five films, a TV series, lots of comics, books, video games, somewhat reminiscent RPG settings, references in the likes of Mage: The Ascension and Demon: The Descent, a miniatures game and more later, what could it bring to the game table?

At its core it features two major SF elements, time travel and androids, mixed with existential discourse on fate and free will, and really big explosions.

The machine assassin that could look like anyone (but usually Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a great techno-horror monster, especially as its skin tears away to show the steel skull beneath. How do you stop it? Can you?

And the threat from the future, forcing characters from the present to go off the grid to avoid leaving records, also forces questions of what choice we have in anything we do.

In the end, there is “no fate but what we make”... but the Terminator keeps coming.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Ten years of SF TV

Fifteen series that reinvented the genre according to io9. The line is a bit wiggly as it includes Doctor Who (a few weeks over the line... give or take forty-two years) but what the hey.

As the introduction notes, not much in the way of space opera or ships shows (though this is changing with Dark Matter and Killjoys, too new for the list) and plenty of darkness and paranoia and superpowers. And most are pretty gameable...

Sunday, 28 June 2015

YA Dystopian SF

This really does seem like a gap in the market. I know some of the target audience are into gaming (I have a twenty-one-year-old in my current V20 game, who has been around for a few years already) and ongoing versions like The 100 are eminently gameable due to the variety of threats and responses available, so...?

(In the meantime, as SJE notes in that RPGnet thread, a hack of Apocalypse World with some elements of MonsterHearts would seem workable.)

Southern Gothic from the woman who took down the Confederate flag

Wake, a short horror film by Bree Newsome. Yes, that Bree Newsome.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

What does a Star Trek game need?

... with a starship?

I got Star Trek Into Darkness for my birthday (I think it holds up well until it becomes a straight remake of The Wrath of Khan near the end) and Star Trek Beyond has just started filming, aiming to be ready for the 50th anniversary of the original series next year.

People seem to be thinking of how to do a Star Trek RPG again, such as for example Vampire: The Requiem developer Rose Bailey and Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space designer Dave Chapman both discussing it in the last twenty-four hours. :)

Ultimately I think it depends what kind of Star Trek the people playing want. Do you focus on conflicts using action, technology or diplomacy? Investigate the planet of the week, or solve its dilemma? Big or small SFX budget? The existing games all tend to focus more on modelling the setting than the TV series nature of the shows (and the movie nature of the movies) while each emphasises different aspects of the whole.

Friday, 26 June 2015

And some days real heroes act and real horrors fall.

Harry Potter And The Right To Vote

Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone was first published on this day eighteen years ago. Buy your book a pint.

Birthday 2015

Haul so far... books, DVDs, cards, chocolate, cake... and from my brother, a signed Tim Bradstreet print. Woot!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Avengers

The Avengers, the British spy series, is kind of a weird one. The avenging started with Sydney Newman before Doctor Who, and like early Doctor Who most of the shows have been lost. The actual avenger was Ian Hendry as David Keel, and John Steed was the slightly sinister government agent who recruited him. After Hendry left, Honor Blackman came in as Cathy Gale and the show started to gain its familiar outline, although it was a pretty dark version of it. Future Dame Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel, and then a jump to colour, and we got the era future versions like the comics and the movie would hark back to - bowler and umbrella, catsuit and kicks. She’s the hitter and he’s the charmer, not something we see often even today. They acquire a specific boss, a man called Mother, and fight the robotic Cybernauts. A final run with Linda Thorson as Tara King, more of a “companion” who asks questions and gets in trouble. The series started with murderous drug smugglers and ended with an accidental trip to the Moon.

Then there was a pause of a few years before The New Avengers, with Steed as spymaster to a new action man (Gareth Hunt) and woman (Joanna Lumley), an episode of which is the first TV show I remember the plot of from my childhood. It’s the one with Peter Cushing being forced to revive a cryogenically-frozen Hitler in Eilean Donan Castle. You can see why I might remember something like that.

The first few years could inspire a classic noirish spy game (Gale resents the job) while the more famous Peel and onwards style has already inspired games like The Agency.

Patrick Macnee

Daniel Patrick Macnee, Steed from The Avengers (on TV) among many other things, has died aged 93. My condolences to family, friends and other fans.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Heraldry, flags, banners and logos

A new thread on RPGnet from inku, creating heraldic and other designs based on posters’ suggestions. You could easily reverse engineer a feudal fantasy setting from the designs created so far.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Rat Queens RPG?

Sounds like a go to me.

Undertake A Perilous Journey

If my players ever complain about “difficult ground” modifiers, I will tell them of the time we managed to find a bog in a patch of birch bushes up a hill...

(Dungeon World reference. Main thing I like after several sessions is how much it encourages working together beyond just working beside each other. Aid and Defend are big deals.)

Requiem For Greece?

Archaeological evidence of ancient Greek fear of revenants.

Sunday, 21 June 2015


From Advanced Fighting Fantasy’s Graham Bottley, Human(ish) is an urban fantasy action game using an adaptation of the original Marvel Super Heroes FASERIP system.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Sundered Land

The Sundered Land is an Apocalypse World spinoff that starts with storytelling introductions that other players can interrupt to accuse you of lying. This has the effect of making the PCs frequently dishonest, grandiloquent and ineffective, which can be quite interesting. (The player who went straight to a runaway corrupt mayor was questioned very little...) Another nice wrinkle is that a fail can be a success, it’s up to the other players voting.

Free RPG Day 2015

Happy Free RPG Day! I’ll have to get that 13th Age / Night's Black Agents book...

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

What ever happened to the future?

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond is lovely. The climax is a bit weak after the fun of getting there, but well worth it for the optimism, PG-friendly killer androids and Mage: The Ascension vibe.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

You're Next and The Guest screenplays

Screenplays for reading. Of interest to fans of more-or-less grounded horror with surprising twists, as well as aspiring screenwriters. Better to have watched the films first, of course.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Friday, 12 June 2015


Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. may coast at times but it certainly knows how to deliver a season finale.

NPCs talking to each other!

Robin D. Laws offers some advice on dealing with the occasional need for NPCs to talk to each other at Pelgrane’s Page XX, and how it becoming common might indicate an issue with the number and importance of NPCs a game features.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Ron Moody

The death of Ron Moody was announced today, best known for humanising Fagin in Oliver! among a lifetime of roles.

Sir Christopher Lee

A moment of silence, if you will. Then let us watch his performances, listen to his words and songs.

The setting of your toys

As opposed to the toys of your setting...

The LEGO video games, then Disney Infinity, and now Toy Soldiers: War Chest - games where the characters being toys is wholly or partly the point rather than games following the settings of the toys. In this case some WWI German toy soldiers led by the Kaiser, a magical sparkly princess with unicorns and flying castles, a fantasy Dark Lord with dragons and cannons and other cool stuff, and a military mecha toy line with a female main character (which would sadly never have happened in the real 80s toy scene... and probably not today #WeWantWidow ) face off against the Masters Of The Universe and G.I. Joe, and apparently two other licences as well. Given that these two already come from different toy companies this is pretty surprising, as well as leaving me feeling rather sorry for the fictional toy lines not getting to star in their own game.

Wargames using toys already exist, and toy-setting RPGs like Masters, but I think the closest to a game about playing toys is Puppetland, the nightmarish Tim Burton version of Toy Story.

And yes, I want real Phantom toys now. NOW.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Titansgrave is live

Titansgrave, the Tabletop TV RPG GMed by Wil Wheaton, is now rolling out at Geek And Sundry on Tuesdays, then at YouTube on Fridays, starting with Episode Zero - which is in itself a nice explanation of how RPGs work.

This is RPG playing as a watchable entertainment - this looks to be a fun game. As an Actual Play writer I must admit I am a tad jealous.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

RPGnow Texas Flood Relief Bundle

$150 worth of PDFs for $20, including the corebook for Cold Steel Wardens, an East Texas U adventure for Savage Worlds, and a bunch of BASH! and ICONS and other superheroic stuff, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross.

Not sure what this show would be about. Would watch anyway.

An introduction for an art show depicts an astronaut travelling through art history.

One of those things that happens sometimes.

I just suggested that a well-organised Tremere vampire chantry should contain highly skilled specialists in various useful fields... such as a Hitter, Hacker, Grifter, Thief and Mastermind.

(Ian Watson responds: I would TOTALLY play a game with Regent Nathaniel Crossing and his coterie of problem solvers. Obviously they're who you talk to when a potential Masquerade threat goes beyond "some security guard saw something he shouldn't have.")

Monday, 8 June 2015

The shorter End Times

The Age Of Sigmar for Warhammer will apparently dawn next month. So the End Times and destruction of the universe held for almost three months.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Firefly action figures - a mixed review

The 6” scale Firefly figures from Funko have arrived at the local FP. Mal, Jayne, Kaylee, Wash and Zoe. (More to follow, one presumes.) I got Mal and Kaylee.

They’re nice figures overall, though they have some issues that the company previews suggested they would - Mal’s coat rides up and Kaylee’s hair is stuck on too far back. Nothing that can’t be fixed with a little effort, and overall this was going to be a positive review...

... until Mal’s left hand came off after some light positioning.

Oddly his gun hand survived having his pistol put into it.
Guess it’s time to break out the glue and pins...

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Star Wars: Uprising

Star Wars: Uprising is a mobile game, set between Episodes VI and VII. And check the character art! That’s some nice stuff. Edit: more here including larger versions and a dashing Trandoshan. Anyone who wears a cape like that has to be a bit dashing.

Friday, 5 June 2015

The Fringe 2015

The Edinburgh Fringe programme is out now. Three Hamlets and no Macbeths (not counting a mime version)! For gamers, there’s the return of The Dark Room but as far as I can tell no “I can’t believe it's not LARP” interactive shows.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

The Iranian-American indie drama A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night could be a good model for a short Monsterhearts game about a small handful of people in a dead end town, one of whom happens to be a vampire. This affects everything but not actually all that much...

Monday, 1 June 2015

Lupin III And The Temple Of Doom

An RPGnet thread on to-the-death combat, dungeoneering and genre expectations led to this observation: “Nothing wrong with a gentleman thief, but they don't usually spend their time in monster-infested ruins to the best of my knowledge.”

I want to read this story now.

(The Cortex+ Hackers Guide has a section on using Leverage for dungeon fantasy. And of course Leverage creator John Rogers has written for games companies and done a D&D comic series.)

The BBC Dickens Universe

Having adapted pretty much all the Dickens canon at least once, up to and including the one with no ending, the BBC apparently plan to produce Dickensian, a twenty-part series which is like Once Upon A Time for the Dickensverse. Or something.

My first question was “yeahbuhwhat?” but my second was “if Scrooge is there... will there be ghosts?” THIS IS IMPORTANT.