Saturday, 31 December 2016

Friday, 30 December 2016

In which I try to help a LARP

Well, you never know.

Specifically, a Vampire: The Masquerade LARP with about ten players, which to me suggested either a social game focusing on specific events (a meeting in Elysium for a show trial, not just a regular monthly meeting) or a more tabletop-style investigative game with a treasure hunt aspect and a focus on props and a small number of NPCs. I think either could work... I think...

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Arthur. King Arthur.

A random thought while watching a recent Bond film, about actors who might have been considered for the role. Clive Owen has played various action roles, including King Arthur.

James Bond reappears when the land needs him...

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Princess Leia

One of my first and most important heroes in fiction, the damsel in distress who saved herself, played by a genuine hero.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Carrie Fisher

“I’m very sane about how crazy I am.”
Carrie Fisher, 1956-2016

Monday, 26 December 2016

Christmas haul 2016

Nothing directly game-related, but a fair amount of geekishness. Not as Star Wars as last year, naturally.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Good luck to travellers and travel staff, last minute shoppers and shop workers, emergency services, and all tonight.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Thursday, 22 December 2016

The almost legendary Holiday Special

Kudos to The Star Wars Show for calling their latest episode the Holiday Special, reminding viewers of the, er, most unusual spinoff in franchise history. I’m scared to watch...

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Come the dawn

Apparently it’s not just the winter solstice but also the darkest night in five hundred years.

Apart from 2010 anyway.

So that’s nice.

But the sun will come again.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Monday, 19 December 2016

Naming location history

“We shall build a new city here, and call it... Alexandria.”
“Well, I mean you called the last three Alexandria.”
“The royal mapmakers are asking if you could maybe differentiate a bit more.”
“Like what?”
“... West Alexandria maybe?”
“Are you implying I’ll never get further west than this?”
No! No, absolutely not!”
“So what do you suggest I do when we get to the coast then?”
“... Alexandria-On-Sea?”
“Get out.”

Dude. Seriously. Help a mapmaker out.

The Age Of Wonders

The Vatican Tapes sounds like it should be found footage but isn’t. It messes with The Exorcist template a little before going another way.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Star Wars Opening Crawl Adventures

As noted before, Star Wars has the best free adventure hook of all the opening crawls - Empire and Jedi are too specific really. There’s room for adventures around them, but no hooks waiting to go.

The Prequel crawls are less narrow, you could easily run with “there are heroes on both sides” from Revenge Of The Sith, for example, while The Force Awakens sets up the era rather than a mission.

Back in the day, a crawl was a classic intro, for RPG adventures, books, video games and comic miniseries. Instantly recognisable and iconic. But now we have a film that doesn’t have one....

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Rogue One

Rogue One (A Star Wars Story does not appear on the title card)   - mini-spoilers now, proper spoilers in a week or so.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Reverse Legacy Heroes

I’ve talked about legacy characters before, but the announcement of a 19th Century Ghost Rider joining the Marvel Universe in comics (as a newish Rider represents the legacy on TV in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) reminded me that when a character connects to an older power source or structure there’s a good hook for prequels. (See also a number of The Crow comics, various Green Lanterns, and Tales Of The Slayers for the Buffyverse.)

Ever played something like this, maybe in a prequel to another campaign?

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The Kingkiller Chronicle

The Kingkiller Chronicle series of books is on its way to TV and cinemas, with Lin-Manuel Miranda producing and John Rogers showrunning.

Monday, 12 December 2016

The Black List 2016

The Black List of the best unmade screenplays in Hollywood always contains some genre stories, and this year is no exception. Rather a lot of solitary apocalypse stories this time...

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Dark Matter

The TV series Dark Matter started as a comic, but if you said RPG I would have believed you. Space mercenaries with amnesia and a mildly snarky android. Playable with Firefly, maybe starting with a Leverage style Recruitment Job for the initial uncertainty about what the PCs can do...

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Spider-Man coming home

First slightly different trailers for Spider-Man Homecoming. The US trailer really underlines the high school setting. It looks like Peter is currently the only superhuman enrolled. Will it end up like Sunnydale? It usually does in series, less so in the films.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Art Of Battlefield 1

The Art of Battlefield 1 reflects its mix of grim grey WWI trench warfare, dogfights in the air above and video-game action and adventure, the latter making good sources for something pulpy. Yes, there is a crashing zeppelin.

Convention Of Thorns play analysis

Sarah Lynne Thorpe discusses her experience as one of the players at the Convention Of Thorns at NordicLarp, including the best summary I have seen so far of the Day Play sections away from the main game happening at night.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Jessica Jones

The second Marvel Netflix TV series, Jessica Jones season one is now out on offline-viewable discs. It is pretty closely based on the Mature Readers series Alias (renamed to avoid confusion with the J.J. Abrams superspy TV series) about a private eye with some deliberately ordinary superpowers, and in this case mostly drops the procedural element the original series had for a more focused seasonal arc about her arch enemy, the mind controller Kilgrave. Mind control is a tricky thing to involve in games (I’ve talked about this before) and especially to make a major feature and played as horrifically as this story does. It takes a lot of buy-in.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Lucifer (the TV series)

Lucifer, based on the Vertigo comics series, is... well, it’s kind of an 80s throwback, a cop show that takes a genre premise and doesn’t run with it. In the first season there are only really two episodes that run with the weird investigator being The Devil Himself, which feels like the logical conclusion of the type.

(Compare fellow loose Vertigo adaptation iZombie, where the crime-fighting is generally one of three strands ceding floor space to the others more readily.)

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Dragonmeet 2016

I was not at Dragonmeet this year. I hear the big hit for Pelgrane was the preview edition of Cthulhu Confidential, the two-player GUMSHOE RPG.

Friday, 2 December 2016

A New World Of Gods And Monsters

A fifteen-second teaser-trailer-teaser for The Mummy, the new version launching the Universal Monsters cinematic universe, uses the famous Bride Of Frankenstein quote as a tagline. How will this work, a cinematic universe with most or all of the superpowers in the hands of the villains? Will Tom Cruise lead the heroes fighting various creatures? Will one of the monsters (betting on the Frankenstein Monster) side with humanity?

Edit: We now have a full trailer, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and articles with the director explaining it. And it looks like Tom Cruise Vs. Universal Monsters could indeed be how it goes, with Russell Crowe as Henry Jekyll, head of the not-Watchers. (And Cruise may be a monster too.)

Sadly, Dracula Untold is now confirmed not to be part of the Universal Universe, so we may have seen the last of FIST OF BATS.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

An RPG bundle for the Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center RPGnow Bundle includes Trinity, BASH, Champions, Icons and more.

The SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Joe Dever

Joe Dever has died, aged 60. He’s best known for the Lone Wolf gamebooks and their world Magnamund, an early influence on me and many others as the leading example of an ongoing gamebook series.

I was lucky enough to met him at Dragonmeet 2013, and he was a real gentleman, gracious and generous with his time, including offering technical and staging advice when posing for a photo.

To see oursels as ithers see us?

Happy St. Andrew’s Day. Have some haggis, or a dram, or complain about the weather or something.

Ever had a game visit Scotland? Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nessie Country, a visit for globe-trotting superheroes maybe? It doesn’t seem exotic to me (the end of Skyfall felt quite odd) but there’s plenty of weird to be found.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

RPG Blog Carnival: Ordinary Life

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival: Ordinary Life In RPGs.

One option here is to talk about how life can impact gaming, and there’s good advice there already.

The other big suggestion here is ordinary life for the PCs outside of adventures.

This only tends to happen with my games when they run long - otherwise the PCs are in near constant trouble, with little downtime. The PCs lives’ are... eventful.

A lot of players are less interested in the mundane side of their PCs’ lives. When I get a decent number that are interested, I’m happy to run with it. It’ll still tend to be melodramatic, or comedic, as appropriate.

If the players are hanging out in character, sharing jokes or romantic woes, I’ll sit back and let them relax. Going to the pub will still probably be interrupted by monsters if it goes beyond a brief scene, but the brief scene can at least exist without it.

There are also games where the PCs’ ordinary lives aren’t all that ordinary. Vampires need to drink blood to exist, and their work meetings can involve beheadings. Superheroes often have to hide who they really are, and those who don’t are often celebrities. Not many of them get to go home and watch a box set, or indeed play RPGs...

The Peregrine, a minis-scale light freighter

Coming soonish from Miniatures Scenery... I only heard about this today, which makes the wait a year less than it has been for some.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Buffy Season 11 begins in the comics and... we may never get something closer to Buffy Vs. Godzilla.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Pass something on.

From Joss Whedon:

If anyone's moved to honor Ron Glass's memory, this is the org he worked with, and they could use the help...

The Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center is a neighborhood approach to the revitalization and empowerment of a community in crisis. We provide a safe and nurturing environment committed to good citizenship and academic excellence.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Ron Glass

Ron Glass has died, aged 71.

Keep flying.

In terms of the character itself, I can’t really say that I find anything really difficult. I enjoy the character so much I don’t perceive difficulty in trying to be him. It’s just a matter of how do we get there.
Ron Glass on acting.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Tales From Black Friday 2016

My first email since logging on: “It’s Black Friday, Craig. Act Accordingly.”

Oh, I will.


It begins.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

We can do better.

One of the marketers for the Monolith Conan boardgame has spoken out about its portrayal of women. This goes beyond reflecting the original setting, which is often used to excuse things, into really questionable choices. Compare the rulebook cover to the 80s Frazetta painting cited as its inspiration - they both have a nearly naked woman on a sacrificial altar, but the Frazetta version is less explicit, and has someone other than Conan himself there looming threateningly over her.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is the year’s best Doctor Who episode so far, beating Legends Of Tomorrow season one.

I’m being facetious, but only somewhat. Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander is a gangling British visitor who looks out of time as well as place in 1920s New York, carries a suitcase which is much bigger on the inside, has various useful things in his pockets, chats amiably with locals and gets them in and out of trouble.

“Trust me, it’s perfectly safe!”
“Has anyone ever believed you?”

Monday, 21 November 2016

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Children's Day

Happy Children’s Day! A day to celebrate them, and to fight child labour and other threats.

What place do children have in your games? I tend not to feature them that much, partially because most of my games aren’t kid-friendly in subject or theme.

Players tend not to go for child characters either. I’ve run the odd high school Buffy game, but a lot more in college settings, and only high school levels of Wizard School type games with X-Men in training.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Tuesday, 15 November 2016


After an introductory montage of OUCH, Arrival posts a very believable enigmatic first contact. Like any event of that magnitude there would be shock, silence, people staring at the news, panic buying, looting, confusion... Hopefully there would also be good planning, international cooperation, calls for experts...

The big idea SF maybe gets a bit far, and the window and mist reminds me of both Childhood’s End and Torchwood: Children Of Earth, but it gets my recommendation just for the quality of the buildup. It starts out ominous and remains... tense throughout.

Monday, 14 November 2016

I feel it in my ghost...

The live-action Ghost In The Shell with Scarlett Johansson may not work, but it certainly cuts together a pretty trailer.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

You And Me Against The World

For my 2222nd post (!) I’m tempted to ramble about magic numbers again, but I’ll spare you...

Instead... two-player games.

Batman and Robin, Han and Chewbacca, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, most romcoms, there are a variety of two-character groups out there.

Only having two players means that one missing a session results in cancellation, so it’s not so common in gaming. This is a shame, because it works better for some story types than having a gang of people around.

Speaking personally, back in the day I was one of three really keen geeks in my high school, so we had a few games like this as well as some larger ones. More recently I ran a season of my Doctor Who game with the two keenest players bouncing ideas and dialogue off each other as their characters dashed across all of time and space, much closer to the classic Doctor and companion style, sadly curtailed because one moved away.

Other than that, I’ve had a few two-player sessions of larger games - it’s the least I can GM for without warning. Of course that depends on the players and PCs - tonight I cancelled a session that would have had an R2 unit teaming up with a technophobic martial artist.

If I had two keen people, I’d love to try something like Never Let Go...

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Blood Bowl

Games Workshop is shifting its priorities, looking at its portfolio, bringing this and that back. The latest return is Blood Bowl, the comically violent fantasy gridiron skirmish game. Mantic have an SF gridiron game for their setting, and there are various fantasy sport miniatures sets out there, but BB hit early and still has a lot of fans, enough that computer and card games have come out recently, and we have a local league for it.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Dungeons & Dragons Joins Toy Museum Hall Of Fame

Dungeons & Dragons was inducted into the Toy Museum Hall of Fame today, alongside Fisher-Price Little People and... the swing.

The Dracula Dossier Marathon

Gar Hanrahan GMed a weekend-long version of the award-winning Night’s Black Agents campaign The Dracula Dossier at Gaelcon, and his Actual Play writeups begin here.

Social Justice Character Classes

Ian Watson’s Social Justice Character Class shirts are selling with all proceeds split between the ACLU and Planned Parenthood until December 1st.

Planned Parenthood and the Trevor Project will also get the profits from art prints by Annie Wu for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Act Charitably, Win Justin Achilli's V20

Donate to a charity, get a receipt or other proof, and Justin Achilli will enter you in a draw to win his copy of Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary limited edition.

Boosting the signal despite the fact it lessens my chances.

Kids In America

I’ve spent the day watching, reading and listening to American media that I love. I do that a bit pretty much every day, but today seemed like a day to give it greater emphasis.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Polling Day

As I have mentioned around previous voting days, a major vote (or other change of government, like a succession or a coup) can have a significant and lasting effect on an ongoing game, as it would on the world.

The clash of personalities and ideologies, unrest and strife, fraud and trickery, can make for great drama. Not something to hope for in a real campaign of course...

Monday, 7 November 2016


An Italian miniatures company called Mirliton has picked up a lot of classic Grenadier Miniatures figures from my youth, including the lovely 25mm Call of Cthulhu line I never got quite enough of carefully rebadged as Nightmares, and...

This one is selling better than ever lately...

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Give Me Something To Sing About

Once More With Feeling premiered fifteen years ago. That’s one episode of Buffy I was told not to try emulating in The Watch House.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Burn It Down

Ever had a revolution in your setting? Did the PCs start it? Did it start or end the game, or change it in midstream? Did it go well or badly? Was there a counter-revolution, or a Reign of Terror?

Friday, 4 November 2016

The style eras of your setting

This article complaining about the thinness of the magic wands in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them got me thinking about styles in settings. Do the arms and armour of a generation ago look different to those of today in a fantasy setting? Are the next generation of starships sleeker?

A lot of this is about how real-world styles and fashions change and ongoing series reflect them. Compare Erol Otus or Larry Elmore D&D to the 3rd edition “Dungeonpunk” aesthetic.

Star Trek is the classic example, with the original series in particular looking so very 60s compared to its sequels and even prequels, some changes caused by moving from TV to film and back. Making things look modern to viewers has led to a rather strange timeline for uniforms and gear. The new films get Kirk out of his mustard pullover pretty often.

Sometimes a setting will play with earlier versions more extensively. Star Wars Rebels is full of Ralph McQuarrie references, but also other nods to the 70s-ness of the first film, notably Agent Kallus and what’s under that helmet. The slim, decorative Art Deco wands in Fantastic Beasts fit in with the film’s Gatsby-esque take on the period setting. What would your world look like a generation or two back?

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Cortex+ licenced

MWP is concentrating elsewhere. Cortex+ will continue, with main writer Cam Banks in charge with a new venture licensing the system for use in new games.

On the downside, this probably means a number of the existing books, notably licences like Firefly and Leverage, are about to go away. Excuse me while I buy some adventures.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Sunday, 30 October 2016


Momo The Magical Kitten. Google game for Halloween. (Which totally Zerg rushed me at the end of level 3. Hmph.)

Tonight Has Two Midnights

Okay, actually we have two 1ams, but work with me here.

British Summer Time ends and the clocks go back on the night before Halloween, allowing extra Halloweekend partying... and the collapse of the space-time continuum.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Red Dwarf XI

There seem to have been a lot of old human spaceships and space stations this year...


The Convention Of Thorns LARP, in a castle in eastern Europe, is underway right now. Bit jealous.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Harry Potter Miniature Game

Harry Potter Miniature Game coming in 2017 from Knight Models... hopefully they have the more today Fantastic Beasts licence as well.

Knight make gorgeous 30mm+ miniatures, including a Star Wars line I never heard about until it was discontinued and a Batman line including Animated Series versions. I haven’t played any of their games though.

Harry Potter never got an RPG because, as I understand it, J.K. Rowling didn’t want other people writing sourcebooks and adventures in her setting for publication. (Apologies if that’s not the case.) Not a problem with a miniatures game, so it’s nice to see something along these lines.

What's This? What's This?

Halloween is nearly here!

Time to start prepping Christmas adventures.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Mongoose's 2000 A.D. licence

The 2000 A.D. licence at Mongoose, which produced two editions of Judge Dredd RPGs and also Slaine and Strontium Dog, and a wargame and miniatures too, is to end soon. Nicely they told us in advance and put the PDFs and (mostly sold out) figures on sale before they vanish.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Doctor Strange

I’ve already seen the Doctor Strange movie due to its weird early UK release.

Ask me for spoilers and I will happily lie.

In the meantime, it doesn’t make that much use of the 3D IMAX-ness but a couple of the Ditko trippy sequences will lose something on regular screens. There’s more of the weaponised Inception folded space action seen in the trailers, but this is mostly shown far enough back not to be especially 3Dish.

It’s very very origin story, the pre-mystic origin is a reminder of just how much like Iron Man it is really and it doesn’t really address the wizards-can-do-anything problem effectively. But seeing this stuff brought to life is a geeky thrill, the cast get enough to do with their characters and their motivations, the bit where [REDACTED] is really cool, and the [REDACTED] is great fun. Stay to the end of the credits, not just the middle.

DriveThruRPG Halloween sale and treasure hunt

Go to DriveThruRPG, find the pumpkin, ghost, witch’s hat, candy or moon-and-bat symbols for free seasonal PDFs! Vs. Ghosts, the ICONS adventure Devil’s Night, a short d20 adventure called Horror at Gravehollow Hill, Pixel Dungeon Zombies, Haunted Locales, the slightly out of place Swashbuckling Adventures... and maybe more.

Trick or treat!

And there’s more on DT Fiction, Comics and Cards. (My first find on Comics is an RPG adventure!)

And no, not telling you where to look. Although I recommend the Halloween sale... ;)

Monday, 24 October 2016


Crazyhead is the new genre series from Howard Overman, creator of Misfits, and... well, it features one of his signature moves, let’s just say that.

In basic setup, it reminds me of Hunter: The Reckoning. Being about young women fighting secret demons and making jokes, a certain Buffy echo is there too. Just with more bodily fluids jokes. It sets out its stall with a pre-credits scene, then flashed back from, and doesn’t really push it as far as it sounds like it might from there.

The core question is schozophrenic or seer - or both? It seems to come down on the side of option B or C.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

A small act of counter-stereotyping

Note to self: put a non-treacherous Quarren in this Star Wars game.

Star Wars is rich with archetypes that often move into stereotypes, but an entire species of Mind Flayers out to betray the Mon Calamari gets a bit... samey.

Trust me, delicious mammals.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

John Carpenter

Off to see John Carpenter in concert tonight, playing some of his film scores as well as new compositions.

Halloween, The Thing, Escape From New York, They Live and Big Trouble In Little China - these are all the kinds of stories that gaming is built on.

I also expect to hear the likes of Night. The accompanying video... there has to be a workable plot hook in “using homemade VR to control an android to fight rival androids” I think.

(Addendum: If Virtual Survivor became the theme for a third Escape From movie, I would be down for that.)

Friday, 21 October 2016

Happy Pelgrane Day!

Happy Pelgrane Day! Today marks the tenth anniversary of the first Gumshoe system game.

Scion LARP

Funded by the Scion second edition Kickstarter, a LARP adaptation from Damocles Thread Development. New to me, they’ve already produced a Champions LARP system.

Obviously the rules will have to cover major superhuman powers clashing.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The X-Men and the retcon attack

With a new Wolverine movie, Logan, on the way, someone asked if they were a continuous story to catch up on:

They’re really not. 1 and 2 mostly are. 3 (The Last Stand) was but was then retconned to mostly not happen (along with the end of 2). Origins: Wolverine was a highly involved origin story involving at least three characters since retconned. First Class was an origin for the team set in the 60s. The Wolverine was a modern story for him after 3. Days Of Future Past was a sequel to First Class set in the 70s and a sequel to the others due to time travel and results in the retconning of 2 and 3. Apocalypse was a sequel to that set in the 80s (which also retcons some more of 2). Deadpool pretended that his appearance in Origins: Wolverine didn’t happen even though he’s played by the same actor.

I think that’s everything...

Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2 Teaser


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

We saved the world. I want a parade!

Have you ever had a parade for the PCs? It’s a classic way to end an adventure, but in the session?

This question came from watching the Olympic and Paralympic parade, with mini-interviews with some of the athletes.

Press conferences too - I’ve mostly seen these in superhero games, naturally. And of course they’re awkward, even when not interrupted by villains.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Hallowe’en one-shots?

Hallowe’en one-shots? Maybe.

Though the Saturday is a leaving do for two society regulars, the Sunday is the last of the first five-week block for games...

There are some classics here. Since this thread a couple years back, a recent example for this perennial topic, the Call Of Cthulhu 7th edition quickstart is on shelves, and yes, it contains The Haunting.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Betrayal At House On The Hill

I first played Betrayal At House On The Hill six years ago chez Steve D, and I thought for six years that there was another “The” in the title...

Anyway, it’s a tile-laying boardgame of exploring a supposedly haunted house where some way through the selection of things the PCs uncover trigger one of the PCs to Betrayal! It leans heavily on theme rather than mechanics for its fun, and it’s good to make time to play it a couple times just in case the twist results in the endgame being one-sided either way - you can end up with the Traitor having all the items they need to win and standing in just the right room to do it, or completely unable to reach what they need, although more balanced endgames are more common.

Physical components are nice - a few miniatures, shiny tiles, solid chits, sturdy box.

Might have to properly figure out and play sometime round Hallowe’en...

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

One result of that Star Wars game...

Discussion of medical Droids in Star Wars and why the Rebel has the nondescript 2-1B while the Emperor’s choice for surgery on Vader is a pitch-black room full of shiny black monster droids and smoke. In a thunderstorm.

It was obviously meant to evoke Frankenstein, but the revival there needed a storm to work. Here it just seems to be mood lighting.

In this case, the storm could be the result of the Emperor’s mood. (Only he and R2-D2 shoot lightning in the original trilogy, proving that both are embodiments of their sides of the Force. Ahem.)

But it got me thinking, a planet like Coruscant probably has weather control...

“Weather Control, this is the Emperor. Yes, Emperor. Haven’t you been watching the news? It’s been almost a day! Anyway, I want a storm over my palace. Yes, thunder, lightning, the whole deal. Sets the mood. No? Well then, I’ll have to do it by hand.”


Monday, 10 October 2016

The naming of things

I did basically one bit of prep for Star Wars this week - I wrote down a bunch of weird names in advance. It helped immensely, especially when the PCs returned to the site of a space battle and got a really good look for survivors roll.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

How to feel high-powered

A question on for the poster’s birthday got me thinking about high-powered games and how to make them feel different from more down-to-earth ones. The answer I came up with:

Being able to ignore damage can really have this effect for me. I played the brick in a Marvel SAGA game and could routinely shrug off non-superpowered attacks and a lot of super-attacks as well - taking no damage while everyone else dodged never got old. I’ve played other superhero games where I’ve had highly capable characters in other fields, but in a game of frequent brawling this really did feel different.

Automatic successes are another way, especially in games with critical failure. Rolling a ton of dice can be fun, but no longer needing to roll can be too.

Both of these remove some uncertainty from the game, and knowing the PC can do something can be a real boost to confidence.

Maybe this comes from all the times I’ve had the dice mess up a character’s defining abilities at just the wrong moment...

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Midnight, Texas

The new series from Charlaine Harris, creator of True Blood, is starting on TV soon, and looks like... True Blood, just without HBO there to let it go hog-wild on the sex and violence.

A hidden little town serving as a haven for all kinds of supernaturals beings is a nice reason for the whole mess of urban fantasy PC types to be all together, and to work together.

An idea rises from the grave

I just started games for the academic year and now I have a crazy idea. Typical. Maybe next block...

For the record, the crazy idea was inspired by an article about terrible comics cover gimmicks featuring a Rob Liefeld spinoff comic about a special ops team of people who are totally deniable because they’ve been brought back from the dead.

Friday, 7 October 2016

What if they made more Star Wars spinoff movies in the 70s and 80s?

A brain fritz caused by seeing an article about The Warriors the same day I bought a Rogue One Jyn Erso figure, and imagining the young late 70s antiheroes of the former as dashing space adventurers. I may have to cut together a fake trailer running with this idea. Maybe based on one of the classic West End Games early adventures, like Strike Force Shantipole...

RPG Blog Carnival: Potions

The RPG Blog Carnival, which I should really check more often, hits October, with a theme of Potions. Which is a bit less Hallowe’en-y than expected, but hey, witches.

Potions suggest fantasy, so naturally I immediately think of uses in other genres...

Urban fantasy can have magical brews played fairly straight... Maybe the magic spells advertised on eBay really work - or maybe just the ones on Etsy.

The classic potion in horror is Dr. Jekyll’s formula, a kind of science-ish lycanthropy that reveals the worst in human nature.

Superheroes, especially in the Golden Age, have a lot of science-ish serums and herbs granting amazing powers.

Putting those three sort of together...

Scientists develop a Hyde-style monster serum and a lab accident exposes them to it. Instead of just one, a modern lab full of half a dozen.

And let’s say it varies its effectiveness with the target. Some of them are mean drunks for one night, some of them have relapses... and one was already kind of a psycho, and feels that humanity would benefit from the formula and freedom from inhibitions. Can the PCs stop him before the entire city goes Hyde?

Or of course, there’s the classic of all classics, the Love Potion...

The Player on TV

The Player is coming to British TV, on Spike starting on the 21st. As far as I know only the nine episodes exist so it will end rather abruptly, but it’s still nice to have a chance to see it on TV.

In the meantime, this John Rogers interview was new to me. Spoilers!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Carmilla: The Movie

So this is happening. More here.

Modern Robin Hoods?

This series pilot sounds like it’s about a figurative modern Robin Hood setup, not a literal one like the Camelot urban fantasy cop show. Being modern Robin Hoods is a pretty common idea for thief protagonists - it’s mentioned in the original pitch for Leverage for example - taking from the rich and giving to the poor.

But not generally taking it as far as dressing like Green Arrow, living in the woods and fighting with quarterstaffs.

So now I want to do that, of course.

The ousted heir of a family company which always looked after its home town until a ruthless corporate raider usurped it, fighting back with theft and trickery, on the run from the corrupt local sheriff... It would be tricky to get the PCs to go for the silver arrow trap though... and trickier still to end with a swordfight with Guy of Gisbourne... hmm...

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Diversity and inclusion

Rose Bailey discusses diversity and inclusion in RPGs and OP in particular, with Cronistas das Trevas.

After the shine comes off the future

“Since I was a boy, I’ve dreamed about being a cop and living on the moon. But now I’m here, it seems like the party’s over and everybody’s going home.”

This is the premise of Mooncop by Tom Gauld, best known for short cartoons in places like The Guardian looking askance at genre norms (some of which I’ve linked to before).

Post-apocalypse SF and post-Golden-Age fantasy are both pretty common, but an okay future that’s a bit past the exciting frontier era not so much. Settings tend to be about the exciting bit, after all. It would be a good start for a more slice-of-life approach though.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Daredevil Season One

Daredevil Season One. Yes, I know, Season Two, and Jessica Jones, and as of this weekend Luke Cage, but it came out on shiny discs today so I can watch it on my TV rather than my computer, so it’s time to talk about it again. So there.

A human or very-slightly-superhuman vigilante hero operating at night is a sensible place for a sub-universe to start (see also Arrow) because everybody knows the archetype (hint: Ben Affleck also played Daredevil and now...) and fighting crime is a sound basis for TV.

We get stunts (including one stunt sequence everybody talked about) more than effects. Human gang bosses, anonymous thugs with guns and the occasional ninja are enough of a threat so we don’t have to worry about adapting villains. Avoiding publicity means the world can look a lot like ours even though it has heroes and gods fighting aliens somewhere else.

There are entire RPGs for street-level supers, as well as sourcebooks for wider-ranging supers RPGs. Focusing on the crime, it would be possible to do with something like Gumshoe, or Angel for the action.

Eye Of The Beholder

A documentary on the art of D&D.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

New academic year, new games

Playing: D&D 5th Edition, Spelljammer setting, in the style of Eclipse Phase. My goodness, so many ways to get Advantage and therefore roll the d20 dice and pick the best one. Crazy indie game!

GMing: Star Wars d6 1E. Rebels. Only three of the seven are Force sensitive!

Saturday, 1 October 2016


And you know what that means...

Well, tomorrow it means new campaign pitches at the games soc, but generally...

Happy Hallowe’en month!

Thanks to T at WOD Happens for the pic


Excuse the truncated Links list, Blogger appears to have wiped my old one out with no warning. More to follow.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Rogue Force Friday

The Force Friday launch of new Star Wars toys and publicity in advance of Rogue One is upon us.

I myself have seen some of the classic scale figures, though the only main character in the assortment I saw was K-2SO - I will try Forbidden Planet tomorrow and hopefully get Jyn Erso, preferably in 6” scale.

Fantasy Flight haven’t revealed any Rogue One tie-ins for their games yet. Fingers crossed - it would seem the perfect subject for the Imperial Assault skirmish minis / boardgame or the Age Of Rebellion RPG, and it took them almost nine months to get The Force Awakens RPG intro box set out, and they just previewed the TFA Millennium Falcon for the X-Wing minis game recently. Still, faster would be better...

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Wynonna Earp

Wynonna Earp is.... well, it’s basically Buffy with a gun. A young woman chosen to fight evil in a small town, a small support network, a mysterious handsome stranger with his own agenda...

It looks a lot more like Buffy than the original comics, the name and calling being about all they really have in common.

Note that this is not a complaint. As Buffy knockoffs go it’s pretty functional give or take some logic wobbles.

It doesn’t aspire to the heights of humour or weirdness of Buffy, but hey, early days.

Character-wise, Wynonna is a bit closer to Faith, a notorious local wild child with a liking for booze and motorbikes, having to grow up due to her unwanted legacy. She isn’t slayer-level powerful but agile, tough, heals pretty fast and has a magic gun that only works for her.

Her Scooby Gang is mostly her sister Waverly, all read up on the legacy for the early Willow helpful nerdy role. There’s also Dolls, who is not a creepy puppet but instead a government agent with secrets of his own, and the aforementioned mysterious stranger Doc.

Her mission is to re-kill seventy-seven revenants originally killed by her ancestor Wyatt with that same gun, made easier by them all being stuck in a mystic triangle centring on her home town, and more difficult by sheer numbers. This leads to a cold war, though she keeps killing them off one by one, because their leader is too busy with another agenda to just take her down...

To run as a game, stat up the legacy, the gun and what Doc is, and go.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Grand Masquerade 2016 keynote speech

The official video of the Grand Masquerade 2016 keynote speech with Jason Carl, Bob Ellis, Shane deFreest, Tobias Sjögren and Martin Ericsson.

And the White Wolf Q&A that followed.

2000 A.D. Prog 2000

2000 A.D. hits its 2000th issue, reminding us of its influence in UK geek culture. Judge Dredd has his own games as well as films and other adaptations, while Nemesis The Warlock might have had a slight influence on Warhammer 40,000 here and there too...

Life moves pretty fast...

Elon Musk plans to send people to Mars within a decade.

A baby with three parents has been born.

This is the future.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Monday, 26 September 2016

New academic year, new games...

Star Wars... eh, maybe. I have some interest. But can I keep that up? Modern fantasy and horror flow more easily for me. The intro day game going better might have helped.

I aim to see what’s on Wednesdays this year as well. That slot might be a better fit for something with more player-facing rules like Leverage.

Saturday, 24 September 2016


Hollywood chews people up and spits them back out. In new comic series Glitterbomb, an out of work actress learns to literally bite back. My first thought was it could work in Beast: The Primordial although this is someone being contacted by a monster at a low point.

Friday, 23 September 2016

D Is For Destiny

Destiny has a new spinoff book. An RPG? No, a children’s ABC book. Originally created by Bungie artists for the children of development staff, it seems like a sweet, if odd, idea. And it could be a fun handout...

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Scion Second Edition

Scion Second Edition Kickstarter is live, already almost double funded with over 500 backers (I was 501) and aiming to get the Origins rulebook and Hero book printed and into shops. Since this is the first outing of the Storypath System, I am also caring about that.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016


Talk Like A Pirate Day may have gotten too commercial, but we can keep its spirit in me hearties.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Dance Magic Dance

Have we ever seen Doctor Strange dance? Because he throws some serious shapes.

The definitive 80s goth club was the Batcave, but really should have been the Sanctum Sanctorum.
Okay, this is apparently Random Idea Week on my blog.

Hand gestures are a classic magic thing. D&D has many spells with somatic components. I once read a review of a system with such customisable magic that you could adjust so you could cast spells with just an arched eyebrow.

So how about a totally somatic powered magician...?

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Undead-Ish

I just spotted this joke at Lead Adventure, and it got me thinking...

A zombie style outbreak where the infection is temporary. Not undead, but crazy or ravenous or mind-controlled or whatever, but it passes in a few days like a bad cold.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Some things never change...

Star Wars D6 RPG taster for freshers was reasonably successful, I think, if a bit short due to overestimating just how short the session actually was.

Player: Is there a garbage chute?
Me: Of course there is!
Player: Who wants to go first?
All The Players: ...

Carmilla S3

Carmilla Season Three, ‘act’ one of three, seventeen episodes for binge purposes.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Warhammer 40000 returns to comics

Launching a few weeks after FFG gives up the RPG licence, the comics come from Titan, the first in decades.

A Beaky Marine! Old school!

Blair Witch

How would you run The Blair Witch Project... if not as a LARP, as the original film was essentially made?

Do you keep the supernatural offscreen and uncertain, leaving it possible that there’s a mundane explanation? Do you show it, maybe just quickly? Do you use visuals, like handouts? Maybe a map... and trade it for a subtly different map?

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Star Wars concept art contest

ILM and ArtStation held a competition for Star Wars concept art, reimagining the story or illustrating unseen scenes based on various levels of brief. The result is hundreds of images worth checking out from a variety of professional and amateur artists and designers.

Redesigns, new designs, jokes, Ralph McQuarrie style evocative paintings...

Several pieces following a specific prompt showing R2 and 3PO on important diplomatic missions... which in one case goes so well (or badly) that Han is actually glad to see 3PO!

I’ve grabbed a lot as inspiration for intro Star Wars adventures at the games society. If I were FFG I’d be contacting a few of these people ASAP...

Link via Kotaku.

Star Trek: Timelines

Star Trek Discovery is set in the original timeline, while the Kelvin timeline continues in films, comics and games. The Modiphius game and Attack Wing stick to the prime timeline too - odd in the case of Attack Wing as it shares models with Star Trek HeroClix which includes a 28mm miniatures set of the Kelvin timeline Enterprise crew.

Oh, and the last pre-Beyond issues of the Kelvin timeline IDW comic (to be followed by a new series) had the two timelines bump into each other.

So where to next? Make your own...?

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Star Trek Unmade

I’ve talked about Star Trek Phase II and the unused Federation pitch before, but there are more Treks untaken beyond those. Looking this up, I found there was at least one I hadn’t even heard of, to make a CG animated movie about Enterprise B fighting the Kzinti. The fact that there isn’t a CG animated Star Trek spinoff feels quite odd, actually - there have been a number of attempts, most notably Final Frontier, which I discovered after my own attempt to come up with a “generation after next” setting.

As well as providing looks behind the scenes, many of these have easily borrowed adventure hooks.

Which ones would you like to see?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Star Trek without the serial numbers

Besides Star Trek, I have played in and GMed other “ship show” RPGs that show the influence of Star Trek and react to it in different ways.

I was the captain in Distant Stars, a not-Trek exploration RPG that I hope to see published by its creator. I used some of my ideas for a no-budget-limits Trek setting as suggestions for taking some of the usual alien types further, so the wise psychic elders are insubstantial and the proud warrior race are seven feet tall with four arms.

In 2009-10 I ran The Stars On Fire, post Battlestar Galactica Military SF with a loose confederation of human colonies, some still in a cold war, united by first contact with an alien intelligence. The diplomacy and culture clashes were the clearest Trek-ish influence. (The creator of Distant Stars played in it.)

In both cases, we kept some features and dropped others. Both dispensed with transporters and universal translators, for example, and ran with different codes of conduct.

They both worked for players who weren’t fans of the series too.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Star Trek campaign advice

As noted, I have played a fair few Star Trek games over the years. They’ve all been about Starfleet - the FASA game supported playing traders, Klingons and Romulans, LUG at least partially did, and I did once plan a Klingon game, but Starfleet is the heart of Star Trek and we always came back to it.

I recommend the following:

Players who are cool playing Star Trek in general and the kind of Star Trek you want to do in particular. Best not to combine two-fisted space adventurers, cerebral diplomats, wannabe Klingon murderhoboes and anti-fans trying to destroy the premise from within.

Some room for somewhat oddball characters.

A ship. You could go with a base that will get a lot of visiting traffic like Deep Space Nine, but generally a ship.

A cool name for your ship, as this will probably double as the name of your series. I’ve had characters served on the Odyssey, the Valiant and the Victory, and been captain of the Horizon. Uhura didn’t want to fly on the USS Farragut and chances are neither do the players.

Some expert and other NPCs. Not too many expert NPCs. Names and looks for extra NPCs in case you need a redshirt to kill to demonstrate an alien invader’s power or an obscure expert to call up and/or kidnap.

A premise. This can be as simple as “boldly go” or as involved as “maintain the delicate peace between rival alien powers in a key strategic location after the Dominion withdraws, as a threat from before the occupation resurfaces, and keep an eye on the Klingon border...”

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Star Trek Systems

As noted before, I started Star Trek gaming with the FASA set when a fellow gamer came to high school with a keenness for the setting. It’s a basic statline and percentage skills system - its standout section is using the separate starship combat game, which is great if you have a couple hours spare.

I was the captain of our first ship, but it never went to campaign due to a folder getting lost. We played a fair number of the FASA adventures though, cementing my opinion that a three to four hour session can cover about as much plot as a forty-five minute TV episode, and that adventures designed for a session or two are a good deal but hard to do.

We advanced through to The Next Generation era despite FASA losing the licence after just a couple books, with the odd game of a term or an academic year on into college and past. The GM being mostly a Deep Space Nine fan showed through in adventures in that era highlighting political complexities, and one campaign set around overseeing an area of space annexed and then abandoned by the Dominion-backed Cardassians. So naturally I played a Bajoran with a chip on his shoulder...

Then the Last Unicorn version came out, and I think we had one campaign of that. I liked the slight variation of focus for each series getting a rulebook, with technobabble tables and the like, but the core system didn’t work for us.

It wasn’t until some years after it was published that we tried the Decipher version. Even using a cheat sheet, character generation made one of the group cry. After that, it was okay...

There are of course various unofficial RPGs reflecting the setting in various ways. Starships & Spacemen was the first, and its recent second edition features a percentile weird forehead table. These run the gamut from hundreds of pages like Far Trek to one page like Lasers And Feelings.

The biggest not-Trek-honest gaming setting is Star Fleet Battles, the result of some careless licensing in the 70s allowing a games company to put out its own wargames and RPGs in a variant of the classic universe. It has resulted in oddities like a RPG about Prime Teams who go on away missions instead of the command crew (one of those more sensible but less TV-friendly changes fans come up with) which also has d20 and GURPS versions, and Klingons who have member species including what appear to be gorillas.

Personally, as of 2009 I wanted to run it with Cinematic Unisystem. Half of the short skill list I made up was department titles...

Saturday, 10 September 2016

A masterclass in villains from Clancy Brown

Asked to list his favourite movie villains by Empire, Clancy Brown went above and beyond, producing a top twenty list that makes me want to see him do a documentary or lecture on the subject.

Star Trek Adventure Ideas

Star Trek adventure hooks for the fiftieth anniversary, starting with me, featuring some famous names.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Star Trek At 50 And Beyond

As of now, it is fifty years since the first US broadcast. So where to next?

Star Trek Discovery comes out early 2017. This feels like a missed opportunity but I appreciate not rushing a TV series by several months to hit a deadline. A special would have still been nice, of course, but hey.

A fourth film in the Kelvin timeline is on its way as well.

Star Trek Adventures, the new RPG, is also due next summer. Before that, those with the appropriate platforms and VR rigs can try Star Trek Bridge Crew. In the meantime, board and miniatures gamers are well served with Star Trek Attack Wing and more.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Star Trek at 50

Today is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek - specifically the first US broadcast of The Man Trap at 8.30, rather than the original pilot The Cage two years earlier, or the first Canadian broadcast two days earlier.

Starting with The Man Trap means dropping the audience into a “routine” mission with no real introduction of anyone - we even see Spock in the captain’s chair before we see Kirk! (And you might expect the hand puppet plant to be a recurring character!)

Want to celebrate with a new episode? Star Trek Continues just released one, about a ghost ship and the glass ceiling.

While I wasn’t around when the series first aired I’ve been around for most of that time. I grew up with the original series on heavy repeats, the movies - and the often bonkers comics of the first film more than the film itself, reprinted here in weekly chunks in Marvel anthology Future Tense alongside Trek-alike Seeker 3000 - and some of the Mego style figures and a Dinky Enterprise that shot discs and lost its warp engines. I also had a plastic cigarette case (or something) that played the role of a communicator.

I’ve also played the official RPGs from the big FASA game onwards, the post-FASA ones usually soon after they were released - the big Trek fan in my gaming circle believes in getting value out of new rulebook purchases. I haven’t loved any of the official systems but I’ve generally tolerated them in order to get on with playing in a very game-friendly setting.

I’ve hardly ever run it (I last tried in 2009 - here, have fifteen adventure ideas) but have run various “spaceship show” style RPGs over the years. This goes right back to my earliest RPG experiences, with Starship Traveller being the fourth Fighting Fantasy book.

A small group of people heading out into space, meeting adventure on strange new worlds, bringing hope and optimism as they boldly go where no one has gone before...

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

When in doubt, vampires.

With nothing more concrete to do, sketching out another Vampire game. Just in case. Because they take more sketching out than the other likely options.

Monday, 5 September 2016

The disaster movie of your setting

Having mentioned the 350th anniversary of the start of the Great Fire of London on ye WhoBlog, I thought I would mention the end of it here, three days later.

How would a disaster like that affect your setting? If it wasn’t the PCs’ fault, or the work of a villain?

Because sometimes a city made of wood and thatch held together with pitch just goes on fire.

The PCs would hopefully have the courage and moral fibre to go in and help loved ones at least if not total strangers. Rescue adventures have plenty of hazards and chances for players to show off what their characters can do.

Equally, a disaster is a great time to cover up all kinds of illicit activity from looting to murder.

And if a natural disaster turns out not to be natural, what then?

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Star Trek Online ship 3D prints

Via Ian Watson: Following the 3D printing of World of Warcraft avatar models, Star Trek Online ship printing is on the way. Starting with rather large foot-long models, which I imagine will cost quite a bit. I wonder if smaller more tabletop-friendly versions might follow?

Dungeon Fantasy (Powered By GURPS)

A Kickstarter for a big shiny Dungeon Fantasy box set, the first of its kind using the Powered By GURPS streamlined version of the SJG house system. If this is a success, more may follow for other genres.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Vampire: The Masquerade V - 2018

From the keynote speech at The Grand Masquerade (as relayed by the Twitter account for Berlin By Night, a newly announced convention happening in May) some things confirmed, some news (like the 2018 date) and one announcement I had not been expecting, Earplay doing interactive audio fiction for Wraith: The Oblivion and Orpheus.

Carmilla season three


I like how this trailer has gone full on epic urban fantasy with just a button joke at the end.

Friday, 2 September 2016

King Arthur, NYPD

And in our time of greatest need comes another TV series called Camelot... but a somewhat different one...

“When an ancient magic reawakens in modern-day Manhattan, a graffiti artist named Art must team with his best friend Lance and his ex, Gwen - an idealistic cop - in order to realize his destiny and fight back against the evil forces that threaten the city.”

I hope it swings towards the fantasy side of the description rather than being a cute gimmick for a cop show. Either way, can it be any worse than King Arthur appearing in the next Transformers movie?

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Time to start planning a new campaign... of some kind...

The academic year starts later this month, and with it come the university RPG society pitch sessions. Still not entirely sure what to do.

Likely-ish contenders as mentioned here include Star Wars d6 and about Rebels, something with Buffy, and if another GM doesn’t go with her Vampire idea then more (but different) Vampire.

I’d like to do Leverage but the amount of moving parts and the low Weird Level don’t make it a good fit for a walk-in society game.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016: the complete series

#RPGaDay 2016

1: Real dice, dice app, diceless, how do you prefer to “roll”?
2: Best game session since August 2015?
3: Character moment you are proudest of?
4: Most impressive thing another’s character did
5: What story does your group tell about your character?
6: Most Amazing Thing A Game Group Did For Their Community?
7: What aspect of RPGs has had the biggest effect on you?
8: Hardcover, softcover, digital. What is your preference?
9: Beyond the game, what’s involved in an ideal session?
10: Largest in-game surprise you ever experienced?
11: Which gamer most affected the way you play?
12: What game is your group most likely to play next? Why?
13: What makes a successful campaign?
14: Your dream team of people you used to game with?
15: Your best source of inspiration for RPGs?
16: Historical person you’d like in your group? What game?
17: What fictional character would fit best in your group?
18: What innovation could RPG groups benefit most from?
19: Best way to learn a new game?
20: Most challenging but rewarding system you have learned?
21: Funniest misinterpretation of a rule in your group?
22: Supposedly random game events that keep happening?
23: Share one of your best “Worst Luck” stories
24: What is the game you are most likely to give to others?
25: What makes a good character?
26: What hobbies go well with RPGs?
27: Most unusual circumstance or location in which you’ve gamed
28: Thing you’d be most surprised a friend had not seen or read?
29: You can game anywhere on Earth, where would you choose?
30: Describe the ideal game room if the budget were unlimited
31: Best advice you were ever given for your game of choice?

#RPGaDay 2015
#RPGaDay 2014

See you again in 2017! And here tomorrow.

#RPGaDay 2016 31: Best advice for and from games

#RPGaDay 2016

31: Best advice you were ever given for your game of choice?

So many games of choice...

Vampire: The Masquerade - don’t try to include everything from the World Of Darkness. Seriously. Don’t.

Adventure! - allow cross-type Knacks.

Buffy - cast the characters. It can help visualise the setting and keep lots of NPCs distinct, and let you sneak in a few jokes. And editing together a credits sequence makes a viable Christmas gift for the whole game group. And if you predict an actor’s future roles that’s always funny.

Vampire: The Requiem - Touchstones!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

First contact?

SETI is listening to something. Although the internet has exaggerated slightly.

What if it actually was a signal? What would that mean for us?

#RPGaDay 2016 30: At the table

#RPGaDay 2016

30: Describe the ideal game room if the budget were unlimited

Okay, I would love a table like this updated every week. And then we would still improv away from it.

A screen would be good for showing people things, but always on would be distracting.

Again, this is the kind of extra I think could be nice but really isn’t a big deal to how I play.

Or, obviously, a holodeck.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder has died. A moment of thanks for all the characters he gave us.

#RPGaDay 2016 29: Where it will take you

#RPGaDay 2016

29: You can game anywhere on Earth, where would you choose?

This weekend: New Orleans. (Damn my not being at The Grand Masquerade. Boo.)

Generally: indoors with a comfortable chair and access to WiFi and snacks. It’s about the people, not the places.

Gamer retreats (either for comfort and groupiness or for atmosphere as well) can get lots of good gaming done, or can equally not help all that much at all. Outside gaming in particular often adds distractions. This ain’t a LARP.

Sure, playing somewhere really out there could be fun - a Doctor Who game on the TARDIS set - but in the end it’s just set dressing for the Theatre of the Mind. Heavy.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 28: You've never seen...?

#RPGaDay 2016

28: Thing you’d be most surprised a friend had not seen or read?

Star Wars.

Star Wars has both the lowest bar of any geek media universe (one movie, and as of December you have two basic options for which one) and the highest profile, not coincidentally. The radio series about celebrities doing things they’ve missed or avoided before is called I’ve Never Seen Star Wars for a reason.

For reading, I guess The Hobbit. Lord Of The Rings takes time and effort - The Hobbit takes a couple hours. (Hence the joke that if you don’t have time to watch one of the films, just read the book.)

Not played would seem more relevant than not seen or read. So probably D&D, because it’s omnipresent. Even though its omnipresence and age made me personally avoid it for decades, up until 3rd edition, I still knew it well enough that I could have played it (at least as a Fighter) from about age twelve.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 27: Unusual places to play

#RPGaDay 2016

27: Most unusual circumstance or location in which you’ve gamed.

Discussing an ongoing game rather than actually playing it, but in a cab on the way back from hospital to confirm I’d broken my arm on the way to a session.

Location-wise, the impromptu WFRP adventure (complete with character generation) I ran on the coach back from the Nationals is the longest game I ever GMed... geographically.

Friday, 26 August 2016

How showrunning is like GMing

John Rogers, who has done both, talks to Rob Wieland about dungeons, dragons, thieves, Librarians and relationship charts.

(Obviously producing TV shows is not a hobby for him, but RPGs are a hobby that goes with it.)

And through a link when Rob posted this on, a Dark*Matter AP from Mr. Rogers in 2002.

#RPGaDay 2016 26: What hobbies go well with RPGs?

#RPGaDay 2016

26: What hobbies go well with RPGs?

Reading, obviously, because RPGs mostly require a fair bit of recreational reading and often encourage reading setting material and attached fiction as well as rules sections.

Everything else that we often see connected to RPGs (other types of games, writing, art, acting, improv, consuming geek media, collecting collectables) is secondary. If I’m playing a board or card game there’s a good chance it means an RPG session fell through at the last minute.

Being able to come up with the right kind of stuff to fill a session on the fly gets easier with familiarity, and some knowledge of the ins and outs of both game and narrative structures helps.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Troublesome Character Types

Okay, answering the last RPGaDay question with three words wasn’t very content-rich. True, and (I think) funny, but I guess I can unpick it a little.

There are certain character types that are red flags for attracting disruptive players. Special Snowflakes for attention hogs, loners for those who want to go off and have solo adventures in the middle of a session, Chaotic Malkavians for those who want to act out when hey get bored, evil characters in basically good parties for those who want to kill other PCs when they get bored. The list goes on.

But none of this is the fault of the character type.

I’ve seen a loner PC whose player actively avoided the entire campaign, and a loner PC whose player came up with reasons to stick around and whose solo activities were kept short and to the point - in the same campaign.

It’s the difference between Wolverine in Wolverine and Wolverine in The X-Men - the archetypal brooding loner PC who cares about the team’s agenda and goals and (some of) its members as well as having personal plot hooks.

Heck, I have a Malkavian in my current Vampire: The Masquerade game, because I knew I could trust the player.

Likewise, I could list good points for characters - fitting the setting, offering some interesting hooks, having a reason to be at the table (even if the game isn’t about a party per se, we’re still gathering at the table) - but they all boil down to things I think a good player will do.

#RPGaDay 2016 25: What makes a good character?

#RPGaDay 2016

25: What makes a good character?

A good player.

(I considered a President Obama GIF but I'm so much more of a Ben.)

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 24: What is the game you are most likely to give to others?

#RPGaDay 2016

24: What is the game you are most likely to give to others?

Adventure! as two people I know who I have given it to as a leaving gift can attest.

I should note that they were already gamers and members of my groups, so this isn’t an introductory gift to potential gamers, in case that was the intent. I dunno what I’d do there.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 23: Worst Luck stories

#RPGaDay 2016

23: Share one of your best “Worst Luck” stories.

Sometimes the 1s just keep coming. I once canned a game for this, as it had no mechanic to buy off the frankly alarming number of botches someone was rolling.

If you can bring it in-game, do so. Which is why an episode of The Watch House that was going to be about something else became about a capricious boggart dropping a luck-stealing curse on the group.

Monday, 22 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 22: "Random" game events

#RPGaDay 2016

22: Supposedly random game events that keep happening?

This could easily become a rant about dice pools giving me Advantage instead of any actual success at what I wanted to do in the FFG Star Wars system. Let’s just say I would like a different result spread.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 21: Funniest misinterpretation of a rule in your group?

#RPGaDay 2016

21: Funniest misinterpretation of a rule in your group?

Going outside RPGs to wargaming, and going back twenty-five years, the first time (possibly the only time) RM played BattleTech and we started to wonder why his lightly armoured Whitworth was shrugging off so much damage. The game uses a standard mech sheet, and the armour and damage tracks are represented by dots. And he was counting the lightly crossed out unarmoured dots rather than the blank armoured ones.

Still, good to learn this all together a year or so before Vampire: The Masquerade came out.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 20: Challenging system?

#RPGaDay 2016

20: Most challenging but rewarding system you have learned?

I don’t really want a system to challenge me. If a system keeps hogging my attention I’m liable to use something less obtrusive instead.

I’ll make an exception for games designed with specific purposes in mind. Leverage maybe? It’s about telling an entertaining crime story rather than simulating crime, so the authorial distance of encouraging players to put their characters in trouble for later payoffs (and getting them out with player narrated Flashbacks) isn’t interfering with regular player to character identification. It’s still more moving parts than many players like to deal with though.

Friday, 19 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 19: Best way to learn a new game?

#RPGaDay 2016

19: Best way to learn a new game?

At the table.

(Obviously depending on the GM and other players teaching it.)

Second best is sitting down and reading the book.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

For that much she better make point five past lightspeed

A 1/72 scale Millennium Falcon model kit? Ooh.

Only $299 and 904 parts.

#RPGaDay 2016 18: What innovation could RPG groups benefit most from?

#RPGaDay 2016

18: What innovation could RPG groups benefit most from?


Perhaps a bit sooner, Apocalypse World style playbooks becoming common tools for partial pregens and starting players to put together a template character quickly based on a couple options every stage.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Firefly: The Animated Trailer

To celebrate 2100 posts (why not) and Can’t Stop The Serenity here on Saturday, Firefly: The Animated Trailer by Stephen Byrne.

Your soul will ache, But it’s a good ache.

#RPGaDay 2016 17: What fictional character would fit best in your group?

#RPGaDay 2016

17: What fictional character would fit best in your group?

Charlie from Supernatural would fit best in all gaming groups worthy of the name.

The question wasn’t who I’d want in my group. She’d still be welcome, but my first pick would be Scheherazade. Now there’s a GM...

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 16: Historical person you'd like in your group?

#RPGaDay 2016

16: Historical person you’d like in your group? What game?

Sir Terry Pratchett sadly now qualifies. Anything he feels like running would be good by me.

Going further back in history to people I haven’t personally met, the Brontë sisters’ fantasy world sounds like it could be fun to play in.

And Peter Cushing would be welcome though he was more into wargames. I’d love to have him in a Doctor Who game...

Monday, 15 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 15: Your best source of inspiration for RPGs?

#RPGaDay 2016

15: Your best source of inspiration for RPGs?

RPG books, I guess. And RPG websites. And regular books. And TV and films. And comics. And sometimes music. And history. And the news.

And the players. Very much the players.

Okay, less generally, I’ll watch and read a lot about the setting (or settings it draws from) while doing other things. I’ll immerse myself in it, rereading specific sourcebooks or watching a particular episode of Buffy or even just listening to the Star Wars theme before heading to a session, to get into the right headspace and get the rhythms of the language. This can result in my talking Buffyspeak for days on end.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 14: Your dream team of people you used to game with?

#RPGaDay 2016

14: Your dream team of people you used to game with?

... would look a lot like the major cast of The Watch House, with some additions from The Door In Time. I have other likely candidates in current games, liable to join future games, and still in the country.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Kenny Baker, best known for performing R2-D2, has died, aged 81. Taking a moment to think of all the performers like him whose work we love and who we so rarely know by name or sight.

Crowdfund Steve D. Do it.

Give Steve D some money, and he will give you games.

#RPGaDay 2016 13: What makes a successful campaign?

#RPGaDay 2016

13: What makes a successful campaign?

The players. Probably the GM. Luck.

Okay, one element you can have some control over - what does and doesn’t go into the campaign. This can include tailoring to the group, who is at the table, but also in-campaign elements like the breadth of the setting, its Weird Level and so on. One of the reasons The Watch House lasted seven seasons (as did Buffy, and five for Angel) is that we could throw crazy high-concept adventures in with little or no warning or excuse. See above re Captain Rugged.

But it was ultimately the players and GM having fun at the table that kept them coming back.

(I’ll take “stating the obvious” for ten points.)

Part of that was the design of the game not to be high-risk in a way that can be stressful to play, with death and serious injury off the table unless the player in question found it interesting - so players could kick back, have their characters make jokes and be awesome in the face of horror, and some could bring the authorial distance and Whedon pain while others elected not to.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Rogue One, trailer two

December Sixteen.

I was already rather keen. I am now X much more rather keen.

#RPGaDay 2016 12: Next game?

#RPGaDay 2016

12: What game is your group most likely to play next? Why?

I have a regular group and a university games society (which contains some regulars who may constitute a group, some of whom are in my current game there).

Group: Dunno really. Hope we find out soon.

Society: Well, as ever I have a bunch of ideas. I’m nearly finished a two-year Vampire: The Masquerade game, which could continue but best to go out on a high. I’d like to get some use out of Leverage, ICONS, Night’s Black Agents, TimeWatch, although the ICONS campaign idea I have is probably the strongest of those... My always-there backup is Buffy. And my most viable idea is probably d6 Star Wars. Maybe classic Rebels, or maybe in the Resistance era. And remember that’s at most three slots, and I don’t want to GM in all of them. (Although the society currently encourages new games and/or re-recruiting every term, so technically it’s nine slots...) So, yeah.

Dunno really. Hope we find out soon.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 11: Which gamer most affected the way you play?

#RPGaDay 2016

11: Which gamer most affected the way you play?

I guess my brother, who did not go on to become a gamer, but despite this GMed my first session. And nearly TPKed the group in a side room encounter. I learned a lot in that one fight.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Monday, 8 August 2016

And this is why I don't use miniatures terrain

I would never be satisfied until it looked like this table setup.

#RPGaDay 2016 8: How I read

#RPGaDay 2016

8: Hardcover, softcover, digital. What is your preference?

Hardcover rulebook and core sourcebooks big enough to require it, softcover for most supplements and trade-size rulebooks, physical copies for initial reading and in the character generation stage and well-tabbed PDFs on my tablet for reference at most sessions.

So, er... yes.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 7: Effects of RPGs

#RPGaDay 2016

7: What aspect of RPGs has had the biggest effect on you?

The other people involved. Second to that would be how much my writing has been seen as a result. (Hello other people who are seeing my writing right now!)

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Dracula Vs. Gen Con

The Dracula Dossier scored big in the ENnies awards, including Product Of The Year.

To celebrate, the add-on book of Dracula adaptation reviews The Thrill Of Dracula features Night’s Black Agents rules for one unusual power.

It’s from Dracula Untold.

Yes, it’s what you think it is.


#RPGaDay 2016 6: Community service

#RPGaDay 2016

6: Most Amazing Thing A Game Group Did For Their Community?

There’s a reason Irish con charity auctions won the Diana Jones award. Auctions, raffles, rerolls, marathons.

Speaking personally, getting two years’ Conpulsion auction proceeds helped a group I suggested gain charity status.

Friday, 5 August 2016

#RPGaDay 2016 5: What story does your group tell about your character?

#RPGaDay 2016

5: What story does your group tell about your character?

Flattering answer - the time the starship captain interrupted an invading alien commando’s speech about having blocked all beam weapons by throwing his blaster at his face.

Less flattering answer - the time they spent four months looking for some missing scientists. In my defence, they did find them in the end, and the bad guys had been moving them...

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Promethean: The Created Second Edition

Promethean: The Created Second Edition is out in preview PDF, with physical books to follow.