Sunday, 31 July 2016

#RPGaDAY 2016

With David Chapman busy, he has handed the #RPGaDAY August blog challenge to RPGBrigade.

Tomorrow... it begins.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Vampires in cars

Reasons for vampires to travel by road instead of rail or air. Starting with the ability to control when they start and stop so they don’t get caught in daylight, and proceeding to other reasons why a road trip would be a good adventure hook.

And yes, there are vampires who always stay on the road...

Friday, 29 July 2016

Prince Valiant

A new edition of the Prince Valiant storytelling RPG, an early dice pool system, is Kicking now.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

How to follow a conclusive ending

Jason Bourne was... okay.

Kinda like The Bourne Supremacy in spending about as much time dealing with the conclusive ending of the previous film (not counting The Bourne Legacy) and going “hey, there’s another secret layer to deal with...”

And while the stunts were great, none of them were up to the “did you just see that?!” effect of Bourne jumping off a roof in through a window and the camera following him from The Bourne Ultimatum.

There’s also a whole lot of computer tracking sequences, as this Sight & Sound review notes.

Eh, well.

So how does it follow that ending?

Slightly different Ghostbusters 2016 stats.

Fake TSR has 2016 Ghostbusters stats which are in the ballpark of mine.


Vampire introductions

Want a whole lot of Vampire: The Masquerade on PDF? White Wolf teams up with Humble Bundle for a heck of a bargain for Revised core and sourcebooks, and you can decide how much goes to WW and how much goes to charity.

And DriveThruRPG has a major sale for V20 and several of its sourcebooks as well.

And a video of an introductory adventure run by Jason Carl too. Which naturally includes some hilarious disastrous plans. I particularly like that the players went with pretty normal starting characters rather than exemplary ones.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Small Car Wars

When I joked about made-up names for cars sounding like Star Wars characters, I hadn’t heard of the Daewoo (Agent) Kalos.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Chasing The Infinite Sky

A Star Trek fan film showing off effects in the Kelvin Timeline style, beautifully done (except for, as the description acknowledges, the spellchecking, and some rather quiet voice work). No big action, just a reminder of how big space gets.

Thanks to Geek Chocolate for the link.

The Musketeers

The BBC One Saturday evening Doctor Who slot version of The Musketeers has likeable leads, good production design apart from all-over-the-place historical costuming, a nice line in episodic and serial storytelling, fun fight choreography and actually has musketeers shooting as well as sword-fighting.

Tempted to make a Warhammer fake trailer just because the season three Busey, Grimaud, would be a great footage source because he looks so WFRP. (Now where to find a Troll Slayer... is Dain from The Battle Of The Five Armies too obvious?)

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Star Trek Discovery

Star Trek Discovery, coming in 2017.

Like the name although I also liked the definitive lack of subtitle beforehand, like the choice of an unused Ralph McQuarrie design from before The Motion Picture... I guess the animation is a work in progress example.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Blair Witch

On my first night on the internet, I went to Blair Witch dot com. So if this is my last night on the internet, this is why...

Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) could really deliver the goods in the woods.

The mythology of the Witch herself is quite simple, with some suitably grisly minor details. It was expanded in a mockumentary about the mockumentary, a book, comics, an action figure of the unseen monster, a sequel and, yes, games!

Had the original film not become a subgenre-codifying breakout hit, it would have made the perfect “handout” for a horror RPG.

It was also, on one level, a LARP...

Friday, 22 July 2016

Star Trek Beyond

As someone who pretty much loved the first one and liked Into Darkness apart from the Khan fakeout and references, I liked Star Trek Beyond about as much as the 2/3 of Into Darkness I liked. Lots of fun asides and a few things fans have commented on for years being shown on screen. Yorktown looked great, and reminded me of Tomorrowland (art director Don Macauley worked on both). Krall’s argument against the Federation ultimately isn’t very strong, but it’s a different and interesting villainous motivation.

A fair amount of laughs at the showing I attended, applause just for the dedication at the end.

One point I’ll highlight is the relatively small number of “redshirt” type deaths. Since the entire crew is in jeopardy care is taken to make some of them distinctive, so the viewer can track who’s who and who’s in danger when, even among the non-speaking extras. Having distinct visuals really helps to keep a large group of NPCs sorted.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Star Trek Adventures

A new Star Trek RPG from Modiphius, using their in-house “2d20” system.

Supporting the original universe with TNG as the baseline for the rulebook. (The announcement art has a TOS crew under attack from a bat’leth wielding Klingon just to confuse things.)

You can download quickstarts of the Conan and Infinity versions of the system in advance of the rulebooks’ delayed release. Both were Kickstarter funded, Star Trek Adventures will not be, which may help avoid delays.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Frontier: "Like Star Trek but super depressing!"

Jonathan Hickman may be exaggerating somewhat, but the premise of his new SF comic Frontier has potential to be an intriguing space opera about humanity’s undesirables as convict solders for a Utopian intergalactic federation at war.

The Alien Legion idea is a point of Matthew Knighton’s Distant Stars universe, so I know it can be an interesting source of character conflicts and quirks.

Turkish Star Trek

Turkish Star Wars is much better known, perhaps because Turkish Star Trek is less terrible. One guy with pointy ears, some jumpers, a spaceship bridge set and some wobbly transporter effects are more achievable on no budget to speak of.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Star Wars news

Also this week was Star Wars Celebration Europe, which was bigger and madder than ever with a new film on the way this year, another Episode already filming, an ongoing animated series and another coming, and the general revitalising of a universe.

More footage for Rogue One, the story of the Rebel spies mentioned in that first opening crawl, which looks enormously exciting if you’re me.

Grand Admiral Thrawn on Rebels. I must admit I’m not a huge fan, mostly because I want my Star Wars aliens to be weirder-looking, and the anti-Force pet thing...

I remain uncertain of the young Han Solo movie.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Ghostbusters Adventures I Have Run

I ran Ghostbusters about as soon as it came out back in the day, and have gotten some mileage from it in the decades since. Among other things I’ve run the adventures and several of the well-developed plot hooks in the Operations Manual, most of the separately published adventures, and also...

Sleigh Wars, adapting the White Dwarf freebie board game with the PCs teaming up with Santa to oppose his commercialised evil twin. I think this session was sometime near Christmas...

A reporter rides along with the team, and naturally this goes badly. Based on an episode of Sledge Hammer! because always steal well.

Had it gone on longer, I might have grabbed one of the several unmade Ghostbusters III storylines...

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Ghostbusters Miniatures

I may have bought the Paranormal Exterminators from Crooked Dice. Ahem. I should paint them up and put them next to my converted toy car and The Real Ghostbusters Mr. Stay-Puft from back in the day.

Fingers crossed for versions of the 2016 team, other than the chibi plastic Ecto Mini versions...

This beautiful firehouse diorama makes me do the grabby hands thing.

These miniatures, also rather yes.

Ghosts and assorted monsters are plentiful, of course. Plastic miniatures allow translucent ghoulies in various shades, as seen in the official board game - and indeed in The Real Ghostbusters action figures back in the day! Cops, SWAT, cultists, panicked crowds and the like are available as well.

And yes, I have also considered prop building. A PKE Meter never quite came together twenty-five years ago... The clunky DIY style lends itself to this, of course.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Ghostbusters System Options

So what systems could you use for a Ghostbusters game?

Ghostbusters. Well, obviously. Very very out of print, but findable online and new cards and dice available quasi-legally from The Nerdy Show. A classic design that fed into the d6 System, WEG Star Wars, Shadowrun and World Of Darkness. It also contains the only encumbrance rules I have ever successfully used. I like this so much I ran it a lot in high school and last ran it less than a year ago for a group of players who are all younger than it.

It ran with the franchise concept, while also statting out the movie characters as slightly better than starting PCs rather than wildly beyond anything a player could ever hope to get the XP for.

The adventures tended to load jokes into the premise, scenes and NPCs because that’s the only way to ensure amusement at the table, while the film itself got most of its humour from a cast of comedians bumbling into a Call Of Cthulhu adventure. They also had alien invasions in two out of three adventure supplements, which was perhaps too many...

Ghostbusters International. Having produced an elegant rules-light classic, WEG took the second edition in a more traditional RPG direction. Still, the adventures are generally pretty good.

TOON: Witchdusters in Son Of Toon - I ran this on and off for the same high school group as my actual Ghostbusters game, as an outlet for slightly too silly ideas.

InSpectres. “Fighting the forces of darkness so you don’t have to.” A light indie game about a not entirely competent paranormal investigation service, which nearly got its own spinoff film. The reality TV style confessions to camera allow players to frame flashbacks as well as make rambling jokes and blame other PCs for property damage.

Orpheus. A World Of Darkness spinoff game of a ghost hunting and astral projection firm which gets smashed to bits in the adventure series. Plays the premise straight and scary - “James Cameron’s Ghostbusters.”

Hacks! Cinematic Unisystem is a solid choice - looks like David Goodner’s version has fallen off his site but is backed up here in PDF. Cortex Plus has a nice one from Rose Bailey. And since Linneman posted in the comments here, a Black Hack hack.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Ghostbusters Expanded Universes

Ghostbusters is getting to be like Marvel in its number of disconnected spinoffs and expanded universes...

It started almost right away with The Real Ghostbusters (so called due to an oversight when licensing the name from the 70s TV show meant the licence holders could rush out a new cartoon version) with blonde Egon and redhead Ray for ease of telling them apart (and less-Murray-ish Venkman and clean-shaven Winston and Cindi Lauper Janine for kid-friendly youthfulness). It got the toys and most of the spinoffs like comics initially, including the first comics for the entire run published by Marvel UK. This ran with the basic case-of-the-week premise, which then got stepped on by Ghostbusters II.

Extreme Ghostbusters was a next generation for Real, and one of its members (Kylie) was brought into the IDW Comics version of the main universe, which after some initial miniseries got a consistent style - which is cartoony, but not the same way the cartoons are - and they also did Real Ghostbusters comics, and they’ve done a crossover story.

The recent big Kickstarted board/miniatures game uses the IDW style. (If you want non-cartoony miniatures of the main characters you have to go unofficial with companies like Crooked Dice making them...)

Ghostbusters: The Video Game is far from the first Ghostbusters computer game (I fondly remember spending about twenty minutes beating the ZX Spectrum version after getting the invisible supercar cheat) but gets that definitive title by having the team do voice work, CG likenesses, and a chunk of the script. It’s essentially the unmade Ghostbusters III happening in front of a FPS. It sets up a universe where the Ghostbusters are still working fairly consistently, which the IDW comics fit into (even giving a guest shot for the player rookie).

There was also a novel set a couple years after GB2, intended to start a series, with Venkman running for mayor.

The franchise idea jumped on by the RPG has never gotten a major outing, though it’s common among fan films and the like. (DIY Ghostbusters are also popular with cosplayers who don’t happen to look like the actors, which can be a great source of pictures for RPG characters. I suspect this guy is an intern.) It would seem like a good setup for a TV series, considering what you can do with special effects these days...

Monday, 11 July 2016

Ghostbusters: Answer The Call

The new Ghostbusters is a decent remake with a lot of gags (some of which hit, some don’t) and nice effects (and a nice trick with the effects that I won’t spoil) and creepier ghosts on average and so many callbacks. I’d say it fixes one of my major problems with the original, while having a few of its own.

I liked it more than Ghostbusters II, anyway.

And as a gamer who ran the original game when it came out and would still run it now, is it gameable? Pretty much, but not the same way. I’ll put why after a cut.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Paging Dr. Strange

How do you deal with a big universe with established NPC experts the PCs could call in? Ultimately, the question is how much the players do it, and how the players and GM portray it.

My primary solution as stated there: the book’s creative team (in this case the players and GM) just has to make sure the lead characters have something important to do in the solution Dr. Strange brings up, and something that will require them to think creatively rather than just do what he says.

Another case where I’ve seen this is a game with the PCs having access to a large store of information when they have to check something odd. See Star Trek with a really big exploration ship - “Do we have a PhD level botanist on board?” Sure, this means that they could duck around any obscure skill roll by using their communicators... but it sometimes means having the ship’s PhD level botanist kidnapped by Klingons while collecting leaf samples.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Friday, 8 July 2016

Evil Dead 2: The Official Board Game


Hate the player, not the game

Martin Shkreli, noted heel, is apparently looking to build a rare Magic: The Gathering card collection. And yes, he wants the Black Lotus, the super-rare OOP card. This makes at least as good a Leverage plot hook as the story about the Wu-Tang Clan seeking to steal back the exclusive $2,000,000 album he bought.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Steven D. Russell

I was sorry to read about the death or Steven D. Russell of Rite Publishing. My sympathies to family and friends, colleagues and readers. His sister has set up a memorial fund.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

2016 ENnie nominations

2016 ENnie award nominations include The Dracula Dossier and its supplements in several categories, Chill, Storium and Tabletop Audio among other things I yay for.

Sunday, 3 July 2016


I would have posted about this last Friday, but my country imploded, so anyway.

Holidays, showing at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, is a portmanteau of (mostly comedy) horror stories about specific holidays. Some like Valentine’s Day relate pretty heavily, others like Halloween (by Kevin Smith, who also introduced the film) are tangential.

Could have probably done with only having one monster pregnancy story.

The really-not-comedy one of the group is Father’s Day, a creepy premise followed by a super-creepy journey through an abandoned town.

Are any of them particularly gameable? Hmm, not really. Father’s Day opens with a very personal mystery that could have been sustained further. The Christmas story with the year’s must-have toy being a VR device that can show you memories - and show them to other people as well - could be too.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Cut To The Quick

A week on from Highlander for my birthday, I tried to look up what the internet knows about Highlander 2: Yellowknife, the sequel we apparently could have had instead of, well, y’know.

Or not. The internet knows nothing.

Considering how much we know about the long and storied road to Alien³, this is rather surprising.

There’s a fifty-minute documentary about the disastrous making of the film we got, so is it mentioned there? Nope.

Am I simply misremembering film news from twenty-five years ago? But it’s not the kind of title I’d come up with...

(In related news, the hole in the ozone layer is now getting smaller.)

Friday, 1 July 2016

Space dogfighting

Okay, there seems to be some space dogfighting miniatures interest in the air...

Shattered Void is on Kickstarter, a new classic BSG style setup, with free rules. Four years in the making and playtesting, so coming to market with a strong pedigree.

GW have stepped in as well, with Stormcloud Attack, a 40K dogfighting game that comes with 28mm scale ships in packs of two - at sixty quid per pack, you had better like both models.