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.