Monday, 20 November 2017

Cyberpunk 2077

They nudged the timeline forward just a bit for the new CRPG in the Cyberpunk setting.

Understandable as we blew past the original twenty-five-years-ahead date 2013 four years ago and are more than halfway to the 2020 update, and I still don’t have those new polycarbon knees I’ve been hoping for.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Incredibles 2 teaser

The Incredibles 2 teaser

The Incredibles is the best Fantastic Four movie ever made. Disney own both The Incredibles and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel are having trouble getting the Fantastic Four film rights back.

Now, we would need to recast Frozone...

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The Thing

There are now tabletop games based on The Thing (From Another World) and its source novella as well as others showing its influence rather clearly.

It’s a natural fit for “traitor” style mostly-cooperative games with its smallish isolated cast and clear stakes - and the option to infect more people as it goes along.

For the same reasons it could make a good basis for a one-shot RPG session. Handing over notes, and maybe texts and so on to keep them even more hidden, tends to encourage suspicion and paranoia even when there isn’t a murderous doppelganger in the area.

(Also, what is up with Copper’s nose ring?)

If you wanted more than a one-shot, look at the prequel which both sets up the Norwegian base and basically functions as a different playthrough of the same adventure, or the comics, or the sequel the then SciFi Channel tried to make in 2005, which is... interesting. (The scene where they use electric shocks to make a captured Thing revert to previous forms, all the way back to a “dark whirlpool of seething flesh and blood”, does kinda work. And... wow, the theme from Aliens is way more, ah, referential than I knew.) Or to series like Helix where the danger spreads more slowly and the moral question of whether victims can be helped arises.

But ultimately I think sustaining the fear and distrust would be a tall order, and it makes a better one-shot.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. In Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace

Looks like fun. I would say the overall Weird Level has definitely gone up a little, even after the Ghost Rider and Killer Androids and VR Hydra World season four. The big grumpy Kree aren’t the only bit giving it a Guardians Of The Galaxy vibe.

(Also, one of the guest stars in the episode of The Inhumans it plays over the credits for is called Wolf Lee Counsel. I just thought I’d mention that because that’s fantastic.)

Friday, 10 November 2017

Hope. Sacrifice. Unity.

Today is the 20th anniversary of the original Trinity Universe. Nearly ready to Kickstart the Continuum. In the meantime, that preview.

Some time soon in a galaxy far, far away...

And while I was out, Disney announced SO MUCH STAR WARS. Rian Johnson spearheading a new trilogy unconnected from anything filmed before, and a live-action TV series on their streaming service launching in 2019. (As well as one from Marvel, among other things like a Monsters Inc. series.)

Thursday, 9 November 2017


Just back from a 30th anniversary screening of Predator, and the only things that really date it some wobbly animation and some very 80s civilian clothes, but mostly some coarse language and tree-smashing explosions they probably wouldn’t get away with today.

And the plot is timeless as well - The Most Dangerous Game with an unknown opponent.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Dark Universe Goes Dark

In not a huge surprise, the Universal monster Dark Universe is on pause with its executive producers off doing other things like Star Trek: Discovery and The Fast And The Furious. A shame, as the slate includes (included?) a new version of The Bride Of Frankenstein to be directed by Bill Condon. I also found the swimming Templar zombies in The Mummy great fun. Maybe we’ll see the sketched out plans for less blockbuster-necessary films from Blumhouse move forward anyway?

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The "Kids On Bikes" genre

An RPG just called Kids On Bikes is on its way, so yes, it’s definitely a genre now. It was around in the actual 1980s, but Stranger Things really codified it as a specific subgenre, with the new film of IT being proof of concept.

If I were to run an 80s game, quite possibly for players born after 1989, it might reflect my experiences as a middle-class geeky horror/fantasy kid in Britain, as well as my year (1982-3) in small town USA so getting to see some of this stuff up close.

I’d also have to come up with a more realistic monster than Mrs. Thatcher.

Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, novelist

Congratulations to Gar on his book deal!

The Black Ops Gig Economoy

An thread on Shadowrun and other mercenary-centric RPGs having other teams out there, featuring posts by SR writer Wakshaani on how this affects the patron economy among other things.

Monday, 6 November 2017

15 monsters without movies

Via Cracked podcast.

Except one (the Monkey Man of Delhi) apparently has, a Bollywood romcom.

Mostly ghosts, including the Washington D.C. prophetic ghost cat and hauntings in the White House, and the Japanese ghost that haunts the end stall of toilets.

But also the Bonnacon, the killer poop cow.

And the Winchester Mystery House. Which as they note is being done, with Dame Helen Mirren.

Also, one possible film suggested is “like The Hangover meets Dracula.”

Something about this route map...

Roman roads of Britain in the style of a subway map. The perfect thing to sneak into a parallel universe game to see who notices.

GMing update

I will probably switch to a different game on Sunday evening after Christmas.

So I may have just set Elysium on fire and started an anarch revolt in V20.

Well, it was the fifth of November.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The Great Pyramid Void

So, news from the Great Pyramid reveals a secret chamber... which Assassin’s Creed Origins already had.

Friday, 3 November 2017

The Art Of Assassin's Creed Origins

Probably spoilers:

Personal Shopper

Personal Shopper is a film of two halves. One is about a personal shopper who envies her employer and feels her life is in a rut until she starts receiving mysterious texts. The other is about a medium trying to contact the ghost of her twin brother. They’re both the same character. However, the two stories really only brush past each other. The first part, which gets the title, is actually the second strand to come in and the first to resolve, feeling a bit underdeveloped, a mystery with one suspect. The second feels more involving, a low-key ghost story about loss and what it can make you do.

It works as a character study of someone waiting for something more, though.

And, since you’re here on my blog where I tend to talk about horror and modern fantasy...

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Street Fighter RPG

A look back at one of White Wolf’s odder moments. The move-based combat at its heart was a good idea, and the undeveloped setting let them run with it. I also recall the article in White Wolf Magazine that addressed questions of the What The Hell? variety.

It’s a shame that, like so many licensed games, it may never be seen again after the licence ends.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

CR's Vampire two-shot

Critical Role: Thursday By Night ends with, among other things, non-vampire cosplay with fangs. Including a $14 Pac-Man costume.

Part One and a quick look at the rules.

“We go with the segues we have.”

Happy Hallowe'en!

Happy Hallowe’en! Be scareful out there.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Seasonal Planning: Not The Best

Halloween Night will probably not be out much earlier than, well, Hallowe’en Night. Still not bad for five weeks from “hey I should do this,” but yeah, starting the Christmas article ASAP.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Ragtag: Another lost Star Wars video game

An Uncharted-style game with a Han Solo type instead of an Indiana Jones type? Dang. That sounds like it would have been fun.

The article is long and thorough, and worth checking for the front page concept art of the crew alone. (Is that Doctor Aphra next to the very Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo main character? And the giant naked mole rat guy in the back...)

Friday, 27 October 2017

Home Droiding Is Killing Music

Another Taylor Swift video, another genre setting hook. A very Ghost In The Shell cyberpunk future, with a revolutionary imprisoning one of her artificial copies... or is she?

While it has a lower overall Weird Level than the last one, this one has loads of cool-looking robot heads or helmets to borrow for an SF game.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Unexpected Hallowe'en Episodes

Hallowe’en is nearly upon us, and as I’m playing a Star Trek Adventures game at the moment I was reminded of Robert Bloch’s Catspaw, apparently the only time a Star Trek show ran a specific episode to suit its seasonal airtime, moving it out of its original schedule order to do so. You can see why - it’s full of witches, curses, fog, castles, plastic skeletons and a very unfriendly black cat.

“There is a curse on your ship! Leave this place... or you will all... die!

(The season one and three episodes originally broadcast nearest Hallowe’en were Miri and Spectre Of The Gun, both of which were creepy in their own ways with the rapid ageing and the rotting diseases and the surrealist Westerns and the floating brains with glowing eyes, but that’s just original Star Trek for you.)

Catspaw provides a functional Sufficiently Advanced SF explanation for its tropes, with racial memory as the source of imagery, but it’s basically magic. It’s hardly the only episode like that, though.

“Dust, cobwebs - Hallowe’en is right.”

Hallowe’en episodes, like Christmas episodes, often bend the reality and raise the Weird Level of otherwise mundane shows, or drop some horror or fantasy into SF and other genres. All involved just have to agree not to make a big thing of it when things go back to normal next week.

Are you planning a Hallowe’en special this weekend?

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

I think the Thor movies have shifted genre most of any of the MCU series. The first was a sweet little romance and a family drama with added town-smashing. The second was a universe-threatening Doctor Who story, a more conventional superhero kind of thing in many ways. The third is a day-glo sci-fi comedy. The first two had jokes, but this is pretty much all jokes. (Bringing back the theme from the more emotive original Thor at the end felt off to me as a result, a reminder of how different this is.)

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

This just in: I'm kind of a nerd

I may have, er, ever so slightly won the Cameo Film Quiz by myself.

Well, it was the Scary Movies special.

Quizmaster the Red Death was among those to congratulate me, having spotted I was in with a shot with a couple rounds to go. I did lose two of my three lost points out of forty-six in the last round, in fact. (The other dropped point was estimating the number of victims of the Salem witch trials too high. :/) See if you can get the missing words...

One-Shot Of Darkness

Justin Achilli on World Of Darkness one-shots.

I’ve always had a problem with Vampire-related one-shots for (potential) players who don’t know the setting, as it’s pretty complicated. How much to introduce?

Monday, 23 October 2017

TWH Ego Boost!

An birthday request for gonzo gaming weirdness led me to repost The Fourth Wall, and lots of people said nice things about TWH as a result. Which is lovely.

Halloween Night cut content

1: A chunk of the piece about Clan Toreador hosting Grand Balls, because they’re held at Halloween but they aren’t really Halloween-y. There’s still a biggish bit in there, but broadened out to vampires in general holding Halloween parties away from mortal eyes.

2: This quote.
In our town, Halloween was terrifying and thrilling, and there was a whiff of homicide. We’d travel by foot in the dark for miles, collecting candy, watching out for adults who seemed too eager to give us treats.
Rosecrans Baldwin

Sunday, 22 October 2017

In The Bleak Midwinter

Halloween Night V20 book(let) largely done. On to Christmas!

Title pending, as it will also cover the Winter Solstice. My first thought was Red Christmas but apparently a film called that came out last year.

This will probably be it for this series. Valentine’s or Walpurgisnacht would be pushing it...

Saturday, 21 October 2017


Gunpowder follows Taboo in bringing period drama with added grime and murder (and Mark Gatiss!) to BBC1 on Saturdays just after the watershed. It’s the Gunpowder Plot, with Kit Harington as Robert Catesby - one of his ancestors, and the source of his middle name! - and the less central but much more famous Guy Fawkes appearing just at the end of the first episode, Tom Cullen playing him a big scary skinhead. The first episode also includes a death by pressing and a hanging, drawing and quartering to establish the stakes for the Catholic revolutionaries.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Noggin The Nog Miniatures

Such times we live in!

Thanks to Tim Knight for this rather surprising news.

Critical Role's VtM one-shot

Thursday By Night

Which may actually be a two-shot, but never mind.

Part Two

It uses an adapted ruleset, featuring Hunger Dice from the V5 playtests.

It was funny, lighthearted and very meta, but had some interesting and creepy post-human monsters, though the overall Weird Level was approaching Over The Edge. It certainly wasn’t close to a typical Vampire: The Masquerade session in my experience. (For something like that, check out Jason Carl’s demo.) They’d probably go less wild in a longer game, judging by how Vox Machina played out.

Need a new TIE Fighter?

Audi designer Jason Battersby presents the TIE-X.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Bitter Root

Harlem Renaissance monster hunters. In.

Cavaliers Of Mars Day

Today marks the successful completion of the Cavaliers Of Mars Kickstarter, on the sixth anniversary of the original plan to publish it via what would become Onyx Path. Let us commemorate it thus!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Buffy idea of the week

Since the spell to empower slayers has gone from “last performed in the ancient times” to “used and improved on a few years ago” there must be a pretty decent market in bootleg slayer spells.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Calm Before The Storm

I pretty much missed the red sky caused by Hurricane Ophelia yesterday, but I did get to experience the calm before the storm, the stillness and slight breeze and drizzle coupled with the nervous sense that it might become so much more. In the end we got off lightly, but the wait and then the winds around the house all night were unnerving.

(I’m fine, by the way.)

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Unquenchable Thirst Of Dracula

The Unquenchable Thirst Of Dracula is, remarkably, not the maddest title that this unmade Hammer film could have had - Kali, Devil Bride Of Dracula wins, besting the working title Dracula, High Priest Of The Vampires.

It’s previously been adapted as a play, and now Mark Gatiss has adapted it for radio, keeping much of the staging as narration, to air around Halloween of course.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Star Wars: Screaming Citadel

Star Wars: Screaming Citadel (two issues of the current main comic, two of Doctor Aphra and an introductory issue) is a good example of adapting a story into a new setting. It introduces a new planet which, like most Star Wars planets, is based around a specific environment. This one is basically Planet Vampire Movie.

The planet and threat are new but it’s not entirely standalone, even beyond featuring Aphra and her gang (including the Evil Droids) as it involves a couple of other Star Wars comic characters and their interrelationships.

Friday, 13 October 2017

D&D class and species frequency

An extensive survey of data from D&D Beyond has revealed that the most common D&D character type is... the Human Fighter.

As someone who has played human fighters in three of the last four D&D games (and a fighter of another species in the fourth for setting reasons) I’m not hugely surprised, as it’s the combination that requires the least amount of rules knowledge. Stats, skills, weapon damage, a couple Feats, good to go.

Thanks to Steve Dee and Shawn Gaston for the link.

Friday The 13th vs October The 31st

Besides having a better film, Halloween is also easier to plan for than Friday The 13th.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Tradition isn't always traditional

Working on Halloween Night for the Storytellers Vault has reminded me that when I was a kid we had turnip lanterns instead of pumpkins. I can entirely understand why we adopted the American development here, because pumpkins are big and carving-friendly and turnips are too small for anything bigger than a tea light and slightly easier to carve than oak.


Similarly, NFL player Colin Kaepernick, and many others, kneeling during the American National Anthem is supposedly attacking a tradition... but they’ve only played it before NFL games since 2009.

I rarely see this kind of detail in worldbuilding. My favourite example (forgive me if you’ve heard it before) is in one of the Trinity setting/Order books where it’s established that mood-sensing jewelry which really works exists... and has been out of fashion for a few years.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Angels, Demons, Joan of Arc...

... all featuring in Time Of Legends, a miniatures board game currently Kickstarting...

And I suppose the Joan miniature having long hair is a minor point to get hung up on but there it is.

Borrowing a monster from reality

Also at the Zoo: Cassowaries, people-sized flightless birds with gigantic claws and horn-like stabby things sticking out of their foreheads. The Cassowary in the Zoo has a nasty uneven cracked edge which makes it look even more dangerous.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Zoo

We went to Edinburgh Zoo today. It’s great. Pandas! Red Pandas! Otters! Sun Bears! Rhinos! Penguins! Things I’ve never heard of!

As a variation on the park or amusement park with the addition of various dangerous animals, zoos often appear in games as a horror setting.

Zoological societies also do a lot of good nowadays, preserving endangered species and protecting habitats, and PCs could go adventuring for specimens.

And yes I want a Red Panda as my animal companion.

It would be a bit of a commute to play this...

Justin Achilli is running a pre-Halloween World of Darkness oneshot:

Chicago, 1896 — three years after the World's Columbian Exposition. Three short years ago, the world marveled at the wonders of science, industry, and architecture on display at the expo. The now-abandoned fairgrounds of the grand exhibition harbor a darker side: The remains of the expo have become a stalking ground for a more insidious and decidedly less human horror — albeit one that poses no less a threat to the world of mortals. Into these long shadows steps a team of investigators, their fate as yet unknown....

Monday, 9 October 2017

The Last Jedi, the last trailer

This is not going to go the way you think.

Director Rian Johnson acknowledges that it’s somewhat spoilery but notes on Twitter that he didn’t blanket suggest not watching it. “I am legitimately torn. If you want to come in clean, absolutely avoid it. But it’s gooooood.....”


Northstar Military Figures have been previewing plastic trad/Tolkienish Dwarves, Elves and Goblins for a few months, and Osprey have now revealed they’re to go with a new mass battle game called Oathmark: Battles Of The Lost Age.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Small V20 update

One thing I’ve included in my Vampire: The Masquerade game is a representative of the Church of Caine. I’ve gone creepy rather than satirical.

I’m sure you can trust her.

(Photo credit: Sleep by Babak Fatholahi)

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Every game day is Hallowe'en

Three weeks to Hallowe’en one-shots. Not sure if I can actually make it. Still, running two games with Vampire in the title anyway so I could say I’ve done my bit.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Mirror, Mirror

Today is the 50th anniversary of Mirror, Mirror, the second season episode of Star Trek that became the archetype for evil parallel universes - goatees optional. Hands up who’s done one of those.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is beautiful, chilly and kind of long. Director Denis Villeneuve’s previous film Arrival may be a better barometer of expectations than the original Blade Runner.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Star Trek Adventures Quickstart

A free quickstart and introductory adventure (Modiphius / DriveThru) for Star Trek Adventures. 6.7 MB, 33 pages including advertising, 7 page adventure and 6 pregens.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Puerto Rico relief bundle

Almost $500 of PDFs for $25, for a good cause. Includes the new Delta Green and the original Trinity rulebook.

Need some horror movies? Ask Stephen King.

Stephen King suggests films from the BFI archive. All in the horror area - apart from his continuing enthusiasm for William Friedkin’s suspense adventure Sorcerer, as mentioned back in 1981 in Danse Macabre. I really should get round to watching it sometime.

Thanks to CA Suleiman for the link.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

October plans

V20 begins tonight. More Buffy on Wednesday. Playing Star Trek this afternoon, although that’s less seasonal. (Although it did have Hallowe’en specials!) And possibly a circa-Hallowe’en one-shots event at GEAS too. If nothing else I’ll take the clingfilm off my copy of Betrayal At House On The Hill.

And prepping Hallowe’en Night for V20, essays and adventure hooks for what the Damned get up to for the holiday. Coming soon to the Storytellers Vault. If it ends up long enough and I can figure out the layout template.

Also, 31 Days of Horror on Twitter.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Lazarus, Ringworld and Snow Crash on TV

Amazon have announced TV series adapting Greg Rucka’s Lazarus comic series, Larry Niven’s Ringworld books and Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash.

Joe Cornish (Attack The Block) has been working on Snow Crash for quite a while now, and it sounds like Rucka will have a hand in adapting Lazarus himself.

Lazarus has an RPG on the way using the AGE system. Ringworld had an RPG in the 80s that I’ve never seen, but it has a Ralph McQuarrie cover which therefore makes it awesome at least that far.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Captain Scarlet

Also starting fifty years ago, Captain Scarlet, the Gerry Anderson series with more realistic puppets, a creepy voice as the villain, an all-female fighter squadron, and the false tension of ongoing threats in a kid-friendly weekly show addressed by having an indestructible hero.

The Prisoner

The Prisoner was first broadcast fifty years ago today. A comment on privacy, the surveillance state, the espionage genre and the Swinging Sixties. The ideas it contains have also been explored in novels, comics, unpublished comics by Jack Kirby(!), a reboot series, now a new run of audio plays from Big Finish... and a fairly strange choice for a GURPS sourcebook.

Thursday, 28 September 2017


As part of a spooky games series in the runup to Halloween, io9 looks at Mysterium, a board game in which most of the players try to help a ghost, and one player plays the ghost... who can’t tell them what it needs, except through cards depicting largely surreal or abstract visions. So it’s kind of like Cluedo as you try to solve a mystery, except one player knows the secret and has to play Pictionary. In a haunted house. That’s a pretty interesting twist on the cooperative board game.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Buffy 2017 session 1

Spilled cola on my rulebook. Not too badly, but still, off to buy a new one. (Esdevium still has some, so Black Lion has one.)

New player brought a second new player, and the two previous Hero players both switched to White Hats. This got rid of a rules headache (Sorcery) so that was a plus...

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery is go, after various delays meaning it missed the 50th anniversary of the original series, and then missed the 51st by a couple weeks (let’s say it hit just before the 30th anniversary of The Next Generation to make it feel better) - and...

Since it’s creeping around the world on Netflix (except in the US and Canada) I’ll try not to spoil things.

It’s very much modern TV, much more than a traditional Star Trek revival could have been. It’s much more serialised than episodic, and decidedly character-centric. It might have planet-of-the-week episodes later on, but from the start it’s defined by Burnham’s actions and responses.

It looks great, naturally. Continuity is trumped by modernity, but it wasn’t going to go retro, not even as retro as the Kelvin timeline films. (It most closely matches the Kelvin itself, actually, especially with command in blue uniforms.) It’s a prequel for plot reasons.

The Da Vinci illustration style titles are an interesting choice, and keep the recurring JJ Abrams image of the ship as tiny in the vastness of space. It also includes Burnham, emphasising the character focus.

It took me a while to figure out what the middle bit of the theme reminds me of - Hoist The Colors from Pirates Of The Caribbean. Which is oddly appropriate for a story about questionable character choices resulting in big special-effects ship battles, I suppose.

More Doug Jones ASAP, please!

Monday, 25 September 2017

V20: The Centre Cannot Hold

V20 but, as last time, borrowing chunks of Requiem second edition like the widened Humanity system and some Touchstones, as well as probably some setting details and a faction or two...

Two new players, three familiar. Hoping for a fourth of the latter next time.

Modern fictional US city. Which I’ll name this time, I guess...

Star Trek Adventures

I got a chance to play the new Star Trek Adventures today and... it seems alright, mostly.

Characters are fairly straightforward - six players with no familiarity got through character generation in under two hours. Customising the ships is a bit simpler, with fewer traits to add.

I like that the PCs are broadly competent. A starting PC will have a minimum 8 to roll equal or under on either or both of two d20 (with more difficult rolls requiring multiple successes) and I have 15 in at least one thing I concentrated on.

Between Attributes, Disciplines (skills), skill Focuses, various other abilities as Talents, the group Momentum pool offering extra dice, and the option to assist another PC being taken often which also gives extra dice, there might be a few too many bits and pieces going into a typical roll. (And possibly Values as well, which we didn’t really get into.) Still, too many things contributing to success with the occasional complication is better than feeling inept.

It didn’t feel like it needed miniatures, maps and so on, although admittedly we just played through a hand-to-hand fight (where we fell back and used phasers) then a quick medical investigation, and crossing some vegetation while checking if any of it was dangerous (that one testing the ongoing tasks rules).

This particular game’s set in the post-Dominion War TNG era (which the book design nods towards) rather than classic, Kelvin, some other time, or Discovery.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Destiny 2 art

Like the first in the series, Destiny 2 has some beautiful concept and design art. (Contains spoilers for one of the big early adventures.)

This Jaime Jones piece alone makes me want to run something.

As a comment by wombat23 below says: destiny is the fps set in the world i want to play an rpg in.

The new soundtrack also features, amongst others, the Kronos Quartet.
Happy birthday to my brother, who GMed once and then I had to go for it.

Friday, 22 September 2017


That game that fizzled just before its last session.

That moment you discover your TV archive has five seasons and the show you were rewatching had six.

It’s been that kind of week.

I generally try to bring some degree of closure to fizzling games, but when they fail mid-attempt that doesn’t make it easy.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Game on.

Buffy, three players (with more apparently coming to the society next week) as a demon-haunted immortal, a Watcher footsoldier and... some guy.

Game on...?

It is Wednesday.

I have character sheets.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Cavaliers Of Mars

Cavaliers Of Mars is live (and funded) on Kickstarter! Return now to dying Mars in its last age of glory!

Monday, 18 September 2017

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A plan, of sorts

Okay, new plan.

Go along on Wednesday, maybe play or run something. Possibly Buffy since it can be casual.

Maybe play something Sunday afternoon.

GM something Sunday evening. Leaning towards Vampire (probably Masquerade) since it tends to be heavy. I ran Star Wars in the slot last year and it was alright, but eight or more weeks of action is a but much for me. And Vampire’s been on my mind of late between World Of Darkness Berlin, Storytellers Vault and previews for V5. Sure, it might be smarter to wait for V5 and see if I like the new edition, but have you met me?

The Hood Maker

Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams anthology series starts tonight with an adaptation of The Hood Maker, in which telepaths are now common enough that one just joined the city police, everyone knows what a scan feels like, and someone has worked out a way to block them. It’s a setup that could easily expand to a series itself.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

GEAS 2017 introduction

I think my intro RPG went okay... for the players who could hear it. The not hearing was due to a big fresher turnout, though, so that’s good.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Harry Dean Stanton

Harry Dean Stanton has died. As Roger Ebert put it, “no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad.”

Miss Fisher And The Crypt Of Tears

Every Cloud Productions are Kickstarting the Miss Fisher movie.

2017-18 academic year game plans

Apparently GEAS got 96 signups at the freshers’ activity fair. So getting players this year may not be a problem.

So obviously it’s time to bring out my most unpopular ideas!

Okay, okay, maybe not.

Running D6 Star Wars for the introductory session, and maybe for Sunday evenings this term. Rebellion era, as the Resistance era is still quite sketchy (and likely to become much less so right around the end of term) and your basic daring missions and Stormtrooper-shooting and the like.

Still also considering...

Vampire: The Masquerade, possibly in the 1920s, depending on that other urban fantasy game set in the 1920s.

The Chronicles Of Darkness... based on a classic British comic story... that I’ve never actually read.

ICONS as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

Buffy, maybe reusing Sounds Like Hell after its previous fizzle.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Changeling: The Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition

Changeling 20 is out in PDF and POD!

And for LARPers, a preview of the Mind’s Eye Theatre version of the setting.

Calla Cthulhu

Calla Cthulhu, from Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Erin Humiston, Mario A. González, Bill Mudron and Nate Piekos, is now available in the first physical collection of the series. This preview from the original online launch also features her sidekick Glug in all his eldritch glory.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017


Okay, plan for the new academic year in progress.

Introductory game day: d6 Star Wars.

First campaign slot: Um...

Monday, 11 September 2017


The Cormoran Strike novels continue J.K. Rowling’s preference for baroque names.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Len Wein

Len Wein has died. He was the co-creator of Wolverine, Swamp Thing and much of the second wave of X-Men such as Storm, and editor of Watchmen, and a much-loved member of the comics community.

Stephen King games

Yes, the new film of IT just came out.

There’s never been an official Stephen King setting RPG (or much King-based gaming at all, apart from a computer game of The Running Man film) though The Dark Tower cycle and perhaps The Stand are big enough settings to support them, and his fantasy novels and collaborations like The Talisman and Eyes Of The Dragon would be easy to adapt, even without keeping the connections to the wider King mythos. The TV series Haven and the American Vampire comics could work as well.

Likewise, Salem’s Lot would be a useful example of modernising and localising something like Dracula.

I’ve observed before that Carrie is one real friend away from a superhero origin, and Firestarter basically is one, complete with a recurring secret government program to run from - and there was once a plan for a sequel series with Charlie leading a team of paranormal heroes. The Dead Zone TV series runs with the heroic possibilities of Johnny Smith’s precognition too. You could easily put together a League of Extraordinary King Characters...

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Casting characters

Visuals for NPCs can be helpful. How do you get them?

Seeing another Ridley Scott historical-ish epic, Exodus: Gods And Kings (incredibly, not the whitest Ancient Egypt film of the last three years) reminded me that I never got around to making a trailer for Dark Ages Vampire.

I first made a credit sequence for The Watch House, following other Buffy games that took the rulebooks suggestion to cast the Pcs and NPCs.

I got hung up on including the signature characters, and never got past Eva Green as Lucita. And for more modern signatures, Jamie Foxx as Theo Bell?

It’s easier with your own characters, of course. For my last V20 game I cast just about every NPC, because there would often be lots of them in the same scene and it really helped keeping track. I mostly went for little-known faces (most of them guest stars from Person Of Interest as it has a lot of interesting character actors in dark gloomy places) so the players would more associate the photo with the NPC. But I snuck some more familiar faces in as the most important roles. Art is easier for truly unique visuals, but in this case I wanted the down-to-earth feel that photography provided. The Nosferatu were the hard part, naturally. I grabbed the leader from Blade II, another from Face Off, several from The Walking Dead, one from Left 4 Dead cosplay...

Friday, 8 September 2017

(Mad) Maximillian - Road Warrior 1934!

A new minis game from Australia’s Mana Press and Eureka miniatures - about pulp car warfare! Something I always wanted to do with Adventure! and a bunch of 20s Lledo cars (and of course a model zeppelin) but never got around to...

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

I hope to see Star Wars Episode IX

Star Wars Episode VIII was originally meant to be out this summer, but will now be out in ninety-nine days’ time. Episode IX was due a year and a half later, but may now move, since it needs a new director and probably a new script. (And the Han Solo movie switched director as well.)

Of course, I ran Episode XIX back in the day, but never got to XX or XXI, so I know it can be tricky to complete a trilogy...

Tuesday, 5 September 2017


Today is the 500th anniversary of the incorporation of Candlemakers of Edinburgh, granted their seal of cause on September 5th 1517.

In the real world, guilds were mostly down-to-earth groups like this, rather than the adventurers’ or thieves’ guilds of fantasy. They still had their share of conflict and drama, like any business or union.

Batman: The Animated Series

Today is the 25th anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series. It’s a classic, and a great example of how to adapt a property. What are the classic elements you want to keep, what do you want to modernise, what can you change, what new characters do you introduce?

Monday, 4 September 2017

Rob Wieland on classic Star Wars adventures

Rob Wieland (Camelot Trigger, Shadowrun 2050, V20 Lore Of The Bloodlines, Girls’ Heist Out, the Leverage Sabotage series) has started a series of blog posts on WEG Star Wars adventures, looking at what they include and how they work at the table. He begins with Starfall, the go-to adventure for when PCs get captured by the Empire.

The Queensferry Crossing

Today the Queensferry Crossing opens, fifty-three years to the day after the Forth Road Bridge. The name comes from St. Margaret, a queen, who established a ferry for pilgrims almost a thousand years ago. Which is a great example of deep background in naming.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Burning Man 2017 photos

200-plus photos from Burning Man 2017, with a lot of attractive women in slightly eccentric beachwear, but also a good amount of the post-apocalypse styling, art installations and custom vehicles, and this year the duststorms for added Fury Road effect.

Run-down wizard’s tower
Hanging lanterns

Get enough people in animal masks together and any kind looks sinister.

Tatooine as the second sun sets
Death Road Rider deleted scene

"Consider The Consequences!"

Consider The Consequences! by Doris Webster and Mary Alden Hopkins is a gamebook about realistic choices and their results... from 1930.

Thanks to James Wallis for the link.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Carmilla Movie

October 26th!

And a new trailer!

Period costumes! Waverly from Wynonna Earp! Camera movement! Only one joke in the trailer!

What to GM, 2017 edition

Two weeks before GEAS and... well... um... I have a few game ideas, I guess?

Star Wars, of some ill-defined variety.

I’d like to run Buffy but not right now.

I was considering a 1920s Vampire: The Masquerade, but another GM is planning a 1920s urban fantasy game.

A regular modern version of one of the Vampire games is also an option. Or a Demon. Or something.

Icons maybe...

Friday, 1 September 2017

30 Mage: The Ascension story hooks

30 Mage: The Ascension story hooks from titles by The Birthday Massacre

I decided to try a list of story hooks for Mage: The Ascension as a tribute to Stewart Wieck.

I asked for suggestions online, and Bruce Baugh suggested some options including The Birthday Massacre (which Faye Sutherland seconded). Thanks to all who offered ideas!

To get a suitable number: the album title, the first and last track, and any singles. This gave me thirty titles, including some curve balls for White Wolf references.

I’ve never run a Mage chronicle, so this might be what one I run would look like. I think I came up with some interesting hooks, though maybe a few too many aimed at a single mage rather than a cabal of multiple characters, and quite a few about covering up some mystical event before someone else does. I tried not to lean too heavily on the Technocracy as enemies, so I have quite a few involving rivalries with other cabals.

Harry Potter And The Game of Roleplaying

Today, Albus Severus Potter starts at Hogwart’s School of Wizardry and Witchcraft.

We’ll never see an official Harry Potter RPG (the closest we’re likely to get is the Miniature Game from Knight Models, due, um, sometime) which is a shame because bookish kids willing to learn spell lists in Latin are the ideal target for an intro RPG. But Wizard School is easy enough to do DIY. The tricky part would be emulating the shift from little first year adventures full of jokes to world-shaking battles with high body counts. (J.K. Rowling doesn’t even manage this entirely smoothly, as anyone who stifled a laugh at the tragic end of Deathly Hallows Part One can attest.)

Force Friday II

Force Friday II is upon us at last, when a bunch of Star Wars toys are revealed and/or put on sale in advance of The Last Jedi. Reveals include...

FFG bringing out two-player Destiny with a Last Jedi theme. And a Rogue One themed expansion for Rebellion. I guess with the slightly bigger miniatures game Legion on the way, not much chance of Imperial Assault 28mm figures for any of the new films.

And now for some (slight) spoilers...

Destiny 2

Destiny 2 live-action advert, from the director of Kong: Skull Island, serves as excellent reminder that Destiny is not as serious as it was going to be during most of its production cycle. Which remains kind of a bummer from this outside perspective.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017: the complete series

#RPGaDay 2017

1: What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?
2: What is an RPG you would like to see published?
3: How do you find out about new RPGs?
4: Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?
5: Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?
6: You can game every day for a week. Describe what you’d do!
7: What was your most impactful RPG session?
8: What is a good RPG to play for sessions of two hours or less?
9: What is a good RPG to play for about ten sessions?
10: Where do you go for RPG reviews?
11: Which ‘dead game’ would you like to see reborn?
12: Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?
13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.
14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?
15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?
16: Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?
17: Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?
18: Which RPG have you played the most in your life?
19: Which RPG features the best writing?
20: What is the best source for out of print RPGs?
21: Which RPG does the most with the least words?
22: Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?
23: Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?
24: Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.
25: What is the best way to thank your GM?
26: Which RPG provides the most useful resources?
27: What are your essential tools for good gaming?
28: What film/series is the biggest source of quotes in your group?
29: What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter that you have backed?
30: What is an RPG genre mash-up you would most like to see?
31: What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

#RPGaDay 2016
#RPGaDay 2015
#RPGaDay 2014

#RPGaDay 2017 31: Hopes for 2018

#RPGaDay 2017

31: What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

All going to plan, The Trinity Continuum should be on Kickstarter by the end of this year, so hopefully the first books will be on their way.

Outside of glorious self-promotion... surprise me.

Flying cars!

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 30: Genre mash-up?

#RPGaDay 2017

30: What is an RPG genre mash-up you would most like to see?

Erm. Um. Something without Cthulhu, zombies or steampunk.

Okay, positive, be positive.

I’m thinking of running 1920s gangster Vampire: The Masquerade, so something like that, I suppose. How to apply different genres to various games.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 29: Best-run Kickstarter?

#RPGaDay 2017 

29: What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter that you have backed?

Going for most fun, I admit bias here, as The Year Without A Summer chapter that went into the Dark Eras Companion was one of my suggestions. My next choice would be TimeWatch for its ongoing battle between two of the antagonist groups in the Comments section.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Werewolf 20 Bundle

Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition at Bundle of Holding, supporting the International Wolf Center.

Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby, founding artist of the Marvel Universe, creator of the Fourth World for DC, and war hero, was born 100 years ago today.

His influence on comics and popular culture is hard to overstate, from creating and designing characters currently dominating cinemas to inspiring generations of artists. There’s a lot of Kirby in the animated Superman (not least a character he created designed to resemble the man himself) and as much in Mike Mignola’s worlds. I had no idea until recently how much Masters Of The Universe owes to the Fourth World, too.

The Fourth World also includes one of my favourite notions - the arch-villain’s lieutenants competing for his favour goes all the way to them raising their own armies.

I first came across his work in black-and-white reprints in Marvel UK’s SF weeklies, usually standalone shorts with cool monster designs. At some point they started a run of Devil Dinosaur, which was pretty much exactly my interests at that age, so I had a soft spot for his work from early on.

And there’s still stuff that he never used, like Roxie’s Raiders, a 1930s spy team masquerading as a travelling circus. I want to run that Adventure! game right now.

Kirby’s own life could provide some adventure ideas as well. A street fighter, an animator in his teens, who received threats from American fascists and responded by scaring them off, a war hero, the designer of the unmade Roger Zelazny adaptation Lord Of Light and its double duty as a theme park proposal which was the basis for the CIA mission to rescue Iranian embassy staff by posing as location scouts filmed as Argo...

Famous Monsters

The new Taylor Swift song Look What You Made Me Do would make a good end credits theme for a backstabbing Vampire session, while the video suggests an angry revenant. I’ve also seen a Demon: The Fallen suggestion about the Serpent of Eden coming down to Earth in the body of a singer and becoming a celebrity, fighting rival famous monsters...

#RPGaDay 2017 28: Biggest source of quotes in your group?

#RPGaDay 2017

28: What film/series is the biggest source of quotes in your group?

Star Wars. By, like, a parsec.

Monty Python And The Holy Grail will still endanger fantasy games and render running Pendragon all but impossible, The Princess Bride sometimes sets off extended riffs (particularly when a GM tries to use a Rodent Of Unusual Size as a monster) and Serenity comes up pretty much every time something is described as “interesting”, but nothing to the same extent.

Playing in another existing setting will see a balance of its own catchphrases (sometimes even used in context!) and Star Wars quotes, and you can imagine how it goes when we’re actually playing Star Wars.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 27: Tools for good gaming?

#RPGaDay 2017 

27: What are your essential tools for good gaming?

A location with shelter, table space, relative quiet and amenities like that. (One of the rooms GEAS sometimes ends up in has the perfect acoustics for one speaker to drown out everything else.)

Pens, paper. Sturdy books, including a notebook. Dice that are big enough to find them again when they bounce off the table.

Visuals can be very helpful too. It was a lot easier to keep fifty-odd NPCs in order in my V20 game when I had a picture for everybody, particularly when a dozen of them were in the same room.

Wi-Fi... though it tends to result in delays as I try to find the perfect picture for an NPC or scene, or look up a name, or something. So maybe no Wi-Fi, as long as I have time to prep.

Time to prep.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 26: The most useful resources?

#RPGaDay 2017

26: Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

Traditionally, D&D. A vast amount of stuff, a vast amount of third-party stuff, and in the 3/3.5 era specifically a vast amount of free stuff. These days, probably Pathfinder due to D&D’s smaller publishing rate.

Useful to me? Probably Vampire: The Masquerade for the sheer number of books and things I have going back twenty-six years. Companies like Pelgrane, Growling Door and Exile put a lot of stuff online and offer adventures for Free RPG Day and so on.

Friday, 25 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 25: Thank your GM

#RPGaDay 2017 

25: What is the best way to thank your GM?

I accept thanks, praise, constructive criticism, cola and chocolate. Money would call into question my amateur status.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 24: Pay what you want

#RPGaDay 2017

24: Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

Stew Wilson is pretty much the only pro writer doing PWYW games that I know offhand. So I’ll expand the question slightly and suggest Patreon as well. Rose Bailey drops a new mini game monthly, and Steve Dee mixes game design with other good deeds.

I admit bias in knowing them all, but hey, my blog.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Esoterrorists at Bundle Of Holding

Worth a look, I reckon.

#RPGaDay 2017 23: Jaw-dropping layout?

#RPGaDay 2017

23: Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

Annalise, the Gothic doomed romance game, for its elegance and atmosphere.

In-character artefacts like Dracula Unredacted and the Vampire: The Requiem Clanbooks can be very impressive too.

(Of course, jaw-dropping could also be for negative reactions. There’s a game where the page background was so dark nobody could read chunks of the rulebook...)

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 22: Easiest RPGs to run?

#RPGaDay 2017

22: Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

Urban fantasy with monster hunting and high weirdness clashing with the everyday world. Preferably with fairly simple rules. Yeah, like Buffy. Maybe keep going with it, take it back and make new good memories.

Monday, 21 August 2017


Whedonesque closed today. I’ll be shutting up about Buffy for a while, I think. Not forever, I hope, as this is a creation that has brought me a lot of joy over the years, lasting friendships and more. But not today.

#RPGaDay 2017 21: The most with the least words?

#RPGaDay 2017

21: Which RPG does the most with the least words?


See how few words I used? But anyway, the first edition is 68 pages with large type and lots of art, including adventures. There are smaller RPGs out there (including one-page RPGs and even the Business Card RPG) but this is the one that made me a roleplayer for real and that I ran on and off for years.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 20: Best source for out of print RPGs?

#RPGaDay 2017

20: What is the best source for out of print RPGs?

PDFs And print on demand mean few things are truly gone, but licensed games in particular can vanish.

Paizo and Noble Knight are good for this, but in the UK I mostly rely on eBay and sometimes The Shop On The Borderlands and Travelling Man. But check your FLGS first, though, because if you’re in luck you can look through the book rather than sending for it sight unseen.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 19: Which RPG features the best writing?

#RPGaDay 2017 

19: Which RPG features the best writing?

Best rules writing? TOON for clarity and flavour. Best prose? Adventure! for Warren Ellis and more. Best GM advice? d6 Star Wars.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Star Wars: Legion

A new Star Wars skirmish wargame from FFG... apparently with big-even-for-32mm scale miniatures, more realistic but also half a head taller than Imperial Assault. :/

#RPGaDay 2017 18: RPG you've played the most?

#RPGaDay 2017 

18: Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

Including GMing, probably Buffy, followed by Vampire: The Masquerade or possibly d6 Star Wars.

Excluding GMing, probably Vampire: The Masquerade due to a whole lot of shortish games and the New Bremen chat, particularly if I count time playing a mortal. d6 Star Wars is probably the runner-up here too. Marvel Super Heroes SAGA must be close too, with two two-year-plus games. The longest campaign I’ve ever been in as a player, four academic years, was Werewolf: The Apocalypse, but I’ve played about three sessions of it outside that chronicle. Sadly Buffy is a long way down the list.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Trinity Storypath preview and Onyx Path brochure

New from Onyx Path, the 2017 brochure, and a new Storypath system with a Trinity focus.


Congratulations to Seven Wonders for Indie Groundbreaker Game of the Year Award.

#RPGaDay 2017 17: Longest owned unplayed RPG?

#RPGaDay 2017

17: Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?

I’m going to have to look up some publication dates here...

Monster Horrorshow came out in 1987. It was really a book of GMing advice and an adventure with a simple system attached, but it still counts. I think I got it soon after it came out.

But for a big RPG that has gone through multiple editions and has supplements and such, the GW hardback core set for third edition RuneQuest also came out in 1987, though I don’t think I got them until 1988 or so, when they were on sale.

I never ran either of these, or even seriously considered doing so.

Yes, I have games I’ve owned and never done anything with for thirty years.

Just a couple, though...

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

To D&D - And Beyond!

D&D Beyond is live.

The original Star Wars RPG at 30 - back in print!

FFG are reprinting the first edition d6 Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game and the Star Wars Sourcebook for their 30th anniversary. Guess they can get my money for a Star Wars RPG after all!

I wonder how the licence works... reprints of some of the adventures would be nice too.

#RPGaDay 2017 16: RPG you enjoy using as is?

#RPGaDay 2017

16: Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

To vary my answers a bit, Cubicle 7’s Doctor Who, as the simple system allows for a wide variety of characters, and the action-based initiative is genius.

Otherwise, yes folks, Buffy. I don’t even change the grainy Life Points. I probably should, but honestly I hardly ever have the monsters hit the PCs...

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Coming soon: Mage plot hooks

Halfway through a “thirty hooks from song titles” challenge for Mage: The Ascension and thinking I could run this game.

Though I might be leaning a bit too much on “rival cabals being troublesome”. That may be more of an Awakening thing.

Nosferatu 3?

A potential remake of Nosferatu, from director Robert Eggers and starring Anya Taylor-Joy, reteaming after The VVitch.

Still waiting on the “remix” with virtual sets from the original and Doug Jones as Orlok to come through post-production, though...

#RPGaDay 2017 15: RPG for adapting?

#RPGaDay 2017 

15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

Storyteller, I guess. I’ve used Adventure! for spy-fi (with gadgets and some advantage/disadvantage ideas borrowed from Spycraft) and a modern Flash Gordon style space opera, and Trinity for a Battlestar Galactica style military SF game. Mostly because it’s a simple enough framework, reasonably well balanced for human and near-human characters, already used for various character types and genres so it has assorted sets of powers and equipment lists that are fairly easy to bolt on, and it mostly gets out of the way after characters are made.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Wolfman's Got Nards!

Monster Squad saved the world thirty years ago this very night.

#RPGaDay 2017 14: RPG for open-ended campaign?

#RPGaDay 2017 

14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

At the risk of repeating myself... Buffy.

Okay, to avoid a one-word answer, why?

It’s a kitchen-sink setting where I can reasonably throw a vast number of absurd ideas at the players and their characters. Parallel universes? Time travel? Killer puppets? A musical episode? Absolutely. With a group prepared to roll with the crazy it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Jokey geeky table talk can easily stay, or move, in character. Gamers love undercutting villainous speeches, for example, and Buffy does that more often than not.

And that central metaphor, that high school is hell and growing up is a hero’s journey, really works.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 13: game experience that changed how you play

#RPGaDay 2017 

13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

The earliest are bound to be formative...

My first ever session put me off letting the dice fall where they may, thanks to a near-total TPK by a bear in a side room of a dungeon. (A bear who could apparently teleport...)

My first time GMing, I planned everything out like a Fighting Fantasy book, and found myself having to improvise when the players went off the map. I didn’t handle it terribly well, so practiced that. Improvising systemless games with a friend at school over the lunch hour helped here.

My first “proper” RPG was MERP, which taught me a number of valuable lessons in the half session I suffered through running, about rules density and about adapting systems to settings or the other way around. My second was TOON, which I’d gladly run to this day. This has informed my views on what RPGs are for ever since.

By the time I was in late high school, I was pretty burned out on mission-based games like Shadowrun, so I fell hard for the character-centric Vampire: The Masquerade. I even tried playing music in-session - that didn’t take.

And the inevitable TWH reference - behind the scenes talk with players about what they’d like to put their characters through, with one becoming the Producer to my Director, collaborating on storylines for everybody.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Zach Best Family Bundle

A DriveThru bundle for Zach Best, of Conjecture Games, also known as Ravious on, and his family.

#RPGaDay 2017 12: most inspiring interior art?

#RPGaDay 2017 

12: Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

Having not given the cover the win here, I really have to go for Vampire: The Masquerade, especially the black and white Tim Bradstreet chapter frontispieces in the first two editions.

Storytellers Vault Opens

Storytellers Vault opened last night, with, appropriately enough, thirteen products at launch:

Three adventures, two of them introductions to chronicles (Bloody But Unbowed, Contagion and Our Lady Of Sorrows)
Two By Night books, of very different size (Denmark and Madison)
One antagonists book (Fiends And Foes)
Two how-to-play primers for specific groups (Harpies and Ventrue)
One Discipline (Engagement)
One novel (A Golconda Story)
One short story (The Rose Witch)
One foreign-language By Night book (León Nocturno)
One foreign-language story (Pentagrama Demencial)

Also character sheets, templates and art collections.

Naturally, the server is a bit busy.

Interesting to see adventures top the list, with more promised by two of the three and the third, Bloody But Unbowed by Travis Legge, creator of the film and RPG Bloom, introducing a city setting suggesting it will have sequels as well. (So is the Discipline booklet.) We’ll see how well they do, as Vampire: The Masquerade adventures have always been thin on the ground.

Likewise, Denmark By Night is by Jacob Klünder, who worked on Revised and Dark Ages, and Madison by Bill Bodden, who has worked with OP on V20 and more.

And a plug-and-play antagonist book is a good call too.

Friday, 11 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 11: Which 'dead game' would you like to see reborn?

#RPGaDay 2017

11: Which ‘dead game’ would you like to see reborn?

Take a wild guess.

Okay, to be slightly more thorough, Buffy and Angel had five written sourcebooks including one ready to go to final edits when the publishing licence ended, and the published books are still available in PDF, which is nice considering how often licensed games vanish when the agreement runs out, so getting those five at least in PDF seems achievable with some legal wrangling. (Please note, I am not a lawyer.)

Thursday, 10 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 10: Where do you go for RPG reviews?

#RPGaDay 2017 

10: Where do you go for RPG reviews?, DriveThruRPG, a few blogs like Matt McFarland on character creation and Actual Play.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 9: What to play for about ten sessions?

#RPGaDay 2017 

9: What is a good RPG to play for about ten sessions?

I feel like this should have been question 10...

I used to specialise in games that ran ten sessions or so. It’s a good season-one style Buffy arc, or a trilogy worth of Star Wars, or a decent stab at a “one big book” campaign like Eyes Of The Stone Thief or The Dracula Dossier ... but there are games specifically designed for this kind of length.

Apocalypse World and its offshoots have purposely limited character advancement in their playbooks, with AW featuring Retire To Safety as one of the options when gaining a level after the first five or so and MonsterHearts characters acquiring Growing Up moves as more mature responses to their issues, which suggest a game that runs for a handful of sessions before it’s time to stop, or bring in a new cast of characters one by one or all together if you want to continue.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The first Trinity Continuum art

Onyx Path’s Monday update includes the first piece of art for The Trinity Continuum, a character illustrated by Leif Jones, and developer Ian Watson notes...

“I haven’t named her yet, but she doubtless works with the Global Cartography Initiative. Or perhaps even Les Fantômes.”

Those are two of the groups I wrote!


I got a bit excited.

#RPGaDay 2017 8: What to play for two hours or less?

#RPGaDay 2017 

8: What is a good RPG to play for sessions of two hours or less?

To avoid another “it depends” answer, because some players will rip through adventures for various games:

Something without a lot of combat or at least without a lot of detailed combat. Something with fairly defined parameters for adventures. Something like espionage, stealth-heavy, like Black 7? Or something with a core puzzle and little rolled action, like a whodunnit or Doctor Who?

Another good suggestion I’ve seen is comedy-centred games like TOON and Paranoia, because dissolving into chaos is part of the point.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Making that Doctor Doom post game-relevant

Darth Vader so embodied the Black Knight archetype, with added gadgets and Force powers, that he moved from interesting henchman to central character, and all the other villains in Star Wars went with other styles of supervillainy. The Emperor was originally going to be a distant and isolated figurehead, but became a full-on Evil Wizard.

When the prequels rolled around, a different kind of Darth was needed, so we got Darth Maul as Ninja Satan. Count Dooku was Sir Christopher Lee With A Lightsaber. General Grievous was a four-armed robo-skeleton.

Kylo Ren had to follow Darth Vader in-universe, so I think making him a Vader Fanboy was a stroke of genius.

I borrowed from outside sources for my last Star Wars villain, taking the Kingpin from Daredevil as the basis for a leading Imperial intelligence officer.

What would a Star Wars version of Ultron be like? Or Loki? Or Bane?

The problem with Doctor Doom in films

There have been four live-action Fantastic Four movies, three starters and a sequel, and they’ve all used Doctor Doom as the villain - even that sequel Rise Of The Silver Surfer had him cause more trouble than the world-eating space god Galactus. This is natural, Doom is the biggest villain in the series and one of the biggest in the Marvel Universe... and they’ve all played him off-model.

The 1994 zero-budget rights-keeper by Roger Corman actually played him pretty close, considering.

The 2005 version looked the part in the end after spending most of the movie looking normal and sounding cocky and American, and had electric mutation powers instead of magic. He even cured his appearance in the sequel!

The 2015 version was a hacker who turned into a Reaper drone lookalike from Mass Effect.

And they all rung the changes because, I believe, there’s already a perfect cinematic Doctor Doom, and if you play him straight he’ll remind cinema audiences of someone else.

Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

So the new Fox standalone Doctor Doom movie, from Legion showrunner Noah Hawley, will have to figure out how to work around that. Because only Marvel themselves (owned by Disney) could really go to the source...

#RPGaDay 2017 7: What was your most impactful RPG session?

#RPGaDay 2017 

7: What was your most impactful RPG session?

Probably the start of The Watch House season five because one player met her future husband when he joined the game. Their second child was born a day after this post.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Paladin: Warriors of Charlemagne

Paladin: Warrios Of Charlemagne, from Nocturnal Media, on Kickstarter, an RPG of legendary chivalry adapted from Pendragon.

#RPGaDay 2017 6: You can game every day for a week...

#RPGaDay 2017

6: You can game every day for a week. Describe what you’d do!

I feel like this should have been question 7...

It depends who’s available to play or GM.

(Nearly got through a week without an “it depends” answer! Oh well.)

I actually did this in the spring sharing a cottage in the Highlands, and because the organiser had a bag full of one-shot indie games he never got to run we mostly played one-shot indie games.

If I organised such a retreat I would plan something like a mini-campaign in the evenings, much like my one-term-only campaigns covering as much story as a busy movie or a shortish trilogy, and see what else people would like to do in the afternoons.

Ah, but what would I run? That depends who’s there too.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 5: Aptest RPG cover

#RPGaDay 2017

5: Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I think Vampire: The Masquerade has the most evocative cover art in my collection, but for “This is what you’ll be doing” it’s hard to beat Paul Bonner’s cover for Shadowrun Third Edition.

Because it’s a troll with a Mohican firing a massive gun as a decker and what appears to be a Dwarf version of Baron Munchausen try not to fall off a chain on a collapsing platform in a dingy corporate facility. In my experience, Shadowrun is exactly like this.

As are most RPGs.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Storytellers Vault

Storytellers Vault is on its way, having been discussed at World Of Darkness Berlin so I for one have had a while to think about it.

Maybe adventures because there were never very many of them. Maybe a book about the art world in the World Of Darkness because it would be a bit too niche for general publication. Maybe...

#RPGaDay 2017 4: Which RPG have you played most this year?

#RPGaDay 2017

4: Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?

I’ve played five - D&D 5, Vampire: The Masquerade, FFG Star Wars, homebrew Star Wars and The Comics Code set in the world of Strikeforce: Morituri. I think The Comics Code wins for length as well as frequency of sessions.

I also ran d6 Star Wars for eight or so sessions, and had a Buffy game fizzle after four.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 3: How do you find out about new RPGs?

#RPGaDay 2017

3: How do you find out about new RPGs?

Mostly Word of mouth. Newsletters from go-to publishers like Pelgrane and Onyx Path. The RPG Kickstarter news groups on social media.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 2: An RPG you would like to see published

#RPGaDay 2017 

2: What is an RPG you would like to see published?

I will admit bias here and say the forthcoming games I’ve written for and playtested. :D And throw in the EVE RPG, which I was offered a chance to write on before it was cancelled.

But outside that...

Destiny. The background and lore seems like they would get more airtime here than in the game itself. And (assuming I liked the system) I would like to run it, more than other theoretical licensed games like Harry Potter or Mass Effect which I would also like to see for the good of the hobby.

And for a non-licensed answer, a Young Adult Dystopian SF game.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 1: What do you wish you were playing?

#RPGaDay 2017

1: What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, because I’ve almost always been on the GM’s side of the table. Of course, I sincerely doubt I’d be able to stop myself backseat directing.

Also of course, playing can also mean GMing. Buffy is a good choice here too. I’d like to give Leverage a go too.

Monday, 31 July 2017

#RPGaDay 2017

And here... we... go.

RPGaDay will last all month, which is three times longer than the political career of Anthony Scaramucci. (Weeks from now, people will have to look that up.)

The Next Generation and the next and the next

Bryan Fuller spoke to EW about his plans for Star Trek, for an anthology, essentially a new show every season, advancing from the pre-Kirk basis for Discovery to a new future setting.

There are a few generational campaign games like Pendragon, but I’ve never run something like this. Hmm...


Today marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest of the First World War. It inspired remembrance, protest and art at the time, and still does to this day.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

When Related But Incompatible Genres Clash

From Within made a small splash at Tribeca ten years ago and is mostly known as a footnote in the history of The Secret Circle as it features Thomas Dekker and Britt Robertson in a small town magic fantasy story.

But it’s a pretty interesting setup, with a girl falling for a brooding mysterious outsider a year before Twilight came out in cinemas, and a silent metamorphic killer hopping from victim to victim a few years before It Follows. So that’s a teen paranormal romance colliding with a teen horror...

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Encounters on the edge of space

Matthew Knighton, creator of Distant Stars, has written a series of systemless SF creatures, monsters and encounters for Shades Of Vengeance, and the first is now free on their Patreon, starting a monthly feature. I could see the Memory, the first example, as a monster/puzzle of the week in something like DS, Star Trek or Doctor Who.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

More Vampire: The Requiem goodness

Well, my copies of Secrets Of The Covenants and the revised Reap The Whirlwind are on their way, taking advantage of the Christmas In July sale to basically get the shorter book free.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Disenchantment from Matt Groening

Matt Groening is to follow Futurama with Disenchantment on Netflix, about a hard-drinking princess, a demon, and an elf called Elfo trying to save a collapsing fantasy kingdom.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Firefly Adventures

Firefly Adventures: Brigands & Browncoats nudges us ever closer to there being as many Firefly games as there are episodes. Reckon one more and we’ll draw level with the number originally aired.

I sure hope it ain’t an omen that it’s got miniatures for the same five of the nine main characters as the Funko Legacy figures... that never got the other four.

Darker Days V5 pre-alpha playtest

Darker Days Radio’s Vampire: The Masquerade 5 pre-alpha playtest is now in cleaned-up version with intro and such at their main site.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

RPGaDay 2017

RPGaDay 2017 launches August 1st, but you can see the prompts already!

Our geeky future

Entirely too much exciting geeky stuff is happening at Comic-Con, so focusing on RPG things happening elsewhere.

Until I get some good trailer links anyway.

Like The Defenders.

Friday, including (the rather dinky fifty-minute web series) Stargate: Origins.

Saturday bringing extended trailers for Justice League, Star Trek: Discovery and Thor: Ragnarok.

Sunday featuring Doctor Who and The Ray.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Sabbat: The Apocalypse

Sabbat games of Vampire: The Masquerade have a lot in common with Werewolf: The Apocalypse in terms of pack structure and rituals, an overarching supernatural enemy and so on - all the things that make them harder to explain than Camarilla or Anarch games - so it occurs to me that this could also solve the other common problem I have with Sabbat games, that they focus on attacking Camarilla vampires and general chaotic rampages.

Give the Antediluvians servants to oppose, cults like the Black Hand and weird not-quite vampire things, as well as Noddist secrets to pursue and night-to-night vampire problems to approach in a different way.

One tricky part is that the creepy body-warping horrors of the setting are on the Sabbat side, which would make the enemy different from the Wyrmspawn. (The Tzimisce, providers of most of the weird monsters in the VTM computer games. I’d happily drop them or nudge them onto the NPC side, but hey... Of course, I could follow some of the setting secrets and have Tzimisce active and working against the Sabbat’s supposed purpose.)

So... hmm... ancient revenants, so old that they can make ghouls themselves?

Thursday, 20 July 2017

D&D Beyond beta review

D&D Beyond is in beta before a late August release - can we finally get the paperless office into the game room?

Star Trek: Discovery news

Ahead of San Diego Comic-Con, quite a bit of news about Star Trek: Discovery, with looks at props, Doug Jones talking about his character, and this poster.

Can we boldly go yet?

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

How to adapt Blade Runner

There have been two computer games based on Blade Runner, an arcade shooter licensing the soundtrack so the player chased and shot anonymised ‘replidroids’ (in the back, so it’s very true to what happens to Zora) and the all-in virtual movie with some of the cast, designs by Syd Mead, playing around with the Voight-Kampff analyser and a bunch of leftover Philip K. Dick references. (And giant rats.)

Do you try to imitate everything, or focus on a single aspect? The big game felt too close at times - a different group of replicants led by a different guy with a penchant for poetry also sneaking around Los Angeles in that same week in November 2019, pursued by a different Blade Runner in a different brown raincoat...

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Anno Dracula miniatures sculpting contest

Frothers United sponsor a charity miniatures sculpting contest for Anno Dracula, Kim Newman’s Victorian vampire mashup, judged by various sculptors and Mr. Newman himself. The winning entries will then be cast and sold with proceeds going to Cancer Research or the MS Society.

Even if it sticks to just Anno Dracula itself and not the other novels set in the Great War, the 1950s and the 1980s, the short stories, or the currently running comic series set in 1895, it still allows just about every vampire from fiction of the era, lots of other fictional characters as well as real people drawn from history, and Newman’s own characters. With a good turnout, it could be a great range.

Game history note: series hero Genevieve first appeared (as a parallel universe version) in Newman’s Jack Yeovil fiction for Warhammer.