Wednesday, 23 August 2017

#RPGaDay 23: Jaw-dropping layout?


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.