Monday, August 31, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 31: Favorite Non-RPG Thing to Come Out of RPGs

A sense of community.

God knows this hobby can get up its own ass at times with edition wars and you're playing it wrong and that book shouldn't be for sale, but then you see publishers and creators banding together, rallying around community members who have lost children, or spouses, or have learned they are very ill, or who have lost their homes due to natural disaster. Many times, our hobby rallies around people in times of disaster even when we don't know that even a single gamer was affected.

It really tends to make the standard weekly drama bearable when you remember the love and beauty that people are capable of.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 30: Favorite RPG Playing Celebrity

You can keep your Wil Wheatons and Vin Diesels and Stephen Colberts...this one was an easy pick for me:

Credit to Stezak for creating this image.

Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs has not only won all of the awards and accolades listed above, but he's a HUGE Dungeons & Dragons fan, and - by most accounts - is a completely selfless teammate and a gentleman to deal with.

#RPGaDay Day 29: Favorite RPG Website

Honestly, I don't have a lot of destination sites. As a reviewer, I avoid other reviewer sites, especially if it's a book I haven't reviewed, so their impressions don't paint my own.

That said, there are great resources all over the internet for games that I wind up stealing from, and I access almost all of that from my Google+ Google+ it is.

Friday, August 28, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 28: Favorite RPG I No Longer Play

Cheating again on this one and adding two:

I don't think I have ran this since my friend Kenny moved to Boston. Sad, really, given how much I love it.

The next one is...

I thoroughly enjoy the Cinematic Unisystem, and my favorite incarnation is the Angel RPG with the Buffy Magic Box supplement. Anytime I run this game, people tend to enjoy it, but it never lasts for more than a couple of episodes. I'm so frustrated I no longer even try. =/

#RPGaDay Day 27: Favorite Idea for Combining Two Games

More like a setting and a game, but Midnight was sure satisfying when I used Jeff Scifert's conversion to Savage Worlds.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Shadow Has Fallen...

This is not a review.

This is not a press release.

This is not solicited by Schwalb Entertainment in any way, shape or form.

This is my squeeing with fanboy glee at the release of Shadow of the Demon Lord in PDF.

Disclaimer: Using that link will provide me with a percentage of the sale at OneBookShelf sites.

Earlier in the month, I named this most most anticipated upcoming game. As of today, it is out digitally. I have only skimmed it, but I am very, very pleased. It is brutal, grotesque and over the top. You can roll up characters in minutes, literally, because the thing is overflowing with tables. I think the only thing missing is a random adventure generator.

I wanna run this thing very, very badly.

Things you should know:

- It is class and level. Those classes tend to fall in fantasy archetypes. You start at level 0. At level 1, you pick a Novice Path, which is a Magician, Priest, Rogue or Warrior. The options branch out at 3 and 7, and there are no Path requirements (so you can go a couple of levels as a Warrior, then become an Assassin, before ending you career as a Druid). The level scale is 0-10, but the promise of higher level range is coming in the future. If I counted correctly, there are a whopping 84 paths to choose from, from iconic roles like Ranger and Paladin, to odder choices like Exorcist, Shapeshifter and Technomancer.

- The game uses d6s and 1d20. The core mechanic uses a d20, but if you have Boons, you add a d6 to the roll for each Boon. If you have Banes, you subtract a d6 from the roll for each Bane. A lot of the random tables use 3d6.

- Characters have four main stats, rated from 1-20: Strength, Agility, Intellect and Will. They also have Health, Defense, Perception and Insanity.

- Races include Human and Dwarf, but also Goblin, Orc, Clockwork and Changeling, each with unique tables for character creation.

- The Shadow of the Demon Lord is a mechanic in the game that can have bizarre consequences in the world, from the dead rising to beastmen being more violent, to famine and drought...and worse.

- The world is provided in loose detail, to not bind you to too much "canon", and encompasses demons, dragons, undead, Elves ARE in the game, but you can only kill them, not be them. Just tossing that out there.

The game has a bit of a Warhammer/Diablo feel with none of the canon, and a slew of D&D5e style customization options without a ton of book keeping. I'm not telling you to buy it, but I'm telling you I threw a bunch of money at the Kickstarter and, with the first release, I am REALLY freaking pleased with what I have seen thus far. If I have time (which is a maybe, my plate is suddenly very full), I will try to review it. More importantly, I will try to run it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 26: Favorite Inspiration for Your Games

Random tables.

Totally and completely and without fail. I love using random tables and just figuring out how to make it work. Heck, I made random adventure generators for Marvel SAGA for this reason

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 25: Favorite Revolutionary Game Mechanic

So for Favorite Revolutionary Game Mechanic, I'm going to go with the Fate Deck from Marvel SAGA, with a list of reasons why.

  • It provides a nice mix of randomization, combined with resource management and decision making. Each character has a variable hand of cards, based off of their experience level, and uses that to decide what to do and when to do it, generally attempting to match up their actions with the cards in their hand. Why?
  • Trump. If the card you play matches your active ability, you Trump, which means you get to flip over the top card of the Fate Deck and add it to your total. If you Trump again, you keep adding. It can make for some truly explosive moments in-game.
  • Pushing. As part of that resource management, if you need just a little something extra to put you over the top on an action, you can Push. You Push by spending a card and adding it to your action total, but not redrawing it, to simulate the exertion of the effort...because sometimes you need to hold that gate just a little longer so the last civilian can slip through...
  • Edge. Probably my favorite mechanic of all. The great equalizer. Every character has an Edge score. They can play any number of cards equal to, or less than, their Edge score before playing their action card. What does that mean in play? Say She-Hulk has an Edge of 2 and a Hand Size of 4. She's holding the 2 of Intellect, 8 of Doom, 6 of Agility and 4 of Agility. If she wants to punch someone (Strength), she knuckles down and uses the 8 of Doom (giving that card to the Narrator to use against her later), but she can also add that 2 of Intellect, giving her a 10 to go with her Strength of 17 (for an action total of 27 - Impressive).  Now Captain America, who has a Will of 12, wants to calm a rioting crowd. His hand includes the 3, 4 and 7 of Doom, the 6 of Will and the 4 and 6 of Strength. He can dump the 3 and 4 of Doom, plus the 4 of Will to set his score of 23...before playing the 6 of Will to push it to 29, which also Trumps! Captain America is very resourceful in SAGA, and Edge can be more important than cool powers and high scores.

    See kinda why I love Marvel SAGA?

Monday, August 24, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 24: Favorite House Rule

Probably my favorite house rule was  one that I did not invent, and that's the Master Class rules for Marvel SAGA. See, skills in Marvel SAGA have three levels: Unskilled (default), Skilled (Reduces the difficulty by four) and World Class (reduces the difficulty by four and makes any non-Doom card a Trump). The Master Class rules added another step in there, between Skilled and World Class, granting an additional Trump suit (physical or mental, depending on the base attribute for the skill) to allow for guys who were better than skilled, but not World Class. Really, that's about all the variance I really need in a skill system.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 23: Perfect Game For Me

This is another that's not going to surprise anyone:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1) Perfect price point. $10 to buy into the game, which is flexible enough to run multiple genres almost out of the box (and certainly with the supplemental material).

2) Fantastic setting support, including my favorite RPG setting (Deadlands, if you missed that post).

3) I love the power curve, which allows characters to become strong and capable, but without destroying verisimilitude in the world as they become devastating world destroyers like they do in other games (why do level 20/30 characters in some D&D games listen to ANYBODY again?).

4) I know how to "bend" the system to accomplish what I want, 95% of the time. The only other system I've felt anywhere near as comfortable in that regard is the Cinematic Unisystem.

5) I have personally ran fantasy, horror, westerns and supers with it, and each game managed to feel familiar, yet mechanically distinct.

6) I love building characters for it. That's part of the reason I did the Savage Worlds Characters Are All The Same series, and why I have repeatedly done "Half-Dozen Heroes" posts various settings.

7) The proof is in the fun. We have a blast with the game, and I have rarely had a bad session.

It is perfect? No. Can it do everything? Maybe, but sometimes you are bending it to the point of breaking if you do, and there's other games that can handle it better. But if you told me I could only run one game forever, then I would grab Savage Worlds and be set.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 22: Perfect Gaming Environment

This one is simple really...anywhere my players are and my books are easily accessible. Generally, this means my dining room table. I can be comfortable, have the family around doing the things they want to do, my players' kids can play with my kids...nothing fancy at all.

Friday, August 21, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 21: Favorite Setting

Easy. I have long said Deadlands is my favorite setting. The horror, the weirdness and the Old West. I love it to pieces.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 20: Favorite Horror RPG

Favorite horror RPG? I could say Deadlands Classic or Witchcraft or All Flesh Must Be Eaten, but - mechanics-wise - those games were supplanted by other RPGs for me. And I love Ravenloft, but I've never been in love with the *games* attached to Ravenloft. So I am torn. So I'm going to split the difference again:

Savage Worlds and the Cinematic Unisystem have a major thing in common: They both have a metagame currency that can scale the whole thing up into the high level of heroic...but if you take that away, the game gets deceptively brutal and frightening. A Buffy campaign with all White Hats and scaled back drama points can get out of control, fast. Savage Worlds with a stifled bennie flow can do the same. The best part is, I know both systems well enough to get the "feel" for how to push and pull them to get what I want.

tremulus was alllllmost there, but honestly, I'm only a so-so Cthulhu guy. If it were veered for more "standard" horror than Lovecraftian, we might be having a different conversation. Fantastic game, though. Ghostories 2nd Edition, by Precis Intermedia Games, is another one that I want to toss out there from *reading*, but I've never actually *played* it, so it would be disingenuous of me to call it my "favorite".

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 19: Favorite Supers RPG

To the surprise of absolutely no one who has been paying attention to me:

I'm not saying this game is perfect. God knows it isn't. Despite all the flaws, though, it has provided the most amazing superhero action I have ever experienced in an RPG, bar none. I would dearly love to get some version of this back in print because, aside from Savage Worlds, it's my favorite RPG of all time, and the lack of a digital edition, combined with the lack of in-print Fate Deck means this game is largely dead.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 18: Favorite Sci-Fi RPG

Okay, so I'm not a huge fan of sci-fi games, aside from stretching the definition of "supers" to fit Sci-Fi, which isn't that hard, really. I have played a few Sci-Fi games over the years, and had fun with them, but couldn't rank them very highly now, for different reasons. I've owned and read a few games that I think I would love (Firefly, Atomic Robo, Interface Zero, to name a few), but I have never actually PLAYED them. So my vote on this one goes to:

At the time, I said that I wished D&D 4th Edition had been more like Star Wars SAGA Edition. No dead levels, the Feats and Talents added a ton of variety, the skills involved less bean counting and the Prestige Classes were easier to dip into.

Now I look at it, and I still like it, but I want to redo the math in the game to make it more in line with 5th Edition, with smaller to-hit bonuses, and a lower range of armor classes. Still my favorite game to bear the d20 logo.

Alternately, I would probably have to answer:

Monday, August 17, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 17: Favorite Fantasy RPG

Favorite Fantasy RPG?

It would pretty much have to be D&D 5th Edition right now. Though, in a pinch, I could also answer: 

Either one.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 16: Longest Game Session

Hell, I don't know, but I'm sure it was in high school and it was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. There's a real good chance that I was a player and not the DM, because one of my pet peeves is GMs who don't know when to call it a night.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 15: Longest Campaign

This is a good question...not sure how to answer it.

My D&D 5e game has several characters and elements from my old AD&D2e game in it, so technically it would qualify (though they are background characters and nothing more). That would be about a 20 year span, though certainly not uninterrupted.

My Marvel game started in '95, with Marvel FASERIP and ran on and off until a couple of years ago...but again, lots of interruptions.

A Deadlands game that I started off as a player in, but then took over a Marshal, was still going as of last year.

The longest continuing game that had a solid beginning and ending would be Necessary Evil, which took us about four years to get through, but again, lots of interruptions.

These days, my current group aims to end campaigns in a timely fashion, with about a year being standard.

Friday, August 14, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 14: Favorite RPG Accessory

It's almost too essential to the game to call it an accessory, but I've seen people even calling dice accessories, so I will say it counts: The Fate Deck for the Marvel SAGA roleplaying game. I love this resolution mechanic so much, with all the neat tricks it provides (especially Edge and Trump). So, so, so good.

My second choice, which is definitely more optional, would be the Savage Worlds Adventure Deck, which has flipped many a game on its ear in the best possible way.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 13: Favorite RPG Podcast

Okay, I don't really listen to podcasts. I'm a reader, not a listener. It's just how I'm wired.

HOWEVER...The BAMF Podcast has had me on (twice! Most people politely avoid me after the first time) and have invited me back to talk about the BAMFies, but we couldn't get the schedule worked out. This is how I really learned about Fiasco as well, which is a win all its own.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 12: Favorite RPG Illustration

Day 12 of RPG a Day is Favorite RPG Illustration. I could probably make a laundry list of these, but the one I am about to post is the iconic image of my favorite game setting: Stone, as depicted by Brom, on the cover of the original Deadlands RPG:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 11: Favorite RPG Writer

I have no one, single "must buy" writer. I don't even have a small list of them. So in order to answer this one, I believe I'm going to go with CJ Carella, whose WitchCraft books were just packed full of story seeds, and whose work on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel RPGs ranks among some of my favorite.

Monday, August 10, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 10: Who Is Your Favorite RPG Publisher?

I am not gonna lie...Wizards of the Coast have done a tremendous job of rescuing themselves off of the garbage fire with their handling of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, which has gone better than I ever would have imagined...but as great as that is, they are still not the publishers of my favorite RPG and favorite setting (that would be Savage Worlds and Deadlands, respectively):

You were expecting someone else?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 9: What Media Do You Wish Was An RPG?

I would have said Witcher, but it's coming, even if I'm not a huge fan of the game system. Savage Worlds Conan would always be great, but that still doesn't count, given all the Conan games that have been available, plus the new edition on the horizon. I am going to continue to dither and give a couple of answers here, though honestly I become less enthralled with licensed RPGs all the time (as they all have the giant elephant in the room of your characters being secondary to the setting's big heroes, though some games address this in a satisfactory manner):

A tabletop game that does Darkest Dungeon justice would be fantastic. Characters would have to be capable of fighting and exploring but who are completely physically and mentally vulnerable to the wear and tear of their journeys. It would require troupe-style play, and folks couldn't stay too attached to any one character for long. I have heard that Dungeon Crawl Classics can emulate this pretty well, and I read recently that the Torchbearer RPG is supposed to be getting some Darkest Dungeon materials, and if so, I will probably cave and pick Torchbearer up. If you haven't played the computer game, I highly recommend it.

The second media that I wish was an RPG is a fantasy novel setting:

The setting is a low(er) magic setting in which Magiere- a self-styled vampire hunter - travels from town to town with her half-elf companion Leesil, who poses as a vampire, who she "kills" in order to bilk the town out of a reward. Their world turns on its ear when their travels bring them close to a town that's *actually* infested by vampires, and they are convinced Magiere is coming for them.

Now, The Noble Dead (like Darkest Dungeon) isn't something I couldn't bend one of my favorite systems to (Savage Worlds comes to mind), but the same could be said for most licensed RPGs and we still buy them anyway, don't we?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 8: Favorite Depiction of RPGs in Media

Honestly, I don't really pay attention to stuff like that. I don't watch geek-focused comedies just because they pander to me, that sort of thing, so my selection here is pretty simple, as it made me laugh out loud when I read it.

Side Jobs by Jim Butcher starts off, as it usually does, with Harry's narration but something seems his descriptions. Especially when he starts complaining about how the spell someone else cast doesn't act like "real" magic and you find out that he was narrating his RPG character's action just like he does his own, until he felt his GM broke his suspension of disbelief by using magic rules that don't match "reality". Amusing stuff, but then, I'm a Dresden fan.

Friday, August 7, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 7: Favorite Free RPG

Day 7 of #RPGaDay is "Favorite Free RPG". Now, my favorite free RPG is one I bought twice, actually, once in softcover and once in hardcover. While there are some great free (and that includes Pay What You Want) RPGs out there, I have to give the nod to CJ Carella's WitchCraft, which had a short stint as my favorite game until the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG came along with the Cinematic Unisystem.

Witchcraft (especially with the Mystery and Abomination codices) was just about everything I liked about The World of Darkness with none of the stuff that I hated. While I can't really get excited about Classic Unisystem now (Cinematic Unisystem ruined Classic for me), there is still an amazing amount of content in those three books. Fun fact: I pitched a faction book for The Fellowship of Judas, but was turned down (mostly because I had no idea what the Hell I was doing at the time).

Witchcraft is available for free at RPGNow, so check it out.

While you are there, get Heaven's Shadow and Fate Core, which would be the other two games on my list (mostly trumped by Witchcraft because I have actually ran Witchcraft before).

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Kind of a Big Announcement: My Bucket List Project

So, I have hinted around that I got to work on a BIG "bucket list" project. I subtly mentioned earlier in the year that I was contracted with Pinnacle. I even confirmed after GenCon that the project was Savage Tales of Horror, an adventure anthology. Now, I can go a step further...

The "bucket list" moment wasn't RPG writing, or writing for Savage Worlds or writing for Pinnacle...not quite, anyway.

The badass, awesome part is that I got to write an honest-to-God official adventure for my favorite RPG setting: DEADLANDS.

Things I can tell you:

- My adventure is called "Love on the Mountain".
- It  IS playable without any prior Deadlands knowledge or rulebooks (you only need the Savage Worlds rules and the Horror Companion...I am told this is true of every adventure that has ties to an existing setting, for maximum utility...meaning you could pretty easily use it in The Sixth Gun RPG as well, given the Weird West setting), but it is definitely 100% Deadlands compatible.
- You can run it as a one shot or drop it into a campaign.
- It is scheduled for release (as part of the anthology series) later this year.
- I get to share space in the book with John freakin' Dunn (who helped bring us Accursed, which is on one of my favorite Savage Worlds settings) among other great folks.

I am beyond thrilled to see this thing coming to fruition, and that I finally get to start talking about it just a bit.

So...not being sure if this was going to be my only "at bat", I swung for the fences. I hope all my fellow Savages enjoy what I (and all the rest of the amazing line-up of authors - humbling to be alongside the likes of Preston DuBose, John Dunn, Ross Watson and Shane himself) are bringing to your table.

...and believe me, you will know more as soon as I am allowed to share it.


#RPGaDay Day 6: RPG You Most Recently Played

Both as a player or a GM, my answer is the same:

I have been running 5th Edition for almost a year now, but my last foray into gaming as a player before this was also in 5th Edition, as part of an online game using the starter set.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 5: Most Recent RPG Purchase

You would think this would be less complicated than it is, but here we are...

The Kickstarter for Leagues of Gothic Horror by Triple Ace Games just funded, so they were the last ones to get my money...

But the last product that I spent money on, and actually own in some capacity (PDF format), is Shadowfell: Gloomwrought  and Beyond, which may be the only 4th Edition book I have bought...and it's getting dropped right into the middle of 5th Edition.

Now, they got the money for this a while back, but the most recent physical product that I purchased and received (and which looks damn cool) is Feng Shui 2 by Atlas Games. I had no real prior experience with the original, but this looks like a ton of fun.

No. I have no idea why I can't just answer a simple question.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 4: Most Surprising Game

Of all time? Or the past year?

Honestly, I never expected to play D&D again, much less fall in love with it again, so I could give a nod to Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.

I could also mention Wu Xing, which combined some of my least favorite things in a deliciously over the top, playable package.

Ultimately, I probably have to go with Marvel SAGA. Having ran Dragonlance SAGA, I thought it sounded neat...I didn't know it would become my favorite superhero RPG in existence (and still is to this day!).

Monday, August 3, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 3: Favorite New Game of the Last 12 Months

Given that it has dominated my tabletop gaming since it came out, my favorite new game of the last 12 months is an easy one:
D&D 5th Edition is, to my mind, the best version of D&D yet, and is still holding up beautifully as the PCs in our game hit level 14 and we move closer to the end of our first campaign. It has been a fantastic job by Wizards that has won me over as a customer and fan over a decade after I had walked away.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 2: Game You Are Most Pleased To Have Kickstarted

I have Kickstarted some great games: Age Past (which also features some short fiction by me), the Awesome Powers series for BASH which is going to be HUGE when completed, Deadlands Noir, The Sixth Gun RPG, Fate Core (which had a ton of great stuff with it, but I am still most likely to play the Dresden Files version instead)...heck, I backed Feng Shui 2 on a whim, and I think I'm in love. All that said, the game I'm most pleased I backed on Kickstarter is AMP: Year One (and the Year 2 book) for Third Eye Games, which has kept me very busy the last couple of months. There have been a few games that have tried to tackle the approach of "modern day, suddenly people have powers", but this one has easily been my favorite (and runs neck in neck with Wu Xing as my favorite Third Eye Games RPG period).

Saturday, August 1, 2015

#RPGaDay Day 1: RPG You Are Most Looking Forward To

Hey all,

I'm gonna do that #RPGaDay, or try to, anyway.

Day 1 is the RPG You Are Most Looking Forward To. Well, thing is, most of the RPGs I'm looking forward to, I have at least in digital format, if not print. HOWEVER, there is one I'm particularly excited for that I don't have yet, even digitally...
Shadow of the Demon Lord sure just looks *neat*, and I suspect it's going to scratch an itch that D&D isn't doing for me already. Can't wait to see if this lives up to my hopes. All of the preview art has looked significantly twisted, and I'm not expecting deep, in-depth storytelling, but crazy, dark, twisted fun would be quite alright by me.