Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The 2015 games list under consideration for play 

  • Firefly (Cortex system) Space trading, organised crime high jinx, psi, Reavers ... and Keeping the Alliance honest.  
  • Star Wars - sci fi we all know and love - taking down the Empire, making a profit and searching for a way out from under Empire oppression.[UPDATE: We played a few sessions and it went great. We all want to play more but our gaming time is being eaten by the 5e monster and my Hackmaster old school game]
  • Tanshuman exploration - Eclipse Phase the Gate War
  • Cyberpunk/Transhuman FATE - The Translight shadow war - Mega Corps battling in the shadows to build the first translight engine 
  • Traveller - Secrets of the Ancients campaign
  • Traveller 2300 - Kaffer Invasion sandbox using military and survival adventure role playing 
  • The Void rpg
  • Trinity - Play through the sandbox of the published adventures with psion adventurers
  • The Strange - Think time tunnel, meets x-Files/Fringe, via Stargate.
  • Pulp Rocket Age retro exploration and exploring strange new worlds - Forbiden Planet style.
  • Plup Adventure pre and during WWII find the items of power and foil the Zealots of Zeronimus and the Society of Thule
  • Victorian Penny Dreadful - steampunk action and romance against the Archons of Sideria 
  • Mutants and Masterminds/Marvel Heroic - Days of Future Past or The Occult wars
  • Deathwatch - Kill for the Emperor, Die with Glory, Cleanse the stars!!!  
  • RuneQuest 6 - Sword and Sorcery, "Conan" "Throngar" "Gor" "Drus" "Fafard & Mouser" style.
  • The One Ring - Darkening of Mirkwood cycle [UPDATE: Two sessions gave us just a taste. It's a role playing game but not like other games. It's a masterful departure from the assumptions of other systems. It's wonderfully refreshing].
  • D&D - OSR, (Labyrinth Lord or Astonishing Swordsmen rule set) The lost City of Barakus etc.[UPDATE: this has become our HACKMASTER game: I love the system but there is a LOT to it. It's like AD&D if you played with material from dragon magazines- that's how it feels to me. Love it.)
  •  Torchbearer - Dungeon crawling with personal drama, in a dungeon world with some board game parallels 
  • Warhammer fantasy roleplay - Enemy Within et'al classics
  • Shadowrun 5th ed - Shadowrun missions 
  • Witch Hunter 2nded - Stop Satan from creating hell on Earth and preserve the seals and your soul.
  • Hunter the Vigil - Secret History and monster hunting a'la Buffy only serious.(Sort of Hellraiser meets They Live)
  • Conspiracy X -  Classic X-Files and Fringe type action adventure (parallels to Heart of Darkness, Edge of Night and 1984)
  • Anima Beyond Fantasy - Conspiracy occultism and secret history in anime fantasy setting.
  • Legends of Wu Lin - Kung Fu secret societies, fantasy adventures, and Occult mystery 
  • Legend of the five rings - City of Shadow Campaign
  • Tenra Bansho - Asian Fantasy, like 47 Ronin and Ninja scrollsHyper-asian samurai ninja mayhem (it's an actual translated Japanese role playing game from Japan) 
  • Cthulhutech - Playing the games meta-campaign as Taggers (were-devils) or Mecha pilots
  • King Arthur Pendragon - Playing Lords of the realms and changing the very fabric of myth, plotting and fighting mighty battles (think Vikings TV series)
  • Torg - Gonzo multi genre adventure as Stomknights following the Destiny Map (lowish powered superheroes). 
  • Zombie Survival - End of the World engine - The walking dead style with the cure out there and a chance to save the world
  • Werewolf the Apocalypse 20 anv Ed - Save the world from Pentex and its schemes (parallels to Heart of Darkness, Edge of Night and 1984)
  • Doctor Who - Adventures in time and space multi genre goodness waging the time war
  • Mutant City Blues HCU - Solving crimes committed by super human powered perpetrators 
  • Trail of Cthulhu - Eternal Lies or Cthulhu Apocalypse procedural investigation horror
  • DeadLands - Weird Wild West Gunslingers, occult exploration and the law of the gun - Using Second Sons or Stone and a hard place

My time for blogging has been eaten up with gaming in the RW. Thats a great thing and now Its moved to Roll20. I'm amazed at how easy Roll20 is to use. You do need to do some prep and it's sort of encourages a more tactical game than is strictly necessary. Even so, its a fun place to meet up and its in the comfort of your own home. No travel time, more gaming, which is a great thing too.

At present we are running ACK's more or less by default. People found the Labyrinth Lord + AEC to be difficult to understand go figure? I am surprised that it isn't an integrated offering by now just to make it easier for new people. We are using DCC magic as an overlay to the system and its working wonderfully. None of us really enjoy the way magic works at low levels in D&D. Having played since the 70's its one part of the game that is really quite ordinary right out of the box.

In investigating alternatives to LL+AEC I stumbled across Hackmaster Advanced and I'm hooked. I can see this becoming my gold standard for rpging now. People seem to have the feeling that its very complex and in reality its not that hard to use, It doesn't seem to get much love, which is an odd thing, give how well it's put together.

I discovered Fantasy Age,  possibly the best retro clone out there. It's not in reality a retro clone, but it's so close to a 3d6 version of D&D that is ridiculous. Moreover its an excellent streamlined game. You could do much worse then this system. I'd think Pathfinder is going to be feeling the heat from Dungeon crawl clasic, fith edition D&D and Fantasy Age. Yes this is the same system that powers Dragon Age, but removing the Theadas specific information. On the subject of Dragon Age; it may well be one of the nicest look best produced games in role playing, it's just gorgeous as a hard cover book. You want it for your collection.

All this fantasy gaming investigation brings me to a surprising realisation: the amount of vast deviation among the "clones" from the base rules. Most of the so called clones are what I would label 'simulators/emulators' then true clones. Most use ascending AC (pft ...Mathematically AC doesnt need to be "fixed" by making it ascending, to yield the results people want or the feel they are looking for, as the Target20 system demonstrates go over to Deltas blog and read the post on armour class. There is a lot of other personal preference things (fiddly little house rules) which have crept into these 'clones' as "fixes". This is not nesecarily a bad thing, however I would have thought one motivator to the designers would be to play old classic dungeons ( ie modules )'with a minimum of prep. Including matching the hit point totals of the modules enemies. Its annoying to have to make adjustments with games that claim to be clones when using them in conjunction with classic modules.

However the modules even the great classics, are not a draw card for all apparently. It seems sandbox play is a motivator for many groups. It's a wonderful movement if that's the case. I've tried many a sand box with my players. Most times and they become overwhelmed with choice and frozen by fear of making a deadly move and walking into a TPK by error.

Thankfully Hasbro/WotC are finally re-issuing the old game rules in numerous versions, so the clones are less needed. I'd expect to see more setting driven supplements, which will act as overlays to OD&D, BECMI or AD&D and yet this is not really happen and the clones keep coming, which I love. It is however a surprise people love to tinker with rules rather than write great setting material, like Dark Albion ( a land mark in gaming settings IMO). On the other hand it's a lot easier to tweak another's work and present it as your own than it is to produce and original, inspired work.

What this proves to me is something I'd thought for a long time. The OSR is really a DIY movement for creating your own game from pre made rules-modules and accepted gaming concepts. Thats a good thing. One of the best things is that peoples blinkers have come off in regards to Fantasy heartbreakers. I can see more general acceptance of fantasy games which share a common genetic code. More acceptance in the world is a good thing.      

Still I wish D&D had an edition which aped Dragon Warriors in presentation. The type of book that appeals to the ten year old boy in all of us. I can see it in my minds eye. Its a novel sized book or maybe comic book sized wich cool line art inside all black and white with maps and illustrations of swords and armour. Presenting very much the LL+AEC type information. One of the innovations I'd like to see is talents - essentially Feats and Stat improvements moved into the GM's section and presented as optional rewards that can be awarded alongside or brought with Treasure Points. That allows for the quick old school start up of the original game yet keeps some of the cool technology that has arisen over the years. As they are in the GM's hands getting talents can be as story motivated as you like. Magic needs to be simplified too but it needs to feel..well ... magical at the same time.

There is a project here if I can be botherd to take it up,


Sunday, September 14, 2014

RPG projects

This is a list of projects I want to knock over, some being quite large. No order is implied. I'll add to it as I think of stuff

Nights Black Agents Deamon/Emergence/Diversity vampyramid
Eclipse Phase - Gate War campaign
Mindjammer sandbox
Stars without number sandbox
Blue Planet 1e - Core Rules + Edge of darkness mash up
Mongoose Publishing - Traveller - Secrets of the Ancients (compilation)
Aramis - The Traveller Adventure (yes for the fourth time)
Aeon Trinity - Darkness Revealed
Star Wars Edge of Empire beyond the rim and D6 adventures mash-up

The Cleansing war of Garik Blackhand + Mutant Epoch for update/hack

The Flood
Lasts Sons

The Elven Crystals + Dragon warriors
Witch Hunter (A Child's Game, et all including adventures from the living campaign)
The Lost City Of Barakus
The Caverns of Thracia
Slain adventure sequence (The Invulnerable King  et al)
Iron Kingdoms Witchfire Trilogy Collected Edition

The One Ring - CB7 - Tales From Wilderland (OEF)
The Great Pendragon Campaign (again as it stalled the first time)
SAGA - Avengers masters of Evil
TSR Marvel MX series ( MX1 Nightmares of Futures Past et al)
L5R City of Lies
King for a Day (use Raedwald too?)
Ghoul Keep and the Ghoul Lands
Monster Island RQ6 adventure
Flashing Blades (Parisian Adventures, et al)
Lone Wolf RPG - Terror of the Darklords

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cool Armoured knights of High Fantasy

Actually they are Psiber Knights from an alt future but they are still cool as $#!+

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A little more about why D&D is not in good hands

Prior to making Spellbound Kingdoms, you wrote for Wizards of the Coast. What were you able to take from your time with Wizards? Did you design roleplaying games prior to your time with them?
The biggest thing that I took from my freelancing for WOTC was the desire to do my own stuff. I grew extremely frustrated with the way WOTC would change material that I turned in, usually without any discussion or feedback (to be fair to WOTC, this changed for the better as their experience with freelancers grew, but it was still frustrating not having the final decision over what I wrote). Mike Mearls said at a freelancers meeting once, “Yes, we’ll tear the arms off your baby, but we’ll replace them with new, robot mutant arms!” I decided I was tired of my baby’s arms being torn off.

Original to be found here

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Age of Wormy writing and Return of the Edition Warrior

So I'm flicking through Dungeon mag's and reminesing. Then I notice I'm reading one of the issues and its really, really badly written and badly edited (I'm guessing). Its an age of worms adventure and people have nothing but great things to say about this adventure path -they say "yes its a bit rail-roady, but for all that still good". So I fond myself reading this drivel on the page and I turn back the pages to find out who wrote this pile of poo and I should have guessed.

The Three Faces of Evil  Issue #125 Written by Mike Mearls.

Ahh he comes back to haunt us again as if Iron Heroes and Gimmicks guide to gadgets where not bad enough ... here is yet another fine example of his work in print. Essentially this guy keeps publishing crap. Polished, tidy, high production value, stuff but it's still poop.

And Hasbro has him in a key position for D&D. Sigh they really should be paying attention. 

Funny thing is someone in Hasbro is possibly thinking we should buy "Pathfinder". The thing is damn it they (Hasbro) have D&D. If it wasn't for Mike Mearls there would never have been a need for Pathfinder in the first place.

Anyway go play Labyrinth Lord and don't worry. Or hackmaster 5 aka hackmaster advanced.

Just so you know this is what Mr Mike wrote; the mine dungeon has a "garrison" in the dungeon. It's larger than the one in the town  - which maned by goodly aligned folks - The dungeon garrison is considerably larger than the one above the mine, by quite a bit and they are all evil. Yep ...There are three evil cult factions. All are vastly overpowered for the assumed 3rd level PC party expected to go in and to the job. There are missing or simply wrong stats and NPC numbers (as in how many cultists are in the encounter) etc. It's really bad ...there is a doorway seperating two of the evil factions which hate each other. One maybe, inch and a half? Wood door. Evil on both sides. Yet no conflict at, for, or over the door. I was surprised and yet not surprised in retrospect. 

It was good they managed building 5e the way they did. It would have been a massive shame to see the original fantasy game lose its crown and never get it back. I'm glad it turned out fine. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

How to pick your next rpg campaign or system

Castle Falkenstein what a great game. Should it be next?

If your anything like me you love rpg's. You have a mass of them, you read and like and want to play lots of different ones. So when it comes to your next game it can be problematic and present a difficulty picking what to play. This can be further exacerbated by our gaming friends, their likes and dislikes and essentially their level of trust in you and your game management. Something  John Harper observed.

So how do you pick a game? How do you make a decision? And how will you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is the right one?

Or do I go with an Age of Sail game? Flashing blades anyone?
Your lucky in life when things are black or white. So its easy to make decisions. A train is speeding towards you. You want to live. Jump out of the way and you know unequivocally you have made the right decision.

Or maybe retro scifi? Sabers and Lazers any one?
But when it comes to gaming choices its less clear. should you play a D&D or 7th Sea? Should you play this with the original rule set or Savage Worlds?

Many of these types of decisions are ambiguous. Sometimes both decisions would have been right or wrong… to some extent. If we wait for absolute certainty before acting then we may never act. So that mean your likely to miss out on some good gaming opportunities. Fun times with friends.

Its time to realize sometimes there are no 'right' decisions, only different or alternate decisions. Trying to make the 'right' decision assumes that life is always simple or even simplistic. After all this is just your hobby time why anguish over it.  However some people - I include myself - respond to decision making time like a rabbit snared in the hunters spotlight.

Don't create unnecessary anxiety by worrying about what to do. There are five common traps to watch for:
  1. Wanting too much certainty before acting. Perfectionist types with simplistic ideas of right and wrong go for this one. They don't feel it is reasonable to act on a decision while still having doubts about it. They want a certificate to come through the letterbox telling them the right decision has been reached and officially approved. As this doesn't happen, their minds go round and round in circles and they actually think too much. 
  2. Believing a decision can only be valid if ratified by other people. This approach often comes out of fear of making an entirely independent decision. It may be a sign of reluctance to "rock the boat" or be responsible for a sub-optimal/bad outcome. 
  3. Constantly making the same mistakes because of failure to learn from the past. If you know that Rolemaster doesnt work for the group due to its complexity, or that FATE is something your players cant understand, or Runequest is too off-beat for the players, then recognise these patterns and incorporate them into your decision making. 
  4. Making emotional decisions based on a whim. Try not to make an entirely emotionally based decision type to understand the context of the decision and where it will lead. Interestingly current research make this type of decision making less of a "trap" then was previously thought and honestly in the context of role playing games this could be a fine way to go. Your passion may just carry the day and the game.  
  5. Not making a decision is a decision. The trouble is the which game which system 'problem' your trying to solve isn't maths. Your treating the problem of what to do for role playing as if it were algebra. You have to not sweat the small stuff. Moreover its preventing you from getting what you want from your roleplaying sessions. Its your hobby time and you should strive to making as enjoyable as possible. 
Ohh yeah THAT's what I'm talking about!!!
So what to do? First off don't sweat it. Don't get worked up. You may even have to give yourself time away form the decision. If your lucky enough to have a secondary GM in the group let them have the stage for however long they want need it. Or play board games for a while. If you dont want to do this then make sure you have something prepped for the next session of what ever it is you are playing. focus on combat you can rarely go wrong. Do a Chandler and have a revolver shoot through the door. The essence is don't worry about what it is - just have something. That will do for now and lets you enjoy your friends and your hobby time.

Don't feel locked in to the current game or system your running for your group. If you have to change let them know there is change coming. There is an unrealistic expectation on the part of many players in rpg's - I find particularly prevalent in people who don't or rarely run games. The Long Term Campaign. Its sort of unrealistic to expect this to just happen. Even with an entire Adventure Path, framework in which we have fun. The goal is fun. The secondary goal is fun adventuring and exploring in game drama.
She needs saving get to it!!!
Mega Dungeon or Packaged Campaign it just may not click for you or for that matter a number of the players. When one works its the nirvana of role-playing and is a truly great experience. It is NOT however the ONLY valid from of role-playing. The emphasis of any session should be on  getting together with friends to have fun over a game. Lets examine that and thing on our roleplaying experiences in the past...the game provides a

Don't dither; trust your gut instincts! When decision making gets tough – trust your gut instincts. Research published in 'Current Biology' shows, in some instances snap decisions are better than endless pedantic pondering and logical weighing up. People were shown a puzzle and asked to pick the one odd symbol out of more than 650 identical symbols. Interestingly they performed better when they were given no time to linger and were forced to rely on their subconscious to select the correct answer.

Big Gun. Check. Sword. Check. Sexy Woman.

Dr Li Zhaoping of University College London said: "You'd expect people to make better decisions when given time to look properly, but this was not so." He explained: "The conscious or top level function of the brain, when active, vetoes our initial subconscious decision – even when it is correct – leaving us unaware or distrustful of our instincts."

So thinking too much about a decision can leave us worse off. So the famous Milton Erickson's injunction to 'trust your unconscious' is now backed up by research. Your conscious logical brain doesn't always make the best decisions. Clearly logical thought has its place in decision making, but logic is a tool and not the only one in the box! Which leads to the question: are some people just too sensible when it comes to decision making?

So how to make that decision? To make good decisions you need to:
  1. Learn to trust your instincts. Don't always insist on 'logical' reasons for everything, such as why to chose Savage worlds rather then Traveller. Learn to say: 'Because it feels right.'
  2. When you do base decision making on weighing up the pros and cons, use your imagination. Really sit down and envisage living with the decision. How does that feel? Will the game work at the table. Can you commit to your own decision? You should be able to do so. If not propose a "one shot" or "short-run".
  3. Don't be overly tempted by strong emotional attraction to a game or system. Intuitive decision making works best when the distorting effects of emotion are kept in context. Revisit the rule above.  
  4. Remember, some decisions won't make sense to other people – and that may be OK. Most advances (Flight, open heart surgery, the telephone) were instigated by people who decided to follow what seemed like crazy ideas to others at the time. Be prepared to adjust to the needs of the group as things progress. If people balk at your game choice a) inform them your committed to a X length of play, b) passionate on the subject and more likely to create great in game fun and c) prepared to take feedback after three sessions about the game choice and its continuance.
  5. Don't beat yourself up if you do make a 'wrong' decision. You can learn from it and hey – you are human! And well you all got to try a new game. Whoot!!!
The important thing is that you play at the table with friends - everything else is secondary to that goal. The Play is the thing, not sitting agonising over the perfect game setting or system. Get your friends over and roll dice for adventure and fun!  
Yep there is my next game, right there!!!