Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2015

RPGaDay: Favorite Non-RPG Thing to Come Out of a RPG

My favorite non-RPG thing to come out of a RPG is Lords of Waterdeep. Lords of Waterdeep is a fantastic introduction to the worker placement genre of board games and it has a theme based on D&D's Forgotten Realms setting. Light euros are not the kind of games that WotC are usually know for, but they really hit it out of the park with Lords of Waterdeep. Not only is it a good use of the D&D theme, but it is a solid worker placement game in its own right. Better yet, it is a great introduction to both worker placement and strategic board games in general. It is very easy to learn, and plays quickly. It also is very easy to set up, something that you cannot usually say for these kinds of games. This is a great gateway game that can lead to other fantastic games like Manhattan Project and Yedo. My wife and I have played this many times, both the cardboard version and the excellent iOS application.

RPGaDay Favorite RPG Playing Celebrity

I guess I am going to have to make the same choice here as 95% of the rest of the participants and say Wil Wheaton. Not only am I a fan of him as an actor, Stand By Me is one of my favorite movies, but he is a celebrity that plays RPGs that is actively helping the hobby. Wil has a talent for figuring out how to make it interesting to watch other people have fun. I was very skeptical of Tabletop when I first heard about its premise, and I was happily proved wrong. I think that with Titansgrave, he has offered one of the best gateways into the hobby that has ever been available. The show makes role playing look fun, and it communicates what it is all about. That second item has always been a challenge, how do you communicate what an RPG is if no one in the group has any experience with the hobby. I think that prior to Titansgrave, the best answer was Mentzer’s Red Box, and game books in general. I think that Fantasy AGE has the greatest introductory box set ever, a YouTube show. Tita

RPGaDay Favorite RPG Blog/Website

To be honest, I no longer have a central place on the web to go for RPGs. For years, the Fear the Boot forums were my RPG home, but RPG discussion seems to have moved away from forums and distributed across things like Google+ and Twitter. I find it much harder to stay interested in these forms of communication, they have no history and do not lend themselves to long, in-depth discussions. Things like Roll20 and Google Hangouts offer online gaming opportunities that never existed before, but without a central community, I am not sure how to find people to use these tools. It would be nice to have a place where there was a group of people large enough to offer a pool of diverse players, but small enough that we all know each other. It feels like what is missing from the web since forums went out of style is the ability to talk to small focused communities. You are either talking to one person or everybody now.

September is City Month

I really enjoyed having RPGaDay during August, it gave me something to write about every day. I think I am going to continue that on my own during the next month. I will use the month of September to create a fantasy city, one post at a time. I will be drawing on my various GM/DM guides and city books for inspiration and mechanical guidance. I haven't decided exactly how I will attack this yet, I may post a schedule of blog posts in the next few days, or I may wing the design throughout the month. I am likely to use the 3.X Dungeon Master Guide system for classifying the city as it is well organized and people are familiar with it. I am not a cartographer, but there will be a map or maps. I generally use procedural methods for detailing my campaigns, so there is likely to be random charts. I imagine I will detail factions and NPCs as well. More to come.

RPGaDay Favorite RPG I No Longer Play

I guess I could take the easy route with this and just say WEG Star Wars and be done with it. It has been years since I last played it, and I am unlikely to play it again anytime soon, but I don’t want every one of this posts to be about that game, so I will go with Alternity instead. I really enjoyed Alternity at the time, it was an attempt to have a universal game for science fiction the way that AD&D was a universal game for fantasy. This was a few years before 3rd edition and the advent of the d20 system that was set up to handle them both. From a rules perspective Alternity kind of existed in a wierd place between chaos of AD&D and the unified mechanic of d20. It moved towards the idea of having a standardized task resolution mechanic, but the mechanic itself was still pretty fiddly. It wasn’t a bad system for the time, but it is not one I see myself going back to today when I have choices like GURPS 4th edition and Savage Worlds. The best thing about Alternity was its

RPGaDay Favorite Idea for Merging Two Games Together

I wasn't too sure what he meant by this. I could take it to mean, "Favorite idea for merging two campaigns into one," or I could take it to mean, "Favorite idea for merging two game systems or settings into one," so I will just take it both ways. I have a lot of experience with merging games. I have run different groups in the same campaign world, sometimes even the same dungeon, for a number of years. Most recently, I have drawn all the heavily used areas from my recent fantasy campaigns into one world. This was pretty easy to do, I just cut out those sections of the maps and then glued them back together. They key was that by eliminating all of the history that my players never encountered in game, I found I had almost no conflicts that would have to be explained away, even if all of the players involved discovered everything that the other players knew (unlikely). I think they lesson here is that if you only create what you need, and do not get attached to

RPGaDay Favorite Gaming Inspiration

The inspiration for games I run tends to come from two places, books and maps. Generally, I get science fiction inspiration from books and fantasy inspiration from maps, although this is not always the case. I think this is because my science fiction games tend to be about an idea, usually a "what if question", and my fantasy games tend to be about a journey or exploring a place.  Almost any kind of book can inspire a science fiction game, from a science fiction novel, to a book on phone phreaking. Sometimes I will get an idea while reading a history book or a social science book. The inspiration almost always takes the form of a question, from the dumb, "What if this happened in spaaace?" to the more complicated, "What would a democracy look like if everyone could vote on hundreds of little issues every day through the internet?" Even when I am dealing with a licensed scifi game like Star Wars, the basis tends to come from a question. To a certain

RPGaDay Favorite Revolutionary Mechanic

This one is really hard. I am having a hard time coming up with a mechanic that I feel is really revolutionary. And I am going to answer this from the perspective of what felt revolutionary to me when I encountered it. That means that if someone else did it first, but I never encountered it, too bad. While there are plenty of times that I have found a mechanic clever, I can only think of two times that I can say I was surprised by one. The first was saving throws, it actually took a while for me to get my head around those. Part of that was that I was 10 years old, the other part o it was that it was the opposite of the way everything else in the game worked. You generally rolled to make stuff happen to another character, not to keep it from happening to you. I was comfortable with hit points when I first encountered them, they were the same as hearts in Zelda, but rolling to keep a status from being applied to my character was a bit mind bending. The other was the conflict resolut

RPGaDay Favorite House Rule

My favorite house rule is my dungeon crawling house rule set for Castles & Crusades. While C&C is great as written for most things, it does need some tightening up for extended dungeons crawls of the type I run. While I am always working on my house rules, the general gist is to get combat out of the way quick, and to have a very strict exploration round. I have talked about these rules before. I slim down combat by using group initiative and break combat into phases, each side takes its turn before moving on to the next phase. The phases are Missile, Melee, and Magic. I extend the combat round to 1 minute so movement can mostly be abstracted. I also treat all enemies in a group as a bucket of hit points. When you kill one foe worth of hit points, I subtract one enemy from the group. Any damage dealt beyond what is required to kill an enemy is applied to the hit point bucket. This means that characters regularly mow down multiple weak enemies in a round. This makes them feel

Roll20 Gaming: Backlog

Last week I played in a DCC game using Roll20, and I was impressed with the system. I have been thinking about running some games using it, especially games that I don't think I will get much chance to run in person, things like starter sets and the huge number of perfectly good modules and adventure paths I have accumulated over the years. These things have the advantage of generally being low prep time, accessible, and having a pre-defined endpoint for buy in purposes. Looking around my shelves I see things like the Pathfinder Beginner Box, several Paizo adventure paths for both Pathfinder and 3.5, a stack of 3rd edition Dungeon magazines, Ptolus, White Wolf's Scion campaign, the 5e Starter Set, the 4e Starter Set, the Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars Starter Sets (there is a dice roller, I checked), WEG Star Wars Darkstryder Campaign, some C&C modules, lots of Lamentations of the Flame Princess modules, and that doesn't even touch on the .pdf bundles I have purchased

Star Wars Armada

I played Star Wars Armada to day at my FLGS today. I stopped in the store two weeks ago and asked some people playing the new Halo fleet battles game about it. They told me that they play Armada every other week, so I picked it up to get ready for this weekend. The game is a lot of fun, and moves quicker than I expected. The first couple of turns were a little slow because I was figuring out how things worked, but the second half of the game really picked up. We played a game with 200 points on each side in well under 2 hours, including instruction. I played the Imperials and got lucky and won. We reached the turn limit and I had destroyed a Rebel corvette, but lost only a few fighters. I say I got lucky because had we played a few more turns, my Star Destroyers would have ran off the edge of the map and my opponent would have been awarded points for them. It took me a while to realize how hard the Star Destroyers are to turn. If you are playing them, you will need to use the maneu

RPGaDay Day 23: Perfect Game for You

I wasn't exactly sure what this question meant, so I am going to assume that it means which game I would want to play if I could always get enough people. For me, the answer is GURPS. For all the time I spend talking about, and running, rules-lite games, I actually prefer crunchy games with a high level of granularity to skills and mechanics. I think this is because, if I could run any kind of game, I would run hard science fiction games. I prefer that kind of game to have several different kinds of physicists and chemists, not just a generic "Science" skill. And it isn't just in hard scifi that granularity matters to me. I love Savage Worlds, but I have some problems with the system in long campaigns or back-to-back campaigns. Savage Worlds does not have a very high level of detail in its skills, this is great, it is what makes it so fast and easy, but it can make everything start to feel the same after a while. I have found that two Savage Worlds campaigns in a r

Shadowrun Returns

I finished Shadowrun Returns this afternoon, and while it is hardly one of the greatest games of all time, I really liked it. I thought they did a good job of capturing the feel of Shadowrun fiction. One of the nicest things about the game was the length. It feels like it is rare to find a isometric, turn-based RPG that clocks in under 40 hours. I estimate I finished Shadowrun in 10 hours or less. It isn't that I don't enjoy the sprawling epics, but it is hard to get a game started when the estimated time to completion is 80 hours. It was also nice to play a game where there is not really any filler story, it moves along at a good pace with only a few, quick side quests. The story is nothing special, but it isn't completely predictable. It was enough to keep me interested. The combat was good, although it was probably a bit too easy. I really liked the way they integrated netrunning into regular combat. This is one of those things that just works better on a computer in m

RPGaDay Day 22: Perfect Gaming Environment

Today's question was, what is your perfect gaming environment? For me the answer is either a gaming store or a convention, and I prefer a gaming store. I have several reasons that I prefer public gaming. One, I like big groups, eight is my favorite table size, system allowing. I find it is usually easier to pull this off at a con or a store, for reasons of space and having enough people. Second, I believe that the best way to get people into the hobby is for them to see people playing a game. Gaming stores are the perfect place for this. There are a surprising number of people in a gaming store that have never played a RPG, or have not played one in years. These are people who are generally geek inclined since they are in the game store, and a table with six to eight people sitting around it having fun draw attention. RPGs are actually somewhat less intimidating than many of the other things going on in the store, there aren't $800 of minis on the table, or a whole bunch

What Should a Shadowrun Game Look Like?

I have been playing Shadowrun Returns recently and I have been enjoying it. I have to admit to not being a huge fan of the Shadowrun tabletop game, it has way too much continuity built up, and I have never felt that the rules really had all that much to do with the theme of the game. This was fairly common when Shadowrun came out, and the Shadowrun rules are much better than many of the other games of the time, they just didn't make it feel like a shadowrun. While I was playing Shadowrun Returns today, I started wondering what a Shadowrun game should be like. Pretty much every Shadowrun game I have ever played in or run has had these parts: Information Gathering; Planning; Execution; and Everything Goes Wrong. In my experience, Planning takes up most of the night, and Everything Goes Wrong is where all the excitement is. The problem with the Planning phase is that many players hate it and want to get to the action, but for a few players it is their favorite part of the whole game

RPGaDay 2015 Day 21: Favorite RPG Setting

Favorite RPG Setting If you have read my previous answers, it should come as no surprise that my favorite setting is Star Wars. I am not going to go on about it again here, I have run two campaigns to completion in this setting and loved both of them. I can actually be more specific because both of those campaigns were set in the Elrood Sector, the subject of one of WEG's Galaxy Guides. The great thing about the Elrood Sector is the level of detail at which it is described, each planet gets a few pages, some hooks, and a few characters. There is enough there to build a campaign around, but not enough there that it becomes cumbersome to remember it. In fact, while both my campaigns were set in the Elrood Sector, they were two very different versions of the sector. I should mention two other settings in which I have run a lot of game sessions, Stonehell and The City State of the Invincible Overlord. I don't think it is a mistake that these are both very limited set

RPGaDay 2015 Day 20: Favorite Horror RPG

Like Super Hero RPGs, I have very little experience with horror RPGs. The only horror RPG that I have any real experience with is WEG's Bloodshadows, and I am not sure that counts. Bloodshadows was part of WEG's Masterbook line. Masterbook was an odd duck generic system that used custom cards in conjunction with dice for the core mechanic of the game. It was interesting, but on the clunky side in actual play. You had to roll dice, consult a chart, and play cards. If I remember correctly, you also had to know what "stymied" meant. Bloodshadows was also an out-of-the-ordinary setting. It mixed '30s-'40s noir with hammer horror monsters and spellcasters. To be honest, the setting was not a great match for the rules. We generally did not play this game as real horror, our sessions tended more towards campy action. I think this was mostly driven by the artwork in the books, which had a very pulpy feel to them. The game hardly qualifies as horror from a thematic

RPGaDay Day 19 and Roll 20

Short post tonight since I played a game on Roll20. This actually works out well, I have never really played a Supers game. I ran a session of DC Heroes back in the '90s and I have read Necessary Evil. Based on that small amount of information, I like Necessary Evil More. I had a good time playing in my first Roll20 game tonight, it was a DCC funnel. We played Sailors on the Starless Sea by Harley Stroh. I had a good time, and Roll20 works really well for this kind of game. We started out to investigate a keep that we believed was connected to the disappearance of many of our fellow villagers. We lost one character (didn't catch name) in a tragic bridge-crossing accident at the very start.  Once inside the keep. the party investigated a well and hear a strange wailing sound. Two characters started throwing rocks down the well and were momentarily possessed by the urge to jump in the well. One of them died (didn't catch name), the other managed to grab a hold of a ch

RPGaDay 2015 Favorite Science Fiction RPG

I have always enjoyed science fiction more than fantasy. I like that it looks forward instead of backwards, that it celebrates humanity's ability to innovate, and that it has cool spaceships. There is no way I can discuss my favorite science fiction game without also discussing my love for science fiction in general, and especially Star Wars. It is almost impossible to overstate the impact that Star Wars had on my early life, the movies hinted at a universe that stretched far beyond the screen, more adventures to be had, and new worlds to discover. In some ways, Star Wars, a movie series that is not about exploration, did more to imply a giant universe to explore than Star Trek, a show focused on exploration. Maybe it's the lived-in look that does it, or the greater variety in alien appearance, or the many different kinds of aliens gathered in one place, even in a backwater. Whatever it is, the series has always been a call to adventure for me. I didn't want to go to th

Vote for Roll20's Old School Adventure

A few days ago, I linked to a video of Adam Koebel from Roll20 discussing Moldvay Basic D&D and why he loved it. It was a great video, and one of the better explanations of the attractions of Basic D&D I have seen. If you haven't seen it, go watch it . I'll wait. Now you can vote on which old school adventure they will be playing. The choices are: Keep on the Borderlands The Lost City The Caverns of Thracia The Palace of the Silver Princess While I feel like I should vote for KotB, because it is a great learning adventure, I really want to see how this guy runs The Caverns of Thracia. I will be voting for that. How about you?

Megadungeons: Tools

Before I embark on my Stonehell customization project, I need to think about what tools I will need. I have divided them into three categories, these categories each include both physical tools and processes I will use for content creation. Content generation tools Content management tools Quality control tools "Content generation tools" are pretty self explanatory, they are the tools I will use to create the content that will go into the dungeon: Graph paper: I still do the rough draft of everything by hand. I am not really sure why, it is very inefficient, but it is how I work. Pencils Drawing templates Writing journal Geomorphs: Some I will steal from other places, some I will make myself. I actually shouldn't need that many, I am leaving levels 1 and 2 untouched and they will have the most real estate. Treasure tables Dungeon tables Random dungeon generation procedure: I started talking about that here Monster books: I have plenty A dungeon d

RPGaDay 2015 Day 17

Favorite fantasy RPG Like most RPG gamers, I have a long history with fantasy games of many different types. I started with MERP and quickly moved on to Mentzer D&D. BECMI and 2nd edition AD&D were my group's primary games for the next decade. While we played other non-fantasy RPGs, I cannot think of any significant time spent with another fantasy game. At the dawn of the 21st century, we bid goodbye to AD&D with a marathon game of Dragonlance Classics and moved on to 3rd edition. I think it is hard, 15 years later, to remember what a revelation that new edition was at the time. AD&D was so creaky under its own weight with kits and Skills and Powers that I was regularly "doing the math" for most of my players. The sad fact is, most of my players did not actually know how to play the game. This is not a knock on them, it had become very complicated, and the rules were spread out among a whole bunch of books. The feedback from that first session was un

DCC on Wednesday

On Wendesday, I will be playing in a DCC game on Roll20. I am really excited about this. It will be my first Roll20 experience, I have only used Fantasy Grounds before. Even that Fantasy Grounds experience was about 8 years ago and I only GM'd. It will be interesting to see how far VTTs have come in the last few years, especially from an interface standpoint.  I have played Dungeon Crawl Classics before, I play tested Mike Curtis's "Frozen in Time" module. I really enjoyed it, but we did not do a funnel so I will be interested to see how that works.  I will let you know how it goes. 

RPGaDay2015 Day 16: Longest Session Played

It is not going to be possible for me to name the exact longest session that I ever played or ran because there were so many weekend-long games during high school. It would have to be either AD&D 2nd edition or WEG Star Wars. It is more likely to have been AD&D because I was running Star Wars every week and some times more than once in a week, so we did not tend to do marathon sessions with that game. I can tell you about a session that ran so long that the GM fell asleep. We were playing Rules Cyclopedia D&D and one of my players was running the game, he almost never DM'd and it was going really well. It was not a dungeon crawl, it was a mystery. We were closing in on the culprit and suddenly, in mid-description, the DM's head goes down and he starts to snore. We nudged him to try to wake him up long enough to finish the game and the only response we got was, "She's got your mother's dress, but she doesn't have the body." When he woke up t

RPGaDay2015 Day 15: Longest Campaign

My longest campaign was my WEG Star Wars Elrood Sector campaign. I ran this game for the entirety of high school, sometimes multiple sessions in one week. This is my longest running campaign no matter how you measure it, length of time, or number of sessions. It was a great system and a great setting in the system. I revisited the Elrood Sector a couple of years ago when I ran an Edge of Empire game there. That campaign is another one of my all time favorites.

Megadungeons: Stonehell Customization 2

So, how do I go about planning my Stonehell customization project? I already have a good first pass at a high level definition of my goal: A customized version of Stonehell dungeon that is consistent with the history of my campaign world and reinforces careful play and resource management. I will need to sharpen that as I go, but it will serve to keep me pointed in the right direction for now. I can't talk about the history part yet because my players have spent the last several sessions almost stumbling on some big reveals. Some of my players read this blog, so I don't want to spoil anything. I can discuss the play style of my group though. My current Stonehell group consists of people who either work in, or are students in, the science and technology area. There are both professionals and skilled tradesmen in our group. I am a lawyer with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. As you can imagine, my group has a very methodical play style. They carefully explor


Kevyn over at the Geometry of Madness has an ongoing Prydain Project that is awesome. Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series is a foundation for my love of fantasy. I read those books many, many times growing up. I actually read them all again about three years ago. So far Kevyn has a map, classes, a couple of monsters, and some magic items. You can guarantee I will keep checking on this one.

RPG Bucket List

Today, on Venger's Old School Gaming blog, Venger asked what items are on everyone's RPG bucket list. I have several items on mine: Run another long-term Star Wars campaign. I love Star Wars gaming, I have run one Star Wars campaign (FFG) that lasted several months, and another (WEG) that lasted over 4 years. Both were set in the Elrood Sector. My preference would be to run a sequel campaign to my Edge of Empire game from a few years ago. The ending of that game basically set up a follow-on game that would be like Star Wars Voyager.  I want to run a Dungeons & Dragons (or descendant) campaign that heavily mixes standard party-level play with realm management and mass combat. I have started running this type of game before, but out-of-game circumstances have always disrupted it. Back in 2007, I ran two linked GURPS science fiction campaigns. The first dealt with humanity's expansion throughout the solar system, and the second took place on a slower-than-light colo

RPGaDay 2015 Day 13

Favorite RPG podcast. I am going to interpret this question as, "What is your favorite RPG podcast currently being produced?" My favorite RPG podcast is also the very first podcast I ever subscribed to, Fear the Boot . I have to admit that I do not really listen to RPG podcasts for GMing advice. I have been gaming since the late '80s, and while I certainly don't think I know it all, the type of advice that I find useful at this point tends to be long form. I listen to RPG podcasts because I like to feel like I am sitting, talking to my friends about RPGs. Fear the Boot nails that feel. I think it is fair to say that Fear the Boot set the standard for the casual roundtable-style RPG podcast. I also listen to RPG podcasts just to keep up with what is going on. Fear the Boot is certainly not the best for this, they tend to have a fairly narrow range of games they play and discuss. They have broadened over the years, but they usually are not discussing cutting edge

RPGaDay 2015: Day 12

Favorite RPG illustration. This one is really hard, there are so many great illustrations in RPGs. There are also so many not-so-great illustrations that were the inspiration for memorable campaigns and characters from my youth. I am going to have to go with the cover of the very first gaming product I ever owned, Tolkien Quest: Night of the Nazgul. You make think this is a cheat since this is a solo game book and not an RPG, but I bought this book because of this cover without even knowing what a game book really was. I wore this book and a few others in this line out, and then I used the rules from them to make up adventures for my friends to play. Eventually we started to question what this MERP thing was the book talked about and discovered that someone had already made a game that let you make up your own adventures. After failing to figure out MERP, we moved on to D&D. 

The Ant City

Speaking of megadungeons.

Megadungeons: Customizing Stonehell

There is a reason that I cannot start on the Castle Whale right now, I already have a megadungeon project I am working on, my ongoing Stonehell game. I have been running Stonehell for various groups since early 2010, and I have kept a persistent dungeon through every session. That means that there have been a lot of changes to my version over many sessions, especially in the first two levels. While the physical layout is mostly the same, most of the original room descriptions have changed as a result of player actions. Recently I have started changing the dungeon further by adding my own sub-levels. These sub-levels have introduces an interesting wrinkle to my dungeon, history. My current campaign world does not have much history. It is a mixture of parts of my old campaigns and commercial products. The "civilized" continent has only its major port city, The City State of the Invincible Overlord, detailed. I brought Judges Guild's classic city over from a Castles &

RPG a Day Post 2

7. Favorite free game. My favorite free game is Stars Without Number . This game has a lot of interesting things going on, I especially like its tagging system. It is high quality all around, so much so that it is hard to believe that it is free. 8. Favorite appearance of a RPG in media. This is the easiest one so far, Community's " Advanced Dungeons and Dragons " episode. This is the closest I have ever seen to D&D being portrayed the way my friends and I played it in high school. There is the awkward flirting, the inappropriate settling personal grudges, and the awkward thing that everyone else realizes is racist, sexist or somehow else horribly inappropriate. 9. Favorite media you wish was a RPG. This one is really hard, so many properties have been turned into RPGs, and I don't want to say Harry Potter after the guy in the video did. I guess I would have to say the '90s X-Men cartoon. I am not talking about a generic Marvel Universe ga

Megadungeons: The Castle Whale

I continue to think about The Castle Whale . I am pretty far off from starting any real project here, as I do not have any outlet to run it at this time. I am already running a megadungeon game set in Stonehell, so I don't think my group would appreciate me jumping at a new shiny. But I am thinking about how I would go about it if I ever get the chance. I think, if I was going to build a megadungeon from scratch, I would do it as a complete stand alone game with a rule set specifically tailored, not just for megadungeons, but for the specific dungeon. I would probably make a rule set descended from either Swords & Wizardry, Searchers of the Unknown, or E6. I would probably go the route of having characters be a bit more survivable than baseline D&D, with more hp and faster recovery options. The combat system would be theater of the mind and abstract to facilitate quick encounters. I would probably use a lot of ideas I discussed in a previous post about streamlined games

RPG a Day 2015 Post 1

I just learned about RPGaDay2015 while reading Fraser's blog, Sword's Edge Publishing . It looks like I am already a few days in the hole, so I will try to catch up. Forthcoming game you are most looking forward to. The game I am most looking forward to is Titansgrave by Green Ronin, it is the first setting for their Fantasy AGE game. I picked up Fantasy AGE at GenCon and I really enjoy the Titansgrave show. 2. Kickstarted game you are most pleased you backed. I have only backed one game on Kickstarter, and it was Troll Lord Games' Three Sisters Kickstarter. This was the Kickstarter that got the core rule books in print in color, and I really enjoy the color versions I got from that Kickstarter. They currently have another Kickstarter going on for their Mythos Books . 3. Favorite new game of the last twelve months. I have not purchased many games that were made in the last year, in act the only ones I can think of are D&D 5e and Fantasy AG

Dread and First Games for a 3 Year Old

Today I read through The Impossible Dream's Dread . For those of you who are not aware, Dread is a narrative horror game where the main mechanic is pulling blocks from a Jenga tower. The idea is that as the session progresses things get more tense as the tower becomes more rickety. If the tower falls while you are pulling a block, which you are required to do for actions you might fail at, your character is removed from the game. The book is very well written, and pleasant to read on its own. Using a Jenga tower to simulate the tension in a horror game is a stroke of genius. The basic premise is so simple, and the book is so well written, that I was getting ideas for games the entire time. It is very easy to extend the game beyond the usual horror settings, and even beyond the idea of a small group working together. You could use it to have a game where some players played Mission Control and others are the astronauts in a capsule on the way to the moon. Obviously something will

Troll Lord Games Short Film

I think they did a pretty good job with this. I actually didn't see it coming. 

The Castle Whale

I was thinking a bit more about what a low magic world with a mystical underworld megadungeon would look like. Is there some way to make the megadungeon a pseud-natural occurrence? As others have pointed out, you can't just make magic strange by making the setting low magic, players are already used to magic spells and items. How can I make the megadungeon itself feel weird? The idea of a low magic world with a mystical underworld megadungeon put an image in my head. An Age of Sail setting where enormous whales roam the oceans, true titans of the deep. Not only are the whales large, but they do not rot when they die, instead their flesh turns to stone. Whalers regularly drag the carcass of a whale back to shore and towns are built in the bodies. Legends tell of a leviathan that dwarfs even these massive animals; the Castle Whale. The Castle Whale is the size of a mountain. It died centuries ago, but its hardened corpse still drifts in the oceans, it becomes a floating megadunge


I have been enjoying Wil Wheaton's Titansgrave: Ashes of Valkana over the last few weeks. Generally I do not enjoy watching, or listening to, actual plays. Watching other people play games is no where near as fun as playing them yourself, and so much is lost in not being there. I get more enjoyment from reading a gaming book than I do from actual plays. The differences with Titansgrave are that the campaign was designed with being viewed in mind, all of the players are actors, it is professionally shot, and it is well edited. The first and the last are probably the most important, The campaign is paced with an audience in mind and all of the boring stuff is edited out. I think that this series could do for RPGs what Tabletop is doing for board games. It gives people an idea of how the games work, and takes a lot of the intimidation factor out of getting started. It helps that the have followed the show up with a solid, and easy RPG in Fantasy AGE . I picked up the basic rule boo

Megadungeons with Streamlined Rules

Ken H. at The Rusty Battle Axe started an interesting discussion about streamlined rules in the dungeon the other day (you should go read it now). He asks the question, "What if the dungeon (in this case, a megadungeon) was a unique feature in an otherwise mundane and non-fantasy medieval world?" He goes on to describe a system, based on S&W Core , that only uses the Human Fighter and the Human Thief. He goes on to describe how this would focus play and force the players to make more creative decisions. He also raises some concerns about gaming this way: The lack of healing The lack of character class choice The loss of tactical options with magic gone It would suck My first thought when I read this was that it would still be really fun. I have always been enchanted by simplified and pared down rule sets. I have been wanting to run an entire campaign using only the Pathfinder Beginner Box set and some monster books. I was intrigued a few years ago by a discussio