Monday, March 31, 2014

Gary Con Report

I found it interesting that they used this image
for the t-shirts and promotion, considering that
Dave Trampier, the artist, had just passed away
the Monday before...
This past weekend was my first Gary Con. My wife went with me, and we spent three days there. Well, technically only two, as our Sunday event got cancelled, and we didn’t have time to jump in a game or anything. But, aside from that, we had a blast, and are planning on making this an annual thing. Between Gary Con in the Spring, and Gamehole Con in the fall, we should be good on Con-going and getting our game on.

We weren’t able to get out on Thursday (though we plan to next year), so our weekend started by driving out to Lake Geneva on Friday morning. We had a game scheduled for 1:00 pm, and we got there at about 10:30. This gave us time to look around, check out the dealer room, and generally just get our bearings. Even though the vendors were limited, there was a bunch of neat stuff, and it was all I could do to not hand my small credit card to everyone. That said, we did walk away with some cool loot (more on that later).

Our 1:00 game was Dragon Age, the RPG. My wife has played quite a bit of DAII on her computer, so she was jazzed for this one. For me, it was a fantasy RPG, so I was sold. We both liked the system a lit. 3d6 task resolution, with a “dragon dice” mechanic to add some extra flavor. There were supposed to be pregen characters, but the GM kinda dropped the ball. I didn’t mind that, as I like making character. The only downside was that it bit heavily in play time, which almost ruined the end of the session.

All in all, a good experience for me. And my wife’s only disappointment was that it didn’t delve too much into what separates Dragon Age from any other D&D world. However, it did inspire her, and now we are buying her the game, and she plans on running an event herself at Gamehole in November.

Unfortunately, about halfway through the game, I started feeling ill. And by the time we were done I was running a low-grade fever, and having stomach issues. We were planning on partying with our friends that night in celebration of my wife’s birthday this month, so we went back to the hotel and I napped. Woke up feeling a bit better, but not perfect. However, I muscled through it, and my wife had a great time, which was all that was important. The only down side was that I got a nice New York Steak that ended up going to waste because the fridge in our hotel was broken. I almost cried.

Saturday morning I awoke feeling rested, hungry, and much better. After a nice breakfast, we hit the Con again. We hit the dealer room first, and found Larry Elmore there, signing prints. So, we each picked out a print for him to sign. My wife bought one of the Dragons of Spring Dawning cover, and I bought one of The Crystal Shard cover, and he signed and personalized them both. SQUEE!!!

We had a noon game of Star Frontiers, and I was super-excited for it. I hadn’t played since high school, but have been jonesing to try it again for about the past year. My wife had never played, and knew nothing about the setting or system. But, with some coaching, and a really good GM, we had a blast. Even with the failed rolls and mishaps. This was probably my favorite game of the weekend, though not by much, as you’ll soon see.

After Star Frontiers, we had a couple of hours, so we grabbed some dinner in the restaurant, while watching the charity auction. I was so envious of the guys who could drop hundreds of dollars on some really cool collectibles. Then it was time for our evening game at 6:00 pm: Castles & Crusades.

I recalled trying it out when it first came out years ago, but never since. So, wanting something from the Con, I bought a copy of the Player’s Handbook before the game. Turned out it was the last unsold copy of the 5th printing. I thought that was kind of cool.

The game was run by one of the developers, Steve Chenault, who ended up signing my book afterwards. The party consisted of 16 people! And he handled it all like a champ. He kept the pace going, the simple story was fun, and I liked my half-orc ranger. The game itself was very cool, too. I liked the simplified mechanics, and it really did feel like the Old School games I have recently become so interested in. Character deaths happened, but they were expected, and we even all cheered when the barbarian was the first to die. Over all, it was a really fun game. We had a bit of a break in the middle, as four of us got separated from the other 12, and they got into a big fight. But we had a good RP encounter with a stone giant, who ended up being a jerk. In the end, I think only three characters died, and the rest of us made it out. Had a blast, and I really want to play C&C some more.

Sunday morning we were supposed to sit in on a panel with some game designers and publishers (including Steve from the night before), but it obviously got cancelled as they were filming some kind of special interview with Margaret Weis in the bar area where our event was to take place. I was a little bummed, but not much. We lingered for bit, then headed home on a leisurely route through the countryside, stopping at a roadside diner for elevensies. We hit the local game store on the way home for Dragon Age, since no one had it at the Con. The store didn’t have it in stock either, so we ordered it, and it should be here tomorrow.

All-in-all, it was a great time. And we were both bummed to have to leave. Last night I found myself wishing we were still there and had a game scheduled for the evening again. Ah, well. Gamehole is only about eight months away…

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My V&V Experience: Character Creation

It occurred to me last night that the fastest way (for me) to learn a new RPG is to make a character and go from there. So, that’s what I did today, during some spare time.

I started off by following the book precisely, and making myself first, then adding powers. This was interesting, and a bit humbling/self-affirming. One of the first steps is to record your actual, real-life weight. Ok, fine. So, I’m a bit overweight. Moving on. You then rank your Strength, Agility, Endurance, Intelligence and Charisma on a scale of 3-18, with 10 being average.

Physically, I’m close to average. I’m probably a bit stronger, and have better reflexes, but I’m just in “OK” shape. I honestly believe I’m pretty smart, and I know I make friends and influence people pretty easily. I tried to be humble and realistic, but when in doubt, I erred on the side of vanity (this is a Super Hero game, after all). Here is what I came up with:

Strength: 12
Agility: 12
Endurance: 10
Intelligence: 15
Charisma: 15

From there a lot of things get calculated out. Oddly enough, you actually have to calculate them with formulae (I used an actual calculator), instead of looking things up on a table. I would imagine that, somewhere in the last 32 years since this game was published, someone did tables for reference. I might have to look for them, just because. Anyways, I came up with the following:

Hit Points: 10
Accuracy: 0
Damage Mod: +1
Base HtH Damage: 1d6
Healing Rate: 1.25
Carrying Capacity: 308
Detect Hidden: 12
Detect Danger: 16
Power: 47

And basically, that’s me without any powers. Which brings me to the next step: Powers.

You’re supposed to roll 1d6+2 to determine your number of powers. I rolled a three, giving me five powers. Initially, I decided to go with the standard method, and rolled a d100 in each category (there are five, and you’re expected to pick more than one). However, I came up with such a random set that it was laughable. So, I erased those, and started over. This time, I decided that, if I were actually playing this game, I would have a theme in mind, so I chose to roll all of my powers from the basic Powers table. Here’s what I got.

Natural Weapon
Disintegration Ray
Heightened Attack

Normally you roll a Weakness, and delete one power. You then have the option to delete the Weakness in exchange for deleting a second power. So, I forwent rolling my fifth power and my Weakness, and then deleted Disintegration Ray.

So, basically, I just became Wolverine, without the Adamantium skeleton or heightened senses.

I decided against making my Natural Weapons claws, and chose instead to use that to represent my toughened fists (which, I kind of actually have, due to years of on-and-off-again martial arts/boxing practice). This also accounts for my Heightened Attack, making Regeneration my only real superpower. Not sure how I ended up with that, and I think I will keep it that way. Adds to my mystery.

After a few other details are added (including my obligatory character portrait), and factoring in the changes for the Powers, that’s it. Tom Doolan, aka Haymaker, is done and ready to play.

Over all, I found the process relatively quick and painless (aside from a couple of the calculations). Still not sold on the whole “me with powers” idea. But, that’s easy enough to work around, considering that the stats have the same range as D&D stats, so 3d6 would get me comparable numbers. Admittedly, I kind of got lucky with the powers, but even the book says that, as an option, the GM can allow the player to just choose which powers to take, within reason. And I can’t imagine any GM not allowing this combination.

Next up: Combat

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


It even came with a GM screen!
I now own five different Supers RPG’s. I have the classic Marvel Super Heroes from TSR, 5th Edition Champions, Mutants & Masterminds 1E, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, and, as of yesterday, Villains & Vigilantes Revised.

As a side note, I almost bought the 80’s version of DC Heroes the other day at Half Price Books, but decided not to. However, if I find it at Gary Con, I will probably grab it, just because.

So, in browsing through the V&V book last night, my initial impression is that it looks fun. Lots of options, great art, a really good section on creating campaigns and adventures. Initially, it looked promising, and I thought I might run a one-shot for some friends some time.

Then I started reading the actual mechanics.

I should make it clear that I have never played the game, and never really read the rules. That being said, I think I have enough general RPG knowledge to judge whether a game is good or not. So, it is with that qualifier that I feel confident in saying that V&V is not a very good game (this is subject to change once I get a full grasp of the rules).

Mainly, it’s the overly-complex combat rules. To me, the purpose of the rules is mainly combat and conflict. Outside of that, RPG’s are just improv theater, and no rules mechanics can cover that. Others may disagree, and I have heard that argument used against such games as 3E and d20, but that’s my view, so that’s how I judge games.

In V&V I think combat is done by rolling a d20, and applying various modifiers, based on the attack power of your attack, the opponent’s defense, and the difference (if any) between the characters’ levels. I say I think that’s how it works, because I have yet to find it clearly stated so. There are a lot of tables, and just about every aspect of the game is randomized. Now, MSH did this too, but it was presented as more of an option, than a rule.

Which brings me to another weakness: layout and presentation. First off, I have to admit that I was put off a bit by the premise that the game is designed for the players to play themselves with super powers. That’s a fun concept for a specific game, or even a campaign, but it seems pretty limiting for the general concept behind an entire RPG. However, getting past that, I have found that the rules are kind of haphazardly presented. With long descriptions about some things, and vague glossing over of others.

Again, I have to reiterate that I could be completely wrong, as I have not had the chance to fully read the rules.

As for the good, I really like the way it allows you to generate adventures and campaigns using tables and concepts. It’s set up so you can do it all randomly, which can be fun, but I could see just cherry-picking from the lists to come up with a cohesive plot and story.

And as I have said before, I really like the look and feel in the artwork. I wasn’t always a fan of Jeff Dee’s art, but it has grown on me lately, and now I love it. There’s plenty in this game, and it all looks great. The book itself is very slim, but I’m sure that was to cut down on printing costs, as the font is really small. To my knowledge, this was pretty standard practice for the times.

In short I would say that the purchase was well worth the price. The game is far from perfect, and I can see why there are whole communities of players who have reams of house-rules. But I can also see why it has such a loyal following. Once I get a better grasp of the rules, I might still drum up a short “beer & pretzels” session with a couple of friends, and see how it all goes.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Gary Con bound!

So, this coming weekend is Gary Con. I’m very excited! This will be my second gaming convention. Ok, technically my third. But the one Gen Con I was able to go to was as a vendor (I worked for ACD Distribution). So, I don’t really count that one.

My wife and I will be headed over Friday morning (it’s about an hour from our home), and spending the first half of the day on the dealer floor and just getting our bearings. Then we have a DragonAge RPG in the afternoon. After that, it’s party-time in celebration of my wife’s March birthday. Like D&D, she turned 40 years young this year. Probably a nice dinner, some bar-hopping, and whatever else comes up.

Saturday is busy with two games. A Star Frontiers game and a Castles & Crusades game. Saturday night is open. We might see if we can get a pick-up together with the friends we have that will be joining us, or maybe drop in on an open game somewhere.

Sunday we’re doing a panel on publishing (more for me, but she likes that stuff too). Then it’s off home Sunday afternoon, probably with a stop at some nice roadside diner.

I’m hoping to be able to pick up some cool gaming stuff. Maybe get an art print signed, if something grabs my eye. Probably a new set of dice. Because, why not?

So, is anyone else going?

Friday, March 21, 2014

One-Page Dungeon Entry

I decided to throw together a one-page dungeon that I was thinking about, and enter it in the One-Page Dungeon contest. So, I drew the map, stocked it, wrote up the descriptions, background, etc., and edited it to all fit on one page (had to use 8 pt. font). I like it! I think it turned out really well.

I especially like how the map turned out. Took some cues from Dyson's Dodecahedron, and made it look all fancy with hash marks and stuff. I think I'll do more maps like this. I do need to do a short adventure for the Life of Rage game.

The Map

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Top 10 Gaming Products

Let’s see if I can follow Dyver’s lead here. I tend to like a lot of gaming products, so picking a top 10 is difficult. Here is my list, not in order of preference:

Legends & Lore (2E) – I still have this book, and often flip through it. Detailing pantheons from several real-world cultures, plus Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar, I used to sit and piece together my own pantheons using gods and godesses from this book. A really great source of information, in and out of the game.

Oriental Adventures – This book allowed you to play Samurai, Ninja, and my favorite, Kensai. Although I never got to play it much, I remember reading over the martial arts section a lot. I would later adapt those rules to other settings, and my own creations.

SpyCraft – Arguably the best Spy/Action RPG ever produced. Yes, I do have a nostalgic soft spot for Top Secret and James Bond. But SpyCraft took the d20 rules (which I love), and adapted them flawlessly to the modern action genre. If I could, I would still run a game of this.

World Builder’s Guidebook - I mentioned this on Dyver’s blog, but this a great resource for those of us who are never fully happy playing in other peoples’ sandboxes. Although the book is set up so that you can, in theory, roll up a completely random setting, its main strength is in that it details every facet of a well-conceived fictional world. As a writer, as well as a gamer, I have found this book to be chock full of good advice.

Marvel Super Heroes RPG – My first true RPG love, outside of D&D. I have waxed on this game many times, and am currently still writing an updated variation of the rules. Mechanically, it’s far from perfect. And can easily be broken, if you let it. But it is a narrative masterpiece. And it captures the feel of Silver Age comics better than any other game out there. I would still play this if someone ran it.

Dragonlance Adventures – During the fall after I graduated HS in 1988, we went on a cross-country trip in my grandparents’ camper. So, I spent two weeks in the back of a camper reading and listening to music. And what I was reading was the Dragonlance Chronicles, and then Legends. By the time I was done, I was positively HOOKED on Dragonlance. So, imagine my delight when I found a sourcebook for AD&D! This book had all kinds of stuff in it, but I was totally fascinated by the Solamnic Knights (Sturm was my favorite character).

Mutants & Masterminds – Mechanically, the best Supers RPG ever, IMHO. Like SpyCraft, M&M takes the d20 mechanic, and perfectly adapts it to the comic book genre. I made many characters for this game (almost as many as I made for MSH back in the day), and played it a lot with friends.

Player’s Handbook, 3.xE – The innovations this version of D&D brought in were amazing. The idea that I could make, literally, any kind of D&D character I wanted, without having to house-rule anything, was great. Although I love the simplicity of B/X, and the nostalgia of AD&D, 3E is still my favorite edition.

Moldvay’s Basic D&D – This was where it all started. Received on my 12th birthday, and devoured multiple times. Ironically, I never actually played it all that much. By the time I found a group to play with on a semi-regular basis, we had moved on to AD&D. But, even today, I get a thrill opening that red book. And this, combined with Cook Expert Set, provide the primary inspiration for all of my current OSR undertakings.

A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity – The very first module I ever owned, and the first I ever went through. I got this from a friend the same year I got the Basic Set (his mom didn’t know the difference between Basic and AD&D). I have always wanted to run this series as a DM. I currently own all four in PDF, and the first two in physical copies.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Making Art and stuff

So, I am hip-deep in the Life of Rage retro-clone. Most of the text is done, and the list of things to add is almost completely crossed off. Right now I am working on finishing up the Monster section, and all I need to do for that is transcribe my hand-written stats to the stat blocks, then fill out the descriptive text for about 2/3 of the entries.

I've also started in on some artwork. I had a few pictures done before, so I am adding them in where I can. And now I'm crossing pictures off of my list as I complete them. Although this morning I realized that it would be nice to have some pictures of monsters too. So, I will be working on some of those as well.

Just for a small taste, here are a couple of the sketches I have done. I'm going to go mostly with a "clean pencil" style for the illustrations. I like that look, and it kind of feels like what players would do.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ernie Gygax Benefit Adventure

From the RPGNow Listing:

Our friend, Ernie Gygax had a tough 2013. Early in the year a fire destroyed his apartment including many irreplaceable belongings. Later in the year he was laid low with a bout of congestive heart failure. This system-neutral adventure was inspired by some of those events and the storied history of gaming. 33% of the price is set up to go to the Ernie Gygax Relief Fund set up by his brother Luke Gygax. The adventure takes place in and around the town of Gamington on the shores of Gentle Lake. An arsonist's fire destroys the Tower of Ernesto, a famous wizard, but a band of heroes rallies to right the wrong, rooting out the evil in the nearby Fire Peak. A GM can set this up as a campaign addition or one-shot, in any Medieval Fantasy RPG system. There are plenty of tips to help do either. Included are some character backgrounds for the heroes noted within as well as an epic poem extolling their exploits. I hope it is as much fun to read as it was to write.
I just bought this module because it's for a good cause (not to mention it just sounds cool).  I have met Ernie Gygax a couple of times, and even had him sit in on our regular gaming group for a session recently.  He is a genuinely good guy, with a really great sense of what RPGs should be like.  And, I have to admit, it was really cool to see him play my friends half-orc character like a HALF-ORC, and not like a HALF-HUMAN.

So, if you are so inclined, please visit RPGNow and plunk down a bit of scratch to help the "First Son of D&D."

Fighting Fire - Ernie Gygax Benefit Adventure

Friday, March 14, 2014

Life of Rage - The End is in sight!

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I have been inspired by the idea of converting my Life of Rage supplement into a full-on retro-clone. To that end, I made a list of the things I would need to add to it to reach that goal. As of today, I am nearly there.

Right now, I am only lacking the descriptions of the 42 monsters I am including, some Wandering Monster Tables, a character sheet, a sample adventure, and, of course, 13 pieces of art.

The art will, as always, be the hardest part for me. I have it in my head that I want to do it myself. I have a style in mind. One that reflects my views of the game; half tongue-in-cheek, half gritty serious. The style will be somewhat cartoonish, but still somewhat R-rated (no nudity though, cuz who needs that?). One of the pieces of art will be a map of the Dark Coast, my default setting included with the game. Plus I will need a cover. Though I will probably use one of the better interior pieces as a base, and colorize it for that purpose.

Right now the file is 50 pages long. Once I add what is missing, I imagine it will be 60-65 pages. I think that's a pretty good count for a B/X-styled game.

This is actually pretty exciting for me. I've wanted to be a game-designer for years. And thanks to the Internet and the opportunities for self-publishing that exist now, I kind of am one. What would be really cool is if one of the major companies took notice and invited me to work for them (even if in a minor way).

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Memories: 2nd Edition

Today’s post isn’t about a specific RPG memory, but more of a general feeling that I recall.

When 3E first came out, I fully embraced it. When it was re-issued as 3.5, I was ecstatic. All of the customizations, and options, and the streamlined experience and multi-class systems…I was jazzed about it. This was the D&D I had always wanted.

These days, I still love 3.5. It’s my go-to system when I think of starting a new game. But things were not always thus. Back in the day we were all about 2nd Edition. Granted, at the beginning of my Army days, it was still 1E, and later 1E/2E hybrid games (along with a lot of other, non-D&D games). But, 2E was the edition I took with me to Desert Shield. And it’s the edition we played on the prow of an M-1 Abrams one night at Camp Sheridan.

But when 3E came out, I jumped in and never looked back. Until now. Lately I’m starting to wonder about 2E, and whether it was as good as my memories paint it. Honestly, it’s been several years since I even looked at my books, let alone played a game. So, I’m wondering if I may be misremembering things or not. Here’s the things I do remember:

Thief Skills – I recall thief skills being pretty customizable. I always liked the percentage-based skills of pre-3E. In 2E, you got a bunch of points to spend at creation, and then a set amount at each new level. Honestly this sounds pretty good to me.

Proficiencies – I have heard a lot of people talk about what a mess Proficiencies were, and how much the 3E skill system cleaned things up. But, I don’t actually remember Proficiencies being all that bad. You got a set number of weapon and non-weapon proficiencies, based on your class, and you just made your choices. If you tried to do something that you weren’t proficient at, you suffered a penalty. Unless I am mistaken, that seems simple enough.

THAC0 – Oy, the bane of everyone’s existence apparently. I never thought it was that hard. What did you do? You figured the number you needed to hit Armor Class 0, and then you subtracted the AC of your target from it. Granted, the Ascending AC of 3E is much easier, but the THAC0 wasn’t THAT difficult. Am I missing something?

Variable XP Requirements – Meaning that the classes all leveled at different points, based on their relative power levels. Honestly, I have always understood the principle of this, but not the execution. I get that some classes in older editions would have been quickly overpowered by other classes had the XP requirements been equal. But I never understood how these variations were calculated.

Bards – Way back in 1E, the Bard was something really special. You had to attain a certain level in Fighter, then switch classes entirely to Thief, then eventually switch classes to Druid (?), at which time you were considered a Bard. The only thing you carried over from each was your HP. So, if you were a 9th level Fighter, and decided to switch on your way to Bardness, you started over as a 1st level Thief…with the HP of a 9th level Fighter! This all sounded cool on paper, but it made no sense. Then 2E comes along and suddenly you can be a Bard from level 1! I was never much good at being a Bard, but I thought the 2E class made so much more sense.

I’m sure there are a lot of things I am forgetting, and probably some things mentioned above that I am not remembering properly. But, overall, I felt that 2E was pretty good. And based on that, and my recent interest in OSR games, I’d be more than willing to go back and play it again.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March Madness OSR Challenge

Like a few others, I don't have the time or stamina for another post-a-day questionnaire. So, I am participating in this with a single post. Besides, doing it this way made me answer on the fly, which I think gives you a more honest result.

1 What was the first roleplaying game other than D&D you played? Was it before or after you had played D&D?
DC Heroes. I’ve talked about this recently. It was short-lived, but sorta fun.

2 What was the first character you played in an RPG other than D&D? How was playing it different from playing a D&D character?
Feline. See above. The mechanics were new and strange, and the setting was as different from D&D as could be.

3 Which game had the least or most enjoyable character generation?
I usually have fun with chargen in any game I play. I think the random characters possible in Marvel Super Heroes was pretty funny.

4 What other roleplaying author besides Gygax impressed you with their writing?
David “Zeb” Cook. I am only recently becoming aware of just how much he wrote back in the day. And he write an adventure based on my favorite Conan story (Red Nails), so he wins.

5 What other old school game should have become as big as D&D but didn’t? Why do you think so?
The Conan RPG from 1985. It had a cool character generation system that put narrative before mechanics. Or maybe Villains & Vigilantes, since it was the first Supers RPG.

6 What non-D&D monster do you think is as iconic as D&D ones like hook horrors or flumphs, and why do you think so?
The Sathar from Star Frontiers. Evil worms from outer space!

7 What fantasy RPG other than D&D have you enjoyed most? Why?
Legend of the Five Rings, from AEG. The idea of playing Samurai in a high fantasy setting was awesome. Crab Clan forever!

8 What spy RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.
Victory’s James Bond RPG. I played the same character through several missions, and really enjoyed them a lot. It captured the feel of a Bond film very well.

9 What superhero RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?
Marvel Super Heroes, hands down. The whole presentation was so fun and light-hearted. Years and years later, I still recall the basics of FASERIP.

10 What science fiction RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.
Trinity, the sci-fi storytelling game from White Wolf. We had a long set of adventures with that one. It was almost like a superhero game, but still very much sci-fi.

11 What post-apocalyptic RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?
Tribe 8 is really the only one I ever played, though I read up a lot on Gamma World and TMNT: After the Bomb.

12 What humorous RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.
Only ever played Paranoia. I remember enjoying it, but I don’t remember much about it.

13 What horror RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?
Werewolf. I couldn’t get behind the idea of Vampires as heroes, but Werewolves were awesome.

14 What historical or cultural RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.
We had a GURPS Vikings game going for a while. Really enjoyed that, despite the two munchkins we had with us. I’m pretty sure the whole thing died thanks to them.

15 What pseudo or alternate history RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?
My current D&D game is set in an alternate Middle Ages Earth, with fantasy races, and a pantheon of gods. It’s been going on for several years in real time.

16 Which RPG besides D&D has the best magic system? Give details.
Tunnels and Trolls. I have always liked the idea of a limited number of spells that just get more powerful.

17 Which RPG has the best high tech rules? Why?
Trinity was cool. Though I think Shadowrun has some great stuff in it too.

18 What is the crunchiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?
Anything Hero System related. Always enjoyable, despite the crunch.

19 What is the fluffiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?
Vampire. But, I may be biased, as Vampires suck. The whole game had too much angsty story. I realize that was how it was designed, but it just wasn't for me. My first Vampire character was basically a turned Frank Castle.

20 Which setting have you enjoyed most? Why?
Forgotten Realms. I can play it, run it, and read it, and it’s always fun.

21 What is the narrowest genre RPG you have ever played? How was it?
Twilight 2000. It’s pretty damn specific in genre. You really can’t go outside the box on that one. But, for what it did, it idid it well.

22 What is the most gonzo kitchen sink RPG you ever played? How was it?
A combined WoD game that allowed characters from Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, etc. Not sure we ever got to actually play it, but just the idea was mind-boggling. And exciting.

23 What is the most broken game that you tried and were unable to play?
Dark Conspiracy. I remember my buddy abandoned the game after a player couldn’t throw a grenade in a straight line in front of her. I think he converted it to the Hero system.

24 What is the most broken game that you tried and loved to play, warts and all?
According to most gamers, D&D 3.x. Though I don’t think it’s broken. It’s just got a LOT of material available. Some of it is dumb, but you don’t have to use it all.

25 Which game has the sleekest, most modern engine?
D20. The universality, and ability to mimic any genre with some simple tweaking makes this a wonderful system. It can be as simple or as crunchy as you like.

26 What RPG based on an IP did you enjoy most? Give details.
The Mongoose Conan RPG. Had a blast with that one. Made my character exactly how I wanted him, and it drew on my personal knowledge of the Hyborian Age nicely.

27 What IP (=Intellectual Property, be it book, movie or comic) that doesn’t have an RPG deserves it? Why?
Avatar – The Last Airbender. That cartoon series just screams for an RPG. So many possibilities, and so many RPG elements already built in.

28 What free RPG or what non-English RPG did you enjoy most? Give details.
I haven’t gotten to play any of the free stuff I have downloaded (and I have downloaded a LOT). But, just from reading, Swords & Wizardry seems like it would be the best.

29 What OSR product have you enjoyed most? Explain why.
Probably Basic Arcana. Mainly because I wrote it, and it made me feel good to give back just a little to the hobby that has given me so much. Plus, the profits from the sales helped fund my weekend at Gamehole Con last year.

30 Which non-D&D supplemental product should everyone know about? Give details.
Pretty much any GRUPS supplement. Those things are just chock-full of information that can help with any game you run.

31 What out-of-print RPG would you most like to see back in publication? Why?
Star Frontiers, with updated and streamlined mechanics. The setting was so great, and the overall feel and tone was perfect.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Life of Rage 2nd Ed?

So, yesterday I had a random thought. What if I edited my Life of Rage supplement to be a fully playable, self-contained retro-clone? I think it's doable. It's really just a matter of filling in the gaps such as spell descriptions, monsters, saving throw tables, and miscellaneous odds and ends like that.

Also, I have made a deal with an artist friend of mine to have him do some art for me. Originally, the artwork was to be used in the non-OSR version of the game, but I think it would be ok to use the same artwork for both versions. Also, what I will probably do is just update the file at RPGNow with the complete version, allowing those who initially purchased it the option of downloading the new version for free. And I will up the price a bit (probably from $2.99 to $4.99) for new customers.

And finally, I'll probably start working on some supplements and adventures, as I can. But, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves here. I think maybe opening the setting up to the OGL license would be possible. That would allow others to write adventures tailored to LoR on their own.

In other news, still waiting to hear some feedback on Mutants & Marvels. I have about four people who have downloaded the playtest file. Hoping to hear back with some opinions and suggestions. Also hoping to finagle some playtesting of my own sometime soon.

I'm also working on artwork for it, and I'll probably be doing it myself. I have settled on a style that I think would be a cool fit. Sean Galloway, aka Cheeks 74, is an amazing artist. If I can produce some stuff that is even half as good as his, I'll consider it a success. I also have a few artist friends who have volunteered to donate some pieces.

Be sure to visit Sean's blog, and check out his DeviantART page.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday Memories: Early non-D&D Games

I has been a long time, so my memory is fuzzy at best, but I seem to recall that for me, RPGs were D&D and AD&D…and that was it for several years. However, I do recall a few of the first non-D&D games I dabbled in, though few memories of actual play exist in my mind.

Champions/Hero System
I have a vague recollection of being in either 6th or 7th grade, and hanging out with some kids who played RPGs. And at one point we discussed playing something that they referred to as “Time Lords” (though I doubt it had anything to do with Doctor Who). The images I have in my head are of discussions about making a character from one time period, and having them fight alongside characters from other time periods. I believe my vision of a character was an Army soldier from Vietnam, carrying an M60 machine gun, and fighting against Roman Legions. I dunno. I do remember the Champions character sheet (with the cool blank superhero drawing in the corner), so I’m pretty sure they were using the Hero System for this. But, I never actually made a character or played.

Conan Role-Playing game (TSR, 1985)
I never owned this one, but one of my friends bought it, and we set out to play at one point. I know for a fact that I made a character. He was an Aesir, and he looked like Dolph Lundgren. But, other than that, I don’t think we ever did anything with it. We certainly never played it. The system, created by David “Zeb” Cook, has been scrubbed of any Conan elements, and put out on the web as ZeFRS. I hear tell it’s a solid system, and one of the first and most faithful retro-clones out.

DC Heroes
I know I have mentioned this one before, in my discussion about Feline. DC Heroes was probably the first non-D&D game I ever actually played. Though we never got a chance to play much. I do recall after the aborted game that included the afore-mentioned Feline, we did go through a phase where we were making up characters for hopeful future play. They were all over the board, and reflected my limited knowledge of comic book lore at the time. I think we managed one other game where I had a French cat-burglar name Le Chat (how original, right?), who somehow knew Hwarang-do. I was in the throes of my early martial arts obsession, and the latest issue of Inside Kung Fu had a nice article about the Korean art. Either way, I recall nothing of the system, but do remember having fun playing it.

Even with forays into these other games, I always came back to D&D. And that’s pretty much where it has always been since. No matter who I am gaming with, with the exception of my current group, we have always stepped out of the D&D box for short periods, only to return to the old standby.