Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Patreon and why you should care

On December 7th, a date which will live in infamy, Patreon sent a message to patrons announcing a change to the way pledges would be managed. I've attached a pdf copy of the email I received and I highlighted the most important part of the email. You can view that email here. At first I thought no big deal, it's only 2.9% +$0.35. That's about $0.37 for $1 pledges. Then I started doing the math of how much extra I'd have to pay. If I had 25 pledges of $1 each normally I'd pay $25 dollars a month but with this new service fee it will be more like $34.25 a month. That's $9.25 extra because of $0.37 per pledge. Now, I'm just small potatoes and I don't actually pledge $25 a month but that's not the point. Its abundantly clear that Patreon is targeting those who pledge smaller amounts of $1, $2, or $3. I don't know if they did any market research on this or if it was just a bold gamble on their part. It looks like they're getting greedy and patrons are starting to take notice.

Unfortunately, the only people getting hurt by all of this are the creators. With patrons dropping like flies, the already struggling creators are losing money. I am one of those people who have discontinued all of my pledges and I just wanted to say I'm sorry to the creators I used to support. It has nothing to do with you and has everything to do with Patreon's shady business tactics. I truly hope that Patreon takes a step back and re-evaluates how much damage they've done to their brand. To me, Patreon is dead. I won't support anything via Patreon from now on. I'm willing to bet that there's someone just around the corner ready to step in and provide a fair subscription service for content creators. I wouldn't be surprised if Paypal was already working on it. After all, most of peoples pledges already get routed through Paypal anyway.

I sincerely wish the creators the best of luck.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Con on the Cob!

Today is November 24 which in the good ol' US of A means Thanksgiving. Gobble, gobble, gobble. Corny, I know, but happy holidays to everyone.

This is a long overdue post report of Con on the Cob and some thoughts on a game I'm a player in. Con on the Cob is a convention put on by Andy Hopp near Cleveland Ohio. For those of you who don't know, Andy is the author and illustrator of the Savage Worlds game Low Life. This convention was a blast to be a part of. This is the most family friendly con I've ever seen. For me the best part of the con were than the group of friends that attended with me.

Nerds-International was proudly represented at Con on the Cob by Gary McCallum, Jamie Pierson, Blaine Wagner, Eric Lamoureux, Matthew Jones, Chris Holmes, Stephen Dragonspawn, and Tony Fanning. This was the best convention I've ever been to and it was because of these people. Most of us arrived on Wednesday night before the con started. We played a couple of games but mostly just hung out in the atrium. Later that night we saw Andy and he stopped by to say hi. I had so much fun that most of the days start to blur together for me. I remember all the games just not when they were played. All of the games I played were run by the N-I folks so I can't really speak about the other games going on at the con.

Thursday morning I ran Tales from the Loop: Roleplaying in the 80's that never was. This was my first time running Tales from the Loop so I was a bit apprehensive but got into the groove pretty quickly. This game was the most fun I've ever had as a GM and it was all because of the players. We started out by making some characters from the archetypes in the book plus one I made up. This took us somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes. Then we introduced each character and got right into the first mystery in the book; Summer Break and Killer Birds. I think this game went so well because the players fell right into the roles. I think its because all of us at the table grew up in the 80's and they're a group of great role players. I really liked that I didn't have to make any dice rolls as the GM and I could focus more on what the players wanted to do. My job was to give them clues and see how they reacted. Fortunately they had some great ideas and I was able to roll with them. I only used two scenes from the mystery and everything else was based upon what the players wanted to do. I really like Tales from the Loop and if you don't have this yet then you really should pick it up.

Later that day we had a full table of players for Blaine's game of Formula D. This was the second game I've played of Formula D. It was still a little confusing on some of the rules but nonetheless we all had lots of fun. It took us 4 hours to do 2 laps around the board.

On Friday morning I was scheduled to run Savage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Overall I would say the game was a success but there were definitely some problems. I was using Palladium's Truckin' Turtles book for the adventure and the story was inconsistent at best. There were some great scenes and the players were great but the story just seemed to fall apart. I brought along some props for the players but I didn't get it to the level I had hoped to. This game will be a work in progress for sure. I also got some great feedback from the players as well. Later on in the day I met the guy who inspired me to make this game. Norm Hensley's blog, savageboldfistblog is where I got the characters from and I just needed to modify slightly because he made them using the older Savage Worlds rules.

In the afternoon Tony ran a game of Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars RPG. I really wanted to play this game for two reasons. Number one its Star Wars. Come on, who doesn't want to play Star Wars. Number two was because I was always skeptical of the narrative dice system used by FFG. Tony ran a great game and it left me wanting to try the narrative dice again. We went through an entire adventure of Star Wars without once firing a weapon. Well almost. Tony really wanted to show us noobs how combat worked in FFG so he made us fight one minion group of troopers. Unfortunately I think it backfired on him just a little bit. We managed to take out the troopers before they even had a chance to do anything. By the end of this game I was just starting to grasp the concept of FFG's narrative dice. I was still a little confused on the symbols and how to utilize the effects of the dice. With Tony's help and with the help of other experienced players at the table the mechanics of the dice narration made the game run smoothly. I'm still not sold on it though.

As Saturday rolled around, Chris ran a game of Edge of Primeval Thule. This is his home-brew game of FFG's Edge of the Empire mixed with Primeval Thule. Think FFG's narrative dice used with a gritty fantasy setting where Cthulhu is alive and well. I wanted to play this game because I really enjoyed reading Primeval Thule and it would give me another chance at using the narrative dice. The adventure was great and only two characters died at the very end. Chris did a great job of challenging the players and the dice system was starting to grow on me. It's still slow going when trying to interpret the dice symbols but that would come more naturally over time. My biggest confusion with this system is how to use advantage, threat, triumph, and despair. Chris was able to provide suggestions on how to use them best and it worked out well for everyone.

I think Chris and Tony both did an excellent job of explaining FFG's narrative dice and I thoroughly enjoyed both games. Both of you guys are excellent GM's. After the con I find myself wanting to play FFG Star Wars and now FFG Genesys' release is just around the corner. I think my biggest complaint about the narrative dice system is the symbols on the dice. It's not intuitive as to which symbol cancels the corresponding inverse symbol. An explosion (success) cancels a triangle (failure). With the new Genesys dice coming out I think that problem will be solved.

An hour later Eric ran a playtest for a new game he's writing which is tentatively called Wiseguys. This is a full blown Savage Worlds setting in a similar vein as Just Insert Imagination's smash hits Fuhgeddaboudit! and Badabing Badaboom! Eric has some great ideas for this game and the pregenerated characters were awesome. I played an Elvis impersonator who can disguise himself and impersonate others after studying the mark for a short time. He was also a cooler. This was hilarious. As a known cooler in Las Vegas, I was banned from all casino's. Of course I had to convince a casino employee to give me his uniform so I could sneak into the hotel. Then as I walked through the casino floor to the hotel everybody started losing and the machines were acting funky. Eric did a great job with his description of what happened. More wacky antics ensued and in the end we got the guy who sold us out. Keep your eye out for Wiseguys.

Throughout the con we pretty much stopped the RPG's around 7pm every night. That was reserved for events and live streams. We had our own table at the con thanks to Andy and we hung out together and played card games. Gary was the evening entertainment most nights. That guy if fucking hilarious. Gary, you're the man! He convinced a police officer to allow an artist to draw a penis on his forearm. Of course when I said this con is family friendly, the evening is for adults only. All of the child friendly events were held during the day up to 7 pm. There was a costume contest, miniature golf, basketball, video arcade, swimming pool, miniature painting, and more. They even had staff to entertain and babysit the kids so the parents could partake in the convention games.

I also wanted to take this time to write about a bi-weekly game I'm currently in on Wednesday nights. Mutant Year Zero from Modiphius Entertainment. We have played a few sessions of this game and I find myself getting a little bored with it. The setting, the GM, and the other players are good. It just feels like there's way too much book keeping for my tastes. We literally have to keep track of everything. Currency, food, water, status of our ark projects, and condition of our ark are most of it. We just hit a cliffhanger last night so I'm interested to see where it goes but I'm losing focus of my character how to play him. It's really hard to explain why it feels the way it does. There's social conflict in our Ark and now we just got attacked by outsiders. One of the difficult things for me is the meta knowledge. Imagine yourself as someone who has never seen a pair of scissors before. In the game your character doesn't know what they are but you know what it is and how to use them. Separating everyday common knowledge from the game and roleplaying it is difficult for me. I'm also curious to see what the others think about this game. I believe Eric said he's losing interest in the game as well but I don't want to put word in his mouth.

There were many, many, many more games hosted by Nerds from the network that I didn't mention only because the blog post is getting lengthy. I didn't forget and they aren't any less memorable than the ones I mentioned here. You guys Rock! Con on the Caaaaab!

P.S. Thank you to all the people I mentioned earlier for making the first annual Nerds-International gathering at Con on the Cob one I will never forget. Thank you Andy Hopp for your hard work putting on the con and letting us take over part of the atrium. I'm still waiting for you to run Low Life for us Andy, maybe next year.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Seven Worlds Test Drive Review

For those of you that may not have heard, Seven Worlds is a new Savage Worlds setting coming to Kickstarter soon. It is written by Luis Enrique Torres and published by Intellistories. You can get the Seven Worlds Test Drive at DriveThruRPG here. The Wild Die Podcast did an interview episode with Luis but as of this writing it is a Patreon supporter only episode. Here is a link to their Patreon page if you would like to pledge your support to listen to the episode. I believe it will be released to the public when the Kickstarter campaign goes live so you may want to wait.

Right off the bat my first question is, what sets this science fiction RPG apart from all the rest? First of all it has the Atomic Rockets Seal of Approval. What is that you ask? It is a highly sought after approval by Sci-fi writers, game designers, and programmers. It's basically just an acknowledgement that the fiction written is based upon real science and therefore more closely related to hard Sci-fi.

My first impression of this document is it looks really good. The layout by Thomas Shook is clean and simple, I like it. The first page after the cover is the map of the known universe. The map is usually the first thing I look for in Sci-fi settings. This 2-dimensional map looks fantastic and has 7 colonized planets. Hmm, I wonder where they got the name from? You can also go to their webpage at www.sevenworldsrpg.com and get yourself a 3-dimensional map. I tried the Instant Reality InstantPlayer but it seemed pretty glitchy to me. I have yet to try the Cortona 3d Viewer.

There are 6 pages of setting background information (I like to call it the fluff). After looking for the map, I then go looking for the fluff. This is where I get a good sense of how the rest of the book will be written. The game starts out in the year 2217, exactly 200 years after the Circle Foundation is created. There are two major organizations, The Circle and The Brotherhood. The Circle, founded by Donovan in 2017, is focused on space exploration, expansion, and protecting humanity from the dangers therein. The Psion Brotherhood, founded by Michaels, is dedicated to protecting and educating people with psionic abilities. These two founders, Donovan and Michaels, were high school friends who had a falling out over a girl named Melissa.

In 2021 Helium-3 fusion reactors are invented and the search for a stable supply of this fuel leads the human race to mine it from the gas planet Saturn in the 2050's. Around this time Donovan passes away and his longtime partner Melissa gives his personal notebooks which include theoretical formulas to what would become the basis for an Interstellar Engine. In 2089 the first test of this engine is successful with a 6 light year jump. Two years later an alien race makes itself known to humanity. The N'ahili race arrived, attracted by the interstellar jump to Barnard's Star, and shared coordinates of jump membranes to several new stars within 12 light years of Earth (Sol).

Humans have now colonized two new worlds and are eager for more expansion. The N'ahili come to the rescue and provide more star coordinates. Now the known universe has expanded to 22 light years from Sol and two more planets are settled. This second set of planets are nearly identical to that of Earth making them important to humanity's survival. In 2133 an unknown comet was discovered on a direct path to Earth. The planetary defenses are able to break up the comet into smaller pieces but it is too late. The effects of an impact induced nuclear winter will last until around 2150. Evacuees are transported to the planets of Concordia and Bay Jing making them equivalent to Earth in both population and importance. By 2165 the N'ahili surprise us again with new coordinates which increase the human presence to 30 light years from Sol.

This new expansion of human kind brings on the settlement of 2 new planets of which one is important. It is important because Concordia and Bay Jing both settle on the planet of Nouvelle Vie. Conflicts between these two colonies leads to the first war humans have in space. During the war, the Circle is instrumental in stopping war crimes mostly by the use of the Stellar Communications Network. Widespread news updates keep the warring planets honest, or at least as honest as possible during war. The Brotherhood also plays an important role in the war by helping to prevent atrocities through the use of "suggestion" and mind-reading without direct mind-control. By 2181 the war is over but the government of Bay Jing is secretly manipulating the population into blaming the Brotherhood which leads to the Psion Riots of 2188.

This brings us to the present day of 2217. Earth has now returned to its former glory and is seen as an equal among Concordia and Bay Jing. Nouvelle Vie is still being torn apart by home grown terrorists waging guerrilla war. The last colonized planet of Logan's End has become the ultimate frontier world with exotic jungles and tourist attractions. Recently, strange energy signatures have been detected in space around an asteroid belt in the far reaches of Nouvelle Vie. Ships are disappearing and stories are circulating about suspicious activity.

Included in the Test Drive are new setting rules, skills, hindrances, edges, psionics, a new derived stat, space ship combat, four pre-generated characters, and an adventure designed for four players. This Test Drive doesn't go into creating characters or covering all the new stats. It is meant to provide you with the necessary information to play the included characters and adventure. Mental Toughness is the new derived stat which is equal to two plus half of your Spirit. This is a measure of how tough your mind is against Psionic attacks.

The two new setting rules are Microgravity and Zero-G and Assistants. Microgravity and Zero-G reduce the character's pace by half and cause a -2 physical action penalty. A roll of a 1 on the trait die regardless of the Wild die causes the character to slip and tumble in around in three dimensions (treat the character as Shaken recover with Agility). Weapons that are not rated for Zero-G use cause the user to become Shaken as before on an attack roll of 1 or 2. There is a -2 penalty for using non Zero-G weapons as well. In Seven Worlds most characters own an Assistant. This virtual assistant appears in your Augmented Reality (AR) glasses, lenses, or on display screens. There are numerous functions the assistant can help the hero's with. During combat the assistant can be activated with the use of a bennie and perform a smarts trick, test of will, generate an advantage/disadvantage, or use a special action. If the assistants roll succeeds with a raise the player gets the bennie back.

There are 7 pages dedicated to space combat in Seven Worlds. Right away that should tell you something. In my opinion this is where Seven Worlds falls short. In a system that's supposed to Fast! Furious! Fun! space combat feels way too crunchy for Savage Worlds. This almost seems like a mini's game within a roleplaying game where distance and facing are important. They do a good job of explaining how to do it and provide examples but it's just now my cup of tea.

That was a highly condensed version of fluff in the Seven Worlds Test Drive document. If any of that sounds interesting to you then I encourage you to read it for yourself. I really hope the final setting includes more fluff. I enjoyed Luis' writing and look forward to reading the full setting once it is published.

Overall 9 out of 10 Lotus Masters recommend Seven Worlds.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Some Thoughts On Railroads and Sandboxes

Yesterday, my friend Eric Lamoureux posted a link to David Hartlage's (a.k.a. DM David) blog post and asked the Nerds-International Google + community what they think about this topic. I posted my brief thoughts on this and the comments afterwards made it clear to me that they misunderstood what I meant. Below is an excerpt of the discussion with my response. Here is a link to the G+ post.

In order to explain what I mean I'll have to get the D&D 5th edition version of The Curse of Strahd out. Hang on a minute. I'll be right back. This is what Bill Lear is asking about. On page 35 you'll find a map of Barovia which details 26 points of interest. 

This campaign is what I would call railroads in a sandbox. With 26 locations on the map players are free to move from one Point Of Interest (POI) to another POI. They get to choose where to go and what to do. Each POI could be a single event or multiple encounters. In the case of one POI containing multiple encounters, I would call that a mini sandbox. Again, the players are free to choose where to go and what to do. 

Up to this point it sounds like one big sandbox, right? Well, yes and no. Each POI has at least one railroad and sometimes more. The premise here is that the players are trying to get home and in order to do that they need to defeat Strahd. In order to defeat him they need to gather clues and obtain magic items to help weaken the vampire. So, how do we find these magic items? Railroad adventures within the sandbox. With a clear defined goal of defeating Strahd to return home, the players are being railroaded into following the story plot. They may accomplish this in any order but the DM has a big influence on where the players will go next by which clues were given at any given POI.

So, with that out of the way, I can explain what I was thinking when I said "Players want a railroad with the illusion of a sandbox." I wasn't referring to a campaign when I made that statement. I was thinking on a smaller scale of a single adventure but that could be expanded to campaign play. For the purposes of a single adventure, I was thinking more along the lines of a GUMSHOE adventure. In the case of Ashen Stars, the adventure has a clear objective set out by the contract the Lasers agreed to take on. This could apply to any adventure though. 

I probably shouldn't post this next picture because I want to run this adventure and it will spoil the game for those potential players but here it is. The picture below will help explain what I mean by a railroad with the illusion of a sandbox. It is a simple flowchart, well it seemed more difficult when I made it, but it is simple nonetheless. 
As you can see, this flow chart represents 13 scenes from an investigative adventure written by Robin D. Laws. The first 3 scenes are on the rails but then the players could potentially have a choice to go in two different directions. This is an illusion of choice though because they converge back to a common scene. Then they could have 3 more choices which split off in different directions (sandbox illusion) but they again converge back to a common scene. And finally, we're back on the rails again for the conclusion of the adventure. The players think it's a sandbox adventure because they have what appear to be free will choices, assuming they ask the right questions to find the clues, but you and I both know that this is a railroad. It is more of a plot-driven story than character-driven one. Sure the players have choices that affect their course through the adventure but they won't change the completion of the story.

This same method could be used for a campaign. Just make another flow chart but replace the scenes with adventures. In the beginning the GM can set them on a path (railroad) and then give them a choice of a couple of adventures to choose from. Whichever path they choose the next adventure will be back on the rails. Now you can give them 3 or more choices of adventures to pick from and they will then converge back to an adventure the GM chooses. It's a masterfully crafted railroad with the illusion of a sandbox.

Well it's late and I'm getting tired as I write this so I hope it makes sense to the 3 people who read this.

P.S. I think both of the approaches I've outlined here are excellent but I prefer the second one.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Which Cthulhu game is the best one?

With the online Fantasy Grounds Convention around the corner on Friday the 13th, I've been waning back and forth on which game I want to run. My first thought was a Savage Starship Troopers game but I don't think it lends itself well to interludes or role playing in general. I've never been a fan of hierarchical organizations in role playing so it's down on my list right now. I mean who wants to be told what to do by another player at the table and you might not even know who that other player is. I sure wouldn't want to.

That brings me to the topic of this post. Cthulhu. Which version of Cthulhu RPG is best? For this topic I'm going to limit it to Call of Cthulhu using the Basic Role Playing system from Chaosium, Trail of Cthulhu using the GUMSHOE system from Pelgrane Press, and Cthulhu Dark using it's own rules-light system from Graham Walmsley.

Lets start with the new kid on the block, Graham Walmsely. Before I get going here's a free copy of the official rules for Cthulhu Dark. As you can see, Cthulhu Dark really is rules-light. Here's a different version of the same free rules that I personally think looks better. The only difference between the two are that the official version of the rules uses Insight instead of Insanity. The simplicity of it makes me think there's something wrong with it. My first impression was that the insanity rules were a bit over the top but then I started thinking about it and I think it fits in with the theme of Lovecraftian horror and the possibility of quickly going insane. Then I saw this section of final points and it made sense to me. 

I need to run this game to make my own conclusion on whether this game will be good or not. In my opinion Graham Walmsley is a good writer and the preview book I have shows that. I have no doubt in my mind that the adventures written for this would easily be compatible with any of the Cthulhu games with a little tweaking to make it work for the respective system. That actually says a lot about how something is written. The adventure provided in the preview book takes place in London 1851 and is more of a true H.P. Lovecraft investigation style story with just a little chance of combat. 

Next we have Big Brother. Call of Cthulhu has been around since 1981 with little changes made until the most recent 7th edition. For the purposes of this discussion I'll stay away from 7th edition because I own 6th edition and don't plan on buying 7th anytime soon. I understand there were some major changes made to 7th edition and not all of them loved by the CoC fans. I have not completely read this book or played in any games which is why these choices are difficult for me. I have seen some CoC games played on The Dice Stormers Youtube channel. They do a good job with their production of the channel and now I want to play it. This version is mostly a percentile based game. The action resolution mechanism for CoC is percentage based which means it is a d100 roll. The player rolls d100 and is looking for a result which is at or lower than his/her indicated skill score. For opposed attribute checks there is a resistance table in the book but it doesn't include rules for opposed skill rolls.

Finally we have Trail of Cthulhu which promises to fix the ever popular misconception that failed rolls will leave an investigator floundering and stop the scenario dead in it's tracks. The GUMSHOE system uses only one d6 for resolving conflicts and the clues are automatically given to the players provided they utilize their skills appropriately. Player characters have investigation abilities and general abilities. The main difference between the two are that investigative abilities can always be used even if their pool is at zero. General abilities are gone once they are down to zero. Players use their ability pools to gather information to solve the mystery before losing all of their health or insanity. It is up to the players to narratively use their abilities to uncover clues and solve the mystery.

I like the feeling of players rolling dice to randomize the outcome of a possible ability/skill. If the Keeper of Call of Cthulhu can improvise then the game wouldn't come to a screeching halt when a player fails a roll. I also like the use of ability pools in Trail of Cthulhu which give the player's more narrative control but I feel like there needs to be more dice rolling. The rules-light approach of Cthulhu Dark would definitely give more narrative control to the players while still rolling dice for random outcomes. My only concern with Cthulhu Dark is that the dice mechanic of Insight is almost entirely in the hands of the player.

I can't decide which one is for me. I need your help. Tell me your thoughts on which one you think is best and why. What do you like about it and what do you dislike about it?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 31

What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

Hooray! It's finally here. The last day of RPGaDay 2017. About damn time, right? I'm not really aware of any projects coming up for 2018 other than possibly the Savage Worlds core book, fantasy companion, and horror companion getting a facelift. I'm anticipating a great year of gaming and making new aquaintances and friends through the Nerds-International Google + community, Flippin' Tables Google + community, and Fantasy Grounds conventions. These online communities have been great to meet new people and help me expand my game writing. My eyes have been opened to new game systems that I might have otherwise passed over because of the excellent people online. There are artistic, creative, and talented people all over the world who are available to chat with over the internet and I would have never had the opportunity to learn from had I not discovered Google +. I look forward to more games in 2018.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 30

What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

I would love to see a Savage Worlds StarWars mashup with some comedy. I will call it Spaceballs. Well, maybe I'd call it something else but you get the point. My friend Eric mentioned he'd like to see more comedy included in RPG's and I wholeheartedly agree. The last game I ran was Fuhgeddaboudit! and we laughed our asses off the whole time. When I looked over at the other table at the game store I saw people looking our way and I couldn't help but think they wanted to jump ship and join my game. That made me feel great. Comedy will always be welcome in my games and I wish more RPG's would incorporate it into theirs. There's even room in Cthulhu type games for some lighthearted comedy. Just don't go overboard, otherwise the game will never have that horrific feeling it's supposed to feel like.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 29

What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

This would have to be the very first Kickstarter campaign I backed. Robert Schwalb's Shadow of the Demon Lord set the bar high for my expectations of Kickstarter campaigns. He pumped out stretch goal after stretch goal like a mad man. There were so many that it got to a point where I didn't know if I had received all of the PDFs so I asked Rob if he could send me a list of everything released. He was very responsive and sent one to all the backers via a Kickstarter update. Then when my hardcover copy showed up at the door, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he autographed the books also. Unfortunately for me, I now have high expectations for Kickstarter creators. I have backed 37 projects as of today and got burned on only 1. Yup, it happens and puts a sour taste in your mouth. I'd say I'm going to be more careful about who I back from now on but I don't think I'll really pay much attention to who the creators are. If I like the product then I'll probably back it. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 28

What film/series is the biggest source of quotes in your group?

This really depends on the game we're playing. If we're playing Ghostbusters then guess what movie we quote. Most of the time I find myself quoting a famous Cimmerian, "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of thier women!". Otherwise we pretty much quote movies we've seen recently. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 27

What are your essential tools for good gaming?

The most essential tools would be the rule book, dice, pencil, paper, and a good attitude. If you show up to a game tired or in a crappy mood then the game won't be fun and you might even ruin it for others. You need to reschedule the game if you're running it or just tell the GM that it's been a bad day and all you want to do is beat up some bad guys. That lets the GM know you won't be role playing much that session and they can try to leave you alone.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 26

Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

Now this is a tough one and not because there are very few but because there are so many to choose from. Pretty much any RPG in a digital format provides the best resources for me. I like to be able to copy and paste text, photos, and tables into Fantasy Grounds or just to separate them so I can use them as player handouts. To single out one in particular is very difficult. I would say the best ones also allow me to get my imagination going and provide lots of plot hooks. It doesn't even have to be established plot hooks but a single sentence in a book could spark an entire adventure. At the moment I'm reading Ashen Stars by Robin D. Laws from Pelgrane Press and it is really good at showing the GM how an investigation is constructed and goes into detail of how to incorporate your players personal arc within an investigation or case as it's called in Ashen Stars. Robin did such a good job writing this book, I'll have to give the nod to Ashen Stars.

Friday, August 25, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 25

What is the best way to thank your GM?

Well, when I run a game I don't expect anything in return. I GM because I like to do it and because it's fun. If you really wanted to thank me then just being a friend is enough. Maybe you could just say thanks for running the game or if you really wanted to get me something then a gift card for DriveThruRPG or Office Depot would be greatly appreciated. When I run a game in person I always try to have stuff to give to the players to keep and printing up the extra materials isn't always cheap.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 24

Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

Well this one is easy. I've been purchasing products from Just Insert Imagination for some time now and I think I've got most of what they have produced but they definitely should be charging more for their Pay What You Want items. Eric Lamoureux and Morne Schaap have been putting out some Plug and Play adventures that are all PWYW. These adventures are awesome and perfect for a convention. My favorite has to be Fuhgeddaboudit! Everything you need to run a one shot Savage Worlds game is included. It has pregenerated characters with secrets to hand out to the players, 3 maps, 2 new setting rules, mafia slang cheat sheet, and a great story with 9 scenes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 23

Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

Battletech: Alpha Strike has the best layout I've seen in awhile. It has a clean border around the pages and an edge index. I wished more publishers would do this. It makes it really easy to find the chapter your looking for without going to the table of contents. Unfortunately Battletech: Alpha Strike isn't an RPG. I only mention it because it is the best layout I've seen in awhile. For RPGs, I'm gonna have to go with Mutant Mechatron. I've only got the alpha version so it could change before it's finalized. It has a simple page border that's color coded. Red edges mean its for players and blue edges are for GM's. As a matter of fact I like all of Free League Publishing's page layouts. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 22

Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

In order to answer this question, I think we have to look at the person running the game. When I run a game I'm more of a rules light type of GM. Most of the time when a question pops up about a rule I'm unsure about at the table I'll do one of two things. First would be to make a snap decision. Just make up something on the spot and go back and check it later after the game. The second would be to have the player who asked the question look it up in the book while I move on and keep running the game. This way we don't get bogged down with rules and everyone has fun. With this GM mentality in mind then I can say most RPG's are fairly easy for me to run. As long as the system isn't too crunchy then it should play well enough for me to make snap decisions. Some systems lend themselves more so than others to ease of use. Savage Worlds is one of those systems. I keep coming back to Savage Worlds in my posts not because I'm a fan boy of the system but because it is an easy system to learn, play, and run.

All you have to do is look at how the items and actions are structured within the game and you'll see that most of the time all you really have to do to make something easier or more difficult for the player characters is give them a simple modifier. As an example, I want to make a combat encounter more difficult, so instead of just describing the scene as normal throw in some environmental factors. Lots of games account for these things but in Savage Worlds is as easy as just saying -2 to the roll. Dark outside, -2 to see the bad guy. The room is filling with smoke from the fire your NPC started, -2 to see and make a Vigor roll to not choke on the smoke or take Fatigue.

Let's say you want to make a rare item that your players can find. It's as easy as looking at the equipment tables in the core book and adding a +1 or +2. Yeah, but it's still a Glock 19 with just a modifier added. Well you can describe it as a Glock 19 with target sights and an extended barrel, or you could say it's a high tech phase shifting disruptor which is better than a normal non phase shifting disruptor. I would be very careful about adding additional dice to the weapons though. Usually +1 is good enough and +2 is awesome! Remember that shooting in Savage Worlds usually only requires a 4 to hit.

You can do the same thing with special powers and magic. Just change the descriptor of the spell to make it unique to the setting you're playing and if you want a more powerful spell as the characters gain rank then make an Improved spell. Set the rank requirement to Veteran and add a +2 to the effects. When you look at the way the game works, it'll make sense to you why so many people keep coming back to Savage Worlds once they have played a few games.

Before I forget, make sure to check out The RPG Brewery's Twitch channel tomorrow night. Jamie is starting a test run of Cthulhu type games with two of his friends. They will be starting session 0 of either Trail of Cthulhu or Call of Cthulhu where they will go through character creation. Also, go join the Nerds-International Google+ community. It's a great collection of podcasts, live plays, blogs, and other nerdy stuff. Click the link below.

Monday, August 21, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 21

Which RPG does the most with the least words?

This has to be Savage Worlds Deluxe. At only 160 pages it not only gives you rules to play a game but it also gives you some adventures to run as well. This rule book shows you how to build your own game by explaining how to change trappings to fit the theme of your game. It gives you rules for vehicle combat and chase scenes along with the normal movement and combat for your player character. This RPG really gives you lots to work with and it's written so that almost anyone can understand it. If you want fantasy, science fiction, horror, super heroes, wild west, modern, and many more, Savage Worlds can do it. This is one of the few system that can play just about anything and do it well. It truly is Fast! Furious! and Fun! Give it a try sometime and you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 20

What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?

I think the best source is DriveThruRPG for digital copies. Sometimes you'll be able to find hard copies of what you're looking for on Ebay but don't get your hopes up. There's a local game store near my work that seems to have damn near every RPG on the market. I might check there but usually they only have newer stuff so I think I mainly go there just to browse. Very rarely I'll send the publisher an email asking if they still have any copies of an RPG available for purchase. Usually they don't but I have been able to get one publisher to make it available on DriveThruRPG. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 19

Which RPG features the best writing?

Robert Schwalb's Shadow of the Demon Lord has been the best writing I've seen in an RPG in a long time. It doesn't read like a text book and he gives vivid and exciting descriptions. He also puts out so much content that I'm amazed at how quickly he does it. It seems like sometimes he's got a new product out weekly but recently it's slowed down to monthly. At one point I was trying to scoop up everything he wrote but I just couldn't keep up. Robert Schwalb is definitely worth a read if you get the chance.