Friday, August 18, 2017

Husk: Wrath of the Swarm Review

It's review time. Yesterday a friend of mine sent me a message asking if I was going to use Husk to run a game. I said what is this Husk? Then he sent me a link to DriveThruRPG and when I saw the image I said oh yeah I remember seeing Nathan Carmen post this on Google+. I must admit, I was very skeptical about purchasing this product because it seemed a little overpriced from what the product description says. I think the words "This Setting Kit provides an outline of a setting" threw me off more than anything else. At $4.00 for 23 pages the pdf will cost me $0.17 per page which I thought was a little high. So when my friend messaged me, I thought about it more and decided to buy it. I'm glad I did. These 23 pages are really good. Wait, I think I just got tricked into doing a review on this. I won't forget that Eric.

You are resistance fighters and only 30% of the populace is left. It's a dog eat dog world where only the strong survive. The alien bugs have invaded and all but wiped out the world's military organizations. There are 6 factions of resistance groups left and you belong to Unity.  This group seeks to unify the human race against the invaders. You may or may not face off against the other factions. That's up to you and your GM.

Within the pages you get 4 new edges, 2 new hindrances, 2 new setting rules, an adventure generator, and a great bestiary with 7 wildcard human NPC's, 2 human Extras, and 14 alien NPC's (6 of them are wildcards). This product is labeled as a kit for an alien bug invasion setting and it is exactly that. It is a toolbox of great ideas and beasts. I highly recommend buying this pdf if you're interested in any type of science fiction. Best of all, it's for Savage Worlds and it's only $4. Go check out Husk: Wrath of the Swarm.

This product has given me a great idea for FG-Con 11, the online convention for Fantasy Grounds. It happens to be starting on Friday, October 13th and continues to October 15th. Yep, you read that right, its on Friday the 13th this year. Word is that they're trying to do a theme for it. Hopefully I can get into a Trail of Cthulhu game. If not then maybe I'll run it myself. Anyway, I'm going to use this kit to perhaps run a Starship Troopers game. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

RPGaDay 2017 Day 18

Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

I think the game I've been playing the most in my life is pretending to be a responsible adult. I've been doing that for 20 years now. After that it would have to be Dungeons & Dragons. Take your pick of the system. The only one I haven't played is 4th edition and not because I think it sucked but I was busy with life and didn't play RPG's during the time it was out on the shelves. In fact, I started playing RPG's again when 5th edition had just come out. My most memorable version though is AD&D when my older brother DM'd for my friend Brian and I when we were 8 or 9 years old. I think he was just testing stuff out on us to see how to screw his friends in the dungeons but that's ok because I got to spend time with my big bro. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 17

Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?

Stars Without Number from Sine Nomine Publishing written by Kevin Crawford is most definitely the one I've owned the longest and not yet played. When I was first getting back into RPG's over five years ago, I picked up this free version of the game. I think I fell in love with this game when I saw the RollPlay Swan Song Youtube video live play by itmeJP. Adam Koebel did a fantastic job of bringing his version of the game alive. I've always been a sucker for science fiction and this one really struck a nerve with me. If your'e not familiar with it then I suggest you at least get the free version here and read it. There is also a Kickstarter campaign going on right now for a revised edition which I am a backer.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 16

Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

All of them and none of them. I think you should play the game according to the rules at least two to three times before trying to make any changes. You really need to give the system a chance, then you can make up your own house rules. After playing my RPG's, I don't think there is one that I haven't made up rules for. No RPG or system is perfect so I have to modify it to my liking. This is the way it is, and forever shall be. If I had to choose one that I use the least house rules, then it would be Numenera because I haven't played it yet.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 15

Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

Photo courtesy of Terry Hansen
Savage Worlds is by far my favorite system to adapt the most. It is really easy to come up with something rather quickly. Your general thug NPC will have a d6 in everything and only have 1 wound. The big bad guy shoud have one or two d8's with the rest at d6 and he has 3 wounds. This also depends on what stage of development the player characters are at. The bad guy should be a challenge and have henchmen around in the final battle. I've found that 5 scenes is a good starting point for a 3 hour session. The number of scenes you will go through is highly dependent on the players at the table. Some players will role play more and extend a scene longer than you anticipated while others will run through to get to the end. Usually after watching a good move I'll say to myself, how can I savage this movie into a game? I think that is the ultimate compliment someone can give to a game designer. When was the last time you watched a movie and said, how can I D&D this movie? If your'e like me then that has been very rare.

Monday, August 14, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 14

Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

This is an interesting question. First I have to ask myself what is an open-ended campaign? To this I answer, it is a sandbox. Yes, it is a sandbox. I guess you could say open-ended campaign is a plotless campaign, which really isn't a campaign at all. According to the dictionary a campaign is a series of military operations intended to achieve a particular objective, confined to a particular area, or involving a specified type of fighting. Without an end or objective then it can't be a campaign at all. Therefore an open-ended campaign must be some new weird term for sandbox.

As a sandbox I prefer Castles & Crusades. It is a fixed OGL version of D&D 3.0. I'm sure Skip Williams would be chastising me right now if he read this. Converting monster stats from D&D or Swords and Wizardry is a breeze. Usually when I'm feeling lazy I'll go grab an OD&D or 1st Edition adventure and convert the stats. As a Castle Keeper running the game is fairly easy and straight forward. The rules are much more simple than 5E and if the rule isn't in the book, well then you get to make one up on the fly. I had a blast running a sandbox game in the Haunted Highlands in the past and am looking to start a new campaign in the Free City of Eskadia.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 13

Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

A few years ago I was CKing my first Castles & Crusades campaign. The first level party got attacked by 10 goblins late at night. One group of goblins confronted the party while another group waited in hiding. During the second or third round of combat the second group of goblins were now stealing the party's belongings. The hero's managed to kill all but two of the goblins. These goblins escaped with Larry the gnome's gold pouch, so of course the party chases after them into a dungeon.

While searching through the dungeon the group comes into a large room littered with bones and debris. There are 12 tall columns stretching to the ceiling 20 feet above. At the north end sits a stone throne on a raised dais. Dust has settled on everything in the room. Well, Larry's first action is to run through the room and sit upon the throne. Now the rest of the group is pissed off. Larry activated 5 skeletons with his antics. What does he do next? As he runs for the nearest door he gets hit by a skeleton taking him down to 1 Hit Point. He then closes the door behind himself and readies his next action. Larry asks if he can open the door shoot an arrow and then close the door all while a skeleton is trying to come through the door. I told him no you can't do that. This brings me to my point. I really didn't like telling the player he couldn't do something. After that night of gaming I made a resolution to myself that I would do the best I can to allow a player to do what he wants no matter what the consequence is. From that point on I try to never say no to a player's request. Obviously there are rules to the game and I just can't accommodate a player's request all the time but I can try.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 12

Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

Wow! Two easy ones in a row. The RPG with the most inspiring interior art is hands down Tales from the Loop. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the biggest reason I backed Tales from the Loop: Roleplaying in the 80's that never was, was because of the art of Simon StÃ¥lenhag. His work is truly amazing and that's why I decided to back his latest creation The Electric State, a new narrative art book. Tales from the Loop is an investigative game where the players are kids who range in age from 10 to 15. I've got a 6 part overview series on this blog where I cover each chapter except for the adventures and you can check it out here if you're interested to find out what it's all about. Below you'll find some of Simon's artwork from within the book so you can see how inspiring it truly is.

Friday, August 11, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 11

Which 'dead game' would you like to see reborn?

This one is easy. Let me take you back to New York City in 1984. "Well, let's say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. Based on this morning's sample, it would be a Twinkie... thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds." Still don't know what I'm talking about? Here's another quote from the movie. 
"Egon: Don't cross the streams. 
 Peter: Why?
 Egon: It would be bad.
 Peter: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean bad?
 Egon: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your  body exploding at the speed of light.
 Raymond: Total protonic reversal.
 Peter: That's bad. Okay. Alright, important safety tip, thanks Egon."

Ghostbusters from West End Games was first printed in 1986 and in 1989 the box set titled Ghostbusters International was produced. Scott Haring, the editor of Pyramid magazine from Steve Jackson said in the second volume of Pyramid that Ghostbusters is "the first-ever RPG to use the dice pool mechanic". 

Luckily I found this WordPress site named Ghostbusters International which has lots of the old books in pdf ready for download. Even though I found the pdf's, I still really want to see this back in print and with all the supplements available. The d6 dice pool makes this game loads of fun and character creation is fast n' easy. I've enjoyed playing this game in the past with crazy antics of drunk alien parties at the firehouse and flying car races around the city. 

If there's something weird and it don't look good, who you gonna call?
I ain't afraid of no ghost.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

White Noise Review

This is another one of those games I've been putting off reading because I was hoping one of my friends would run it. White Noise is a short horror adventure from Just Insert Imagination written by Jamie Pierson, Eric Lamoureux, and Morne Schaap. In my previous review of Aliens vs. Rednecks, I said this was one of their plug & play adventures designed to be a complete grab and go rpg adventure but I was mistaken. After a little research, I found no reference to this being one of their PnP adventures. If it is so, please correct me. Edit: Since publishing this article, Just Insert Imagination has confirmed that White Noise is indeed a Plug and Play adventure.

From the get go I was stoked to dive into this adventure because I've been craving a good horror game to get into. The cover art inspires the imagination as if you're looking out the porthole of a ship or airplane which is backlit with a red warning light. The game takes place in Alaska during the cold war in 1967. The players are a part of a corporation security team sent in to "clean up messes before the public finds out." The players know that the corporation they work for is dabbling in "biochemical pharmaceuticals" and have cleaned up some of the experiments before. Their job on this mission is to fly from the corporation's headquarters in Portland to a research facility in Alaska and lock down the facility. Then they need to find out what happened and report back to Headquarters.

White Noise uses the setting rules of Blood & Guts, Jokers Wild, and Gritty Damage. It wouldn't be a horror game if Gritty Damage was missing. With chances of infection after each wound, a player has the possibility to pick up a mutation from the included Mutation Table (I would prefer to use the Mutation Deck from JII). After the introduction there are 4 scenes for the players to go through. This should be enough for a 3 to 4 hour game session provided that the players at the table don't just rush through each location. This is where the GM really needs to manage the game progression. 

It is mentioned a few times to use "facility worker" encounters but there are no NPC's included within the two PDF downloads from DriveThruRPG. After looking through the two documents, it is clear that this was published too early. It's a shame because there is a good story plot and background info but it just feels as if it's unfinished. There are also some worker journal handouts provided but no mention in the adventure of when or where to distribute them. I have no doubt that most GM's have enough creativity to figure out how to make this adventure work but as an adventure module it is incomplete.

Both documents contain 5 pre-generated character sheets. No, you don't get 10 different characters. There are two different versions of the same 5 characters. Both sets of characters look good but one set clearly has a different layout so you can easily separate them from each other (you'll see what I mean if you get this pdf). The character sheets look really, really good. I love the dot matrix form feed paper used as the background. Each character is unique and they also come with a secret. After each player picks their character the GM is instructed to hand out the secrets to the respective player. My personal favorite secret is Bamm's. I don't want to give away any spoilers on the player secrets. 

I guess I thought this was a PnP adventure because when I originally looked through the pdf's there were enough supplements to make me think that was the goal. Out of all of their PnP games this is the only one that appears to be slightly disorganized. In this adventure you get a cover page, 2 pages of backstory and adventure, a one page Mutation Table, a one page sonar map of the Alaskan area, 2 pages of basic figure flats, 2 pages of Worker Journal handouts, 3 pages of table tents, and 6 pages of pre-generated characters. 

As usual, Just Insert Imagination has set the bar high with excellent artwork and layout. Plenty of supplements make this adventure almost convention ready. Without NPC's provided, I can't give this one a complete thumbs up. It just needs some work to make it a great adventure. Now, it is pay what you want on DriveThruRPG so I encourage you to pick it up and form your own conclusions. Edit: For some reason I did not see the section titled Monsters just after the pregen of Doc (Medic). I am very sorry for this error on my part. Thank you for pointing this out to me Eric.

5 out of 10 Lotus Masters recommend this adventure,
but it could easily be 7 out of 10 with minor fixes.

RPGaDay 2017 Day 10

Where do you go for RPG reviews?

Usually the first place I turn to when looking for reviews on anything is Google. If I'm already browsing one of One Book Shelf's subsidiaries then I will look at the reviews on that product's page. After that, I will go to the Nerds-International Google+ community page and ask for other members experience with that RPG. I also try to see if there are Youtube video reviews. I really like the video reviews more than written ones even though the written reviews are usually more detailed.

Kurt Weigel's Game Geeks RPG is probably the one I view more than any other. If I'm still interested then I'll look for live play episodes on Youtube. I really enjoy those live plays because I get a better feel for how the game works and it gives me ideas as how to or how not to run that game.

I can't stress this enough, my friends on Google+ are the most influencing factor as to whether or not I will buy an RPG. I value their opinion over any other review I see on a product's web page.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 9

What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

This one is a little unconventional from what I would normally recommend. Usually I would say that just about most plot point campaigns from Savage Worlds setting books are 10 adventures but those usually take much longer to finish the entire campaign. This one is a little bit different because you can make this one last shorter or longer. It's really up to the players and GM. 

The RDF Accelerated Training Program is a Robotech supplement from Palladium Books.This short book contains over 20 scenario's to put your pilot to the test. Then there are two adventures in the back of the book. Scavenger Hunt and Escort Service are sure to put the pilots training to good use.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 8

What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

To be perfectly honest, I think this is a dumb question. You can use any RPG to play 2 hours or less. When I run games, I plan to run them for right around 3 hours and make sure I have enough extra materiel on hand just in case the players move more quickly through the adventure than I anticipated. In Savage Worlds that means I plan to run 5 scenes in 3 hours and I'll bring 2 or 3 extra scenes. If I wanted to play for 2 hours or less then I would reduce it to 3 scenes but I would still have 5 on hand just in case. What does all this mean? Well, just be prepared to run a game longer than necessary and you'll be covered. If you want your game shorter then make it shorter. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 7

What was your most impactful RPG session?

My most impactful session came when I was playing a paladin in the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition of The Curse of Strahd campaign DM'd by my friend Kris. Here is the link to last years post where I talked about this but I figured I would expound upon my thought process.We were in the town of Barovia and were sent to the Mayors house to talk to him about releasing a local lady's boy. He was imprisoned by the Mayor for no reason at all. At least that's what she told us. I had been playing the paladin more like a religous zealot who twisted reality to justify his actions and I may have taken it a little too far. 

Perhaps this is not so different from a sociopath who justifies their actions to themselves in order to maintain a moral compass so to speak. Without this justification then they would probably feel bad about what they do and the guilt might make them a nervous wreck. You'll note that I'm not comparing this paladin to a pshchopath because there is a huge difference and I'll let you do your own research on that one. 

My paladin was invited in to the house to speak with the Mayor and while interrogating the Mayor he used detect evil. The Mayor glowed like a bright torch. I then proceded to unsheath my sword of holy justice to dispatch this evil before my eyes. Well, that didn't turn out to be a good idea. We then had to kill over 20 guards who rushed in because of my mayor killing paladin. 

It was after the session when I reflected upon that incident that I realized I may have played the paladin badly. To my paladin, he was in the right, but that was just his justification for what he did. In reality, my paladin killed those innocent guards who were just protecting their fallen Mayor. During the game he told himself that if they attack me then they are evil also. So he then hunted down each guard that attacked him. Thus the Murder Hobo Paladin is born. This is why I will never play a paladin again.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 6

You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do!

After reading other people's posts, like Eric Lamoureux and Stephen Dragonspawn, I would do the same thing. First of all I would need to find at least 7 friends brave enough to go the a cabin in the woods with me. Then I would have everybody run a different game each day. I think a different daily mini campaign is a great idea. I would also throw in some board games and movies in between RPG games. After that we could go play some drunk frisbee golf. On the last day I'd wait for them to get drunk and pass out so I could put their hands into a warm bucket of water and draw stuff on their forehead with a permanent marker. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 5

Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

This one wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Man, these questions look so easy but when you start thinking about it, they get really hard. I had to search my digital library of over 1,300 pdf's and only came up with a potential list of 4. Those were Beasts & Barbarians Golden Edition, Codex Infernus, Realms of Cthulhu, and Tales from the Loop. I really like the feeling I get when thinking about springing a trap on a giant ape that is over 12 foot tall like the cover of Beasts & Barbarians. Codex Infernus just looks cool. Fighting hellish beasts in a fantasy setting sounds awesome and the cover reflects that. Realms of Cthulhu just sparks the imagination to make me think 'what hellish unknown being am I looking at and what have I gotten myself into'. Then there's Tales from the Loop. Simon's art work is just amazing and the cover of this book is just a mere sampling of whats inside. The main reason I purchased this book was because of the great artwork. It really is hard to pick just one but I'm going to say Realms of Cthulhu from Reality Blurs best captures the spirit of the game.