Wednesday, August 23, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017, day 23 - Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

One of the more interesting layouts I've seen lately goes back to the d20 Call of Cthulhu! First off, the cover is wonderful! Looks like it came directly out of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead! Wonderful work by Ann Koi and Jason Soles.

The layout is what struck me, though. Like most RPG books, its represented with two columns on each page. Pretty standard. But what is way different is that the columns are not straight! They are presented in angles. The first thing that came to mind was something from film school, the Dutch angle. Also known as the Dutch tilt or canted angle. Often used to portray uneasiness or tension. Also, often associated with crazy or mental or highly unusual.

While doing the research for this blog post, it came to my attention that this very book won two Ennies in 2002! It was nominated for Best d20 Game and actually won for Best Graphic Design and Layout! Credited to Robert Campbell and Dawn Murin. So there you have it...

All of that is perfect for Call of Cthulhu.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017, day 22 - Which RPGs are easiest for you to run?

While my desire is to make one household system a regular goto system with my family, I truly have the most experience with one of the crunchiest of systems, good old d20!

So based on experience, Pathfinder/d20 is the easiest. Unless a system that is easier than d20 is still easier to run cold than a difficult game to run when experienced, I'd be open to that.

There is a system that just came out that I have hope for, for being easier to run as well as a good candidate for our household family goto system. That is the Pip System from Third Eye Games. We first saw it powering Mermaid Adventures, but that setting didn't do it for me. I wished it was available as a slightly more realized generic system- and lo! Its almost as if Third Eye Games heard me! Here it is! And it's a fine little book that prints on demand quite well.

Monday, August 21, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017, day 21 - Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Interesting question for a hobby that relies on communication and primarily communicating with just words.

This is totally speculation, but I suspect this upcoming game will be the perfect answer to the question- Which RPG does the most with the least words? Because it will do the heavy lifting with images, I suspect this will be a hieroglyphic RPG.

The following article appeared in January of this year. It seems the game hadn't been officially named yet or something because it's name (which is now called Untold : Adventure Awaits) doesn't appear in the article at all! The game they're talking about here was kickstarted very successfully later.
A roleplaying game based on Rory’s Story Cubes is in the works and scheduled for launch this October, Tabletop Gaming can exclusively reveal. 
Speaking to TTG at this year’s Toy Fair, the inventor of the creative title, Rory O'Connor, said that he had teamed up with RPG designer John Fiore to create a currently untitled roleplaying game that uses the existing story generation mechanic to form a narrative-driven campaign. 
“There's a guy, John Fiore, he developed a set of rules called The Nine Cubes,” O’Connor said. “It was a set of rules for solo roleplaying with Rory's Story Cubes. So the way there's the kind of mythic generator which is used by gamers, The Nine Cubes gave you a way to combine Story Cubes with your favourite RPG manual so that you could have a GM and you could be the character in the story .
“Myself and John got in contact and we started talking, and I loved what he was doing but I was like: 'It's still kind of clunky and I love DMing, but I'm always put off at the notion of running games because I think, 'Ah, there's so much I need to know and so much I need to remember.''” 
O’Connor described the Story Cubes RPG as a “gateway for people to get involved” with more traditional RPG titles such as Dungeons & Dragons, with a single scenario taking approximately one hour to play and adopting the structure of a TV serial. 
“It'll be a limited run as we kind of iron out the kinks, but I wanted to create this game where a family – I always think of a mum and her kids – could sit down and have the experience that loads of other people are having with roleplaying games without the heavy lifting of the book and the manual and the character creation and all that stuff,” he explained. “That puts people off. 
“So we've kind of taken the heart of what it's like to put yourself into a story, but gotten rid of a lot of the paperwork of the rules. I needed Story Cubes to do it. I did have a name for it but I realised it's trademarked. 
“I'm really excited because I want to open that door of what it felt like to be in a story and recreate the notion of what were for me '80s action TV shows, where it's like Quantum Leap and Star Trek and other things where it's like you're dropped into an adventure, you know it's going to end in 45 minutes, but how do you get to the end? 
“That's essentially what we're trying to create: this game that takes you on this– drops you into an adventure, drags you through the story and you're done within kind of 45 to 60 minutes. Hopefully it will inspire people to go, 'I want to find out more about this.' So then they go and look at D&D and Pathfinder or – as a nod to Cubicle 7 – the Doctor Who roleplaying game, as well.” 
O’Connor was also demonstrating the upcoming Adventure Time set of Story Cubes at Toy Fair, which joins a line of spin-offs already including Batman, Doctor Who and Scooby-Doo. He confirmed that all of the licensed variations and expansions would be compatible with the RPG. 
“What we discovered is it actually works brilliantly with the themed sets,” he said. “So now you can be a character in a Batman story, you can be a character in a Doctor Who episode, or even weirder, you can have Finn and Jake team up with Scooby-Doo to battle The Joker by mixing all of the sets together. 
“Ultimately what I wanted to create is the sense of an adventure game where you can go anywhere and do anything. We kind of nailed that bit and we're still working on finding the mechanics to make it as user-centric as possible. Because with collaborative storytelling, a lot of it is left for you to say, 'Well, you decide what happens.' I wanted kids to be able to play this, and they don't have that capacity to say, 'You go first' or 'You go with your idea,' because they're like: 'No, my idea's awesome! Why didn't you pick my idea?' We have to figure out the means to facilitate that. That's actually the tough bit at the moment.” 
O’Connor said that the Story Cubes RPG is planned to appear in “sneak previews” at the UK Games Expo in early June, followed by a release at Essen Spiel in mid-October.
Untold: Adventure Awaits is a customisable storytelling game powered by Rory's Story Cubes where you play the heroes in your own adventure series. Think of it as throwing you and your friends into a favourite TV show, but rather than passively watching, you're caught up in every scene and make the decisions on which way the plot will go. Each adventure-packed episode takes less than sixty minutes to play from start to finish and requires no preparation - you jump straight into the adventure! All it takes is a copy of Untold, a set of any nine StoryCubes of your choice, and the combined imagination and inquisitiveness of the players. From there on, anything can happen...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017, day 20 - What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?

There is no question that DriveThruRPG is the best place to find out-of-print RPGs, if you are OK with PDF format. But then more and more games are kind of back in print because of print-on-demand. Which I guess eliminates them from this question!

For actual physical copies of out-of-print books, I almost always exclusively find mine on Ebay. I usually apply a great deal of patients, set up an auto search and let the results trickle in. If there's one that I'm currently interested in and is affordable enough, I'll buy it or bid on it. If I lose the auction, fine. Just simply wait for the next one to appear.

I guess its pretty similar to fishing.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017, day 19 - Which RPG features the best writing?

I'd have to say the best writing in an RPG is usually GURPS in my experience. The sheer amount of research put into these books is astounding. I've so very often read that non-GURPS players use GURPS books as reference because of their quality of content.

My favorite fluff writing, however, has always been the excerpt stories you find in Twilight 2000 1st Edition. Especially in the core rulebooks. They were scattered throughout, interjecting in between the rules. Written as journal entries, they gave a wondrous and bleak illustration of the Twilight 2000 world. As awful as it must be, I wanted to actually be there when I read it in Junior High.

I've always thought these parts were written by the late Loren K. Wiseman, but I cannot seem to confirm that.

Friday, August 18, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017, day 18 - Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

The RPG I have played the most in my life by a huge majority is definitely Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons 3.X.

If it were a question between the two... That's a tough call. Soon it will be Pathfinder, simply because we no longer play 3.5, but still play Pathfinder to this day. It feels like we're very close to that threshold soon if we have yet to pass it.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017, day 17 - Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?

I think the nature of this question cancels out any game you have and have actually played at all! So looking over the collection at only games I have NEVER played, but have owned... narrowing that down to the one I have owned the longest...

The winner for today's question has to be Spycraft 1st Edition. I was on board with that game from its very first release. At the time I seem to recall it was the only espionage RPG on my radar that remotely promised to fulfill the void left by the long out-of-print Top Secret/S.I. Its hard for me to mention this game without mentioning one of its longest lived online resources, Modus Operandi.

Sadly never managed to gather enough interested players to play or run Spycraft. We did roll up characters for Stargate SG-1 which is pretty close.

Still longing for Spycraft 3rd edition. Until then, Top Secret is back! with the highly successful Kickstarter for Top Secret: New World Order! It is a wonderful time to be a geek and alive.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017, day 16 - Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

I'd have to say the RPG ruleset that I'm most fond of, as is- is the Star Wars Narrative Dice game mechanics- which so very recently have been named the Genesys system. At the time of this posting, the Genesys core rulebook has not yet been released in the wild, so we're assuming its pretty much just like the rules we see in the three FFG Star Wars games. Some interviews have indicated there are some adjustments and improvements in Genesyst over the Star Wars versions.As it is in the Star Wars games, I feel it is nearly perfect for my gaming likes and purposes.

Much more should be known, possibly even tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017, day 15 - Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

My favorite RPGs are usually generic rule book publications, so that the adapting is already half way done. So using that as the touchstone, welcome to my obsessive decisiveness! I cannot choose which generic system to settle on as my system. There is a short list of systems I have come to love and I want to settle in and adapt and make my own. But once I think I've found the one, suddenly that other system over there looks like it will fulfill all my gaming needs. And so I move to next one and immerse myself into it. And the process continues. All the while amassing an ever growing collection of publications. Making the rounds. For the last few years I've even attempted to track where my obsession leads.

The big ones are:

  • Savage Worlds
  • d20 Modern
  • Basic Roleplaying
  • Fate
  • Fudge
  • D6

Systems that I wish had a generic core rulebook:

  • Vortex
  • Ubiquity
The Star Wars game was on that last list, but with GENESYS coming out... it's a granted wish! A dream come true! An answered prayer!

GENESYS may honestly put this obsession to rest. We'll see if it needs adapting.

Monday, August 14, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017, day 14 - Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

The gaming group that I belong to tends to not do open ended campaigns. Or maybe the undecided plan was to go go go until GM burnout, open ended until then. The Pathfinder campaign I ran was based on an Adventure Path, which had a built in ending. The last game I was in was a Mutants and Masterminds game that had an ending written in by the GM. A clear objective and then roll credits. So I can't say I've been in many decidedly open-ended campaigns.

If I were to run one, I believe I would consider what system would dictate that type of game. I would want a lighter, less complicated system to run in the background while focusing on the story.

I found the lighter game systems would be best for me for open-ended campaign play. There's a collection of games that are similar in crunch and have similar mechanics. Those games would be Savage Worlds, Ubiquity, the Vortex system, and Fate.

These systems seem to often be compared to each other. They are all less granular and crunchy than systems like Pathfinder or GURPS or Hero. But they are also not considered light systems. I've seen them most often described as medium crunch systems.

One game mechanic that is almost universal across all of these is the usage of tokens or chips or something that the player collects and spends. These games have a sort of economy fueling events and story in the narrative. Savage Worlds uses Bennies. Ubiquity calls them Style Points. Vortex named them Story Points. Fate Core and Fate Accelerated have Fate Points.

Not all of these games use them exactly the same. Some flow more than others through the course of a session while others reset. There are other games that incorporate similar mechanics and the more crunchy games mentioned above even have optional rules that mirror this kind of stuff. But the examples I've listed kind of require it. They really wouldn't be the games they are without this mechanic.

I feel games with this level of detail and have this story altering mechanics lend themselves the best towards open-ended campaign play games.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017, day 13 - Describe a game experience that challenged how you play?

In our second session of this new campaign we're all still kind of finding our characters and who they'll be. This is the first time I've ever ran a barbarian in Pathfinder/D&D.

Our party was meeting a priestess of Wisdom in the temple dedicated to wisdom. GM described the grandeur we were seeing as we were lead into her chamber to meet her. I noticed something in his description that seemed to be an accidental contradiction of themes. His campaign word's pantheon is based on the the Seven Virtues which are opposed by the Seven Sins. He described this temple having artwork that illustrated the opposing natures of the seven pairings.

Here we are in the Temple of the Virtue of Wisdom, which opposes the Sin of Luxury. Yet he's going on about how luxurious this place is.

I decided to use this observation as a character motivation- that this kid was looking forward to meeting the Priestess of Wisdom because she opposes luxury. Luxury- something this character has never had and is tempted or envious of, so drawn to those who would help him resist and oppose. Only to find them embracing luxury. "Hypocrisy!" he declared!

Roleplaying continued, yet I was waiting for an NPC, hopefully the priestess herself, or one of my party, to ask why my character was acting so upset. But I had to make my reveal without that. For my character's attitude was going on too long. The poor GM didn't realize until the moment I revealed it that my negative attitude was in character! He thought, me the player, was unhappy about something and having a fit! Everyone seemed relieved once it was clear I was roleplaying and not really pissed off!

I was a little uncomfortable forcing so much spotlight time. My character's actions were rude and short of hostile. It was totally spur of the moment and I hadn't discussed this decision with anyone so it truly was out of the blue. Without breaking character, I was acting like a dick. And the rule established earlier in this blog- don't play with dicks.

But in the end I think the reward was worth it. Some good RP drama. And now a pretty cool schtick for my character to build around.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

#RPGaDay 2017, day 12 - Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

I find the artwork by Lisa Free to be tremendously inspiring. Her work appears in the Creatures Book 4 and a little bit in the Glorantha Book 5 of the Deluxe Edition of RuneQuest.

She also did some work for other Chaosium products that I haven't seen before she stopped working in the industry. Which is a real shame, because as is the theme of this day's question- her art is truly inspiring.

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