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Showing posts from August, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 31: Favorite RPG of all time

So hard a question.  I talk a lot of Champions, 4th Edition, but the fact is that I probably either played or ran that game for less than four years, basically while in college.  I had the first edition of Champions and loved it, and didn't even know two more editions had come out when I hit the big blue book.  I bought Fifth Edition, revised, which I hear is pretty good, but never played it.  Even in those college years Champions was only off-and-on.

Now, in full disclosure, I ran Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons pretty consistently for almost five years straight: two years in Ohio and three years in Kansas.  When that was done I ran Marvel Heroic Roleplaying for another year.  Someone who knows me recently said that suffer from "Hobby ADHD" but that tends to be more my tendency to buy and talk about running games; in reality I've been pretty steady.

If you want to talk about what game I have really played the longest (in terms of starting and not stopping), it…

#RPGaDAY Day 30: Rarest RPG owned

Hmmmm....So I went to RPG Geek to see what the most collectible RPG's out there are.  Turns out I have several of them.

Including #1, the 7th Sea Player's Guide


#8 Central Casting: Heroes of Legend

And #13, the aforementioned first printing of Deities & Demigods

Interestingly enough, one book not on list is one that I sold for literally hundreds of dollars (I had two, so I could afford to part with one), Central Casting: Dungeons.

That last one I'm particularly fond of, because I still use it to make up the occasional random fantasy dungeon.

#RPGaDAY Day 29: most memorable encounter

So, so many to choose from....

Okay, so for a while a friend of mine ran two Champions campaigns in tandem: Vanguard and Vanguard Europe (this was during the Giffen era of Justice League, not to mention the Iron Age of comics).  I ran Vanguard Europe, while playing a character in Vanguard (the ever-lovin' Amazing Man).  Vanguard's GM ran a character in Vanguard Europe, a Batman/Moon Knight sort of guy who happened to be team leader (and damn it all, the PC's name escapes me).

Anyways, Vanguard Europe was a pretty powerful group.  There was Shocker, the electricity manipulating telepath; super-ninja guy whose coolest aspect was that he took the perk Direction Sense just so he could always leap up and have the moon behind him; there was also the female flying brick too.  Plus Moon Knight, whatever his name was.

One session this villain shows up with his super-powered female sidekick and he's packing a ton of gadgets that are home-grown to defeat the villains.  For exampl…

#RPGaDAY Day 28: Scariest Game you've played

I think horror is a really, really difficult element to pull off in RPG's, and frankly it isn't a theme I particularly enjoy for the most part.  I play a lot of heroic style games, and I'm sure there have been plenty of tense moments where a lot hinged on a single die roll.

But, I think I'll share instead a sort of scary but mostly funny tale.  After graduating college I moved away for several years, but returned briefly to live in the same state where I attended college for about six months, and got back together with two of my old gaming group to play, of all things, Rifts.  I ran the session and things were going pretty well when suddenly one of the players cracked a joke and I chuckled while at the same time eating a nacho chip.

I began choking, coughed, turned red  and then, after what seemed like an eternity for me but was probably less than three seconds, proceeded to vomit right into the snack bowl.  There was stunned silence for a moment and then one of the pl…

#RPGaDAY Day 27: Game you'd like to see a new/improved version of

A great game concept with a complicated ruleset.  Don't know this one?  Here's the synopsis.

The Seven Worlds are the good guys, noble individuals dedicated to higher ideals.  They fought a war against the Starguild, a bunch of tyrannical jerks, a lose.  Small clusters of soldiers from the Seven Worlds place themselves in suspended animation in hope of coming back 150 years in the future to try to re-launch a war against what they hope will be a diminished Starguild.  The PC's are a group of these cryogenically-frozen soldiers, who have a strong knight/samurai feel to them, only with powered armor.

Only here's the kicker.  The planet, Rhand, where they are sleeping was actually conquered by an heretofore unknown alien race called the Spectrals, who infect the population with a virus that makes most humans hyper-violent sociopaths.  So instead of waking up in some decaying Starguild society, they wake up in full blown Mad Max-ville.  Now they have to fight off crazed h…

#RPGaDAY Day 26: Coolest character sheet

So, I can't find the example of the one I like the most.  A GM had created pre-generated PC's, but instead of a character sheet game them a photoshopped picture of what is on their desk: miscellaneous objects, papers, books, etc.  You could look at the contents of the desktop and figure out what kind of person it was.  What was really clever was s/he had worked the stats into the texts of things like take-out restaurant menus or playbills from shows.  It must have taken a ton of work, but was really effective.

#RPGaDAY Day 25: Favorite RPG no one else wants to play

So, a small technical issue: do you mean "nobody in my gaming group," or "nobody I know," because I'm pretty sure Blacksteel and Barking Alien would play Champions with me, even though no one in my gaming group in Kansas would.

So a game I like that few other people do.  I love Cosmic Enforcers, but I think most people don't even know that game.


It's got a fun "Legion of Superheroes" thing with futuristic alien superheroes battling crime and galaxy-threatening alien conquerors.  Rules are sketchy and unbalanced, if that's a problem for you.  I actually corresponded with one of the creators of the game, who basically told me he wouldn't communicate in any manner regarding the game because the publishers had hosed him, which is too bad.

Waste Paper Origami: Chick

#RPGaDAY Day 24: Most complicated RPG owned

'Nuff said.

#RPGaDAY Day 23: Coolest looking RPG product/book

Another stumper.  Ah, I got it...


Internally, the book looked futuristic and had a very strong Patrick Nagel theme going for it (which was hot stuff back in the day).  In some ways I'd still play this game set in an alternative 2020 rather than a futuristic one, just for kicks.  Although I'd use the modified rules for Roles that came out in Interface where you could have two Roles: one that was your organization (Corporate, Cop, Nomad, etc.) and the other your profession (Solo, Netrunner, Fixer, etc.) so you could be a Cop Solo or a Corporate Rockerboy or a Nomad Tech.

Anyways, onto the next question!

#RPGaDAY Day 22: Best secondhand RPG purchase

I buy a lot of games for used bookstores, so there are a lot of contenders for this.  But recently, I did find one of my Holy Grails....


The original Deities & Demigods, with the Lovecraft, Moorcock, and Newhon Mythos included.  For those who don't know, Arkham House, who claimed to have copyright to Lovecraft and Moorcock's work and had sold them to Chaosium for gaming purposes, raised hell with TSR.  Initially credit was given to Chaosium for the characters, but then TSR decided to do a new edition that didn't have the references to the literary pantheons.

One in a Million

So this is a little rambling, but it has been on my mind for a bit now.

I've been thinking about superheroes and superhero roleplaying game campaigns, and I had this thought: how many metahumans are there in your campaign world?

A few years ago after the House of M storyline in Marvel Comics, the editorial staff decided to wipe out the powers of most of the mutants in the Marvel Universe, making them one of the rarest commodities on the planet.  For quite some time the fact that mutants went from "millions" to "hundreds" was a big plot point with lots of "we are an endangered species" comments floating about.

"Millions" of mutants?  So you're talking about something approaching 1% of the population of humanity.  That would mean thousands of mutants in the united states alone.  See, I get how big the Marvel Universe is and how many characters they have developed over the decades of its publishing existence, but I think that metahumans sho…

#RPGaDAY Day 21: Favorite licensed RPG

It seems like I keep hitting the same games over and over again.  One of my favorite RPG's of all time is a licensed one:


Although I also really like the FASA Star Trek RPG, and the Last Unicorn Games Star Trek RPG as well.
Tell you what, I'll mix it up with this one.  I don't give this little gem enough love these days...



One of these days I might run this one with the kids.

#RPGaDAY Day 20: Will still play in 20 years time

This is tough one, because honestly I don't know.  Twenty years ago I was playing Champions and Star Wars.  I move a lot of system to system these days, but I think the answer problem is...


The whole Old School Renaissance movement showed that there is something rather enjoyable about the earliest editions of Dungeons & Dragons that seems to transcend mere sentimentality.  But the truth is I'll probably be playing some superhero game in its upteenth edition or something new and different that happens to be cranked out by e-publishers into my main cerebral cortex or whatever we have twenty years from now.

#RPGaDAY Day 19: Favorite Published Adventure

My first thought was that I rarely use published adventures anymore, but then I realized I did at least read the bajeezus out of them when I was a more fledgling GM.  And there was one that blew my teenage mind....


For those who don't know, the Assassin's Knot is a low-level murder mystery, the sequel to L1: the Secret of Bone Hill.  An NPC from L1 is killed, and three clues lead to three different residents of the village where the module takes place.  The PC's have to go into the town and instead of just killing everything in sight, interact with all the villagers to see who might have done it.  There's a few hooks for action here and there for the players who need it, but the bottom line was this was the first module where the GM had to really think about what a fairly large number of NPC's would be doing in response to the players' actions.

Plus I was, and still am, a huge fan of murder mysteries, especially the "English manor" style mysteries of …

#RPGaDAY Day 18: Favorite Game System

You see, this is where I think of Barking Alien as my "RPG Brother from Another Mother," because we both picked the same game for "Favorite Game System."


West End Games' Star Wars the Roleplaying Game, Second Edition.

The rules so perfectly captured the loose, occasionally over-the-top action coupled with light humor of the movies perfectly. Editor's note: when I say movies, I mean the original trilogy.  The prequel trilogy and the Clone Wars cartoon series both have Jedi being much more overpowered than this ruleset does.

In addition, the archtype PC creation (a little innovative for its time) allowed people to drop into the game with characters that were focused more on character than utility.  Even though they might be less useful than others, you wanted to play the Kid or the Protocol Droid because you knew you could have fun doing it (and they were a little useful).  There's a point in the rules where they are describing typical gameplay and it fea…

#RPGaDAY Day 17: Funniest Game Played

I have played in a lot of games where I had moments when I laughed to the point I couldn't talk.  What's more, they were rarely "comedy" games like Toon where the humor seems so contrived.  But when I really think about it, the funniest game I have played was honestly my "Ultimate Posse" campaign using the Marvel Heroic RPG.

Ben's superhero "Union Galactic" was played for comic relief in a way that was so consistent and yet not hokey or annoying, complete with accent.  Couple him with the Ferret, who sort of bumbled his way through superhero-dom with that sincerity that showed he was trying, in the words of Vonnegut, to bargain with his destiny in good faith.  For my part I had Mrs. Robot, the old-lady's brain in a robot body who seemed completely comfortable with it ("I'm making the best of a bad situation.")  Samhkara was the straight man (woman) of the group, perpetually grinding her imaginary teeth at the antics of her te…

#RPGaDAY Day 16: Game you wished you owned

You mean, aside from the D&D 5E Monster Manual and DM's Guide, so I could see how the game really works?  I'll tell you what I'm more excited about...


The Valiant Universe RPG

I know you can get the pdf already from DriveThruRPG, but I want the book in my hand.  Why do I want this game?
1. It's a superhero RPG, and I loves me superhero RPG's.
2.  It's based on Valiant Comics.  They got going in the early 1990's and ran for a while before folding their tents.  Then they re-launched all the titles in 2012 and have been rolling along ever since.  Valiant's comic book universe has a lot going for it as the basis of an RPG.  The comics are pretty gritty with murky, gray morality.  Most of the characters are pretty low-powered as superheroes go, so no wildly over-the-top stuff.  Third, and perhaps most interestingly, when a character in a Valiant comic book dies, they stay dead.  The publisher is pretty explicit about that.  Recently one of the characters …

#RPGaDAY Day 15: Favorite Convention Game

I haven't played a lot of convention game, but my all-time favorite?


Torg is one of the RPG's with a certain amount of notoriety.  It was ambitious as an attempt to do a cross-genre platform with some neat ideas but was bit before its time.  Anyways, a long time ago I went to this small convention in South Dakota and managed to get into a game of Torg that turned out to be hysterically funny and engaging and the guy running it clearly was having a good time and knew the game well (two very good qualities for a good game).  Other convention games have been okay, but I just remember this guy's house rule that PC's from the pulp era always had theme music playing in the background--a big problem for a guy trying to sneak into somewhere...

#RPGaDAY Day 14: Best convention purchase

I own the first editions of all the AD&D books, but I enjoyed the spirit of the OSRIC hardback rulebook so much I bought one.  It's a handy one-volume text with a lot of love for the game inside.

#RPGaDay 13: Most memorable character death

Two stories come to mind...

The first (and more recent) story was in a one shot at my annual mini-con "End of the World."  I was playing a professional gunslinger in a post-apocalyptic western game.  EOW uses some home-brewed rules that are ridiculously lethal, and character death is common, but someone I had managed to survive several gunfights that day, including a few I honestly shouldn't have.  We get through about nine or so hours of gameplay and finally finish the scenario when one of the players says, "so that's it?  We're done?"
When the GM said the story was basically finished, the player said "I shoot Rob's character in the back."
Apparently in the pre-gen PC backstory I had killed this kid's father, but hadn't connected the two together.  The other player had waited the entire game to enact his revenge, after my usefulness had ended.

The second story goes all the way back to college, and a Cyberpunk 2020 game that I was …

#RPGaDay 12: Old RPG you still play or read

Read consistently and regularly?  Again, if you're a fan of this blog it shouldn't come as a surprise:


I've written extensively about this book in an earlier post.
I also recently busted out the 1st Ed. AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide and read through some it, just to refresh my memory about what the earliest instructors on game design were telling aspiring GM's back in the day.

#RPGaDay 11: Weirdest RPG Owned

It's sort of a toss-up, because both are really strange:


In The Whispering Vault you play humans recruited to capture supernatural beings.  Each session involved doing things like bullying your way through dimensional barriers and having a new body woven for you for your time on Earth.  A body which, by the way, could shoot chains out of its eye sockets.  Each session had a rather formulaic approach, but was chock-full of weird contemporary fantasy.

I also owned Over the Edge. or Naked Lunch the RPG.  Build whatever you want and go live on a psychedelic island that vaguely resembles Madagascar.  Looking to game Lost?  Here you go.

#RPGaDay 10: Favorite tie-in novel

What a tough one!  Most of the novels that I read that are licensed aren't from RPG's but rather TV/movies (e.g. Star Trek), or wargaming (Dan Abnett's 40K novels).  Aside from D&D novels, what's out there?  I know there were some World of Darkness novels, but they were just flotsam in the blight of vampire literature that afflicted the earth.

Oooh!  Oooh!  I know!


The D&D "not Choose Your Own Adventure" novels!  I loved these so much I recently bought them for my kids to read.  They're fun.

The detritus of game night

I forgot to take a photo last night, so here's the morning after.

#RPGaDAY Day 9: Favorite Dice Set

Favorite dice set?  I don't think I have one.  I have a giant barrel of dice that I have accumulated over several years, but while my kids have bought color matching swirly dice I don't have any.

I do have a set of "Hero Dice" from the DC Universe RPG that are kind of cool.  They are like Fudge Dice in that they have different symbols, but instead of positive, negative, and neutral just have positive (Superman), negative (Darkseid), really positive (Batman), and really negative (Joker).  Nowadays that mechanic is pretty common and appears in FFG's Star Wars Edge of Empire game, for example.  But back then it was pretty radical a notion.




The Death of KITT (a Fate RPG session report)

We open with a strange group of people assembling around the bed of a badly injured Michael Knight. There is a mysterious man calked the Doctor, Egon Spengler, Nancy Drew, Marty McFly, Cpl. John Winger, and Police Chief Martin Brody. Knight tells them that he was helping out a young woman named Rosa who ran a horse ranch for handicapped children. Rosa has been threatened by a local drug lord named Don Diego who wanted her land. While surveying Diego's villa Michael's supercar KITT suddenly warned him he was in terrible danger and ejected him just as the car exploded. Rosa had taken the badly injured knight to the hospital, but Diego appears to have seized the remains if the car.
The group decides to go undercover as drug buyers while Egon and Nancy maintain surveillance. They manage to fool Diego and he offers to show them the wrecked car, but he doesn't know how the car exploded. The Dictor manages to sneak the CPU out of KITT's dashboard and the leave (along with a s…

#RPGaDay Day 8: Favorite Character

Lane Mastodon, REF Field Scientist!

Part of the REF left behind on Tirol while the SDF-3 went exploring, Lane Mastodon was a member of the famous "Griffons" squadron that uncovered a mysterious Bioroid conspiracy involving telepathic young women in the Robotech: the Sentinels RPG campaign that I played in while attending college.
Like almost all of my college-era PC's, Mastodon was bit of a wise-ass.
Runner up: Fargo Wells, smuggler from the WEG Star Wars game Third Place: Amazing Man, from Champions.
Yeah...pretty much the same personality...

#RPGaDay Day 7: Most "intellectual" game owned

This one was kind of a stumper, because I'm not sure what "intellectual" means (he says without a trace of irony).  Does it mean complicated?  Literary? "Narrativist"?  What makes an RPG more highbrow than another?

So, I'll go with this one:


Ars Margica, First Edition.  A fantasy RPG that didn't focus on dungeon crawling.  "Troupe" play where players could choose between a cast of PC's, some grossly underpowered than the others.  When I got hold of the game it just seemed so much more cerebral than what I was used to saying.

Ironically enough, I liked the first edition so much I basically passed on later editions as I saw the game get more and more bloated and heavily influenced by the burgeoning World of Darkness.

It's funny, in reflection, how much genuine affection I have for this slim little RPG.

#RPGaDAY Day 6: Favorite RPG Never Get to Play

If you have been following this blog, you probably know this one.:


Champions, Fourth Edition.  The big RPG of my college years.  I love comic books and RPG's, and played this game for years, made countless NPC Villains, and literally wore the spine off my copy.

Now?  I don't think I could get anyone to play this game.  I know there are have been multiple new editions that fixed its many flaws (as nebbishes found them), but I think the game is really still quite good.  That is, if you like its rather crunch-heavy style.

The roster for the League of Extraordinary Dudes

What heroes of the 1980's have answered the call?

RPGaDay Day 5: Most Old School RPG Owned

Question 5: Most Old School RPG Owned


*Heaving Sigh*

For whatever it is worth, I also own the original Traveler books, just for a different answer.

#RPGaDAY, Day 4: Most Recent RPG Purchase

Continuing on this daily blog topic of RPG's, thanks to this guy:

4. Most Recent RPG Purchase

I had to fight the urge to run down to my FLGS and buy a copy of the blue Basic D&D rulebook yesterday, just so I could have today be the same answer.  But...



I suppose you could count the new edition of the D&D Player's Guide that I pre-ordered, but since I don't have that yet, I'll have to go with Shadowrun, Fifth Edition.  This was a "Free RPG Impulse Buy" that has the added detraction of having been really expensive to boot.  Wrong game for my gaming group, I think.

#RPGaDAY Day 3, First RPG Purchased

Continuing with the daily blog entries about RPG's thanks to this series of questions:

3. First RPG Purchased


Sigh.  I bought the game and ran it.  I get that there might be people for whom "first played," "first gamemastered," and "first purchased" might be different answers, but sadly I am not that guy.

#RPGaDAY Day 2, First RPG Gamemastered

Continuing on this daily question about RPG's of my life:

2. First RPG Gamemastered


Basic D&D, shortly after purchasing it, with my father, who didn't understand cooperative play and initially tried to kill the NPC fighter I had teamed him up with because he thought we were competing with one another.

Drell Vanguard

I painted up my son's Drell Vanguard for the Mass Effect RPG.


He's originally an Infinity miniature of some sort.  It's too bad he has the full helmet on, but beggars (and converters) can't be choosers.

#RPGaDAY Day 1, First RPG played

It's been a while since I did one of these, and this one is pretty easy, so why not?  Courtesy of Autocratik.

Question 1: First RPG played


Dungeons & Dragons, the blue rulebook, bought at Sears using a gift certificate I got from my uncle.