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Showing posts from September, 2014

Review: the Valiant Universe Roleplaying Game

Capsule: A near-clone of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying that throws out the good while keeping the bad.  Useful if you're a fan of the Valiant Universe.



I've been looking forwards to this game ever since Free RPG Day this year, although with some trepidation.  The rules were sketchy, and the free booklet promised more detail when the main rulebook came out.  I also snagged most of the additional free material Catalyst Games had put out as PDFs on DriveThurRPG, which gave me most of the major characters from the Valiant Universe.

Quick side note about Valiant comics, for those who don't know.  Originated in the 90's during the whole big indie comics movement that spawned Malibu, Image, and a host of others small publishing companies.  The early Valiant characters included a pseudo X-Men mutant youth team (Harbingers), a archtypal "Iron Age" gun guy (Bloodshot), the high-tech alien armor guy (the bizarrely named X-0 Manowar), and a quirky no-capes duo (Archer and Ar…

My own Monster Manual review

First, read his, because it is pretty much spot on across the board.


The Monsters
All the classics, and as far as I can tell nothing really new.  You could, if you know the game well enough, probably recreate the table of contents on your own.
In order to keep things still pretty simple, major league monsters now have two new abilities: Legendary and Lair Abilities.  Legendary abilities are basically additional attacks the DM can activate out of turn order, giving them an edge.  Lair abilities are a secondary effect associated with the location but also adding additional peril to the encounter.
It's a way of working around how to give solo monsters parity with large PC groups who can dog-pile on a single monster who can only hit back once.  Like many things about the fifth edition, it is pretty simple and elegant.
There's no rules for creating your own monsters or upgrading monsters.  Common humanoids often have a "boss" version like an orc chieftain.

The Art
Gone is t…

Taking Firefly Out For A Spin

Last night we tried out the new a Firefly RPG. It uses a variation of the rules used by Marvel Heroic, Leverage, and others. It actually bears a very strong resemblance to Fate with its focus on narrative and dependence on Assets and Complications. 
I had the full complement of seven players, whom had made their PC's in relative isolation, making for a mismatched group.  Just the thing for the genre. We had the gunslinging smuggler, a burly engineer, an unemployed government bureaucrat, a brawling con artist, a brash pilot, a sullen samurai, and a secretive Alliance spy.  The group was missing a scientist/medic, which meant they were more dependent on NPC's than usual which was fine by me. 
The adventure began with the group deciding to form a loose business consortium and purchase a ship. After borrowing the money from a loan shark, they buy a ship from a dealer of used spacecraft (the discussion of which one to buy did a lot to firm up personalities). 
But the ship they bought …

Premise Beach: Metropolis/Gotham

In my continuing "what do I want to run now that I've been asked again" series (better known as "Premise Beach" from the old Kids in the Hall skit), I present another premise.
To understand it, first I want to talk about one of the bigger differences between DC and Marvel Comics.  While Marvel is set in the "real world," with most of the superheroes living in and around New York City, DC has always relied on ersatz versions of American cities, the two best known examples being Metropolis and Gotham City. There's others: Keystone City, Central City, etc. all featuring pretty generic names and looking just as generic.  But Metropolis was always Superman's city, while Gotham was the Batman's home.
Both cities have a different feel, more than just "New York by Day" and "New York at Night."  Metropolis was always modern, bright, and fairly prosperous, fitting for the Man of Tomorrow.  Gotham was always decayed, dark, and poo…

Premise Beach: the Space Station

So at the last gaming session, it was announced to the group that we will be now having two monthly games, one run by one GM, the other by myself.

I will share what I have been thinking about, which capitalizes on the fact that I have possibly two groups, not one, for my future game.  One group is my current group: mostly adults who have gamed for some time.  The other group is largely children (girls, in fact) and novices to gaming.

My idea was to put the entire campaign on a space station, sort of a much larger DS9 or Babylon 5, something more akin to a small town in space.  One group (the novices) play the staff of the station, and are responsible for its safety and operation.  They would be the Star Fleet personnel, a more directed and reactive group.  The other group (the veterans) would play a group of civilians on the same station: freighter captains, merchants, and other associated ne-er do well's.



So I could have one location (the space station), a single pool of NPC'…

Premise Beach: Gaming the first season of Mission: Impossible

I've been watching the television series Mission: Impossible from start to finish, and am now done with the first season.

For those who don't know, the first season didn't star Peter Graves as Jim Phelps, but instead the main IMF agent was Dan Briggs, played by Steven Hill (who went on decades later to plan DA Adam Schiff on Law and Order).  More trivia: Hill agreed to the role as long as they respected his orthodox Judaism.  The producers did, not realizing that meant that he wouldn't work on the Sabbath.  As a result, Hill was often unavailable and the series had to rely more heavily on other cast members, especially Martin Landau, who had not wanted that active a role on the show so he could be free to do movie roles.

While the cast would settle into the same five regular characters, the initial premise of the show had one sole full-time agent who would draw from a pool of volunteers or contract agents.  Despite having a consistent cast in the credits, in actuality …

Reality Check Ahead

After finishing Autocratik's "RPGaDAY" blogathon, I find myself with a lot to think about.
Right now, in theory I play in an RPG run by a friend every other Friday.  I say "in theory" because there are always the inevitable schedule conflicts, but on the whole this group has been my regular "home game" for the last four years or so.
I've also begun to occasionally go to a board game night at my church run by a local Meetup group.  A few members of my RPG group participate as well.  This group meets once a month on a Saturday night.
Just recently my daughter got invited to another board game group meeting at a different church, but one that a lot of her former classmates attend.  Being a part of this group means she can keep in contact with them, even though she now attends a different school.  Again this group meets monthly on a Saturday.
So, in theory, I'm playing either in an RPG or board game event four times a month.  That's not even …