Showing posts from April, 2011

Skeletons and Starships

I don't buy a whole lot of new games every year, at least not in printed form, but PDFs are another story. For me, dropping ten bucks on a game I may or may not enjoy is a heck of a lot better than doing the same thing on a forty-dollar and up scale. So Drive Thru RPG is one of the big stops on my digital shopping sprees. I've picked up good and bad alike from there, but thankfully it seems that the cream rises to the top. Cheap little adventures, supplements, and even game systems. Especially older systems that still play beautifully (I'll save a rundown on some of the best, and worst, PDF purchases for a later date).

Being a cheapskate New Englander, I also like free. Free is good. Often, a free game is just a little afternoon time waster, good with beer and pretzels, but not much else.

And then there are the quality games that exist in a free form. The well-known Risus (the rules-litest game ever?), Labyrinth Lord, Basic Fantasy, OSRIC, and Swords and Wizardry. These game…

iPod Adventure Design

A while back Joe Nelson wrote a post about using music in your games. I'm a big supporter of soundtracks for RPGs, as it helps set the mood and create atmosphere. The trick, however, is finding the right music to match your game.

I think I've found the answer: What if you write the adventure to fit the music?

I'm going to do an experiment. I'm going to write an adventure module, entirely inspired by random songs from my iPod set on shuffle. I'm not going to even decide on a setting or a game system before I begin: I'm just going to hit play and see what comes up. I'll try to build my game around the songs.

I will need 8 pieces of music to inspire the 8 components I think the adventure will need:

Setting/Theme: To set the overall tone of the adventure.
Plot Hook: How and why do the players get involved in this story?
Big Bad: Who is the villain? Villains with theme music are always better.
NPC/Resource: There should be some sort of non-player resource to supp…

I want to know about your DIY RPG projects and products

Some people call it the OSR, some call it DIY D&D, I call it DIY RPG.

I could care less what game you play, what edition of what game you play or the style (or lack thereof) of the game you play. I only care that you are playing a game that you enjoy, and that you're making up a bunch of stuff that you and your friends think is awesome.

To me DIY RPG is all about making up cool stuff to enjoy on game night. Whether this idea becomes a polished adventure that you publish, or just a bunch notes scribbled in your Moleskine - the only thing that matters is that you made it, and used it in your game. And now with this whole Internet RPG blogging thing we can share these cool ideas with other gamers.

If you look at the top of the blog there is a button labeled resources. If you click on it you'll find an empty page. I want to fill this page with all sorts of links to your awesome DIY RPG stuff.

Leave a comment with a link to an RPG world, adventure, map, or whatever interesting …

D6-ing Battlestar Galactica: Why Do We Make Games?

(After last week, I'm taking a break from talking about D&D. I appear to have attracted undesirable riffraff to

I want to play a Battlestar Galactica RPG. I've been on a BSG kick as of late, and I'm going to try to convince my PBEM group to play a one-shot (or two) once our current D&D game runs its course. I want to use the D6 rule set from the old Star Wars RPG, and I've already started playing around statting out Vipers and Cylon Raiders and such. It helps using the X-Wing and TIE Fighter stats as a base, actually. It's appropriate since BSG was originally ripped off Star Wars, anyway.

I love making up games, though most of them never actually see the light of day. I've made video games through RPG Maker, whole sets and expansions for Magic: The Gathering through Magic Set Editor, and more pen-and-paper RPGs than I count. I didn't think anything of it at first when I opened up a file and started hammering out rules and…

Awesome Pic of the Week - 04/17/11

This weeks pic(s) comes from the most excellent artist Adrian Smith. I first came across his work on the French blog Illustrateurs, an excellent art blog (with the occasional NSFW pictures), well worth checking out.

Here are a few of my favorites...

Sharing is cool...

Empty Sandbox

When I was a kid, my favorite toys were the simplest. You could have handed mini-Joe an action figure and a toy gun and he would have spent hours, if not days, coming up with elaborate and increasingly violent hallucinatory adventures. So I suppose it's little surprise that I have grown to love generic gaming systems now that I'm older (we won't delve into the ludicrous possibility of being wiser).

By generic system, I am referring to a system largely devoid of setting or fluff material. A system I could use to play in any number of fictional universes that fit in the mold of the genre; from Tolkeinesque fantasy, to Star Trek style sci-fi.

The system and the setting are separate things in my mind. I compartmentalize to the point where playing a Forgotton Realms game using Hackmaster or even D6 Fantasy sounds interesting. But there are games where the line between setting and system are hopelessly blurred, to the point of being inseparable. 4th Edition D&D is a good examp…

Why My Favourite D&D Class Sucks

I don't get to play D&D as a player very often. I usually end up on the DM side of the screen, which is cool because I generally enjoy it more anyway. But from time to time it's a nice change of pace to only have to worry about a single character instead of an entire world. It's also fun to throw down and beat the living daylights out of some monsters.

My current D&D of choice, for better or for worse, is 4th Edition. The first time I got to run my own character in this edition was at last season's D&D Encounters event (Keep on the Borderlands), and I made the damn fool mistake of playing the cleric. (See here for why Clerics, especially 4E Essentials clerics, suck. And while we're at it, here's a good argument for the suckiness of Monks). Next I tried a Gnome Bard for a high-level Living Forgotten Realms game, but that turned out almost as bad as the cleric.

Seriously, what was I thinking?
For the new Encounters season, I almost made a Slayer(…

Saturday Sorcery - Ghouls

A little horror themed Saturday sorcery this week.
I have a notebook dedicated to write ups for all the various undead monsters that lurk in the dark corners of my campaign world. The following is gathered from the notes I had on ghouls, or more precisely notes on how one becomes a ghoul.
Ghouls - The eaters of the dead A ghoul is perhaps the most hideous of all the undead. In life this person was obsessed with death, usually exhibiting abnormal perversions such as the desire to drink blood, collecting corpses of animals or the recently deceased, and possibly necrophilia. When their unwholesome and unholy obsession finally reaches fevered pitch their desires can only be satiated by killing. At first it will just be simple murder, but this soon graduates to cannibalism, and finally to necrotic cannibalism.
Now the dark powers start to beckon, whispering terrible secrets in their deranged ear. The downward spiral into hellish oblivion is almost complete.
At some point the persons appetite …

My Favorite Game (that I never played)

In a recent article, C.D. talked about some of the best games he's never played. We all have them, of course. Those games we wish we could play but, for one reason or another, do not. I have a large pile of them sitting either in PDFs or on my desk, but the one that has bothered me the most deserves a mention today.

The game is Traveller.

I've always been a Star Trek fan. There's something about the Space Opera genre that I love, even more so than fantasy, and finding a truly good system to use for those kinds of star-spanning adventures isn't nearly so easy as it is to find one of the billions of fantasy-based systems.

So when I finally broke down and got the classic Traveller rules from Drive Thru RPG, I was pleasantly surprised to find that here was the ultimate set of Space Opera roleplaying rules. Everything, all in one self-contained little package of awesome. Truthfully, I probably ought to have splurged and got the Mongoose edition, as I hear it's basically th…

A Game of Thrones Battles in D&D

I love the Game of Thrones board game by Fantasy Flight Games. Not only is it set in the world of some of my favourite books, but the actual game design is brilliant. It is fairly simple to learn but the strategy is very complex, and it touches on a number of different gaming mechanisms; resource management, diplomacy, bluffing, combat tactics. The best part? Combat doesn't involve dice; hence, there is very little left to chance in this game. The victor is decided by strategy and player interaction, and of course a little friendly backstabbing.

This game is way more exciting than it looks, trust me.

It looks like there may be some mass combat coming up in my PBEM D&D game, and I would love to play this out using the combat rules from the AGOT board game. I need to figure out how to adapt the rules of the board game to fit in an RPG context, which creates a few interesting problems. Let me share with you the agonizing conundrums that keep me awake at night.

Concern #1
In A…

Saturday Sorcery: More Spells by Teenage Designers

I'm back with your weekly dose of home-brewed magical goodness. Hopefully you're not getting sick of me; I'm trying to catch up with John for most posts on this site. He currently leads me about 85 to 15, but I'm gaining on him.

This week, I once again dig deep into my bag of tricks (all the way back to 1996 or so) for some 2nd-Edition priest spells. These come from a campaign I ran back in high school that was over-loaded with priests from a variety of different faiths. I encouraged the players to create their own spells to give their characters and their gods more of a distinct feel and, well, you'll see what we got. (See last week's Saturday Sorcery for more).

These spells I believe were originally imagined by Steve B, playing a priest of the god of Storms and Weather. Once again, if the balance seems screwy that's entirely my fault. I tried to force his vision into game statistics, while making sure it fit into a level he could actually cast.

So wit…

Links of DOOM: D&D 5th Edition Sneak Peak

It's that time of the week again: Time for a random list of stuff that you probably won't click on. And why not, I ask? There's lots of neat stuff out there on the interweb, and here I am consolidating it for you in one nice, neat package.

PICK OF THE WEEK: The good folks at Gothridge Manner pointed out this book review and the author's insane response in the comment section. SWEET MOTHER OF GOD, this is hilarious, and I hope I don't react like this if anyone ever reviews my work.

Here's a cool post about turning mistakes into character-building opportunities at Exchange of Realities.

This guy is having an existential crisis about our favourite hobby. Check out KORPG to see if you can figure out if we're really still playing D&D or not.

Redwald told me in the comments of a post a few weeks ago that I should try Labyrinth Lord. I didn't know much about it, but then I stumbled upon this great review at Gaming Brouhaha.

Convention season is approach…