Showing posts from 2014

Review: Silent Night, Darkest Night

"You know Dasher, and Dancer, and Prancer and Vixen. The other reindeer from that song have all been eaten, by Rudolph. This monstrous reindeer was made fun of when he was growing up, but then he kept growing, dwarfing the other reindeer by the time he was an adolescent. Their jibes about his size finally got to him, and he lashed out, killing at least three other reindeer before Santa was able to chase him away using his Christmas magic. Now Rudolph plots revenge against Santa, the elves, and the other reindeer, and he has been studying dark magics which make him more powerful than any reindeer before him. His nose now glows not with Christmas magic, but with seething hatred, and its red color is the product of the fresh blood which covers Rudolph’s face after feeding on the flesh of the living, which he must do every few hours in order to power his profane magic."
- From Silent Night, Darkest Night
In honour of the Holiday Season (the "Christmas" Season, for you

How to Run a Long-Term Zombie Apocalypse Game

In the past few weeks I've written a bunch about zombie apocalypse games (I blame it on The Walking Dead). I've also been running my regular group through bi-weekly "zombie grinder" sessions, which is basically DCC Funnel adventures but set in a modern zombie apocalypse. It's a hilarious good time but not a basis for a long-term campaign, so I've been trying to come up with some ways to stretch it out and get some more mileage out of a pretty simple premise.

I realized that zombie apocalypse scenarios, as depicted in movies, books and games, can be broken down into three distinct stages (there may be more, but three works well for my purposes). Each stage comes with its own story possibilities and game mechanics, which will hopefully revitalize the players help the game go longer.

Tell me what you think:


Civilization is crumbling. Humankind has been struck by a terrible plague that is killing people by the millions and causing them to rise fr…

You Can Never Have Too Many Campaign Ideas

I am somehow at a time in my life where I'm running, or playing,  all the games. So, now I get to bore everyone with all the weird ideas I have for campaigns. Here goes...

Mythical/Heroic Ireland
System: D&D
There is a lot of fodder for a good campaign in the myth cycles of Ireland. Giants, wizards, kings with silver arms, gods from weird magic islands, who fly around in spaceships, and of course, a huge bucket full of fey folk, curses, geas, and all the other wacky Celtic shit you can think up.

Renaissance Call of Cthulhu
System:  Call of Cthulhu, or Harnmaster with insanity rules.
Kind of a wacky Leonardo Da Vinci investigates fucked up horror stuff in the Italian city states vibe.  Most likely a bunch of  church corruption and conspiracies, secret cultists, and all the usual good ol' Cthulhu stuff, mingled with a bit of X Files monster of the week.

Apocalyptic Nazi's in space
System: d6, or BRP
Nazi's destroyed the world and moved to space, because of reasons. Now th…

Can You Tell If People Are Having Fun Over The Internet?

As I posted about here, I had been toying with GMing a new game.  Well it has come to fruition.  My group has started a PBEM (play by e-mail) game, set in the world of Robin Hobb's Farseer books.
We've only been going for about 2 weeks now, which isn't very long in PBEM time, but I'm already having doubts.  The problem is, I can't tell if my players are having any fun.

The start of an adventure is always tedious.  Players aren't sure who the other PC's are, or where they are supposed to fit in.  As GM, I never know how much infomation to give.  So far my adventure is pretty open.  The King has given the party a task, but how they go about it, and what they discover along the way is up to them.  I do have a general story in mind, but if they take a left turn, I'm happy to adjust and improvise.  And as a PBEM, that's much easier for me as I have time to think about any changes.
Where I think I might be going wrong is that I haven't explained any o…

Halloween Horror Hits - Best of Spooks and Zombies from Rule of the Dice

Happy Halloween, Dicers!

Hopefully all of you have your horror-themed games planned for tonight or this weekend, or maybe you're watching Night of the Living Dead for the hundredth time, or maybe (like me) you'll be hiding in the dark on your porch to scare the shit out of little kids when they come to your door begging for candy. (To be fair, now that I have my own little guy, I'm starting to feel bad about that one.)

But if you're a sad lonely person who doesn't have plans tonight, here is some reading material for you to catch up on. Please feast your eyes on some of the best horror-related content Rule of the Dice has posted over the years. Enjoy!

Rule of the Dice - Top 8 Best Horror-Related Posts

1. D6 Zombies - My all-time most popular post on Rule of the Dice (in terms of hit count), showcasing some weird zombie antagonists, statted for the D6 system.

2. How I Put Crazy in My Game (Sanity Levels for D6 Horror) - One of my personal favourite posts I've wri…

Play Report: Last Night on Earth

Since it's Halloweek, we decided that our last game of the night should be thematically appropriate.
I had just bought last night on earth, so we opened it up and got cracking.  Here are my thoughts on the game:

1) Packaging.  The box has tons of room, but the interior plastic trays are poorly thought out.  When
the game is new and all the tokens are still in their cardboard frame, it fits beautifully.  Once you punch out all the markers, there's no good place to put them where they won't slide around in the box. If the "card" areas had been made deeper, all the other bits would have fit perfectly.  Not the end of the world (though that's the theme of the game), but something that could be improved.

2) Gimmicks.  The game comes with a CD for background mood music.  The music is fine, but the CD is too short to last a full game.  Especially a first full game where you are stopping to look up rules and figure out strategies.

3) Speaking of rules:  The rule book…

10 Zombie Survival Intro Scenarios

Can you smell Halloween on the air? Smells like non-toxic face paint and burnt pumpkins.

In case you weren't aware, I've been playing around with a zombie/horror game based on the Dungeon Crawl Classics Funnel system - basically you send in a gang of 0-level schlubs, hoping that at least one survies to become a level 1 character in an on-going post-apocalyptic survival game. It uses basic d20 rules that everyone is pretty familiar with.

To keep the game as chaotic as possible, in our first playthrough I just rolled the scenario out randomly as we went along - determining encounters, locales, etc purely by a toss of the dice - and I plan to continue doing the same thing. Partly this is to keep my prep work down, partly it's to keep the tension and suspense high as the party never knows what to expect. Sometimes the group meets 1d4 stray dogs, sometimes they meet 1d4+1x100 roaming zombies. I've been using the many tables in Palladium'sDEAD REIGN™®© books (about the …

Killing Characters is Fun!

We tried the Walking Dead-style Funnel last Friday and I think it went really well. It was a welcome change after my recent GM-related negativity - I personally had a ton of fun running it, and I hope the players did to. The best part of it, that I didn't even think about when I came up with the idea, is the freedom it gave the players to try weird things and to play out horror-movie style tropes to full effect. See, I had assumed that the game would just be the characters lining up to be ground into paste, played for laughs as we described the gruesome ways they were torn to pieces as their dice betrayed them. While that certainly did happen, the coolest side effect of playing 4 "disposable" characters was that players developed scenes and situations that they don't normally get into during regular games. I don't know about you, but most people I play with tend to be cautious, careful and calculating in their games. They have a strong connection to their character…

The Walking Dead RPG - DCC Funnel-style!

Ah, October. Month of horror and spookiness. We have Halloween, autumn in full swing choking the life out of the world, the season premiere of The Walking Dead, Canadian Thanksgiving. It's a good time for wearing white sheets out in public.

But what's the Month of Spooks without some scary gaming to go along with it? I love horror-themed RPGs, and despite there being plenty of great ones out there, I keep trying to create my own. I was convinced that the d6 system was perfect for it for awhile, and have toyed with the idea of building a full on "D6 Horror" game, but recently my fancy has turned to the glorious world of Fate. I started to brainstorm for a Zombie Survival version of Fate, which would work perfectly fine except that the characters in Fate are purposefully built more competent and capable than average everyday joes. Obviously you can tweak Fate to make it work (you can make Fate work for anything) but what if there's a better way? A game where you c…

Happy Turkey Day, My Fellow Canadians!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our Canadian readers. Enjoy it while you can, before the poultry rises up to destroy us all and serve our roasted remains with stuffing and cranberry sauce.

The 3 Stages of Gaming Life

I started playing D&D when I was 12 years old. I wrote a detailed story about my first days in gaming back in one of my very first posts on this site. Recent events in my gaming life have gotten me once again thinking about those early days long ago, and especially how it has led me to where I am today.

By my best estimates, I started gaming in the summer of 1992. I'm now 34, with 22 years of gaming in between (look, I can still do math!). I think I can safely break by gaming years down into three distinct "stages" (or "Ages" for you Tolkien folks).

1. The Golden Years (1992-1998)
Ah, the blissful freedom of youth. After I picked up D&D (AD&D 2e, to be precise), Marvel Super Heroes, Palladium's ROBOTECHand Rifts, Vampire the Masquerade and West End Games Star Wars all quickly followed, and pretty much consumed my junior high and high school years. All my other interests (guitar lessons, Boy Scouts, school choir, etc) fell by the wayside as I fil…

Four Reasons "Playing" RPGs is Better than Game Mastering

Last weekend, I hooked up with Rule of the Dice contributors Jason and John, as well as our resident kook Dave, to play a Google Hangouts version of John's D&D hack. (See Jason's post for more details about the game). I realized shortly after we sat down that this would be my first time PLAYING an RPG live at a table - not GMing and not play-by-post - literally in years.

About 4 years ago I played a bit of 4th Edition Encounters and Living Forgotten Realms, which... is not role-playing. It's rolling some dice, waiting twenty minutes for everyone else to argue about the interactions of their ridiculous powers, and then rolling a couple more dice when your turn comes around again. It was a grinding slog most of the time, but I played happily because it was my rare chance to sit on the other side of the screen and to create stupidly awesome (or is it awesomely stupid?) nonsensical rangers.

The last time I played before that was I believe in 2002 when Jason ran a one-off …

Characters Can Be Crazy

Most of my posts here are about board games, but in the last couple of weeks I've had two new RPG's start, one as a PBEM and one as a live on-line experience.  This has me in an RPG frame of mind, so today I'm all about that bass our last live gaming session.

We played in google hangout, and the system and world are home-brew D&D knock-offs created by +John Williams.  A couple of weeks ago he sent us a slimmed down rule book, some world background info, and let us make our characters.  The rules have a lot of random generation tables, and all 3 of us PC's used those to a fairly large degree. 

This, in my mind is point #1 where things started to go really right. Whenever I've made a character in the past, it has involved things like "What does the party need?" and "What's something really cool I can do?"  This isn't a terrible way to make a character, but it does lead to me often making similar characters with similar traits that all…

Soundtrack to the Weird West

So that game I was bewildered about last week is happening. I still don't know if it's going to work, but I come armed with all the great feedback and suggestions that I received on the topic. If it flops at this point I have no one to blame but myself.

Apparently we're running Deadlands without calling it Deadlands or even realizing we had chosen it. When we were deciding what kind of game to try I told my group that I was willing to run one of four types of games:
1. Sci-fi (more appropriately, space opera, a la Star Wars/BSG/Serenity) 2. Zombie survival/horror 3. Western 4. Pro-wrestling (knowing no one was going to do it)
Of course, we ended up with a sci-fi/zombie/western hybrid. Just couldn't shoehorn the wrestling in there. Through brainstorming (yay, FATE!) we ended up with a vaguely wild west setting with supernatural elements, heavy on steampunk and airships (so the one guy who wanted to play Firefly could still get to be Captain Reynolds). 
I didn't wan…

GM Advice Desperately Needed (I'm In Way Over My Head)

What was I thinking?

I just had 14 people sign up to play a game I've never run, in a system I'm not familiar with, in a setting we just made up over the weekend. And Cthulhu help me, I think I'm going to go ahead with it.

It's a play by email game it not like I'm going to have 28 eyes staring at me. But it's still a lot of stuff over track of, and it will be impossible to keep everyone engaged with something to do. And because we'll be waiting for so many people to respond, we could be waiting ages between posts. So why am I considering going through with this?

Am I nuts, agreeing to do this? Should I have just cut the group off at 5, 6 or 7? I'm so bad at saying no...

I'm considering splitting it into 2 parties, which will make it more manageable, but then I will basically be running two games. Even if I run them through identical, mirrored scenarios and reuse as much material as I can, in a setting like this they're going to quickly wander off in…

With but a Whimper (The Death of Another Campaign)

I am terrible at ending campaigns.

To be fair, this one did have a pretty good bang before the whimper. For reference, this is what I had as an outline for our final adventure (which I didn't know at the time would be our final adventure):

1. The party has to protect the actor during the performance. Hopefully some of them have to get on stage and take part.

2. The will be attacked by assassins trying to kill the actor, and wild mountain men on the way to the performance.

3. After the performance when they leave with their pay they will be attacked by pirates.

That was it. I thought it would take a couple of weeks of real-time and be a short and hopefully fun little scenario. I had no idea it would blow up into the huge drama that it did.

It turned into a major political insurgence. A king was killed, a princess kidnapped, a religious revolution instigated. Lost family members returned. One of the party betrayed his friends, and another died trying to be a hero. Yet another nearly d…