Showing posts from April, 2014

Splatter-Elf Week Day 3: Combat! - KILL 'EM ALL!!

Splatter-Elf week continues! On Monday we introduced you to the genre, yesterday we showed you how to make a character and today we get to the most important part of the Splatter-Elf RPG: How to kill stuff! Killing stuff is very important in a dark fantasy world where your merit is judged on how many buckets of blood you spill on a daily basis. "Heroes" (and I use that word veeeeery loosely) are expected to fight and kill at the drop of a hat for any slight, perceived or genuine.

Of course, Splatter-Elf as a sub-genre of Grimdark would not be possible without Philip Overby, so be sure to show him some love. You can even follow him on Twitter!

COMBAT Combat in Splatter-Elf works much the same as most fantasy role-playing games, except there should be LOTS of it, and the game master and players are encouraged to describe it as bloodily and gorily as possible. Use lots of adverbs.
“She slices out your liver expertly, your hot life blood spraying gushingly onto the dirty even a…

Splatter-Elf Week Day 2: Character Creation - How to Make a Badass Dude

Welcome back to Splatter-Elf week on Rule of the Dice! What is "Splatter-Elf," you ask? Well, you can check out yesterday's post or Philip Overby's treatise on the sub-genre of Grimdark, but here's the short version: It's a dark fantasy role-playing game where blood is spilled by the bucketful (technically, at least ten bucketfuls). To survive in a world like this, you're going to need a mean sonaffabitch-type of character, so let's figure out how to make them, shall we?
Character Creation Player characters in Splatter-Elf are created much the same as most fantasy style RPGs. The big thing to remember is the tone and personality these characters are meant to portray. Characters in Splatter-Elf are tough. They chew nails, take names, kick asses and sever heads. Love and mercy are foreign concepts in Groteskia. Warriors in the land of Grimmer Grimdark give no quarter and ask for less than an eigth. They expect no peace or prosperity in their lives – th…

Splatter-Elf Week Day 1: Introduction to Splatter-Elf

What is “Splatter-Elf?” A term coined by Philip Overby, Splatter-Elf is a sub-genre of Grimdark fantasy (which itself has a great definition at KnowYourMeme), taken to weird and unusual extremes. Philip's treatise on the subgenre can be found here, but here's my short interpretation:
Splatter-Elf is high fantasy with all the shiny edges filed off. There is no beauty, no hope, no good, and lots and lots of blood. Like A LOT of blood. It's basically the main element. If blood could be the protagonist, the antagonist and the denouement of a story, that might be enough blood to satisfy the requirements of Splatter-Elf.

Of course, plenty of fantasy is bloody. Splatter-Elf requires a little bit more. The grim grittiness shoots well past the bleak moodiness Grimdark until it hits a sort of ridiculous level of camp. Is it supposed to be tongue-in-cheek? Sort of. In my opinion, the epitome of Splatter-Elf would be a story where the creator was aiming for dark and gritty, missed by …

Why Incomplete Games Are Sometimes the Best

We've all played poorly designed games, whether they are badly run RPG campaigns or poorly thought out board games.  You know the ones I'm talking about - Games with random winners, Games with so many rules it takes 3 hours to set up and learn the first time, games with terrible game-play, or that obscure puzzle the GM throws at you where you need to remember a tiny insignificant detail from 2 campaigns ago that just happened to be in the same world, but is otherwise unrelated.

But every once in a while a game comes along that could be so much more but isn't, and it's a good thing. The example I'm going to use is: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures game.  As a quick overview of the game, it is designed to be a 2 player or 2 team PVP tabletop game.  Each player chooses a side of the table, and a faction (Rebel Alliance or Empire).  You then choose your ships, pilots, and modifications. Each has a point value, and you build your fleet to the agreed upon total.  After that…

The Only Cleric That Doesn't Suck Is Jesus Christ

While the title sounds like a ballin' song by a Christian rock band, don't worry - I haven't gone all Born Again on you.  Nor do I intend this to be an insulting or blasphemous post - JC's all right by me, though I would never, ever, not in a million years, let him take the wheel. He doesn't have a fucking driver's licence! How many Hyundai Elantras do you think he was tooling around in two thousand years ago in Palestine, huh?

I have long been fascinated by the connection between Christ's miracles and Clerical magic in Dungeons & Dragons. Virtually every single one of his displays of divine power are described EXACTLY as spells in the old Player's Handbook.  I actually pointed this out to a Church of England minister once, who kind of harrumphed about it. To be fair, he was an avid gamer and I'm sure he must have noticed it himself.  (Funny story: He was way more pissed when I, while trying to explain D&D to a new player, said that the Dun…

My Top 6 Campaigns of All Time (Part 2)

Last week I kicked off a list of my favourite RPG campaigns.  It was too long to get them all in on one shot, so here are the rest.  I ranked them numerically but the position on the list is fairly arbitrary - they were all fun and memorable for their own reasons.  Some of the games were technically well put together, some of them were terrible but just fun because of the player interaction.  That's what I love about role-playing games: even when they're kind of awkward and you do it all wrong, you can still have fun with it.  RPGs and sex have a lot in common that way.

So without further ado, here's the bottom (top?) three...

3. Battlestar: Salvation System: Battlestar Galactica by Margaret Weis Productions
Date: 2011
This is the only campaign on my list that I didn't GM.  That's not a knock against anyone else's skills as a game master - it's just that I very rarely ever play as anything but the GM so I don't exactly have a broad and fertile field to h…

5 Things About My Campaign

Sly Flourish's Twitter stream is always sharing great tips and pointers for improving your D&D game. One that hit me in particular a few weeks ago was the following:
#dnd tip: When preparing a new campaign, write a short "five things about this campaign" guide to guide both you and your players.
— SlyFlourish (@SlyFlourish) March 24, 2014 This was struck even further home a few days later when Rule of the Dice's own John Williams invited me to join his home game (or maybe I invited myself, I don't remember), and he sent out a nice, concise background primer for new players to his campaign. This immediately made me realize that I'm an idiot.

Why don't I do this? I've been GMing for years, you think I would have picked up this really simple trick by now. Players will get into the game way quicker if they know what's going on. Games based on popular pre-existing properties are easy (ROBOTECH, Star Wars, etc) because the players already hav…

My Top 6 Campaigns of All Time (Part 1)

Lately I've been following the fabulous Power Score blog ( where Sean has been sharing oodles and oodles of great old role-playing tales.  It's gotten me to reminiscing about some of the best games and campaigns I've been involved in.  Since I know that many of the guys who took part in these games are floating around and reading this blog, I thought it would be fun to share and take a stroll down memory lane.  
If you were not actually involved in these games you may not be so interested unless you're the kind of person who likes to read about other people doing and saying dumb things.  Personally I find it fascinating.  Not only are the stories funny, but I learn about how other people play these wacky games we love which shows me things I should or should not do in my own games.  
Let the following be a cautionary tale for everyone!  
(Note that as I started writing this I realized it was going to be quite a bit longer than I expected, so…