Showing posts from July, 2014

An In-depth and Objective Review of D&D 5E (from a guy who hasn't read it)

The Fifth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons has been out for a few weeks now and the interwebs are flooded with plenty of reviews and evaluations. Rule of the Dice has been conspicuously absent on mentioning the latest incarnation of our favourite pastime's flagship (except for my prophetic post 3 years ago) for a few very good reasons:

1. Splatter-Elf is way cooler
2. I'm awful at writing reviews
3. I haven't read it

Terrible, right? I mean, the basic rules are free, and the Starter Set is available for under 20 bucks, so what's my excuse? I could give you a list, but instead I'll just blame climate change. Or maybe fracking. According to my Facebook feed, those are the root cause of all the problems in the world today.

So without further ado, I'm going to buckle down and share with you my very carefully-thought-out and entirely scientific breakdown of what we've seen so far in 5th Edition (or as I like to call it, the "Grognard-Bearded-Bastard-Spawn…

We All Know 'That Guy'

In every gaming group, it's good to have "that guy".  I guess I should be more specific:  Not THAT guy, but *that* guy.  All clear now, right? And just for the record, I'm using "guy" as a generic term, girls are awesome too.

I'll elaborate.  You need that one person who is super confident, has some great creativity, and/or will just do what needs to be done to make the adventure great.

In our RPG group that person changes depending on what RPG we're playing, but an excellent example stands out in my mind from our last play test of Splatter-Elf. I'll be honest, I didn't have the time to properly prepare for the adventure. Another player was joining us for the first time ever. Without the third, the "that guy", the GM would have had a tough time getting the mood of the game set. This one player came in with a custom character built, a background created, and a play style decided upon.  From his first introduction in the tavern he h…

Splatterday Night's Alright For Fighting (Splatter-Elf Playtest #4)

Splatterday Night was an illustrious moment in the history of Splatter-Elf the RPG. For the first time ever, the Godfather of Splat himself, Philip Overby, joined us live via satellite from Yokohama, Japan to sit in on a play-test session of the game. We hoped to learn great things from the man who coined the term "Splatter-Elf" and basically invented the genre, but sadly the biggest thing we learned is that Google Hangouts hates people that live in Japan.

(Your hear that, Google? I hope one of your bots scans that and you fix your stupid software.)

Anyway, after an hour of fiddling with Google+... and Roll20... and Skype, we eventually got a usable work-around and we were off and running! This time around we had a dwarf Sanguine Sorcerer (note: he was a "midget" human, not a dwarf-dwarf - an important distinction that he loved to remind everyone about), a Hunter-Killer (a new build, basically a ranger/brigand) and Mr Overby played a Bloodlust Berserker with a ven…

Board Games are Too Popular

With internet shows like @TableTop and websites like Boargamegeek, tabletop gaming has had a huge resurgence in the last few years.  
Game publishers are jumping on this to try to capitalize while the market is hot, and so there are a plethora of new games released in a constant stream these days.  On top of that, funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and easy distribution through places like DriveThruCards are allowing more and more amateur game designers to get their work made and distributed.  So this is all great, right?

Well, not really.  As with anything in life, board games run the full spectrum of awesome to terrible.  And in this spectrum, there is the typical bell curve of distribution.  So based on that, only 4% of the games released will be awesome.  Some 7% will be really good.  Another 12% will be Ok.  The rest are going to suck.  So this means 77% of the games coming out are between "terrible" and  "maybe I'll play it once just to try". 


History of Splatter-Elf: The Grumblesnatch Wars

In case you're new here (in which case, welcome aboard!), Splatter-Elf is a "Grimmer-than-Grimdark" table-top RPG game I'm pulling out of my butt based almost entirely on this post by Philip Overby. I've been going on about it for months. More detail about The Grumblesnatch is available at the Splatter-Elf Blog.

If you're not new here and you're fed up about me going on about Splatter-Elf for months, I'm not going to apologize because you probably haven't read this far anyway. 

FIRST GRUMBLESNATCH WAR (c. 1000 years ago)

It all began innocuously enough. Tales began began to drift into the cities of the Inner Baronies of increased grumble activity in the more remote regions of Groteskia. It was hardly newsworthy; Grumbles always attack and burn down farms and villages and besiege travelers on the roads. That's what grumbles, farms and travelers are for. But as the weeks passed and the rural townships raised militia to fight off the invaders, the …

Splatter-Elf Play Report #3: Hail to the Beef

The first group finally made it to the end of the first Splatter-Elf adventure, and it was glorious.

Whether or not the rules or the game system worked (more on that later), I have to say this was the most fun I've had running a game in a long time. Everything moved at a reasonable pace, everyone clicked and seemed to have fun, and there was plenty of goofy weirdness that I always see as a staple of a good game.

We had the same Soldier of Slaughter and Uff from the previous session, though our Cutthroat player was replaced by a different guy running a Detritus Dwarf. It took him a few minutes to understand why he carried around a giant sack of garbage and filth like an insane hobo, but he was eventually cool with it.

Some wild fighting took place as the players tried every trick they could come up to gain an advantage in a fight with a group of pistol-wielding cattle rustlers. After much swearing and threatening and climbing through windows and hiding behind doors and throwing hu…

The Dragons of Splatter-Elf

I shared some dragon statistics in the original series of Splatter-Elf posts a couple of months ago, but I have since refined a few things as well as expanded the details on the most iconic of fantasy creatures. I will freely admit that I shamelessly borrowed many elements of the dragon from a certain series by Fred Saberhagen, but it has been over 20 years since I read those books so I can't say exactly how much I stole, er, borrowed.

Eagle-eyed readers may notice that the stat block and some of the terminology has changed. The rules for Splatter-Elf have changed fairly significantly since they were originally produced (it's still very much a work in progress) and hopefully I will be able to share an updated rule set soon.

So without further ado...


(Also known as communis draconis or Iron-Scaled Swamp Dragon)

Dragons are a highly-evolved reptile predators native to many parts of the world. They are vicious, powerful and exceedingly dangerous, becoming larger and more d…

An Apology to My Players

A few weeks ago I shared a story of my game leading up to the climax of the adventure - a big theatrical performance where the player characters would become part of the show as they fought to keep the star alive whilst he was being attacked onstage by assassins, all without letting the audience in on what was happening.

It kinda worked. On the one hand, a few of the players stepped up and performed some songs to keep the show going in spite of it all falling apart around them. A few others had some good plans to keep themselves alive (and other bad plans, like murdering a bunch of priestesses). The problem was that, being PBEM (Play-By-E-Mail), we were at the mercy of how quickly people responded and added to the story to keep the game going. I don't like forcing arbitrary deadlines because while I know it would push the game along, a lot of my players are busy and they just do this for fun - it's not meant to be a big commitment. I'm sometimes late myself.

Anyway, June …

Orange is the New RPG

Like many of you, I've spent quite of bit of time lately watching the second season of a particular show about women in prison made by our good friends at Netflix. If you haven't been wasting time on it, I have to ask... why the hell not? It's a damn fine program, the likes of which you won't see anywhere else besides the industry-changing Netflix. I don't mean because of the swearing and violence and nudity and lesbian prison sex (which are all great, don't get me wrong) - I mean because it features a large cast of strong female characters of all shapes, sizes, ages and colors, and almost entirely without make-up.

Seriously, what other TV show or movie can boast such a claim?

Anyway, whenever I really get into any sort of program, movie, or book I start asking myself: How can I turn this into a game?

As it turns out in this case, very easily.

I imagine this women's prison RPG to be a pretty simple "beer and pretzels" type of game. I hate that na…