Showing posts with label games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label games. Show all posts

Friday, May 29, 2015

What Are You Good at GM's Challenge

A new GMs Challenge has been issued by the blog Barking Alien.  I figure I will join in.

What genres, settings, or games in general do you GM best? Which ones do you think you  totally rock? 

My Top Five:
1. Cinematic Unisystem
2. Dungeons & Dragons (circa 1980s is my best)
3. Horror games
4. Convention games. I have had many people tell me my Gen Con games rock.
5. Games for kids

Which games could you use to work on? That is, if your group wants to play one of these games, you yourself would probably recommend a different GM.

Tougher one. I am usually always the one in the GMs seat.

My Bottom Three:
1. World of Darkness
2. Anything historical, but not Victorian. (I do Victorian well).
3. anything Palladium

What elements of Gamemastering do you do best? What aspects do you nail more often than not?

My Top Five:
1. Engaging plots
2. memorable NPCs
3. Flexibility.  Years of teaching have taught me to stay light on my toes.
4. Fairness.
5. Fun.  Keep it fun.

Which elements are still a work in progress? Name some things that you don't do as well as you'd like.

My Bottom Three:
1. Newer D&D.  Don't quite have the rules mastery I would like.
2. Time management. Games tend to run over the time I have alotted and I never get as far as I would like.
3. Knowing when to shut up and let the players do their thing.  I get excited and want to gabber on, and on (and on).  I need to take more of the "Dave Arneson" style and let the players do the talking and work.

How about you?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review: Strange Stars

Every so often you come across a product that is so different than the rest it is hard to know what to do with it.  +trey causey's Strange Stars is not exactly that.  Strange Stars is a product so different it is hard to know what I can't do with it.

The book is a joy to look at.  Yes it is only 32 pages with cover, but each page is so rich with art and color it must have cost a lot to make.  Since art is important to how this book can be used it is a better investment than say page after page of text.
Let's start with that cover.  There are homages to late 70s, early 80s sci-fi shows and movies.  I can feel the influences of Star Wars and even Jason of Star Command here. Not to mention the obvious, but loving, nod to the classic Star Frontiers.   Really, I should be able to buy that as an art print for my game room.  I put that cover up there with some of the best RPG covers ever.  Plus the overt homage to Star Frontiers is a huge plus.

Strange Stars is not a game itself, but a setting book for other sci-fi games. Not just the OSR-flavored ones of my last few reviews, but any sci-fi game.  As a mental exercise I kept asking "can I use this in Traveller? Star Frontiers? Alternity?" most times I was saying yes.

The book starts out with a historical overview of the setting.  The "Ancient times" in this case is humanity leaving "Old Earth".  So already this is a setting far flung into the future.

Various forms of life are introduced, or Sophonts.  This can be your garden variety human or other life form that is mostly biological, self-aware robots, or AIs.  Or, most likely some combination of the above.

Really a couple of the great features of this book are not chapter by chapter but concept by concept.
Free of system Causey's mind rushes down dark un-explored pathways, strange lands and truly alien worlds.  BUT, and this is very important, this not so far removed from our experiences to be really out there.  There are roots here. Roots with names like "Star Crash" and "Buck Rodgers" (the TV series on NBC, not the serials) and "Logan's Run".  Jenny Agutter's "Jessica 6" practically jumps off of page 12.
Speaking of which, the characters here BEG to be stated up for your favorite system.  Siana Elizond, the previously mentioned Jessica 6 clone, is more interesting in a picture and paragraph than some characters with pages and pages of back story.  Plus I can't help but think that Elphaba Mandrake was made as a personal challenge to me!

So yes. The page count is small, but it is chock full of great ideas, eye catching art and more than enough to get you going on a campaign set out among the stars.

In truth everything you need to know about what this game-supplement is about can be summed up in this one picture.

The best of what the late 70s / early 80s had to offer.

You can find Trey at

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Dragonslayers Assemble!

The Dragonslayers are fresh off their victory over the Tomb of Horrors.  We had one near casualty and one character that had to take that other character back. They are now headed home but the Barrier Peaks are in their way.

We converted our 3e based Dragonslayers game over to 5e last session.  I wanted to try something new again, Castles and Crusades, but ended up overruled. So we are sticking with 5e.

Last night we began the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.  I am using 5th Ed. D&D along with the 1st Edition versions of the module (the original, the new reprints and the old S1-4 super-module Realms of Horror) along with the 3e updates and some 5e updates supplied to me by +Rich Howard.

They all mix together nicely in a big vat of D&D goodness.  I am also adding in some material from the classic 1st Edition version of Metamorphosis Alpha.  I have already specifically decided that this is the Starship Warden.  In addition to carrying colonists it was carrying a number of Ilithid prisoners to be dropped of at a penal colony prior to going to high warp.

Since my other 5e game with most of the same players takes place in the future of the Dragonslayers, I am setting up the Ilithids as being one of the major bad guys.  It should work out nicely really.

With this adventure I will have run the Dragonslayers through all of the S-Series of modules, and it had been a total blast.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The 10 Best (and 6 Worst) TSR Games that Weren't D&D

There is an article making the rounds again from Topless Robot.  It was originally posted in September of 2009 but hey, that's how social media works sometimes (and I guess Bob Denver is dead! [yes I knew this already]).

Here are the 10 Best,
And 6 Worst

I want to talk about some of these since a few of my favorites are on the list.

Vampyre was a mini-game in a time when many new D&D players (read fans of TSR) had no idea what a mini-game was.  I certainly didn't, not till later anyway when I discovered Steve Jackson.   This was a great little game.  You played hunters looking for Count Dracula.

It had a cool Hex map of Transylvania. A not as cool, but still cool map of Dracula's castle. Counters for the surviving members of the novel vs. Dracula, his brides, gypsies and other monsters (werewolves and wolves I think).   You had till the game ends, either by time or Dracula killing everyone, to find his coffins and destroy them.  It's an idea that has come up again and again in games before and since.

Obviously I loved this little game.  I loved the idea of going up against Dracula.  This was also when I was in my "Marvel" era so I loved the idea of using Dracula, as he appeared in the Marvel comics, as a bad guy.

The game was full of awesome Erol Otus art, Souvenir fonts and maps that looked like they were right out of Basic.   Long before my players ever heard of Count Strahd they clashed wits and swords with Count Dracula!

I remember the game being fast to play and it was surprisingly deadly.  This was also lost in the great game loss of the 90s when so much of my early stuff went missing.

Boot Hill and Gang Busters
Never played these, but I was always curious about them.  I borrowed a friend's copy of Gang Busters and decided it wasn't for me.  I picked up a copy of Boot Hill at a game auction (just the book) and thought it looked fun, but the Old West isn't my thing.

Star Frontiers
I loved this game. We ended up playing a lot of "D&D in Spaaaaace!" with it, but it was still fun.  Love all the support it gets these days.

Gamma World
Again, a game I always wanted to play and never got around to it.  In my mind a game that combined the best bits of Star Frontiers and Gama World would have been perfect.  One of the reasons I REALLY enjoy Mutant Future and Starships & Spacemen. They allow me to combine both as I like with a game system I know better than some games I wrote.  I really need to do more with both of them.

Marvel Super Heroes
Talk about timing.  I was heavy into D&D and I was getting into Marvel comics pretty deep too having just left DC (I came back, maybe you could tell) and there was Marvel Super Heroes.  I really loved this game and I had a blast playing it.

I have gone on and on about this game ad nauseam.  But I still love it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Old Games

Contrary to some belief I am not an obsessive collector of games.  I have things I like and genres I follow and I usually stick to that.  Outside of those I am pretty much open.

This week the Games Plus Fall auction begins and I still have some time to get some of my books in.
I am planning on selling of some of my more recent Tunnels & Trolls purchases as well as the last of the True20 material I still have laying around.

I figure anything I have not played in 5 years is good to go and anything I am not likely to play in the next 3 is also good to go.  

Do ever pare down your collection?
If so, how do you decide what to sell and what to keep?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

All Star RPG Q&A #2

Tonight I am participating in Dan Davenport's All Star RPG Q&A #2.
Check his blog for a list of who is participating,

It will be tonight 7pm to 10pm Central time.
If you want to come by to ask me or anyone else questions then I would love to see you there.

If you come by I am sure to say something about old school gaming, but I am also going to talk about horror games, Ghosts of Albion and Victorian games in general.

The last one I did was supposed to go for an hour and the questions kept me on for 3 instead!

So come on by!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ten Favorite RPG Products of All Time

This started over at Dyvers blog and has now spread to others:

Not sure if this is a thing yet or not.  And many of us have answered these questions in some form or another over the years I am sure.  But it is still fun to read and do.

In no particular order and sometimes the entries are representative of a larger collection.

10. AD&D Monster Manual
The first RPG product I ever held or read.  It grabbed my attention in such a profound way that it is still, 35 years later, to fully quantify.  It fueled a life-time of fun and adventure.
Special Mention: AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide.
Nearly it's equal in effect but a superior book.  It just didn't get to my hands first.
Read more at: 1st Ed, D&D

9. Moldvay D&D Basic Set
A lot of people talk about "the Red Box". My Red Box was magenta and had Erol Otis on the cover.  For me this was the start of what became "my" D&D. Not someone else's game, but my own. I got my first set of dice in the box. I read and reread that book at least hundred times.
Special Mention: Cook/Marsh D&D Expert Set
Again, it might even superior to the Basic box just for everything it added.  But Basic comes first.
Read more at: D&D, Basic

8. Chill
Chill. I have talked about Chill so much and with good reason. This is the mid-west, monster fighting, "bumping back the things that go bump in the night", game where average Joes and Janes can stand against the darkness and walk away at the end.   While I have a special place in my heart for the Mayfair version, it is the 1st edition Pacesetter version that I think back too.
Special Mention: Chill Vampires
If I can only ever have one vampire hunting book then let it be this one.
Read more at: Chill, Vampires

7. Mage the Sorcerer's Crusade
"The Old Ways are Lost".  I love the the Renaissance; the idea of the world waking up out of darkness and ignorance to bring science and learning to all.  Ok. It didn't happen like that, but it can in a game and this if the best of the lot.  Plus it is old school magic versus new world science.  It takes what is great about Mage and makes so much more cooler.
Special Mention: Vampire the Masquerade
You can't have the Sorcerer's Crusade without Mage and you can't have Mage without Vampire the Masquerade.  VtM changed gaming in the 90s and it's effects can still seen today even far beyond gaming.
Read more at:  World of Darkness

6. Ravenloft Boxed Set
I loved the Ravenloft Module I6.  The boxed set Realms of Terror was just the thing I needed for my 2nd Ed games.  I loved horror, vampires, witches and this seemed like the perfect mix for me.  In fact I played so much Ravenloft that it is difficult for me to tease it apart from 2e.  They are the same for me really.
Special Mention:  Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death
What is the only way to improve Ravenloft?  Stick it on 19th century Earth and throw Dracula at the players.  There are many places where this game doesn't work, but I loved it all the same.
Read more at: Ravenloft, Victorian

5. Nightmares of Mine
This handy little guide is everything you need to run every sort of horror game. Straight up horror, survival horror, personal horror, comedy horror. You name it, this book covers it. It is small, but not cheap.
Special Mention: GURPS Horror
I have often complained that GURPS, as a game, has no soul, but the supplements can't be beat.  GURPS Horror is one of my favorites. Like Nightmares of Mine it covers how to play a number of different types of horror games.
Read more at: Horror

4. Call of Cthulhu
THE horror game.  I have always enjoyed the works of Lovecraft and in many ways CoC is not just the first horror game but also the first RPG based on a property.  The system itself, the Basic-Roleplaying System, also gave such fun games as RuneQuest and Elric/Stormbringer.
Special Mention: Cthulhu by Gaslight
As much as I love the cosmic horror of Lovecraft, Gothic horror is one of my first loves.  This is a great mix of both.
Read more at: Call of Cthulhu, BRP, Lovecraft

3. Role-Aids Witches
How could I not put this one up?  I have always rather liked Mayfair and their Role-Aids books.  The quality varies with some being quite bad.  But this one is great.  I had already been working on my own witch for a number of years when this one came out, but seeing it on the shelves made me happy. I knew I was working on something that at least one company liked.  Witches didn't invent the idea of Traditions, but it did help define it a little bit better.  Though I am still not a fan of the Deryni Witch.  Partly because I didn't think their concept worked as a witch and mostly because I had just left an OD&D game where we played Deryni as a race.  But in any case this is still one of my favorite third-part supplements to D&D.
Special Mention: Dragon #114
Most gamers of my generation remember this as the witch issue.  There is a lot to like about it, but what keeps this one around for me is the witch class.
Read more at: Witch

2. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
I have gone on and on (and on) about my love of this game. To me it really is the pinnacle of what the OSR could do.  Plus it has such a great feel to it and honestly it combines every that has been on this list so far.  D&D, horror soaked lands, monsters and things from beyond. All in a red box!
Special Mention: Basic Fantasy
Basic Fantasy to me represents the best DIY spirit of OSR and the community. It also happens to be a gret set of rules and is almost exactly how we played our Basic/Advanced D&D mashups back in the 80s.
Read more at: AS&SH, OSR, Basic

1.  C.J. Carella's WitchCraft
There has only been one game ever that has come close to displacing D&D in my heart and that is C.J. Carella's WitchCraft.  For me this game has everything I wanted in a modern game with a great back story, fantastic art and a magic system that really is second to none.
Special Mention: Ghosts of Albion
I know. Totally cheesy mentioning your own game, but it is true. Ghosts of Albion is not only my favorite Victorian game, but also my 256 page love letter to WitchCraft. 
Read more at: Witch, Unisystem, Ghosts of Albion

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Across The Sea of Years

A dual stated adventure across Time and Space for.... well that is what I don't know yet.

I have always toyed with the idea of running a game at a con, say like Gen Con where I have multiple days, where it is the same group of characters, or their reincarnations or their children, across time and different systems.   My systems of choice would be Unisystem and some flavor of D&D.  Likely Basic.

I have done similar ideas in Season of the Witch, where I took in ideas from different games to get a different feel.  Generation HEX was conceived as using a different system each game, but that never worked out.

This idea though is two plan a game that takes place in the past, present and maybe future.  Each game is seperate unto itself, but builds a bigger story.

One idea I had was a adventure named "Synchronicity" where characters from Ghosts of Albion meet up with their counterparts from Buffy.  But that is only one, albeit long, game. Plus the system for Ghosts and Buffy is the same.

Another game I have played before is Blight for Ghosts of Albion.  It takes place in 1847 and is an unofficial sequel to my Dark Druid for Buffy (that takes place in an alternate 2001). There is a third adventure in the mix, All Souls Night, which was always designed to go with my Eire game.
I would retool Blight just a bit.  But the Dark Druid is designed for new characters, so the big bad introduced is not all that big and bad.  It works though if I run them in something like a past life regression.

The other idea I had was an adventure around the rise and fall of Elizabeth Bathory.
D&D for when she was alive and you have to stop her (though to be 100% fair, an adventure like that screams LotFP), Ghosts of Albion when she is prowling the streets of Victorian London, and something else (Call of Cthulhu maybe) for later.

I have also over the years toyed with the idea of Doctor Who, Star Frontiers, and Alternity (yeah I have been thinking about this one for a while) for the future.  I think the idea came to me when I wanted to run a hunt Jack the Ripper and I thought back to the old Star Trek episode "A Wolf in the Fold" and to the movie "Time After Time".  Jack the Ripper is still an interesting idea. A time traveling serial killer/entity could make a fun opponent.

Lots of ideas really, but nothing has really jelled yet for me.  Once I have the right story idea and roll for the characters then the system will be easier to decide on.

Anyone done anything like this before?  What did you do and what did you use?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Zatannurday: Cartoon Action Hour Season 3

With the release of Cartoon Action Hour Season 3 I thought it might be fun to do Zatanna's stats as if she were a guest star on the Super Friends show!

Of course Zatanna was never on the Super Friends, which is too bad.  I would have loved her even then.
Here she is!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Eldritch Witchery Print Proof

Got a preliminary print proof of Eldritch Witchery.

It's not the final proof yet, but it is close! And I am pleased as hell with it.

EW with the Spellcraft & Swordplay core rules.

Core rules and boxed set.

Eldritch Witchery and The Witch

Eldritch Witchery with some of my other favorite old-school games.  No indication of compatibility is implied.

And my two most recent games.  No indication of compatibility is implied here either, but they are awfully fun together!

I hope to get the print versions out to you very, very soon.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Games Plus Haul 2013

Here is this year's haul.

Lots of board games that the boys wanted.  A replacement Victoriana 1st ed. A Doctor Who game I have never seen and another copy of Dungeon (I am a collector).

Tower of the Wizard King is new to me.  The bags are tiles of monsters for D&D 3.x or 4.

More later.  Getting ready to play Vampire Hunter now.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Games Plus Game Auction

Games Plus in Mount Prospect, IL

Headed out to the Games Plus Game Auction tomorrow.
Should be great!  I am looking to fill some gaps in my Greyhawk collection and of course see what odd, rare or new-to-me game shows up.

I have gotten some pretty nice deals in the past and I am hoping that will be the case tomorrow.

If you live in the Chicago Area head out to Mount Prospect (in the Northwest Suburbs) and join in.
Their doors open at 9:00am and the auction starts at 10:00am.

Games Plus on Facebook,
And the auction event page,

So come on by and buy my old games so I can buy new ones!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Running the Classics

I don't consider myself to be one of those GMs/Players with "Gammer ADHD".  I like to make a plan and stick with it.  My BIG PLAN for some time now has been to run my kids through all the classic D&D modules in some form or another.

I have detailed my attempts here and here. Since that time we have gotten new reprints from WotC and the DNDClassics PDF store opened up.  My kids also dropped 4e in favor of 1st Ed Ad&D.

So I have an embarrassment of riches here.  I have the systems, I have the modules and I even have the willing players.  What I lack is time to do it all.

I guess the only thing for it is to make the time. That and stop buying games.

In my kid's 3.x game we are going to do the Tomb of Horror and I'll talk about that one later.
In their 1st ed game they are still investigating the Caves of Chaos.  After that that we are doing T1 and L1 before moving on to the A series, to eventually do the GDQ series.  I'll work other classics in there where they fit.

Here is my plan so far.

  • B1 In Search of the Unknown, levels 1-3 (played at Gen Con 2012)
  • B2 Keep on the Borderlands, levels 1-3
  • T1 Village of Hommlet, Intro-levels
  • L1 The Secret of Bone Hill, levels 2-4
  • A0 to A4, levels 4-7
  • A5, The Last Slave Lord, levels 5-9
  • G123, levels 8-12
  • D12, levels 9-14
  • D3, levels 10-14
  • Q1, levels 10-14

The trouble is that living in a post-Drow world the impact of GDQ is just not the same unless I make them very different.
Also while Queen of the Demon web pits is fun, it lacks the final confrontation that I would like to do with a "big bad".  Plus I'd like to go to 20th level.

I could scale everything up a little and stick I1, Dwellers of the Forbidden City in there before the A series.
Other candidates are X2 (I already took them through X1), C1 and C2.

That would round out the classics really.  Here is how they stack;

  • X2 Castle Amber, levels 3-6 (after L1)
  • I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City, levels 4-7 (after A but before G)
  • C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, levels 5-7 (after A but before G)
  • C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, levels 5-7 (after A but before G)

Not to bad really.
It's not too difficult to turn the GDQ series up anyway, but are the drow and Lolth interesting enough?
Since this is the "NextGen" game after my 3.x one maybe Lolth is taking some revenge for her ally Tiamat, or moving into the recently vacated "most evil goddess" role.

While I don't need it a huge Lolth figure would be nice.

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's the end of the world as...

well. you get the idea.

So the end of the world. Again. No pole shift. No, whatever it was the Mayans said was going to happen.  Of course, if I am wrong we will all be dead by the time you read this so I am safe in calling bullshit once again.

Ok lets get on to some better stuff.  Like end of the world in games!  I could spend a lot time discussing all sorts of great Post-Apoc games but really I only want to talk about one.

Gamma World.

A while back I mentioned that despite by ridiculous fondness for Mutant Future, I never owned a copy of Gamma World. Ever.  Well Justin Davis over at the great A Field Guide to Doomsday heard my tale of woe and he sent me one of his extra copies!

It's only the book, and it has some water damage and shelf wear. Plus there is a 50 cent garage sale sticker on it...and it is absolutely PERFECT!

I have read Gamma World before.  Friends have had copies and I have always meant to go out to get one but never did.

I am surprised how much I enjoyed reading this.  This really was like finding some long lost artifact of a different age.
A couple of things I noted right away.
- This really made me appreciate Mutant Future so much more.  So Justin, if your goal was to get me interested in MF more, then you succeeded!
- I can't help but think that the table of Random Mutations is perfect for a random demon generator for the OSR crowd.

So I want to thank Justin for my early Christmas gift! 

I always feel a bit awkward when I get stuff.  I appreciate it and love the books, esp. if it is something I have been searching for for years.  But I also don't want to come over as begging for stuff.
So I think I'll pay it forward.  I have some extras of books laying around, next time I see someone in our little group here saying they need one of them they might just get a package in the mail!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Over at Google+ #7RPGs  there is new meme making the rounds and Gnome Stew has picked up.
The idea is to post your 7 RPGs you have most played or GMed.

So lets give it a go!

1. Dungeons & Dragons (all editions) I am combining these all into one category since my games have a 30+ year continuity.  This is the one I started with and continue to play to this day.  It is also number one on my running list. I have played and run all editions of D&D.  Well...I have never run OD&D, only played it.

2. Buffy/Angel/Army of Darkness/Ghosts of Albion.
We began playtesting Buffy in 2002.  I played it pretty much from the second the rules hit the playtesters. I wrote for all the books as well, so it should be no surprise that this one is so high.  When I started on Ghosts of Albion I moved the campaign wholesale to that. I still get to run this quite a bit, but not play as much as I would like.

3. WitchCraft (along with AFMBE & Armageddon).  From 1999 to 2002 WitchCraft was my only game. I had given up on D&D at this point and Buffy and Ghosts had not been written yet.  It was (and is still really) everything I wanted in a game. It's perfect in my mind. When I pitched the idea of Ghosts of Albion to Eden I wanted it to use WitchCraft as it's base.  Thankfully I was talked out of that in favor of the same system for Buffy.  While OD&D and 4e have less in common than WitchCraft and Buffy, I separate WitchCraft from Buffy because of how they are played.

4. BESM. I played this quite a bit in the early part of the 2000s with my son, trying to find a game he would enjoy.  I grabbed this because I was looking for something to work as a more powerful version of Buffy with some super hero and some anime influences. It was a fun game and I wish that it had done better in the market.

5. Mutants & Masterminds. I enjoy supers games and have tried a number of them over the years, but M&M is my favorite.  I love pretty much everything about it. I enjoy the background, the rules, even how the rules were created and what they meant to the OGL. I am also happy that M&M 3 is the same system being used for DC Adventures.  I have run this a few times and played it a few but would like to do it more.

6. Call of Cthulhu.  While I have mentioned my fondness for Chill, many, many times I never got a chance to play it or run it very much.  On the other hand I have played Call  of Cthulhu a few times int he 80s.  I was going to run it in the 2000s, but Ghosts of Albion and Buffy distracted me. Still this is the pinacle of horror games and I have always enjoyed it.

7. World of Darkness (oWod).  World of Darkness changed everything.  To think otherwise is to ignore all the facts. I loved what Vampire did for all horror games  and games in general, though I will be honest that I didn't see it at the time.  My game was Mage.I thought it was fantastic and so near perfect.  It turned out I would later find the perfect game (WitchCraft) but I still really enjoyed this game. I picked up all the New World of Darkness games but they seemed to lack something of the original games had even if the new rules were better.

Links to others

Friday, July 20, 2012

Games You Never Get to Play

When people talk about influences on their games and gaming life they typically mention the works of Fritz Leiber or Jack Vance or Tolkein or the other Appendix N names.

Not me.  Well, yes I have read those, but they were not biggest effect on my games.

My Appendix N is full of Hammer Horror and In Search Of... and any more dozens of bad-wrong-fun horror and occult material from the 70s.  It should be no surprise then that I gravitate towards games that let me do that sort of thing, Chill, Call of Cthulhu and of course WitchCraft.

But just as I am a product of 70's and 80's horror, there were other things going on then.  Still lots of "leftover hippie shit" as I used to call it.  Zodiacs, crystals, psychic powers.  All the stuff that gets mixed in with magic and the occult, plus aliens, Atlantis, secret societies, Erich von Däniken and all that.

Basically all the stuff left over when you take out the horror and the magic from the big occult boom of the 70's.

What has this have to do with gaming?


There is one game I have always wanted to play but doubt that I ever will.

It's not a game per-se but rather a campaign.

The game is one set in the 70s where all the characters are teens.  They are also, unknown to them until the game starts, the children of the first successful alien-human hybrids.  They look completely human, but each one has unique pyschic powers.  No magic, all psychic.  The drama comes in when the teens discover what they are and the government comes in to take them to a secure facility.

So you can see where this gets it's genesis.  There were a ton of shows in the 70s about kids with powers or people being chased by the government.  I want to put it in the 70s so I can avoid cell phones, gps and the like.  Plus it was the last time teens could hitchhike across the US without people calling the cops.   I'd work in mysteries of Atlantis, crystals with magic powers, strange MIB agents, aliens out to kill them all that great stuff.  Setting it in the 70s also lets me bring in "future tech" like more powerful computers and things we use today.

The list of influences of this game go on and on.  Basically I'd go to Wikipedia's Psuedoscience category and pick and choose.

My game system of choice would be Conspiracy X since I can use most of the mythos intact.  The Unexplained would also work well as would a low powered Mutants & Masterminds game.  Something like Damnation Decade, but with more danger and horror, and none of the alt-history.

I'd love to play it or even write it.  But I doubt I'll have the time.
If I were to write it all out I'd call it "Star Child" sounds very 70s.

What games or campaigns do you really want to play but don't think you will?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Post-Game Day

It was "mini-con" this past weekend at the Brannan household.

Saturday my oldest son played old school Traveller and had some of the crappiest dices rolls in the history of dice.  He was disappointed, but not in the rolls themselves but he was looking forward to playing rather than rolling up characters.

Saturday evening was Ghosts of Albion at EN World Game day.  I didn't have a full roster so I invited him to come along (my youngest had a friend spending the night).  He played William Swift, Protector of Albion. He did a great job.   He thought I had made the character especially for him! Everyone else had a great time and it was great to run Blight one last time.  It dis give me some ideas for new adventures and maybe even a hook to bring my boys into this game.

Sunday was D&D 4: Keep on the Shadowfell with the kid's group.  The group agreed to take out the Kobold lair for the nice price of 100gp each.  The got past the kobold ambush and the kobolds outside the lair, but they have not gone it yet.  The kids did great really.  They are learning to work together more and that is a good thing.  I have a couple of players that want to retrain or swap out some feats.  It is a generally accepted house rule here (and at the games my son and three of the other players play at) that you can make "free" modifications to your character to better suit you, the party or whatever.  My youngest is playing a Bard, he is thinking he wants to add a little bit of warlock to that and maybe rearrange his stats for a better Dex.  My oldest is playing a Paladin multiclassed with Warlord, which works, but he did this thinking we would not have any "Leader" types.  With my youngest now playing a Bard (instead of his usual ranger) and one of the others playing a cleric, he wants to drop the Warlord in favor of Sorcerer, his other favorite class. So the idea is that he had some military training (was Warlord, now it will be more of a background) and during his adventures the stress of combat has awakened the Celestial Dragon blood in his veins and now he can call on Dragon magic. It works.  I still need to talk to the other players too to see if they want to make any alterations.

The kids' 4e Group still doesn't have a name of their own yet.  In the game they are called the Heroes of Winterhaven.  Though in the arc a better name for them would be Death's Champions; though that sounds darker than it is supposed too (they will be making sure that that Death and Life are saved from Orcus).  They have an unknown ally in the form of a mysterious girl named Nera and one of the Arch Dukes of Hell will offer his aid as well. 'Enemy of my Enemy" and all.  Should be a great time!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

EN World Game Day

Please don't forget that if you are in the Chicago area come by and play Ghosts of Albion with the author (that would be me)!

Saturday July 14, 2012.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Victorian games. Almost there...

My Victorian games collection.
I am still missing a good copy of Castle Falkenstein; I sold mine at an auction years ago, long before I worked on Ghosts.

I am missing some others too, but have a lot on PDF.
But these are the big ones. If I ever need to run a Victorian era game, I think I have things covered.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Victoria RPG

Continuing my exploration of Victorian era RPGS I can't help but mention the the game that uses the eponymous Queen herself.

Today, V is Victoria.

Victoria is the premier game from Daniel Hodges and Hazard Gaming.  Unlike most of the games I have reveiwed, Victoria is focused on running a game in the historical Victorian Era.  So focus on class, station and no magic (well...mostly).

Victoria is heavy on atmosphere and history.  In fact among the Victorian games, Victoria stresses the history the most.  It is trying to go for an authentic feel of the era sans monsters, magic.

So what does Victoria have? Well for starters character concept is king here.  You should have a good grip what sort of character you want to play.  The book suggests thinking about characters from literature or history.    One of the things things you are going to want to do is decide on your class.  Not how it is typically used in games, but social class.  Social class is everything in this game and there are plenty of examples of of how to use it in play.   The game is really targeted to the newer player with plenty of examples of game play and how to use skills.

Speaking of which, looking at the character sheet you might be surprised to see that everything is a skill.  The first three group are grouped by Social Class.  So there are Upper Class skills (High Society, Linguistics, etc.), Middle Class (Adventure, Law, etc.) and Working Class (Stealth, Street,etc.).  Depending on your class you have more points to allocate to one of the groups and then secondary and tertiary.   You can move points between skill groups (at a cost of course).  There is a fourth group, Personal, which are closer to "Attributes" but are treated just like skills.

The mechanic is a very interesting one and one I have not encountered before to be honest.  The skills are ranked 2 to 12, but you start around 7 and work your way out.    You roll a 2d6 and when you roll the number of your "Main" (a spread of scores) you make it, if you roll outside you don't.  Pretty easy really.
Double "1"s are a critical failure and double "6"s are always a distinctive success.  In either case you can be granted Plot Points.

Plot Points play like Drama Points or Hero Points in other games.  In Victoria the Point economy is bit freer with points being spent and gained quicker.  So if your Main is 5-9 and you roll an 11 then you can spend 2 Plot Points to extend your range and make it.  I mentioned before that critical rolls can grant you Plot Points.   If you fail, if you can describe your failure well then that is worth some plot points to be used at a later challenge.

Half the book is for the players and the other half for the Gamemaster.  The Gamemastering section is not to be missed really, especially if you are a new Gamemaster or starting one.  There is great advice here.  There is also good game-based advice for the giving out the Plot Points and how to reward play based on Social Class.

Chapter 10 is an interesting one since it deals with the Supernatural.  The "paradigm" of Victoria is the "Sherlock Holmes" one.  That is there is no magic, but many people that believe in it.  I think that is where this game works the best.  Some background (but not stats) are given for many creatures.  Chapter 11 similarly deals with alternate settings.  Chapter 12 is an example adventure that stretches science to near Frankenstein levels.

Victoria works best as "Charles Dickens" or "Sherlock Holmes" the Game.  Realism with real problems.
If you want a game with more magic, then we have those as well.  Take advantage of this game's strengths.

I would use this as an expansion is most any Victorian game to add another level of realism to the play. There is quite a bit of history and even a handy guide for how much various professions make in a year.
The character creation section is fantastic for any Victorian era game since it does require you to think about your character not as a collection of stats and numbers, but rather as a concept and as a person within society.

The book itself is fantastic to look at.  The layout is clean and easy to read. The art is the similar PD art found in Ghosts of Albion, Gaslight and Victoriana, but to me that is a good thing.  That is what a Victorian game should look like.

If you like historical games and like your games with a bit more realism in it, then Victoria is a great choice.

You can also go to Daniel's webpage to hear his weekly Podcasts.   In fact next week I am going to be in Episode 11.

Dirty Nellie
Dirty Nel

So, the one thing about Victoria is it lacks a proper magic system and supernatural creatures are non-existent.
That all being said, that doesn't mean I can't try to emulate my street faerie prostitute Dirty Nel.
You can see her in her Ghosts of Albion, Rippers, and Victoriana aspects. Here she is as a normal human.  She is still a prostitute working for the elite upper class. Her clientele are not just the upper class, but the upper-class spiritualist and occultist of the age.

Name: Dirty Nel
Class: Working
Occupation: Prostitute/Informant
Backstory: Nel is a young elfin-looking woman. She claims she fell on hard times, but Nel didn't have far to fall.
Flaw: Fallen Woman, Greedy

Upper Class

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
High Society X X X X
Linguistics X X X
Medicinal X X
Research X X

Middle Class
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Adventure X X X X
Law & Inv X X X X X
Martial X X X
Tactics & Org. X X X X

Working class

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Chameleon X X X X X X
Stealth X X X X X X
Street* X X X X X X X
Trade & Source X X X X
*extra skill speciality: Dark Secrets

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Atheltics X X X
Machines X X
People X X X X X
Wits X X X X
Possessions: clothes, boots, purse, couple of knives.
Ht: 5'0" Wt: 6.7 stone Age: 16
PP: 4
Money: what she made the night before.