Showing posts with label other systems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label other systems. Show all posts

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Reviews: Calidar Guides for Players

Been spending some quality time with Calidar this week.  Why? because there is a complete lack of flying cities and skyships in my games.  Plus Bruce Heard is a great writer going way back to the TSR days.  Back when I was in college my money was tight.  Ok I was spending it on alcohol. But the point is that I was not buying a lot of D&D books.  What I DID buy were book by Bruce Heard and anything he did for Mystara.

So these new books (and my Professor's salary) are a welcome addition to my life.
Let's get into it.

Game Mechanics for the World of Calidar
12 pages. PDF and Softcover format. Full-color covers, color, and black & white interior. PWYW

Ok, this book is punching WAY above its weight in terms of value to page count. There are some obvious benefits, that I'll talk about and one or two not-so-obvious that also make this a must-have.  I'll get to those as well.  Let's start with the explicit value.
This book is designed to allow any GM or player to use the Calidar shorthand stats I have talked about all week and then convert them to any game system.
The game mechanics used are detailed first. By doing this Calidar is free to depict stats in any way that works best for the world and not necessarily the game system.  There is an obvious "D&D-bias" here but that is fine really, and expected.
Inbetween the text is the numbers conversion chart.  Ranked by percentages the numbers are grouped by ranges you can convert say Level to a Calidar %.  So let's say your game goes from 1 to 14 (like say B/X or OSE) then you can convert a Calidar character statblock using this.  Or maybe 1 to 30 (D&D4) or 1 to 20 (most D&D).  Spend some time with this chart and the translations begin to happen easily.
The game mechanics continue and include a "Philosophy" stat which is a stand in for Alignment. AND it might actually be a better alignment system.  Now I have never had any issues with Alignment myself.  Maybe because I spent so much time with things like the MMPI and other tests that I naturally gave alignment more subtle gradations.  Actually, I think it was more chemistry come to think of it. Take the "alignment chart" in the old PHB or D&DG and think of an electron cloud where a character can move up or down in the shells.
There is also a map of Calidar and the Great Caldera and some brief descriptions of the lands.
Now what else do you get?  Well this conversion table is fantastic for conversions to all sorts of games. Not just D&D based ones.  Yes, the math is not difficult, actually, it is pretty easy.  But I teach math all damn day. I like having something like this.
Secondly, I want to get back to the new Philosophy system.  It works GREAT in CA2 How to Train Your Wizard. It would be great for someone that doesn't like the Law-Chaos, Good-Evil axes.
So grab this. Throw a couple of bucks at Bruce and have fun!

PG2 A Players' Guide to Caldwen
20 pages. PDF and Softcover format. Full-color covers, color, and black & white interior. $2.99

This covers the basics of the Magiocracy of Caldwen. The various Provinces are covered briefly and other aspects of the land.  We get the calendar with months and some astrology.
There is a new race, the Shatim, which are like Tieflings, humans with demonic heritage. These have their own Caldwenian spin on them. 
We also get a Mage Knight class. They are an armored knight that can cast spells. Using the Game Mechanics for the World of Calidar book you can convert them to your game system of choice.
We get overviews on the various cults in Caldwen and their locations, or at least where the majority are located. Appropriate for a land where magic is the real religion.
Currency, tourism and a brief map are all included.
A good resource for players and a needed one for the Game Masters.
It really sets the flavor of what you can expect in the Caldwen mini-setting. "Mini setting" is actually underselling it a bit to be honest. There is so much in the Caldwen books that you forget it was just a piece of the entire Calidar world setting.

I have the softcover books, but these really benefit from being printed out (bad on the color ink though) so I can put them in a binder to lay flat.  Especially when it comes to referencing the maps, which are a highlight of these books.

I can't wait to see where my vacation in Calidar takes me next.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Who You Gonna Call in 2016?

So last night I was inspired to crack open my long forgotten Ghostbuster RPG books.  I will go into this system in some detail later (I have some D6 stuff planned) but for now I want to represent the new cast with the classic 1986 rules.
The 1986 version of the Ghostbusters RPG uses a proto-version of their later to be the wildly famous D6 system.

The nice thing about this version of the system is it so damn easy to use that I could recreate the characters in a very, very short time.

The system has you build your characters on a 12-point economy.  Well, I took some cues from the cast as presented in the books and went with a 13-point economy on points. Maybe a little less for Kevin.  One of the features (it's not a bug) of the Ghostbuster movies and cartoons is the characters are all pretty much characters.  Look, I don't care how much you love the first movie. I love it more and Venkman is pretty one dimensional.  Two-dimensional at best.  Egon? The same.  Ray has a bit more going on I think and so does Dana.  Louis Tulley? No.  BUT that is fine!  It works for this game really, really well.  So representing this cast with only 2 hours to get to know them is not a big deal.

So here they are, the class of 2016!  I am presenting them in the style of the Ghostbuster ID Cards (dropping "telex" and putting in email).

Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy)
TRAITS (Talents)
Brains 5 (Paranormal research)
Muscles 3 (Brawl)
Moves 3 (Throw things)
Cool 3 (convince)

Brownie Points: 20
Goal: Prove Ghosts are real

Dr. Erin Gilberts (Kristen Wiig)
TRAITS (Talents)
Brains 6 (Physics)
Muscles 2 (Run)
Moves 2 (see)
Cool 3 (orate)

Brownie Points: 20
Goal: Pure Science

Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon)
TRAITS (Talents)
Brains 6 (Engineering)
Muscles 1 (Brawl)
Moves 2 (fire weapon)
Cool 4 (charm)

Brownie Points: 20
Goal: Build cool stuff

Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones)
TRAITS (Talents)
Brains 3 (Local NYC knowledge)
Muscles 3 (Break Things)
Moves 3 (Drive)
Cool 4 (Charm or Fast Talk)

Brownie Points: 20
Goal: To protect her friends and city

Kevin (Chris Hemsworth)
TRAITS (Talents)
Brains 1 (Basic life skills)
Muscles 4 (Lift)
Moves 3 (Attract Attention)
Cool 3 (Bluff)

Brownie Points: 20
Goal: To be a Ghostbuster, and maybe figure out the phone

I like it. They fit well.
I'll need to delve deeper into this system in the future.

I am up for an Ennie this year for Best Blog!
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review: Chill Quickstart - Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Chill Quickstart: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

I am woefully behind on all my reviews.  None am I more late on than reviewing what should have been something I jumped on right away, Chill 3rd Edition.

I was very disapointed when I saw that Chill was not up for a ENnie for Best Game this year.  The consolation though is that the rather excellent Quickstart for Chill is up for Best Free Product.

This is good since you can experience Chill for the price of a couple of clicks.

Now my love for Chill is WELL documented here on this blog. When everyone else was playing Call of Cthulhu (and watching their characters go mad or die) I was playing Chill (and watching my characters die).  Or more to the point I was creating elaborate scenarios involving SAVE.   I loved Pacesetter Chill and even drove out to the old Mayfair Games warehouse to score a brandnew hardcover a few years back.  I own pretty much everything for Chill and even Rotworld/Cryptworld/Majus.

On to the product as hand.
Chill: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors is a 46 page "Quickstart".  It has everything you need to play the game now except for people, dice and some tokens.  Don't have 10-sided dice?  Fine, get a deck of cards, remove the royals, put all the black suits in one deck and all the red in another.  Shuffle them.  When you need to roll choose a black card and a red card.  Count tens as "0" and aces as "1".   Save the face cards, the royals, for your tokens.

With this Quickstart author +Matthew McFarland has distilled Chill down to it's essence. It's a game about fighting the Unknown.  There are a couple of pages devoted to the mechanics of the game; find a target number, roll that or under. Avoid botches (doubles over) but hope for a Colossal Success (roll doubles and under).  Tokens are also covered.

An overview of the character sheet comes next breaking down the Attributes, Skills, Edges, Drawbacks and where you record damage.  There is also a spot for The Art, or some magical/psychic abilities.  This edition seems to focus a bit more on this than the previous, normal-human-centric point of view of the previous, but that will wait for a full reveiw.

This makes up the first half-dozen or so pages.  The next dozen covers Combat and The Art. Combat is just another type of test/roll and The Art are "fancy" skills.  The nice thing is when one system is learned the rest are easily picked up.

The rest of the book is the adventure.  I don't want to give out any spoilers for potential players, but the adventure is a classic one for Chill.  What kind of adventures are good for Chill? Well anything you might see on "Supernatural", "Grimm", "Kolchak" or "The X-Files" would make for a great Chill game, but also the stories you told as kids about the haunted house, or the mean old neighbor lady or the monster in the sewers.

The quickstart includes some characters to get you up and running fast. There are maps, artifacts and investigation sheet to make this feel like a real investigation into the paranormal, or what Chill calls The Unknown.  Enough background is given on SAVE to make it interesting and to make you want to know more.

For the price you can't beat it. If you ever told a scary story to others with a flashlight under your chin, dared a friend to go into a "haunted house" or watched a Hammer Horror film then this is a great game for you.   An ENnie win for it would let others know that too.

I am up for an ENnie this year for Best Blog!
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Old Loves

I have been blogging here for a while.  Mostly about D&D and related clones, but some other games too.  I was reading over some rule books for games I have not played yet or haven't played in a long while and I was thinking.
I really miss the modern supernatural genre.  I have lost track of all the games I have played over the years since the early days of Chill and Call of Cthulhu. I have lost track of all the books I have read in this genre as well; has to be in the hundreds by now.  But I also enjoy the over the top heroics of D&D and supers games too.

So imagine my surprise when I saw Eden Studios was finally publishing the long, long, long, awaited Beyond Human.

Years, a life time ago it seems, I helped with this book.  I contributed quite a bit to the magic chapter.  The magic system is based on my Ghosts of Albion game, which is based in turn on C.J. Carella's own magic systems in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (another game I worked on) and on the WitchCraft game.

I really would love to get something new for these games going again.   Ideas are plentiful, time really isn't.

One day I'll return to this world.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Kickstart Your Weekend: Family and Familiars

A couple of Kickstarters today.

First is a really cool one,  I really love Castles & Crusades, but I also really love D&D 5e.
So it is really cool to see the Troll Lords bring out a product for 5e that was also one of my favorite Troll Lords books.

5th Edition: Familiars, Monstrous Companions, Steeds & More is part of their new 5e line.  It is an update of their Castles & Crusades Book of Familiars.   Though I have on very good authority that this book is more than a conversion, it's a complete rewrite of the book.

It looks really cool and will be a nice addition to my 5e library.

This next KickStarter I know very, very little about except that it is a widow wanting to bring her late-husband's game to the market.

The game is EVERYVERSE RPG and it is a multi-genre RPG.

You can also read more about it on their blog at,

Both are worthy of your attention.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Dear Harry, It's Not You, it's Me...

No. Actually. It's You.

I LOVE modern supernatural and horror games.  Just love them.  Even ones I don't get to play often I still enjoy reading.  Heck I have not played Mage in close to 10 years and I still want that giant Mage 20th anniversary book.

So why can't I get myself to love, or even like, The Dresden Files?

I am talking about the Fate-powered RPG, but I'll talk a bit about the books too.

I got these books for Christmas after they first came out in 2010.  Dresden Files (the books) were all the rage and that Summer my group had been playing a Chicago-based Ghosts of Albion/Angel/WitchCraft game.  It had some Dresden-esque elements, but mostly it was White Wolf's World of Darkness' Mage, Vampire and Werewolf as the backdrop.
I had started reading the books that September. I was commuting to work everyday for about an hour in and hour back not to mention doing a lot of flying, so I had plenty of time for audiobooks.   I devoured them.  It was especially fun when I was driving around Chicago hearing about Harry driving around Chicago.  Though I have to admit it is always amusing hearing/reading a non-Chicago native talk about the city in ways no native ever would. It's the Kennedy, not the JFK, and no one can get from the Loop to O'Hare in a few minutes. Ever. Jim Butcher has gotten better with this.

Around about the middle of the series I felt it was getting stale, but then it picked up with the new "Outsider" threat.  I will admit I have not read the last one yet and I have not been itching to do so.

The game on the other hand surprised me with it's production values and how nice it looked.  I loved the "hunter's notebook" feel to it.  Though to be 100% fair other games had done that long before.

But I never really ever got Fate.

Sure I had played around with Fudge in the past and I enjoyed the free-form it gave me.  I have even played around with Fate and many good starts.  But in the end the system falls flat for me.  Maybe. Maybe there is something good there I could use, but it's been 5 years, or 6+ if you count my experimentations with Fudge.

The Dresden Files RPG is the most complicated "simple" game I have ever read or played.  Seriously, 407 pages for a "simple" ruleset?  I know the Fate Core books are much smaller so a lot of this is setting and world-specific rules, but I can't help but feel it is overwrought.

It's not the mechanics. Mechanics are easy and in Fate ridiculously so.
It's not the aspects.  Though how the aspects could be used is certainly an issue for me.  Let's take Wolverine for example. He could easily have an aspect "Best at What I Do".  Will he get a re-roll or a +1 for "everything"?  No. I know this, but in the hands of a less deft game master this becomes little more than a ruleless game of pretend.

I know to people in the in-crowds of Fate I will be completely dismissed as an "old-school gamer" but the truth is I play a lot of games. Hell, Castle Falkenstein is one of my favorite games and it is hard to go more free-form than that.  I could also just as easily dismiss them for their smugness, but that does not make either of us correct.

Sitting net to my desk at home is a folder. It is full of character sheets for various systems.  I try them out, pick at them and sometimes those efforts show up here.  So far I have never been happy with my creations for Fate.  I picked up the new 3rd Edition of Chill and had characters in minutes. Fate is more of a collective role-playing experience.  That is great, if you want that or have a stable group.  I have a stable group, but I want "organic" characters.  Characters that feel and act like individuals, not part of a collective.

Fate tries to model a story. Either a book, movie or what have you.  Where the larger outcome is usually known.  I am not done reading this book but I am sure the protagonist survives.   Role-playing games are not books Their story telling techniques are different.

I think Fate works with the right groups, but it does require a degree of "playing well with others" that I don't often see in games.   I like the idea, I dislike the execution.  Which is interesting, because some of the die hard Fate players I have met at Cons are such ass-hats. Sorry if that is over generalization, but it has been remarkably and painfully consistent for me over the last 5 years. Yet in the same period of time I have played dozens of other games with various groups that have been great.

There are also pragmatic concerns for me.  Not to invoke the "douche" rule, but really what can I do with Fate that I can't do with Unisystem?  What can I do with the Dresden Files that I haven't already done with Ghosts of Albion?   Hell. I remember Fred Hicks back in the day on the old Eden boards talking about the Dresden Files and how WitchCraft 95% of what he wanted to do with it.  I'll contend that the other 5% can be found in Cinematic Unisystem.

I want to give Dresden Files one more chance, but in truth I know it is over.  We are done.
Don't know if I am going to sell off my Dresden Files game yet. I have one other "last fling" to do with it, but my Fate books are now gone.

Not looking for a reason to keep it, I am pretty sure it will end up on the auction block in the spring.
Better luck in your next home Harry.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Kickstart Your Weekend: Aquelarre

I have not heard about the Spanish language RPG Aquelarre till before today.
But a quick look online tells me a lot of people are excited by it.

There is a new English language version on the way by none other than White Wolf's own Stewart Wieck.  So that should mean it will look good and be fun.

The text says this is a dark and mature game.  So YMMV.
I enjoy the art made to look like old woodcuts, so I ight back it just because of that alone.

Check it out. It looks like a lot of fun.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

1901: An Æther Space Odyssey

I got to click another Kickstarter off my list!

New and Original

The new Ubiquity version of Space 1889 is now in my hands!
It is a great looking book. I really enjoyed the original Space 1889 (also available in PDF).

This new book captures the feel of the original rather nicely and the Ubiquity system is easy to use and adapt.  The book itself is gorgeous and well worth the wait to be honest.  It really envokes the feel of the original which was quite an original idea back in the day.

New and Original
I love Victorian games, weird science and space exploration.  So this really is right up my alley.
At first I have to admit I didn't like Space 1889, but as I played it I really began to enjoy it.  Once I started doing research on what the Victorians believed about space and the solar system then I REALLY started enjoying it.

For me then this new version is distillation of everything I enjoyed about the concept.

Recently I went on an "Appendix N" bender and read everything I could get my hands on from the pulp era.  So I read all of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars books, the Pelucidar books, and the Moon Maid series.  I still want to read the Venus books.  I also read years ago Jules Verne, so the idea of a Scientific Alt-Victorian Time really appeals to me.

The best thing about Space 1889 is that the Ubiquity system that powers it is the same as Hollow Earth Expedition and Leagues of Adventure.    So you can pull them together for a high action Victorian fun.  Throw in Revelations of Mars (when it is done)  and you have a Solar System spanning game of adventure.

1901: An Æther Space Odyssey 
The idea behind this game is to split the difference between the Victorian period and the Pulp Age.  Still focus on adventure, or more to the point, Adventure! and space travel but shake it up a bit.

Set it in the Spring of 1901. King Edward sits on the throne and he has declared that explorers of all sorts must head to the planets for the glory of the British Empire.  Adventures run into Barsoomians, Selenites and giant reptiles and snake men on Venus.

Not sure when I'll work it in, but it will be a blast!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Witches of the (Dungeon) World Unite!

A while back I downloaded  +David Guyll and +Melissa Fisher's playbook The Witch.  I loved the cover and since it had the same name as my own book I was curious.  I knew very, very little of Dungeon World save what David Guyll had posted on his blog, Points of Light.

So last week I finally decided to sit down and go through the Dungeon World game so I could better understand The Witch playbooks.

Dungeon World

Dungeon World is a "D&D-like" game based on the Apocalypse World game engine.  Like a favorite of mine, Monsterhearts, the base system has had some changes to reflect the nature of the game being played.  So DW features stats named "Strength", "Constitution", "Dexterity", "Intelligence", "Wisdom" and "Charisma".  This makes playing DW a little more familiar to those of us that cut our baby teeth on D&D.
DW is a large book, 400+ pages and it basically details the sorts of things one can do in a D&D-like game.  I keep saying D&D-like because that is really what this is.  This is not D&D, nor is it a clone. It is a different system to achieve the same sort of stated goals. Though there are other things you can do as well.
There are a lot of reviews for DW out there. It is a well reviewed game with good reviews.  I have not played DW myself, so I can't speak for the game play, but the rules read easy enough.
In DW there is a very basic mechanic (The Move) and it is up to the player to describe what that is.  After that it is a simple Attribute+die roll vs. Target Number roll. In this case the Target Number is 10, but things happen if you roll a 7-9 or below a 6.  This is similar to many modern games.  The attribute modifiers for DW are the same as most Old-School D&D/Clones, ie 18 = +3 (not +4).  This makes using your current character a bit easier in some respects.
Chapter 3 covers the Character Creation.  Chapter 4 covers Basic and Special moves.  Each chapter after that is dedicated to each of the character classes and their class-specific moves.  Each class gets about 8 pages, and then some more for spells.  All the classics are here. The Barbarian is even added as a seperate file as a value add.
Chapter 13 covers how to Game Master, Chapter 14 covers the first session and Chapter 15 covers areas or Fronts where the action will happen. Not bad chapters actually.
Chapter 17 covers the monster creation and use guidelines.  After the monsters are divided up by locales or by theme.
Chapter 18 cover equipment including magic items.

What does DW offer the D&D Player?  
Given the more narrative focus (and less crunch) of DW, D&D players can get some more tips on role-playing, setting up adventures and more immerseve play in general.  It seems to me that DW was created as a retort to 4th ed D&D and it's focus on battle-mat play.  It is rather compatible though with 5e.  Many of same ideas in terms of playing a character or running a game are in both games.
For $10.00 for a PDF and at 400+ pages it would be a nice resource for a group wanting to continue in the same world or the same characters, just looking for some more depth and faster play.

The Witch - A Dungeon World Playbook - by Melissa Fisher & David Guyll

This is a "playbook" for the witch character class for Dungeon World.  Class might not be the right word since this is more of a "role". The book is 27 pages, released via Creative Commons and has art by David Guyll.  I have to admit, it was the art that first drew me into this book.
The book covers the same basic material found in all the classes in the main DW book.  Where we get to the new stuff is under Starting Moves.  Here we can see immediately that we are not dealing with a distaff wizard.  Some of the moves could be used by other character classes, but there is a distinct "witchyness" about them all that I really love.
The Bonds for the Witch are really nice and one of the things I wish I had thought of.  Well, at lease something similar. Bonds work differently in terms of the DW game, but the idea behind them, and how they can be roleplayed, are easily adapted to other games.  Other games would call these "hooks".  There are also a fair number of Advanced Moves that are great for a witch. These are the powers of the witch and her magic. Unlike the cleric and wizard, the witch has no spells, just these powers. I can see why they went this route and it gives the witch a very different feel than either the cleric or wizard. A must with a game light on crunch.
There are plenty of new magic items, mundane items and items unique to the witch.
All in all I like it a lot. With a price under $2.50 it is a steal. It includes the playbook, a character sheet and a printer friendly version.
This Playbook is also part of the Awful Good Games Playbook Bundle.
These authors also have written another Playbook on the Psion.  I am going to need to pick that one up as well.

The Witch - A Dungeon World Playbook - by Jacob Randolph

This Witch for Dungeon World is a 3 page playbook with descriptions on the moves of a witch character.   In general this book covers how to play a "Weather Witch", a "Wicked Witch" or a "Winter Witch".  I approve Jacob Randolph's penchant for alliteration. Everything you would expect to see in a DW character is here.  There are Bonds, Starting Moves, Gear and Advanced Moves.
In this version the details are printed right on the sheet.  This is rather convenient and saves some space.  If it were reformatted to look like the layout in Dungeon World I'd imagine it would be more like 6 to 8 pages.  So you get a lot of text, but not a lot of pages.
This playbook is under $2.50.  I would have liked a little more I think, but it is still really nice.  I have to admit I really like this cover too.

So what good is all of this to me?  Obviously if I am going to play DW, I am going to opt for a witch character.  So it is nice to know I have choices.
I am more likely to want to take DW and convert some of the concepts back over to D&D.  I like the Bonds for example and might end up using something like that.

I am going to talk more about these witch books later on in the week.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Character Writeup Page updated

So I have something like a 1000 things to do, but to help clear out my head I updated my Character writeups page.

They are sorted by character or property. One day I really need to sort them by game system too.

Until then here is a list of the systems I have used to stat up these characters.  Maybe there is something you like here.

4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons
AD&D  1st Ed.
Adventures Dark & Deep
Adventures in Oz RPG
Amazing Adventures
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
B/X Companion
Barbarians of Lemuria
Basic D&D
BECMI + Glantri Gazetteer
Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM) 2r
Big Eyes, Small Mouth (BESM) 3.0
C. J. Carella's WitchCraft RPG
Cartoon Action Hour, Season 2
Cartoon Action Hour, Season 3
Castles & Crusades
Chill, 1st Edition (Pacesetter)
Chill, 2nd Edition
Cinematic Unisystem
Cortex Plus (Smallville)
DC Adventures
DC Heroes (Mayfair)
Dirty Nellie
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space
Ghosts of Albion
Marvel Heroic Roleplay
Meddling Kids
Mutants and Masterminds, 2nd Edition
Mutants and Masterminds, 3rd Edition
Quest of the Ancients
Savage Worlds
Spellcraft & Swordplay
Supers Unleashed
Victoria RPG
Villains & Vigilantes
Witch Girls Adventures

40+. Not too bad.
Would love to throw a few more into that mix.

If you throw in my Willow & Tara page then I can add these too:

C.J. Carella's WitchCraft
Amazing Adventures
Big Eyes, Small Mouth, 2ndEdition
Big Eyes, Small Mouth, 3rd Edition
Big Eyes, Small Mouth d20 (and SAS d20)
Call of  Cthulhu
Cartoon Action Hour, Season 2
d20 Modern
DC Heroes (Mayfair)
Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space
Fudge / Now Playing
Macho Women with Guns (Original and d20)
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying (Cortex+)
Mutants and Masterminds, 2nd Edition
Mutants and Masterminds, 3rd Edition
Savage Worlds
Slasher Flick: Director's Cut
Superbabes: The Femforce RPG
True20 / Blue Rose
Villains & Vigilantes
Witch Girls Adventures
World of Darkness (old)
World of Darkness (new)

Any system you would like to see me try next?
Any character you would like me to try next?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Universal Horizons: Naïve or Patent Trolls?

There is has been a lot of talk in gaming circles about Universal Horizons and their attempt to patent an RPG mechanic.

You can find most of the details here:

And here is their patent application:

Now as is it read it is vague on what "Game 1" and "Game2" could be and some people are claiming that this patent could be used to convert from different games instead of the games within Universal Horizons' own catalog.

Also there is the fear of what happens if the patent is bought by someone else. You see it all the time in the tech market.

I don't have much more to add to this, outside of my realm of expertise, but I do know I have been converting from games to other games for years and have been posting about them for years too.

So then in my efforts to give back, here is my "super secret" method of converting and the tool I used to do it.  My "All Conversions" excel sheet.  I figured out the math and works for me. Let me know if you see ways to improve it.
You can also download this sheet from my Downloads area.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Chill in the air

It has just been announced that Growling Door Games has just purchased the rights to classic horror RPG Chill.

Here is their press release:
For Immediate Release: 6-13-2014

Growling Door Games Acquires License For Chill RPG

US Roleplaying Game Publisher Brings Back Classic Horror Game

 Cleveland, OH: Today, Growling Door Games, Inc. is proud to announce that they have entered into a licensing agreement with Martin Caron, the owner of the Chill RPG. The agreement gives Growling Door Games the English-language rights to publish the Chill RPG core book and supplementary materials for that game, setting the stage for a new release of a classic property that helped make horror gaming a staple of the RPG landscape.

 Matthew McFarland, President of Growling Door Games, said, “We’re thrilled to bring such a classic of horror gaming back to print. Chill has a great history of success in the market. There’s been a lot of enthusiasm for the game even during its long stint out of print, and we hope both those fans and new ones will enjoy our revival of Chill.”

Growling Door Games is planning on releasing the new core book for Chill, 3rd Edition in August 2015, with a Kickstarter in late summer 2014 to launch the project. The initial release of the core book will be as a full-sized hardcover, available in both print and PDF.

Now I have been a fan of Chill for a very long time.  I even participated in Otherworlds Creations own Chill 3.0 playtests. A quickstart was produced after years of work but soon disappeared after dispute over who owned Chill came up.  Also all the Mayfair Chill products have been transferred to Martin Caron on DriveThruRPG.
I also wonder what this means for Goblinoid Games and their line of Pacesetter books, especially Cryptworld their Chill clone.

Of course I will be following this one closely.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March Madness OSR Challenge! Part 4

I want to thank Tomb of Tedankhamen for hosting this.

Here is part 4 of my list.  Hope you enjoy!

23 What is the most broken game that you tried and were unable to play?
The Bram Stoker's Dracula RPG.  It's just awful really.  This one is an easy choice.  But the question remains, is it broken or just bad?

24 What is the most broken game that you tried and loved to play, warts and all?
Broken is sometimes a matter of opinion.  I personally think the Skills and Powers books for 2nd Ed AD&D are broken.  The World of Synibarr is broken and bad, and yet there is something appealing about it.  It's just so crazy it went past bad right into crazy ass gonzo.  I have seen people say (and complain) that AD&D is broken.  It might be, but it is still fun.

25 Which game has the sleekest, most modern engine?
Cinematic Unisystem.  There isn't anything that it can't do well. Or maybe more to the point there isn't anything I can't do with it.  I am sure others think the same thing about GURPS, d20 and/or Savage Worlds. For me CineUnisystem is a perfect fit.

26 What RPG based on an IP did you enjoy most? Give details.
At the risk of sounding vain, Ghosts of Albion. Based on Amber Benson and Christopher Golden's novels and animations.  Written by myself. ;)  But seriously those have been some of the most fun games I have ever played.  Outside of that then the Buffy or Angel games.

27 What IP (=Intellectual Property, be it book, movie or comic) that doesn’t have an RPG deserves it? Why?
Charmed. I am dead serious.   I have been wanting to write a Charmed game for years and honestly I think I could not only do it justice but get people to play it that never watched the show.  One of the most fun times I ever had at Gen Con was playing Piper (a witch from Charmed) in a Charmed/Buffy/Supernatural crossover game.  I would love to do it as a Cinematic Unisystem game.  And it would rock.

28 What free RPG or what non-English RPG did you enjoy most? Give details.
For free I would have to say Basic Fantasy.  It really is a great game and really represents what I feel is the best ideals of the OSR.  Plus it is that sweet spot of how I was playing in the early 80s; a mix of Basic and Advanced D&D.

29 What OSR product have you enjoyed most? Explain why.
Wow. There are so many to be honest.  Nearly half of this blog is dedicated to OSR products I enjoy.  One of the things I like most about the OSR are the products that don't give me things I already have, but things I have always wanted or never knew I needed.
Here are some of my favorites.
B/X Companion - it gave me a book I have been waiting nearly 30 years for.  I had left B/X years ago, but I always felt a little longing for the Companion rules (levels 14-36) that we never got.
Labyrinth Lord - The Basic version of D&D that opened up the OSR world to me.  While in some respects I prefer Basic Fantasy, Labyrinth Lord is still one of my favorites.
Adventures Dark and Deep - Joesph Bloch's magnum opus. A "what if" book, so not a "retro-clone" really.  Something new based on history.  This book is AD&D 2nd ed if Gygax had not left TSR.  Is it "exactly" like what Gygax would have done? No. But this is the closest I think we will ever get.  Joe based this one the reading of all Gygax's letters and things he had mentioned in the pages of Dragon magazine and elsewhere.  It is also a perfectly enjoyable game in it's own right.
Spellcraft & Swordplay - Another "what if" game.  This one takes the SRD and uses the original combat mechanic found in OD&D (not the alternate d20 one we all now use).  It also streamlines a number of things and gives you a really nice, very gritty, old-school game.  One of my favorites.
Another favorite is Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea which I have talked about a lot here.

30 Which non-D&D supplemental product should everyone know about? Give details.
Chill Vampires. If you ever want to use vampires in any game then I suggest you get this book. If you can get the Pacesetter, 1st Edition version then do so, otherwise the Mayfair, 2nd Ed. version is good too, it is just missing a couple of the vampires I really found interesting.  It really is a great book on how vampires can go from being just another monster to an enemy that needs to be studied and understood before fighting.

31 What out-of-print RPG would you most like to see back in publication? Why?
Castle Falkenstein.  Not only is it a fun game, but Mike Poundsmith is one of the best game designers out there.  The premise is cool but the game design blew me away. If you have only ever played D&D or it's direct clones/offspring then you owe it to yourself to play this.  It is available in PDF but I would love to have it in print.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March Madness OSR Challenge! Part 3

I want to thank Tomb of Tedankhamen for hosting this.

Here is part 3 of my list.  Hope you enjoy!

16 Which RPG besides D&D has the best magic system? Give details.
Ghosts of Albion. Which is a total cheat on my part since I wrote it.  But seriously. I love the magic system in it.  I might never top that in my writing but I am sure as heck gonna try.  The system is flexible enough to cover D&D like spells, Mage like powers and even the innate magic of supernatural creatures.
Outside of Ghosts my favorite magic system is the one from Eden's WitchCraft RPG.

17 Which RPG has the best high tech rules? Why?
Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space.  Mostly because it hand waves the tech rules.  Games run the risk of looking very, very dated when it comes to tech.  Look at Traveller, ShadowRun or even Kult.  Doctor Who plays it simple and therefore it works so much better.

18 What is the crunchiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?
Maybe GURPS or even D&D itself.  I like most games to be honest so to me enjoyment is more a factor of the playing rather than the rules.

19 What is the fluffiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?
Monsterhearts. It is quite fun, but not for every audience.  Also Monster of the Week is in there; similar mechanics.

20 Which setting have you enjoyed most? Why?
Anything in the Victorian age. I love the time period and it is great for all sorts of conflict. You can play class vs. class, modern vs. old world or even magic/supernatural vs. science.  The world was new to explore and people had the means to do it. It was an exciting time for nearly anything you would want in an adventure game.

21 What is the narrowest genre RPG you have ever played? How was it?
70s Black exploration.  The games that suited it best were Solid! and Damnation Decade. I played a hippie witch from Berkeley. Interestingly enough this was an extension of my Chill game from the 80s.  I normally am not a fan of the 70s, but these games were great.

22 What is the most gonzo kitchen sink RPG you ever played? How was it?
Back in the early d20 days I was playing with my son.  We used D&D 3.0, Mutants and Masterminds, BESM d20, Star Wars, Silver Age Sentinels and anything that wasn't nailed down. We had a blast.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March Madness OSR Challenge! Part 2

I want to thank Tomb of Tedankhamen for hosting this.

Here is part 2 of my list.  Hope you enjoy!

9 What superhero RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?
Mutants and Masterminds is one of my favorites. I also enjoyed Villains and Vigilantes and Superbabes.
I just liked the way M&M worked to be honest.
Back in the day we used to take our D&D characters and drop them right into V&V.  It was the 80s things like that were allowed.

10 What science fiction RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.
Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space is my current favorite sci-fi game.  I like it's flexibility and it's openness.  Plus being a big fan of Doctor Who doesn't hurt.  But in all seriousness it is just a really fun game and really forces you to think about how to do things other than fighting all the time.

11 What post-apocalyptic RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?
Gamma World or Armageddon. I am not a huge fan of post-apoc games to be honest, but I have had fun with them in the past.  Gamma World is gonzo fun and Armageddon is a nice addition to the WitchCraft line.

12 What humorous RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.
Army of Darkness. I think counts. It has a solid humor element. Same with Ghostbusters. Witch Girls Adventures also has a humor to it that I like.  I like to inject all my games with a bit of humor. Temper the darkness a bit.

13 What horror RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?
Too many to count really.  Chill, Call of Cthulhu, GURPS, WitchCraft, Buffy, Army of Darkness, Vampire, Mage, Ghosts of Albion, Kult, Monsterhearts, Wraith and lots more. I love horror games. I even run my D&D games as horror games.

14 What historical or cultural RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.
Not sure what this one is asking. I like anything Victorian.  But outside of that Mage the Sorcerers' Crusade for playing in the Renaissance. For a purely historical RPG, Victoria is one of my favorites.

15 What pseudo or alternate history RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?
Castle Falkenstein is one of my favorite alt-history games.  Victoriana is another good one. And Space: 1899.  Anything in the Victorian period really.

Monday, March 3, 2014

March Madness OSR Challenge! Part 1

I have bitten off more than I can chew this month.
New month is the big April A to Z blog challenge and this month I need get some more done for work and my witch book.

Plus I am still sick.

So....I am going to have to do this in chunks.
I want to thank Tomb of Tedankhamen for hosting this.

1 What was the first roleplaying game other than D&D you played? Was it before or after you had played D&D?
It was over 30 years ago so it was either Traveller or Chill 1st Ed. This was all after D&D.

2 What was the first character you played in an RPG other than D&D? How was playing it different from playing a D&D character?
I ran Chill. My first character I played in another game was "Zaphod" in Traveller.  The skill system was a new idea for me and I liked it.  Plus the D&D mode of "kill things and take their stuff" doesn't work in most games.

3 Which game had the least or most enjoyable character generation?
In my mind the character creation for Traveller gave me the most trouble.  The easiest is anything for Unisystem. I can pretty much create a character for Unisystem in my sleep.

4 What other roleplaying author besides Gygax impressed you with their writing?
Easy.  C. J. Carella. His WitchCraft game is a work of art. He created the Unisystem game system and the Cinematic Unisystem.  I was fortunate enough to be working on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG when it was in development.

5 What other old school game should have become as big as D&D but didn’t? Why do you think so?
Chill. It lived in the shadow of Call of Cthulhu. Of course Chill is seeing some new light from Goblinoid Games in the guise of Rotworld,  Majus and Cryptworld.

6 What non-D&D monster do you think is as iconic as D&D ones like hook horrors or flumphs, and why do you think so?
I am not sure that flumphs are as iconic as say beholders or mind flayers, but that is a discussion for later. For other games  I always liked shoggoths and gugs from Call of Cthulhu.  The "Mean Old Neighbor Lady" from Chill is also fairly iconic for that game.

7 What fantasy RPG other than D&D have you enjoyed most? Why?
Runequest. I liked it because of it's connection the the Chaosism's BRP system which meant I could add in things from the Elric/Stormbringer/Hawkmoon games and Call of Cthulhu as I liked.

8 What spy RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.
None. Not my cup of tea really.  I liked how Spycraft was put together, but I never played it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Superbabes Week is here!

I have been going through my collection and wanted to spend some quality time with some of the lesser known, or lesser remembered games.  So this week I want to cover Superbabes: The Femforce RPG.

If you don't know about Superbabes or Femforce, then I hope you find the week enjoyable.
I'll discuss the merits of how much Looks should affect your ability to get hit by a weapon, the pros and cons of level based supers and what exactly is a Bimbo Point!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Moving Day Finds

At my day job we are all moving up a floor in my department.  No I am not getting a bigger office, but I am also not getting a smaller one.  But I did find a notebook of things I had started working on during Gen Con 2010 and then when I was at the repair shop after we got hit.

Not sure what is in it, I saw some 4e material, what looks like some notes on The Witch, and some Savage Worlds stuff.  Looking forward to seeing what I have.

ETA: Seems to have some Cortex and Pathfinder stuff as well.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Tacky, Tawdry and Tasteless: the Reality Show RPG

I have been neglecting my reviews.
So I am going to feature some games I have bought in the last few months.

Tacky, Tawdry and Tasteless: the Reality Show RPG
From Spectrum Games

A great game that comes in at just under 10 pages. Spectrum Games has made a name for themselves in Genre Emulation.  Since Reality TV is often criticized as not needing any writers, the game brilliantly is equally as brief.  Foregoing the typical "this is an RPG" section, the game gets right into the various types of reality TV shows are discussed.  Once your group decides what sort of game they are going to do (or maybe your Director has decided for you) and then you go!
You then need to make your character. You figure out your name and stereotype then roll your stats. Figure out your positive and negative qualities and you are good to go!  Like other Spectrum Games these qualities are not listed; instead you decide what they need to be.  Typically these are needed to point out some character flaw your character has.
For rules, the only checks are ability checks (roll under, apply qualities as needed) and dramatic checks.
You also get "Edit Tokens" which work a lot like Drama Points.  Tokens are awarded for good roleplaying and Sticking to Genre.  You can also spend your tokens to change what is going on; such a "Oh No You Dit'unt!" and "I Ain't Goin' Nowhere!".
The basic structure of a game is also laid out, including Commercial Breaks.  These can affect the Shows "Popularity" this can affect the amount of Edit Tokens the players can get.

The game is fast and is great for a like minded group. Given the nature of reality TV you could have enough material here for several "episodes" of material.

Personally I'd like to try it out sometime with people bringing in characters from any game and do a reality "TV Show" where all these characters have to live together in a house in between their normal adventures.

Friday, February 8, 2013

"Fate"ful Friday

One system that I have been wanting to do more with is Fate.

I didn't pledge on the recent Fate Kickstarter mostly because it slipped my mind and I am not actively playing Fate right now.  My loss really.

This week I discovered two very EXCELLENT reasons for me to start looking into Fate more.

First are the Thematic Fate Dice.

Honestly these things are awesome looking and that Pentagram and Rose die would be perfect for a WitchCraft game even if I never used it for Fate. If you like Fate or Fudge, then there is certainly something there for you.

The other is part of the Fate Core Kickstarter that I am kicking myself for not paying better attention to is a campaign setting, "White Picket Witches".  If you know anything at all about me then honestly it is like this game was custom made for me.  Modern horror with a slight Cinematic bent featuring an unique location with families of witches?  How can I possibly say no?

Here are some sites that I have been able to find that talk a bit about it.
Fate of the Drowning Woods blog is running playtests/demos, and it sounds very interesting.
This lead me to

From here I was able to find the author, Filamena Young and the company she works for, Machine Age Productions.  I was able to talk with Filamena for a bit and she sent me a prelim draft of WPW.
Yeah. It is something I would play in a heartbeat.

I am not 100% clear on all the Fate rules yet.  But this setting of five families on "Moon Island" grabs my attention.  I have waxed on (and on and on) about WitchCraft and Witch Girls Adventures, this is of the same ilk, though it covers completely new ground.  The name is appropriate.  In WitchCraft the world is your stage, in Witch Girls you are at a school.  Here the campaign is your backyard, your office, your school, or neighbor's house.

There is a solid "TV" feel to this and frankly this could easily be a "teen drama" on the CW or a more adult one on ABC, or a lot more adult one on HBO/Showtime.  If this gives you ideas for things you could do, then this could be your new game.

I love the ideas in this game. Even if I never play it in Fate (which I do think would be a crime if I didn't) I would love to try it in WitchCraft, Witch Girls or even Ghosts of Albion.
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