Showing posts with label rpgs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rpgs. Show all posts

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space from Cubicle 7

 I am now coming up on the next wave of Doctor Who RPGs. All from Cubicle 7

Doctor Who RPGs

While there are technically three RPGs, they are all related.

First is the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. This is the one I have talked about here a lot already.

Second is the new Second Edition of the RPG, now just The Doctor Who Roleplaying Game.

And finally, we have Doctors & Daleks, a game based on the previous two, but using the 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons OGC rules.

One thing that strikes me is despite all I have said about this game line over the years I have never really given it a proper full review.  Well I will change that next week.

In the meantime, here are some characters I have stated up for the Doctor Who RPG (1st Edition so far).

I'll spend the rest of May with this system.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Welcome to the NIGHT SHIFT

I have a little project going on, and it would be nice to make a formal introduction to the NIGHT SHIFT Veterans of the Supernatural Wars Role-Playing Game

What is NIGHT SHIFT Veterans of the Supernatural Wars?

NIGHT SHIFT Veterans of the Supernatural Wars is a modern urban fantasy role-playing game with horror roots but with multi-genre elements as well. It is designed to be played the way you want, from light and fast to gritty and complex. It also features of examples of play thanks to our various Night Worlds. So you can be a student in Chicago's only school for Magical Youths and partake in various magic-fueled hijinks, all the way to a post-apocalyptic Earth where the forces of Good and Evil battle it out in the skies above and the streets below. Or to play a supernatural creature that just wants to live and get by in a world full of humans trying to hunt them down.

Play it silly, straight, dangerous or just fun, NIGHT SHIFT can do it.

Wait. What is a Role-Playing Game?

Role-playing games have a LONG history. But the modern role-playing game (RPG) began, roughly, in 1974 with the publication of the Dungeons & Dragons rules.  You can read more about what a role-playing game is in this excerpt from the NIGHT SHIFT core rules book.

NIGHT SHIFT Veterans of the Supernatural Wars is self-contained. Meaning every rule you need to play is found in the covers of the core book. You will need dice (available nearly everywhere now), some paper, some pencils, but most of all some good friends to play with. No computers, no phones, and if your internet goes down, you can still play!

What Can I do With NIGHT SHIFT VSW?

Anything you want! As a multi-genre game NIGHT SHIFT VSW is open to all sorts of situations and ways to play.  Have a favorite TV show, movie, or book series? NIGHT SHIFT VSW with its varying degrees of play difficulty (Cinematic, Normal, and Gritty) allows the players to set the tone of the game.

Players take on the roles of various characters of their own creations. It's the game of Chosen Ones, Survivors, Witches, and Something Weird.  YOU decide what you want to play and how to do it.

NIGHT SHIFT is an urban fantasy, horror, and dark modern supernatural game that uses a brand new system of old-school mechanics inspired by and derived from the original, basic, expert, and advanced versions of the World's Most Famous Role Playing Game. It allows you to mimic all the tropes of just about any film, TV series, or novel you like.

All of the following are possible with NIGHT SHIFT VSW:

  • Cheerleaders that are chosen to slay vampires
  • Sisters imbued with the power of chosen witches
  • Worlds where Fae of all manner battle in the politics of light and dark
  • The great-grandniece of a famous gunslinger inherits the legacy of the demon hunter.
  • A world where two brothers armed with knowledge and weapons hunt the supernatural in their father's name
  • And more!

What is Old-School Play?

Old-school play in RPGs refers to a style of play that emphasizes fewer rules and more freedom to play. This is why NIGHT SHIFT VSW is complete as a single book. Players familiar with new RPGs can still do all the same things they had done before or want to do, now it just depends on how they all want to do it. It is more about how you play with each other rather than how you play with the rules.

But if you want more details here is co-Author and lead designer Jason Vey on what Old-School play means for NIGHT SHIFT VSW over on his blog for Elf Lair Games.

Sounds Great! How Do I Get Started?

Well, start with some friends who all want to play. One person (maybe you!) will be the Game Master or the one that builds the adventures that everyone goes on. They are like the writer, director, and producer of a movie or TV show. As everyone gets more familiar with the rules you switch off Game Master roles so everyone has a chance to build your new world. Unlike watching a movie or reading a book, everyone playing gets to decide what is happening in the world. 

You can certainly buy the NIGHT SHIFT VSW core rules and supplements. But in the meantime here are free resources to get you started right now.

Not to mention all the free NIGHT SHIFT content found on the authors' personal blogs and websites.

If you are a fan of physical books you can get NIGHT SHIFT VSW directly from the publisher or if PDFs are your thing you can buy NIGHT SHIFT VSW from DriveThruRPG.

We hope to see you on the NIGHT SHIFT!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Chivalry & Sorcery: Basic Set and Print on Demand

Chivalry & Sorcery
About a week or so ago, I talked about bringing in some "new" games into my life to substitute for D&D. Here is one of them.

Chivalry & Sorcery

When it comes to RPGs emulating an authentic Medieval experience there are generally only two games that people go to; Pendragon and Chivalry & Sorcery.  One could argue how authentic each of these are, but in general, they are far closer than D&D or anything else on the market. 

Chivalry & Sorcery has been around nearly as long as D&D (1977 and 1974 respectively) and like many gamers my age we saw a lot of ads for it in the pages of Dragon Magazine, especially the Fantasy Games Unlimited 2nd Edition.

Currently, it is in its 5th Edition and is published by Brittannia Game Designs.

I am not going to review it today, but this is a gorgeous book. It is also a huge book at 600 pages.

Chivalry & Sorcery, 5th Edition

I picked mine up from my FLGS a while back for some ideas on various campaigns, but now I am going to try it out on its own instead. 

Brittannia Game Designs recently released the 5th Edition in a Print on Demand format AND a brand new "Basic Game." 

The Basic Game is just about 80 pages and will cost you a whole $2.00.  So well worth it for any D&D refugee.

I recently got my wife into the Showtime series "The Tudors," so maybe I could use that as an "in" for this game. 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

NuTSR Continues its Downward Spiral

NuTSR's Not Star Frontiers
NuTSR's Not Star Frontiers
Honestly, I have been trying to avoid the latest RPG Drama du jour.  Yeah, it gets me hits, but I'd rather get them for my game-related content and not my stance on whatever shit storm is going on.

But some things can't be left unsaid.

So last year I talked a bit about the NuTSR. I wanted to call them NotTSR or !TSR, but NuTSR won out.  

A quick recap they are suing Wizards of the Coast so they (NuTSR) can keep the name they stole, the game they stole (Star Frontiers), and get WotC to remove the content disclaimers on DrivThruRPG. All of which have a snowball's chance in Hell of getting accomplished. All of this is online in places (waves vaguely) and you should have no trouble finding it.

Frankly, I was happy just to wait around and watch WotC/Hasbro wipe them off the face of the gaming world forever. 

That was until the reported Playtest Version of their Not Star Frontiers was leaked.

And man, if you thought FATAL or MYFAROG was bad. The playtest was leaked by Tenkar at his eponymous Tavern and YouTube channel. You can see the rules in his video.

Look, I have NO IDEA if this is a legit set of rules. Many people with solid industry inside knowledge and contacts claim that it is. It is a truly horrifying document. Let's ignore the atrocious grammar and spelling. Let's move past the extremely terrible game design. I mean what I have seen so far screams "fantasy heartbreaker written by high school loner." let's get right into the racist bullshit.

Actually, no I am not going to give them the bandwidth and sully these pages with their madness.  Instead go to the "There's No Place For Hate in Gaming" website and read it all their with the rest of Dave Johnson's hate-spewing nonsense. 

Here is a bit from their Twitter feed (read the whole thread):

That's pretty damning really.

I am not going to try and insult you all by saying shit like "well this matches with things Johnson has posted in the past" or "the style here matches things Justin has written before."  No. Just read this all for yourself.  

Do I trust that Tenkar has good information? I trust that he trusts it. We don't see eye to eye on, well a whole lot really (it's a Chicago vs New York thing), but I do trust him that he is covering his bases. 

Right now Justin et al are in full DARVO mode saying that it is others attacking them and and "photoshopping" the screen-shots.

NuTSR Garbage

Seriously, all NuTSR has to do is issue a statement denying this was their writing, unequivocally denounce it as racist garbage, and pledge that nothing of this sort is in their game or ever will be.

It's what a real publisher would do. It's what a real writer would do.

But to date, they have not that. Nothing at all from Dave Johnson or Justin LaNasa on this. 

This is all developing. So far The Gamer website has picked up on the story, and rumor has it that WotC had an "emergency meeting about it." (that one has yet to be confirmed and I remain skeptical but hopeful.)

Lots of people are covering this and lots of people are talking about it. I am sure we are just at the beginning of all this. So why am I talking about here?

Simple. This sort of behavior needs to be called out.

It is not ok, funny, or edgy to print this shit in 2022. It wasn't right even in 1974, but less so now.  Nazis, racists, sexists, and any sort of bigots need to feel unwelcome in this hobby. More to the point they need feel like outsiders, like uninvited guests that are about to get the boot out the door. There is no room for them here, now, or in the future.

People will bitch and moan with "oh you are just gatekeeping!" No dumb ass. We are keeping hateful rhetoric out of our spaces. If you don't like that then you kindly fuck off and keep fucking off until you are gone.

For anyone that wants to play Star Frontiers, there is a vibrant community out there for it. You can use the original rules or the newer retro-clone.

Star Frontiers

I had this to say about the whole thing:


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Review: Classic (Basic) Traveller

It's May and I want to spend the entire month talking about Sci-Fi RPGs, and most of this month talking about Traveller.   Traveller has a long and storied history in both the RPG world and for me personally. It is the second (or the third, more on that) RPG I ever owned after D&D.  

I say second but my memory is foggy and it could have been Traveller or it could have been Chill.  I think for my horror cred I like to claim it was Chill, but in the early 80s, I was all about Science Fiction.  So really it was most likely to be Traveller.  I picked up the Traveller Book and tried to teach to it to myself, but my groups were very D&D focused and no one wanted to play it.  The groups that did play it were all older than I was and they did not want some "D&D kid" in their "Serious Sci-Fi" groups.  I was able to more traction on Star Frontiers a few years later.  Must have been the TSR bias of the time.  I do wish I still had my original Traveller Book though.   I did manage to score an Original Traveller boxed set of the "Little Black Books" so I guess that is even better.

Mayday, Mayday! This is the Free Trader Beowulf...

Today I am going to review Traveller and start at the very beginning.  There is just no way I could through everything for Traveller.  I'd need more than a month, I'd need a whole new blog, so instead, I was going to going to concentrate on some core products to get people into the game and a few choice ones that have meaning to me. 

I will admit right up front that I am no Traveller expert.  So it is very, very likely I will miss a few a things.  Just let me, and others, know in the comments.   

Ok, as my friend Greg said on Sunday, let's get this party started!

Classic Traveller

For this review, I am going to be referring to my 1977 Game Designers' Workshop edition of the boxed set of Traveller.   I am also joining to be comparing them the PDFs of the Classic Traveller Facsimile Edition from Game Designers' Workshop / Far Future Enterprises on DriveThruRPG. 

Side Note:  Far Future Enterprises bought the rights to various GDW games a while back and published this pdf as far back as 2001.  They own the rights to republish Traveller, 2300 AD, Twilight: 2000, and Dark Conspiracy. They also work with Mongoose and other publishers of Traveller material.  But more on that in future posts.  Suffice to say that from my point of view they have been carrying the torch of Traveller high since 2000.  Among other things they publish a full CD-ROM of Traveller material that I would love to grab someday. 

The Boxed Set

The Traveller Boxed Set from GDW was released in 1977.  GDW was located in Normal, IL which is along what I learned was a trail the lead from Lake Geneva, WI, and Chicago, IL all the way down to the University of Illinois in Urbana, IL, Illinois State in Normal, IL down to Southern Illinois Univerity in Carbondale, IL.  Tim Kask was an SIU grad, GDW was in Normal, Mayfair would later be founded in Skokie just outside of Chicago, and Judges Guild was founded in Decatur, IL.  I basically grew up surrounded by the growing Table Top RPG scene. 

Traveller Boxed Set

Much like Dungeons & Dragons of the time, Traveller came in a digest-sized box with three books.  Instead of there being "3 Little Brown Books" there are "3 Little Black Books."   Also, like D&D future printings would combine these books though in different ways. 

PDF Note: The Classic Traveller Facsimile Edition also includes a preface for the whole set of books and gives a brief history of their publications.  This is a great value-add for the PDF.  According to it what I am reviewing today is "Basic Traveller" and published in 1981.  Basic Revised was published in 1981 and the Traveller Book (my first purchase) was in 1982.  

Book 1: Characters and Combat

This is the character generation book and maybe one of the most famous bit of RPG lore ever.  Yes. In Traveller you can die in Character creation!  

You haven't lived until you die in character creation

I should also point out that very, very often in my conversations with people over the years that Character Creation for Travelller was very much in line with what we would call "Session 0" today.  Everyone worked on their character, developed a back story (yes in 1977) and then got together.  Even the starting character example is a 42-year-old with a pension (and a cutlass it seems). Trust me, at 42 I already had backstory (and a wife, kids, a mortgage, bills...)

Character creation is largely a random affair, but not wholly so. There are choices to be made along the way.  How a character acquires skills and expertise largely depends on which service they were in and how they got there.  You can enlist or you can be drafted. At this point, all characters were assumed to have served in some form of the service. Citizens don't mortgage their pension on a beat second-hand starship to go galavanting across known space. 

As you work through character creation you can go for a few terms of service. This gives you more skill, more experience, more credits, and makes you older.  As in real life, there are benefits and detriments to age.  

Skills are detailed next.  This is going to come up again and again, but let's talk about it here first. The Computers of Traveller are the computers of 1977.  Not very advanced and require special expertise to use them.  Today of course I am writing this post in one window, monitoring email and chat in another, watching the weather in another, and reading the PDF in yet another.  I have dozens of active programs running that I am paying attention to and who knows how many more running in the background.  I am not going to apply 21st-century biases though to these rules.  Let's just leave them as-is for now and see how future versions of this game treat it.   For me I am going to assume there are computers (with a lower case c) that do all the work we think of today and anyone can use and then there are specialized Computers (with an upper case C) that do specialized work, like today's supercomputers.  

Side Note: The best super-computer of 1977 was the 80mhz, 64 bit Cray-1. It cost $8M and was capable of 160 MFLOPS. For comparison, my three-year-old smartphone runs at 130ghz and is capable of 658 GFLOPS. Newer phones are more than double that. 4000x's the power at 1/10,000th of the cost. And I can put it into my pocket. 

After your terms of service are figured out along with your skills then comes the time to learn combat.  Combat always gets more ink than say hacking a computer since there are so many things going on and a failure usually means death.  Also, as an aside, there are a lot of bladed weapons in Traveller. I attribute this to two different elements. The first and obvious is Star Wars, though Traveller obviously draws more from Dune than Star Wars which only came out in May of 77.  The other and likely more important source is D&D.  For the obvious reasons.  The end effect is that officers in Traveller often carry swords in my mind. 

Combat gives us our basic roll for the game and the introduction of the Traveller basic mechanic. The PDF is a little clearer on this than my print book. Roll 2d6 and beat a roll of 8.  This is modified by various skills and experiences.  

Wounds affect the character's Strength, Dexterity, and Endurance. The more wounds you get, the worse those stats are.  D&D would not do this in earnest until 4th Edition. 

PDF Notes:  My copy is dedicated "To Mary Beth" and the PDF (and I think the Traveller Book) are dedicated "To Darlene."  There are other minor differences as well. The PDF for example has a "Personal Data and History" aka a Character Sheet on page 28 (36 for the PDF). 

Traveller Book vs. PDF

Book 2: Starships

This is what makes Traveller, well, Traveller. There are two types of travel dealt with here, Interplanetary (worlds within the same star system) and Interstellar (different star systems). Also if you are afraid of math this book is going to give you a bad day.   

The main focus of this book in my mind is buying a starship and keeping it running.  Starships are expensive and in Traveller, those expenses are more keenly felt than say keeping up a castle in D&D.  If your castle runs out of food you can leave to go buy some. In a starship, in space, your options are more limited.  In space, no one can hear your stomach grumble. 

I have no idea if the economies of Traveller work. I mean is 2 tons of fuel really worth the year's salary of a gunner?  No idea. I am going to handwave that and say it works.

There is also a lot on Starship construction here too. Before I could get anyone to play I would write up sheets of starships and their costs based on what I thought was cool.  Kinda wish I had a couple of those. The only one I can remember was the FTL Lucifer.  It was designed to be small, but fast.  It would later make it's way into Star Frontiers, but that is another tale.

We get some details on starship combat and some basic world data.

Book 2 also covers experience and various drugs.  I get the feeling these were put here to pad out Book 2 so all three books were the same size; 44 pages. 

PDF Notes: The PDF has more art, in particular how to orbit a planet and the necessary equations made more clear.  Like Book 1 for Characters, this volume has sheets for ships. The PDF also adds a Trade and Commerce section.

Book 3: Worlds and Adventures

This book covers worlds.  And if there was one thing I did more than creating starships that never traveled to other worlds, it was to create worlds that starships would never travel to.  World creation was fun.  

This book also covers various personal equipment and various encounter types.

Note at this point there are no aliens, no Imperiums, and really nothing other than the most basic adventuring outline.  Very much like OD&D in that respect.  I like the psionic system in Traveller and maybe I should explore the differences between it and the one in Eldritch Wizardry for D&D

The last part of this book covers Psionics. Maybe one of the reasons I like to draw a pretty hard line between Magic and Psionics is that one is for Fantasy (and D&D) and the other is for Sci-Fi (and Traveller).

PDF Notes: The PDF again has more art (vehicles) as well as hex maps for working out star systems.

Final Notes

How does one review a classic like Traveller?  How does one compare an RPG from 1977 to the standards of 2022?  It's not easy under normal circumstances, but with Traveller it is easier.  Why?  Because so much of this game was ahead of its time you could brush it off, get some d6s and play it out of the box as is today.  More so than OD&D is I think.

But both games are classics, no, Classics. With that capital C. It is no wonder that now, 45 years later, Traveller is still the goto science-fiction game.

Classic RPGS

As I move through the editions and versions I'll also talk about all the other materials that have been used with Traveller (board games for example) and how these "3LBBs" expanded to cover an entire universe. 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Boxing Day: Magic Realm

Magic Realm
After many years I finally treated myself to a game I have wanted for years.  Avalon Hill's "Magic Realm."

The game looks like a board game, but there are a lot of RPG elements as well.  And the game is notoriously difficult to learn. 

I have no experience with this game. At all. But I just knew I wanted it.   So instead of a review here are some other reviews.

So it looks like I have some learning ahead of me!

I also have no idea if my game is complete or not. I like what I have seen so far.

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Friday, November 12, 2021

Kickstart Your Weekend: Horror in Many Forms!

I have some great-looking Kickstarters for your consideration going into the weekend.  So's let get at it!

SURVIVE THIS!! Dark Places & Demogorgons RPG Hardcover

SURVIVE THIS!! Dark Places & Demogorgons RPG Hardcover

This is not for a new book but rather a hardcover option for the fantastic Dark Places & Demogorgons RPG. For this the original red hardcover art from the first Kickstart is available and the blue softcover art in hardcover format.

I have the blue in softcover and the red in hardcover, so I have to admit that the blue hardcover is very, very tempting. 

Moonlight on Roseville Beach

Moonlight on Roseville Beach

Now this "Queer Game of Disco & Cosmic Horror" has my attention.  I have known the designer, Richard Ruane, for many, many years. We have worked together in our days jobs at various companies for a while. He does great work.  He was one of the developers for White Wolf and worked a lot on their Mummy line. 

From the Kickstarter:

Moonlight on Roseville Beach: A Queer Game of Disco & Cosmic Horror is a tabletop roleplaying game that brings together the supernatural investigations and monster hunting of the weird fiction tales of the 20s and 30s from pulp magazines like Weird Tales with the queer romance and adventure of the 50s, 60s, and 70s novelists like Ann Bannon and Joseph Hansen.

I would like to say "I was there" when Richard came up with this idea.  He was talking a lot about Ann Bannon online so I asked about her stories.  As per our normal conversations, the topic went to RPGs.  

In any case, I backed this one and threw in some extra cash so copies can be donated. 

Red Shoes: An Urban Fantasy Novel

Red Shoes: An Urban Fantasy Novel

This is not a game, but a new book Satyros Phil Brucato one of the lead designers (or really THE designer) of White Wolf's Mage. 

From the Indiegogo page.

After a friend’s mysterious death, Gen├ęt Shilling delves into the world of Red Shoes, a drug whose effects alter time, space, and form. That journey challenges all she thought she knew about herself and reveals how strange her world truly is.

Propelled by wide-eyed attitude and inspired by its author’s experiences with music, dance and metaphysical subcultures, Red Shoes presents an urban fantasy tale set in the Appalachian town of Riverhaven, where magic hides just out of sight.

Time warps. Modern bards. Sexual confusion. Grief and revenge.  

A dance begins.

The dance of Red Shoes.

It sounds fantastic. 

LYLITH & MARA Comic Book

LYLITH & MARA Comic Book

Now this is right up my alley!  

From the Kickstarter:

“LYLITH & MARA” are twin sisters and the original Vampire and Succubus from who all other vampire races were evolved from. Born and raised in “The Dark”, their destiny seemed clear cut until on the age of their “becoming” when something within them stirs. A conflict between power and desires struggles with a morality of a soul they didn’t realized existed.

This also looks like a lot of fun.  Sure some of the cover art is cheesy, but I think it is cheesy, or cheese cakey, on purpose. So that is fine.

It looks like something that would work well with my Mara witch book.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

She Kills Monsters or "Is it 1982 again?"

It is not often that I bring my Atheism into my posts over here.  I mean in D&D my preferred classes to play are clerics, druids, paladins, and witches; all pretty much the exact opposite of my own beliefs (or lack thereof).   So my blog reading is fairly split between RPG blogs and Science and Atheism blogs. 

It's nice when they combine. 

Case in point with the latest "scandal" with the play "She Kills Monsters."

She Kills Monsters

Briefly, the play, written by award-winning Qui Nguyen,  centers around a recently orphaned girl, Agnes, who wants to learn more about her younger sister Tilly by playing the D&D adventure Tilly had written.  In the process, she learns more about her sister and Tilly's struggles with being bullied for being gay.  The play happens both in the real world of Agnes and the game world where Tilly was Tillius the Paladin.  People from the real world are also represented in the game world. For example, Tilly's girlfriend Elizabeth "Lili" becomes "Lilith" in the game. Cheerleaders are Succubi, and so on.

She Kills Monsters

This in and of itself is worth talking about.  A well-received play featuring how a young woman comes to know her late sister a little more and her friends from playing Dungeons & Dragons. It is sweet and actually wholesome.

So, of course, some religious asshole is going to have a problem with it.

Enter said asshole, Jeff Lyle, and his cult at Good News Gathering

I found out about his fuckery from Hemant Mehta over at The Friendly Atheist. I guess for "God" reasons, Jeff Lyle wanted the play canceled. Because that is what religion does.  And he succeeded.  Sot of.

Here is a local news report discussing it

It is 2021. Why are LGBT issues still being censored?  Why are Dungeons & Dragons-themed media still being attacked by the right-wing members of the religious community?  

When I say "politics" are an important facet of my gaming THIS is what I mean.  The optics here are...well EXACTLY what we have been seeing forever.  Some white, hetero male sees something HE doesn't like, especially since it is a.) female focused, b.) has magic /occultism/demons involved, and SHOCK c.) might have a LGBT character in it HE decides that NO ONE ELSE can see it either.

That's original fucking cancel culture right there.  

But, just like all great D&D games, when our hero is down the party comes in to save the day!

In this case, the "party" is a Go Fund Me page set up to take the play off-campus so they can still perform it.   As of this writing, it has raised $13,762 of its original $5,000 goal! That is great!

So yeah. If you have a couple of bucks and want to send the message that this is not the Dark Ages, nor the 17th Century nor even 1982 anymore, then give it to these kids.

The Go Fund Me is here:

Friday, August 21, 2020

Kickstart Your Weekend and Interview: Christopher Grey and the Great American Witch

Today I am talking with Christopher Grey, designer of The Great American Novel and The Great American Witch (Games) and author of Goddamn F*cking Dragons, Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon. (Novels)

Christopher is currently coming to the end of his latest Kickstarter for The Great American Witch.

Tim Brannan/The Other Side: Let’s start at the beginning, who are you and what do you do?
Christopher Grey: I’m Christopher Grey and I’m a game designer and novelist. I created The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth, an ENnie-nominated PBTA game about an evil children’s theme park, and The Great American Novel RPG, which was recently nominated for the Indie Groundbreaker Award.

TB: How did you get into gaming?
CG: It’s hard to pinpoint a starting place, I feel like I’ve always been gaming. When I was eight I was making board games on my dad’s file folders. My first RPG design happened somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 or 16. In the early days I played AD&D 2e, then graduated to Rifts, then hobbled over to World of Darkness. I think it’s fair to say I’ve been playing some sort of RPG for at least thirty years.

TB: What are some of your favorite games? Why?
CG: It’s so hard to choose! And it changes fairly regularly. I basically love anything Free League puts out and their latest game Vaesen I think is a masterpiece. The game system is slick and easy and the setting/content is perfection. But they get lots of love, so I’d like to point out some of my favorite indy games. I’m a big fan of Monkeyfun Studios and they are close friends--Bedlam Hall is still on my list of all-time favorite games. I mean you basically get to play Downton Abbey meets The Addams Family. I think Kimi Hughes’ Decuma is a huge innovation in gaming and I shamelessly robbed her approach for a game concept of my own. I’m a big fan of world-building games like Dialect and Microscope. Ten Candles is also top of my list. Oh! And Icarus… that kind of lands in the world-building category. For the Queen changed my understanding of game design. Really loving Lighthearted by Kurt and Kate Potts. I should probably stop. I love so many games.

TB: Very cool! Let’s get into what is important! What is The Great American Witch?
CG: The Great American Witch is an RPG where you get to play in the secret world of witches as they protect humanity from supernatural threats and secret societies. It was built on The Great American Novel chassis so it is story and character-focused. It is designed for campaign play of the kind you see from World of Darkness games.

TB: What sorts of games do you see others playing with these rules?
CG: The rules are highly tuned into the Great American Witch setting and experience. I think folks will have a tough time playing something other than powerful secret witches with the ruleset. However, it was adapted from a generic rule system that has a lot of flexibility. I do intend to expand this rule set into other categories of the GAW fictional universe. So stay tuned on that!

TB: How does it relate to your earlier game, the Great American Novel, and can the two be used together?
CG: Great American Witch adapted the GAN rule-set heavily in order to create an experience unique to it. They aren’t really compatible as they are working toward different things. GAN is designed for one-shots or short campaigns of a literary nature (the sorts of slow-moving narratives you find in classic literature), whereas GAW is designed for extended play that creates cinematic experiences (like the dramatic tension you find from your favorite streaming shows). However, if you’ve played GAN you’ll find a familiar approach to game design--one that focuses on characters and motivations, not on attack rolls or skills.

TB: Of course while the title is clearly an homage to your earlier game, I have to ask are you a Rob Zombie fan? And was the title inspired by his “American Witch”?
CG: I almost didn’t go that direction in order to differentiate it from American Witch. I do like Rob Zombie, but this experience is more like American Horror Story: Coven, the Craft, or True Blood. Ultimately I couldn’t resist calling back GAN since that is the primary engine running it. Plus, it has a nice ring to it.

TB: I loved American Horror Story: Coven and The Craft! What are your future plans for this game?
CG: Oh so much. I intend to work in this system and setting for quite some time. I’ve already started supplements for GAW that will include more play options (such as covens and crafts) as well as additional settings within the same world. I’m also working on other types of games for the setting, such as a story-prompt card game that is already in the editing phase. Eventually, I will expand to other supernatural groups, like the Illuminati, vampires, werewolves, etc. Frankly, I’ll be doing this for a while.

TB: Nice. That sounds great. And for me and my audience here. Who is your favorite wizard, witch, or magic-user?
CG: Considering the amazing examples of magic-users throughout recorded history, this is a hard one. Ultimately, I’d have to say Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service. I just absolutely love that movie and character.

TB: I adore Kiki! She is fantastic. Finally, where can we find you on the internet?
CG: Best place is my site where I keep all my stuff and links to my social channels.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

5 x 5: End of the Year Top Fives. RPGs

And finally my Top 5 RPGs of all time.

Dungeons & Dragons

CJ Carella’s WitchCraft


Ghosts of Albion

Blue Rose

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

What Everyone* Is Getting Wrong about "Consent in Gaming"

This past week Monte Cook Games released their Consent in Gaming free PDF. expected there is a lot of whining and complaining from the expected crowd.  Lots. Like somehow this is a personal affront to them.

Now I say Everyone* up there, but really most comments I have read get what this guide is trying to do and be.  So the vast majority get it.  I have tried to spend the last week or so reading everything I can that has been posted online.  I certainly have not read everything, but I am pretty happy with the sampling I have read.

AND nothing in this is new. I talked about social contracts back in 2015. They have been going on for longer than that.  This is just one type of codified social contract / social agreement.

On Wikipedia, we have something called "Assume Good Faith."   The same needs to be used when using this.  Assume the player on the other side of the table is presenting their concerns in good faith.  If something bothers them then it bothers them. 

At the risk of these being straw-man arguments, I do want to address the most common types of comments I have seen online (FB, Twitter, YouTube).  By lumping them together I do make my own error of over-generalization, but I have already spent a lot of time on this post (I started it last week) and more time and text will not make my points any clearer.

But I am Only Gaming With People I Really know.
Great!.  Guess what, you probably don't need this. You likely don't.  You have self-selected yourself out.   Don't worry about downloading it.

But what about...
Whataboutism is a weak argument all the time. 
Sure ANY rule in ANY book from ANY game can have a "What about..." This is not a reasonable argument.  Sure though maybe some hypothetical reasons could come up, but isn't that what this document is supposed to help with? 

I have SO many reasons why people will use this to "fuck with a game" but guess what? That can happen with ANYTHING.  Your ability to pull a hypothetical situation out of your ass is not an argument against this.

Ok. But What About *MY* Fun?
Again, if you can't give an example without starting it with "What About" don't even try.
Also, why is YOUR fun greater than everyone's total fun? OR what is your fun greater than someone else's personal pain?

This is SJW Virtue Signalling!
Since when does not being an asshole mean you are an SJW? Besides calling someone an SJW and expecting it somehow mean an insult is signaling to your own in-crowd and like-minded people.

This is some sort of Millenial Bullshit!
The authors, Sean K. Reynolds and Shanna Germaine, are in their mid to late 40s.  Monte Cook, of Monte Cook games who publishes this, is also in his mid to late 40s.   All have several decades of game design and development with some of the biggest publishers in the world and the awards to match.  They are all solidly Generation-X.

This is Censorship!
Far from it. This actually frees you to do the things you and your players agree with.

But What About Horror movies/TV Shows?
Yeah, and those things have warnings and people self-select themselves out of them.  I love horror movies, my wife hates them. I don't take her to see them no matter how much we love each other. Nor do I expose her to them without warning her. She doesn't "stop the movie" because she scared, she just doesn't go. 
This document helps people make those choices.

What the %@&! are "Sensitivity Readers"?
I took that as basically "Educational Consultants." Both seem qualified to that. Darcy Ross is getting her (or has) Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (something I don't see on the CVs of the critics) and I don't know much about Jessica Meier save that she works in RPGS and has a black belt in taekwondo. 

It's *My* Game.
No. It isn't. It stopped being *your* game the second other people sat at the table.  If you want a situation where characters go through your made-up world with no agency consider becoming a novelist instead.

This is Maoist/Communist/Socialist!
Hmm. So I guess these people never actually studied those things in school.

We have always handled this on our own.
Great. If your track record is objectively, rather than subjectively, good.  If not then this is just another tool to help.

But Psychological Studies Say...
Ah, more whataboutism.   Ok I have read those studies. I have WRITTEN those studies. They are good, BUT please keep in mind WHO were the subjects back then.  Those subjects would not be the ones this document is aimed at. 

That Form
So the fuck what?  I recall starting a game back in college in the late 80s where I went over the potential issues in the game (AD&D Ravenloft) that included murder, the threat of sexual violence and implied child murder (I mean where do you think I used my Utburds?).  You know what people had the most issue with? The child murders of course.

I am reminded of one of my more intense and adult WitchCraft RPG games, my Vacation in Vancouver game. This game dealt with themes of sex, bdsm, sexual slavery, actual fucking evil (demons) and death.  Would this document have helped this game?  Maybe.  I can say this with 100% certainty; this Consent in Gaming document would not have had much change to my game.  We all had talked beforehand about what was and what was not allowed in the game.  I was pretty upfront about the content and the people signing on agreed to this.  There were some intense moments AND at the time I was coming off a long bout of very deep depression, so lots of things bothered me then.
There were things the players did not want.  For example one wanted more BDSM, another player though had issues with this due to her personal history.  Oh she was fine with other violence, but not this.  What did I do?  Did  I kick the player out?

No. Because I am a fucking adult. I worked around it.

I had to get MORE creative, not less creative.
There were a couple times when the game was paused when things got fairly intense.  We then went back to figure out where to take it next.  Well, that was EASY REALLY.  We moved the timeline a few hours ahead past the situation.  That worked FOR US. The same thing may or may or not have worked for other groups.  That is where this document would have worked in those groups. 

Don't tell me it will damage games.  Maybe it will damage YOUR game.  Maybe YOU need to become more creative.

When my kids run games in my house my wife and I cook for them. (yeah full diners each session)
We DON'T make anything with peanuts in it.  Why?  One of the players has a peanut allergy, a pretty bad one.  Do we tell them (that is their pronoun, go suck it if you don't like it) "sorry, you will have nothing to eat for the next four hours!" or "you self-selected into this game now eat the peanut chicken or you can leave!"

No. Because we are not dicks.  We make something else. We do something else.

This is the same thing. Why is that so hard to get?

So here is a bit of advice to the crowd that is so quick to dish out the exact same advice.
If you don't like it or don't want to use it, then don't.
It's really that damn simple.  I have never seen sadly I have seen way too much immature overreacting about this.

It's not going to retroactively change your games. It won't do a damn thing to the 40+-year-old game you run with your buddies.  Nothing.

So be the intelligent player/gamer you say you are.  If you don't want this, then don't use it.

But those that want to use should have access to it. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Plenty

Today's topic is Plenty.

We live in a new Golden Age of Plenty in RPGS.

I was thinking about what is commonly thought of as the Golden Age; the Early 80s.  Sure there was a lot going on and everything was bright and new and the vistas seemed endless.

But I also remember a time when finding some books was difficult and unless you were in the know then you not only didn't have access to the books, you didn't even know they existed.   Plus lots of news of new games, books or whatever was regional.

I lived near the pipeline between Chicago and Carbondale (two places I would later live in) that had a steady stream of material partially thanks due to Tim Kask and his connections at Southern Illinois University (SIU, go Salukis!).  So I came to later learn that even though I lived in a highly religious small town, we had some good access to D&D products.  With Mayfair in the Chicago burbs and the University of Illinois all the North, things were not too bad.

BUT there was still a lot of stuff I never saw.  I understand there was a vibrant scene in California and other places that produced completely different material.  Material that the local took for granted.

Today.  Today things are different. We have the Internet and easy access to several thousands of books of gaming material.

Blogs and boards produce a Dragon's magazine worth of material every week, if not every day.
Sure some of you might claim there is a lot of noise and useless information.  Well, guess what? That has always been true.

There are so many good games out now.  Yesterday I talked about One game, but today I am talking about all of them.  We don't have to choose one game for forever and forever.

It's a Golden Age and we should enjoy it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Your Time is Gonna Come: More Character Life (and Death) Span Development

Working on a project (more on that in a couple of days) and I came across my original post on Character Life Span Development.

The idea is that I would run a game, or rather a mega-game where the different parts of a character's life would be handled by different games.   My game choices have changed since that first post, but the ideas have not.

My witch Larina at various ages
For Pre-Teen and Teen, I want to use Dark Places & Demogorgons.  I have spilled a lot of virtual ink on DP&D, so you can read all of that here.  I also happen to think it is a great game and really grabs what I want to do.  The question remains is how well will it mix with something like Little Fears for the ages before?

I still want Unisystem for adult years and maybe one of the Worlds of Darkness games for later adulthood.  But it is the afterlife that has me interested now.  Or maybe even the before life.

Elizabeth Chaipraditkul writes a good game.  Her writing and style is quite evocative and I can't help be pulled into her games.  Her latest, Afterlife: Wandering Souls is in it's last few days of Kickstarter and it looks like it will be great.

She does have a Quick Start of it out now, and it is giving me ideas.  Actually, it is making me want to use it in many of my games

How about this.  I am going to have my group (hypothetical at this point since all my groups are really busy with our current games) make some basic character concepts that will work in any age or game.  Well, any age or game that magic is real. 

Run them through a D&D adventure where everyone dies. Pick up the next game with Afterlife: Wandering Souls.  These would be the now dead characters that no longer remember who they were.

Play through a couple of games of Afterlife till they are reincarnated into the next games.

So maybe my Life-Death-Rebirth character development can be something like this:

D&D ­čá║ After Life ­čá║ Little Fears ­čá║ Dark Places & Demogorgons ­čá║ Unisystem/WitchCraft ­čá║ Mage ­čá║ Kult

Seven games, figure two "Adventrures" per game, for 14 games. 

I think the lynchpin of this will be whatever the characters (and the players) discover about themselves in Afterlife. The logical endpoint then for me at least is Kult.

I could also do a "Past Lives" or "Alternate Lives" development with very different kinds of worlds too. Maybe something like Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion.
I did something like this back in 2010 when I was running parallel Pathfinder and D&D 4 games with the same characters.   If that is the case I would want to throw in some Ghosts of Albion, Call of Cthulhu and maybe even some Exalted.

I have already done this with many characters including Willow and Tara. It would take a lot of prep and planning and players willing to work out some details ahead of time, but it could be very rewarding. 

Of course, this idea is ambitious, so I might try out little pieces of it in other games and see how it works.   I have used Basic D&D as a "flashback" for one of my D&D 5 games, so I know the idea has merit.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 30

Day 30: If you were in charge of the TTRPG Industry what would you change?


First off I think it is a misconception that there is a single RPG industry.  There are many.  The OSR crowd doesn't follow the Storygamers.  The DIY and Indie gamers try to avoid the big publishers and everyone is off doing their own thing.

This doesn't even take in consideration the related markets and products like Actual Play podcast/videos or even something as simple as selling dice.

I don't think I would change it, to be honest.

There are things I would like though.

More Market Data
Seriously how have we gone this long and not even know who we are selling too?  I know companies have their own, but a lot of it is still guesswork.

People Need to Be Better to Each Other
Look we are all here to have fun really.  So let people have fun.  Don't like their game? Fine. Don't play it.  But maybe you are missing out on something.  That guy over there is being a dick?  Ok, call him on it.  Find ways to get him to stop. 

Look not everyone is going to like everything and RPGs have boomed since 1974.  The average player...doesn't exist.  There are so many people in this hobby with so many different points of view.  I think this 30 Day Challenge has shown that.

I think I would like to have more Cons closer to me.  Yeah I know I am spoiled, but still, you asked and I answered.

I hope you all had as much fun as me with this!
Thank you Kira Magrann for getting this going.

Monday, April 29, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 29

Day 29: Exciting 2019 RPG Trends?

Ha! I'll be the last to know!

Honestly, I got nothin'.

My to be reviewed pile is about 2000 items deep (that is not a joke or hyperbole).

I am just not writing stuff for the "new" D&D 5 and it is already 5 years old.

So yeah, I don't keep up with the trends really.

Go back to day 21 and see what I said there.  True here too. I just don't have the time in the day to do it all.