Wednesday, September 18, 2019

PunkApocalyptic Quickstart

The awesome Robert Schwalb is running a Kickstarter for his newest RPG, PunkApocalyptic. Yeah, I mentioned it here.

He's provided an excellent 53-page Quickstart to allow to you to try out the setting and rules as a Pay What You Want product on DriveThruRPG.

The first 47-pages covers character creation, the rules, gear, social conflict, combat, and a quick overview of the setting. 

The rest of the document is a starting adventure. 

If you know how to play Shadow of the Demon Lord then the only real change is having eight Attributes instead of four Attributes.

If you are new to the system this brings you up to speed. Character creation is fast enough that you could make a character up for each member of your group and be up and playing in less than an hour.

One thing to know about Rob is that he has always delivered his projects in a very timely fashion and he communicates with the Backers regularly.

I hope you back this project, it's close to funding and I'm hoping to get lots of additional stuff :)

A Deadlands Announcement

Earlier today, Pinnacle Entertainment Group, released the news that in the new edition of Deadlands the Confederate States of America would fall in 1871, changing the existing history where the CSA was alive and a political power in Reckoners' North America.

PEG's founder, Shane Hensley, also released a statement explaining why he made the decision.

First, it's a setting for a game, since I have both Classic and Savage Worlds editions already, if I want I can ignore it or change it even further (one poster mentioned Great Britain being in charge of the former CSA).

Second, I'm uncomfortable with changing things that were never intended to harm anyone. I worry that these types of decisions will lead to ones with a greater impact for far more people. I don't want to celebrate the Confederacy, but I don't want to forget about it either. We place little enough importance on history already, scrubbing it to make it more palatable, to me, is the wrong answer. Throughout the history of the U.S.A. we have faced aggressive political discord and as we stand in the middle of a very tense culture war, I'd like us all to remember that brother literally fighting brother happened and we are still feeling it's affects in the 21st century. 

In the end, Shane has every right to make the game fit his ideals, but because we live in an era of virtual activism (through shaming, doxxing, and bullying no less) I'm going to question his motivation and decide wether I want to stick with the products I own or crowdfund the revised setting when it's put on Kickstarter. I don't honestly see myself backing it because I feel "cancel culture" is growing far too dangerous and it makes me very uncomfortable.

I'm just one customer and Shane and PEG probably have plenty more moving forward.  I wish them luck, but I won't be supporting them further.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Back This: PunkApocalyptic the RPG from Schwalb Entertainment

Robert Schwalb, the mad genius who created Shadow of the Demon Lord (and has worked on tons of other products including Wizards of the Coast's DnD 4e and DnD 5e) has launched a new Kickstarter.

The PunkApocalyptic RPG is set in the world of the PunkApocalyptic Miniature Game from Bad Roll Games and uses a modified version of the SotDL engine.  There's a QuickStart here.

I cannot recommend this product enough. I playtested it and Rob has always delivered the goods BEFORE the deadline. Additionally, with the usual amount of stretch goals, you get a ton of extra items to sweeten an already good deal.

OpenQuest: Stagsqatch

In upper Michigan, near the town of Clio, a horrid monster prowls the forests. Local lores says it's a Native American shaman who was corrupted by dealing with spirits that served the Great Old Ones. Several tribes from the area speak of Keewoenotay, the Traitor. The creature is hairy like the Sasquatch, but has antlers and the skull visage of a stag with six glowing red eyes.

STR 5D6+12 (29) 
DEX 2D6+6 (12) 
CON 3D6+6 (16) 
SIZ 3D6+6 (16) 
INT 3D6 (11) 
POW 3D6 (11) 
CHA 1D6 (4)

Hit Points 16
Major Wound 8
Damage Modifier +1D6Movement Rate 20m
Armour Tough hide (AP 3) 

Plunder Factor 1

Dodge 40%, Persistence 30%, Resilience 30% 

Nature Lore 50%
Athletics 60%

Perception 45%
Unarmed Combat 60%
Antlers (1D6+1D6)

Fist (1d4+1d6)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Monte Cook Game's Consent In Gaming

Today Monte Cook Games released a free product called Consent In Gaming, you can download it for free on their site or on DriveThruRPG. It's thirteen pages long and has a checklist at the end.

My group and I don't need this and I'm really glad for that. We hang out, we laugh, we blow off steam, and we roll dice for three to four hours. Our group is mature enough to talk about stuff before it becomes an issue. I'm really lucky to play with them. There is no one in the group that is afraid of communicating their preferences or explosive in their reactions. If there is a problem (very rarely) it's tackled openly and solved. We all respect each other. 

Having said that, I'm not going to tell you how to play your game, just like I'm not going to react positively to being told how to play at our table. That's my personal opinion.

On a purely personal level this checklist is a solution looking for a problem and thirteen pages is ridiculous to me. And I suspect that MCG is reaching out to a market section that has both attacked and supported them in the past. Maybe that market is bigger than I suspect, but MCG succeeds on crowdsourcing and that is a very different fish to traditionally distributed RPGs. Yes, their products are distributed, but like Paizo they have maximized their profit by working directly with the bulk of their customer base, meaning they extract a far greater mark up to a dedicated group and can be smaller than typically required for a successful product line. Unfortunately, this eventually bit Hero Games in the behind and basically sunk their company to a part-time endeavor, at best.

However, as a professional who coordinates and plans in-store gaming at two locations, I'm studying this product to see if it could be a tool to communicate what I will and will not tolerate from new RPG groups in my stores. The reason for this is that we had an issue, several years ago, with a NPC in a game that was a pedophile while there was a mom and her 10-year old son at the table. Additionally, in the same group, there was a couple that talked about tentacle porn way too much. They were cool to move the game out of the store when I explained that those two things were not working and might even still be playing together. In fact, I hope they are, they were good people who just were comfortable with things I wasn't in my store.

I want as many people as possible to play RPGs in the hobby and my store. I'd like people from all walks of life, age groups, and backgrounds to play RPGs. The reality is that RPGs are far more accessible than they were even three years ago and are now even kind of cool.

There are many new players trying RPGs with expectations of replicating Critical Role, which for most groups will be a let down on some level if they don't realize that a group of longtime friends who are voice actors is tough thing to replicate.

What I do worry about is scaring people off by showing them the checklist. I think RPGs are a great hobby and can even be cathartic for those facing various challenges, but I also think there can be a fear of revealing too much of yourself to near strangers. Yes, it is "make believe" with rules, it can be hard for adults to embrace something that we may have been told is immature. For many adults, daydreaming and pursuing those dreams are often criticized.

I will freely admit I have been in and a part of some toxic groups. It took me two decades to realize that no gaming is better than bad gaming AND that I am at least 50% of any conflict that I am in. Everyone has their own journey and if they are in my stores, I owe it to them to provide the best community I can. Obviously, not every group is the right fit for my store and that is okay. I need a group in my store to be open to anyone who walks in the door. And this checklist offer a resource to help communicate my expectations of those playing in my store.

I guess if I went to more conventions, I can see this helping some people choose a game. I'm lucky that in all the Gen Con and Origins events that I've played, I've never had situations that caused me stress. Additionally, when I read about all of the alleged abuse at gaming and comic cons I was shocked. I've been a vendor at countless comic shows and never had any of the interactions that have been alleged. However, I don't socialize on these trips. We are there to make money, so we come in and set up, work the day, grab a meal, and then get some sleep. Most of my interactions are with a table between me and the crowd.

To be honest, in a perfect world I'd just scoff at this checklist and ignore it completely. But not everyone is comfortable confronting issues that disturb them. I've encountered many bullies in this hobby and I've been a bully in my much younger days, I'm sad to admit. RPGs, in my opinion, attract people who can be socially immature and/or vulnerable. And again, in my experience, that creates some weird social dynamics where those that have been bullied end up bullying others in their RPG group because they find that they can easily prey on those who are more vulnerable than they are. And I've witnessed everyone involved not willing stand up for themselves because they don't have a lot of friends and can't bear to think about losing some. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Review: Talisman Adventures Fantasy RPG Playtest Guide

I've always enjoyed the Talisman board game and I was excited to discover that Pegasus Spiele had licensed it from Games Workshop to create the playtest guide for their upcoming Talisman Adventures Fantasy Role Playing Game.

Full disclosure: I received a free PDF for the playtest guide for review purposes.

Talisman Adventures playtest guide is 82 pages and full color. It opens with a history of the Realm and a glossary to ease you into the setting.

Creating a Character follows and starts with the six Ancestries of the Realm. They are Human, Dwarf, Elf, Ghoul, Sprite, and Troll. I was really glad to see three uncommon starting Ancestries. The Ghoul can create an undead, the Sprite can speak to plants and trees, and the Troll can hear the voices of the stones and things, yes things, that dwell below them. Each Ancestry gives a choice of three backgrounds (that are rolled on 1d6), a cap to Aspects (they are Strength and Craft and each has three Abilities they encompass), a bonus Skill, certain Restrictions, and Special Abilities unique to each one. 

Creating a Character continues with Classes. They are Assassin, Druid, Minstrel, Priest, Prophet, Sorcerer, Warrior, and Wizard. Each Class sets a character's Strength and Craft (which is then modified by Ancestry), the Life total (Hit Points), Spell Points if applicable, Skills pertinent to it, Special Abilities, and finally a choice of one or more Advancements.  For instance, all Minstrels start with Strength 3 and Craft 3, Life of 12 + Mettle or Resolve, Spell Points equal to Craft, four skills and a choice between tow other skills, and a choice of a Skill Focus (which grants a +2 bonus). Prophets are spellcasters that can see the future, Sorcerers have a familiar and are spellcasters, and Wizards are either a Student of the Cauldron (think alchemy) or the Staff (allows the possibility of attacking a second target when using Psychic Assault.

The next step is to choose Alignment and the options are Good, Neutral, and Evil (with a sidebar about playing them).

At this point you add 1 point to either Strength or Craft and then assign Strength x2 to Brawn, Agility, and Mettle and assign Craft x2 to Insight, Wits, and Resolve.

The final steps are adding 2 additional Skills or Focuses, figuring your Max Load (Strength x3), determining Speed (10+Agility), and your Physical Damage Modifier (Strength) and Psychic Damage Modifier (Craft). There are also lists of equipment to pick from.

The system is 3d6 + Skill + Bonus if Applicable against a Difficulty that ranges from 8 to 23+. However, one of the 3 dice needs to be a different color and is called the Kismet Die. Beating the Difficulty is a Standard Success, Beating it with 2 dice that match is a Great Success, Beating with 3 dice that match is an Extraordinary Success (I really like the way this works). Additionally, if a 6 is rolled on the Kismet Die you gain Light Fate, but if a 1 is rolled you gain Dark Fate. Light Fate is used on the Player side, while Dark Fate is used on the Game Master side. Interestingly, there are times a Player cannot spend Fate on a roll (if it fails) and when a GM cannot spend it either (Player gets a Great or Extraordinary Success). Fate is used to activate special abilities, add a Bonus die (roll 4d6 take the best 3), increase the level of a Success, activate an item, and to pass a death test.

A few notable features: Amour in this game reduces damage, when an NPC attacks the Player makes a defense roll (the game is player facing), when you use a shield that you have equipped it will negate all damage but you must roll a d6 and a result of 1-4 means it is destroyed, one of the actions you can take is Recover action if it is successful you regain 1 or 2d6 Life, and when you are reduced to 0 Life you check the Wound Box, which imposes a -2 penalty to all actions and you can have multiple Wounds with a cumulative penalty (you can take Wounds equal to Mettle or Resolve--which is higher before you pass out). If you are unconscious you make a Mettle or Resolve roll each round against a Difficulty of 8 and if you succeed on the roll and the Kismet die is a 6, you awaken with 1 Life point.

The book also includes an adventure the Corpse Watchers, which I am eager to run and it includes 7 pregenerated characters.

The book ends with questions to be answered about your Playtest experience and a section of Designer Notes that explains the team's goal in Talsiman Adventures.

I thoroughly enjoyed this game. It feels like Talisman and is an excellent game for new players and veterans alike. I heartily recommend it and am happy to use the Playtest until the full game is released, which I will purchase immediately.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

D100: Forget Me Not

Our regular DM wasn't available this week, so I volunteered to run a one-shot. Most of the week I was torn between a Cypher System Supers game or using an adventure for Call of Cthulhu with my homebrewed d100 game.

I chose the D100 game.

I had four players and character creation took 10-15 minutes. I ended up using a Vampire: the Masquerade character sheet for it's Abilities list and for three Attributes (Physical, Mental, Social).

The core mechanic is that the Game Master sets a Difficulty for a task, anywhere from 1% to 99% (a roll of 100 is always a failure), then the Player adds the appropriate Ability bonus, if any, and they must roll that amount or lowers on percentile dice. If Lee is researching folklore of Michigan the Difficulty is set at 30% and if he has a Academics bonus of +15% then he has a 45% to succeed.
If doubles are rolled on a success, it becomes a critical success. And if doubles are rolled on a failure, it becomes a critical failure.

Each player assigned one Ability at +30%, two Abilities at +25%, three Abilities at +20%, four Abilities at +15%, and five Abilities at +10%.

Then three points were assigned between the three Attributes however the player preferred. Each point could be used for an automatic success of the appropriate type, a player is trying to fast-talk a security guard, they would normally have to make a Subterfuge roll, but if they had unspent points in Social, they could spend one point to automatically succeed. They are designed to refresh after 7 hours of sleep.

Finally each player started with 12+1d6 Hit Points and 40+4d10 Sanity.

That's it.

I was running an adventure that was recommended to me by the Call of Cthulhu Facebook Group, Forget Me Not within the pages of The Thing We Leave Behind supplement.

The players were fantastic and the adventure is excellent. The rundown is that they all wake up, coated in mud, in a van that has run off the road, in a raging thunderstorm. They figure out who they are by their I.D.s and determine they are part of a TV show called the The Supernatural Files. By using Google, they find some episodes for Season 3 and learn that Lee is a Researcher, Agnela is the Producer and married to the Lead Investigator, Peter. The Director is a man named Clint and they realize they have a Tech Specialist named Susan who is not among them. Additionally, each has a key from the nearby Hathaway Inn, Peter and Angela have Room1, Clint has Room 3, Lee has Room 4. They search their equipment and some of it is missing and they find out they were filming Episode 6 of Season 4, A Creepy Thing Happened at the Cooper House in Clio, MI. 

A married couple driving by find them, after the group has called AAA, and offer for them to stay with them at their house just down the road. After arriving there and drying off, eating, and warming up, the AAA tow truck driver calls and says a nearby bridge is washed out and he doesn't know how long it will take him to arrive. 
They then call the Hathaway Inn and find out that a blond woman did arrive with them and she left with them and has not returned.

Angela asks the couple if they know anything about the Cooper house and notices that Aarron says "No", but his body language says "Yes".  The team split the couple up and Peter gets Aarron to reveal that as a young teenager he and some of his buddies went there on a dare. They moved through the bottom floor of the old home and while they were in the kitchen, Aarron says a mouth literally opened out of nowhere and a giant, horned silhouette stepped out of it. All of the kids booked it out of the kitchen door, but Aarron fell down and saw that the monster had six red eyes.

After a bit, the group decides to call the Sheriff and report that Susan is missing. The Sheriff says they have to wait 48 hours, but Clint points out that isn't true and they force the Sheriff to open an investigation and he promises to send over his Deputy.

Deputy Sharon Brooks arrives and reveals she's amateur cryptozoologist and a huge fan of the show. Since the rain has abated Clint steps outside and Angela follows him. He reveals that he has some intimate texts and photos of Susan and assumes they were in a relationship. He then notices a strange shape about 200 yards away on a low hill. Angela gets a video camera and zooms into see it using the ultraviolet setting. She clearly sees a large figure with cloven hooves, a muscular body with dark fur and the head of stag with a huge rack of antlers and six red eyes. At this point her camera catches fire and she burns her hand saving it's SD card. When she and Clint look again it is gone.

The go inside and are glad the couple has an SD card reader and show the footage off to the rest of the group. Angela goes to treat her burns while Lee plays the footage. When it zooms in on the creature's face, all six eyes glow red even though the footage is in the green of the UV mode.

It's at this point that everyone in the room is filled with a sour, rotting stench and a strange sound of something scraping on the ceiling. Everyone turns around and the six-eyed monster is amongst them and immediately grabs Deputy Brooks and rips her head from her body with blood fountaining everywhere.  Aarron confronted by his worst fear faints. Clint and Lee, who have handguns, open up and while their bullets stagger the monster, it doesn't leave any visible wounds. Peter just loses it and runs out of the room. Angel, hearing the screams runs to the doorway and uses a protective rite she had learned and is amazed to see the monster disappear from the room after its use.

The group is stunned and Lee has the good sense to call the Sheriff and report Brooks' murder and request more law enforcement and an ambulance. The Sheriff says he'll be right there, but the local Hospital is 35 miles away and it will take some time.

And that's where we left things for the evening. Unfortunately, my one-shots seem to take two sessions and hopefully our DM won't mind me finishing the adventure next week.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Counter Culture: Wizards of the Coast is At It Again

Today, Wizards of the Coast released a Trailer for their upcoming expansion to Magic: the Gathering, Throne of Eldraine.  The trailer is pretty darn cool.

However, there are two problems I have with the Trailer. 

One, at the end it very specifically advertises Magic: the Gathering Arena. Two, you can start playing with the cards in the Brawl format on Arena right now even though they don't release to us until the end of the month.

It truly seems that in the last few years, Wizards of the Coast's M:tG department has it in for local game stores. You know the guys that have kept the game going in the dark days between Fallen Empires and Lorwyn. They stopped distributing to us to focus on distributing to Amazon, Target, and Walmart.  They abolished MSRP so the big box stores can charge whatever they want. On top of that, they seem to be focusing on M:tG Arena, their new digital platform. 

What doesn't make sense to me is that for nearly two decades Magic: the Gathering Online shared the MSRP as the physical product, they wisely didn't discount their own product as a digital investment. That was ingenious. They didn't compete against us and their singles market often had very different prices than the physical singles market. It had to be a win-win for WotC. People come into my tournaments every week and meanwhile, if they can't sleep, they jump online and play there at the same price points.

I hear quite a bit about e-sports from WotC's new CEO. I understand it's a growth market, I do. But what has driven down Magic: the Gathering's attendance at tournaments of all levels has more to do with the health of the current economy (many new and returning players started up during the Great Recession because they were foolish enough to think it was an inexpensive hobby) where people are spending their money in different ways again. Other factors include poor quality control, poor playtesting, a really weird replacement for Pro-Tour Qualifiers, and a phase where WotC encouraged new stores to open in an existing markets. Generally speaking, players are either willing to play everywhere or play at only one store. WotC's been around long enough to remember that new stores might bring in 5 to 15% of new customers, however, those new stores break up the diehard players into smaller chunks and the whole market in an area collapses, with hopefully one or two stores surviving the process. They have seen this before and I guess just think they are smarter now, but they are not, these lessons are pretty clear to anyone doing this stuff long enough.

Another problem is a new tournament software that lets players at home run sanctioned tournaments without all the hoop-jumping that brick and mortar retailers go through to run do the same thing.

All of  these problems are impacted by the fact that WotC seems to resent the singles market because they don't get a slice of that pie. But a healthy singles market is necessary for a successful trading car game and they know this. They know this.

I'm sure Arena is solid profit center, there is no physical production costs and they get all the money. I'm a capitalist, I get it. But WotC isn't Blizzard and M:tG isn't Hearthstone. I'm sure their player bases overlap, but that doesn't make much difference. The culture of each product has been shaped for different customer expectations.

Then WotC breaks it's own street date while the retailers that support tournament play how can they not expect to have retailer dissatisfaction? Understand, Target and Walmart are renowned for breaking street dates but we have no recourse for that and now does it really matter if the manufacturer is doing it themselves?

For a few months I've been trying to figure out who they expect to run tournaments and I've come to realize they don't care about that because they have Arena and their physical players can buy their cards in the mass-market and they don't need us anymore because of the new tournament app. And that is okay, because I've been doing this long enough to plan for things like this. I don't have to fully support Magic: the Gathering for my stores to survive, I do that for my customers. Now I'm preparing for the day where they are not necessary for us, mostly because they already are preparing they day where we aren't necessary for them.

However, I think they underestimate the social value for their players. The Great Recession seemed like a good value for your money. You paid anywhere from $4 to $16 and you hung out with like-minded people for 3-5 hours every week. It was as cheap or cheaper than a movie and the players built relationships.

The path that WotC is taking won't end well for them, but this time they might not have their direct market to lean on when things go sideways.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Review: Old School Class: The Necromancer.

The Old School Class: The Necromancer is written by Chuck Rice and published by Apocalyptic Games, it presents a very well-done version of a Necromancer for OSRIC.

For the record, I was presented a PDF copy of the class for review purposes. There are also affiliate links so I can continue to buy stuff I like from DriveThruRPG.

I've never been very happy with how Necromancers work in most editions of Dungeons and Dragons and it's many Retroclones. You can multiclass as a Magic-User/Cleric, but it not very satisfying in my opinion. I'm glad to say that I really like the Class presented in this supplement and I'm anxious to give it a spin.

The PDF is 24 pages including the cover and Open Gaming License.

It opens with a fiction piece that sets the mood.

The Necromancer itself is cleanly presented and easy to follow. At 1st level Necromancers have a bonus on their roll to learn Necromancy spells. At 5th level, they learn embalming secrets that preserve a corpse for later reanimation. Finally, at 10th level, a Necromancer has complete protection form lower level undead, while higher level undead must make a Saving Throw in order to attack them.

The Class table is very cleanly laid out and can rise to 24th level.

The Necromancer's spell list comes next and features at least 7 spells per level from 1st to 7th level. Additionally, 37 new spells are presented here for the Necromancer to learn. I was very glad to see Turn Undead and Cause Wounds (that cannot be reversed) on the Necromancer's spell list. The Necromancer presented here has the proper spells to really shine as a single class and has been what I've been looking to play for years.

The spells presented really capture the feel of the class and include Boil Blood, Arsenal of the Dead, and Empty Hell.

I've been a fan of Chuck's RPG products for years and I cannot wait to make a Necromancer based on this excellent product. Even though it's designed for OSRIC, it would be extremely easy to convert to your favorite Retroclone or any edition of DnD prior to 3rd Edition.

I really cannot recommend Old School Class: The Necromancer enough. For DM's it adds some nasty features and spells to add to your villains repertoire.

It is, in my opinion, a Must-Buy!

Monday, September 2, 2019

As the World of Darkness Turns: Solomon Taft

One of my best friends, David, has been running a Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition game for almost a year. I didn't join in on the game immediately, but was a part of it by it's second month. I created a Tremere named Solomon Taft. The game is set in Cincinnati, OH, about 15 minutes from where we all live.

I didn't have a full grasp on who I wanted Solomon to be and due to some of my mental health issues, was always a very passive player. Early on, David made me a courier for the Tremere Primogen and asked if I peaked into what I was carrying and I said , "No". So I knew Solomon was loyal.

We eventually had a case in Europe for our Prince where we needed to disprove that a french Vampire had a claim to a position our Prince was to hold. During the affair, we met the Prince of Paris, a rude Malkavian, who tried to pin some ghoul disappearances on our Coterie. We did find our Prince's rival and easily disproved his claim. The only fallout for him was social exile though.

After this case I was promoted to Primogen of the Tremere and my former boss went to Europe.

Over the last two months of real time I've begun feeling better than I have in maybe as long as two years.

Around this time, the Prince of Cincinnati, after much deliberation, allowed a group of Garou to reclaim ancestral territory outside the city.

Solomon didn't like this. He's got a very high Occult skill and had faced a single Garou that killed the city's Sheriff and sent an ally, Riff Raff, into topor for a couple of weeks. When arguing against the plan he cited that very few giving counsel had faced any Garou and didn't know what they were dealing with. 

He began strengthening the defenses at the Tremere stronghold in the city and courting alliances with the local Nosferatu to create refuges for his clan in the city's underground.

Solomon also pursued a relationship with a member of Cincinnati's Church. He wanted allies if the Garou became a problem. 

Next we discovered that our Prince had a collection of ancient vampires in torpor in Europe and some of them were destroyed by the Church. Our coterie met with the Prince and brainstormed some retributions. 

We soon discovered that our Prince was enacting ALL of them. One of them was to air drop a Methusela into the Church's HQ while the entire group's leadership was meeting. We didn't find out how many died and we didn't kill the Chruch's leader, but we struck a major blow.

Even though I'd been a passive player I was always listening. I decided it was time to act because I didn't want Cincinnati or the Tremere destroyed because I had a hand in what was happening.

Solomon then decided to rig the Tremere HQ to blow up if the Church came after him. He'd go out in a blaze of glory.

While work on the house was being done, he had his Clanmates meet at one of the boltholes in the sewers and went over some of the things that the city was facing.

Solomon then used his Church contact to send the Church's wrath to Paris, to eliminate that Prince and the Poser they had dealt with claiming they were behind the attack to the Church's leadership.

Solmon then went to his Coterie and asked if anyone wanted to be Prince if ours was lost. It turns out Riff Raff wanted the job if it became open and Solomon honestly explained he wasn't sure if he wanted it.

He also listened to a theory of Riff Raff's that their Prince had a double. It seemed intriguing.

Solomon then went and met with the Garou leaders to see if they had connections in Europe to cause further disarray. It was a possibility, but not certain.

He then set up a meeting with the Prince, where they all learned of the attacks on Paris. He revealed it was his move, that he wanted to throw off the Church and that he was tired of cowering in the shadows. He mentioned that the Garou could be helpful in removing Vampire enemies of the Prince's.

Finally, Solomon explained that he had some control over where the Church got information and that is was the Prince's move now.

It was rewarding to figure out who Solomon was after so many months and I hope things work out for him.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

My D100 System

This coming friday, our regular Dungeon Master, AJ (who runs a great game and stepped up when I had to take a break) will be out of town. I volunteered to run a short adventure. I haven't run anything since April, so I'm hoping it goes well (even after almost 30 years as a DM, I still get butterflies).

At the moment, I'm trying to decide if I want to us the D100 rules I've been working on.

First you need a character sheet, Basic Role Play or Call of Cthulhu will work.

The way the rules work is that the Game Master sets the difficulty of a task, generally 30%, 50%, or 70% which is then modified by the Character's bonus, if any, in the appropriate Skill.  

Let's say I have the Spot Hidden skill at +10% and I'm looking around a darkened room. The difficulty is 20% which is added to my Spot Hidden skill of +10% for a total of 30%.  

Another example is that I'm trying to punch a cultist, the difficulty is 50% and my Brawl skill of +20% is added together for a total of 70%.  Doubles are critical failures or successes. I'm anxious to try this out because I like Percentile systems but am often unhappy with the default values of certain Skills.

Character creation would involve choosing 5 Skills with a +10% bonus, 4 Skills with a +15% bonus, 3 Skills with a +20% bonus, 2 Skills with a +25% bonus, and 1 Skill with a +30% Bonus (this was inspired by an option in the excellent Mythras Companion).

At the moment, I'm not using Characteristics so Hit Points would be equal to 12 + 1d6. While Sanity is equal to 40 + 4d10.

I'm really anxious to try this out.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.  

#RPGaDAY 2019: Day 30 & 31

I see how TRPGs create CONNECTIONs every day in my store. People of all ages, ethnicities and economic classes, more than ever, are sitting and the table and role playing. And the language of games, especially Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, unites them. Yes, we have to deal with the occasional troll here and there, but they are the minority, thankfully. I see people who might never socialize become life long friends by playing make believe with dice. In this day and age its good to see something unite people for a change.

There was a point earlier this year where I wasn't sure I'd made my LAST post here. I felt liked I'd lost my muse and then parts of my families' lives spun out of control. I never thought I'd still be blogging eight years later. I didn't know I had that much to say or that I would simply wake up one day and publish some gaming products. I certainly didn't realize that it would build friendships for me and open up doors I didn't know would be available to me. This journey has changed my life and I'm eternally grateful for the people who have taken time out of their day to read my posts.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Masters of the Universe is Returning in a BIG Way!

Yeah, I know, DC Comics, Dark Horse, and Super7 have been giving us cool Masters of the Universe stuff for the last few years.

But we've also learned that He-Man as been cast in the upcoming feature film.

That Kevin Smith is Show Runner on a continuation of the old Filmation series.

And that Mattel is bringing the toy line back in February 2020 and even had a San Diego Comic Con Exclusive Prince Adam and He-man two figure Package.

You might notice that I'm a fan of He-Man.

I'm pretty excited about what 2020 might bring us of the Masters of the Universe.

Friday, August 30, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019: Day 29

As a Table-Top Role Playing Gamer I've EVOLVEd quite a bit over the decades. When I started I just wanted to play Super Hero RPGs and share all the heroes and villains I'd been creating for years with my friends. Soon after though, I began to love RPG system and began my quest for the perfect one. Eventually, I wanted to be a great Game Master and tell epic stories and dive into the settings we were creating together. That led me to a period as a Story Gamer, where I followed particular Game Designers, like John Wick. I look back on this and shake my head. I think I'm a pretty good Role Player and a good Game Master, but I eventually realized that I didn't have the time I used to and I didn't have the resources of commitment any longer to buy and learn every RPG system on the market. Then I took my sabbatical and discovered the OSR, through Grognardia, and began to examine the roots of DnD (I had always been far too "cool" to like DnD or fantasy settings). This led me discover that part of the reason I didn't like DnD, is that I'd never really played it. Our campaigns never made it through 4th or 5th level, magic items were rarely given out and we always ended up facing a Dark Lord in Ravenloft we had not way of beating. The OSR and Grognardia let me explore DnD of whatever edition and eventually inspired me to start Cross Planes. I lucked out and had a Representative at Wizards of the Coast who was cool enough to let me enter into the Friends and Family Playtest of DnD Next before it was even announced. This coincided with a return to role playing using Pathfinder. I got turned off because this group had as much drama as my old group had, but this time, I wasn't a part of it. So I went my own way content to not have a group if it was going to cause stress. It was during this period where I began making RPG sessions 3-4 hours max as opposed to 7-8 hours. I found that I much preferred it that way and we got just about as much done. I did begin running "demos" of DnD Next and that led me to my two current groups. Both groups are cool and have talented Game Masters besides myself, so I get to play. Also, both groups stepped up when I had my mental health issues earlier this year and stood by me as friends. It was heartwarming. Some weeks, those sessions were the only thing besides my family that were a bright spot for me. And all of this led to my current self, who just wants to roll some dice, laugh, and have a good time.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Character Creation: Talisman Adventures Fantasy RPG Playtest Guide

I just received the PDF of the Talisman Adventures Fantasy RPG Playtest Guide from Pegasus Speiele for Review purposes, but I'm going to run through making a character as I read through the game.

Step One is to choose an Ancestry. 
I choose Troll, it's character Modifiers are as follows: Aspect Cap increases the maximum of Mettle or Brawn to 7 (I choose Brawn); Bonus Skill is either Intimidate or Fortitude (I choose Fortitude); Restrictions are that at the beginning of the game my Craft can be no higher than 4 and when I first meet an elf, human, or sprite of Good Alignment or people from Civilized Places they react to me one step lower on the Attitude Chart because I look terrifying.

Now it's time to choose a Background. I roll 1d6 and a result of 1-2 is a Bridgwarden, 3-4 is a Worldwalker, and 5-6 in an Irongbound.

I roll Bridgewarden and gain a +1 to Resolve, Intimidate Skill,  I begin the game with a Messenger Pigeon Follower (I name him Stew), and Once per Day, I can reroll one die on tests related to defending a location.

A Troll's Special Abilities are Regeneration (I can regenerate slowly in battle and faster outside of combat). And I can choose Sentinel, Stonefist, or Stonespeaker (I choose Stonefist that let's me use my fists as weapons and can deal additional damage when I roll a 6 on the Kismet die).

Step Two is to choose Class.
I choose Sorcerer, my Strength is 2, my Craft is 4 (my Max as a Troll), my Life is 9 + Mettle or Resolve (I don't know those yet), my Spell Points are equal to my Craft (so 4), and I gain Bargain, Decipher, Notice, Lore, Psychic, and Spellcasting. I get Arcane Focus in Spellcasting and the Bargain Focus in Decipher.

My Core Features are Arcane Spell Casting, Psychic Assault, Familiar (a Pixie named Aria), and then I have to select Center of the Web, Disarming Wit, A friend of Yours, and the More the Merrier (I choose Disarming Wit which helps me in social situations).

Step Three is to choose Alignment.
I choose Neutral instead of Good or Evil.

Step Four is to assign my Aspects and Attributes.
My class set my Strength at 2 and Craft at 4 but I get to add 1 point to either (I choose Strength 3).

First, I distribute 6 points (Strength x 2) among Brawn, Agility, and Mettle (I choose Brawn 3, Agility 1, Mettle 2).

Second, I distribute 8 points (Craft x2) among Insight, Wits, and Resolve (I choose Insight 2, Wits 5, Resolve 1). 
However, I get +1 Resolve as a Bridgewarden so I end up with Resolve 2.

Step Five is Final Touches.
I get to add 2 Skills or Focuses in any combination (Melee and Psychic Skills).

Max Load is Strength x 3 (6).

Speed is Agility + 10 (11).

Physical Damage Modifier is equal to Strength (3).

Psychic Damage Modifier is equal to Craft (4).

My Life is 11.

My Attributes, Aspects, and Skills are:
Strength 3
  Brawn 3
  Agility 1
  Mettle 2

Craft 4
  Insight 2
  Wits 5
  Resolve 2

Step Six is to determine Equipment.
The game has loadouts for each class, so I choose Sorcerer and I end up with a Staff (1d6 + 3 damage), Spellbook, Pen and Ink, 5 Sheets of paper, Book of Lore on Sprites, Haversack, Bedroll, Tinderbox Mess Kit, Water Bottle, Lantern, 2 Flasks of Oil, Pouch containing 6 Gold.

I have two followers.
A Sprite and a Messenger Pigeon.

Character creation took about 30 minutes. Pretty good for an unfamiliar system.

Rage & Ruin: Lickers for the Cypher System

I'm currently brainstorming a setting that mixes Resident Evil, Nolan's Batman Trilogy, and Push.

While I've had some problems with how the Cypher system runs, I keep comparing other systems to it.

So at the moment, I'm planning on using it.

LICKERS 4 (12)

Motive: Eat
Environment: Gammora Plus (Gotham City)
Health: 12
Damage Inflicted: 4
Armor: 1
Movement: Short
Modifications: Initiative action 5, Long Tongue 5
Combat: Lickers can scale walls and ceilings with ease and rely on ambush tactics.

Use: 1d6+2 Lickers are all that stands between you and rescuing your friends.
Loot: A dead licker has 1 cypher.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019: Day 28

I really LOVE being able to blog about and self-publish RPGs. I was a huge comic book fan until I played my first RPG. And then I pretty much completely left it behind for RPGs. I couldn't buy enough games, couldn't learn enough game systems, and couldn't get my fill of playing. Even when I took a sabbatical, I still checked out blogs and forums. And while I tire of the many tempests in teacups that rumble through our industry (though since G+ died, either they occur less frequently or I'm just blessedly unplugged from them) I am eternally grateful for Ryan Dancey and the OGL. The OSR has been a godsend. Would DnD 5e run the way it does if OSRIC, Swords and Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, etc. hadn't spotlighted the delights of older editions? Would the have launched? I personally, think that's a big no to both answers.

I LOVE this blog and deeply appreciate anyone who takes a few minutes out of their day to read my thoughts (BTW, if you ever feel like making a comment, please do, it's one of the highlights of my day).

I also LOVE all of the people I've met through this blog. There are, in my opinion, far more good people out there then we realize. Sadly, the jerks are just louder and drama sells.

Finally, I LOVE this event. The prompts were sorely needed as I began to flex my blogging muscles again.

Review: Event Zero for Adventurers! by GRAmel

Event Zero is a Super Hero guide and setting book from GRAmel and written by Umberto Pignatelli, Andy Slack for the Adventurers! RPG, which is required for this product.

Full disclosure, I was given a PDF copy for review purposes.

Event Zero opens with details about the city of Neopolis and the Event that occurred prompting some of it's citizens to be come Specials (supers). Neopolis  is a large American city and Specials appeared in 2015. Masks have been adopted do to the the fact that fist public Special, the Flaming Man, disappeared and rumors blame the government. Other public specials have disappeared, as well.

Neopolis is broken down by neighborhood with a paragraph for each presented.

Specials in the Adventurers! system must choose the Power Skill and several other skills are presented to round your character out.

The guidelines for Super Powers comes next. Nine powers are laid out and cover a good range of abilities found in comics. They are Super Stat, Damage (Telekinesis), Empower (Adrenaline Control),  Investigation (Data Receiver), Mind Control (Kiss of Slavery), Protection (Dense Body), Summoning  (Illusionary Pet), Super Stat (Hyper Aim).  These are in addition to other Spheres of Power found in the Core game. One difference is that Specials can change which Stat to use, as opposed to basing a Sphere of Mind.

Next up is the setting's big secret and the revelation of what caused Specials to appear.

Campaign themes are then presented and I found the information beneficial to help a Game Master find a direction for their version of Neopolis.

Campaign places and important characters are also provided.

Rules for Teams are presented next and we learn the mechanical benefits of them to Specials. I find it fairly unique that Teams give new mechanical options to its members. For instance, certain Roles are presented, such as Bickering Friends, Defender, and Striker.

Equipment and lifestyle comes after and we get charts covering weapons, armor, and standard of living.

Numerous NPC's are presented for use by the Game Master, which I deeply appreciate.

An adventure, the Slug Man is also provided. It's 7 pages long and can easily get a GM up to speed to run a session within a half an hour after purchasing Event Zero.

I'm very impressed with Event Zero. The cover and interior art is excellent, the lay out is clean, and I think Neopolis and Specials are well-presented in only 44 pages. At first I was a bit surprised at the number of powers presented, until I remembered that the Adventurers! Core has other options and the the rules for Special allow you some freedom to reinterpret existing Spheres of Power.

I'm a big fan of GRAmel and this is an excellent expansion to Adventurers! and a solid Supers RPG with the benefit of several other settings that were designed for this system.

I heartily recommend Event Zero.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019: Day 27

SUSPENSE is something I find difficult to create, let alone maintain. It's probably merely a limitation of my skills as a Game Master. I also find it difficult to frighten my players. I think one reason for these difficulties is that we're at the table to laugh, make stupid jokes, talk about current events, talk about pop culture, and just have fun. Those are my priorities at this point in my life and career as a GM.

When I was younger I was fare more concerned with getting into character and plotlines than I am now. I think it's a combination of being older, having less time to game, and finding gamers that share the same goals.

Who knows what the future will hold?

Monday, August 26, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019: Day 26

I was a young man in College when I first started playing Champions, my first RPG. Since I always wanted to write and draw comic books, I had a ton of IDEAs for our games.  Even after I moved on to other systems, IDEAs were very, very plentiful. Probably too plentiful.  This continued for decades. But last year, after losing my Dad, my wife's Grandmother, and two dear friends, the IDEAs slowly stopped flowing. 

Full disclosure: I suffer from General Anxiety Disorder. What was happening to me was a combination of grief and the fact that my medicine, that I'd taken for years, began to stop working because as we age our bio-chemistry changes. Unfortunately, my Doctor prescribed a medicine for Depression, a disease I blessedly do not have. That medicine made me feel weird and after a few months where I became nearly completely detached and ambivalent I told my Doctor that I needed to get off of it. Sadly, my Doctor didn't have me wean far enough down and I began to have sleep problems for the first time in my adult life. I was assured it was just withdrawal and I'd be fine in a few weeks and a new sleep medicine was prescribed. Sadly, this was one of the darkest periods in my life. My son was graduating High School and I could barely function do to unchecked anxiety and sleep deprivation. April, May, and June were a blur. No, that's not right, they crawled at snail's pace and I did my best to hold it all together, but I was just barely hanging on.

For the record, when I stopped sleeping it fueld my anxiety which kept me from sleeping which fueled my anxiety. A night can seem to last forever when you, at best, might sleep for two hours. And that sleep is not truly restful.

Understand, insomnia is something many Americans face, I'm not unique or special and far more understanding about its toll on a person.

Thankfully, my Wife and Mother had been trying to get me to see their Doctor and through help from them, I switched Doctors. My new Doc immediately told me that my old medicine wasn't working and gave me some paths to choose from. The first week was a rough road, but we eventually found a solution. It takes 6-8 weeks for a medicine to really begin to work and it can be a tough road. There are a lot of things I found out about anti-anxiety and anti-depressants that I did not know. Now I do.

A few weeks ago, I saw my new Doc and I admitted to her that I think she saved my life. She then told me that I had saved my own life because I reached out for help (and believe me I did, my new Doc has anxiety and gave me her phone number to text whenever I needed help, she's amazing).

Things are much better now. I feel better than I have in at least a year.

I know this is a bit heavy of a post, but I have always been honest about my mental illness. Maybe someone needs to know they are not alone or that they can reach out for help. It's hard to battle your own mind. To have someone say "Just relax". To not do things because of anxiety attacks. But true friends will understand and be there for you. And there are more good people out there then we are led to believe.

The wonderful thing about all of this is that I have IDEAs again. Which means I'm posting again. And who knows? Maybe I'll start running games again.

#RPGaDAY 2019: Day 25

The worst CALAMITY as a Game Master I remember was the first ADnD 2E campaign I ran. We reached a part where one player picked a fight with some ruffians in town and miscast the web spell centered on him. Everyone died. What I SHOULD have done was stop things and roll them back. But I was experienced enough to know that or confident enough to do it.

I am now. And its from hard lessons like this.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019: Day 22, 23, & 24

As a Game Master I can get LOST keeping track of all of the Player's actions and plots. I find that is good to make notes from a session later that evening. What can compound the issue for me is how much I improvise in a session. 

I love it when a player or players SURPRISE me. I learned early in my tenure of being a Game Master that it's a good idea to listen to your players and if need be, go with the flow. I'd much rather the players drive the plot than "railroad" them because I think it's cool.

My greatest TRIUMPH as a Game Master are those rare moments when you and your players become so immersed in the flow of the game that you can actually see it, however briefly, in your mind's eye.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Super Hero RPGs Part 2

I first started Role Playing when I was 19 years old and a sophomore in college. My first RPG was Champions 4e, the "Big Blue Book". It was like learning a program language and we we all had enough free time to do that. However, even though Champions was the game we were playing, I found a copy of the Magic of Palladium Books that sold me, I mean SOLD ME on Rifts, Ninjas and Superspies, and Heroes Unlimited. These games had CLASSES and LEVELS!

Due to my gaming ADD, I bought it and couldn't figure numerous things out about. It was arcane. There were huge glaring holes that book didn't answer...I was confused. To make matters worse, the rest of the group didn't want to switch games, we already were pretty good at Champions/HERO System.

But I couldn't help myself, there had to be even better superhero RPGs out there. So I bought Marvel Super Heroes, DC Heroes, Guardians, GURPS Supers, GURPS Wild Cards, Villains and Vigilantes , DC Universe, Aberrant, and others I've since forgotten. We played many of them but none of them worked any better than Champions (though DC Heroes was pretty darn close).

In the last few years I've come to realize some basic preferences I have in RPGs in general and Superhero RPGs in particular. 

First, I like Hit Points. I don't enjoy wound tracks to damage boxes. I like Hit Points.

Second, I don't want to roll buckets of dice. In Champions, you have to total the dice to find the amount of Stun (assuming it's not a Killing Attack), then look at the dice again to see how much Body damage there is, and then check for knockback.  That. Is. Insane.

So I'm being really picky in the superhero RPGS I'm looking at. Which is cool, I have no ETA on when I will run this game.

I just know I want a game with Hit Points, small pools of damage dice, and fairly quick and easy character generation.

My top contenders right now are Guardians (an excellent OSR game that is what Heroes Unlimited wanted to be), Rotted Capes, Event Zero, Vigilante City, Champions: The New Millenium, and Champions Now. I was looking at the Sentinels Comic RPG today but realized that you apparently automatically hit in combat.  That was a dealbreaker for me.

PunkApocalyptic Quickstart

The awes ome Robert Schwalb is running a Kickstarter for his newest RPG, PunkApocalyptic . Yeah, I mentioned it here . He's prov...