Wednesday, 16 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 16 What RPG do I play as is?

Day 16 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

No one is going to expect this one.

First off let me know that my general answer is "all of them." I am a big fan of Rules As Written or RAW. I'm not someone who enjoys tinkering with RPGs. I've got some really strong beliefs about RPG rules and how they are the one common language every player at the table shares and how messing with that language can impact the game negatively. I'm not here to talk about that though.

What I want to talk about is Paranoia. One of the things that amazed me the most about Paranoia back in the day is that it was the only RPG that I owned that encouraged you to break the rules. But, it had great rules! It was so ironic. Paranoia (at least in 2nd edition which is the one I ran the most) has a very decent D20 skill based system that I found brilliant compared to the games I played at that time.  The combat system was quick and solid and as deadly as you wanted to make it. They managed to put in funky super powers (sorry mutations) that all managed to work together and didn't break the game while still breaking the core rules. It was a great system, and here they were telling me to ignore it.

So what did I do? I stole it. My first self-published RPG was called Rad City and was a post apocalyptic RPG that was a mesh of Phantasy Star, Final Fantasy, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Cyberpunk 2020, and TSR Marvel Super Heroes and the glue that held all that together was the Paranoia D20 based system. I have friends today that still think Rad City was one of the best RPGs they played. 


For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 - Day 15 - Which RPG do I love to hack?

Day 15 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

This was a hard one for me as I'm not a hacker. While I love the whole DIY movement in RPGs it's just not something I've ever really been into myself. I'm more about finding that right game for you than taking a game and making it right for you.

That said there is one RPG that I hacked the setting off while keeping all of the rules. That was Dream Park from R. Talsorian Games.  The actual setting has players who are playing characters who go to a Dream Park which is this virtual reality simulator theme park. While there those characters play characters in various Dream Park Settings. So yes: this is an RPG where you play a character who is playing a character.

What I did was mash this with Running Man. I make the Dream Park a live broadcast TV show in a cyberpunk future. The players were contestants on the show. Everything they did was televised. Each episode they would meet their GM who would give them information on the game they were about to enter and the goal of that game. The various GMs were all played by me and I made up 5 or so different ones to keep things interesting. The players never knew exactly what to expect each 'show' and had to re-build their characters based on the information they got from the GM.

Some GMs would run gritty realistic games and if players missed the hints during the pre-game interview they could end up taking things like Super Powers or Magic and then they would get in game and it wouldn't work. Other GMs were willing to let anything go.

Dream Park worked awesome for this as it's the only universal system I know where you can have a Power Ranger, A 1920s Mobster, A Nam vet Sniper and a Wizard in the same party, fighting Mecha with light sabers and the game still works and is balanced. It's a brilliant system. 



For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Monday, 14 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - day 14 - What I prefer for open ended play.

Day 14 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

Most of my RPG experience has been running open-ended campaign games. Some of my most memorable games were in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition, Cyberpunk 2020, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. To be honest I can't think of a specific system I think is really best for this style of play. Obviously not some of the indy one shot games, but most traditional RPGs are designed for this.

For my official answer, I'm going to have to go with AD&D 2nd Edition. Not because of the rules themselves but because of some of the amazing supporting products that were released for that edition of D&D. Products that let me run an open ended sandbox game that went on for more than 10 years and had probably hundreds of characters adventure through our shared world.



What these products let me do is run my game on the fly. While I did prep work, a lot of prep work I used these tools to be able to react to what my players did during the game. As most of them involved random elements it means that my players and I experienced the game and the evolving story together. It was "playing to see what happens" before that was cool.  I guess I'm an RPG hipster eh?

When the PCs traveled between two areas I would draw from the appropriate deck of encounters (based on the terrain type they traveled through). When that encounter noted that the dead Ogre the party just found had a lair nearby I would grab a dungeon out of the Book of Lairs. When the party found a prisoner in the Lair I would draw a card from my sorted trading cards to give me an NPC. When the party was rewarded for returning the NPC home I gave them a treasure map from the Mystara Treasure Maps supplement. Using these tools I was able to run a game set in the same campaign setting for almost 10 years.



For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 13 - an experience that changed how I play.

Day 13 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

What I really want to talk about here is the playtest of the game: carry. a game about war. but I already talked about that back on the 7th when I talked about my most impactful session.  That seems like a cop out though, so I think I need to come up with something different.

Does reading an RPG rulebook count as a game experience? Today it does.

I couldn't even tell you how long ago this happened. It wasn't recently. I was sitting there reading the Mechwarrior The Battletech RPG and I had just read something that blew my mind as a GM. It was a chapter on how to GM and it said to do something so simple but so effective. I don't have the book in front of me by here are the cliff notes:

Before you describe a scene to your players take a moment. Close your eyes. Picture the scene in your head. What do you see? What do you smell? How does it feel? Is it hot? Is it humid? Is there a taste in the air? Soak all that in, open your eyes and tell your players what you just experienced.

This changed my GM style forever.


For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 12 - epic interior art?

Day 12 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

I read Fading Suns as part of my #RPGaMonth efforts this year. One of the first things that struck me about that game was the very cool very evocative interior art. Unfortunately, the arts wasn't inspiring enough to overcome the rules. So I've never actually played the game but I have to say the universe looks really damn cool. 




For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Friday, 11 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 11 - dead game necormancy!

Day 11 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which 'dead game' would you like to see reborn?

It seems like this question gets harder every day. I think I get an email or see a G+ post about some game coming back through kickstarter every time I sit in front of my PC. Most of my favourite games from back in the day have come back in some way. Paranoia is the most recent. Traveller still goes strong. Warhammer just had a 4th edition announced. I am very tempted to answer Cyberpunk 2013/2020. There was a more modern release of that though, V3 which received very negative reviews (I own a copy but haven't actually read it).

Instead of cyberpunk I'm going to go with an RPG system that I would love to see come back and that's the SAGA system that premiered in Dragonlance: Fifth Age Dramatic Adventure Game. I don't necessarily need a new Dragonlance game (though I actually wouldn't mind that) but I really want to see something new done with the card based SAGA system.  I really loved SAGA. As far as I know it was the first player facing RPG (something many people seem to wrongly credit to PBtA games or the Cyper system). What this means is that all of the action is driven by the players. The Orcs never attack the characters, instead the characters defend from the Orcs attacks.

I love the card based system introduced in SAGA. The fact that each character class had a suit that was trump was very cool. Hand management added a very interesting meta to the game, where experienced players would choose places for their characters to fail in an effort to build a better hand for when they really needed it. The use of the deck to determine narrative cues was also brilliant. Overall I think this is the perfect example of a game that was way before it's time.

Now I know that there was a Marvel Super Heroes version of SAGA released. That I have not had a chance to check out. For some reason copies of that game and the associated deck sell for more than the almost impossible to find Last Unicorn Dune game.  

For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 10 - where do I go for RPG reviews?

Day 10 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Where do you go for RPG reviews?

The quick answer: I don't. I can't remember the last time I actually sought out an RPG review. I learn about new RPGs organically through a mix of social media and podcasts (as I answered back on day 3). Usually, if there is a hot new game and people like it I can't help but hear about it. If it's really popular it feels like every podcast is talking about it. This happened with Fantasy Flight Star Wars. It seems to be happening right now with Blades in the Dark and for some reason, Dungeon Crawl Classics.

I guess if I was going to go digging looking for more info on a game I would head over to RPGgeek.com. From there I would probably head to Google Plus and see if there's a community for the game (there's pretty much a community for every game). Maybe I would google the game. Then once I picked it up, I might even review the game myself.


For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 9 - What's a good 10 session RPG?

Day 9 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Did you read my post back on day seven? The one where I admit that the game I've played the most in the last year I only played two times. Yes two.

Due to this embarrassment, my first thought for today's question is: ANY! I would love to play any RPG 10 sessions at this point. Okay maybe not any RPG, but most, or at least any of the ones I own in print. Regardless, I don't think that was the spirit of this question.

I'm thinking that something like Trail of Cthulhu would be great for a 10 session story arc. Just enough time to have some small cases that lead to a big mystery that is solved, for good or bad, in session 10.

Now I do have to admit I've never actually played/run Trail. I own it. I've read it. I'm not sure I quite grock it, but I still think it fits well for this criteria. 


For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 - Day 8 - Good RPG for 2 hour sessions?

Day 8 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

Last year I wouldn't have had a very good answer for this one. I've always been a long session kind of guy. Back in my formative years at the Windsor Gaming Society it was always 5 hour sessions. One from noon until 5pm and then another from 6pm until 11pm when the club closed. My home sessions generally have mirrored this. When I run public events at the FLGS I aim for 4 hour sessions and schedule them as 5 hour sessions. The one exception was D&D Encounters which was set up to be one hour sessions. I hated that. I really hated that. It was such a small bite of D&D that it just wasn't satisfying.

So what has changed now? I've read and actually run the Mouse Guard RPG by Luke Crane and David Petersen. I've owned the game for years and finally read it earlier this year as part of #RPGaMonth. It's one of the most unique RPGs I've ever read. Very scripted with 'rules' for things you don't usually find rules for. One of the things this unique set of mechanics does is allow for very short play sessions. Our first session was done in under an hour and a half. The important part about this session was that it was still fun. Somehow that hour and a half of Mouse Guard was better than any one hour session of D&D Encounters I took part in.

While there are some editing issues with the 2nd edition of Mouse Guard, I strongly suggest people check it out. It's very different from traditional RPGs and not in a bad way. There's a learning curve but once you start actually using the mechanics they actually flow rather brilliantly. 


For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.


Monday, 7 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 - Day 7 - Most impactful RPG session.

Day 7 of #RPGaDay 2017. At this point I should be on a plane for Florida so you all get to see how well I schedule posts :D

What was your most impactful RPG session?

A bit more than a decade ago I decided I should write more RPG reviews as well as get involved in playtesting. I'm pretty sure the driving force back then was to get some free games. People seemed to dig my feedback so I've stuck with it on and off over the years. I can't remember how Nathan D Paoletta found me. He was, at the time, an unknown indie game designer who was big into this thing called The Forge. He contacted me to playtest his new game carry. a game about war.

I had no clue what The Forge was or what it stood for or what it would become. Nathan, was an unknown to me and pretty much everyone back then. I didn't know it at the time, but my playtest of carry was the first public playtest of one of Nathan's games and was a huge step for him. To me it was just another indie game. Well not quite.

carry. Broke my brain. It broke my wife's brain. It broke my best friends brain. It broke my cousins brain. What was this thing? What did we just play. What just happened? Why are people crying. Why was I shaking? 

I had no idea an RPG could be what carry. was. Back then I had played a ton of different systems. From D&D to Cyberpunk. From Chill to Mekton. From Land of Og to It Came From The Late Late Late show. I even dabbled in Amber Diceless. I though I knew the breadth and scope of what RPGs had to offer. That was part of why I felt qualified to playtest these games I'd been playing for year.

Nathan D Paoletta and his 'little' indie hippy story game changed my life as a gamer. He opened my eyes. I learned that RPGs could be so much more than I thought they were. It was a beautiful thing.


For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.