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Updated: 7 months 2 weeks ago

Sagas of Midgard

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 09:37

I am lucky enough that in my day job I both work from home and work entirely online. What this means is that I could be pretty much anywhere in the world as long as I can get an internet connection. In practical terms I am a little more limited as it is not just me, there is a Mrs R, two horses, three dogs and a scattering of grown up children and grandchildren.

What I did do recently is move from the far south west of Cornwall, UK to about as far north as you can get in the UK. I am spending seven months living on Shetland. I have swapped Celtic legends and Cornish Giants for Norse myth and legend. This a little bit of an adventure.

And talking of adventures… I have been playing Sagas of Midgard for the past two weeks and I have come to really enjoy the game. The game is very rules light. It has a single rule for resolving everything. The GM sets a target number and the players roll a d100 and add whatever they can to it and try and roll over the target number. It is one of those games where the GM doesn’t roll any dice. Combat is players roll to hit when they attack and they roll to dodge when they are defending.

What appeals the most is that this is a game where the heroes are heroic. D100 systems have a nasty habit of thinking they need to be gritty and realistic. I think it is the fact that a single roll has a hundred options means the designers feel they need to use them all (slight exaggeration).

Just look at this quote about should giants using bows be able to shoot further than humans, *not* from Sagas. “But m/(m+mv) scales in a way that depends on the relative contribution of m vs mv. If we assume m is much more important than mv, that simplifies to m/m and velocity will double because m/m * L is double. If we assume mv is much more important than m, that simplifies to m/mv and velocity will remain constant. So, the actual scaling is somewhere between x1 and x2, dependent on the relative contribution of m vs mv.

I found one reference that suggested for a bow, mv is about 20% the weight of an arrow. It may be much higher for a thrown weapon…? Would be good to see some numbers. But my initial impression is that Dan’s approximation of x1.41 (square root of 2) is within the range of x1 to x2 and not unreasonable.”

Really? There is a point at which when dealing with giants and dragons you kind of have to leave the physics behind. Back in Cornwall one of our local giants, Trecobben, could throw a rock the size of a VW Transporter seven miles. I would like to see the calculations for that (not!).

Sagas is NOT that sort of game. Sagas is all about the story, heroic action and dying well in battle. There is a great rule called With Joy I Cease which allows the player to trade the death of their character in exchange for delivering a truly heroic blow either killing a normal creature outright or delivering a massive wound to unique creatures. It is better to die honourably with your sword in your hand and enter the halls of Valhalla than to die in your bed as an old man.

All in all Sagas of Midgard is a great little game, fast to learn, simple to play and the core system has loads of potential to expand into other genres due to its sheer simplicity.

Related posts:

  1. Midgard
  2. Review: Midgard Bestiary Volume 1
  3. Review: Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder Edition)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter: Odyssey of the Dragonlords

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 11:33

Modiphius is more active than ever. I just heard from their PR assistant Panny that they just recently started another Kickstarter project which has been funded in its first 24 hours. They are raising funds for “Odyssey of the Dragonlords”, and 5th Edition adventure book inspired by Greek mythology and written by Arcanum Worlds which has been founded by ex-Bioware people. This might definitely raise some eyebrows … and in a good way.

Odyssey will be an about 260-paged hardcover book containing an epic quest in the world of Thylea which will take a party of adventurers from 1st to 10th level. The artwork shown on the Kickstarter page looks gorgeous, and if you want to delve deeper into it, there’s already a free Player’s Guide to Odyssey of the Dragonlords available on DriveThruRPG.

If you’re a fan of D&D 5th Edition and Greek myth, you definitely should give this Kickstarter a look.

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  1. How not to run a Kickstarter to fund your RPG
  2. Preview: Odyssey–The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Campaign Management
  3. Kickstarter: Mindjammer – The Roleplaying Game

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

James Albert Smith Jr (1968–2019)

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 06:48

On April 10th James Smith known for his OSR blog Dreams of Mythic Fantasy passed away. I didn’t really know him, but I’ve read his blog from time to time. Regardless it always saddens me deeply when someone from our small community of RPG bloggers dies. My condolences go to his family and friends.

James’ family has set up an obituary page, where you can leave a tribute. If you want to support his family with the funeral costs, you can donate to their PayPal account.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

John Carter of Mars Live Play

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 06:21

I don’t actually remember when I first learned about Edgar Rice Burrough’s series of books about a civil war veteran from Virginia who suddenly finds himself on Mars,  but I immediately fell in love with it. I even love the not-so-successful Disney movie from 2012. It took some liberties with the story, but in my opinion has perfectly captured the atmosphere of the books.

And so has done Modiphius’ John Carter of Mars roleplaying game. So it’s no surprise that I just had to support the Kickstarter project back in January 2018.  The fulfilment took a bit longer than expected, but the long wait was definitely worth it. The books I got so far are gorgeous! Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to give the books a closer look yet, that’s why Modiphius’ upcoming Live Play is of interest to me. I have played another game using their in-house 2d20 System before, but John Carter of Mars uses a simplified version which could make things easier for new players and also speed up play. Especially during combats 2d20 always felt a bit slow. But I digress.

The live play will be on Facebook Live and will start on Wednesday, 17th of April, on 3 PM BST. Hopefully this will be a great opportunity to learn more about how the game plays. So save the date!

If you want to learn more about the John Carter roleplaying game, check out the official site, or watch the videos I posted below!


Enjoy!

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Escape The Noose, A Zweihänder Adventure

Sun, 04/14/2019 - 06:30

ESCAPE THE NOOSE is a Zweihänder adventure from Nights of the Shed that makes full use of the Main Gauche [MG] supplement. The booklet does say that you may want to use Main Gauche, I would say it is virtually essential. I am not saying this is a bad thing, rather I think it is a great adventure to introduce some of the cooler parts of the Zwei addon companion to a game.

The stand out thing for me is the setting for this adventure. It is as close to ‘real world’ as I have ever seen in a published adventure, that included spell casters in the NPC list. What ESCAPE does is place the PCs into real world historical events and these play out as a backdrop to the characters’ trials and challenges. Zweihänder is not a game where the PCs are going to change history and turn back armies, the history books are probably safe.

The ‘adventure’ and I use the quotes intentionally is intended to last just one or two sessions and is best suited to bringing characters together and bonding them into a party. For that alone it is a great tool. The down side is that it is not really much of an adventure. There is one entry point and one exit point and a list of set play encounters in between.

So is this a good adventure module? I think it is. It is a little railroad but for a first session with new characters that is fine. At the end of the written module there are a number of ways the characters story can go, that is where the freedom to tell their own story really comes in.

Even through this is built out of a string of set plays the characters still have options. Zwei characters are not renowned for being heroic, just surviving is often enough. In the characters escape they have those opportunities to someone’s hero even if it is just one life at a time and their actions buy the victim just a moments respite.

You do not really have to take my word for this as you can listen to an actual play of this adventure on Sound Cloud https://soundcloud.com/user-458434613. I confess that I have not listened to it. There is not much in role playing that I don’t do but watching or listening to other people play is one of the things I simply don’t get.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Ballad of the Pistolero

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 06:00

A friend of mine has, completely by chance, been working on a Wild West RPG called Ballad of the Pistolero. I say completely by chance because the topic only came up when I was talking about my Devil’s Staircase Wild West RPG. The chances of two different developers writing wild west game at the same time has to be fairly low. It is hardly the most popular genre.

Anyway, DS Wild West is still plodding its way through public play test with over 300 downloads so far and I get a new download about every day. I have even set up a Discord server for play testers.

So a bit more about Ballad of the Pistolero… Foxwood Games tried to make a very cinematic action based wild west game but has included elements of Zweihanders d100 system in that mix. You can take a look at the test rules as there is a link to them near the bottom of the Kickstarter pitch. Making the test rules available is a nice idea as it does mean that backers get to know exactly what it is they are buying into if they support the pitch.

As this is a friend’s pitch I will particularly encourage you to take a look and lend your support. Not that I am biased at all!

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

I think I finally “get” Fudge

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 06:51

Since I first discovered it many years ago I have been struggling with Fudge. There are aspects I love like it’s skill system and dice mechanic, but other parts of the game totally confused me. Yesterday I actually realized what may have contributed to this confusion.

I don’t actually remember where I first learned about that game, but eventually I tried to track down a copy. The only official copy available in print at that time was the 10th Anniversary Edition. It’s a huge tome with many optional rules, variant rules, and tips on how you can handle things in your game. When I first read it I was utterly confused. The basic mechanics were simple and easy to understand, but I still wasn’t sure on how to actually do things.

I had some success running a Fudge game set into the Fallout universe. Using the computer game as a basis helped me deal with some of the issues I had with Fudge at this point. I just copied attributes and skills from the computer game and instead of gifts and faults I copied Fallout’s perks (which are basically just gifts).

You have to understand that Fudge is built on the premise that you as a GM can pick and choose on how you want to do things. You can freely pick which attributes you want in your game, what skills to use, how combat works, et cetera. But it also allows you to just “fudge things”. This means that you can easily have a game in which each player character has a totally different set of attributes. For checks you just use what you deem appropriate. The moment you accept that this is a possibility, the confusion begins to clear up. I too often worry that I am not playing a game “right”, as if this was a thing. I fear my brain is just wired that way. Realizing that “fudging it” was actually the right way to do things, or at least one acceptable method, made things click for me.

Sure, you can pick exactly what you want to use in your game. And at least when it comes to certain mechanics this might actually necessary to avoid discussions at the game table, BUT when it comes to attributes, skills, gifts, and faults, you have much more freedom.

I also noticed that it’s probably best to check out the free 1995 edition of Fudge first, before delving deeper into the 10th Anniversary Edition. It’s about 100 pages long and contains everything you need to get started. The larger 10th Anniversary Edition has more stuff, but it might also be a bit overwhelming at first. Alternatively I can also recommend picking up “The Unexplained” by Carnivore Games, which is not only a great introduction to Fudge, but also a very cool game in its own right – especially if you have a soft spot for ghost hunters, cryptozoologists, and UFO “researchers”. You can check out my review of said game here.

So what do I plan to do with my greater understanding of Fudge? I really don’t know yet. I haven’t really run anything in a while, and I still suffer from some anxiety. It isn’t that bad that I can’t make plans, but it’s still bad enough to keep me from making any concrete plans. I have at least two players who are basically willing to play everything I am interested to run, so I might run a Fudge one-shot to get my feet wet again. I’ll keep you updated.

Related posts:

  1. How I stopped worrying and just used Fudge
  2. 5 Reasons Why You Should Check Out Fudge
  3. My quest to run a Fudge game

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter: RPG Smith

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 07:26

This is just a quick update to let you folks know that the Kickstarter campaign to fund the RPGSmith (check out my article about it) GM features is now live. They need about €22,125 to add new functionality to their web application. Following are the GM features they want to add if the fundraiser is successful:

    • Create and manage campaigns (similar to Rule Sets in the current player version).
    • Invite player accounts to join their campaign.
    • See their player’s character’s dashboard.
    • Make updates to anything on their player’s characters, including character stat values, inventory, etc. (If allowed by the Player)
    • Make updates to the Campaign settings (such as creation/removal of character stats, new items/spells/ abilities, updates to the default dashboard, etc.) which would be automatically updated for the PCs.
    • Provide a chat interface which all users joined to the campaign can use to sending private or public messages with anyone else in the campaign.
    • Share handouts, images, and other information with the players through a document sharing interface.
    • Build and control a campaign page of tiles visible to the players where the GM can store text, notes, images, counters, and other tiles.
    • Provide all users in the campaign access to share Dice results in real-time.
    • Have access to a campaign dashboard similar to the mock shown below. This will give GMs a high-level view and instant access to content they control in their campaign.

For more information on RPGSmith and the fundraising, check out the Kickstarter page.

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  1. Kickstarter: Fate Core System
  2. Kickstarter: Feng Shui 2
  3. How not to run a Kickstarter to fund your RPG

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Easy NPC Reactions

Sat, 03/23/2019 - 18:44

Michael recently posted about the 3hex style of starting a game off easily with minimal prep.

I thought I would share a technique that makes for interesting and sophisticated ‘common’ NPCs but without having to do any real prep. It can also lead to some interesting spin-off adventures in its own right.

The technique is based around a cross reference between all the NPCs as you create them. I use a spreadsheet but any grid will do. You list the NPCs across the top and down the side and block out the point where they cross reference.

The point of the grid is to map out the attitudes between all the people you have created. The actual numbers should reflect the system you are playing so in B/X, for example, -3 to +3 would be about right as that reflects the Cha characteristic bonuses. If you were playing Zweihander then -30 to +30 would work well or -4 to +4 for FUDGE and FATE.

Here is an example for a small town.

So in this case any interactions between Captain Flack and the Pugh twins would be at +2 (reading across) because he likes or respects them, but the Pughs do not really care one way or another about Flack (their reaction modifier is ±0) but between Captain Flack and the Mayor is as -2 and Philby (the Mayors manservant) is -3.

The Mayor doesn’t have any strong feelings towards Flack (±0) but Philby is at -2 so it looks like the animosity lays there.

The numbers in this case were simply 1d6-3. What this gives you is a layer of social cohesion between all the NPCs in a town without having to prep and write complex back stories.

As a GM you can ‘lend’ these reactions to the PCs when they get caught between two NPCs. For example Captain Flack asks the characters to carry a message to the Mayor. He does this to avoid going there himself. If the characters have to ask to see the Mayor via Philby he is much more likely to make them wait around and just be plain awkward if Philby knows they are carrying a message from Flack.

As GM you can use this same grid to construct all sorts of small town politics. Let us look at Dora Minton, Chippy Minton’s wife. Philby has a +3 reaction to Dora but Flack has a -3. They are at totally opposite ends of the scale. Was that the source of their falling out?

Chippy Minton has a -1 reaction mod towards his own wife but she is at +2 towards him. Does that sound like he is angry at her for something and she is desperate to make amends?

This table/grid can be a source of town gossip, local tension or even great assistance to the characters. It is fast to build on the fly. If you create an NPC you can quickly rolls a couple of D6 to see how he or she is regarded by their peers. You do not need to complete the whole table at once. If the characters ask at the tavern about a place to stay you can quickly check the reactions between barkeep and two inn owners. Maybe he like one much better than the other?

I find this grid to be a really useful ‘no prep’ way of adding a layer of depth to towns and villages and the NPCs that inhabit them. If an NPC goes missing who do the local gossips start to blame? Who do you need to win over to resolve a local rivalry?

Related posts:

  1. Quietly beavering away
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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

RPGSmith

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 09:00

A couple of days ago, David Sumner, co-founder of RPGSmith got in touch with me and told me about his free web application. RPGSmith is – in a nutshell – an interactive character sheet with additional features like item, spell and ability management. The current application is meant for players, but they’ll be launching a Kickstarter later this week to fund an extended version of RPGSmith which will feature a GM campaign management interface.

At the moment, the application supports the following rulesets: D&D 5th Edition, Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorers Edition, Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition, Fate Core, Fate Accelerated, and Pathfinder. It is possible to add your own rulesets though.

From what I’ve seen so far RPGSmith could be a pretty nifty tool for players regardless whether they are playing online or offline. There is a bit of a learning curve though, but luckily the site provides users with quite a few tutorial videos.

Having an interactive character sheet definitely comes in handy from time to time, and RPGSmith has support for desktop PCs and mobile devices, which is a plus in my book. You can even customize your character sheets to your hearts content. Will it change the way we play RPGs? I have my doubts, but it’s worth a look nevertheless.

What are your thoughts on RPGSmith? Have you had the chance to try it out? Please share your comment below!

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

All good things come in Threes…

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 12:44

If you have followed my blog for a while you surely must have noticed that there’s a certain white whale I am hunting for years now: an old-school D&D sandbox campaign. I’ve made several attempts to get one up and running, I switched around between various variants of the rules, sometimes abandoning D&D completely. Campaigns meant as sandboxes became more regular campaigns, and more often than not, I quickly burned out on running roleplaying games in general.

For years I have struggled with how the get things started. I either didn’t plan enough and relied on my improv skill alone or I overplanned and quickly felt overwhelmed, the fun draining out of me, like blood from a festering wound. But I think I finally found solutions to my problem. In his blog ChicagoWiz’s Games and his podcast The Dungeon Master’s Handbook he thoroughly explains his approach to old-school sandbox gaming and even provides us with countless campaign starters.

The idea behind his “Three Hexes Campaign Starters” is quite simple. You start things small. At first you come up with a short campaign idea. What is your world all about? Then you place a homebase (like a small town, keep, etc.) on your hex map. In addition to this you should come up with three interesting places to explore and place them onto the map adjacent to the homebase. This should give your players a couple of options on what to do next without overwhelming yourself of the players. Last but not least you should have three important NPCs ready: one where the party can buy new equipment and supplies, one where they can sell their loot and last but not least someone who helps them with acquiring new loot. That can be a patron providing them with incentive to explore the wilds beyond the homebase or it’s an old man sharing rumors and legends with them.

You can then expand on this by adding more hexes, more locations, more NPCs as needed. You don’t have to plan out more than what you can use in the next session. It also should provide enough options without paralyzing the players with too many option. If you want to learn more about Michael’s ideas on starting a starting a sandbox campaign, I highly recommend his post titled “Just Three Hexes”.

Related posts:

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Podcast Recommendation: The Dungeon Master’s Handbook

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 08:00

This is a quick follow-up to my last post. I got in touch with Michael Shorten aka ChicagoWiz and asked him for advice on how to run old-school sandbox games. He pointed me towards the podcast he had been recording last year.

In the 17 episodes of “The Dungeon Master’s Handbook” he talks about how to run con games, how to design and run a sandbox campaign, and many more highly interesting subjects. What I particularly liked is the fact that each of the episodes is about 20 minutes in length. This is enough time to convey even complex ideas but short enough so that you can easily include it in a busy schedule.

I’ve listened to the first two episodes so far and I wholeheartedly recommend the podcast to everyone interested in old-school gaming. Unfortunately he ended the podcast after 17 episodes because of lack of audience and interest. I think it’s a shame because Michael has real talent and many DM’s could learn a thing or two from him. Perhaps some renewed interest in the existing episodes and some valuable feedback from new listeners might make him reconsider.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

From my reading list: ChicagoWiz’s RPG Blog

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 07:30

I really, really want to run a new game for my friends, but I am still not sure if I am a) ready for it and b) what I should pick. You know, I majorly burned out on running games. I tried to take up the gamemaster’s mantle several times during the last months and it always ended in me cancelling the whole thing after a few sessions.

So, instead of making concrete plans, I am looking for advice which might help me to get into running roleplaying games again and I also want to try out new things which will hopefully help me avoid old mistakes. One thing I have been eyeing for a while is a D&D-based sandbox campaign. Since I found 5th Edition too much of a hassle for me, I decided to give BECMI a try. I picked up a POD copy of the Rules Cyclopedia a while back, and I own the various boxed sets in digital form, so at least the mechanics side is covered.

I haven’t really run a sandbox campaign yet, but I’ve played in a long-running Mutants: Year Zero game, which has strong sandbox elements. I’ve also read various posts about how to run hex-crawls and sandbox campaigns, but I am still not sure how and where I should start with my preparations.

This is where I stumbled upon some posts written by Michael S. aka ChicagoWiz. He’s a veteran D&D GM and I worked with him in the past. Here are the posts I recently put onto my “to read” list, and I am pretty sure some of you could also learn from them:

By the way, these posts are on his old, inactive blog. For newer posts including a couple of three hexes campaign starters, check out his new blog!

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

More Modiphius News: Grimmerspace

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 10:38

It seems the folks at Modiphius are on a roll right now. Recently I shared news about their upcoming Fallout RPG and the new Achtung! Cthulhu edition for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition. They also just released a huge number of miniatures and books for their new John Carter line. So it’s probably no surprise that I put the news about a new setting for Paizo’s Starfinder to the side for a while.

This upcoming setting is called Grimmerspace and will be co-written by none other than Sean Astin of Lord of the Rings and Stranger Things fame. I was actually quite surprised when I read this bit of info in the official press release since I didn’t know Astin was a roleplaying game fan.

 

The game will be designed by Iron GM Games (Lou Agresta and Rone Barton), and Modiphius will act as a worldwide distributor. Fitting the theme of Starfinder, Glimmerspace will be a science-fantasy setting in which high technology and magic coexist. Personally I am not that interested in Starfinder-related stuff, but I still thought this news might be of interest to some of you.

If you are looking for more information on Grimmerspace and the upcoming Kickstarter to fund it, check out their official website.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

F*ck the ENnies

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 08:40

Please excuse the click-baity nature of the title, but I thought it was the best way to get your attention. So what is the issue I am having with the ENnies? First let me state that I don’t have any beef with the people running the ENnie awards. But I think the ENnie awards are basically worthless. Let me explain.

Usually when someone gets an award you think it’s because of excellence in the field. Just think of the Nobel price. The best and brightest are rewarded for furthering human knowledge, culture, or working towards peace. It is not a popularity contest. Sure, even the Nobel Price committees got things wrong from time to time, but in general if you won this award you’re an expert in your field and you achieved something worth of merit.

The ENnie awards don’t work that way. Every person or company can enter their products as long as they were released in a certain time frame. Out of all the entries a small number of judges pick a couple of nominees the public then votes on. So, it’s a popularity contest. Usually the game, blog, etc. which wins an ENnie award has been highly successful and popular before. RPG products of excellent quality but which are not well known, usually have almost no chance to get an award and the publicity that comes with it. Even if the judges try to nominate niche products with excellent quality, in the end the public still votes for what’s popular.

Another issue is that companies or persons with a large following can easily make sure their products get the votes they need. I also assume that it should be quite possible to have people vote several times, or to automate voting, so the results get skewed even more. Personally I think the whole idea of having such a popularity contest is wrong. People already vote with their wallets, why should we – as the RPG community – then give awards based on popularity? Shouldn’t we instead promote quality?

Don’t get me wrong, some of the products winning an ENnie might actually be of extremely high quality and deserving an award. There may have been cases where the ENnies even managed to put an underrated product into the limelight. But in general the same companies, game lines and products get rewarded. For example, can you remember a year in which Gnome Stew didn’t win an ENnie? Sure, they have put out quite a few great articles over the years, but are there no other blogs worthy of an award? Or think of all the WotC and Paizo products nominated.

So in the end, an ENnie award is basically not that different to having a Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum Seller badge on DriveThruRPG. It’s just a more complicated and expensive procedure to get one.

In the past I submitted my blog to the ENnies a couple of times. When I tried for the first time I was actually hoping to at least get an honorable mention. Is it possible that I am now biased against the ENnie awards because of that? Yeah, that’s possible. But even if I were, my arguments still hold up. The message is clear: the ENnie awards are a popularity contest – nothing more, nothing less. Do we really need it? No. Is there a better alternative? I don’t think there is.

By the way, this post was inspired by the Grumpy Old Gamers podcast by jim pinto and Richard Iorio which recently had an episode talking about awards in general and the ENnies in particular. If you haven’t done so, you definitely should listen to it!

Related posts:

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Critical Role KS Criticism

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 15:14

I have to admit I haven’t really followed the discussions surrounding the Critical Role Kickstarter project. Heck, I haven’t even checked out the project itself until recently. So what is all the fuzz about? Matthew Mercer and his motley crew of voice-acting friends, famous for their D&D actual play series Critical Role, are raising funds for the production of a animated TV series called “The Legend of Vox Machina”. In no time, they reached the set goal of about 666.000€ and at the time of this writing they have raised over 6 million euros. This is HUGE! I don’t think any roleplaying-related fundraiser had ever raised that much money.

Quickly criticism was raised (Check out this article on Kotaku). At first people from the industry were obviously miffed that streamers like Critical Role make more money off of RPGs than the people actually designing those games. In a way I can understand the frustration. Making money in the RPG business is extremely hard. There are only a few designers out there who can live off RPGs alone.

But in that case it’s IMHO an apples versus oranges situation. Critical Role is raising money for an animated TV series. A lot of the people interested in this series might not even be roleplaying game fans themselves. I have watched a couple of episodes of both seasons of Critical Role and I can see the appeal of taking part in their adventures as a spectator. It is possible that some of the backers have never played a roleplaying game in their lives. Perhaps they heard from friends about the show, or they know Vox Machina from their cameos in the Pillars of Eternity 2 video game. Will some of the people backing Critical Role now eventually throw money towards roleplaying game creators? Possible. My point is that the show might have a larger appeal than just people playing D&D 5th Edition or Pathfinder at the moment. In the long run the success of Critical Role will probably lead to more sales in the RPG industry.

The second criticism raised is about diversity. While this particularly group of friends is not entirely male, like way too many roleplaying game groups, the lack of persons of color is noticeable. We all know that representation is important. Critical Role has become a kind of ambassador for the roleplaying hobby, and so it would be great if their cast included persons of color.

But things are not that easy. Before Critical Role was a hit show on Twitch and YouTube, the members of the group were just friends enjoying the game. There have been several guest players on the show and perhaps they might actually add a non-white person to the cast. Since the show evolved from a fun past time to something greater, calling for more diversity and more representation of minorities on the show might not be unreasonable, but it’s not something we can force. Change is slow. But I think we are on the right track.

With their popular and financial success comes a certain responsibility. The future will show if they use their power to do good for the whole community or if they are more interested in increasing revenue for themselves. From what I’ve heard so far, Matt Mercer and crew are good people. They’ll hopefully do the right things. And if not, we – as fans and fellow roleplayers – can nudge them into the right direction again. It’s the same in live as it is in roleplaying games: It’s not only one person’s job to ensure everyone is having a good time. This responsibility falls to all of us.

What are your thoughts on the criticism regarding the Critical Role KS? Please share your thoughts below!

Related posts:

  1. Warhammer Fantasy Role Play 3rd Edition Trailer
  2. The Mercer Effect
  3. Time to Speak Out with my Geek Out… Role-Playing Games in my case!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Colonial Gothic: Grim & Perilous RPG

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 08:32

If you have been following this blog for a while you might already know that I love the old Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Game from Games Workshop. It was basically the first RPG I played for an extended period of time, and back in the day I immediately fell in love with both its setting and the rules. So it is probably no surprise that I have a soft spot for Zweihänder by Grim & Perilous Studios (My fellow blogger Peter recently wrote an extensive review of this game here on our blog). Zweihänder is a fans love letter to this game, a 600+ pages tome which contains enough material to keep you playing for years. Zweihänder’s rules are pretty close to the 1st and 2nd edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, but also introduce new ideas. It’s not just a “retro clone” but rather a refinement of the original rules. The implied setting is basically the Old World with the serial numbers filed off, but there are also a few example settings included.

A while back, Grim & Perilous Studios’ David D. Fox started posting artwork for an upcoming project and I immediately thought: “Hey, this looks a lot like Colonial Gothic”. Unbeknownst to me David D. Fox had been working with Rogue Games’ Richard Iorio to combine the awesome setting of Colonial Gothic with Zweihänder’s rules. Personally I love this idea. I think Colonial Gothic needs more love. It is an awesome game but is often overlooked by the gaming community. Combining the setting with a more popular system could bring it into the limelight.

Ok, what is Colonial Gothic all about? Colonial Gothic is a roleplaying game set into the early years of the American Revolution. Aside from the fight against the British there’s also a secret war brewing against the forces of chaos and darkness. These might be unspeakable horrors spawned by Magick, vampires from the old world, witches, angry spirits, and many more. What sets Colonial Gothic apart is the amount of research that went into it. Some of the sourcebooks for the game can easily double as historical text books. Yes, they are that good!

I probably should also mention at this point that I also have a more personal connection to Rogue Games. I first met Richard at GenCon in 2010 and we have stayed in touch after that. Even though we don’t talk or chat as often as I’d like I consider him a friend, a kindred spirit. I also did proof reading for several of his books. Unfortunately I was never able to actually run a game of Colonial Gothic. The interest in the setting is quite limited over here in Germany.

Ok, let’s talk a bit more about the upcoming game. Colonial Gothc: Grim & Perilous RPG will be another 600+ page book. It will be an all-in-one rulebook with all-new artwork (I’ve added the example artwork from the official press release into this post). I guess the rules will mostly be unchanged from what we’ve seen in Zweihänder, but there should be new careers, new monsters, and a different magic system. While some might be intimidated by the tome-like qualities of the book, I actually applaud the decision to make it an all-in-one affair. That’s actually one of the reasons why I always preferred the original WFRP to its successors. I have to admit, I am pretty excited about this upcoming game and I really hope this will be a successful venture for both David D. Fox and Richard Iorio. I wish you guys all the best of luck!

What are your thoughts on this marriage of Colonial Gothic and Zweihänder? Are you as excited as I am or does the setting leave you cold? Please share your thoughts below!

Related posts:

  1. A Grim And Perilous Adventure
  2. Small Press Publisher Spotlight: Rogue Games
  3. What about The Ruins Perilous? A review…

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Achtung! Cthulhu for 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 07:36

A few days ago I was surprised to find emails from DriveThruRPG in my inbox with links to free copies of three new products. As it turned out Mödiphiüs had just released an updated version of their Achtung! Cthulhu game for 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu, and as one of the original backers I was eligible for a free copy. The core rules consist of the Investigator’s Guide (a 128-paged PDF containing all the rules needed by the players) and the Keeper’s Guide (a 216-paged PDF with the background, new rules for WW2 combat, a bestiary, and everything else the GM needs to run this game).

Achtung! Cthulhu is – as the name implies – a Call of Cthulhu game set into World War 2. The horror of war and the atrocities of the Nazis are combined with Lovecraftian cosmic horror. The characters are Allied soldiers or agents of Allied services fighting both the Axis and the Mythos creatures weaponized by them. The setting also helps to solve one the issues that often crop up in Call of Cthulhu games: why should the investigators travel the world, risking their lives and their sanity, while at the same time jeopardizing their jobs and relationships? Delta Green solved the issue by making the investigators members of a government conspiracy. In Achtung! Cthulhu you’re playing the soldiers fighting a war. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to actually play Achtung! Cthulhu yet, but now I can at least do so with the latest iteration of the Call of Cthulhu rules. If you enjoy Lovecraftian Horror and have an interest in WW2, you definitely should check Achtung! Cthulhu out!


While checking out the official Mödiphiüs site I was also reminded of Achtung! Cthulhu Skirmish, their tabletop miniatures game in the same setting. Miniature skirmish games have always been a mixed bag for me. I love playing those games, but I am not particularly good at them. They can also quickly become a huge money and time sink. I have to admit that Achtung! Cthulhu Skirmish looks quite tempting and the miniature prices are very reasonable. If you are into these kinds of games, you definitely should give it a look.

What are your thoughts on Achtung! Cthulhu? Have you actually played the RPG or the miniature game? Please share your comments below.

Related posts:

  1. Kickstarter: Achtung! Cthulhu
  2. Review: ACHTUNG! Cthulhu – Three Kings
  3. Kickstarter: Achtung! Cthulhu – Assault on the Mountains of Madness Confirmed!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hell froze over: Bethesda granted Modiphius Fallout RPG license!

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 14:16

If you told me yesterday that Bethesda would eventually allow someone to design a Fallout pen & paper roleplaying game, I wouldn’t have believed it. For a very long time they weren’t willing to let anyone touch this franchise. But it seem Modiphius managed to convince them that Fallout was in good hands with them.

What’s even more surprising that they’ll not just release one but two RPGs in the Fallout universe. The first one will be a roleplaying expansion to their successful Fallout Wasteland Warfare miniatures game (check out our interview with its designer James Sheahan). The second one will be a more traditional tabletop RPG using Modiphius’ 2d20 System. You can learn more about these games on Modiphius’ Fallout Roleplaying website.

The one based on the miniature game will actually be out this summer and will be playable without miniatures as a standalone RPG using free downloadable cards!

I am extremely excited about these news and hope we’ll get more details on both games in the near future!

Related posts:

  1. Fallout Wasteland Warfare Q&A with Designer James Sheahan
  2. Hell froze over: There will be a new Alternity RPG
  3. More Modiphius News: Grimmerspace

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

From my blogroll: “expensive toys” by Brad J. Murray

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 09:41

Today I stumbled upon an excellent article written by Brad J. Murray about luxury games (like Monte Cook’s Invisible Sun) and the struggles of indie game designers. It’s definitely well worth your time. I posted an excerpt below.

My business, the VSCA, is in a very privileged space. It’s not for me to talk about whether someone elses pricing scheme is good or bad, just or unjust. It is certainly all those things. So let’s just look at some things that are certainly true and wonder how much we care. You get to decide how much you care for yourself.

Monte Cook Games pays a decent wage to their writers and artists. Far above the indie norm.

A hundred bucks in one outlay is too much money for some people to pay. They cannot afford to buy this game (Invisible Sun) even in digital only form. [..]

Check it out!

Related posts:

  1. Monte Cook’s New Game will be Weird – With a Capital W.
  2. Some thoughts on Invisible Sun
  3. Humble RPG Book Bundle: Numenera

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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