Sunday, 20 August 2017

Day 20. What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?

Wayne's Books.

Wayne is writing about a Twilight:2000 game on Google+ right now that he runs.

If Wayne doesn't have it, he probably knows where to find it. Noble Knight apparently plays in this space, but I only deal with Wayne.

I might say also if you're looking for D&D, look no further than the Dungeon Masters Guild by OneBookshelf. The PDF selection is pretty amazing.

Comment below, but I'm sticking to my story...

Posted by caffeinated at 11:03 PM in d10

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Day 19. Which RPG features the best writing?

This is a tough one.

Lot's of games have passed through my hands and I've read as many. I could just fall on my all time favorite, but I will instead veer right: Shadowrun.

I have a memory board of sorts, it's a clipboard now almost 30 years old. Various items decorate its surface: an interview with Bart Simpson from the AJC at the peak of The Simpsons popularity in '89 or '90, a label from a bottle of Michelob Dry, a piece of art I drew for a fraternity tee, and the iconic Shadowrun skull.

In 1990, and I'm certain I've blogged here about it, I was a tournament Shadowrun GM at the Atlanta Fantasy Fair. The affair was poorly managed, but that has nothing to do with "best writing." And my pick is the first edition Shadowrun game.

I'm not talking about structure. SR1E is notorious for the awful structure and rules presentation. But in 1989 SR was groundbreaking and then the setting just made it pop. Sure, it borrowed heavily from Gibson and Sterling at the time, but the ideas presented in the Sixth World, UGE, the Ghost Dance, and the richly detailed Sprawl of Seattle cemented the setting. And then there was the merciless mocking of Scientology with the Universal Brotherhood. Wha?! Check the cover of the original sourcebook. See that volcano? Dianetics anyone?

But the sourcebooks contained the ramblings of Fastjack, the BBS, Dunkelzahn the PR savvy dragon, the advertisements for fictional haunts and more. Player and GM alike would fall into the world. And I did. 

I sold the lot of my first edition collection on eBay 17 years ago. The Universal Brotherhood sourcebook sold in an auction for $100.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Friday, 18 August 2017

Day 18. Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

I already said this list is oddly curated right?

Warhammer Fantasy Role Play 2E.


Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Day 17. Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?

There are two epochs in this answer: Ante Matrimonium and Anno Matrimonium.

In the former, I have to say it was probably High Colonies, a hard science RPG in a post-Terran world. I purchased it as background material for a campaign I was working on for Shadowrun. The idea was to build on Neuromancer and Mona Lisa Overdrive concepts of orbiting platforms and a rich "Mr. Johnson" that was collecting artifacts, including things like the Apollo 11 Plaque on the Moon.

In the latter period, it has to be Heroes Against Darkness by Justin Halliday. A sort of proto-5E heartbreaker. But damn is it solid. Free PDF online, but worth the POD copy. Solid, simple system, and an open setting with incredible research into medieval archetypes.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Day 16. Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

Either there is something wrong with me or there is something wrong with the curation of the 2017 RPG-a-Day schedule.

I'm actually inclined to say it's a little of both. Do my answers of "all games" and "WFRP" seem repetitive? If so, too bad.

My goto games tend to be varied in system and setting, TMNT&OS, Twilght:2000, fantasy heartbreaker Heroes Against Darkness, BECMI, AD&D 1e, D&D 5e, and WFRP. To a title, I use them AS-IS. I tend to houserule when something feels too cumbersome to use, but is that antithetical to the question? If it is, we have a problem.

But if I must state what game I use AS-IS, speaking from a puritanical soapbox: WFRP 2e. WFRP 2e fixed issues in 1e I found to ugly to deal with. Give me the core book and some players ready for grim-dark and you have a game.

Posted by caffeinated at 7:29 PM in d10

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Day 15. Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

In my relationship with Warhammer Fantasy Role Play and, more recently D&D 5E, I have to say that adapting BECMI D&D and Pathfinder has been a joy.

For WFRP, I have seeded side quests with Free RPG Day Pathfinder material. For my Beer and Pretzel D&D 5E game I have turned to Red Box and Advanced D&D for Greyhawk story elements and material, like Temple of Elemental Evil.

In the latter case, the argument might be, "That's not adapting shit. D&D is D&D." I disagree. 5E trues hard to its roots in BECMI and AD&D, but adapting is the operative word. AD&D, for all its fiddly bits, often took high fantasy liberties with magic and traps. In 30 years, a rule soon existed for everything, and playing in those environments trains players and GMs alike to remain true to the ever expanding codex. 

5E attempts to burn that codex, and in the flames a vision of wonderful adaptation opportunities that hew closer to the works of Jack Vance, Leiber, and so many other writers popular in the 60s, 70s and 80s can be seen.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:53 PM in d10

Monday, 14 August 2017

Day 14. Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

Any RPG is capable of open-ended campaign play, a.k.a. "the campaign sandbox," but not all RPGs are suited to it.

My preferences have proved that Warhammer Fantasy Role Play, Pathfinder, D&D (save 4E), and even Twilight:2000 are well suited for sandbox play. But the story the players want to tell and the GM's ability to frame the challenges ultimately judges the game.

Getting your players to explore more is a GM skill that I still work on. Knowing that the Floodlight and Flashlight do exist helps in resolving problems where open-ended play may flounder.

The Floodlight is how the GM sees the world and the story, where the Flashlight is how the players view the same. Anything outside the beam of the Flashlight is unknown. Nurturing the sense of exploration necessary for open-ended play is the art of getting the story and world in front of the Flashlight for the players to see.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:12 PM in d10

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Day 13. Describe a game experience that changed how you play?

Can I point you to Day 7 and call this one done? 

This question carries too many similarities: judging the nuance of impactful and change may be judging the quality of the same coin.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:56 PM in d10

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Day 12. Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

You already know of my love for Elmore. You already know my answer.

Basic Set 1, Dungeons and Dragons, The Red Box, Mentzer.

I'm literally flipping through a copy my good friend Roger B. presented me from his visit to GameHoleCan last year. Signed by Frank Mentzer himself!

Every simple piece of art in the Players Manual elicits something unique about being a player. Even just shopping for equipment! Easley and Holloway are sprinkled lightly in the Dungeon Masters Rulebook, but Elmore dominates.

Aleena, Zombies, a glimpse of Bargle, magic missiles "on-target," the death of an NPC, shop keeps, a rust monster!, and even the entrance to the dungeon captured my attention. Later we get to see halflings, elves, dwarves, thieves, fighters, and more. All archetypes that were burned into my mind. 

The Red Box was, and is, the source of my love for the game today. Its art the very definition of inspiring: to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:40 PM in d10

Friday, 11 August 2017

Day 11. Which 'dead game' would you like to see reborn?

Until Cubicle 7's announcement of winning the Warhammer Fantasy Role Play license, my answer would have been, well, WFRP. In the first quarter of 2008, Black Library ceased publishing WFRP in partnership with Green Ronin. Fantasy Flight Games picked up the license and ran the property into the ground with a Third Edition (3E).

In the intervening 10 year gap, I wanted to see a Second Edition Second Edition (2E). I watched the space, nothing. 3E floundered in my opinion—I never engaged with 3E—and if FFG could declare any success: 3E was a playtest of a system that eventually evolved into the Star Wars narrative dice system. 

But I must mention that the fan community of 2E never died. Liber Fanatica, a fan supplement hub, continued after 2008 with several pieces of important world building content that Black Library missed. And there were whispers in 2009 and 2010 on boards like Strike to Stun that spoke of an effort to create a simulacrum of 2E. Those whispers were of Zweihänder, a sort of Germanic portmanteau for "two-hander." It more recently caught my attention with the leadup to a finished product and release on the various OneBookshelf properties. Zweihänder is the 2E game I think I sought. Yet my attention was short circuited by Cubicle 7's press release. My copy of Zweihänder collects bit dust on my hard drive.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:33 PM in d10