Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

I can sum this up with: Google+.

Google+ is my RPG home. My circles are mostly OSR, D&D and WFRP. These circles cross over in many places. I run, and lurk, in several G+ Communities that also help me stay in touch with the wider introductions of RPGs. Kickstarters are often pushed to these Communities.

nuff said? 

Probably. I find that I'm usually taking in a lot of media in the periphery, aware of new things, but I tend to filter it til I'm ready to give it some consideration or the signal becomes to great to ignore.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:52 AM in d10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?

RPGs rarely are so creative that they are born from nothing. Even the most well known RPG was born from the need to codify a set of rules to make sword, sandal, sorcery, technology, and gonzo futures into a game. Often other games attempt to tease these genres apart for specific tastes.

That said, if there was an intellectual property I would love to see as an RPG it might be the world of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, followed in a close second, The Baroque Cycle.

In the former, a near future Earth is destroyed by a shattered Moon. Only seven women survive in the end on a heavily modified ISS. The women genetically propagate the human species with SCIENCE! 5000 years later, a massive space colony exists in orbit around the Earth. The only piece of the Moon that remains acts as a memorial to the Seveneves, the ISS, and the anchor to an orbiting Space Elevator.

The Earth is being explored again after 5000 years. New oceans have been terra formed from massive comets intentionally steered into the Earth. Archipelagos, rings of mountainous islands, created centuries ago by the Moonfall are being explored.

Seveneves has all the elements of a wider world perfect for an RPG. A massive space colony. "The Epic," a literal digital recording, from thousands of cameras, of the months leading up to Moonfall, including the last days when only seven women were left. The Epic plays in a continuous loop across the space colony to remind them of humanity's near extinction. A secretive cabal of people that may tie back to Stephenson's wider narrative world found in The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. A Cold War born of the genetic decisions of the Seveneves provides character factions and options. Discoveries on Earth that awaken questions of what happened 5000 years ago, human evolution, and what the Seveneves could have known days before Moonfall.

Seveneves, the RPG.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:42 PM in d10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Day 1. What published RPG do you wish your were playing right now?

Can I be pedantic? Published... when? In or out of print?

If I lean into this question it's going to be Out of Print. The only in-print game I'm really playing right now is D&D 5e

But my out-of-print game I wish I was playing right now is Twilight:2000. The bound core rules for 1e are closely at hand in my home office. If I'm not catching up on some historical fiction or readying myself for one of two games I run online and in-person, WFRP and D&D 5e respectively, then I'm reading the beautiful dance of crunchiness that are the rules of Twilight:2000. The setting is so rich and so much what everyone thought the long march to the collapse of Communism was going to bring in the mid-80s.

The abstraction is not without its naysayers. Often, I find the naysayers woefully unfamiliar with munitions so I tend to ignore them outright—they complain that 3 round bursts are stupid; to which I often must point out that the fire-selector on many weapons had a 3 round burst selector! Or the magazines don't hold the correct number of rounds. P'ah. So easily accounted for though ignoring and simple correction.

The game is about attrition and the GM should be watching supplies to drive the story and game. Make the PCs stop to distill alcohol. Forage. Re-stack supplies from the broken down 2-1/2 ton. 

I do have one complaint though. Polish. If the game was published today, GDW would have to publish a pronunciation guide. I've said as much before.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:51 PM in d10

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

I can sum this up with: Google+.

Google+ is my RPG home. My circles are mostly OSR, D&D and WFRP. These circles cross over in many places. I run, and lurk, in several G+ Communities that also help me stay in touch with the wider introductions of RPGs. Kickstarters are often pushed to these Communities.

nuff said? 

Probably. I find that I'm usually taking in a lot of media in the periphery, aware of new things, but I tend to filter it til I'm ready to give it some consideration or the signal becomes to great to ignore.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:52 AM in d10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?

RPGs rarely are so creative that they are born from nothing. Even the most well known RPG was born from the need to codify a set of rules to make sword, sandal, sorcery, technology, and gonzo futures into a game. Often other games attempt to tease these genres apart for specific tastes.

That said, if there was an intellectual property I would love to see as an RPG it might be the world of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, followed in a close second, The Baroque Cycle.

In the former, a near future Earth is destroyed by a shattered Moon. Only seven women survive in the end on a heavily modified ISS. The women genetically propagate the human species with SCIENCE! 5000 years later, a massive space colony exists in orbit around the Earth. The only piece of the Moon that remains acts as a memorial to the Seveneves, the ISS, and the anchor to an orbiting Space Elevator.

The Earth is being explored again after 5000 years. New oceans have been terra formed from massive comets intentionally steered into the Earth. Archipelagos, rings of mountainous islands, created centuries ago by the Moonfall are being explored.

Seveneves has all the elements of a wider world perfect for an RPG. A massive space colony. "The Epic," a literal digital recording, from thousands of cameras, of the months leading up to Moonfall, including the last days when only seven women were left. The Epic plays in a continuous loop across the space colony to remind them of humanity's near extinction. A secretive cabal of people that may tie back to Stephenson's wider narrative world found in The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. A Cold War born of the genetic decisions of the Seveneves provides character factions and options. Discoveries on Earth that awaken questions of what happened 5000 years ago, human evolution, and what the Seveneves could have known days before Moonfall.

Seveneves, the RPG.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:42 PM in d10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Day 1. What published RPG do you wish your were playing right now?

Can I be pedantic? Published... when? In or out of print?

If I lean into this question it's going to be Out of Print. The only in-print game I'm really playing right now is D&D 5e

But my out-of-print game I wish I was playing right now is Twilight:2000. The bound core rules for 1e are closely at hand in my home office. If I'm not catching up on some historical fiction or readying myself for one of two games I run online and in-person, WFRP and D&D 5e respectively, then I'm reading the beautiful dance of crunchiness that are the rules of Twilight:2000. The setting is so rich and so much what everyone thought the long march to the collapse of Communism was going to bring in the mid-80s.

The abstraction is not without its naysayers. Often, I find the naysayers woefully unfamiliar with munitions so I tend to ignore them outright—they complain that 3 round bursts are stupid; to which I often must point out that the fire-selector on many weapons had a 3 round burst selector! Or the magazines don't hold the correct number of rounds. P'ah. So easily accounted for though ignoring and simple correction.

The game is about attrition and the GM should be watching supplies to drive the story and game. Make the PCs stop to distill alcohol. Forage. Re-stack supplies from the broken down 2-1/2 ton. 

I do have one complaint though. Polish. If the game was published today, GDW would have to publish a pronunciation guide. I've said as much before.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:51 PM in d10

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

I can sum this up with: Google+.

Google+ is my RPG home. My circles are mostly OSR, D&D and WFRP. These circles cross over in many places. I run, and lurk, in several G+ Communities that also help me stay in touch with the wider introductions of RPGs. Kickstarters are often pushed to these Communities.

nuff said? 

Probably. I find that I'm usually taking in a lot of media in the periphery, aware of new things, but I tend to filter it til I'm ready to give it some consideration or the signal becomes to great to ignore.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:52 AM in d10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?

RPGs rarely are so creative that they are born from nothing. Even the most well known RPG was born from the need to codify a set of rules to make sword, sandal, sorcery, technology, and gonzo futures into a game. Often other games attempt to tease these genres apart for specific tastes.

That said, if there was an intellectual property I would love to see as an RPG it might be the world of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, followed in a close second, The Baroque Cycle.

In the former, a near future Earth is destroyed by a shattered Moon. Only seven women survive in the end on a heavily modified ISS. The women genetically propagate the human species with SCIENCE! 5000 years later, a massive space colony exists in orbit around the Earth. The only piece of the Moon that remains acts as a memorial to the Seveneves, the ISS, and the anchor to an orbiting Space Elevator.

The Earth is being explored again after 5000 years. New oceans have been terra formed from massive comets intentionally steered into the Earth. Archipelagos, rings of mountainous islands, created centuries ago by the Moonfall are being explored.

Seveneves has all the elements of a wider world perfect for an RPG. A massive space colony. "The Epic," a literal digital recording, from thousands of cameras, of the months leading up to Moonfall, including the last days when only seven women were left. The Epic plays in a continuous loop across the space colony to remind them of humanity's near extinction. A secretive cabal of people that may tie back to Stephenson's wider narrative world found in The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. A Cold War born of the genetic decisions of the Seveneves provides character factions and options. Discoveries on Earth that awaken questions of what happened 5000 years ago, human evolution, and what the Seveneves could have known days before Moonfall.

Seveneves, the RPG.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:42 PM in d10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Day 1. What published RPG do you wish your were playing right now?

Can I be pedantic? Published... when? In or out of print?

If I lean into this question it's going to be Out of Print. The only in-print game I'm really playing right now is D&D 5e

But my out-of-print game I wish I was playing right now is Twilight:2000. The bound core rules for 1e are closely at hand in my home office. If I'm not catching up on some historical fiction or readying myself for one of two games I run online and in-person, WFRP and D&D 5e respectively, then I'm reading the beautiful dance of crunchiness that are the rules of Twilight:2000. The setting is so rich and so much what everyone thought the long march to the collapse of Communism was going to bring in the mid-80s.

The abstraction is not without its naysayers. Often, I find the naysayers woefully unfamiliar with munitions so I tend to ignore them outright—they complain that 3 round bursts are stupid; to which I often must point out that the fire-selector on many weapons had a 3 round burst selector! Or the magazines don't hold the correct number of rounds. P'ah. So easily accounted for though ignoring and simple correction.

The game is about attrition and the GM should be watching supplies to drive the story and game. Make the PCs stop to distill alcohol. Forage. Re-stack supplies from the broken down 2-1/2 ton. 

I do have one complaint though. Polish. If the game was published today, GDW would have to publish a pronunciation guide. I've said as much before.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:51 PM in d10

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

I can sum this up with: Google+.

Google+ is my RPG home. My circles are mostly OSR, D&D and WFRP. These circles cross over in many places. I run, and lurk, in several G+ Communities that also help me stay in touch with the wider introductions of RPGs. Kickstarters are often pushed to these Communities.

nuff said? 

Probably. I find that I'm usually taking in a lot of media in the periphery, aware of new things, but I tend to filter it til I'm ready to give it some consideration or the signal becomes to great to ignore.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:52 AM in d10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?

RPGs rarely are so creative that they are born from nothing. Even the most well known RPG was born from the need to codify a set of rules to make sword, sandal, sorcery, technology, and gonzo futures into a game. Often other games attempt to tease these genres apart for specific tastes.

That said, if there was an intellectual property I would love to see as an RPG it might be the world of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, followed in a close second, The Baroque Cycle.

In the former, a near future Earth is destroyed by a shattered Moon. Only seven women survive in the end on a heavily modified ISS. The women genetically propagate the human species with SCIENCE! 5000 years later, a massive space colony exists in orbit around the Earth. The only piece of the Moon that remains acts as a memorial to the Seveneves, the ISS, and the anchor to an orbiting Space Elevator.

The Earth is being explored again after 5000 years. New oceans have been terra formed from massive comets intentionally steered into the Earth. Archipelagos, rings of mountainous islands, created centuries ago by the Moonfall are being explored.

Seveneves has all the elements of a wider world perfect for an RPG. A massive space colony. "The Epic," a literal digital recording, from thousands of cameras, of the months leading up to Moonfall, including the last days when only seven women were left. The Epic plays in a continuous loop across the space colony to remind them of humanity's near extinction. A secretive cabal of people that may tie back to Stephenson's wider narrative world found in The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. A Cold War born of the genetic decisions of the Seveneves provides character factions and options. Discoveries on Earth that awaken questions of what happened 5000 years ago, human evolution, and what the Seveneves could have known days before Moonfall.

Seveneves, the RPG.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:42 PM in d10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Day 1. What published RPG do you wish your were playing right now?

Can I be pedantic? Published... when? In or out of print?

If I lean into this question it's going to be Out of Print. The only in-print game I'm really playing right now is D&D 5e

But my out-of-print game I wish I was playing right now is Twilight:2000. The bound core rules for 1e are closely at hand in my home office. If I'm not catching up on some historical fiction or readying myself for one of two games I run online and in-person, WFRP and D&D 5e respectively, then I'm reading the beautiful dance of crunchiness that are the rules of Twilight:2000. The setting is so rich and so much what everyone thought the long march to the collapse of Communism was going to bring in the mid-80s.

The abstraction is not without its naysayers. Often, I find the naysayers woefully unfamiliar with munitions so I tend to ignore them outright—they complain that 3 round bursts are stupid; to which I often must point out that the fire-selector on many weapons had a 3 round burst selector! Or the magazines don't hold the correct number of rounds. P'ah. So easily accounted for though ignoring and simple correction.

The game is about attrition and the GM should be watching supplies to drive the story and game. Make the PCs stop to distill alcohol. Forage. Re-stack supplies from the broken down 2-1/2 ton. 

I do have one complaint though. Polish. If the game was published today, GDW would have to publish a pronunciation guide. I've said as much before.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:51 PM in d10

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

I can sum this up with: Google+.

Google+ is my RPG home. My circles are mostly OSR, D&D and WFRP. These circles cross over in many places. I run, and lurk, in several G+ Communities that also help me stay in touch with the wider introductions of RPGs. Kickstarters are often pushed to these Communities.

nuff said? 

Probably. I find that I'm usually taking in a lot of media in the periphery, aware of new things, but I tend to filter it til I'm ready to give it some consideration or the signal becomes to great to ignore.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:52 AM in d10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?

RPGs rarely are so creative that they are born from nothing. Even the most well known RPG was born from the need to codify a set of rules to make sword, sandal, sorcery, technology, and gonzo futures into a game. Often other games attempt to tease these genres apart for specific tastes.

That said, if there was an intellectual property I would love to see as an RPG it might be the world of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, followed in a close second, The Baroque Cycle.

In the former, a near future Earth is destroyed by a shattered Moon. Only seven women survive in the end on a heavily modified ISS. The women genetically propagate the human species with SCIENCE! 5000 years later, a massive space colony exists in orbit around the Earth. The only piece of the Moon that remains acts as a memorial to the Seveneves, the ISS, and the anchor to an orbiting Space Elevator.

The Earth is being explored again after 5000 years. New oceans have been terra formed from massive comets intentionally steered into the Earth. Archipelagos, rings of mountainous islands, created centuries ago by the Moonfall are being explored.

Seveneves has all the elements of a wider world perfect for an RPG. A massive space colony. "The Epic," a literal digital recording, from thousands of cameras, of the months leading up to Moonfall, including the last days when only seven women were left. The Epic plays in a continuous loop across the space colony to remind them of humanity's near extinction. A secretive cabal of people that may tie back to Stephenson's wider narrative world found in The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. A Cold War born of the genetic decisions of the Seveneves provides character factions and options. Discoveries on Earth that awaken questions of what happened 5000 years ago, human evolution, and what the Seveneves could have known days before Moonfall.

Seveneves, the RPG.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:42 PM in d10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Day 1. What published RPG do you wish your were playing right now?

Can I be pedantic? Published... when? In or out of print?

If I lean into this question it's going to be Out of Print. The only in-print game I'm really playing right now is D&D 5e

But my out-of-print game I wish I was playing right now is Twilight:2000. The bound core rules for 1e are closely at hand in my home office. If I'm not catching up on some historical fiction or readying myself for one of two games I run online and in-person, WFRP and D&D 5e respectively, then I'm reading the beautiful dance of crunchiness that are the rules of Twilight:2000. The setting is so rich and so much what everyone thought the long march to the collapse of Communism was going to bring in the mid-80s.

The abstraction is not without its naysayers. Often, I find the naysayers woefully unfamiliar with munitions so I tend to ignore them outright—they complain that 3 round bursts are stupid; to which I often must point out that the fire-selector on many weapons had a 3 round burst selector! Or the magazines don't hold the correct number of rounds. P'ah. So easily accounted for though ignoring and simple correction.

The game is about attrition and the GM should be watching supplies to drive the story and game. Make the PCs stop to distill alcohol. Forage. Re-stack supplies from the broken down 2-1/2 ton. 

I do have one complaint though. Polish. If the game was published today, GDW would have to publish a pronunciation guide. I've said as much before.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:51 PM in d10

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

I can sum this up with: Google+.

Google+ is my RPG home. My circles are mostly OSR, D&D and WFRP. These circles cross over in many places. I run, and lurk, in several G+ Communities that also help me stay in touch with the wider introductions of RPGs. Kickstarters are often pushed to these Communities.

nuff said? 

Probably. I find that I'm usually taking in a lot of media in the periphery, aware of new things, but I tend to filter it til I'm ready to give it some consideration or the signal becomes to great to ignore.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:52 AM in d10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?

RPGs rarely are so creative that they are born from nothing. Even the most well known RPG was born from the need to codify a set of rules to make sword, sandal, sorcery, technology, and gonzo futures into a game. Often other games attempt to tease these genres apart for specific tastes.

That said, if there was an intellectual property I would love to see as an RPG it might be the world of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, followed in a close second, The Baroque Cycle.

In the former, a near future Earth is destroyed by a shattered Moon. Only seven women survive in the end on a heavily modified ISS. The women genetically propagate the human species with SCIENCE! 5000 years later, a massive space colony exists in orbit around the Earth. The only piece of the Moon that remains acts as a memorial to the Seveneves, the ISS, and the anchor to an orbiting Space Elevator.

The Earth is being explored again after 5000 years. New oceans have been terra formed from massive comets intentionally steered into the Earth. Archipelagos, rings of mountainous islands, created centuries ago by the Moonfall are being explored.

Seveneves has all the elements of a wider world perfect for an RPG. A massive space colony. "The Epic," a literal digital recording, from thousands of cameras, of the months leading up to Moonfall, including the last days when only seven women were left. The Epic plays in a continuous loop across the space colony to remind them of humanity's near extinction. A secretive cabal of people that may tie back to Stephenson's wider narrative world found in The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. A Cold War born of the genetic decisions of the Seveneves provides character factions and options. Discoveries on Earth that awaken questions of what happened 5000 years ago, human evolution, and what the Seveneves could have known days before Moonfall.

Seveneves, the RPG.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:42 PM in d10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Day 1. What published RPG do you wish your were playing right now?

Can I be pedantic? Published... when? In or out of print?

If I lean into this question it's going to be Out of Print. The only in-print game I'm really playing right now is D&D 5e

But my out-of-print game I wish I was playing right now is Twilight:2000. The bound core rules for 1e are closely at hand in my home office. If I'm not catching up on some historical fiction or readying myself for one of two games I run online and in-person, WFRP and D&D 5e respectively, then I'm reading the beautiful dance of crunchiness that are the rules of Twilight:2000. The setting is so rich and so much what everyone thought the long march to the collapse of Communism was going to bring in the mid-80s.

The abstraction is not without its naysayers. Often, I find the naysayers woefully unfamiliar with munitions so I tend to ignore them outright—they complain that 3 round bursts are stupid; to which I often must point out that the fire-selector on many weapons had a 3 round burst selector! Or the magazines don't hold the correct number of rounds. P'ah. So easily accounted for though ignoring and simple correction.

The game is about attrition and the GM should be watching supplies to drive the story and game. Make the PCs stop to distill alcohol. Forage. Re-stack supplies from the broken down 2-1/2 ton. 

I do have one complaint though. Polish. If the game was published today, GDW would have to publish a pronunciation guide. I've said as much before.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:51 PM in d10

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

I can sum this up with: Google+.

Google+ is my RPG home. My circles are mostly OSR, D&D and WFRP. These circles cross over in many places. I run, and lurk, in several G+ Communities that also help me stay in touch with the wider introductions of RPGs. Kickstarters are often pushed to these Communities.

nuff said? 

Probably. I find that I'm usually taking in a lot of media in the periphery, aware of new things, but I tend to filter it til I'm ready to give it some consideration or the signal becomes to great to ignore.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:52 AM in d10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?

RPGs rarely are so creative that they are born from nothing. Even the most well known RPG was born from the need to codify a set of rules to make sword, sandal, sorcery, technology, and gonzo futures into a game. Often other games attempt to tease these genres apart for specific tastes.

That said, if there was an intellectual property I would love to see as an RPG it might be the world of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, followed in a close second, The Baroque Cycle.

In the former, a near future Earth is destroyed by a shattered Moon. Only seven women survive in the end on a heavily modified ISS. The women genetically propagate the human species with SCIENCE! 5000 years later, a massive space colony exists in orbit around the Earth. The only piece of the Moon that remains acts as a memorial to the Seveneves, the ISS, and the anchor to an orbiting Space Elevator.

The Earth is being explored again after 5000 years. New oceans have been terra formed from massive comets intentionally steered into the Earth. Archipelagos, rings of mountainous islands, created centuries ago by the Moonfall are being explored.

Seveneves has all the elements of a wider world perfect for an RPG. A massive space colony. "The Epic," a literal digital recording, from thousands of cameras, of the months leading up to Moonfall, including the last days when only seven women were left. The Epic plays in a continuous loop across the space colony to remind them of humanity's near extinction. A secretive cabal of people that may tie back to Stephenson's wider narrative world found in The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. A Cold War born of the genetic decisions of the Seveneves provides character factions and options. Discoveries on Earth that awaken questions of what happened 5000 years ago, human evolution, and what the Seveneves could have known days before Moonfall.

Seveneves, the RPG.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:42 PM in d10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Day 1. What published RPG do you wish your were playing right now?

Can I be pedantic? Published... when? In or out of print?

If I lean into this question it's going to be Out of Print. The only in-print game I'm really playing right now is D&D 5e

But my out-of-print game I wish I was playing right now is Twilight:2000. The bound core rules for 1e are closely at hand in my home office. If I'm not catching up on some historical fiction or readying myself for one of two games I run online and in-person, WFRP and D&D 5e respectively, then I'm reading the beautiful dance of crunchiness that are the rules of Twilight:2000. The setting is so rich and so much what everyone thought the long march to the collapse of Communism was going to bring in the mid-80s.

The abstraction is not without its naysayers. Often, I find the naysayers woefully unfamiliar with munitions so I tend to ignore them outright—they complain that 3 round bursts are stupid; to which I often must point out that the fire-selector on many weapons had a 3 round burst selector! Or the magazines don't hold the correct number of rounds. P'ah. So easily accounted for though ignoring and simple correction.

The game is about attrition and the GM should be watching supplies to drive the story and game. Make the PCs stop to distill alcohol. Forage. Re-stack supplies from the broken down 2-1/2 ton. 

I do have one complaint though. Polish. If the game was published today, GDW would have to publish a pronunciation guide. I've said as much before.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:51 PM in d10

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

I can sum this up with: Google+.

Google+ is my RPG home. My circles are mostly OSR, D&D and WFRP. These circles cross over in many places. I run, and lurk, in several G+ Communities that also help me stay in touch with the wider introductions of RPGs. Kickstarters are often pushed to these Communities.

nuff said? 

Probably. I find that I'm usually taking in a lot of media in the periphery, aware of new things, but I tend to filter it til I'm ready to give it some consideration or the signal becomes to great to ignore.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:52 AM in d10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?

RPGs rarely are so creative that they are born from nothing. Even the most well known RPG was born from the need to codify a set of rules to make sword, sandal, sorcery, technology, and gonzo futures into a game. Often other games attempt to tease these genres apart for specific tastes.

That said, if there was an intellectual property I would love to see as an RPG it might be the world of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, followed in a close second, The Baroque Cycle.

In the former, a near future Earth is destroyed by a shattered Moon. Only seven women survive in the end on a heavily modified ISS. The women genetically propagate the human species with SCIENCE! 5000 years later, a massive space colony exists in orbit around the Earth. The only piece of the Moon that remains acts as a memorial to the Seveneves, the ISS, and the anchor to an orbiting Space Elevator.

The Earth is being explored again after 5000 years. New oceans have been terra formed from massive comets intentionally steered into the Earth. Archipelagos, rings of mountainous islands, created centuries ago by the Moonfall are being explored.

Seveneves has all the elements of a wider world perfect for an RPG. A massive space colony. "The Epic," a literal digital recording, from thousands of cameras, of the months leading up to Moonfall, including the last days when only seven women were left. The Epic plays in a continuous loop across the space colony to remind them of humanity's near extinction. A secretive cabal of people that may tie back to Stephenson's wider narrative world found in The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. A Cold War born of the genetic decisions of the Seveneves provides character factions and options. Discoveries on Earth that awaken questions of what happened 5000 years ago, human evolution, and what the Seveneves could have known days before Moonfall.

Seveneves, the RPG.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:42 PM in d10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Day 1. What published RPG do you wish your were playing right now?

Can I be pedantic? Published... when? In or out of print?

If I lean into this question it's going to be Out of Print. The only in-print game I'm really playing right now is D&D 5e

But my out-of-print game I wish I was playing right now is Twilight:2000. The bound core rules for 1e are closely at hand in my home office. If I'm not catching up on some historical fiction or readying myself for one of two games I run online and in-person, WFRP and D&D 5e respectively, then I'm reading the beautiful dance of crunchiness that are the rules of Twilight:2000. The setting is so rich and so much what everyone thought the long march to the collapse of Communism was going to bring in the mid-80s.

The abstraction is not without its naysayers. Often, I find the naysayers woefully unfamiliar with munitions so I tend to ignore them outright—they complain that 3 round bursts are stupid; to which I often must point out that the fire-selector on many weapons had a 3 round burst selector! Or the magazines don't hold the correct number of rounds. P'ah. So easily accounted for though ignoring and simple correction.

The game is about attrition and the GM should be watching supplies to drive the story and game. Make the PCs stop to distill alcohol. Forage. Re-stack supplies from the broken down 2-1/2 ton. 

I do have one complaint though. Polish. If the game was published today, GDW would have to publish a pronunciation guide. I've said as much before.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:51 PM in d10

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

I can sum this up with: Google+.

Google+ is my RPG home. My circles are mostly OSR, D&D and WFRP. These circles cross over in many places. I run, and lurk, in several G+ Communities that also help me stay in touch with the wider introductions of RPGs. Kickstarters are often pushed to these Communities.

nuff said? 

Probably. I find that I'm usually taking in a lot of media in the periphery, aware of new things, but I tend to filter it til I'm ready to give it some consideration or the signal becomes to great to ignore.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:52 AM in d10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?

RPGs rarely are so creative that they are born from nothing. Even the most well known RPG was born from the need to codify a set of rules to make sword, sandal, sorcery, technology, and gonzo futures into a game. Often other games attempt to tease these genres apart for specific tastes.

That said, if there was an intellectual property I would love to see as an RPG it might be the world of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, followed in a close second, The Baroque Cycle.

In the former, a near future Earth is destroyed by a shattered Moon. Only seven women survive in the end on a heavily modified ISS. The women genetically propagate the human species with SCIENCE! 5000 years later, a massive space colony exists in orbit around the Earth. The only piece of the Moon that remains acts as a memorial to the Seveneves, the ISS, and the anchor to an orbiting Space Elevator.

The Earth is being explored again after 5000 years. New oceans have been terra formed from massive comets intentionally steered into the Earth. Archipelagos, rings of mountainous islands, created centuries ago by the Moonfall are being explored.

Seveneves has all the elements of a wider world perfect for an RPG. A massive space colony. "The Epic," a literal digital recording, from thousands of cameras, of the months leading up to Moonfall, including the last days when only seven women were left. The Epic plays in a continuous loop across the space colony to remind them of humanity's near extinction. A secretive cabal of people that may tie back to Stephenson's wider narrative world found in The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. A Cold War born of the genetic decisions of the Seveneves provides character factions and options. Discoveries on Earth that awaken questions of what happened 5000 years ago, human evolution, and what the Seveneves could have known days before Moonfall.

Seveneves, the RPG.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:42 PM in d10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Day 1. What published RPG do you wish your were playing right now?

Can I be pedantic? Published... when? In or out of print?

If I lean into this question it's going to be Out of Print. The only in-print game I'm really playing right now is D&D 5e

But my out-of-print game I wish I was playing right now is Twilight:2000. The bound core rules for 1e are closely at hand in my home office. If I'm not catching up on some historical fiction or readying myself for one of two games I run online and in-person, WFRP and D&D 5e respectively, then I'm reading the beautiful dance of crunchiness that are the rules of Twilight:2000. The setting is so rich and so much what everyone thought the long march to the collapse of Communism was going to bring in the mid-80s.

The abstraction is not without its naysayers. Often, I find the naysayers woefully unfamiliar with munitions so I tend to ignore them outright—they complain that 3 round bursts are stupid; to which I often must point out that the fire-selector on many weapons had a 3 round burst selector! Or the magazines don't hold the correct number of rounds. P'ah. So easily accounted for though ignoring and simple correction.

The game is about attrition and the GM should be watching supplies to drive the story and game. Make the PCs stop to distill alcohol. Forage. Re-stack supplies from the broken down 2-1/2 ton. 

I do have one complaint though. Polish. If the game was published today, GDW would have to publish a pronunciation guide. I've said as much before.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:51 PM in d10

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

I can sum this up with: Google+.

Google+ is my RPG home. My circles are mostly OSR, D&D and WFRP. These circles cross over in many places. I run, and lurk, in several G+ Communities that also help me stay in touch with the wider introductions of RPGs. Kickstarters are often pushed to these Communities.

nuff said? 

Probably. I find that I'm usually taking in a lot of media in the periphery, aware of new things, but I tend to filter it til I'm ready to give it some consideration or the signal becomes to great to ignore.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:52 AM in d10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?

RPGs rarely are so creative that they are born from nothing. Even the most well known RPG was born from the need to codify a set of rules to make sword, sandal, sorcery, technology, and gonzo futures into a game. Often other games attempt to tease these genres apart for specific tastes.

That said, if there was an intellectual property I would love to see as an RPG it might be the world of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, followed in a close second, The Baroque Cycle.

In the former, a near future Earth is destroyed by a shattered Moon. Only seven women survive in the end on a heavily modified ISS. The women genetically propagate the human species with SCIENCE! 5000 years later, a massive space colony exists in orbit around the Earth. The only piece of the Moon that remains acts as a memorial to the Seveneves, the ISS, and the anchor to an orbiting Space Elevator.

The Earth is being explored again after 5000 years. New oceans have been terra formed from massive comets intentionally steered into the Earth. Archipelagos, rings of mountainous islands, created centuries ago by the Moonfall are being explored.

Seveneves has all the elements of a wider world perfect for an RPG. A massive space colony. "The Epic," a literal digital recording, from thousands of cameras, of the months leading up to Moonfall, including the last days when only seven women were left. The Epic plays in a continuous loop across the space colony to remind them of humanity's near extinction. A secretive cabal of people that may tie back to Stephenson's wider narrative world found in The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. A Cold War born of the genetic decisions of the Seveneves provides character factions and options. Discoveries on Earth that awaken questions of what happened 5000 years ago, human evolution, and what the Seveneves could have known days before Moonfall.

Seveneves, the RPG.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:42 PM in d10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Day 1. What published RPG do you wish your were playing right now?

Can I be pedantic? Published... when? In or out of print?

If I lean into this question it's going to be Out of Print. The only in-print game I'm really playing right now is D&D 5e

But my out-of-print game I wish I was playing right now is Twilight:2000. The bound core rules for 1e are closely at hand in my home office. If I'm not catching up on some historical fiction or readying myself for one of two games I run online and in-person, WFRP and D&D 5e respectively, then I'm reading the beautiful dance of crunchiness that are the rules of Twilight:2000. The setting is so rich and so much what everyone thought the long march to the collapse of Communism was going to bring in the mid-80s.

The abstraction is not without its naysayers. Often, I find the naysayers woefully unfamiliar with munitions so I tend to ignore them outright—they complain that 3 round bursts are stupid; to which I often must point out that the fire-selector on many weapons had a 3 round burst selector! Or the magazines don't hold the correct number of rounds. P'ah. So easily accounted for though ignoring and simple correction.

The game is about attrition and the GM should be watching supplies to drive the story and game. Make the PCs stop to distill alcohol. Forage. Re-stack supplies from the broken down 2-1/2 ton. 

I do have one complaint though. Polish. If the game was published today, GDW would have to publish a pronunciation guide. I've said as much before.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:51 PM in d10

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

I can sum this up with: Google+.

Google+ is my RPG home. My circles are mostly OSR, D&D and WFRP. These circles cross over in many places. I run, and lurk, in several G+ Communities that also help me stay in touch with the wider introductions of RPGs. Kickstarters are often pushed to these Communities.

nuff said? 

Probably. I find that I'm usually taking in a lot of media in the periphery, aware of new things, but I tend to filter it til I'm ready to give it some consideration or the signal becomes to great to ignore.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:52 AM in d10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?

RPGs rarely are so creative that they are born from nothing. Even the most well known RPG was born from the need to codify a set of rules to make sword, sandal, sorcery, technology, and gonzo futures into a game. Often other games attempt to tease these genres apart for specific tastes.

That said, if there was an intellectual property I would love to see as an RPG it might be the world of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, followed in a close second, The Baroque Cycle.

In the former, a near future Earth is destroyed by a shattered Moon. Only seven women survive in the end on a heavily modified ISS. The women genetically propagate the human species with SCIENCE! 5000 years later, a massive space colony exists in orbit around the Earth. The only piece of the Moon that remains acts as a memorial to the Seveneves, the ISS, and the anchor to an orbiting Space Elevator.

The Earth is being explored again after 5000 years. New oceans have been terra formed from massive comets intentionally steered into the Earth. Archipelagos, rings of mountainous islands, created centuries ago by the Moonfall are being explored.

Seveneves has all the elements of a wider world perfect for an RPG. A massive space colony. "The Epic," a literal digital recording, from thousands of cameras, of the months leading up to Moonfall, including the last days when only seven women were left. The Epic plays in a continuous loop across the space colony to remind them of humanity's near extinction. A secretive cabal of people that may tie back to Stephenson's wider narrative world found in The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. A Cold War born of the genetic decisions of the Seveneves provides character factions and options. Discoveries on Earth that awaken questions of what happened 5000 years ago, human evolution, and what the Seveneves could have known days before Moonfall.

Seveneves, the RPG.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:42 PM in d10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Day 1. What published RPG do you wish your were playing right now?

Can I be pedantic? Published... when? In or out of print?

If I lean into this question it's going to be Out of Print. The only in-print game I'm really playing right now is D&D 5e

But my out-of-print game I wish I was playing right now is Twilight:2000. The bound core rules for 1e are closely at hand in my home office. If I'm not catching up on some historical fiction or readying myself for one of two games I run online and in-person, WFRP and D&D 5e respectively, then I'm reading the beautiful dance of crunchiness that are the rules of Twilight:2000. The setting is so rich and so much what everyone thought the long march to the collapse of Communism was going to bring in the mid-80s.

The abstraction is not without its naysayers. Often, I find the naysayers woefully unfamiliar with munitions so I tend to ignore them outright—they complain that 3 round bursts are stupid; to which I often must point out that the fire-selector on many weapons had a 3 round burst selector! Or the magazines don't hold the correct number of rounds. P'ah. So easily accounted for though ignoring and simple correction.

The game is about attrition and the GM should be watching supplies to drive the story and game. Make the PCs stop to distill alcohol. Forage. Re-stack supplies from the broken down 2-1/2 ton. 

I do have one complaint though. Polish. If the game was published today, GDW would have to publish a pronunciation guide. I've said as much before.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:51 PM in d10

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

I can sum this up with: Google+.

Google+ is my RPG home. My circles are mostly OSR, D&D and WFRP. These circles cross over in many places. I run, and lurk, in several G+ Communities that also help me stay in touch with the wider introductions of RPGs. Kickstarters are often pushed to these Communities.

nuff said? 

Probably. I find that I'm usually taking in a lot of media in the periphery, aware of new things, but I tend to filter it til I'm ready to give it some consideration or the signal becomes to great to ignore.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:52 AM in d10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Day 2. What is an RPG you would like to see published?

RPGs rarely are so creative that they are born from nothing. Even the most well known RPG was born from the need to codify a set of rules to make sword, sandal, sorcery, technology, and gonzo futures into a game. Often other games attempt to tease these genres apart for specific tastes.

That said, if there was an intellectual property I would love to see as an RPG it might be the world of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, followed in a close second, The Baroque Cycle.

In the former, a near future Earth is destroyed by a shattered Moon. Only seven women survive in the end on a heavily modified ISS. The women genetically propagate the human species with SCIENCE! 5000 years later, a massive space colony exists in orbit around the Earth. The only piece of the Moon that remains acts as a memorial to the Seveneves, the ISS, and the anchor to an orbiting Space Elevator.

The Earth is being explored again after 5000 years. New oceans have been terra formed from massive comets intentionally steered into the Earth. Archipelagos, rings of mountainous islands, created centuries ago by the Moonfall are being explored.

Seveneves has all the elements of a wider world perfect for an RPG. A massive space colony. "The Epic," a literal digital recording, from thousands of cameras, of the months leading up to Moonfall, including the last days when only seven women were left. The Epic plays in a continuous loop across the space colony to remind them of humanity's near extinction. A secretive cabal of people that may tie back to Stephenson's wider narrative world found in The Baroque Cycle and Cryptonomicon. A Cold War born of the genetic decisions of the Seveneves provides character factions and options. Discoveries on Earth that awaken questions of what happened 5000 years ago, human evolution, and what the Seveneves could have known days before Moonfall.

Seveneves, the RPG.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:42 PM in d10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Day 1. What published RPG do you wish your were playing right now?

Can I be pedantic? Published... when? In or out of print?

If I lean into this question it's going to be Out of Print. The only in-print game I'm really playing right now is D&D 5e

But my out-of-print game I wish I was playing right now is Twilight:2000. The bound core rules for 1e are closely at hand in my home office. If I'm not catching up on some historical fiction or readying myself for one of two games I run online and in-person, WFRP and D&D 5e respectively, then I'm reading the beautiful dance of crunchiness that are the rules of Twilight:2000. The setting is so rich and so much what everyone thought the long march to the collapse of Communism was going to bring in the mid-80s.

The abstraction is not without its naysayers. Often, I find the naysayers woefully unfamiliar with munitions so I tend to ignore them outright—they complain that 3 round bursts are stupid; to which I often must point out that the fire-selector on many weapons had a 3 round burst selector! Or the magazines don't hold the correct number of rounds. P'ah. So easily accounted for though ignoring and simple correction.

The game is about attrition and the GM should be watching supplies to drive the story and game. Make the PCs stop to distill alcohol. Forage. Re-stack supplies from the broken down 2-1/2 ton. 

I do have one complaint though. Polish. If the game was published today, GDW would have to publish a pronunciation guide. I've said as much before.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:51 PM in d10

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day 31. What do you anticipate most in gaming for 2018?

Cubicle 7's release of a new edition of WFRP in the 1E/2E setting.

That is all.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:11 PM in d10

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Day 30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Is there any RPG genre-mashup better than Shadowrun? I think not.

What about media mashups? How about Harry Potter or Near Dark in WFRP using the Realms of Sorcery or Night's Dark Masters supplements?

What about rebooting media mashups like TMNT&OS and After the Bomb in Savage Worlds?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Day 29. What has been the best RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I don't back many RPGs, speaking to the specific RPG concept. However, The Complete Elmore book was very well run by Larry and his partners. Delivered almost on-time and complete.

I backed Numenéra to spite the haters. Delivered complete and almost on-time. Beautiful book and artwork.

Were either of the above run better than others? Probably not. Kickstarter is full of risks and I am very careful about backing anything not already completed or at least resource complete.

I backed Dwimmermount, but we won't discuss that as anything other than an RPG Kickstarter because I know, have met, and support JaMal. He is good, honest people and he was going through some serious emotional upheaval in his life. No one that criticized him would want the same thing in their own life. No one. Except sociopaths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 28 August 2017

Day 28. What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?

Is there just one film? Probably only a couple of series.

In no particular order:

  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  2. Conan the Barbarian (1982)
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Lord of the Rings

That's probably the entire catechism for all of us.

I also believe this leans into my theory: don't make a D&D movie. These are the D&D movies. Frankly, Conan the Barbarian is a D&D movie.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Day 27. What are your essential tools for good gaming?

  • Dice
  • Core Rules and major supplements, e.g., D&D's Core Three.
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Graph Paper
  • Beer
  • Water
  • Tablet, e.g, iPad
  • WiFi

We tend to skip snacks and soda these days. We'll share a bomber or two of craft beer (22 oz.) instead.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Day 26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

I have a limited set of games I turn too. One will have seen that during the month.

But I'm going to go to a game mentioned, but not detailed much: Twilight:2000.

In Twilight:2000's heyday, the set of resources for player and GM alike was large. I recently purchased the complete set of v1.0 rules and supplements from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises. The nearly 30 supplements, sourcebooks, and scenario modules provided a civilian gamer's Jane's Defense Guide to all things late 80s US and Soviet Bloc military with a peek at experimental and concept weapons.

The almost 50 Challenger magazine articles rounded out the core material and kept the game fresh.

And yet it would be a disservice not to tip my hat to D&D's own Dungeon and Dragon magazines and deep library of supplements. Simply none can compete in volume and history.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:30 PM in d10

Friday, 25 August 2017

Day 25. What's the best way to thank your GM?

The answer here could be so self serving: material things.

Instead I think that it's a softer mix of attributes. Honesty and Engagement.

In the former, speak up when either there's a moment for player agency, e.g., the random insanity may not be very engaging for me, let me pick one. Or just saying: that session meandered, here's where I think might have looked for something different to happen or where it just fell apart.

In the latter, I find character journals and Play by Posts between sessions very satisfying. If I don't start them, light the fuse yourself.

Being thanked for the hours of fun and story work is very rewarding as well.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Day 24. Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

More an imperative than an interrogative.

Pay What You Want  (PWYW) publishing is an awesome entry to getting started on OBS.

I had to think about this one because I mostly only hear about these faux-altruists in the media I consume and I've usually never heard of them, so let me look around, I'll be back.

...

...

...

There's too much, let me sum up: I don't have one. Yet. I'll pay attention more.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Day 23. Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

This is personal opinion? Okay, good. That settled: Pathfinder Core

I simply love its chapter breaks and the iconics by Wayne Reynolds setting each chapter's tone. Reynolds is a unifying theme throughout the entire library and its Adventure Paths.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Day 22. Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGs that capture my imagination. This has been a core belief of mine for decades of gaming: if your fantasy or urban milieu doesn't set the right tone it's going wear thin in play and refereeing.

This means in practice I lean into games that acknowledge their history and roots. Rulings are allowed, but backed by a solid basic framework of rules. Rules should be adaptable and support rulings.

The GM is not your enemy, but the GM is also not your best friend when there's a challenge. Thus I lean out of the story game "movement." Story gamers tend to miss this part in all their yawning discussions of GNS instead of sitting down and playing Panzer Leader, or Squad Leader, or a Napoleonic miniatures game.

Rules mastery in any game is necessary for immersion in my assessment. Often GMs must challenge themselves in the finer details on the journey to mastery.

Specificially then I'm currently enjoying D&D 5E and WFRP with no regerts.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

Monday, 21 August 2017

Day 21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Weird West by S. Robertson and Robertson Games

One can literally print this game on a single sheet of US Letter or A4, fold it, and have a complete game book. Simply amazing.

On its release in 2010 or 2011, it got some podcast and social signal. Weird West is available on OBS for US $1.00.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:00 PM in d10

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.

Ende

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Day 10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I'm not one you generally run to for reviews of RPGs. Because, while I'm not the living persona of a one-sourcer, I'm damn close.

If it's not something I've played in the past, or one of my go-to systems, I'm not paying much attention to new games. This is mostly about having time to invest in reading and then playing the system under review.

I tend to be casually observant about the signal of a system though social platforms, especially G+. More recently, Zweihänder caught my attention as the signal increased. With the release of a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play coming from Cubicle 7, I'm very interested in reviewing the release that will take its cue from WFRP 1e and 2e.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:57 PM in d10

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Day 9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Any RPG can be played for ten sessions. It's about story beats, a started arch, and more agency for the player and GM.

I'm an advocate of player agency in the story of their character. Setting out at the start of a game it would be important that the agency is expected and accepted by the GM. The opposite is players allowing the GM inside the Golden Box of the character sheet and background. The GM must state the intent of game is to tell a story, not the GM's story in these ten sessions, but the ending is not set.

With the Social Contract verbally in the open, Game On!

Posted by caffeinated at 11:48 AM in d10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Day 8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

This is a tough one. A good RPG for a two hours or less session? What if I said: every RPG?

You might say, "No way mother fucker! One can't set up a Twilight:2000 game for two hours!"

But I disagree! What if your group of players are all veterans of whatever game you pick? Then the discussion changes I think and the answer is valid.

Sometimes we can only get together for two hours.

I admit that the intent of the question is more literal. So what is an RPG that I could stand up and play for two hours?

I'll steer clear of the hippie games and stay OSR or Old School rules. I might think a B/X variant, Mentzer or Moldvay. It would need a packaged scenario as well, so even something a heartbreaker like Heroes Against Darkness could work. But even then the execution expects some gaming familiarity.

Posted by caffeinated at 5:13 PM in d10

Monday, 7 August 2017

Day 7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

As I look back over 30 years of gaming (and a few years before that as a wargamer), I must say it's too easy just look back one, two or five years and find a session that you instantly recall. The tougher thing is to look history and think about the most impactful session.

The one session that I learned more about impartially judging a session and playing into a dramatic moment happened 30 years ago playing TMNT&OS.

I've blogged about it here seven years ago! I invite you to read the story.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Day 6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do?

That would be an awesome week to be sure.

Today, I'm gaming more than I ever gamed in high school or college. But a week of gaming? As "always the GM, rarely the player" I might break it down like this:

Pick The Game

D&D or WFRP 2e most likely for me.

Find the Players

I've got four online players. They could hop in and out if the game was hosted online. 

Two in-person regulars, but they, and myself, have real work and families, so that leads to scheduling

Scheduling

One would have to market this right to capture the mind share of adults. It needs a dedicated space and a full free week. That means burning that Paid Time Off treasure in the brazier and reading the flames and smoke.

Marketing and Location

Adults want access to good food, good drink, and good sleeping arrangements. This starts quickly down the road of organizing a micro-con. The city or home has to have easy access to these things and breaks have to be built in. As a brewer, I would ply my craft as "stouts and ales only available during the gaming and by the attendees."

Basically, a week of gaming would be incredible. The story and story beats would have to tell an epic at the end. Am I or anyone up to the challenge?

Possibly.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:45 AM in d10

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Day 5. Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

I've blogged about this before in various contexts, but I'm going to run home to mama:

Elmore's Mentzer Red Box (Basic Rules Set 1, 12th printing) cover "depicting a red dragon fighting a single warrior."[1] Yet it's the nuanced detail of the image that captures my imagination.

The warrior's face is not seen. It could be any sword and sandal hero you, the player, imagine. A battered shield and only a sleeveless scale mail jerkin to protect him from the red dragon, not about to breathe fire, but in an open stance to meet the attack head on.

The shield and sword suggest a character history. Battered from fights, the shield is on a muscled arm ready to be used in defense. The sword shimmers suggesting magic is present. This is a fighter that has traded up or found in a lost hoard something powerful. Something that can be used against a dragon.

The dragon for me is the epitome of an Young Red Dragon, but poorly diversified in his hoard. Piles of gold coins fill the room, a gold cup or vase or two sort their way to the top. The dragon's single, twisted, central horn is suggestive of an assassin or foul priest's dagger. 

Elmore almost, intentionally or not, captures the game's combat round. The motion frozen in that instant that the die is dropped and the next action is two clawing reaches and a snap of man crushing jaws killing our 3rd Level fighter (he is third level here right? I mean it's a Red Dragon and there's a magic sword being wielded). Or does our hero leap and thrust the sword into the neck of the beast—or slap it with the flat of his blade to subdue and bargin?

There's just so much in this picture I had a print framed and it hangs above my working desk at home. Along with three other Elmore prints: the Expert and Companion covers and a print of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight cover.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 4 August 2017

Day 4. What game have I played most since 2016 August?

In the last year I have played:

  • One game of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria. 
  • One game of Barrowmaze using D&D B/X

If the question was rephrased as, What game have I run most since 2016 August? that changes the answer:

  • 11 games of D&D 5e
  • 26 games of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play

My WFRP campaigns has entered it fifth year spanning 12 game years and the lives of characters and NPCs played by the same players. To sum up, I'm a proud refugee of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. And I'm very excited about the Cubicle 7 licensing with Games Workshop.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:55 AM in d10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Day 3. How do you find out about new RPGs?