Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Extra Life 2017



What is Extra Life? The simple answer is that it’s a charity organization that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The long answer to what it is and how they got started is best told by them, here.
What does this have to do with me? This takes more time. A few years ago, I had a class assignment to do something that had a social impact. There were a lot of really fun and interesting projects. I chose to take part in the Extra Life Charity marathon. I don’t know if it was expected that we would keep doing the projects well past the end of the class, I’m fairly certain it was not. However, I find the act of helping and supporting the other people who are a part of this group deeply rewarding. That’s why I’ve continued to take part every year. It just feels so damned good. It’s selfish, I know, but that’s why I do it.
This will be the fifth year I’ve taken part in the event. All the money I raise will go to the Dayton Children’s Hospital. I personally haven’t needed the hospital for a couple of decades now, but there are plenty of people who do and I’m happy to offer as much help as I can. The first year I did this was 2012, and in that time I’ve managed to raise $1710. Last year was the best, I raised $665, cut and died my hair and shaved my beard. Shaving my beard incidentally was awful. I hated it. It scratched and burned, and itched like hell. I’m willing to do it all again and I honestly didn’t think I would.

Here’s where I ask for your help. I’m asking for folks to support me through the marathon by donating $1 here for each hour I play, in other words $25 per person. However, any amount you can give, would be amazing. Once I’ve hit my goal I start offering things for further amounts. My current goal is $500. When I hit that, I’ll include one randomly chosen donor in the annual Christmas Story I post to my blog. After that I start offering other “stretch goals” like the fore mentioned haircut and dye job. My niece has suggested I record a music video for my YouTube channel, at this point, that is a long way off, we’re looking at a ridiculous amount of money, $10,000 at the least. (If you donate all of it, I’ll let you pick the song.) Those goals come later though, for now let’s all just focus on the $500.
I’m once again taking part in the large gaming marathon that happens near the end of every year. Once again, I’ll be taking part in the annual marathon, a twenty five hour, gaming extravaganza. This year I’m having some guests at my marathon.
Typically, some of my friends and I gather at my house and play games from noon to noon. This year, to allow for more people, I’m starting differently. The first four hours of my party will be open to kids. We’re going to be playing children’s games and I’m asking all of my friends with children to bring them over to play. I’ve got Super Rhino, King of Tokyo, Fantasy Forest, and the original Fireball Island. I’m thinking of getting out the Family rules for Flash Point, Jenga, and possibly Tumbling Dice. Maybe even my Extra-Life reserved copy of Risk Legacy that I only use during the Marathon and everyone has to play at least once, so their name goes on the board.
After that, I’m going to break out the more advanced games. That’s when the adults and children whose parents don’t mind them learning that kind of language. Beyond that, I know it’s going to be fun as hell and exhausting. I’ll post photos to Instagram and Twitter. I’ll post some video to Periscope. I did last year and it was a bunch of fun.
Beyond that, I know the Dayton Extra Life Guild has some events planned. There’s a meetup in October at Epic Loot in Centerville that I will be attending. I hope to see some of you there.

That’s all for now. I’ll check back in regularly to see how we’re all doing and leave some thoughts on what’s going on. Thanks for helping out.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 31

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the final question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #31: What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?
We have reached the end; the final question. And my, what a question it is. For 2018 I have a very specific hope. I recently applied to a posting for writers at an RPG publisher. They have asked me for writing samples in a follow up email. I’ll be honest it’s been a while and I’m starting to give up the hope that this will come to pass, but something has occurred recently to give me a bit more hope, at least for a little while. I know that the odds are long and I’m unlikely to get the position at this point, but in my quiet moments I can’t help but hope. After all, isn’t that the dream for all of us?
Beyond that, I want to play more. I’d like to get the chance to run a regular campaign. I’d like to try streaming a RPG on my YouTube channel. I think that could be fun. Get some friends together and stream an RPG. Heck there are some people who have moved away and I don’t get to see anymore so maybe just running a Skype RPG is just the thing we need to try. I’ve considered Roll20.net for this sort of thing, but haven’t ever used it. I’m not sure if there are any other places you can go for that sort of thing.
I’d also like to go to a convention again. Of course that will require a bit of a job and some money. If I get the second things I do want to do the first. I’m not sure which convention I’d go to. I’ve found a love of smaller cons in the last year or so, however, I do miss GenCon.

Anyway, I think that’s it for now. I hope these posts were fun for you, and I want to thank everyone who joined me along the way. Hope to see you at a con sometime. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 30

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 30th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #30: What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?
This is a really hard one. I’m pretty sure most every genre mashup already exists and with systems like FATE you can make anything you want. What’s left? I’ve had this idea bubbling in the back of my mind for a few years now. What if you had a medieval, not fantasy, setting with superheroes and villains. I don’t know if it would work, but then I didn’t think post-apocalyptic fantasy would work and yet, Adventure Time is a thing.
Anyway, I think the basic idea would be to have characters with minor superpowers, not on a Superman level, but possibly Heroes for Hire or other street level heroes set in and around the crusades. We sort of have the basic DNA for this with Robin Hood and the Three Musketeers, just do that but amp it up a bit with some flight, eye beams, steampunk, magic, and maybe even an occasional extra-terrestrial. Throw in some psychotic villains bent on European domination.
I think the biggest challenge for something like this would be to create a world that people could roll into and get behind. I’d want to avoid people just making standard fantasy heroes or Batman in plate mail. I’d love to see someone like, Templar, a noble visage of righteousness. Stout, powerful, and nigh invulnerable, arrows bounce off of him. He wears all white leather with a ten foot cape that never touches the ground because it’s always billowing slightly in the wind. Granted his powers by the divine form of Joan De’Arc.

I think masks and secret identities would be important because many people at that time would just assume witchcraft and being in league with the devil putting our heroes and their loved ones at risk. This is where the game/setting gets tricky. You want to show the superstition of the times but you don’t want to just religion bash either. This may be why it’s a hard sell. Or maybe, no one else is crazy enough to come up with this.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 29

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 29th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #29: What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?


I’ve been a part of a couple of RPG’s on Kickstarter, the best one was X-Crawl run by Goodman Games. There are a lot of mistakes that get made by RPG’s on KS. X-Crawl avoided them all. The books came out close to on time, the promised PDF’s were quickly available, and the team communicated with the backers on a regular basis. The avoided the biggest mistake I see KS’s make and that was X-Crawl’s stretch goals that provided extra content were all new books beyond the core rule book. The only things they did to the core rule book were cosmetic; full color art, hard cover, and those sort of things. The core rules were promised on a set day, everything else was released and sent in a second wave.

The biggest mistake I see, the one X-Crawl avoided, was a lot of RPG’s make stretch goals that add pages and content to the main book. They don’t think about how much of a delay this is going to cause. They have to write the new content, edit, play test, go through layout, and add art. This invariably pushes the publishing back and causes huge delays. The ones that work the best, X-Crawl and a couple of others all sent out the core rules in wave one near when they said they’d go out and then sent everything else as supplemental material. It’s gotten to the point that when I see a KS for a new RPG if they’re delivering everything at once I try and figure out how late they’ll be.

Monday, August 28, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 28

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 28th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #28: What film/series is the biggest source of quotes in your group?


This is easy, Star Wars. We quote the hell out of Star Wars. We quote the prequel trilogy. We’re all fans of Star Wars to varying degrees, with two of us being stand outs for huge Star Wars fans. They’re more than that actually, they’re gear head Star Wars fans. They know the ships, the histories behind them, and so much beyond that. We cue up Star Wars music on our phones for other games. In a D&D campaign in Dark Sun we we’re captured by the cannibal halflings and as they celebrated the upcoming feast, we pulled up the yub yub song.
Beyond that we hit the regular places Princess Bride, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek, Thundarr the Barbarian, Top Gear, and I personally use a lot of Leverage.

What about you?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 27

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 27th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #27: What are your essential tools for good gaming?
Notes, lots of notes. If I’m running something I want to make sure I have a lot of notes for things that may be coming up. I may not use most of them, but I like to have them. I also like to make notes when the players say something that they think is a throwaway line about their character. I love bringing those back.
As a player, notes, lots of good dice. You can never have too many good dice. I also like themed dice. I play miniatures games and I had a set of vomit colored dice I used with my Nurgle 40k army. I enjoy having things like that.
For conventions, I have blood sugar issues, I need trail mix. It helps me keep focused and able to pay attention, prevents me from passing out. I’ve lived with the condition for a long time and I’ve gotten a handle on how to deal with it but I still have moments, especially at conventions where I don’t have access to regualr exercise and healthy food. I’m also a big guy, and thus my con bag includes deodorant. If you are also a big person and your con bag doesn’t include deodorant, it really should. Hell, if you sweat a lot, get some.

Beyond that, it depends on the game. I like Alea tools for games with minis and status effects. I like transparent card sleeves for games where I need to write notes on things of appropriate sizes. That’s pretty much it.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 26

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 26th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #26: Which RPG provides the most useful resources?
Has to be Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition. They had a reference program you could download as part of the Insider program that was amazing. It had everything you needed to roll up characters using any of the optional methods. You could then print out a magnificent character sheet that worked anywhere. It was such a good program that if you were taking part in their living campaign and had your character printed from there they just accepted it was right.
They had a second program that was for Dungeon Masters. It had every magic item ever. The system was set with multiple was to look things up, how many hands it takes, what classes can use it, specific bonuses, and special effects. They had a monster generator that would pull up any monster and let you alter its level, add character class levels, edit names, and give it bonus abilities from other monsters. You could take a level twenty storm giant, make him second level, give him four levels of druid, and a dragons fire breath.
It also told you were everything originated. The first module, adventure, expansion, or Dragon Magazine article it appeared in. If you wanted to go and find that specific adventure that introduced the Holy Avenger Sword, you could. At least, you knew what t look for.

I have been told, that the program is still active and you can download it and use it now. That it will still give you everything you need to run and manipulate a 4th edition game. In case you’re interested in that sort of thing.

Friday, August 25, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 25

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 25th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #25: What is the best way to thank your GM?
Pizza, cash, strippers, and scotch or whiskey depending on taste. The odd cigar would not be amiss, either.









Okay seriously now. As a GM, the thing I like hearing is thank you. Tell me when the game is working and when you’re having fun. Let me know if there is something you’d like to see or have happen. When I run, the thing I worry most about is that my players are having fun. Let me know when you are. I love it when my players engage with me about what’s going on. Don’t lie to me, if there is something that bothers you let me know and we’ll hash it out and see if we can come up with a fix. You have to tell me what you want.
The best feeling to me is when my friends and I are sitting around and talking about old games. If we’re talking to one another or people who weren’t there and they start to tell stories about games I wrote and ran for them. They talk about the things they loved and what was the most fun in those games. When they remember a small character I wrote as a throwaway, and they tell stories I had forgotten about them.

That’s the best thank you I can get. Engage with me. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 24

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 24th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #24: Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.
Instead of answering the question how it’s worded I’m going to talk about how I use Pay What You Want purchases. I recently purchased the rules for World Wide Wrestling, it’s a powered by apocalypse game about professional wrestling. A portion of the materials for the game are a series of PWYW gimmick, think classes, sheets on Drive Thru RPG. Like most PWYW games and supplements I bought one and paid nothing to see what it was and whether I wanted to invest time and money into these pieces. After getting the first one, I decided I liked these and went back and paid for the others, pitching in double what I felt they were worth for the second one to make up for the first free download.
To me, this is what PWYW is for. It’s that offer to check something out and see how it works, whether it functions, or fits into your needs. Then you can go back and pitch in for other rules or supplements. If they only have the one, you can always repurchase it paying the second time. I understand that not everyone goes back and purchases a second time, I haven’t always gone back for various reasons, from quality of the product to it just not fitting into what I needed or wanted. I get that there are people who look at how I do this and feel it’s unfair to those who have had products I didn’t go back and sponsor but for me this is how I use PWYW.

If there’s anything out there I’m missing, or you have an answer for a publisher or author who needs to be featured, let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 23

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 23rd question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #23: Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

I’m going to pick a new one for this. I recently bought the new Star Trek Adventures. The rule book has a very Star Trek feel. The entire book is set up using the graphics and fonts from the view screens in Next Generation. The entire book balances the style of display with art featuring various scenes from around the Federation, pieces showing off the various crews, and technical layouts of ships. There are occasional maps, star charts, and blueprints. The book does and amazing job of not only giving you the universe of Star Trek but also the feel of Star Trek. As you read it, it’s Star Trek. There’s no way it could be anything else or any anything else could have represented the world this perfectly.
The layout also includes a wonderful use of color to emphasize examples and sidebars, something I appreciate. The sections and chapters are well defined and broken up. Everything in the book has a focus on keeping you in the world you’re playing in. The only ding I would give it is that they front load the book with the history of the Federation leaving you several pages before you get to the rules. I would prefer that history and background be placed at the end of the book, especially for something like Star Trek where the history is so well known for most of the people playing. At least, I think it would be. I would be hard pressed to believe anyone who plays this doesn’t have at least some idea of how the Federation functions.

Still, I love the layout for this book and am looking forward to spending more time with it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 22

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 22nd question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #22: Which RPG’s are the easiest for you to run?
There are a lot of games I can run without looking at the book, going over my notes, or even trying to remember how certain things work; most of those require a ton of prep work. If I’m looking for easy, I want a game that I can run on they fly. That’s got to be Paranoia.
Paranoia is a fast paced game that takes place in the semi-dystopian future. The new edition of which streamlines a lot of features. Character creation takes a fifteen minutes and requires the group. There are decks of cards for mutant abilities, secret societies, and mandatory bonus duties. The game gives the player five extra lives in the form of backup clones so you can “accidently” go super dangerous. The players are all out to get one another so you don’t have to “accidently” go super dangerous because they’ll kill one another without your help. It’s probably the only game where I feel I can make up an adventure as we go and not worry about how I’m doing.
I can write an adventure right now. It is 12:37 for reference. Report for briefing. Take kegs of beer to Vulture Squadron at forward base in sector HawtAF, failure is treason. Report to R&D, five random items and rocket boots, because rocket boots are the best. Requisitions/steal a transport to carry thirty five kegs of beer. Sector HawtAF is a war zone. Vulture Squad is dead. Attack occurs and destroys truck. Update mission that they need to return empty kegs for recycling. Debriefing followed by commendations and executions, sometimes to the same person. It is 12:41.
I have seen amazing things in Paranoia. A group of players lost half their clones brushing their teeth, a party fighting over a laser pen, a black out murder spree committed by a rabbit, and a Lovecraftian terror cult reduced to cinders by My Little Pocket Nuclear Warhead, a troubleshooters best friend. The thing that gets amazing about Paranoia, is that as confrontational as the game is, people don’t mind. You know you’re going to get shot by your best friend, or spouse, in the back. It’s a given. Even character creation has you screwing over other members of your party in spectacular fashion. There’s no min-maxing this game, you’re going to be good at as many things as you’re bad at. Still, if you can ignore all of that, and you should, you will spend most of your night laughing. You will have stories to tell for years to come. If you ever meet my friend Keith, ask him about finding all of his clones, still alive, in a bathroom stall.


Monday, August 21, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 21

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 21st question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #21: Which RPG does the most with the least words?
I’m going with Fiasco on this one. The rules are blissfully simple and short. Most of the main book is filled with stories and examples of what type of game you’re playing. The actual mechanics are found over a handful of pages filled with examples. It’s a story telling game but it’s one that let’s itself get crunchy in the drama and depth of the characters. It’s allows for the players to tell deep serious stories with meaning or ridiculous action romps with Cthulhu. To expand the game you only need a new playset that is usually eight pages long, nine if you count the intro and examples of films and books that you can check out for examples.
I haven’t played Fiasco as much as I would like to; the game is wonderful. The character creation gives you the freedom to be as colorful as you want while still giving you tough choices to adhere too. The first time I ever played I expected it to follow the path of the different podcasts I listened to where people joked and got silly with their stories. My story, our story, went in a much different direction. It revolved around a photo in a locket. It didn’t matter who got that photo, it was going to go badly. The story started so well. There was the hope of romance for two people who had been alone for too long, redemption for a fallen man who’d walked away from horrible acts committed during the war, and the chance to heal for a man who had lost his son. Then it went to the left of center and I ended up dead in the desert. It was dark, and gritty, and serious. It was also beautiful, tense, and perfect.

I try to get more people to play Fiasco. I think the game has the potential to tell deep moving stories more than any other RPG on the market and it does it in roughly nine pages. 

Incidentally, do you think I should take a swing at writing my own playlist?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 20

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 20th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question Alternate#20: Campaigns: Do you prefer set length or open ended?
I have to do another alternate question, mostly because today's, “What is the best source of out of print RPG’s?” doesn’t apply to me. I simply have never looked for out of print games. I don’t have an answer.
This is an answer that has changed since I have gotten older. When I was in high school I loved open ended campaigns because honestly, I never thought we would stop playing. There was this optimistic illusion of youth that these things would last forever. This idea that the point of the game was to play every week and get more and more powerful.
Now that I’ve been at this for a while I prefer a set length. I know that we’re not going to have forever, that the group is going to grow and change. People will have to leave because of all the things that happen in life. I want to play a game to completion. If we can set out to tell a specific story and then tell it well, I’ll be happy. I love Through the Breach because it has a built in time limit. I like to play things that have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Too much has happened, too many game groups have folded for whatever reason, for me to think I’ll ever be able to play in a long running campaign.

That isn’t to say that someday I won’t return to that style of play. I marvel at the people who do and can. I just don’t think I’m in a place where I’ll be able to. One day I may go on a quest with no end in sight, but today, I’ll meet the villain, track his plan, defeat him after a few setbacks, and retire to the village I grew up in. For now.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 19

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 19th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #19: Which RPG has the best writing?
This one is tricky because there are two ways to look at it. Are we looking for clarity or entertainment?
On the one hand since RPG’s are essentially rules manuals it could mean clarity. It’s nice to have a well written rulebook that leaves you with no questions. I think we can all agree that there are some rulebooks that are complete train wrecks. (I’m looking at you D&D 3.5 grappling rules.) It’s nice to finish reading a rulebook and have few to no questions on how to play a game. I can’t honestly remember a game where I had no questions after finishing the rules. When we played Shadowrun my friends and I thought we were rolling too many dice until we learned we weren’t rolling enough. I was really solid at Through the Breach but only because I’d been playing Malifaux for years. I’ve never finished a D&D ruleset and not had questions. If I have to pick, I think the least number of questions I’ve ever had, then I have to give it to 4th edition D&D. I walked away from that game knowing how to run and play it fairly easily. I knew how powers worked, skills functioned, and classes melded together. I had a couple of questions but nothing that could stop a game.
For entertainment value it gets a little trickier. Since rulebooks are basically technical manuals some of them become so focused on the rules they become dry insomnia curing tomes. Some get so focused on history and back story that it takes days to find the rules you’re looking for amidst everything else. Some are just a jumbled mess of turn to page X to find the answer to the process found in section Y while using the chart on table z. When I have to look at six pages simultaneously to figure out how to do one thing in your game, you needed an editor, I’m cheap and available, call me. Beyond that, I find that one-shot humor based games are the best for these. I enjoyed reading Tales from the Floating Vagabond, Teenagers from Outer Space, and laughed out loud reading Maid. Paranoia is always a hoot, if you’re going to DM since the players have never read the rules, *wink* that would be treason. However, for the best writing, I love Legend of the Five Rings for the stories of the various clans. I love the conflicting histories in the different books. I love how every Clan book says, “There’s no such thing as ninjas,” except the Scorpion Clan which says, “If anyone asks, those guys over there don’t exist.” I’ve read through the Clan books multiple times just for the backgrounds. Which, as a note, are often found in sidebars next to the rules, making them easily identifiable as which is which.
Those are my answers. What are yours? I’m always looking for something new to read.



Friday, August 18, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 18

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 18th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #18: Which RPG have you played the most in your life?
This award goes to the granddaddy of them all, Dungeons & Dragons. You know I’m old-school, I used an ampersand. On my tenth or eleventh birthday my mom got me a copy of the boxed set of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. I played with my brother and some friends a couple of times. When I got to high-school I met some friends and we played there too. The first game I played at a gaming convention was D&D. I’ve gone away and returned multiple times. I organized and ran an adventure league at my local games store back when they called it Encounters.
D&D has always been one of those games I’ll always go back too. I have fond memories of games with friends, moments at conventions, and characters I’ve created. I’ve run published works and original adventures. I can’t remember a time when sitting and playing with friends wasn’t the best time. I still have friends who play D&D, though I have not played with them since the launch of fifth edition, or 5E. I miss sitting with my friends and going questing for monsters.
The reasons I don’t play 5E are wrapped in a long story that’s completely unfair to D&D and I may one day recount here on my blog. Today however, I look wistfully at the people having fun and I want to go back, but I fear I may have to wait until sixth edition. Still, I know that no matter how long it takes, they will welcome me back as if I had never left. Til then, I can only hope they role/roll well and wish them good fortune and safe journeys.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotten something in my eye.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 17

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 17th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #17: Which RPG have you owned the longest but haven’t played?
The answer to this one is easy, Grimm from Fantasy Flight games. I’ve never played Grimm, I never expected to get to play Grimm. None of my friends were interested in it and I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to play it at all. I bought this book strictly to read about the world and the setting.
Grimm is a dark fairy tale game set in the world of the Grimm brothers where things have gone terribly wrong. After Humpty Dumpty fell from the wall he cracked and the spoiled, rotted from the inside. As the king of the land, his rot spread to his kingdom and subjects. Horrible things have happened and many of the old favorite characters have twisted and warped under these new rules. Cinderella forces her step sisters, bound in collars and kept on leashes, to crawl in front of her scrubbing the ground as punishment for how she was treated. The players take on the role of children trapped in this world.
This is part of where we as a group faltered. We thought it would be hard and in some ways frustrating to play children. That we would have to remember that kids are afraid of things like large barking dogs when adults know how to handle these situations. We didn’t like the idea of having to react in a way that relied on inexperience. We also felt it would be difficult to approach challenges and riddles without relying on our own experiences to solve them. It felt like it would be frustrating to know the solution to something but not be able to act on it because our characters wouldn’t.
That said, I found a large amount of the book and its contents fun to read. One of the classes that still stands out to me is the every kid. You aren’t the hero, you’re the every kid, the background child that no one remembers. The upside was that you could go places unnoticed that the other players couldn’t. The downside was that every time a random child was chosen for something bad to happen, it happens to you because the every kids are the ones that die before the story starts. I loved the concept of this. If the bad guys are specifically looking for your group they won’t notice you, but fire one shot at random into a crowd and you’re the target.

I’ve seen other games that have focused on playing children, like the Land of Yeld, but those are all designed to be played with children; kids are players at the table. Grimm was in no way for children. I think that’s the important difference. If I play a RPG with kids, I tend to throw out suggestions but I let them come up with the plans and ideas. I don’t try and solve the puzzles, I let them do it. It’s easier to play a child character in that way because while I may have solved the riddle or puzzle already, I like to let the kids at the table have the chance to succeed. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 16

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 16th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question alternate#16: What do you look for in an RPG review?
I’m using one of the alternate questions from the list today because I think my answer from yesterday also answers today’s question which was, “What RPG do you enjoy using as is?” Since that happened, I decide to go with one of the other questions today.
I think I’ve kind of answered this already but feel I can expand on it. I look for mechanics, I want to know how easy the system is to learn, I hate having to sit at the table and spend lots of time looking something up to make sure we’re doing it right or simply avoiding it all together, I’m looking at you D&D 3.5 grappling rules. At the same time I don’t want a system that’s so devoid of rules that it feels like nothing is going on. I admit there are exceptions to both of these, I love Shadowrun and Fiasco.
Knowing something about the world and the setting are always a nice thing. A good setting can make the difference between me wanting to try a game or not. If the world is interesting, something I’ve never considered, or a twist on an old favorite. The YouTuber Dodger has a RPG world she’s developed for Dungeon World that revolves around gourmet dungeon crawls and fashion based wilderness hunts that’s pretty fun sounding. The twist on the old setting was what attracted me to X-Crawl.
Finally, if I can see some gameplay I feel I can get a much better view of the game itself. I love decent play sessions that give a little focus on the mechanics. I don’t want them to stop every ten minutes to explain why they’re rolling the dice, but I do like being given enough information to figure out what’s going on. I saw a video of Star Trek Adventures recently where the DM, was texting the players the things they discovered and descriptions of their locations, so I wasn’t hearing them. They used roll 20 but weren’t showing the dice rolls only announcing success or failure. I found that frustrating. Without seeing those things it felt hard to follow and was a poor representation of the game. While I know that gameplay isn’t exactly a review, I think it’s a factor in how people view the game.

Anyway, that’s what I look for.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 15

What is RPGaDay2017?

I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 15th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?
While I’ve never adapted anything, I did look at some different systems last year during my year of gaming challenges and experiments. At one point I had decided to try and write my own rules set or adapt an existing one. I learned very quickly that creating your own rules system is a skill set I do not have. However, when it came to adapting an existing rules set to play my setting I came down to two different games that looked like they would suit my purposes.


The first was the Apocalypse World system. AW is a quick, character driven system that is built around the idea of being adapted to suit the purposes of the game. In fact there are a ton of different games available that use the Powered by Apocalypse system. It really struck a chord with me that made me want to look into it more. Unfortunately, my timing is awful. They had just started their Kickstarter for second edition and had discontinued the sale of first because of it. At the time I write this, it’s my understanding that second edition is still not out yet. Once it is I want to get a copy and look into it with a more critical eye. For right now, it has a promising light that shines on my project.


The second, was FATE Core. FATE is another fast, character driven game. It allows for the group, both players and game master, to sit and create a setting and system in a single session. You get your characters, ideas, and guide lines in place. Using this system I would have had to do significantly less work to create my own setting but much like AW I’ve never played it. This one I do own, and I’m trying to carve out time to play it with a couple of friends and see how it functions. But much like AW it also shines a promising light, just one of a different color. All I need to do now is decide between green and blue.
I realize that this isn’t a particularly satisfying answer. I have watched videos of both systems in action I just haven’t played either. I hope to fix that. I hope to attempt to get back to that unfinished project from last year.

Monday, August 14, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 14

What is RPGaDay2017?


I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 14th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?
I two answers for this, one I love to run and one I love to play. I love running an open ended Dungeons & Dragons campaign. I like creating a setting and giving the group a couple of options and landmarks and letting them chose where to go next. I usually send out an email that tells them about major events like festivals or royal visits, local rumors, and new non player characters who have arrived. Occasionally, I will send a player a private email about something specific to their character. For example I once sent a character emails about a series of dreams they had over the course of a few sessions that eventually led to them figuring out where a lost tomb was. I always ask the players a bit ahead of time to tell me what they want to explore or follow up on and then prep that adventure. Though I usually have an idea of what I’m going to do with each one before they decide.
The one I love to play in was my friend Scot’s Shadowrun campaign. Early on Scot gave us a job and we did it. As the campaign went on he started telling us rumors about people looking for work or having multiple people reach out to us with jobs. We got to research the people looking for us or the jobs we’d heard about to find out about the people hiring us, how they’d worked in the past, what they typically paid, and how up front and honest they were with previous teams they’d hired.

Those are the things I’ve loved in the past.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

RPG a Day 2017 Question 13

What is RPGaDay2017?
I’ll link here to the actual group. Basically, it’s a series of questions that you can answer. There are 31 questions that you can answer to help shine a light on the different reasons people play role-play games. This is my answer to the 13th question. For my full list of answers check here.

Question #13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.
For a brief second I almost considered writing about my gallery show. I realized though that my experience, while life changing, had no effect on how I run or play games. To answer this question, I had to sort of figure out how I used to play, which was a psychotic murder hobo as a player and a confrontational douchebag as a DM. I’m not proud of that, but I understand where I came from. Now, I’m far more concerned with story and character. I love watching the players succeed, I love hearing their stories, and giving the players a ridiculous amount of choices. I designed a D&D game that was essentially a West Marches campaign for a single group without knowing what those were. I had to take both of those places and go back and forth until I narrowed it down to a game where I changed and then figure out what occurred that impacted me.
I came up with 2002ish and the Buckeye Crawl, aka my first game of X-Crawl at origins. Part of what affected me, was the game. I love X-Crawl and I enjoy playing it and singing its praises. It’s over the top, harder than hell, and deadly as all get out in all the best ways. However, as I thought about it the thing that showed me how to game better was not the setting but the GM.


Brendan LaSalle, who wrote the book and created the setting, ran the session I played in. The way he ran the game causes me to tell people that if you are at a convention where he is running X-Crawl, you need to play in it. In fact, in a few days from my writing this, he’ll be at Gencon, if you’re going and he’s running X-Crawl, get in that game. Everything about that experience was a new way of seeing things for me.
Before the game even started, he encouraged us to think of our characters, were we faces (good guys) or heels (bad guys). The game we were playing simulated a televised dungeon crawl, we were basically professional wrestlers with swords. Once we’d picked our characters, he asked us to pick our actors. He said, “If they make X-Crawl the movie, who’s playing your character and money, time, or availability don’t matter. If they’re dead, we’ll resurrect them and put them in the show.” I think I was a dwarf Sean Connery, I even did a bad accent. I’d never done that before. Until then, my characters had all been a version of me. They we’re dwarves, elves, wizards, rangers, or street samurai, but deep down, they were all me. They could physically do things I couldn’t, but they made the same decisions I would, said what I would say, and reacted the way I felt I would.
When the game started, Brendan stood up. He stood for the entire game. He was excited, vibrant, constantly moving, I’d never seen that before. Until then, I’d played in basements and at dinner tables with my friends, or at a convention where the DM was on their third or fourth day of running the same module. It’s a little thing and I get that, but the energy he brought to the table set the tone.
He also spent time describing our actions, and the monsters actions. He was genuinely happy when we did something good, laughed when we were amazing, and described the crowd cheering when we did something epic. When we won a fight, succeeded at a room, or got past a puzzle he congratulated us. He wanted us to be the stars of the show because that’s how TV works, but also it’s how a really fun session or campaign should work too.
I have tried to keep most of the things with me from that day. Whenever I run for new players, be it X-Crawl at my local game store or D&D at an established game day, I ask them to pick an actor to play their character. I don’t stand at the table, I’m not in that kind of shape, but I use my hands, change my voice, I try to make myself a presence at the table. I celebrate with the players. I’m going to say that again, I celebrate with the players. There are DM’s that don’t and I feel like they start to resent the players after a while; I know I used to.

I don’t think I’ve played me since then. Certainly, my characters have some of my character traits, I’m sarcastic as hell and it’s hard to get rid of that. Still, I’m very much a different player now. RPG’s used to be a puzzle to solve and now it’s an evening with my friends to tell stories.