Monday, August 31, 2015

#RPGaDay2015 - Days 26-31!

Before I begin, I'd like to take a moment to thank Dave Chapman for coming up with #RPGaDay. This was it's second year, and I've enjoyed writing my entries and reading others. With that, onto the days!

Day 26 - Favorite Inspiration For Your Game

Inspiration for my games come to me all over - from short stories I read, to TV shows or movies, to a glimpse of something I see in my daily life. The last thing that inspired me to write a scenario was the book Pines by Blake Crouch - the first of the Wayward Pines trilogy. I won't go into spoilers, but the unique twists in the book gave me a great idea for a low mythos but highly weird Call of Cthulhu scenario. I've run it once with some of the guys from the MU Podcast, and it went exceedingly well. If anyone is interested in playing in it, hit me up; I'd love to run it again!

Day 27 - Favorite Idea For Merging Two Games Into One

I think a cross between the Dresden Files RPG and the Army of Darkness RPG would be incredible. I mean, Harry Dresden and Ash?!? Groovy!

Day 28 - Favorite Game You No Longer Play

2nd Edition AD&D and Ravenloft. I played that so much when I was younger, but there just hasn't been the opportunity to play. I'd love to play in a one-shot for AD&D or Ravenloft, but can't see myself in a long term campaign for it.

Day 29 - Favorite RPG Website/Blog

There are a number of RPG websites that I like to read, but the #1 for me is (Disclosure: I am an admin on the site.) Ole Yoggie has been around forever and is the place to go for information and help on Call of Cthulhu. Paul does an amazing job keeping the site going and it has become a fixture in the CoC community.

Day 30 - Favorite RPG Playing Celebrity

This is hard, as I don't know many RPG playing celebrities. I will probably have to go with Wil Wheaton. While I think many gaming geeks don't like him for whatever reason, Wil has done a tremendous job of advancing the hobby and putting it in the spotlight in a positive light. Any time that happens is nothing but good for the rest of us.

Day 31 - Favorite non-RPG Thing to Come Out Of RPG'ing

Friends. Plain and simple. I have met so many friends - both online and at the gaming table - from RPGs that I have lost count. Enough said.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#RPGaDay2015 Days 21-25

Alright - lets go!

Day 21 - Favorite RPG Setting

When I think of an RPG setting, there's one that comes immediately to mind: the Forgotten Realms. My first experience with a setting was FR, and I remember looking through the boxed and being amazed at how much was there. Unfolding the maps, I would stare for hours at the vastness of the place, and plan where I would run my games. There was something magical about it, and to this day there still is.

The best thing were the large maps in all the supplements, that if you got multiple copies would line up perfectly. I always dreamed of getting them all and putting them together. Did anyone ever actually do this?

Day 22 - Perfect Gaming Environment

Some place quiet where you can add the atmosphere you desire. This can be a basement, a kitchen, or a desk for an online game. Quite honestly though, it can be anywhere - as long as you have good friends or those happy to be gaming.

Day 23 - Perfect Game for You

My ultimate game would be a Call of Cthulhu game, in a cabin deep in the woods, with the only light from a dying fireplace.

Day 24 - Favorite House Rule

I can't honestly think of any real house rule I use, except an overall one: don't let the rules get in the way of the story. When I run a game, if the story is going well and everyone is enjoying it, I would rather make an on-the-fly decision that is outside of the rules than stop the game, look up a rule, and break the tension/excitement/fun.

To me, RPGs are about the story. The rules just help streamline that and at times are optional.

Day 25 - Perfect Revolutionary Game Mechanic

I can think of two, which when they came out may not have been revolutionary, but were to me when I first encountered them.

The first is Sanity in Call of Cthulhu. In all previous RPGs I had played, I had only dealt with hit points as a measure of your character's vitality. When I first played CoC, the sanity mechanic blew my mind. It was so simple and obvious, yet so powerful. Since I started playing Call of Cthulhu I've seen sanity duplicated in multiple other games, but none ever have quite the impact as Sanity does.

The second are style points from Hollow Earth Expedition. These are points that are given to players for doing good things in a game, and can be returned for benefits such as rerolling a die or a temporary boost. Yes, I'm sure this has been done in other games, but HEX was the first time I encountered it. When I first saw it, I thought it was just a gimmick and something that would never really work. Then I used it, and saw others use it, and realized how powerful it could be. Their use becomes viral in games too; once one players throws in a style chip, more are soon to follow from the other players as they see their power.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

#RPGaDay2015 Days 13-20

Running a bit behind, so these will be shorter than normal.

Day 13 - Favorite RPG Podcast

I'm going to split this up into favorite RPG podcast, and favorite RPG Actual Play podcast.

For my favorite RPG podcast, I'll have to go with the Miskatonic University Podcast. They consistently have great shows that I always listen to...and are a Silver Ennie winner this year! Congrats!

For my favorite RPG AP podcast, thats tough. Its probably a 2-way tie between:

There are multiple other podcasts I download, but these are the ones I most consistently listen to.

Day 14 - Favorite RPG Accessory

Generically, I'm going to have to go with..dice! While I realize there are diceless RPGs out there and ones that use different mechanics (like poker hands in Deadlands), I can't really imagine playing an RPG without dice.

Day 15 - Longest Campaign Played

Sadly, I've never really played in what I consider a true campaign. When I started out, we played for 2 or 3 years with the same group of characters, but the adventures were mostly one-shots.

Day 16 - Longest Game Session Played

Again this goes back to when I first started playing RPGs. We would play for hours - 8-10 hours easily at one sitting. Ah, the good ol' days.

Day 17 - Favorite Fantasy RPG

To continue the theme of when I first started, I'll have to say that my favorite fantasy RPG is AD&D 2nd Edition. Thats what I grew up on and what I love. THAC0 rules!!!

Day 18 - Favorite SF RPG

I have not played too many science fiction RPGs. In fact, I can't remember the last time I played one. However, I have read a number in the last several years. My favorite to date is probably Age of Rebellion from FFG.

I've never played a Star Wars RPG, but FFG's line seems to provide something that I would like to try out. While I still don't get their dice mechanic, I've heard nothing but good things about it.

Day 19 - Favorite Supers RPG

I am not really a fan of supers RPGs at the moment, but my favorite is the original Marvel Superheroes RPG. My brother had actually bought this and we played it constantly - creating our own superheroes against the many villians of the Marvel universe. Somehow, when I was the GM, the villian was always Red Skull.

Day 20 - Favorite Horror RPG

Wow...anyone that reads my blog knows what this is gonna be.

Call of Cthulhu

Hands down, my favorite horror RPG. While there are currently edition wars and kickstarter issues, I will still come back to it. The game is about 35 years old and has stood the test of time. I can't think of too many other RPGs that are just as old and still have such a tremendous fanbase.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#RPGaDay2015 Day 11-12

Days 11 through 12 of #RPGaDay2015.

Day 11 - Favorite RPG Writer

I think we are in a golden age of RPGs at the moment. There are so many great writers and game designers pushing out amazing material that its hard to choose just one as my favorite. Instead, I'll list a few.

These writers appeal to my interests and I've found always push out quality material. These are the writers that, when they publish something, I'm immediately interested and extremely likely to pick it up.

Oscar Rios - Oscar writes for, and runs, Golden Goblin Press - a Call of Cthulhu licensee. Oscar has been writing and running games for as long as I can remember, and I've been extremely lucky to have met and gamed with him on multiple occasions. In the Call of Cthulhu world, there are a number of authors who are reinventing the game - Oscar is leading that pack.

Graham Walmsley - Graham is the author of Cthulhu Dark, along with multiple Trail of Cthulhu and other books and scenarios. More importantly, he is the author of Stealing Cthulhu, a book which lays out the Cthulhu mythos and describes how GMs can steal directly from Lovecraft's stories for their own games. If you run any type of Cthulhu mythos game, you need to read this book.

Ken Hite - Ken Hite should be familiar to anyone who is in gaming, especially horror gaming. Author of Trail of Cthulhu, co-host of Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, as well as multiple (hundreds?) of other RPG-related material, Ken is at the forefront of our industry. He is also the author of another RPG-related book that anyone who runs horror games should read, Nightmares of Mine. This book breaks down horror RPGs into their basic components and describes how they should be run to make them the best they can be.

Day 11 - Favorite RPG Illustration

This was an easy one. Whenever I think of RPGs and my RPG experience, especially when I first started out, this one always comes to mind.

On page 34 of the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide (at least the one with the City of Brass on the cover) is an illustration by Will McLean depicting two adventurers in mouse costumes and stating "This had better work!".

While the AD&D DMG is full of incredible art, this one always stood out to me. Its fun and perfectly describes what can happen in an adventure. I even attempted to recreate this in my 9th grade computer art class! Fortunately, it has been lost to time.

Monday, August 10, 2015

#RPGaDay2015 Day 7-10

Days 7 through 10 of #RPGaDay2015.

Day 7 - Favorite Free RPG

Normally, I would say Cthulhu Dark, but I think last year I talked about that. Instead, I'll say Everyone is John

For those unaware, Everyone is John is a free RPG where the players are voices and personalities in the head of a man named John. Each player has their own goals they want to accomplish and compete for control of John, which can be easily lost.

Unfortunately, I have yet to play this game, although the actual play's I have listened to have been amazing. I highly recommend the One Shot Podcast AP of the game, especially their Everyone is Joker episode.

Day 8 - Favorite Appearance of RPGs in the Media

This is a hard one, especially since I have not seen too many of these occur. However, I would probably have to go with the latest one I saw - Gravity Falls Dungeons, Dungeons & More Dungeons

In the episode, Dipper plays the latest version of his favorite RPG DD&D with his Great Uncle Ford. When their infinity die is accidentally rolled the game comes to life and they must battle against in a real world DD&D set. 

Have no clue what I'm talking about? Go watch the show. Actually watch both seasons. It's amazing.

Day 9 - Favorite Media You Wish Was an RPG

There are lots of media I wish were an RPG, some listed below. However, I should caveat this by saying I wish there were RPG components for this media out. I don't necessarily think each of these should have their own RPG as there are already so many great systems out there. So, the ones listed below also have systems I think they would work well in, if they don't already exist.
  • Gravity Falls - Fate, FAE, or Monster of the Week 
  • The Secret World MMORPG - Unknown Armies or Delta Green
  • The stories of Marcus Calvert - Fate or FAE

Day 10 - Favorite RPG Publisher

Another hard one, especially considering there are lots of publishers with material that I truly enjoy. Pelgrane Press, Golden Goblin Press, and Exile Game Studio definitely make the top of my list.

However, I still have to go with Chaosium. Despite the issues they have, and their uncertain future in the face of major changes, they are still my favorite publisher. They have put out my all-time favorite RPG for over 30 years and you can't fault them for that.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

#RPGaDay2015 Day 4-6

Days 4 through 6 of #RPGaDay2015. Here we go!

Day 4 - Most Surprising Game

This is pretty hard. I'll say the most surprising game for me that I've played in is De Profundis. This is an immersive RPG where you find another player, or players, and write letters to them in the style of your character. You immerse yourself in the character, writing as they would and responding to letters you receive. Through this you create the game and its story as it comes up - making it up as you go in a manner that adds to the overall story.

I've only played this once, but it was amazing. Its a very different experience to sit down for even just 30 minutes and get yourself into the mood of your character, and physically write something to another player/character. This forces you to think in a different mindset and play in a different manner. Plus, there's something amazing when you open your mailbox and see a returned letter!

Day 5 - Most Recent RPG Purchase

The shelf behind me is full of books and games I have purchased over the years. My most recent acquisition to that is The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen which I got at a Half Price Books for a few dollars. I had only heard of the game and quite frankly was surprised to see it in a used book store, so I grabbed it.

From what I've read (and admittedly I've only skimmed it), the players are trying to outdo each other with their outlandish exploits and stories. I've heard nothing but good things about it and really can't wait to try it out.

Day 6 - Most Recent RPG Played

Not surprisingly, the most recent RPG I played is Call of Cthulhu 7th edition, specifically the Cult of One scenario from Secrets. I described the play report in a previous post.

This was such a great game in both how it played out, how the players reacted, and how it set everything up for a future over-arching villian. As a Keeper, you can't ask for much more than that, especially for a semi-regular game.

Monday, August 3, 2015

#RPGaDay2015 Day 1-3

#RPGaDay is happening again! For those unaware, #RPGaDay was created by Dave Chapman of Autocratik and is composed of a set of topics that gamers can post about once a day for all of August. The purpose is to get gamers talking positively about gaming and to share their passion. Welcome to #RPGaDay2015!

Day 1 - Forthcoming Game You're Most Looking Forward To

I would normally say Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition as the game I'm looking forward to, but one can argue that its technically available so I'll bypass that. Instead, I will say World War Cthulhu: Cold War.

World War Cthulhu: Cold War takes Cubicle 7's great World War Cthulhu setting and advances it into the cold war of the 60s and 70s. Spies, backstabbing, political intrigue, and the Mythos. Having grown up in the tail end of the Cold War, and being obsessed with it, this is a setting that I have been looking forward to since I initially heard about it almost two years ago. Unfortunately, I was not able to back it so I'll be purchasing it when it is released.

Day 2 - Kickstarted Game Most Pleased You Backed

This is a difficult one to choose as most, if not all, of the games I've backed on Kickstarter have been winners, even with the issues that some have had. To narrow it down is difficult, but if I had to choose one I would say Island of Ignorance by Golden Goblin Press.

This was GGP's premier book and was hands down a winner. Acting as the third Cthulhu Companion, it was filled with articles to assist a Keeper as well as multiple amazing scenarios. Admittedly, I'm a bit biased on this - I wrote one of the articles. However, it is still a great book and showed the quality GGP would put forth - and has continued to do so to this day.

Day 3 - Favorite New Game of the Last 12 Months

I'm going to cheat on this a bit and name my 2 favorite new games of the last 12 months - once that I've played and one that I've run.

My favorite new game in the last year that I played is Quantum Black, a new modern day horror RPG that uses the Ubiquity system. (The game is currently in being kickstarted - go support it!)

In 2014, I saw games for this being run at Origins, but was unable to get into it. This past year, I was able to get into a 2 hour demo of it at Origins and loved it! In the game, you are members of an organization named Quantum Black, which is tasked with saving humanity from the horrors plaguing mankind. It takes the best things from shows like X-Files and Fringe, adds them to a great system, and in the end comes out amazingly.

A number of RPGs have tried to do this in the past, but I don't think any of them did it successfully enough for them to pull it off. From the game play I did, this one worked. The game evoked a sense of fear and uncertainty in the right parts, and played out the action well in the others. I liked it enough I backed it on Kickstarter; so should you.

The other new favorite game that I ran in the last year is End of the World from Fantasy Flight Games, specifically the Zombie Apocalypse setting (I have not read/ran the others yet). In this game, the players play fictionalized versions of themselves in some world-ending scenario where they try to survive. I ran this at Origins where the players were at the con when the zombie apocalypse broke out.

The thing I love about this system is it is very lite. It gets out of the way of the GM and players and allows them to tell their story. The system isn't infallible, but I think with a few house rules it will play more smoothly. Despite that, the game is great and I look forward to running it again in the future.

I've only run the Zombie Apocalypse setting, and Wrath of the Gods has just come out. I have some hesitations on it, mostly due to price point and duplication of some of the material, but if you have not picked up either I would highly suggest it. Its a game worth playing!