19 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 19

19. Which RPG features the best writing?

Even if I were to rephrase this question more reasonably, it would still be impossible to answer. If you ask me to name my favorite movie, I'll produce a list of over 300 titles. If you ask me to name the movie that features the "best" writing, I'll just shake my head and sigh.

Instead, I'll list the first three role-playing games with entertaining writing that spring to mind:

Tunnels & Trolls (5th edition)

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18 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 18

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

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st edition) tempered by Basic/Expert D&D.

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17 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 17

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

Probably Gamma World 2nd edition. It is one of my regrets that my original gaming group never found the time to fit it into our busy role-playing schedule. Someday, I will make up for it.

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16 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 16

16. Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?


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15 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 15

15. Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

I'm not sure what this question means, but I will assume it means, "Which RPG do you most enjoy using for the adaptation of various settings and genres?"

My answer, depending on the specifics of the source material to be adapted, would be one of the following (in no particular order):

Prince Valiant
Swords & Wizardry White Box
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
Basic Role-Playing

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14 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 14

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

There are too many to name, but generally most fantasy and many science fiction role-playing games are appropriate for open-ended campaign play. Mission-based games are probably less appropriate. Frankly, this question is too open-ended.

[Edit: I'm not sure what this question means. Is it referring to campaigns that have no predetermined end, or is it referring to campaigns that emphasize open exploration (as in hexcrawls), or both, or neither? Pass.]

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13 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 13

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

The game was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. First edition.

Auldwyn (of Ket?), a reclusive magic-user of great renown, began his career with 1 or 2 hit points, which made him rather concerned about his life expectancy. Each time he levelled up, I would roll his 1d4 for hit points gained, and it would land on 1. By the time he retired at 9th level, he had fewer hit points than the average 2nd level fighter. This led to a character whose primary motivation was to seek maximum power with minimum risk, which meant a career of impeccable planning and avoidance of direct confrontation. Was Auldwyn successful? Most definitely. In his entire career, he never suffered a single hit point of damage. The downside is that the game felt more like a conceptual strategy game than a role-playing adventure game. When I retired him, I decided my next magic-user would be his polar opposite: daring, charismatic, devil-may-care, somewhat foolhardy. That was Magoriah Fantez (of Hardby). He was a spellcasting dandy. He had the good fortune not to roll a 1 for hit points every time he gained a level, but even if he had had Auldwyn's curse, I think I still would have role-played him as the swashbuckling sorcerer I wanted him to be. If it shortened his lifespan, at least he would die gloriously.* Since then, I stopped obsessing about a character's frailty. At least, that's what I tell myself.

* Magoriah Fantez died in a blaze of dragonfire after recklessly challenging a red dragon to single combat. He was 13th level.

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12 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 12

12. Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

There are too many games in my collection and too many games in existence covering too many different genres and settings for me to answer this question in any meaningful way. There is a wealth of inspiring art in this hobby. I'm just thankful for that.

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11 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 11

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

I guess I ought to have read all of the questions before answering them, because I already answered this one on Day 2 with a "dead game" (Ghostbusters) and a hypothetical game (Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, or Barbarella using the Prince Valiant system), so I'll mix it up again here and say The Rocky & Bullwinkle Role-Playing Party Game ("dead game") and The Underdog Role-Playing Party Game (hypothetical game).

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10 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 10

Where do you go for RPG reviews?

Back in the 1980s, it was mainly DRAGON Magazine. Now, it's the following (in no particular order):

1. Google+
2. Web logs
3. Podcasts

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09 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 09

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

Does this question refer to what role-playing game is best suited for a mini-campaign? If so, I think any RPG one enjoys playing except for the most two-dimensional beer & pretzels kind would be suitable. So, probably not Kobolds Ate My Baby!. Then again, if all you want to do is steal chickens, get killed, and re-roll characters for ten sessions, maybe it is!

Short answer: Any RPG you enjoy.

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08 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 08

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

Kobolds Ate My Baby!
Ninja Burger: The Role-Playing Game

Review of Ninja Burger: The Role-Playing Game (1st edition)
Risus: The Anything RPG
Sherpa RPG

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07 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 07

7. What was your most impactful RPG session?

I am interpreting "impactful" to mean "humorously memorable" because that's how I roll.

As a referee, it was either the time a non-player character anti-paladin successfully converted a player character paladin to diabolism ("I can no longer draw Fedifensor from its scabbard?!? NOOOOO!!!") in AD&D 1e (Whoops! Sorry, Andrew!), or the time the player characters prevented Doc Holliday (whom I portrayed with an unintended Jack Nicholson impersonation) from dying in a gunfight before the actual Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Timeship. Also, when my younger brother's character entered the roughest saloon in Tombstone and ordered milk, which escalated into an all out barroom brawl.

There are many humorously memorable moments from my last Swords & Wizardry White Box campaign, but they are too numerous to mention.

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06 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 06

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

Plan A

I would make a random table and roll on it to determine what I would be doing for the week.

Random Gaming Marathon Generator

Roll 1d7

1. Swashbuckling Marathon! RPGs: All for Me Grog, En Garde, Flashing Blades, Pirates & Plunder, Privateers and Gentlemen, Skull & Crossbones, and something using Risus, Fudge, or Sherpa. Other games: And One for All, Black Fleet, Dread Pirate, Jamaica, Master and Commander, Munchkin Booty, Swashbuckler.

2. Post-Apocalyptic Marathon! RPGs: Creeks & Crawdads, DCC RPG: Crawling Under a Broken Moon, Gamma World, Metamorphosis Alpha, The Morrow Project, Mutant Crawl Classics RPG, Under the Broken Moon. Other games: Car Wars 5e, Car Wars: The Card Game, Escape: Zombie City, Ogre/G.E.V., Zombie Dice, Zombies!!!.

3. Far Future Marathon! RPGs: MechWarrior, Mekton II, Ringworld, Star Frontiers, Star Trek (FASA), Traveller (CT, 3 LBBs), Where No Man Has Gone Before. Other games: BattleTech, Combots, Full Thrust, Star Fluxx, Star Munchkin, Star Trek Catan, Survive! Space Attack.

4. Horror Marathon! RPGs: Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu by Gaslight, Chill, Ghostbusters, Resident Evil: The Unofficial Role-Playing Game, Stalking the Night Fantastic, and my own investigative paranormal game for Fudge. Other games: Escape: Zombie City, Ghostbusters: The Board Game, The Hills Rise Wild!, Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, Pokethulhu, Zombie Dice, Zombies!!!.

5. Comedy Marathon! RPGs: Ghostbusters, Kobolds Ate My Baby, Ninja Burger: The Role-Playing Game, Og/Land of Og/Og Unearthed, Paranoia, Risus, Teenagers from Outer Space, Toon. Other games: Munchkin (Adventure Time, Axe Cop), Fluxx (Adventure Time, Monty Python, The Regular Show), Mars Attacks: The Dice Game, Mars Attacks: Ten-Minute Takedown, Ninja Burger: The Card Game, Nuclear War, X-Bugs.

6. Fantasy/Science Fantasy Marathon! RPGs: Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, Empire of the Petal Throne, Pits & Perils, Prince Valiant, Stormbringer, Swords & Wizardry, Tunnels & Trolls. Other games: Chainmail, Dungeon!, Dungeon Dice (Parker Bros., 1977), Field of Glory, Hordes of the Things, Rules According to Ral, Wizard Kings.

7. Miscellaneous Marathon! RPGs: Bunnies & Burrows, Doctor Who (FASA), Gangbusters, Lords of Creation, Marvel Super Heroes (TSR), Mazes & Minotaurs, Timeship. Other games: Dawn Patrol, Frag, Impact City Roller Derby, Robo Rally, Thunderbirds Co-operative Board Game, Victory, War of 1812.

[Some of these games are not yet in my collection, namely Chill, En Garde, Pirates & Plunder, Creeks & Crawdads, Dungeon Dice, Ghostbusters: The Board Game, Munchkin Axe Cop, and Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu.]

Plan B

I would playtest the games I've been designing for four days, and run or play Risus, Fudge, and Sherpa for three days. And we'd play Red Flags before each session.

Plan C

I would pick one role-playing game and run it for seven days as part of a new campaign. And we'd play Tiddlywinks before each session.

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05 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 05

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

The answer depends on one's preferred style of play on one hand and the fidelity of the illustration to both the game designer's intent and how accurately the rules reflect the genre or subject of the game. I don't know and I don't care terribly much. Instead, I choose the two RPG covers that most captured my imagination when I joined the hobby: Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (by the phantasmagorical Erol Otus) and Traveller (as in Classic).

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04 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 04

4. Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?

If "played" includes being the GM, the answer would be Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. I haven't done nearly as much gaming as I would like, and there are a dozen different role-playing games I want to run ASAP.

If "played" is restricted to being a player, then the answer is none. That may change next week, however, as one of my players will be trying her hand at being a DM for the first time, and she will be introducing me to D&D 5e. I think I might play a dragonborn character if it's an option in her campaign.

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03 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 03

3. How do you find out about new RPGs?

Pre-Internet Era (P.I.E.)

In the first ten years of my involvement with role-playing games, I learned about new RPGs from three sources:

1. The shelves of my favorite local game shop
2. DRAGON Magazine
3. White Dwarf

Early Internet Era (E.I.E.)

I didn't have Internet access until 1999, but once I did, it became my primary news source for RPGs. I routinely visited free RPG sites and An Encyclopedia of Role-Playing Games. I subscribed to Pyramid before Steve Jackson Games converted it into a less frequent PDF. I avidly read Places to Go, People to Be; Imazine; and Critical Miss: The Magazine for Dysfunctional Roleplayers. And I read lots and lots of gaming Web logs.

Internet Onwards (I.O.)

The three game shops I relied upon for most of my RPG purchases are long gone. There are four or five game shops in my area, but only one stocks RPGs, and none that interest me. Nowadays, I gain most of my knowledge about new RPGs from these sources:

1. Google+
2. Web logs
3. podcasts

I'd add Kickstarter, but I usually hear about RPG Kickstarter projects from Google+, Web logs, or podcasts first.

If I am any indication of a trend, then I think it behooves all of us who love the hobby to share our discoveries on our Web logs, podcasts, and Google+ posts (and any other word-of-mouth methods we can think of, such as, say, word of mouth).

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02 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 02

2. What is an RPG [game, world, or adventure] you would like to see published?

My first instinct is to say a reprint of the original Ghostbusters role-playing game, preferably with an accompanying booklet that condenses the rules (and offers a binary randomizer option similar to that used in Prince Valiant) and higher quality equipment cards (with an emphasis on durability).

Otherwise, I would like to see a Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, or Barbarella game based on the Prince Valiant rules system.

A Fudge or Sherpa conversion of Timeship would also be welcome (especially if I am hired to convert it).

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01 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 01

1. What published RPG [game, world, or adventure] do you wish you were playing right now?

I am in the mood to play multiple role-playing games and settings at any moment, but at this exact moment I feel the urge to play Teenagers from Outer Space by Mike Pondsmith. Published by R. Talsorian Games in the late 1980s, it is "set on an Earth where fun-loving space aliens go to our high schools and party with the Earth kids. In the game you play the part of a teenager — alien or human — and have adventures fighting mutant monstrosities, saving the world from ravening rabbits from the X dimension, and getting your homework in on time." In other words, you engage in sci fi teenage high jinks.

The game system is simple and transparent (features I find very attractive and all too rare), and the writing is whimsical without being forced. The character attributes (or Statistics) offer a clear picture of the flavor of the game: Smarts, Bod, Relationship with Parents, Luck, Driving, Looks, Cool, and Bonk. (Bonk is how much punishment you can take.)

The cover art for the two editions offer somewhat different visions of the game. The first, by Mike Ebert, is suggestive of manga, whereas the second, by Wayne Barlowe, reflects the 1980s America in which the game was written. My own instincts draw me inexorably toward a sci fi 1950s interpretation inspired by the movie that inspired the game's title (plus every other sci fi and/or monster movie of the 1950s). Or a blend of all three.

Teenagers from Outer Space is light, easy, comedic fun, which is exactly what I'm in the mood for right now.

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08 June 2017

The Armor Class Equalizer

Sometimes the best weapons to use against armored opponents are not those that inflict the most damage, but those that deprive them of the advantage of wearing armor. Armor is best for deflecting or absorbing attacks, but it is the worst for avoiding attacks. The mounted knight or man-at-arms is particularly vulnerable to the hooked pole arms used by footmen and peasantry to pull them off their steeds.

This is a simple rule that can be added to any role-playing game that utilizes armor class in combat resolution.

Any attacker who uses an appropriate weapon with the intent of pulling, pushing, toppling, entangling, or unhorsing an opponent may consider that opponent to be unarmored in terms of armor class regardless of whatever armor that opponent may be wearing. If the opponent is aware of the attack and able to react, the opponent's armor class will be modified by his or her Dexterity bonus or penalty, if any. Appropriate weapons include whips, bolas, man-catchers, and most pole arms (namely those with hooks and/or tines). If the attack is successful, it causes no damage, but the victim is affected as follows:

  • whip: entangled (potentially tripped or disarmed)
  • bola: entangled (potentially tripped)
  • man-catcher: caught (potentially pushed or pulled)
  • pole arm: unhorsed or tripped

Effects may be adjudicated by GM fiat, GM-player negotiation, attribute checks, or any extant rules covered by the system being used.