RPG Review: B/X Essentials Core Line

In this RPG Review I look at the five books in the B/X Essentials core line:

  1. Core Rules
  2. Class and Equipment
  3. Cleric & Magic-user Spells
  4. Monsters
  5. Adventures & Treasures

The books are written by Gavin Norman of Necrotic Gnome and are available on Drivethru RPG as both PDF and print on demand versions.

Title Music

Shinigami by XTaKeRuX:
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/XTaKeRuX/Empty_Grave/Shinigami

Used under creative commons licence:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Podcast Episode 40 – Over-production in RPGs

The edited version of our recent podcast recording “Over-production in RPGs” is now available on Anchor, I’m joined by Johannes Paavola, Mathew Bryan, Andre Martinez and Dennis Bach.

Music on Podcast Title

Shinigami by XTaKeRuX:
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/XTaKeRuX/Empty_Grave/Shinigami

Used under creative commons licence:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Podcast Episode 3: That Elusive Page Turning Quality

It’s a warm day here in England, and in the third episode of the Podcast I’m talking a bit about what makes me want to keep reading an RPG.

Wild West Wizardry Prep Notes

Last night I ran a game of Dresden Files Accelerated for five great players, it was a one-shot and–to put a bit of a twist on it–I’d decided to set the game in the wild west rather than the more traditional modern setting of the game. Looking for an iconic town I settled on Tombstone, during it’s waning years after the silver mines had dried up:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tombstone,_Arizona

Using the Wikipedia page I made the following notes:

POTTED TOMBSTONE HISTORY

  • Founded in 1979 by Prospector Ed Schiefflin in Arizona.
  • Grew in mid-1880s, last of the boom towns.
  • Local mines produced $40 to $85 million silver bullion.
  • Town established on mesa above the Goodenough Mine.

  • Had bowling alley, 4 churches, ice house, school, 2 banks,
    3 newspapers and an ice cream parlour.

  • 110 saloons.
  • 14 gambling halls, numerous dance halls and brothels.
  • All businesses situated amongst and around silver mines.

  • In mid-1880s the silver mines pentrated the water table.

  • Pumps were destroyed by a fire in 1886.
  • Unprofitable to re-build the costly pumps.
  • City nearby became something of a ghost town.

The players were told about the setting in advance and asked to create characters using the DFAE rules, shortly before the game I posted the following plot-clue to the Facebook event:

Created using an online tool: https://www.fodey.com/generators/newspaper/snippet.asp

To give you an idea of my prep, below are some of the notes that I made for and during the game.

First of all I started with the main antagonists, a black court vampire by the name of Dillon and his thrall, a young girl with powers of necromancy.

Then I moved onto some of the goon-level flunkies who were going to be acting as muscle for our main villain:

I also made some brief notes of the powers and abilities that these villains had to save me having to look them up during the session:

During the session I also made some notes regarding PC names and incidental NPCs, I also used these index card to keep track of boosts, advantages, etc.

In addition to these note I had a text file with some rough plot ideas outlined, just before we started recording I asked the players for a bit of background and worked to incorporate it into the draft plot that I had written down already, changing it as necessary. The index card method is really useful during a game because it allows me to quickly reference the most needed stats and information without having to flip through the rulebook so much.

If you want to watch the actual play video of the session you can find it here:

 

Kickstarter: Dead in the West

Dead in the West: A Tabletop RPG set in the Mythic Old West

I received an email via the website from Will Donelson author of Dead in the West, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. Will writes:

“I’ve recently launched my first ever Kickstarter for my game Dead in the West. It’s a Tabletop RPG set in a Mythologised Old West. I was wondering if you could take a look and, if you think it seems cool, maybe give it a shout out?”

Thanks for bringing the project to my attention Will, always happy to give a shout-out to interesting new games. Reading through the kickstarter Will seems to be trying to create a game with a heavy emphasis on making characters that are differing individuals, using a rules system creating specifically for the game. Although creating a “classless” roleplaying system isn’t such a big thing nowadays as it used to be–there being lots of such systems out there–the Quickdraw mechanic where a PC can force an NPC into a quick-fire standoff sounds really interesting and appropriate for the campaign setting being created.

Pledges are listed at £18.00GBP for just the PDF and £26.00GBP for a hard-copy of the book, meaning that it’s not the cheapest of games, but–given it’s Will’s first tabletop RPG–it sounds extremely interesting. As of the time of writing the campaign has reached £1980.00GBP of it’s £7300.00GBP goal.

If you’re interested in the roleplaying in the Wild West (a sadly underused genre in my opinion) check it out at the Kickstarter link below:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1367347179/dead-in-the-west-a-tabletop-rpg-set-in-the-mythic/

GM Tips: Expand your reading material

One of the aspects of the roleplaying that I really enjoy is producing campaign wikis/blogs, etc that provide more of an insight into currently running games and campaign worlds, it lets me keep my writing-hand in, keeps up my enthusiasm between games and also helps refresh my (unfortunately poor) memory concerning the salient details of the campaign.

Another benefit–and one that I don’t see mentioned all that often–is that doing this work has encouraged me to read information that I might not have looked at before.

My most recent example of this came whilst I was setting up a series of pages on this site for my Rose of Westhaven campaign, particularly the entries concerning the fictional calendar that I have created–using Donjon’s excellent Fantasy Calendar Creator–for the game. Days, months, seasons, moon phases and all those sort of things that go into a calendar are elements that I have often neglected in past game and I’m hoping to bring them more centre-stage to my campaign. While setting up the three moons of my campaign world using the calendar, it occurred to me that I had no idea what the figures in the lunar cycle section of the calendar creator were referring to. A quick search on Google and Wikipedia lead to me reading a wiki-page about the Me tonic cycle and various methods of measuring times used by different cultures throughout history.

All of this was information that I had not even considered before and–even if I only remember a fraction of it–it has still educated me and will hopefully enrich my game in the future. When you’re writing up your session notes in future, if you see something that you don’t know much about whether it be a style of architecture, settlement demographics, religions or whatever, spend a few minutes reading around the subject on the internet, you certainly won’t make anything worse by having more knowledge.

Storm and Sail Update

For those of you who aren’t aware, myself and Lloyd Gyan have been working for some time on creating a Storm and Sail campaign book for the Fate RPG, this spun-off a campaign that I kludged together using the Fate Accelerated rules and a few ideas that I had, you can find the videos for that original campaign here:

As a big fan of swashbuckling adventure stories, a short while after the original mini-campaign has finished I decided to try and actually make it into a complete campaign book that I could publish as a PDF, Lloyd came onboard a short while later to lend assistance and a valuable second set of eyes to go over things.

I’ve been posting bits and pieces about Storm & Sail for a while (mostly over on Google+) but it’s been slow going in parts because we’ve both got RL jobs and other commitments that prevent us devoting 100% of our time to writing Storm & Sail, however, I’m now pleased to announce that we are getting pretty close to completion. By that, I mean we have most of the layout done with placeholders for artwork (yet to be commissioned) and we’ve sent advanced preview copies to a closed group of people to get some final feedback on the PDF.

Here are a few sample pages to whet your appetite:

So how long before it’s released?

Unfortunately it’s not possible for us to give an exact date when the PDF will be released since it depends on a few different factors:

  • How long the artwork takes to commission and create.
  • How long it takes for us to get feedback from our closed group.
  • Any last minute changes or alterations we have to make.

But we’re hoping to release the PDF as soon as possible, and we hope that you’ll join us on the High Seas 🙂

Engage Smug Mode

Or “why are so many people unwilling to play anything but D&D”?

 

I’ve just been reading a post on one of the online Facebook roleplaying groups that I’m a part of, where someone asked what seems like a fairly simple question: “What are the reasons that so many people are unwilling to play anything but D&D?”

Now, I’m not the worlds biggest fan of D&D–although I’ve played all but the earliest editions and have been looking with interest at some OSR stuff recently–but even as I was preparing a reply along the lines of “well there could be numerous reasons, visibility of the game line, it’s what their friends play, etc etc” a number of responses popped up that gave me serious pause for thought. I’m not saying that all of the responses were in this vein, but there were certainly a number of posts that suggested people who stuck with D&D were afraid to play other stuff, or were too self-conscious or were subterranean Morlocks crouching in basements fearing to step into the warming light of the cool new systems in town. Okay, I’m exaggerating on that last one, but you get the idea?

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