October 3

#RPGaDAY2015 – Day 19: Favourite Supers RPG

Since I first dipped my toes into the waters of superhero gaming I’ve loved the idea of playing someone with special powers.

I did compile a list of games that I was aware of at the time that were still available to purchase and you can find the list by following this link.

There have been a few more to appear, the Valiant RPG being one of them, this still fails to knock my favourite game off the top spot; BASH.  I blogged about this game in my top 10 and you can find the original article here.

Once I get my act together, I’ll have another superhero round-up and have another poll to see what your favourite game is and this time I’ll be sure to include Supers RED 🙂

 

 

July 19

Kickstarter – Starvation Cheap: Planetary Warfare for Stars Without Number

When I was doing my run down of Top Ten of games I gave Stars Without Number an honourable mention; now the author is doing another Kickstarter, Starvation Cheap: Planetary Warfare for Stars Without Number:

A sandbox military campaign supplement for the free Stars Without Number sci-fi RPG.

All the books I have so far I have found very good and well worth the investment.

 

Category: RPG, sf | LEAVE A COMMENT
February 26

Kickstarter – Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion for Call of Cthulhu

One game I have enjoyed over the years is the Call of Cthulhu, partly because it is a game of investigation but mainly the era of the roaring 20s.  It even made number  in my top ten game list.

Over the years Chaosium have released numerous adventures and globe trotting campaigns including the spectacular Masks of Nyarlathotep. The adventure is very well written with all the important clues indexed and referenced for ease of play by the busy GM, the only downside is that there appears to be material missing; perhaps things man was not meant to know that didn’t make the cut.

A number of years ago, I saw that there was going to be a companion written for this game and released as one of the Monograph line that Chaosium were printing; for one reason or another it never appeared until the unfinished edition was released over at the Yog-Sothoth forums.  Now they plan on finally polishing the document and releasing it to the general public (no relation 🙂 ) .

Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion for Call of Cthulhu

An essential reference to a great RPG campaign-The Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion. Information, advice & adventures in 1 huge volume!

The project runs until 10th March so you still have time to get in on it.

Category: horror, RPG | LEAVE A COMMENT
November 7

Top 10 rpg list: Number 1 – Over the Edge

Mandatory Disclaimer

The GM should read the following statement before and after every session of Over the Edge.

“All references to vices and to the supernatural contained in this game are for entertainment purposes only. Over the Edge™ does not promote satanism, belief in magic, drug use, violence, sexual deviation, body piercing, cynical attitudes toward the government, freedom of expression, or any other action or belief not condoned by the authorities.”

Over the Edge is probably one of the most unusual in my collection and unlike some of the other top ten entries I can’t place where I first heard about it, which is unusual for me.  I do know exactly where I bought it from; the Virgin games store in Central London, I’m not saying I have a photographic memory but I left the price tag on it.  Since it was a game I did try to play with some of the members of the Critical Miss gaming society when I bought it I can hazard a guess that it was about 1992 when I purchased it.

I was amazed by how free form character creation was, no fixed attributes rather you defined your own traits; this caused a little difficultly among the group as this was a radical idea and we didn’t know how to proceed.  Not so much a radical idea these days as other indie games have taken to going down the route of allowing you to define your own traits.

The System.

You need nothing more than a few d6 to accomplish your task, either against a fixed difficulty or in the case of an opposed roll the highest number wins.

The Background.

This was the main draw for me, the wonderfully detailed island setting of Al Amarja, a place of cults, cultists, conspiracies, fringe powers, magic, the post office and other things man was not meant to know or understand.  I’d love to write about the rich tapestry to play with but I don’t want to spoil it for any potential players that have yet to explore the vivid game world or experience the weird and unusual.  I know you can certainly search for other pages relating to the background but you’re not going to find anything here.

One idea I am still toying with is to get a game up and going but have the island adopt the swinging 60s setting of British culture; with all the classic tropes thrown in for good measure.  Maybe some sort of Avengers style vibe mixed with Prisoner, Danger Man and Smiley’s people?

In Play.

In the end I got one or two evenings play out of the book.  The party had gathered at the Al Amarja airport and was walking through the depature lounge when I was just describing the general goings on including an announcement over the tannoy for Mr. Jones to pick up the white courtesy phone; I was unprepared for what happened when one of the group picked up the white phone and introduced himself as Mr. Jones.  If at that time I had been more of an experienced GM I could have certainly run with it and perhaps sent the players off into the seedier side of the island but I panicked and the outcome was a little predictable and the party went back to leaving the airport.

Conclusion.

I’d certainly recommend going and finding a copy of this almost forgotten gem just for the weirdness of it, the aforementioned background and the vast open ended sandbox nature.

 

Over The Edge can be found here at the home page of Atlas Games

October 12

Dark Conspiracy fanzines

One area that Dark Conspiracy shone was the free fan created resources for it.  There were two free downloadable ezines available to read.

Demonground.

DEMONGROUND: Reflections of a Darker Future is a fanzine dedicated to supporting the genre of Modern Horror in roleplaying games.

The first nine issues were dedicated to Dark Conspiracy and later issues would cover a broader range of horror games.  Demonground seems to have stopped publishing over a decade ago.

Protodimension

Protodimension Magazine is a fanzine devoted to the wonderfully creative world of conspiracy horror role playing. It’s about the worlds.

This is a spiritual successor to Demonground and carries on the work laid down by it.

There is also one final area of support, a fan based website :http://darkconspiracytherpg.info/

 

October 10

Top 10 rpg list Number 2 – honourable mention

After publishing the post about Top 10 rpg list: Number 2 – Call of Cthulhu I realised I had forgotten the honourable mention, so rather than edit the original post I present to you a bonus post:

Honourable mention:

Dark Conspiracy

I had previously mentioned this game twice before, most notably in the #RPGaDAY post http://www.generaltangent.com/blog/2014/08/28/rpgaday-day-28-scariest-game-youve-played/ .

I have often regarded this as a forgotten classic of the day, what I loved was the background.  This was a world teetering on the brink of collapse; ecologically ruined areas, society divided into a class structure of the have and have nots.  Cities had effectively vanished and controlled by the corporations.  In some ways it is a bit like Cyberpunk for the attitude but the rest of the game exudes a 1930s depression era setting.  Technology has stagnated and even a simple thing like a telephone is the purview of the idle rich.

The game has gone through three editions with the first edition being the one that I purchased, a gorgeous black and white softcover book with some fantastic colour cover art.  Stylistically this is where I think the game shines; if you have a world that has become black and white then using a monochrome book does set the tone.  After GDW closed their doors, the game was licensed for a second edition which tidied up a lot of the information scattered in the first edition books and divided it into two players guides and two games-master guides.  The Master edition of the players and GMs books were slightly longer and had extra material.

There is currently a third edition published by 3Hombres Games I have as yet to give it a good read.

Character creation.

The first and second editions of the game used the same system that was derived from Twilight 2000 Second edition and while clunky in places it did give you an idea of your characters background.  Shortly after first edition appeared so did a GM screen with a booklet called the PC Booster kit and this gave you expanded backgrounds and migrated the game to the D20 system which was being used by Twilight 2000 v2 .  The booster kit also gave more information on the social classes so you could play the ultra rich nomenklatura, the middle class Mike or the lower class prole or if you desired it the rogue android.

Careers.

There were a wide range of occupations your character could take including the Cyborg Escapee, Doctor, college student, plus a bunch of military types imported from Twilight 2000.

Background.

Apart from what I mentioned above, there is a little more to the background that needs mentioning.  Humanity wasn’t alone; there were alien races that were working to subjugate mankind, entities from parallel dimensions bent on global domination and dark beings from Earth’s past.

Lester Smith also had a wry sense of humour when he wrote the book, there are a few Easter eggs to look out for, including the sunglasses that are popular among monster hunters.

Combat.

This section was also taken from Twilight 2000 and in the first d10 version of the game had an interesting rule for shotguns, you rolled a number of six sided dice and you got a hit for each 6 that came up.

Adventures.

There were a few published and they weren’t bad but a couple of misunderstandings did arise, the curse of American English I suppose 🙂

If you get the chance to pick this game up its worth a look but the system may seem very dated.

October 3

Top 10 rpg list: Number 2 – Call of Cthulhu

I first learned of Call of Cthulhu from reading the gaming magazine White Dwarf, this was in the day when all sorts of games that weren’t developed by Games Workshop were given column inches.

I was intrigued by this game set in the 1920s that emphasised investigation over combat and knowledge was the ultimate weapon; the problem being the more your character knew the quicker you were to losing them to insanity.

The premise of the game is that it is set in the writings of one H.P Lovecraft; a pulp horror writer who wrote about dark things in the universe and that man was an inconsequential being, a mere ant in the scheme of things.

As luck would have it I bought this game for under £5 as Games Workshop had lost the licence to print it in the UK and were clearing out there unsold stock of the game.  I got it, read it, re-read it and was a little puzzled to what the players were meant to do.

I gathered it was a horror game but this edition was the 3rd edition of the game and assumed you knew about Lovecraft’s creations and the Chtulhu Mythos.  As of writing this article, the current edition of CoC is the 6th and comes with the short story The Call of Cthulhu so at least you are given some exposure to the mythos.

Undeterred I talked to some friends at the games club I used to attend and they recommended to me the three volume compilation of his stories and if you want to know more I heartily recommended them to you.  Although I’d suggest you start with the second volume as these contain short stories and they’re easier to digest.

I learned many things reading these stories; most notably that Lovecraft was verbose and used a wide and varied dialogue in his books.  I also found at that most of the stories have a single protagonist rather than a group of two or more people as in the standard gaming group.  There was also some sort of unspeakable horror which would eventually cause the doom of the protagonist.  In this context I hesitate to use the work hero as victim seems a little more appropriate; most of the victims go insane or are consumed by something or other.

It took a while but I digested all three volumes and one other collection of works I found at a book fair and still had no idea of what to do.  So I bought some of the supplementary books I could find and managed to get a handle on what you’re meant to do.

In most fantasy games your adventuring party is in the pub and gets a plot hook to the adventure.  While CoC does have pubs the default setting for my edition was the roaring 20s during prohibition so pubs are few and far between.

Most CoC adventures start with one or more player characters getting a communication of some sort from an old friend, workmate, professor, librarian or family member.  You have known this person for a number of years, etc and are therefore trustworthy.  After meeting them you discover their situation and agree to help them.

I’ve always found a start like that to be a little on the weak side and the players may feel like they have been railroaded into the task at hand.  Some of the other scenarios have the PCs gainfully employed by an NPC, trying to get them to accept such a job can be almost as sanity eating as the mythos beasties you may encounter.

To try and correct this situation the last time I started a CoC campaign I used the World War One scenario No Man’s Land and had the characters members of the same unit.  So when I came to run the adventure the players knew the person in question as they had served with him.

Unlike many games, your character is likely to succumb to the aforementioned sanity eating things that man was not meant to know.  Call of Cthulhu provides you with two tracks; one for hit points and the other for your sanity, which erodes faster than hit points and is harder to recover.  It is imperative that if you want to succeed a CoC adventure you must learn to fold your hand and run for the hills if it all goes *poof* in a strange ritual that contacts something from beyond.

Despite all these things I still enjoy playing the game; a strong emphasis on investigation and copious uses of the Library Use skill are always in order.

As I mentioned before the game has remained relatively unchanged between editions, some of the changes are for the best while removing the Linguistics skill I feel was short sighted.  The smaller the group, the less resources you have to fight the mythos and while having individual languages may be realistic it means you have to spread a thin number of points over different languages.

Character Creation

Creating a new investigator for CoC is relatively easy and having access to the double page spread in the later rulebooks helps smooth things out.  Having access to a character creation program is even better and can speed up the process considerably; plus some of them can produce spiffy looking character sheets.

The system boils down to rolling a handful of dice for the character, calculating secondary attributes, picking a profession, selecting skills, spending extra points on non-career skills, rolling for money and buying some possessions.

Mechanics

This is another area where the system works, skills are rated in percentages and trying to achieve something is as simple as getting under the listed percentage.  Whether you are shooting a gun, casting a spell or trying to run away it uses the same core mechanic.

The other area where I think the game has problems is the tomes of the mythos; these ancient books contain vast amounts of forbidden knowledge and power at the cost of more sanity.  The trouble is that these books takes weeks or months to study before you can comprehend the information; this is somewhat in keeping with the stories but doesn’t help if the adventure you are playing in requires a spell or ritual to complete it.  The game designers came up with rules for skimming a book which for me was a kludge that didn’t sit right with me; three hours to learn the spell or ritual to defeat the unspeakable horror from beyond seemed a cop-out.

Other eras.

As I said before the default era is the 1920s and Chaosium have released other supplements detailing other eras; Cthulhu by Gaslight which is the 1890s and the modern era.  The 6th edition rulebook details them at the cost of pages that used to contain background for the 1920s.

I shall look at the other eras for this game later on this month.

September 10

Top 10 RPG list – number 3 Spirit of the Century

Evil Hat Productions

This game is another example of one of my happy accident purchases.  It all stated when I’d heard a lot of good things online about the upcoming Dresden Files RPG and thought that it may be right up the alley of the gaming group and after seeing the short lived television series of the same name I thought I’d give it a try.

It was only when the game arrived did I realise that it required special Fudge dice to play it and that was something I didn’t have so I visited the website of Leusire Games who had sold me the Dresden Files to see if they had the dice I needed.

As it happens they did have a set of dice, the Fudge Gamesmasters pack which had several sets of dice within and I looked for another game that used them that’s when I saw Spirit of the Century.

I decided to do a little reading on this game and the more I read about it the more I fell in love with it, the whole era of the 1920s which I was a fan of excited me more and more. On top of that it was a pulp genre game, although some critics claim it is a very specific pulp world.

The FATE system is built upon the very flexible but often overlooked FUDGE RPG, which I think is a crying shame.  FUDGE gives you a complete toolkit to make your own game but there is a lot of work involved in setting it up; FATE is FUDGE with some extra house-rules grafted to it.

Character creation is quite easy, just answer a few questions, come up with ties to the other characters, pick skills and stunts and away you go.

Since the release of this excellent game FATE has undergone an evolutionary step going beyond the version here and The Dresden Files into something a little more streamlined. I’m looking forward to seeing the revised Spirit of the Century set in the 1980s when the Evil Hat crew are finished with it.

Honourable mention.

There are a number of pulp themed games on the market and I have several of them which makes picking a runner up hard to do.

Thrilling Tales

Adamant Entertainment

Using the popular Savage Worlds game engine this reasonably priced pulp game has a lot going for it, especially the plot point campaign in the book and the background information on nefarious villains for the PCs to battle.  I’ve never run it just mined it for the background information.

 

Category: pulp, RPG | LEAVE A COMMENT