Blog of a new RPGer

Mongoose goes Goose!

Posted in RPG General by misterecho on March 16, 2010

Judge Dredd cover

Over on UK Role Players I saw an announcement from Mongoose Publishing.

I thought you may want to know about it! It runs until the end of March. It’s 50% off. There looks like there are a couple of good titles in there, all print copies of course. Traveller,  Judge dredd, and Strontium Dog are all included. Worth a look, or as my dad says “It’s better than a poke in the eye with a jagey stick”

Let me know if any of you have actually played any if the titles and tell me if there any good!

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An Interview with Stargazer; Prolific blogger, amateur games designer and all round nice chap.

Posted in RPG General by misterecho on March 10, 2010

Things have been quiet on this blog lately, I haven’t posted for ages! Michael Wolf creator of Stargazer’s World Posts articles daily. Taking inspiration in this I asked him for an interview. Basically to kick start me into posting again. He was kind enough to oblige.

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When did you first start gaming and how did you become interested?

Hmm, good question. I started playing in the early 90s. Back then I made friends with a couple of people playing Battletech. We usually played on Saturdays and they often talked about some other game they played which was called Warhammer. It took me some time to find out that there were actually two Warhammer games: the table-top wargame and the roleplaying game.

When I remember correctly, one of my friends joined the group and he gave me regular updates on their exploits. I was immediately intrigued and wanted to join them, but I had to wait until the adventure was finished. In the meantime I had the opportunity to play TORG at the PhanCon ’92 near Bonn.

But shortly after that I joined the WHFRP group and I played that game for years.

In the past 18-20 years of gaming how active have you been? Has your gaming waxed and waned or have you always been super enthusiastic?

I have always been extremely enthusiastic about the hobby, but sometimes it was hard finding the free time to play. During my university years, I played a lot, sometimes even two times a week.
But usually I am happy when I can run a game every two weeks or so, especially when everyone in your group has a day job, perhaps a family and kids, it’s hard to schedule games.

Do you GM more than you play, or Vice et versa?

Recently I run more games than I play. I would love to play in some other GM’s game and it seems I can participate in the playtest of a Call of Cthulhu adventure this weekend.

Is Call of Cthulhu one of your favourite games? It seems you either love it or loath it.

I love Call of Cthulhu. It’s another game I played a lot early in my gaming “career”, but I’ve also played a great deal of Trail of Cthulhu recently, which uses Robin D. Laws’ Gumshoe system, which is – in my humble opinion – even better suited for that kind of game.

I love playing Call of Cthulhu, sometimes I think the sanity mechanic just isn’t very good. How do you use SAN in your games?

I try not to overdo it. Losing Sanity may be a major aspect of Call of Cthulhu games, but I also want my players to have fun playing and the game can get un-fun very fast, if the player characters have too many quirks, psychological disorders etc.

Insanity is a major part of H.P. Lovcraft’s stories. It seems like you have a light handed approach which I find works better

If I only ran one-shots I would probably take a different approach, but when you run a campaign you have to be a bit more careful. I usually emphasize the investigative aspects over the sanity aspects. I try to achieve an atmosphere of fear and horror at the game table, if that’s even possible.

You sound like a good keeper! You are known as a prolific blogger, sometimes two posts a day. What inspired you to blog and blog so much?

I always loved to write. I still remember writing SF stories on my grandpa’s typewriter when I was a kid. I created by first website back in 1996 and soon my site looked pretty much like what you would call a “blog” today I think I just enjoy writing about things I love and roleplaying games have been my favourite hobby for many years now. I’ve had a lot of blogs over the years but Stargazer’s World was the first “successful” one. The success encouraged me to keep updating my blog regularly, which is sometimes not as easy as it seems.

You are clearly enthusiastic. That enthusiasm can only bring success!
How easy is it to find games/players in your area of Germany?

Finding players is pretty easy, especially in the city where I work. Gießen is known for its university and a lot of students are gamers. But it’s much harder if you have only a limited amount of time and the other drawback is, that students tend to move away as soon as they have graduated. And there’s the age difference. I’ve noticed that a lot of younger gamers seem to have a gaming style I am not entirely comfortable with. But probably I am just a grumpy old grognard.

Aren’t we all a little grumpier these days!
I used to live in Falligbostel near Hannover. I found The German people I met to be very friendly and hospitable, how do you react to English and American stereotypes of Germans in RPG Literature?

I don’t mind the stereotypes. I am not that easily offended.
And before you ask: I am no stereotypical German: I am not blonde, I am lazy and I don’t drink beer!

Do you find that the German and European perspective on Gaming is Very different to American? My experience of Germany shown me how popular Cyberpunk is there. In the US you can’t get away from DnD. Do you target your blog to a specific audience?

Hmm, that’s a tough one.

I don’t think I have a specific target audience but myself. I write about things that interest me first and foremost. When I asked people to join the team, I told them that they are free to write about everything they want. What sets Stargazer’s World apart from some of the other RPG blogs is that I don’t really focus on one game alone but there are posts for almost everyone.

I’ve always been more in touch with the American scene (through forums, blogs, etc.) than with the local German scene. I’ve noticed that there are vast differences between gamers who participate in internet activities and the majority who don’t I think the most played game in Germany is “Das Schwarze Auge” which is known as “The Dark Eye” in the US.

Another game that had a lot of followers was Shadowrun, at least a couple of years back.

I have to admit I probably know more about what bloggers from the US play, than what the guy next door enjoys. I am currently organizing a regular RPG pub meeting, where a) I can meet local gamers and b) introduce them to what I’ve learned while blogging over the last years. Most of them didn’t even know that there are RPG blogs. And I have no idea what they play. So we’ll learn from each other. I hope to make new friends too.

You have announced that you are working on your own RPG system called “gears” what are your plans for it?
As you probably know I have worked on several homebrew campaign settings in the past. But I had a hard time finding a fitting system. The main problem was that I wanted to release everything under a CC license, in the end, I decided to write my own system, that I can distribute freely with my campaigns.

So the plan is basically to share my works with other gamers without having to rely on copyrighted material.

Do you intend to create a generic rules system, then release setting and genre material?

That’s the idea I intend to include a couple of mini-settings in the core rulebook, but currently I am still struggling with the basic rules.

how so?

The task resolution system in Gears uses 3d6. In most cases you roll 3d6, add a modifier and compare it to the Mastery Level. The mastery level is the sum of the skill rank and an appropriate attribute is your roll equal or lower than the ML, the task succeeded. While this works nicely in unopposed actions, things get a bit hairy when opposed actions are concerned. I am currently trying to make sure that the system works smoothly even in those cases.

I see. do you have aspirations of professional RPG design?
Not really. I see this as a hobby first and foremost. I am sure my day job is much better suited to pay my bills than my game design.

What are your plans for stargazer’s world? I get the feeling that you are moving towards an online magazine model, with guest authors etc. Is this the direction you want to move in?

I wouldn’t call it online magazine.

It’s still a blog focused on RPGs. But the addition of some regular and guest authors helps me to work on my side projects without breaking with my posting schedule.

Very wise!

I think that it’s more fun working as a team

You worked on Dungeon-slayers as a translator, What attracted you to work on the project?
There were several reasons. What attracted me the most wad the fact that DS was not only rules-light but also that it’s available under a CC license.

Do you play many traditional RPGs such as Dungeon Slayers?
I played a lot of games in my time. What do you mean by “traditional”? Aside from DS (which its creator calls “old-fashioned”) I’ve played both Swords & Wizardry and X-plorers. The first is a retro clone of 1974’s D&D while the latter is more or less a what-if game: It’s basically a thought experiment what D&D would have looked like if Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson were Science fiction fans more than fantasy fans.

Ok, my final question is a stupid one but here goes; what are you predictions for the hobby over the next 10 years?

I think D&D will probably continue to dominate the hobby; I have some hopes that indie games will become more popular. New technologies like the apple ipad will probably affect the hobby like laptops, netbooks and smart phones have done before.

I also expect that a lot of the bloggers of today will be the designers of tomorrow

For many people DnD is roleplaying. I think Indie RPGs will become ever more popular due to the lowering cost and difficulty of publishing. It will be interesting to see how technology affects the game environment.

Thanks for your time Herr Stargazer.

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[Review] CthulhuTech “Dark Passions”

Posted in Review, RPG General by misterecho on February 6, 2010

I’ve played a great deal of 1920’s Cthulhu since my recent introduction to it,  and loved it. I never thought it would translate well into a modern setting… I was very wrong! The art alone has me inspired to run a modern setting with Lovecraft’s weird and creepy “twist”. Throughout H.P. Lovecraft’s work you get a sense of reality but not quite as we know it. It’s like viewing our own world through a steamy window. CthulhuTech has captured this well in my opinion.

“Dark passions” has myriad of stuff on the impact of cults on the world; from their recruitment methods to the government organisations which monitor them. I like the NPCs included. They are well filled out with a good mixture of Fluff and crunch. There is short stories sprinkled throughout the book, perfect for inspiration for that twisted adventure factory of a brain you have. I really like the stories not only for the quality fiction, but also the nice breakup they offer in the text. Nobody likes reading from a PDF, these little stanzas provide nice little spice to a cool book. Like pepper (sic) 🙂

My two favourite aspects of the book is the art and the dense content on cults, there are ALOT of cults in here with plenty backstory. Perfect for slotting seamlessly into your current campaign or as inspiration for that story arc you’ve been plotting.

The art is fantastic. Good art in a game book always adds a great deal towards their usability in my opinion. For me; if a book is beautiful, I end up reading it more often.

What I liked; The top quality art, the creepy fiction, NPC fluff and the heart of the book the Cults.

The only thing I think could have been done a little better is the layout of the NPC crunch. The stats for the NPCs are all run squished up in a sentence rather than an easier to read table format. However this is a minor gripe and to fix it would have increased page count significantly, therefore reducing the cool content. So I’ll let you off this time Catalyst game labs.

You can buy Dark passions here. I think it’s good value for money.

Want to learn more about CthulhuTech? Read on…

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Wizards drop Star wars!

Posted in RPG General by misterecho on January 30, 2010

Wizards Announcement here

It’s official, Wizards of the coast have confirmed that they will not renew the star wars license in May. WOTC will no longer sell the books or their miniatures after august.

Eh? What’s happening here? Am I being obtuse when I say “If you cant sell Star wars licensed products what can you sell?”

Selling Star Wars to geeks is like selling warm ale to Englishmen. If Star Wars is an untenable franchise, what state is DnD4e? The Economic downturn has hit my local area very hard. Thousands have been made redundant here.

I didn’t realise it was this bad.

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You have more power than your Government!

Posted in RPG General, Uncategorized by misterecho on January 20, 2010

The boxing day tsunami was a terrible disaster. The online community mobilised, inspiring citizens to donate and contribute in their millions. Citizens donated much more than their respective governments. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Drive Thru RPG has ganged up with LOADS of publishers, If you donate $20 (USD) they will double it; AND give you over a thousand dollars worth of RPG eBooks.

Please help. DrivethruRPG will reward you if you do.

Product Link here:

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=78023

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[1km1kt] Cyberpunk revival project Banner and Logo Unveiled

Posted in contest, RPG General by misterecho on January 18, 2010

Rob Lang of the free RPG blog has produced some lovely new art to advertise the contest.

Thanks Dr Lang! Head over to http://1km1kt.net/community  and enter now!

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[CONTEST] 1KM1KT CYBERPUNK REVIVAL PROJECT

Posted in contest, RPG General by misterecho on January 15, 2010
Adam Zero

"Adam Zuro" by Chad Michael Ward

I’ve decided to run a contest through 1km1kt. I love Cyberpunk, I want to see it revived. UPGRADED

Here’s my post on the 1km1kt project forum

****

£30 in Amazon vouchers to the winner!

Cyberpunk is dead. We want to save her! Bring her back and you could win £30.

Here’s what you’ve got to do

  • Tell us here in this thread that you intend to enter
  • Write a Cyberpunk setting
  • Include Keeton as an NPC (Glorious benefactor also acceptable)
  • Submit before 2359Hrs(GMT) on the 30th of June 2010
  • Make a thread here about your game (optional, but we really want you to)

Rules

Gamers need rules. Here they are.

  1. No Copyright Infringement (or you die, seriously)
  2. Must include Keeton as an NPC
  3. £30 will be in Amazon vouchers
  4. This is not a team effort. One author. However…
  5. You may use art or system/mechanic with permission.
  6. Must not exceed 30 pages
  7. Must be complete, playable setting
  8. Must be PDF or RTF format (ask for help if you are unsure)
  9. Open to all Professionals and amateurs alike
  10. The judges -WILL- enter but cannot win
  11. I am the law. (The Judges’ decision is final)

Judging criteria

You really, really wanna win £30? Here’s how we’ll judge it.

  • Keeton or Glorious benefactor as an NPC
  • (Goal) Is this game modern Cyberpunk?
  • (Complete) Done?  Is it playable?
  • (Attractive) Is it pretty?
  • (Professional) How much effort went into layout and style?
  • (Extras) Did you include an actual cover, index, character sheet or any other cool things you get in a proper RPG?

 *****

Enter Now!

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Kobold Quarterly: A magazine review from a newbie

Posted in Review, RPG General by misterecho on January 13, 2010
Kobold Winter 2009 isssue

First impressions count

My first impression upon seeing the front cover was utter amazement. I always thought Kobold magazine is a fanzine. It’s not.  What immediately strikes you is the art; it’s a very pretty front cover by a Nicole Cardiff called the “Winter Druid”, according to the credits.

 My initial intention was to skip through the magazine, speed read to get an overview. I kept stopping to read articles and letters. The Style is good and the content is excellent. I’m glad to see plenty of Pathfinder specific stuff too. I guess that’s not really a surprise considering it’s the current pet favourite. It’s also the only d20 rule set I own, I love it.

A couple of my favourite articles

The Elves: the fallen ones.

The idea seems to be to reinvent the core races over several issues. This particular issue was focused on the Elves. The Article provides three pages of fluff and crunch. They seemed heavily influenced by Dragonage, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s nice to see the races redone. You could use one of these articles to add unique flavour to your setting, instantly. No conversion required.

The Ecology of the Froghemoth.

This little piece introduces a cool new monster. A  Froghemoth complete with fluff, life cycle, stats and really top quality art. What’s cool for me is the stats are provided for every stage of the life cycle. There’s even a rare variant included “the Electric Froghemoth”.

 Lessons from the shadows: History’s greatest assassins.

This article is about ninjas, seriously. Need I say more? There is never enough ninja.

Spice up your Combat Encounters: the Combat Skill Challenge

The Chatty DM’s first ever published article. It’s full of good advice for a GM fed up with “You kick down the door and are faced with two Orcs, Roll initiative”. All in chatty’s familiar friendly, fatherly tone.

The Conclusion

Feel the love? I’m going to subscribe to a print copy.

Kobold has some amazing art and great content. I would wholeheartedly recommend it. If you play another fantasy system which is not d20, you could mine it for ideas. However it is a d20 mag. It’s just nice to see a RPG exclusive magazine. The last one I seen was a friend’s old (1983) copy of white dwarf.

Oh how times change.

Disagree? comment below.

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What’s wrong with a good ole Dungeon delve?

Posted in RPG General by misterecho on January 6, 2010

 

I’m getting ready to run my first pathfinder game with my two players. As I’ve been preparing for the game I realise how unfamiliar I am with the whole system. Pathfinder/D&D 3.5 is NOT “rules-lite”. As an inexperienced role-player a 500-odd page rule book like pathfinder is intimidating, especially considering I only have until Sunday to learn it and get an adventure ready.

Ok, time to admit defeat. It’s freaking impossible, the game will be piss-poor and I’ll embarrass myself.

Until I hit a realisation. You don’t need to build an entire world, with cultures, factions, intrigue, political tensions and allegiances. Not yet anyway. If I can get a vague familiarity with the combat mechanic and the skill check resolution system I can run a dungeon crawl. Reference obscure or unfamiliar rules as I go.

100% old school hack and slash

Ok that’s not going to be fun long term. For me anyway. I can add complexity as my knowledge and understanding of the rules gets better. The setting and world can just evolve through play. Don’t get me wrong I love the creative challenge a cohesive setting will present. I just can’t take it on right now.

Perhaps little baby steps, just to start off with.

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Character Generation by email, impossible?

Posted in RPG General by misterecho on December 23, 2009

 

Ok, I’m going to run a pathfinder game. I think having the characters 99% done before game-night, gives you more “game-night”. I understand character generation is part of the fun, but who wants to slog through the nightmare that is Pathfinder Chargen. Don’t get me wrong it’s not that I don’t like it. I love it. I don’t yet fully understand it.

I’m still new at this!

I emailed the two players step by step instructions on what they should do. I’ve had to trust them not to cheat. But if they want to cheat, hell mend ’em.

Neither of them have played pathfinder so I was expecting the usual Human, Fighter, Lawful good that I suspect is the overused default.

How pleasantly surprised I was to find human ranger and a Half-elf bard in my inbox.

The advantage I have found with this remote method is the masses of time it gives me to go through the rules, trying to work out which bonuses and modifiers go where. Perfect for a newbie. Now it’s all generated I can also work on an adventure, knowing what characters I have helps to lubricate cogs in the old ideas machine.

Here’s looking forward to a good game and great Christmas!

Merry Christmas and happy Hogmanay!