Blog of a new RPGer

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!

I’ve been bloodied, i’m now a GM.

Posted in RPG General, RPG Session Diary by misterecho on December 8, 2009

I ran a little adventure the two of my friends who make up our motley game group. I chose the star wars D6 system. Needless to say I made a few minor errors but I enjoyed myself. Hopefully the players did too.

What I enjoyed:

I liked that familiar feel I got with the universe. We’ve all seen star wars. It was really cool to tell your own star wars story. I loved throwing hundreds of dice! One of the NPCs was a force user. He was really quite powerful; 12d6 for DEX is a huge number of dice clattering around the table. All roleplayers love chucking die!

I stole the wild dice idea from the 2nd edition rule set. I’m very glad I did. On a couple of occasions the characters attempted to roll against something really difficult to near impossible. The wild die managed to allow them even though they are not skilled enough to roll high enough to pass normally. I think this adds a great Cinematic experience. They are heroes after all.

What I didn’t enjoy:

Counting all the rolls, especially for the hugely powerful NPCs! I know that I will become much quicker in the mental arithmetic area, but it does slow the game down a little. In the end I just had to glance at the roll and judge on a scale 5 point scale of dud to excellent. Just to keep things flowing.

What I did well:

I managed to avoid railroading. The player who gives me a lift after the sessions really emphasised how much I should avoid this, so I put a lot of effort into open-endedness.

What I should improve for next time:

I don’t think I gave both players equal opportunity to fully use their characters. One of them was a Pirate and the other a Scout. The pirate was easy because he’s a Womanising, drink riddled gambling addict. The strong silent type was hard to play in this adventure. I will not let this happen again. It will balance out over the course of the campaign, but no one likes spending a 4 hour game session being left out. I will try to cater the adventures to get the most for both players.

REVIEW: Dog Town- Free RPG about gangsters

Posted in Review, RPG General by misterecho on November 30, 2009

Photo

I’m going to start by saying this RPG is FREE! You can download it at Drivethru RPG, 1km1kt or direct from coldblooded games.

If you want the dead tree version it’s on LULU for cost price.

This is a 1970’s Gangsters and streetpunks Roleplaying game, accordingly the language and themes are for a mature audience.

I’ve been sitting on this review for a while as I really wanted to do a play test as well as a review, but alas i’ve haven’t yet had the opportunity. So I can’t hold it in any longer. I’m like an over agitated bottle of cloudy lemonade, ready to burst.

What a game! For £0.00 you get NINE professional quality e-books, including core rules, adventures and locations with maps. The Layout is easy to read with evocative street language that really brings the setting to life.

Character generation has three options. The first is the crunchy generation using an extensive skills set to get your punk “just right”. The second is to choose a character from the “20 punks” book, which has pre-made characters. But to be honest if you are incapable of creating your own character using the original rules set, even with the Excel spread sheet to guide you like lassy, Go for the lighter version of the rules “Dogtown, stripped”.

I think the author has reached his goal of recreating our favourite gangster films of yore (Scarface, Reservoir dogs etc) with an added dash of GTA.

With the influences of this game so obvious, adventures and plots are never-ending!

I think the only thing requiring a little improvement is the book covers or titles. They don’t make it clear what the book is. For example Dogtown stripped, is this 2nd edition revised or simply a rules lite version. Grenson park, The missing mafioso etc could all have a little subtitle on the cover which says “An Adventure module for Dogtown” or some such thing. 🙂

From a new readers point of view it’s a little difficult to understand which books i should be using and which books do what. Otherwise thats my only little gripe!

Having read this game I want to rob a shark, to pay my smack dealer.

Highly recommended!

I promise I will playtest it soon as I can!

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Getting ready for my first GM attempt.

Posted in RPG General by misterecho on November 20, 2009

Star Wars Role-Playing Game 1987.jpg

Ok, it’s my turn to GM. I’m really intimidated but excited too.

I’ve chosen to do star wars D6 by west end games (1st edition) as it’s a universe i have fond memories of, everyone knows and its a fairly simple rules system. Its also one of the very few books i own. 

I’ve used the myriad of resources available at rancor pit. What an excellent Forum. If any of you guys want to get back into starwars D6 head over there! It’s an excellent site.

We have done most of the Character generation over Email. We are raring to go. I have gathered all my plot ideas and possible choices for my custom adventure.

I am going to rely heavily on my improvisation skills. I have no idea what choices my players are going to make! But i’m ready with a list of plot hooks, a couple of possible outcomes, some obstacles to direct them without railroading and a good list of NPCs.

The main idea is to get a good balance between Roleplay and combat. I suppose thats every GMs job. I just need to remember that it’s all about the players having fun, and not running the worst game ever played!

Wish me luck. 🙂

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Call of Cthulhu, a newbies POV

Posted in RPG Session Diary by misterecho on November 9, 2009

Call of Cthulhu

Call of Cthulhu it turns out has the ability to freak me out worse than any hollywood gorefest movie. The atmosphere, the strangeness of the characters and places all have the ability to freak me out good and proper!

Why does roleplaying effect me more deeply than movies or books? Is it the fact I am “in” the game, imagining the world through your character’s eyes, using my imagination, does this bypass the normal jaded hardnose filters, thereby reducing me to a state of childish whimpering? I don’t know but this game has totally blown my perspective of what roleplaying is.

In the short game i played last night (of which we are halfway through) nothing truly wierd happened. We saw some wierd-ish things. All of which our characters explained away. But it still scared the knickers off me.

I really enjoyed this game. It was a completely unexpected hit with me. I come from a history of mini wargaming, warhammer 40ooo etc. My personal literature, movie and video game preferences are fantasy, science fiction.

I’ve never been interested in horror.

I am now!

So you thought Cyberpunk was dead?

Posted in RPG General by misterecho on November 4, 2009

Cyberpunk 2020 is only ten years and two months away.

Is it still fiction? I think so.

The fact is Kids aren’t super hackers, they can barely read and write. There is no Totalitarian, Dystopian world government. politicians are too inept to rule effectively in the current system never mind toppling democratic process and seizing global power. They can’t even get away with lining their own pockets without being caught.

We have no direct energy weapons, no flying cars and no crazy cool cybernetic enhancements. well not many 🙂

Secondlife -is- Netrunning, The father of cyberpunk, Neuromancer author William Gibson says so. I respectfully disagree.

Artificial intelligence has turned out to be an  oxymoron. We may get to a stage of “strong AI” or general intelligence. Artificial consciousness however seems to be an impossible dream.

But the world of cyberpunk and science fiction in general still fascinates me, and many others. Take datafortress as an example. This website was updated on the 31 Oct 2009.  My heart leapt for joy when i navigated to this site for the first time in years. It’s full of amazing cyberpunk content and links. I would go as far as to say its THE definitive resource.

Check out datafortress now!

http://datafortress2020.110mb.com/

To buy or not to buy?

Posted in RPG General by misterecho on November 2, 2009

I like books, i like the way they feel, the way they smell. Generally everything about them. RPG books are expensive. £32 for the new Pathfinder book, its a lot of game time for your money i’m sure, but for me £32 is  luxuary purchase. Especially when you consider the quality of the free RPGs you can get at

One thousand monkey’s

The Free RPG Blog

The Free RPG Compendium

Today i ordered Pathfinder core rulebook. I can’t wait! But alas we have a postal strike here in Sunny Scotland.

I have loads of free RPG stuff to work through!

My First Game

Posted in RPG Session Diary by misterecho on October 29, 2009

Last night (wed 28th Oct 2009) I played my first RPG game.

We played James Bond 007.

James Bond 007 role-playing cover.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Bond_007_(role-playing_game)

My character was based upon a young James Bond. Set in 1967.

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The opening scene was a feast in a Latvian gypsies farmstead. We were celebrating the finalisation of a new supply route for anti-soviet partisans.  Agent Gordon proceeded to sneak out of the party with an attractive local. Agent Stuart sat and dined with the Latvian host Mr Zerib. Agent Stuart listened to many war stories from a slighty drunken Mr Zerib, who eventually introduced his daughter to Agent Stuart as the most important thing in his life. The typical drunk proud father, slightly embarrassing his daughter.

Meanwhile Agent Gordon proceeded across the yard into the farmhouse, he began to make himself comfortable with the Latvian woman .

At this point a huge firefight broke out, bullets were peppering through the wooden shutters sending splinters into the. It looked like the lower decks of a 19th Man-o-war. Latvians started handing out weapons from a cache under the floor. Mr Zerib instructed Agent Stuart to take his daugter to the jeep to the north-west of the compound. He told him he will be there in 10 minutes.

Agent Gordon meanwhile was struggeling with a hysterical Latvian woman, eventually resorting to force. He began to carry her unconscious form down stairs when she started to recover and whispering “pistale, pistale”. Agent Gordon then dropped her unceremoniously as he ran back into the room to search out the pistol.

Agent Stuart was given a ww2 era bolt-action rifle and proceeded to escort miss Zerib, out of the feast. With skillful use of stealth, dodging and flat-out sprinting Agent Stuart began to extract them both from the fight.

Agent Gordon met two enemy commandos on the stairs as he tried to escape. He dispatched them with ease and took one of their sub-machine guns. 

As Agent Gordon out the front of the house a streak of gunfire attracted his attention. he could see it was aimed at Agent Stuart as he ran past with a woman. The shots came from just around the corner.

Four commandos were chasing Agent Stuart into the woods. Agent Gordon dispatched two with a short burst of automatic fire. The other two did not hear as they raced into the woods. Agent Gordon successfully approached one silently, and dispatched him with deadly efficiency.

Agent Stuart flanked the remaining commando as miss Zerib readied the jeep. Agent Stuart was completely unaware of Agent Gordon presence as he dispatched the commando. Agent Gordon shouted when he heard the gunfire as he thought Agent Stuart may have been hit. His shouting saved his life as agent Stuart lined up a shot onto his silhouette aborting at the last second.

They aproached the jeep when they noticed mr Zerib running towards them. A few minutes late. before he could reach them he was shot in the back of the head.

Agent Gordon struggled to control another histerical Latvian miss Zerib as agent Stuart careened down the dirt track. Agent Stuarts excellent driving outclassed the approaching enemy jeeps. The secret agents and the young Latvian boarded the fishing boat at the Emergency randez-vous and made a swift escape to Gotland.

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This was only 30 mins of a 3 hour game! needless to say I had a blast. Covert surveillance, Close Quarters Combat, Gun fights, car chases, running along the top of trains as they careered through the alps! 

WOW.

I really could get into this.

Big thanks to Peter and Stuart

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