Ensign Expendable

I'm going to need a team of Templars ready to mobilise, street level maps of all of Denerim, a pot of coffee, twelve Jammie Dodgers and a fez


Review of Etherkai: The First Worldbreaker

Posted by Ensign Expendable

Quinn Murphy mentioned on twitter a while ago that he was unleashing his first Worldbreaker onto the world on RPGnow. I had an idea what he was talking about because I'd read a little about them on his blog but I'm cautious about adding in any extra rules to my 4e game. There is quite enough bloat in the 4e system anyway and more coming all the time (not to mention the publisher seems to be running around in circles a little) and adding in 3rd party complications doesn't thrill me.

I was however impressed that Quinn had done all the hard work and something to publication and out of the door. So for the small amount of money required I was eager to support him by buying it. When I got it downloaded I was blown away by my first impressions.

It looks great. Really great.

Now this is the time to mention the art was by Shane Tyree and the layout by Fred Hicks (yes, that one) but we haven't forgotten Quinn, we'll come back to that in a moment, we're just distracted by the fantastic look of the thing at the moment. read on...

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Tomb of Horrors in Space?

Posted by Ensign Expendable

I mentioned a while ago that I was thinking of putting together a session of Traveller based on the old Dungeons & Dragons module Tomb of Horrors. I thought that it would be fun to mix it up a bit and do a sci-fi dungeon crawl, and it was. Now this post will contain a few spoilers for anyone who isn't familiar with the Tomb of Horrors should be wary. It is available updated to 3rd and 4th Edition D&D so you might find yourself playing it one day.

To convert the module I had a look through and decided that I only wanted to use the first half of the Tomb. There were a few reasons for this. The first was that I only wanted this adventure to last one evening. These guys are space farers, they don't want to be stuck in a dark underground ancient tomb for very long without good reason. The second was that Traveller characters are fairly squishy and the traps and combats become pretty deadly in the second half of the Tomb of Horrors. You can't just find a cleric that's willing to raise your dead crew mates. They are dead and it's back to character creation and a session to introduce the new character into the story.

Next I had a think about how to handle the magic. This is science fiction, there is no magic unless you include psionics so everything had to be technological. This limited some things and a few had to go. I kept one of the teleporters though. The fact that there isn't any teleportation technology in my galaxy made this significant. read on...


Dragon Age Quick Start Adventure

Posted by Ensign Expendable

Recently I had the opportunity to run the quick start rules and adventure that Green Ronin put out for Free RPG day. I wasn't able to actually pick this one up on the day but Green Ronin were kind enough to release it as a pdf that you can download for free on their site. When I downloaded it I just read the rules and didn't read the adventure as I had hoped that someone would be able to run it and I could play. So when the opportunity came up to run the game at work for some people that had never played a table top rpg before I had to quickly read the adventure and familiarise myself with the plot and characters.

This, as it turned out, was pretty easy as it is quite a well presented and concise while still providing enough background and flavour to provide the basis for a great adventure. The plot is straight forward enough to easily teach the game while still providing a couple of different ways the game can go down, depending on the choices of the players. The ending is also open ended enough to follow up with further related adventures if you wish while leaving the consequences of the players choices up to the gm and group. I like this because would introduce a brand new gm to the idea that they don't have to stick to the script and can use their creativity to do whatever they want with the game without dropping them in the deep end. Yay to Green Ronin for that most thoughtful addition. read on...


Battletech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set

Posted by Ensign Expendable

Battletech Box Feature

Battletech Introductory Box Set

This boxed set was released a few months ago (and has apparently sold out and they are doing another print run later this year) but this is a new blog and it's a product that I want to talk about in a post.

Battletech is something that I'm rather late to the game with. When I was a teenager 20 years ago I would see lots of mention of the game in gaming magazines (these used to come on paper you know) and would think it looked pretty cool. But I never got any further than that. The barrier to entry looked too great. You needed models, paints and terrain. Not to mention the rules looked pretty arcane from the outside (I didn't think at the time that AD&D was just the same for an outsider, I knew how THAC0 worked and I was happy). Fast forward 20 years and I dip in to Battletech a little by buying the latest edition core book Total Warfare. It whets my appetite a little for the game rules, and the fiction sections look cool. But the setting itself is still a little opaque to me, I start looking for ways to jump start me into a setting that's been growing for 25 years when I see on my favourite Australian internet games stockist that there is going to be a Introductory Box Set coming out soon. Great, I think, that sounds like just what I want.

I check the website next month and it's still 'Coming Soon'. Next month it's the same, and the next. So I check out the website of Catalyst Game Labs and there doesn't seem to be much information there. I find out that there might be some issues at CGL and I hear rumors that I'm not going to repeat here and I get worried that it might not happen at all.

Fast forward a few months and the word on the CGL website is that they have actually got the set printed and boxed and they even have photos of some of the boxes in their offices and I start getting excited again. Forget that I could have been spending the last few months getting up to speed with the background of the Battletech Universe (actually I didn't have time for that I had been running a D&D 4E game that was taking up a lot of my time), now was time to dive in to the world. The launch day of the product came and went and I waited for it to arrive in Australia (as is the way with living outside of the US) and when it did I snapped it up.

And then waited for it to be delivered. read on...


Mixing Genres

Posted by Ensign Expendable

When you get a group together to start playing a role playing game then one of the first decisions to make (maybe even before you start inviting people to play) is what game you are going to play. A part of deciding what game you are going to play is deciding what genre you wish to play in. Do you want to play a swords and sorcery style fantasy game? A sci-fi game with cool tech? Post Apocalyptic survival? Horror? Western? There are plenty of games to satisfy all of these genres and more. So you pick one, start rolling up characters and the GM creates or obtains a world(s) for you to play in and you start adventuring. You're playing a game in the chosen genre. Or are you? Your starship lands at what should be a busy starport but there is nobody manning it or in the surrounding town. Your party finishes killing a band of orcs to find their carts are powered by steam. You track down the Cthulhu cultist to find that she's dealing with some 'Greys' to purchase alien (but not *THAT* alien) tech.

Mixing genres together isn't new. Films and TV shows have been doing it for ever and there are entire RPGs that are seemingly based on it [1]. It certainly seems like a science fiction series can't go on for too long without an attempt at a horror episode (I seem to remember a Stargate:Atlantis one going terribly). It's also not unusual to find this in RPGs. D&D has had ghosts and vampires at (or very near) it's core since the beginning of RPG time, and i remember the first Ravenloft boxed set (though not the original module). Star Wars has always had a lot of magic as well as technology. Westerns could have steampunk right around the next corner. It's not unusual to cross genres in RPGs but it's a technique that's sometimes not used enough.

Other times it's used too much, or very badly and ruins a perfectly good setting. read on...

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