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


Play a New RPG Quarter

Posted by Ensign Expendable

The guys at Dice of Doom  have been promoting October as Play a New RPG Month. A whole month where you put aside your regular game and not only try a new RPG, but also have someone else be the GM for that month. The idea is that you don't just play a game for one session but you stick with it for the month.

This came at a convenient time for me. My D&D game came to a satisfying conclusion a few weeks ago and we're just about to finish the season of Traveller to switch to Pathfinder in my other group. Now is a good time for PANRPG month. In fact my D&D player and I were intending on trying a few one shots of different games over the next few months as he is often too busy to play recently (he's expecting a new baby, yay). However, seeing that I've been getting excited over lots of different systems and settings recently we're not going to do it as intended. For one, we are not going to just play one new RPG, and two, we are going to spread it over three months. read on...


Skill System in Mongoose Traveller RPG

Posted by Ensign Expendable

It seems like every one and their dog are writing about skills in D&D since Monte Cook started talking about them in his new Legends and Law column at the WotC web site. There's been lots of talk on twitter about it too. If you want to know people's thoughts on the future of D&D skills then some of the blogs I link to on the right are likely to have a thing or two to say about it. All the chatter has made me pretty much shut off from talk about the future of D&D, I'm way past the point where the speculation is interesting and I want to look to different things until it all blows over (luckily it's Play a New RPG Month soon so it's easy to do that). However it has got me thinking about skill systems in other games and how I feel about them. So I'm going to talk a little about one of them and see how they compare. read on...


Dungeons and Dragons With a Single Player

Posted by Ensign Expendable

Over the last year I've been DMing a very unusual game of Dungeons and Dragons. For one it was my first real 4th edition game so I've been learning the rule system and honing my DMing approach to it. For another it's been played over the internet using Skype and Maptools. But the most important thing that makes it unusual is that there is only one player and, for the most part, he plays one character. This provided lots of challenges but also lots of rewards as we worked together to produce what was as much collaborative fiction as it was game.

This is something that I've done on a small scale before. In fact this player and I played our first AD&D 2nd edition games in my parents attic, which we'd renamed The Inn of the Last Home in honor of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman back when we thought they were a duo of female writers. This game however was to last, and did last, for more than the few hours or sessions of my teenage years. It lasted for a year and told a story about a city in the midst of a coup by a demonic entity. We finished a couple of weeks ago with the city being saved but the true extent of the threat being hinted at to set up for next season. read on...

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Opinions on Gen Con News

Posted by Ensign Expendable

First let me say that I didn't go to Gen Con, I've never been to Gen Con. Google tells me that it's 11,110.9 miles away from where I live so I'm unlikely to make it in the near future. However I'm interested in it for a couple of reasons. The first is that it's heartwarming to hear how people are enjoying themselves, so I was watching twitter over the weekend. The second is that it's a big time for announcements about products that we should expect to see in the next year. Also people were talking about Gen Con twenty years ago when I first started getting in to RPGs and they are still talking about it now. That's a good thing (despite the ups and downs that the con may have had over the years). It still holds a little nostalgic place in my heart like TSR and THAC0 but is still actively being supported.

So having not been there I'm not the person to ask about what the product announcements were, and how cool the people doing the announcements were. I also haven't seen any of the products I'm talking about. There are plenty of places to get that information. Here's a good one for the WotC seminar. I caught the live tweets of those guys to get the announcements live. They also won an Ennie for their blog.

What I'm going to say here is what my thoughts are on some of the announcements. read on...

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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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