Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween, Gamer-Style!

If you're in a Halloween sort of mood today (and why wouldn't you be), you'll definitely want to check out The Devil's Night, a free Storytelling System adventure from the good people at Flames Rising (who are also the perfect place for your gaming horror fix).

If this spooky season has given you ideas for running a ghostly game of your own, Precis Intermedia is offering the Ghostories RPG pdf for only $1.95, and the print and pdf combo for $9.95! Just enter code YJSGRXV8M8 at checkout to take advantage of the offer. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Episode 10 of RPG Circus Now Available!

We managed to get Episode 10 of RPG Circus out the door just in time for Halloween! Phil from Chatty DM is back in the virtual studio as our guest (Mark is out this week). In the episode, we cover:

* Using Halloween Tropes in your RPG Games
* Running a Horror RPG
* Mood Music In RPG's

Plus, news and listener commentary. Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

Friday Discussion: Dwarves With Scottish Accents

As on nearly every Friday here at RPG Blog 2, we greet the weekend with a little Friday Discussion. Nothing too heavy, nothing too serious, just gamers talking about gamer stuff.

But today’s topic is a serious one, one that has driven countless gamers apart over the years. It leads gamers to distraction, and is the basis of a bitter debate that has lasted until this day. Our Friday Discussion Question Is:

Should Dwarves Have Scottish Accents?

This, of course, assumes they do not hail from Scotland. But it is a well-known fact that countless dwarven characters have been stricken with a Scottish brogue over the years. Where do you stand on this incredibly important issue? However you answer on this hard-hitting issue, I still wish you a great weekend, and a Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thoughts On An RPG Wishbook and Holiday Coupon Guide

I’ve been in light discussion with a few small press publishers to put out a Holiday Wishbook/Coupon Book in advance of the December and New Year Holidays. One of my favorite things as a kid was flipping through the Sears and JC Penny Holiday Catalogs and making a Christmas list. Well, maybe you can’t go home again, but maybe this year while our kids are making their gift lists, we can be right alongside them making our own (and ones for beloved and esteemed gamers of our acquaintance as well!).

We’’ll see what kind of legs this project has, but I think it’d be a lot of fun. Throw in some optional special deals and coupons, and I think we’d have something that could help people watch their wallet as well.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Size Does Matter? RPG Book Format

It seems to me that lately I’ve really been less into the usual larger trade paperback size for RPGs, and more and more into the pocket-sized or digest-sized RPG books. The larger trades are great for splash art, lengthy tables, charts, etc., but carrying one around seems more and more conspicuous and unwieldy. Books like Burning Wheel, Traveller Pocket Edition, Thousand Suns, and the newer Robotech RPG can pass as regular paperbacks. Heck, even Squirrel Attack! could pass for some sort of zoology pamphlet. I’m not ashamed of my hobby—anyone at work could tell you that—but there are times I just want to quietly read, you know? I can throw Pocket Traveller in my sweatshirt or jacket pocket. That isn’t happening with my Pathfinder Core Rulebook, however aesthetically awesome it may be.

Of course, there are drawbacks. Digest-sized or standard paperbacks have less room for art, and often times (as in the case of pocket-sized Traveller), the font is comparatively tiny. Layout becomes even more important in a smaller book like that, to my mind.

There are ways to taken open-license games and print them yourself in this type of format; several PDF programs support the resizing needed. But honestly, I don’t want to spend the ink and the time when I could just buy it. I have been thinking about doing a d6 Pocket Essentials edition, but don’t know if anyone would be into that or not.

I’m not sure if I’m alone on this, but how cool would a pocket OSRIC or Castles & Crusades be? Heck, I’ll even hold out hope for a Pocket Pathfinder (although with the OGL in place, you could realistically do that yourself). It may not be ideal for every game, but more pocket editions would likely find their way to my, well, pocket.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Black Blade To Publish Swords & Wizardry

There have been numerous teasers pointing to this over the past couple weeks, but I'm hoping this helps get Swords & Wizardry into retail distribution. From here:

Black Blade Publishing to become Exclusive Publisher of the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules and Knockspell Magazine

October 27, 2009 – Mythmere Games, developer and publisher of the ENnie-award winning Swords & Wizardry fantasy role-playing game, is pleased to announce an exclusive agreement with Black Blade Publishing to publish the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules and Knockspell magazine, and to lead the charge to get Swords & Wizardry into retail distribution. The first print releases under this agreement will be a softcover version of the 124-page Swords & Wizardry Core Rulebook and Knockspell #3.

Working with Studio 2 Publishing as its distribution partner, Black Blade Publishing expects the Swords & Wizardry Core Rulebook to start hitting the shelves of brick and mortar game stores by February of 2010. In addition, the in-print version of the Swords & Wizardry Core Rulebook will be available for purchase directly from Black Blade Publishing or through select retailers by late-October, 2009.

Electronic copies of the Swords & Wizardry Core Rulebook will be available immediately directly from Black Blade Publishing, and will be available very soon directly from Studio 2 Publishing, DrivethruRPG, RPGNow and YourGamesNow.

My thoughts? Well, I think the pairing of Black Blade with Studio 2 Publishing seems like a good move. And it'll be great to see S&W on bookshelves at the FLGS. I think this is an exciting move, and I'm definitely wishing them the best. More accessibility to classical gaming means more people creating cool stuff and and a bigger gamer pool! I like to think of the "offline" gamer discovering a copy of S&W and finding out that perhaps there's still people playing the game he's been playing 25+ years....

Quick 6: Podcast Recommendations

Yes, it's the return of the Quick 6, my method of quickly running down...well, 6 of something. Today's topic for the Quick 6 is 6 Podcasts I Recommend. Whether you're staring down that long daily commute or doing chores around the house, gaming podcasts can help the time go by while keeping you engaged with one of your favorite hobbies.

Now, Fear the Boot is likely the most popular and well-known of the gaming podcasts, so I won't rehash what folks already know. Here are some others of varying popularity/notoriety that I try to listen to when I can:

1) All Games Considered--This is one of the best general-purpose gaming shows, with
news, reviews, and a couple of discussion topics each show. This is a fairly veteran entry in terms of podcasts, and I'm a happy long-time listener.

2) Atomic Array--This is another great all-purpose show, excelling at covering new products. Also has a great sense of community among listeners and contributors.

3) The Tome Show--I've been privileged enough to be a guest on this show, and I am amazed at how the keep up the quality episode after episode. If you want a podcast with some good guests and reviews, this'll be a good stop for you.

4) Animalcast--Crude, loud, and susceptible to lengthy non-gaming tangents. I still dig it. When they do actually talk about games, it's usually funny and enthusiastic, and occasionally priceless.

5) The Game Master Show--As a Game Master, I really appreciate this show. Aside from the good interviews, they often break down a GM's issue or topic and really discuss it at length.

6) RPG Haven Podcast--Released on a monthly basis, this podcast nonetheless does a great job of presenting 1 or 2 topics per episode, and really covering them. Often does features a bit off the beaten path, which I like.

Of course, theren are many other gaming podcasts out there to browse through, if you're so inclined. And if you're still hungry for more podcasting, there's always our show, RPG Circus. But I'll let you decide on that one for yourself.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thoughts On The Role Play Media Network

So, with all the discussion, dissension and occasional heartburn this past week over the future of the RPG Bloggers Network, we saw Berin Kinsman of Uncle Bear try something new--the Role Play Media Network.

This network is not a feed aggregator, nor is it a replacement for the RPGBN. It's a social networking site, which is going to turn some people on and some off. It's a site for bloggers, podcasters, writers, publishers, artists, and game masters can get together. You can upload music, add your blog's RSS feed, take part in a forum or live chat, personalize your own page, add special interest groups, and more.

It sort of has the feel of a mini-Facebook. And all those bells and whistles have people trying it right now--it's when the shine wears off a bit we'll see its success or failure for gamer networking.

Back to the creating groups bit for a minute--I've been puttering around on there (my page is here), and I've created several discussion groups. Here are just a few--we'll see how much interest or utility they hold in the long run: Small Press Advocates, Classical D&D, Traveller, Hoosier Gamers, and Midwestern Gamers. For fun, I joined a World Creation group, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, Gaming Podcasters, and several others.

Either way, we already know it'll be better than Gleemax, and it loads faster than ENWorld. (Then again, I could load up the most graphics-intensive site on the internet with my old 1996-era desktop, and it would still load faster than ENWorld).

We should also hear something by week's end on the fate of the RPG Bloggers Network. Either way, should be a busy week all around. And if you do check out the Role Play Media Network, make sure to say hi!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Small Press Week Roundup

Moebius Adventures provides us with our Small Press Week roundup! Thanks to them, and to everyone who participated!

I know several of us would like to do another Small Press Week soon, say, possibly on a week where the RPG Bloggers Network doesn't catch fire and nearly implode? Seriously, though, I think we can do much better next time for participation, and I know I'll be looking to cover some new ground as well. I really hope everyone enjoyed what we had, and hopefully we can keep it up. After all, we don't need a Small Press Week to write about small press...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Finding The Third Imperium

Jeff Rients yesterday addressed a pretty good question: which version of Traveller should one get if interested in the Official Traveller Universe (but lacking any experience with it)?

His answer's a pretty good one: the Classic Traveller CD-ROM not only is a steal for $35, but should set you up nicely with a look at how the Third Imperium was originally described and handled. I think looking at the manner in which it was presented in these items is interesting as well, and gives you an idea of the galactic sandbox we were given. Making your own sectors is just too much fun to ignore, in any case.

I also have a copy of the Traveller Book, which is a wonderful compiled hardback introduction for Classic Traveller. If you can find a hard copy at Noble Knight Games or in the back shelves of your local gaming store, you'll want to go for it.

For those folks that have to have a hard copy, I would pick up the Books 0-8 and Supplements 1-13 collections. If you're happy with this Third Imperium bonanza but want an updated, more polished set of the rules, Mongoose's Traveller: Pocket Edition is the right size and prize, and can usually be found on the cheap.

EDIT: I see Rob Conley has also weighed in with his recommendations. Good stuff!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Small Press Week: Friday Thoughts

This week, several other RPG bloggers and I are celebrating Small Press Week, with a look at some of the works coming out of the smaller publishers in our hobby. And I think this week will show that just because a company is small, that doesn't mean they can't go toe-to-toe with some of the big boys. I'll be linking and rounding up other coverage periodically throughout the week.

I had hoped to have my review for FireWater Productions done today, but I'm just not done yet. I'll try to have it completed as soon as possible, but it looks like it might slip till next week. Look for a recap posting for all the Small Press Week links across the blogosphere.

Since I can't finish my review, I'm stuck instead with offering up some thoughts on small press companies in general. I'm not going to pretend that every small press offering has the spit and polish of a Wizards of the Coast or White Wolf product, and I won't pretend that there's going to be a Two-Fisted Tales, Don't Rest Your Head, or In Harm's Way game at every local gaming store.

But for those willing to be brave and try something new, there are plenty of rewards there. Innovative mechanics, people trying something new and off the beaten path. Unrivaled publisher and author access, and a one-on-one level of customer service. Games dealing with genres and topics largely untouched by larger publishers. And above all, the spirit of do-it-yourself gaming--of working a 9 to 5 job, coming home, writing, playtesting, scrimping and saving to get your product out the door, and the sheer amazing feeling of knowing someone is playing their game.

It's worth remembering that our hobby started with a couple of colleagues churning out copies of a somewhat rough-looking, novel game. The future of our hobby will undoubtedly begin in the same sort of place.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Small Press Week: Resolute

This week, several other RPG bloggers and I are celebrating Small Press Week, with a look at some of the works coming out of the smaller publishers in our hobby. And I think this week will show that just because a company is small, that doesn't mean they can't go toe-to-toe with some of the big boys. I'll be linking and rounding up other coverage periodically throughout the week.

Small press gems are not found in the fantasy genre alone. A while back, I got turned on to the simplicity of Resolute, Teddy Bear Press' entry into the supers genre. This 24-page RPG has a generally clean, spartan layout, and dives right into the action from the get-go. We get about 2 pages of built-in setting (not bad, scary aliens, mutants, and factions, but I would likely use my own), and then go right into mechanics.

For system, you're going to be rolling 2d6 plus modifiers against a a difficulty rating. You'll be buying ranks in the following core abilities:
Agility, Focus, Melee, Might, Speed, Sense, Stamina, and Willpower. Ranks translate into ratings; for example, if you are Exceptional in something, that's a +3. If you are Normal, that's a +0. Ranks on this chart are also used to describe difficulty ratings, speed, hardness, etc. All in all, it's pretty easy to get a handle on, and a nice unifier.

There's a pretty good list of both super and mundane abilities present. These range from Elasticity to a knowledge of Law to Mind Control. It would be easy enough to build on this list. I sort of like that no determination is made in having a mundane vs. super ability; too many games forget that teams like the Avengers and the Justice League are nowhere near balanced. Obviously, that's going to be to everyone's taste, though.

You also can buy Adaptations, which you either have or don't. These are aspects such as Sonar or Burrowing. There are also Enhancements (read: Advantages) such as Wealth or Sidekick and Limitations, such as Destitute or Enmity. You can pick up a few more points to build with if choose a Limitation or two (and every super needs a weakness). All in all, standard point buy stuff, not flashy, but enough to build what you want, in all likelihood.

Combat starts with a speed (initiative roll). At first, you have a prep phase. This is movement, readying an action, preparing equipment, etc. Then attacks are resolved in order of speed. You go through a standard combat round, everyone acting once. Then players with additional attacks act. (I would personally recommend rolling extra attacks into the same round, as this seems to work better in actual play reports).

Attack rolls are opposed ability rolls, and your margin of success is added to your damage. You then roll damage against an opponent's resistance, and tally wounds based on your damage roll divided by his resistance (rounded, of course). There are some neat options at this point; for less damage, you can elect to do certain things like Stun or knock them back. For damage, if you drop to 0 wounds, you are incapacitated and temporarily out of action. (You don't die until you take twice over your allotted wounds). To finish the section, there are simple mook rules and a nice host of combat options (such as Explosives, Improvised Weaponry, etc.) which add depth to combat without getting too crazy.

The game rounds itself out with a short GM's section. Nothing horrid, nothing inspired.

Resolute isn't going to be for everyone; people wanting a Mutants & Masterminds level of detail aren't going to get it. And while the layout is generally clean, if you're the sort of person who wants to be inspired by RPG art and layout, you won't get that here, either. But for $2 at RPGNow, Resolute is a great bargain, one that's going to scratch that supers itch for some folks for about the cost of a cup of coffee. The supers genre is a notoriously hard one to nail down; if this isn't quite enough for you, but you still want something in the supers genre that isn't too heavy, be sure to check out Atomic Sock Monkey's Truth & Justice RPG. Good gaming!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Small Press Week Goes Epic...RPG

This week, several other RPG bloggers and I are celebrating Small Press Week, with a look at some of the works coming out of the smaller publishers in our hobby. And I think this week will show that just because a company is small, that doesn't mean they can't go toe-to-toe with some of the big boys. I'll be linking and rounding up other coverage periodically throughout the week.

I often mention how much I enjoy Dark Matter Studios' ENnie-nominated Epic Role Playing Game, which I consider one of the best-designed rules-medium RPGs out there. Now, I've written a lengthy review of the game before, but to be honest, I know not everyone has the attention span or time for long of the review. So I've come up with 5 great reasons you'll want to check out this small-press gem.

1. In-depth Character Generation—With Tables! My love of random tables and charts knows no limits. There are all sorts of fun tables to roll on during character generation—social class, apprenticeship events, family background, and personality, to name just a few. Best of all, During every step of chargen, there’s a checklist on the page, making sure you’re on track and giving a little more background as to precisely why you’re doing what you’re doing.

2. Guilds & Professions
Instead of your normal structured classes, Epic has guilds and professions. I consider this one of the best parts of the game. If you're used to a fighter class, you may want to check out the Constable of Brightwall for a law-oriented martial character. You could also check out any number of listed mercenary organizations, such as the Archers of the Scarlet Mark. Or, you could create your own—creating guilds and professions (including generic ones) takes only a couple of minutes. There are dozens of Guilds included in Epic to start you out. Each guild also gets potential access to secret Masteries and Grandmasteries (for example, a thief character's organization may name him Nightmaster over the beggars and thieves of his guild, and give him a 10% cut of their earnings—an example from one of my own games). Epic gives you a lot of character hooks within a small space with their guilds and professions.

3. Incredible Magic. Seriously, there's not one, but 6 incredible, diverse paths of magic. After you read them, I think you'll want to try them. Here's a quick description:

Deals with the manipulation of chemistry through both scientific and mystical means. Alchemists can specialize in theory regarding Gases, Liquids, Solids, or overall Catalysts (Reaction). Examples of what an alchemist can do are create maelstroms in water, stop items from deteriorating, liquefy targets (!), weaken materials, reduce mass of an item, and all the other things alchemists who lived in our world wished they could do.

Mentalism: This discipline of the mind requires great concentration and will of thought to affect the user as well as the outside world. Very strong against sentient creatures, it is very limited else wise. One practicing mentalism might be able to detach his body from physical pain, cause others to fall into peaceful or terror-filled dreams, project their psyche for a bird’s eye view, or attack the inner workings of an opponent. Unlike other games, Mentalism in Epic is on par with its arcane counterparts--not too powerful, not too weak in comparison.

Metaphysics: Metaphysicians may choose specialties regarding thermodynamics, gravity, electromagnetism, or even submaterial theories. Arcane reasoning bends the laws of the universe to the whim of metaphysics. One can nullify gravity, change inertia, and warp time and space among many other abilities in this realm. It's like Isaac Newton and Morgan Le Fay had a love child (shudder).

Philtrology: Herbalism and the study of flora and fauna, and imbuing and enhancing properties found in nature. These folks can create potions and compounds of deadly poison, healing drafts, and miraculous effects on the human body. The philtrology section includes a list of herbs/poisons to put the old Rolemaster one to shame. Those in this discipline can often use said herbs and elements naturally for lessened effect. Creating potions is great fun, and leads to this being one of my favorite aspects of Epic.

Shen: Shen has a feeling of an oriental discipline about it, but is practiced by those ranging from woodland folk to religious types. At its heart, it is the focusing of body and mind together through years of discipline. Users of Shen may increase physical performance to pull of incredible jumps or martial feats, make deadly attacks, or improve their defense against both the physical and arcane.

Theurgy: Simply, flat-out demented and brutal. Also referred to as the Black Arts. Often use ghostly or demonic power from beyond as a source of energy. They use a familiar to focus their casting energy. Theurgy has the full range of mystical variants, but is extremely twisted.

There are also rules for making new magical variants.

4. Easy (But Robust) Mechanics
. You're looking at a base 2d10, and added skills vs. a target number or base rolls. The 2d10 simulates a bit more of a bell curve than a 1d20, which may be a feature or bug for some. But for being a definitely rules-medium game, learning what to do is simple. This extends to combat, where an awesome damage tracking system and fairly rough melee rules, charts for critical hits/misses, and lots of combat options manage to give you lots to do without feeling like there's a lot of game to memorize.

5. Plenty of "Extras"
. Epic has an entire chapter dedicated to mass combat, a bestiary, reference tables in the back along with an index, a healthy goods & services chapter, more tables, campaigning tips, and so much more. This game has sort of the same "all in there" feeling to me of the AD&D DM's Guide--pretty much everything has been addressed.

If anything in here has piqued your interest, I urge you to read my review, check out the Dark Matter website and ask some questions, or check out their Epic Quick Start—a fully playable game for only $5 (and a lot more game than you get in many “quick starts”), as well as their many on-site freebies. For some people, the Epic Role Playing Game will "click", and you're going to have a great time with it. Have your 2d10s at the ready!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Want More Small Press Week?

Of course you want more Small Press Week! Fortunately, RPG Blog 2 isn't going at it all alone here. Here are two more links you'll want to check out:

A Character For Every Game is taking an in-depth look all week at the indie RPG Agon. Good stuff!

LizardGames is giving out an in-depth look at Moebius Adventures.

More to come as it arrives!

Small Press Week: Farsight Games and SKETCH

This week, several other RPG bloggers and I are celebrating Small Press Week, with a look at some of the works coming out of the smaller publishers in our hobby. And I think this week will show that just because a company is small, that doesn't mean they can't go toe-to-toe with some of the big boys. I'll be linking and rounding up other coverage periodically throughout the week.

Today's small press company is Jonathan Hicks' Farsight Games, and the product we'll be looking at is the SKETCH system. This is a free, generic system geared towards one-shot adventures and quicker play. It's available as a free pdf at the Farsight Games website.

SKETCH isn't a hard system to figure out; just remember S & S. Strength is your ability to take damage, and Skills are things your character can do (you know, gunplay, horsemanship, For skills, you have to assign the numbers 1-6 to these 6 skills, using only number once, with a higher number denoting a higher skill aptitude. There are rules for adding more skills as needed.

The mechanic is near-absurdly simple. You try to roll on a d6 under your attribute, plus or minus a GM-given modifier. A 1 always succeeds, a 6 always fails.

There are some excellent free support settings, to include Blade Runner (for entertainment purposes only, though I'm sure Farsight would love the license!), an unofficial Star Wars setting, horror material, a fantasy setting, and others. The settings show a bit more how the system may be used successfully, in my opinion. Links may be found at the Farsight Games website.

If you like what you see out of SKETCH, you can check out The League of Seven, a 129-page pdf SKETCH sci-fi setting that will cost you under $2.

In summary, this is a very rules-light game that is slightly more traditional than Risus, though neither game could be considered inaccessible. Sometimes I think of a RPG "Rules Crunch" Scale, with 1 being freeform roleplaying and 10 being Hybrid. On the Houghton Scale (hey, it's my scale, it can have my name), both Risus and SKETCH would be right around a 2.5 in terms of rules-lite/rules-heavy. And for some people, that's going to be the perfect spot for even more than single-night, one-shot game. The SKETCH system is free, short, and to the point. I'd recommend giving it a look.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Welcome To Small Press Week: Squirrel Attack!

This week, several other RPG bloggers and I are celebrating Small Press Week, with a look at some of the works coming out of the smaller publishers in our hobby. And I think this week will show that just because a company is small, that doesn't mean they can't go toe-to-toe with some of the big boys. I'll be linking and rounding up other coverage periodically throughout the week.

The first RPG I wanted to cover was Squirrel Attack!, by HinterWelt Enterprises. This is a fun beer n' pretzels-type roleplaying game that's great for when you don't have anything else planned or need a quick, light-hearted game (it sort of falls into the Risus category in that sense, though the games are markedly different).

Yes, you do play a squirrel; there are actually six pregenerated squirrels included with the game. Each character does have different goals to be accomplished; a "winner" can be named, but is not strictly necessary.

In Squirrel Attack, the default scenario is to Get Mr. Jones' Nuts. A heavy task, even for a squirrel! The scenario is well mapped-out and supported, and gives players a chance for both bravado and problem-solving. The game never takes itself too seriously, though you may be surprised how much importance the mission takes on!

At 60 saddle-stitched pages in the statement-sized print version, SA! is surprisingly robust for what would seem to be such a small-focus RPG. But the entire Iridium Lite system (free, for your preview) is presented here, as well as an entertaining background of squirrel worldviews, divisions, and cultures.

Back to the system for the moment: Iridium Lite would probably be at the higher end of what many used to loose beer n' pretzels RPGs would consider "lite", but some may enjoy a bit more robustness in their gaming. As mentioned above, the system itself is free to check out, so I'll let you make your own decision.

Squirrel Attack! has a number of fun, whimsical supplementary titles, including Squirrels in Space, Squirrels Ahoy: Squirrels of the Spanish Main, and the ENnies Honorable Mention Shaolin Squirrels: Nuts of Fury. All in all, SA! is a silly amount of fun, and my experience with players has been overwhelmingly positive.

I'll tell you this: you really don't have any reason not to check it out if you're looking for an inexpensive, fun alternative. Here's why: as part of Small Press Week, HinterWelt Enterprises is giving 50% off all Squirrel Attack! PDF and Print+PDF titles! Just go to HinterWelt's online store and use code RPGBlogIIThankYou during checkout (and don't forget about HinterWelt's other generous offer; they offer some other games that are very good as well)!

Stay tuned through the week for more small press goodness!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Episode 9 of RPG Circus Now Available!

Episode 9 of RPG Circus is now available, and we have a very special guest for our listeners! Mr. James Edward Raggi IV of Lamentations of the Flame Princess joins us as we tackle the following topics:

-An interview with Mr. Raggi himself
-What rights do you get when you purchase a game?
-Shut up and Role-play

Plus, news, from Scott Rouse and WotC to Cash For Clunkers, and listener commentary! You'll also want to check out our new site design!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Play Recap: Session 1

We had a great time last night in our first actual session of our Castles & Crusades Far West campaign. We had done character generation as a group at I guess what you'd call "Session 0", two weeks ago.

I'll get more into describing the characters and whatnot in future posts, but I thought things went pretty well. We got in some good old-fashioned overland exploration (our group's cartographer is using the original D&D tile symbols for his mapping), and I thought it was cool how the group had to decide between finding a civilization and the urge to explore the more wild areas.

Our party was part of a grand expedition to this mythic land to the west when a massive storm scattered the fleet and sunk the ship they were on. The group in their small, leaky, ship's boat made it to the shore of this strange new island. They were wet, uncomfortable, and hungry.

The group managed to purify some water and hunt down a scrawny deer on the coastal sand dunes that seemed to stretch on for a good distance. The first night, the group was woken by (an interesting random encounter!) beautiful singing coming from near the shore. It was a sea nymph; the druid in our party managed to glean the possibility of a city of men to the southwest before she fled.

The party set off again, the coastal dunes soon turning into seaside crags and hills. They found an odd natural staircase leading up to a rock inscribed with the Royal Seal of the legendary Elechor II, who supposedly led the refugees from the Kingdom of Man to this land 1000 years ago.

The hills soon gave out into grassland. The nights were a bit chilly, due to it being early fall, but the party would soon have something to keep them warm! They were attacked in the night by a small party of what appeared to be larger, more muscular orcs. This was a race previously unknown to the party, but they were dispatched with some handy use of magic missile, sound burst, and good old-fashioned sword work.

Later that night, some sort of large humanoid shook the ground as it passed. No one got a clear look at it, but the druid casting an obscuring mist helped ensure it didn't get a look at them, either.

The next day, the group entered the woods to their west. Their time there was largely uneventful, though they did note some of the trees in the forest were cut down, possibly signifying civilization nearby.

They trees soon gave out in favor of a clearing; the party saw a half-harvested field of wheat, and what appeared to be a small homestead on fire! Drawing closer, it appeared that 3 humans were being attacked by a party of those same "great orc" creatures from earlier. I can honestly say it's at this point the entire party shined in combat. I believe everyone had at least one great moment, from a brutal, slaying arrow shot to a lethal magic missile placement to a stern and bloody usage of the warhammer.

We ended the session there, with the attack on the homestead having been successfully rebuffed.

We were a couple of players short, but our group is big enough we still had 5, and I think it felt comfortable. The group was a lot of fun, didn't take things too seriously, but still paid enough attention to the game where it wasn't a total, continual distraction. I was very pleased.

I should also add I believe everyone "supercharged" one roll with the d30 rule. I can't tell you how much fun that is!

I also gave out a blank journal--my hope is that it's filled with notes of exploration, sketches of new creatures, etc.

Again, I can't say enough good things about our host, Saltire Games. If you're looking for a Friendly Local Gaming Store in the Indianapolis area, this is the best one I've found. They were great hosts, they knew their games, the place was clean and comfortable, and they even gave our group some free dice! I was particularly impressed by their nice selection of smaller press games. We have one of the private gaming rooms reserved for the next two sessions already, and it's nice to have a FLGS to support.

We'll play again in 2 weeks, and should have a couple more players.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Discussion: The Best Reads In RPGs?

Well, the last vestiges of summer have gone, and we are left with an increasingly chilly fall ahead of us! Time to grab some cider, find a warm spot near the fireplace, and do some reading.

And that leads us to the topic of today’s Friday Discussion (a proud, time-honored tradition here at RPG Blog 2):

What RPG or RPG Product Is The Most Fun To Read? I’m talking about sitting down and reading through—which one is the most entertaining or interesting to you as far as pure reading goes, and why?

For me, reading the Rifts World Books and items like the Greyhawk Gazetteer appeal immensely because of their setting descriptions and background information. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.

Have a great weekend, and if you haven’t done so already, why not treat yourself to one of our awesome thank-you discounts? Only 1 week left on many of these deals!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gamer Lost Tribes, Or Being Out Of The Loop

Many tabletop gamers online tend to be ultra dialed-in to hobby news and updates compared to their casual, Friendly Local Gaming Store counterparts. One of the ways this can be seen is in the assumption most offline gamers have many games outside of D&D and White Wolf are dead or defunct.

I get this a lot when I mention Rolemaster. “Rolemaster? I played that in like 1988! Iron Crown is still around? Huh.”

West End Games is another good one. “Nah, haven’t heard from them in years. They went bankrupt and lost the Star Wars license”.

And so it goes, from Chaosium to Palladium to Steve Jackson to Iron Crown and beyond.

The pessimistic view is that these companies are, for all intents and purposes, dead to the relatively giant number of gamers who exist offline.

The optimistic view (unless you’re a publisher) is that these folks don’t need anything new, and will likely be playing the same games 10 years from now.

They’re the Lost Tribes of our hobby. Most of them hear snippets of information, if anything, and don’t care about what they do hear. Why should they? They have their game, and they’re happy. Whether it’s the same houseruled AD&D 2e they’ve been playing the last 20 years, or their epic, still-rolling Traveller game, they have what they want and need. New players are rare, and often related to a group member.

I always think it’s interesting to meet one of those groups, and see what 10-15 years of gaming isolation and modification through play experience can do to a group.

Then again, some of those groups become cliquish, arcane messes, where you’re expected to hold your own against characters and pet NPCs that have a decade or more of special items and “unique abilities” on your character.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Winless Rams Turn To Game Master To Save Season

(With apologies to our non-football fans)

St. Louis--Losers of 5 straight games and facing criticism for their handling of game plans, the hapless St. Louis Rams today turned towards 14 year-old Game Master Joseph Smythe to try and reverse their fortunes. The Rams currently rank among the worst teams in the National Football League, near-last in several key categories.

“Sure, I’ve run lots of games”, said Smythe, wearing a black t-shirt and spewing half-chewed Bugles all over a hastily assembled press conference late Tuesday night. “Dungeons & Dragons, Shadowrun, Vampire: The Masquerade—you name it!”

Insiders say the bespectacled, excitable 14 year-old will become a top advisor to beleaguered head coach Steve Spagnuolo, and will help draw up some of the formations for use on both sides of the ball.

Spagnuolo seemed excited about the possibilities Smythe’s tenure offered. “Clearly, we need some help winning games, and I think a proven Game Master is just the person to turn things around for us”.

The Rams players didn’t seem so sure.

“This kid comes in and tells me I’m a ‘tank’”, said 5th-year center Jason Brown. “I’m supposed to ‘take some hits for the rest of the party’. Why the hell are we having a party anyway with five straight losses?”

Running back Samkon Gado seemed confused when interviewed last night. “This little punk comes in and asks if I’m a ‘caster’. I told him I’m a running back. He tells me to hang back and heal the fighters. Do I look like a trainer?”

On the topic of injuries, Smythe seemed optimistic that some injured players would soon make it back and contribute.

“We’ve got some guys on the injury report who were down to 0 Hit Points, but it isn’t as if they’re dead. I mean, they’ll be recovering 1d4 Hit Points with a good night’s rest, so they should be back soon—even sooner if I can find a Cure Light Wounds potion around here”.

Rookie linebacker Dominic Douglas sounded a note of cautious optimism.

“My whole career, coaches have been telling me to take it to the next level. Jason told us that if we stick with him, he can get us all the way to 5th or 6th level. He also said we could multiclass—I’m not 100% sure what it is, but it sounds hardcore”.

Insiders also report the Rams’ defense will likely feature less blitzing plays and more of a new scheme Smythe calls “Spinning Golden Wyvern Rage”. It is not expected to be used more than once daily, though insiders could not explain precisely why.

In other news, plans are still for the Rams to play a 2010 preseason game in Tokyo, and possibly a 2011 game in Sigil.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No More Rouse At WotC

I was genuinely sorry to see yesterday that Scott Rouse is no longer at Wizards of the Coast. Mr. Rouse as D&D Brand Manager was, in my eyes, a goodwill ambassador, often going to bat for gamers against the more corporate ideologies or realities of his company. I can't think of many jobs in gaming that would be harder, but I think he tried his best in difficult circumstances--the GSL debacle and change, the pulling of the pdfs, the edition changeover in general. I definitely believe this is Wizards' loss, and I wish Mr. Rouse the best wherever he lands.

Tearing Down Or Building Up?

Not too long ago, my group had a nearly year-long Rolemaster (FRP/SS hybrid) campaign. We started with likely about 75% of the rules in place, finding Rolemaster’s maneuvering rules too much for us.

After a while, we streamlined skill selection, and simplified how armor worked, along with combat modifiers. We also combined/tweaked some skills.

On and on this went. We added a bit, but we seemed to drop 2 items for every item we added.

In the end, we had a very simple, streamlined open-ended version of Rolemaster that still included our favorite parts (namely, the awesome magic lists and critical hit charts).

When we played Palladium Fantasy, we streamlined. When we ran Rifts, we streamlined. When I ran Pathfinder with my online group, we streamlined.

Now, you might say, “hey, dummy, start with a rules-lighter game, and you won’t have to streamline so much”. But I’ve always had a much easier time effectively reducing and breaking down a rules-heavy game to get what I want than building up a rules-light game. That’s not to say it can’t be done—I mean, I’ve added a few house rules to augment Castles & Crusades, but then again, you can argue C&C is a stripped-down d20 variant in the first place. From more to less. It’s almost as if sometimes you’re trying to see the figure in the marble block of rules—you chip here and there, until the form you want comes out, vs. taking the existing marble statue and gluing your own bits on it

But all in all, it’s easier for me to take something that is rules-heavy or rules-medium and make it rules-light than to take a light framework and make it more complex (and still have it fit nicely). How much more preferable, I suppose, to find the game you want out of the box--but as a chronic and unrepentant tinkerer, that doesn't seem to be an option that often comes up.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Top 20 Favorite RPG Companies Of All Time

What follows is a list of my Top 20 favorite RPG companies of all time. I looked at each candidate on the basis of customer service/public relations and product quality, but ultimately, my final decisions came down to how much enjoyment their products or efforts brought me. There are some companies on here that have fallen short now and again in one area or another, but each entry on this list has enhanced my enjoyment of the gaming hobby.

There were also some tough decisions; companies like Adventure Games Publishing, Fight On! Magazine, and Rogue Games have been nothing short of fantastic for me, but all of them are more recent in nature. I have no doubt one or more will appear on this list soon, but that’s for a later date—like some other companies, there are some longer-term question marks for now.

Here are my favorite RPG companies, in only the vaguest sort of ascending order:

20) Pinnacle: In the short time since I got into Savage Worlds, I have discovered a company that has one of the best publisher-supported gamer communities on the web. Savage Worlds is a blast, but the sheer amount of support for the game also nabs Pinnacle a spot on the list.

19) Atomic Sock Monkey: Besides having one of the best names on this list, they also produced Truth & Justice (my favorite supers RPG since FASERIP), and more recently, Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies. Great ideas, great publishing effort.

18) HinterWelt Enterprises: Aside from their strange fascination with squirrels, HinterWelt produced the excellent Roma Imperious (also available as the best setting for True20, hands-down). Very good, professional customer service seals the deal.

17) Flying Mice: Whenever I think of an interesting niche game idea, I first check to see if Flying Mice has tried it. More often than not, they have, it seems. In Harm’s Way, In Harm’s Way: Dragons!, Starcluster 2, On Her Majesty’s Arcane Service? We can forgive the plain formatting, because the material rocks that hard.

16) Precis Intermedia Games: Let’s see, Precis Intermedia has given me Two-Fisted Tales (my favorite pulp RPG), Disposable Heroes (a customizable, affordable way to do paper minis), and such games as Coyote Trail and Iron Gauntlers. It’s amazing to me that one little company could have this much diversity.

15) Noble Knight Games: Surprised to see an online RPG store on the list? If you know anything about Noble Knight Games, you shouldn’t be. They combine a massive catalog of titles with dependable, excellent customer service. Whether it’s trading in old games or looking for lost classics, NKG sets the bar for all other online RPG sellers.

14) Dark Matter Studios: Perhaps the best testament to Dark Matter and their phenomenal Epic Role Playing Game is that I use their random background charts in every fantasy game I run, regardless of system. With unique magic and a polished, sensible, rules-medium system, Dark Matter hit it out of the park on the first try with their game.

13) Reaper Miniatures: Visiting the Reaper booth at Gen Con Indy is one of the highlights of that show for me, as is getting their catalog. Pewter minis are just such a fun part of the hobby, and Reaper defines selection and excellence.

12) Troll Lord Games: TLG seems to lag on their release schedule at times, and it isn’t always smooth sailing. That said, their game of Castles & Crusades has re-ignited the spark of classical-style gaming for me, when one day it just “clicked”.

11) Palladium Books: Like Troll Lord Games, Palladium has had some bad moments and some misfires. It doesn’t change the fact that I have had as much or more fun with Rifts, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Palladium Fantasy as I have with any game out there.

10) Paizo Publishing: Paizo has given my extended gaming circle more to talk about and to anticipate over the past two years than any other company on this list. They conducted an Open Beta of Pathfinder, kept pumping out awesome OGL modules, and have some of the best support and production values in the business.

9) Cumberland Games & Diversions: Risus. Encounter Critical. If S. John Ross never does another thing in his life, those two games would ensure Cumberland’s continual presence on this list.

8) Wizards of the Coast: Forget all the present difficulties and furor. I’m thinking of WotC not in 2008-2009, but how they revitalized a flagging D&D property in 2000-2001, and how for a little while, we seemed to be largely on the same page.

7) Iron Crown Enterprises: Aside from the incredibly varied, maddening, and enjoyable Rolemaster critical hit charts, I.C.E. also gave us the joys of MERP, and Pete Fenlon’s peerless, evocative maps.

6) Kenzer & Co.: I’ve spent countless hours enjoying Knights of the Dinner Table, and Hackmaster remains a favorite. Whatever the product, Kenzer seems to “get it”, with a fun, mock-serious attitude and crazy attention to detail.

5) Gamescience Dice: Louis Zocchi is a national treasure, and Gamescience dice are a clear line to the legacy of the hobby. If for Col. Lou’s hypnotic Gamescience video alone, Gamescience deserves to be on this list. This spot also represents the severe dice fetish so many of us sport.

4) West End Games: A company that has faced an uncertain future in its present incarnation, but gave me Star Wars d6 and Ghostbusters once upon a time. The d6 system still appeals, even as we are unsure what will happen with Open d6.

3) Tactical Studies Rules (TSR): For all the crap that happened later on, some of my happiest gaming memories are from Greyhawk, the Rules Cyclopedia, and a ton of unforgettable and influential adventure modules.

2) Game Designers’ Workshop/Far Future Enterprises: The kindly folks who brought me the joys of Traveller. Traveller’s one of those games that seems to be eternal and ageless. “Age cannot wither her, or custom stale her infinite variety”.

1) You, The Gaming Community: Sounds a little saccharine, I know, but I have gleaned and garnered as much from blog posts, homebrew pdfs, messageboard comments, and just talking with gamers as I have from any gaming company. Companies can publish all they want, but without community, we don’t have much.

Do you have a Top 5, 10, 20, or even 50? If so, I'd be thrilled to hear your thoughts as well. Recognizing the enjoyment and excellent folks have brought us in gaming never gets old.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

One More RPG Blog 2 Thank You: Character Illos

In the wake of our Thank You To RPG Blog 2's Readers this week, we've had one other company step forward to offer the readers of this site a special discount. Craig over at RPG Character Illustrations is offering an exclusive 15% off to our readers on their high-quality, print-ready custom digital illustrations for gamers. The coupon is RPGBlog15, and it is good for any of their on-site products!

If you haven't checked out the discounts and bargains from earlier in this week, make sure you do! Just under two weeks remain on most of those great offers!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Discussion: Using The Seasons And Weather In Your Game

With the leaves turning and the nights getting colder, my thoughts are focused on the changing of the seasons. And here at RPG Blog 2’s Friday Discussion, that’s the topic of the day.

How do the seasons or weather play a part in your game?
Do you have weather-based challenges? Do you largely ignore the impact of weather upon travel, or do you integrate it into your games?

Respond in the comments, if so inclined. I’m curious to see where everyone is at with this one. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

RPG Blog 2 Says Thank You With Super-Special Deals!

Well, I told you I wanted to say thanks to all the readers and participants who make RPG Blog 2 what it is, and to that end, I have lined up some RPG deals exclusive to RPG Blog 2! Most of these specials are good for the next two weeks, so you'll need to act fast!

Here's our special deals and bargains! A HUGE thank you to all the generous publishers, and I hope you enjoy!

RPG Blog 2 Thank You Discounts, Deals, and Bargains!

Kobold Quarterly
If you've been waiting to pick up a pdf subscription to Kobold Quarterly, the amazing, award-winning, premiere gaming magazine, this code will give you 50% off your subscription: PDFSubscription050. Only valid through Oct. 31, limit 1 use per user!

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Flying Mice
Flying Mice is pleased to offer the pdf of On Her Majesty's Arcane Service, their game of Elizabethan paranormal investigation, spycraft, and intrigue, for a special price of $7.50! Trust me, you will want to check this one out--it's a crazy amount of fun!

Click Here For On Her Majesty's Arcane Service!

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Looking for a custom, distinct dice bag? Want to be the envy of the gaming table? Check out You've Got Maille, where they've factored in 20% off for RPG Blog 2 Readers!

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HinterWelt Enterprises
The ENnie-nominated publisher of titles such as Roma Imperious and Squirrel Attack! comes though for our readers! Take 20% off your order through HinterWelt's online store with this RPG Blog 2 code (use at check out): RPGBlogIISPW

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Precis Intermedia
People who know gaming know Precis Intermedia stands for innovation and quality. They're offering RPG Blog 2 readers $5 off any purchase of $10 or more of Precis Intermedia products from their online store! Just enter code EFPW5C6ARG at checkout. You'll definitely want to look at such titles as Two-Fisted Tales, GenreDiversion, Disposable Heroes paper minis, and plenty of other genre-spanning works!

Click Here For Precis Intermedia's Online Store

Highmoon Games
Hey Pathfinder fans--I didn't forget you! Looking for some great source material? Check out Highmoon Media's Liber Soladitas: The Dream Healers, now 50% off through the link below! Expand your Pathfinder game!

Click Here For Highmoon Games' Liber Soladitas!

Well, I hope these discounts do a little something to help show in what high esteem I hold this site's readers. A huge thank you again to all the participating publishers--I couldn't have done it without you! And of course, thank you, readers, from the bottom of my heart, for reading this site, chatting about gaming, and building a sense of community.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

By The Sword

Looking back over some old character sheets from a mixture of D&D 3.5, Rifts, Traveller, and other RPGs, I noticed some glaring similarities. Evidently, I really like playing characters equipped with swords:

Colteris (Rolemaster Sage, 2003): Rapier

Corran (D&D 3.5 Fighter, 2003): 2-Handed Sword

Rickman (D&D 3.5 Bard, 2004): Longsword

Douglas (Rifts Scholar, 2006): Vibro-Saber

Laertes (Epic RPG Blade of Ehr, 2006): Shortsword

Lt. Alec Harcourt (In Harm’s Way U.S. Navy, 2006): Cutlass

Captain Jonathan Wayne (Classic Traveller Imperial Army, 2006): Broadsword

Evidently, I fall right into the trap of thinking Swords>All Weapons.

Anyone else find a proclivity or pattern of choice for a certain type of weapon? I don’t think this is anything I do consciously, and I don’t have a katana hanging somewhere in my house. I just like swords for arming my characters, I guess.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Starting With 1 Hit Point

I mentioned in my last post that I had my players for our campaign roll their hit points at 1st level—no automatic maximum HP. Sure enough, two players—our thief and our cleric—will be starting our Castles & Crusades game with 1 HP.

What pleasantly surprised me was how well both players took it. Knowing you have 1 hit point has to cause some adjustments in the way you play. Certainly the thief will have to put even more emphasis now on skulking and stealth if he wants to see 2nd level. As for the cleric, I look at it this way: for this specific campaign, it opens with the group having just survived a tremendous shipwreck, and have made it to an unknown shore. They’re bruised, battered, cold, and wet. They may have some cracked ribs for all we know. It’s going to take some time to recover from that, especially if you happen to be the guy who took a stray boat oar in the back or upside your head.

And I have to think if they manage to contribute and still make it to 2nd level on that one hit point, that’ll be a point of pride in campaigns and sessions yet to come. If they gave out gaming merit badges, the “Got To 2nd Level On 1 HP” badge would be one of honor.

I know some people dislike starting play with that vulnerable a character, feeling if their character is that less survivable, they shouldn’t put any effort towards developing them. I know gamers who have tried to purposefully kill low-HP characters to start anew, and others that find that entire concept in play abhorrent. That's fine; it isn't some hard-lined doctrine, just personal preference.

I look at it this way: rolling hit points is a lot like life. We’d all like to be on the right side of the bell curve, but most of us aren’t, and are on the undesirable end of a few statistics. The only thing to do is to hang in there and work with what we have for now.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Discounts Are Almost Here!

This Thursday, all our wonderful readers here will be treated to Reader Appreciation Day. I have lined up some tremendous discounts and savings for you as a way to say “thanks for reading and commenting at RPG Blog 2!”. I’ll put the discount codes up then, so you’ll want to make sure to stop by and grab whatever offers interest you. There should be something for everyone! If you guys like this, I’ll try to bring you more RPG Blog 2 exclusive deals as time and circumstances permit!

Character Generation And A New Game Store

So this past Friday night was our group's character generation session for our Castles & Crusades sandbox campaign. Chargen went amazingly well, I thought--as GM (or CK, if you'd rather), I didn't have to explain a lot, a benefit of C&C's generally familiar, simple character generation.

My group is slightly overbooked at the moment, but that's ok. We seem to have a quality group. Everyone gets along thus far, and there doesn't seem to be anyone out to "win" rather than just play.

You know when I really felt like this group was going to work? When I had them roll for first-level hit points instead of doing auto-max HP, two guys ended up with 1 HP. One. There was some good-natured teasing, but no anger, no complaining, just taking what the dice give you and hope for better things at level 2. We also rolled some random unusual traits and apprenticeship events on the tables from the Epic RPG, which is always a lot of fun!

We ended up with the following (homebrew classes denoted with a *): Human Sorcerer*, Human Friar*, Dwarven Cleric (with 1 HP!), Human Thief (1 HP!), Human Druid, Elven Jack of All Trades*, Halfling Ranger, and a Human Fighter.

It's a good group. A lot of us have families and work responsibilities, so I think we know how precious gaming time is.

For cuisine, it was a slightly damp, cool fall Indiana night, so we had hot cider in the crockpot. That was aside from the delicious staples of Mountain Dew, Doritos, pizza (Little Caesar's--$5 a pizza is pretty tough to bear), some awesome kettle chips, and pretzels.

We met at my place for the initial session, but we all realized we needed something larger and more central geographically. One of our players had been scoping out the new place on the east side of Indy, Saltire Games. He reserved us one of their private gaming rooms for the Friday after next, and last night, I got a chance to check the place out for myself.

Saltire Games is clean, well-lit, and well-stocked (with no small amount of smaller stuff; the owner really seemed up on a lot of smaller games), with a friendly staff and plenty of gaming space. My wife went with me, and I believe she said it's the cleanest gaming store she's ever been in. She even bought a card game--a new gaming store in town, and she gets the first purchase!

You can also tell they're civilized because they have a picture of Traveller on the website.

In any case, it's a great-looking store with a nice varied selection (it looks like they have some active 4e groups, but they also have the C&C and Pathfinder products right up front--good balance). If you're a gamer anywhere in the Indianapolis area (I know we have at least several who read here on a normal basis) looking for a good Friendly Local Gaming Store, I would recommend you check it out.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Episode 8 of RPG Circus Now Available!

The most recent episode of our RPG Circus podcast is now available! We have lots to talk about, and 99% less bird noises in the background!

In this episode we cover:

-Online and virtual tabletop options

-The status of our personal campaigns

-Favorite and least favorite D&D classes

Plus, some really fun gaming news and listener commentary! Take a listen and let us know what you think!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook 4th Printing Released

It's been out for a couple of days now, but the 4th printing of the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook is available, and a few folks on the Troll Lord Forums have a copy.

One of our Friendly Local Gaming Stores had issues procuring it, and told one of my player's group he could not get it for him. The other gaming store in the area, a larger, more recent effort (and where we plan on having our Friday night campaign), has begun taking orders, as it sounds like our Castles & Crusades group is not the only one in the area.

I'm really interested in the updates to the Illusionist (45 new spells!) and the Barbarian (big makeover there, from what I hear). Of course, the changes and errata will be free online over at Troll Lord Games, but I'm looking forward to having it all under the cover of one book. Judging from our gaming session last night, our players currently have a hodgepodge of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd printings. I'm fairly certain the gaming store that will order it is going to be looking at a sizable order in the next two weeks.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Discussion: What Is Your Least Favorite D&D Class?

We're going to let it out for this edition of our Friday Discussion, and talk about character classes we just don't like. Is it the Monk? The Bard? The "That Guy" magnet, the Ninja? The Cleric? Whatever edition you call home right now, here's our question:

What Is Your Least Favorite D&D Class?

Stories/reasoning welcome! Have a wonderful weekend chock full of gaming!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kitchen Sink Contest Reminder: Win A Gift Certificate!

I’ve decided to extend the Kitchen Sink Monster contest for another week, so we can get some more entries? At stake? Your reputation as crazy creature designer, and a $10 Gift Certificiate to RPGNow! Post your entry here or on the original post to be eligible. Here’s the original blurb:

Here's my challenge to you, friends: post up your terrifying hybrid-animal mutant in the comments below, and possibly win a $10 Gift Certificate to RPGNow. Stat it up in Mutant Future, Encounter Critical, Rifts, or any other system, kitchen sink or otherwise. Alternately, you can enter by drawing your depiction of dread Slagon described above! I'll announce the winner (by merit of relative awesomeness, freakishness, and kitchen-sink factor) this weekend! Spread the word, and may the freakiest creature win!

Thoughts On The Cleric, Part II: The Friar

Per yesterday's discussion, here's the Friar variant that I'm working on for my campaign. I realize it is a step down in overall power level from the Cleric, but that doesn't bother me a great deal, as I still see a niche for this. I'm very curious to see it playtested--let's hope someone chooses it!

Right now, I've just limited spells to 4th level. I'm not totally satisfied with that, as I want to give him some rough cantrips and lower-level spells, but don't want anything to high-powered in there. Suggestions welcome--oh, and this is for Castles & Crusades system (though you certainly don't need to be fluent in that system to comment--I'd love some outside views!):

A Castles & Crusades Variant Class (hopefully suitable for other Classic-Style RPGs as well)

While Clerics and Paladins tend more towards larger-than-life holy crusading, it is the Friar that humbly protects the common people of the land. This less-vaunted brother of the church is often found in rough homespun, spreading the word through assistance to the poor, sharing their burden, and, when necessary, stout defense against the wicked.

Friars are generally down-to-earth, practical, and less concerned with doctrine than emotional response. Some may even be illiterate, but still manage to spread the holy scriptures by word and by deed.


Spiritual Discernment (Wis): More instinctual than doctrinal, Friars have a proclivity for discerning the holy or unholy qualities of a person, place, or thing. Upon a successful check, a Friar can tell these qualities, which often come in the form of hunches as “off”, “right”, or “wrong”.

Improvised Weaponry: A friar spends much time with the peasantry, and if defending a village or farm, he must use whatever is at his disposal. To that end, he may use any improvised weapon as its nearest analogue without any penalty (for example, a chair leg would do damage as a club, a boat oar can be used as a staff, and farm implements can be used as is, such as a scythe).

Magic: Only minor magics are the Friar’s to command, and they mainly follow those of the Cleric. However, even minor magics can have a tremendous affect on the lives of everyday people. They progress as the Friar Spell Progression Chart, listed on this page. They do not have to memorize a spell to cast it, but may cast spontaneously from their strong belief and practical strength.

The Friar chooses spells from the Cleric list.

Prime Attribute: Wisdom
Typical Races: Human, Dwarf
Alignment: By Deity
Starting Gold: 1d4x10. Any unspent is lost.
Hit Die: d8
Weapons: Staff, club, sling, improvised
Armor: Any light or medium. Friars generally wear their rough robes, but are practical enough to know the value of leather or a chain shirt in dangerous times.
Abilities: Spiritual Discernment, Improvised Weaponry, Spells

(Ok, both of the below tables will look like poo. Sorry for the poor formatting).

Friar Level Progression
Level HD BtH EPP

1 D8 +1 0
2 D8 +1 1601
3 D8 +2 3350
4 D8 +2 7601
5 D8 +3 15001
6 D8 +3 30001
7 D8 +4 60001
8 D8 +4 120001
9 D8 +5 240001
10 D8 +5 450001
11 +3 +6 625001
12 +3 +6 800001

(See comments for my replacement text for spells)

Friar Spell Progression (Spell Known/Daily)
Level 0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
1 2
2 3 1
3 3 2
4 3 2 1
5 3 3 2
6 3 3 2 1
7 3 4 3 2
8 3 4 3 2 1
9 3 4 4 3 2
10 4 4 4 4 2
11 4 4 4 4 3
12 4 4 4 4 4

Special thanks to Orlandia and Old Guard Gaming Accoutrements for inspiration! This class is also available in pdf here.