[The Long March] Chapter 1: Sorcerer (and a bit of Chapter 2: Agon)

December 24, 2013 by

I’ve been busy and haven’t gotten around to writing things up lately, but the Great 13 One Shots Experiment has not died on the vine! We’ve finished off the first chapter (Sorcerer and Sword) and have done character creation for the second (Agon). Due to holidays and grown-up schedules and such it’s slower than I’d hoped, but so it goes.

I’ll discuss the systems and play below. The summary of the story is over at the Book of the Long March site. Read the rest of this entry »

The First Transport Is Away!

October 9, 2013 by

Tonight was the first session of the “campaign” I discussed in my last post. It’s a series of 13 one-shots, building up the world for an eventual 13th Age campaign.  Possibly the most ambitious gaming endeavor I’ve ever been a part of.

(obligatory wiki/site is here: The Book of the Long March)

Fortunately I’m not doing this alone.  I have the crew from our previous 4e/13th Age game, and we’ll be rotating through the GM’s chair. Everybody put in games they want to run and we’ve got a vague sense of how this is all going to work. One session for each Age, with the first being the rise of the Dragon Kingdom/Empire and the Dawn of the First Age. Read the rest of this entry »

13 First Dates

August 4, 2013 by

A word about why I’m reading Dungeon World.  I had an idea that I proposed to my local group (the same bunch from my 4e/13th Age campaign) – we would do a series of one-shots of systems we’ve wanted to try out for a while, rotating who GMs, using those to build a world history for an eventual main campaign. Kind of a longer-running variant of a lexicon game.

I have a handful of systems I want to try out for this. Dungeon World, Burning Wheel/Torchbearer, Sorcerer & Sword, and of course my beloved Rolemaster (or a d20-ish mashup of it that may be more palatable to the group). Others have thrown in 3.5 or Pathfinder, Sons of Liberty, Falkenstein, Agon, old school BECMI D&D, and who knows what else is to come.

The eventual goal is a 13th Age campaign with a fleshed out history, with legends epics of the past and different Icons for each age, all fleshed out by the group. We may well end up with a very different picture than the established Icons and “modern” setting of the 13th Age core book (the presence of Sons of Liberty and Falkenstein in the lineup suggests rather more steam-power than canonical) .  We may well have a one-shot for each Age (I’m planning on kicking things off with a 0th Age Sorcerer & Sword session around the fall of the Wizard King). And if we do one game a month (one session for character creation and basic grasp of the rules, one for play) we may well be looking at a full year.  It’s exciting, challenging, ambitious, and likely to end in calamity. We’ll see where it goes.

A Whole New World

August 4, 2013 by

A quiet day with tacos, hot wings, the Shaw Bros. and a pile of rpgs to read. Pretty perfect.

On the last note, I’m currently reading Dungeon World and I think I’m missing what makes people fall in love with the game. The Moves seem to be regular D&D-esque class abilities, the triggers are just explicit statements of how the abilities are to be used, the DM moves seem like basic techniques. Maybe once again I’ve been blessed with outstanding gaming groups where this kind of play is the norm and not completely revolutionary. I can’t even imagine what most groups must be like if that’s the case.

I do like the resolution mechanic of 10+ being a success and 7-9 partial. That bit I may want to steal. And the Bonds that connect the PCs together. Fronts seem like a good way to organize and do larger picture prep – I feel like I do a lot of this already but not in a structured way.  The directive to “begin and end with the fiction” is a good one, and one I could bear to keep in mind more often. So there are very nice bits in here without question.

If you’ve read or played Dungeon World or any of the other Apocalypse World hacks, what makes it sing for you?

Gentlemen, to evil!

July 7, 2013 by

This summer I’m running a game of the late lamented Marvel Heroic RPG. But with villains. It’s an angle on supers that I haven’t done and I think allows for more sandboxing than the usually responsive hero mode.

John and I whipped up a Pathways system based on the Smallville RPG, and out first session was to follow the flowchart and make the relationship map. It was a lot of fun, and it created a lot of interesting twists the players hadn’t considered, but we should have talked more about themes and directions before setting off into it. And we made some assumptions/mistakes – we left out the step from Smallville that everybody defines their connection to all the other PCs. I’d said (but perhaps not very clearly) that I’d wanted the group to be an already established crew. It turned out very much not that way and the first two sessions have almost entirely been trying to get the PCs together.

I also wouldn’t recommend this kind of approach to a GM who has a firm story that s/he wants to tell in mind. I went into the session with only the vaguest notion of an overall plot for the game, and have since completely discarded that.  Too much good stuff on the paper to just ignore it (and why ask the players to do all that if you’re not going to use it?).

Regarding MHR itself, I still really like it but I feel like I don’t fully get it. I have no idea if I’m managing my Doom Pool correctly. I don’t have a good sense of what’s an appropriate opposition level for my group. I feel that the differences between Assets/Resources/Complications are fuzzy at best. It’s hard to explain but it feels like a better game in theory than in practice to me.  I’ll keep keeping on – this game has 4 or 5 more sessions theoretically – and see how I feel at the end, or if I can explain the problem I’m having with it any better.

Also, note to self: 4-5 players, max. Always. I love my friends dearly and love that they have interest in things I want to run but 7 person games are going to drive me to drink.

 

RPGs and Crowdfunding

January 28, 2013 by

Have many of you gotten involved in crowd funding games on sites such as KickStarter or Indiegogo?

I’ve been late to the game, I think.  I’ve only recently started looking at this (last 6 month or so), but I see that more and more small press and indie games are being funded this way.

From 20th (or 10th, or Xth) anniversary copies of older games, to expansions of more recent games, to variations of the latest indie darling – there is a variety of things being put up for crowd funding.  Given the contraction and consolidation of the game market through the latest recession it seems more and more individuals and companies are using sites such as Kickstarter to not only judge the interest in their product, and fund it, but also to solicit feedback and playtest comments that are then incorporated into the final product.

Planning Ahead

November 30, 2012 by

I’m beginning to toss around thoughts on my next game after my current one (D&D 4e converted to 13th Age) wraps. I’m pretty firmly settled on some kind of historical fiction. I’ve never really done that before but I work better either in a licensed setting or when stealing someone else’s intellectual property.  I’m a better synthesizer than I am a wholesale creator; I know this about myself and it’s where I have more fun. And history gives me that. Read the rest of this entry »

13 Deadly Venoms

September 22, 2012 by

It’s been a few weeks since I went on and on about 13th Age

So early in the playtesting there was a Monk class in the core rulebook. There were rules up to about level 5 Rob and Jonathan decided to pull it out because they felt it wasn’t ready for prime time. It will be included in the Kickstartered (and awesomely overfunded) 13 True Ways supplement due out next year.

But here’s the problem: I’m switching my campaign over from 4e to 13th Age, and I have a Monk in the party. Because my characters were about to enter the Epic tier, we converted over at 8th level.  And as I noted above, the draft stuff only went as high as lvl 5, and even that wasn’t complete (it is a beta document after all).

Which meant it was up to me to homebrew some extra stuff. I present it here in case anyone else finds themselves in the same boat, wanting to run an epic tier monk and not willing to wait until 13 True Ways drops to satisfy that itch. It’s not a full-on expansion to bring the class up to full options, but it’s one Epic tier Talent and a 7th level Form, and a handful of feats. It was all I needed for my campaign at present but I may make some other things up later.

Feel free to swipe,  but if you do please add a homebrew talent, feat or form of your own here.

(and no, I won’t post the partial Monk stuff from the earlier playtest.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Terraclips: Adventures in the Third Dimension

September 9, 2012 by

A confession: I’ve always loved looking at miniatures dioramas and terrain. I don’t play any tactical miniatures games (partly due to cost and partly because I completely lack any tactical sense), so I’ve always just admired from afar. But I always admired the setups at cons, and the first time I saw some Dwarven Forge stuff I needed new pants. But I knew that was more of an investment than I really wanted to sink into a hobby (pay no attention to the sagging bookshelf of games I haven’t ever played!!). And I’m just not crafty enough to do papercrafting.

Recently I came across some the sets of Terraclips at a local store and fell in love all over again. Configurable heavy cardboard terrain. They had a set of Buildings, Streets and Sewers out, and 3 Dungeon based sets dropping in late August (some really awesome pictures and info here). I liked the first 3 sets but didn’t love them – I thought the usefulness of streets and sewers to my personal game was limited, and the buildings were all wooden inn-like structures. But the “Vaults of Ruin” set from the new Dungeon Rise line really caught my eye. The “Dungeon Essentials” had a lot of the basics but was heavy on traps and such. The “Prison of the Forsaken” was full of torturey goodness but seemed a little specific. but Vaults had lots of crumbling walls and archways and I could see using it either for dungeons or as an outdoor ruined temple or a dozen other things. To my eye it had the greatest versatility, so I started there.  I ordered a set from my Friendly Local Game Shop, and here’s what I got. Read the rest of this entry »

A couple more 13th Age things

September 6, 2012 by

1. Session 3 of my one-shot went very well. It was an evening of almost entirely combat – 2 encounters plus some stuff in the middle. The encounters went very nicely and there was some sweet improvised stunting.

At one point the characters were on an airship that was plummeting to the ground, out of control.

Len (whose character had taken the ship’s helm and was looking for a place to crash land): “Is there a body of water nearby? or some woods?”
Me: “Well, there’s the Queen’s Wood…”
Len: “Do you think she’d mind?”

Next up for us is converting the characters from our 4e game!

2. Support the Kickstarter to fund the first supplement (which will include the Monk, Druid and Chaos Shaman classes as well as some really sweet setting stuff like Living Dungeons, which are awesome).

3. One thing my players didn’t like was the character sheet. The defenses are on the front (or page 1) but the basic attacks are on the back (or page 2), leading to constant flipping. So the redoubtable John O’Brien cut and pasted up a one-page version from the one that was provided. Since it was directly derived from their sheet I checked with Rob Heinsoo before posting it, and he said okay, 13th Age- New Sheet!

4. Dan – you remember Dan? From the last post? – played a demo at GenCon. Here’s his report:

Read the rest of this entry »


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