Author Archive

RPGs and Crowdfunding

January 28, 2013

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.


1st Ed Greyhawk Campaign

April 15, 2012

I expect more folks will be exploring older editions of D&D as the D&D Next speculation builds, and in anticipation of the promised play-testing sometime later this year (or early next).  The re-issue of the original AD&D core books this spring/summer practically calls for it.  So cue the announcement from the local gaming store that a DM has stepped up to run a monthly 1st Edition Greyhawk game.  Now, I am an old fan of the World of Greyhawk – but specifically from the original presentation in 1st Edition AD&D.  I had most of the box sets and modules based in Greyhawk up until the advent of the Greyhawk Wars meta-plot, after which I kind of lost track of events and situations.  So in my mind, Greyhawk will always be stuck in those early days, which means this is an opportunity to revisit the imagined lands of my childhood.  I remember when my best friend in grade school showed off the original Greyhawk maps, and we gleefully recognized names and locations alluded to in some of our favorite modules.  Later, when I got the first World of Greyhawk boxset, it gave actual map coordinates for many of those same adventures, which brought a sense of depth to the world.  All of which leads this campaign idea to be just my sort of thing.


Marvels, Mutants, and the Murder Castle

March 6, 2012

Available right now in PDF from and later this month in print, the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game is by Margaret Weiss Productions, the same folks who brought you the Serenity, BSG and Supernatural rpgs.  More to the point, they are the ones who did the Smallville and Leverage rpgs using a system called CORTEX Plus, a variation on their standard dice pool system from those earlier games that is extensively modified to suit the particular game and genre being emulated. With Smallville, you’ve got dramatic tv series with powers rules that under the hood could do just about anything the awesome indy game Prime Time Adventures can do, though with a more codified tactical structure.  Similarly, from what I’ve seen of the Marvel game, it does a similar job for high action serialized stories (ie comic books, or even, dare I say it, the pulps!).  As PTA is to Smallville, I see Spirit of the Century (or more generically FATE) is to Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

Friends of mine worked on the book, and the preview I’ve seen so far looks beautiful.  I ran a demo of the MHR game at my FLGS, The Gaming Goat, this past Saturday.  This was to be part of the official ‘Launch Party’ for the game, but since the print books have been delayed a few weeks, the Goat’s party has been postponed until April.  I showed up, anyway, in case some didn’t get word of the reschedule. Good thing, since two players showed, and a third who was awaiting a later D&D Lair Assault game joined in.  Since we were pressed for time, rather than run the prepared ‘event’, I simply started with my players choosing their demo characters, and followed the premise that suggested; Spider-Man, Captain America and Wolverine walk into a bar…


The DM’s Role/Rule in 4E, Organized Play, and Beyond

February 27, 2012

As a D&D child of the 70’s and 80’s, I’d never questioned the rule of the DM.  It’s our shared game, but the DM is the glue that holds it together.  The DM makes up the adventures (or prepares the published modules) and runs them, adjudicating both the players’ actions and what response the adventure has in store for them.  Players know the rules, but don’t have perfect knowledge of how those rules are applied in the game world for any particular situation.  In other words, the role of the DM is to rule.

But that’s not necessarily true these days. (more…)

I survived the Tomb of Horrors! (Though I didn’t finish, neither did it finish me) Part 1

February 27, 2012

With the upcoming limited edition re-release of the original core AD&D books (check with your LFGS for April – part of the proceeds goes towards the Gygax Memorial Fund), one of our local DMs, Clyde, decided he wanted to revive some old memories and run a bunch of us through the original Tomb of Horrors module.  A recent return to the fold of gaming, Clyde was a gaming child of the 1980’s as I was, but had last played in the AD&D days. Rejoining the D&D world through the Encounters program I was DMing last August, he has since jumped in with both feet, two-fistedly DMing or playing in upwards of six games a week, both 4E Encounters, Lair Assault (he’s become our main DM for that), Gamma World and Pathfinder.  Though he had a full group of 6 players sign up for this weekend’s run through almost immediately, he consented to run a test last week at the local gaming con, KitCon, after I ran the Lair Assault Talon of Umberlee for him to play for a change.


D&D Next – Future Plans

January 11, 2012

So, the shoe has dropped.  D&D Next is announced, and I’m not even finished with the Heroic tier for my bi-weekly Keep on the Borderlands 4E campaign!  Not that I’ve been pushing them to advance, as my group has just reached 8th level and I see from my older posts they were reaching 4th at the end of 2009.  Granted we’ve had a few breaks for other games (my SotC Jazz-era LoEG game and a short-lived Arthurian D20 Modern game), but I’ve also been throwing a LOT of inter-related stuff at them in game, and since we get at most 3-4 hours per session, progress has been slower than I expected.  I think everyone has been having fun, though,so it hardly matters.

Still, since I have plans now into at least the early Epic Levels, considering a transition before I reach mid-Paragon is not something I look forward to.  And likely won’t consider, for this group, at least.  Since WoTC is talking about an extensive public playtest (or at least more so than in years past), it sounds like I’ll have at least another year and a half to make the decision.  As with many others, I figured something of this ilk would be announced for 2014 and the 40th anniversary of the game.  I was figuring at D&D Experience in January 2014, but now it sounds like that is being rolled into GenCon starting next year, so GenCon2013 appears to be the odds on favorite guesstimate of the ‘Next’ launch.


D&D Organized Play: Encounters and Lair Assault

November 4, 2011

I think I’ve run more D&D this year than I have, well, ever.  My Friday night 4E Keep on the Borderlands campaign continues bi-weekly.  I’m taking it slow, so they have just reached 7th level and we’re discussing where they want to go in the Paragon Tier.  It’ll take a little time for those ideas to settle, but they are already bearing fruit, as I’ve created a mini-campaign for levels 7-8 in a lost dragonborn city sunken into the swamp south of the Keep.  There was always going to be a set of ruins there, but since our dragonborn paladin/warlord hybrid expressed interest in becoming a Scion of Arkoshia at Paragon, and eventually recreate the old empire(?!), I tied together some pre-gen draconic adventures to expand the ruins.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have also been running the D&D Encounters program at the local game store, The Gaming Goat, that opened this year in Elgin.  When they opened in January, the Keep on the Borderlands season of encounters was already running (D’oh, I would have liked to have seen what WoTC did with that), so I started running with season 4 of Encounters in March.  Since then I’ve been running a 2-hr ‘Chapter’ pretty much each Wednesday, only taking off when I’ve been out of town for work for two weeks in June, and a week in October.  Running a short, regular game each week that I don’t have to prepare much for has been interesting.  Some times really fun, it can also be a bit of a chore since, designed as a pick-up game anyone can show up for, there isn’t any practical way to call off on short notice if something comes up.  And the restriction to play Wednesdays only (as mandated by WotC) means it’s been inconvenient at times for both players and DM alike.  Fortunately we have developed a couple of alternate DMs since March, which is good, since that first season (March – May) saw me sometimes running 8 or 9 players in a scenario written for 4-6.  Adding monsters helps balance things, but it also means every turn takes a loooong time.  But since we started splitting into two tables of no more than 6 players, the pressure of wondering how I would accommodate more players has gone.


State of My Gaming: Or Be Careful What You Wish For

March 1, 2011

My gaming options have been fluctuating widely this past year, and not for (just) the usual scheduling issues we all seem to run into.  In short, the economy sucks.

While I still regularly game with the same two groups I have written of previously, the composition of both groups has varied several times over the past year, and there has been consolidation.  Instead of groups of 6 and 7 with an overlap of two, the groups are now 4 and 5 with an ovelap of 3 players (myself included).  The changes are due to loss of jobs, and the subsequant consequences  some of which entailed players moving away to other states, or taking shifts preventing them from making traditional game times.  Included in these personnel changes have been the other regular GMs for the groups, so I’ve been running more, and more regularly, than I perhaps ever have.  Given all of the ideas I have for games, this should be a good thing, right?


Review: Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Gamemaster’s Screen

September 8, 2010

While I’m recovering from Dragon*Con, I thought I’d get caught up on some posting!  I ran demo games of the DW: AiTS role playing game at Cyphan just outside Chicago earlier this summer, and will be running more over Thanksgiving weekend at ChicagoTARDIS.  Here is a review I did for the Gamemaster’s screen for a new zine, Diary of the Doctor Who Role-Playing Games,  put out by a group that has been playing in the same Doctor Who campaign since 1985!


Mutants and Masterminds: Appropriate Powers for use with Nemesis

March 29, 2010

Life has conspired to keep me absent from this blog for some time.  While our D&D DM finally got a new job, it was in another state, so “Not Your GM’s Keep” in on indefinite hiatus (if you hadn’t noticed), with the last few entries stuck in draft limbo.

Not that I’ve had any dearth of gaming, as our other GM (who is also out of work – there’s probably a post in there somewhere on how the state of the economy has changed my gaming landscape) has had to miss several sessions, so I’ve been running more than I have in ages, 1-2 games a week.  So I’m going to try and catch up with some things I’ve been meaning to write about these other games as well as soliciting ideas for them (which means my players had better skip these posts for now).

I am putting together the next session of our “Are You MAJESTIC?” M&M reality show campaign for this week, and it’s going to be a relatively straightforward battle with prototype robots that are designed to scan and upgrade themselves to battle their opponents.


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