Archive for the ‘Indie RPGs’ Category

Ripping off PTA

October 29, 2009

I think the brilliant thing about Prime Time Adventures is the fanmail rule. It’s not mechanically amazing; it’s socially superb. It creates a sense of fellowship among the players because that’s what giving someone a gift does. Since it happens over and over again during the course of a game, the sensation’s intensified. Read the early actual play reports: you get a lot of people talking about how the game magically drew them together.

So let’s rip that off for D&D, or any other game that has some sort of fate point or action point or what have you.

Here’s the D&D version of the hack: you can only spend action points to give another player an extra action. Nobody can benefit from more than one AP per encounter, and you can’t ask for an AP. The AP must be used immediately.


Review: Ribbon Drive

August 16, 2009

Ribbon Drive

Ribbon Drive

Ribbon Drive is an indie RPG by Joe McDonald about road trips. I picked up a copy because I like the emotional space of a road trip, and because the system resonates with a weird idea I had for an RPG back in California. I had this 5 disc CD player and I wanted to load it up with one CD per player, then use the random shuffle as a task resolution system.

Ribbon Drive doesn’t do that. What it does do is have each player bring a mix CD. There’s no GM, by the by. So each player brings a mix CD and you choose one randomly and listen to the first song. That’s the nature of the road trip; that’s what you use to decide where you’re going, and why you’re all going there.

Ruminations on PTA, pt. 1

July 24, 2009

I’ve been gearing up for a possible game: Howard Hughes’ Men of Action. It has been recommended to me that Primetime Adventures would be a good way to go. I know a lot of you reading this love Primetime Adventures, and you’ve run and played in a lot of fun games with it.

But, allow me to steal Rachel Maddow’s bit for a moment: (more…)

Listen: [Your character name] has come unstuck in time

July 7, 2009

While we wait for the D&D Insider to update and give us some sweet Psion love, John & I were tossing around some ideas recently and I’ve hit a brick wall. So I’ll toss it out here.

How do you handle an “anthology” game where each session may take place at a different point in your characters’ history?

Here’s the framework: it’s a retelling of the greatest pulp adventures of Howard Hughes’ Men of Action, as told to his biographer Clifford Irving in 1970. Hughes, addled with codeine and  syphilis, relates his fantastic tales but each time it starts with “I recall the time when we…” and they’re of course not in a sequential order.

Aside from completely abandoning the concept of character as a quantifiable entity and just grabbing Baron Munchhausen off the shelf what system might have the flexibility to handle this? Most systems, even PTA, involve linear development of abilities or contacts or resources. But here you might have a session in the late 60s, then one in the early 40s, then the third in the late 40s. Would you have to reallocate “character points” or some such each session? How would you handle such a thing?

Blogging Wheel: FONFLIFF!

June 13, 2009

(10 bonus points if you get the reference in the subject line)

A few quick words about the Duel of Wits and combat systems in BW. To bottom-line it for you: me likey. (more…)

Blogging Wheel: I Burn For You

June 13, 2009

Okay sports fans, this time I dig into the Character Burner to see what this Lifepath business is all about. Also slightly different format in that I read the book last night and so this is more like a review of sorts than a liveblog. That’s probably cheating but it’s probably for the best.

I should note at the start that my all-time number one favorite character generation system is FASA’s Star Trek. There’s this awesome series of tables that you choose or roll on (modified by things like your stats and previous rolls on the tables) to determine how your Academy years went, the results of your Cadet Cruise, and for your subsequent assignments (including your performance evaluation on those cruises) . Gives the character much more depth than simply “I’m a lieutenant j.g., a helmsman on a Reliant class ship, and a Vulcan.”  You know that’s where you end up because that’s the character you want to play but how do you get there? I’ve seen some really awesome and unexpected character background elements come up from this system when someone consistently gets shunted off to the Merchant Marine instead of top of the line ships, or a stellar career with an abrupt horrible performance rating – something happened there.

So that’s what I was hoping for when I heard the term “Lifepaths”. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what it is.


[Blogging Wheel] Book 1, Sitting 1

June 9, 2009

Okay, here’s how this is going to work: I’m going to start reading and putting in comments/reflections as I go. Behind a cut of course; I’m not some kind of animal! New stuff will gather at the bottom because I can’t stand reading liveblogging stuff where I read in reverse order. Not sure how much I’ll cover in one sitting.

I should note I’m not doing this because I think the book is impenetrable. It’s really just a cheaty way of me making sure I actually read through this thing, which I feel I should but would otherwise probably drift away for. And as I’ve said, I feel like I haven’t given the game a chance and that I should be digging it.

My goal is to cover the core rulebook and the Character Burner. If this still seems like a good idea I’ll go on to the Magic Burner.

(I should also note that the Burning Wheel books are available at and there’s a pretty active forum and wiki there as well. Check it out. The core rulebook and Character Builder are only $25 bundled together. Quite reasonable!)

So without any further ado: Liveblogging Burning Wheel


Blogging Wheel!

June 9, 2009

I didn’t forget or chicken out! Tonight! I start this tonight! I promise!

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