Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

D&D With Kids

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I ran an impromptu game with my niece (7) and nephew (9). I fully expected the 9 year old to get into the game and he did but the 7 year old took it to a different level of sophistication.

When I first explained the concept of an RPG to the kids I told them that it was a fantasy game where you create a character and play in a story. My nephew asked if it was something that you did on the Wii. My niece corrected him. She announced that it's when you create a fairytale and play it out with your character.

Along with the niece and nephew, their mom who used to game with me when we were kids jumped into the game along with my wife who games with me now. I chose Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox for its fast and loose nature based on rulings.

No stock characters here. I wanted the kids to have the ability to craft their characters from the very start. We began with rolling 3D6 for attributes and went right to starting gold and equipment. They loved picking equipment and coordinating with each other to make sure that the party was properly and evenly equipped.

The nephew's character started the game in debt to my wife's character so that he could purchase the base necessities of a Fighting Man. He played it very well from the start which led to fantastic role-play once the game got started.

The niece was all about being a wizard so naturally she chose to be a magic user which included picking her own spells and tracking their use on the back of her index card.

My sister played a halfling thief who picked up gold here and there without telling the rest of the party and even offered to loan some of it to the fighting man if it was of course paid back with interest.

My wife played a paladin, the class taken from WhiteBox Heroes. It's a good thing too. The party needed some mending from time to time.

Overall the game was incredibly fun. Things that we gamers find hackneyed such as goblins and giant ants shock them in ways that I remember from when I first encountered the game. It refreshes the perspective.

We managed to get in a couple of sessions over the jam-packed holiday. Leading up to the second session the kids asked, my wife figures, a couple dozen times when we'd play next. We didn't manage to wrap it up but the story surely won't stop. Since the kids live over a thousand miles away I've got some ideas for a GMless adventure to bring the story to a conclusion. It'll be fun.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


It's been quiet here for a while now. On top of renovating an old house It's also been because I've been quite busy writing software for making EPUBs, creating an EPUB for distribution, navigating the (sometimes byzantine) paths to the Apple and Google eBook stores, and creating the website for our game Firefight! The Tactical Roleplay Engine.

It's been a lot of work but so worth it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Gave Advanced Fighting Fantasy a whirl

We ran our test scenario where the heroine wakes to hear the village being attacked by goblins and orcs. The orc chieftain is kidnapping the mayor's son while his warg and warband wait outside. Here's how it went.

Upon being driven awake by a commotion outside, our heroine leaps from her bed and tests her LUCK. Can she don her armor and gather her weapons before being intruded upon by those who are making the martial racket? With ease.

She stands beside the window of her upstairs room and looks across the window to see a gaggle of goblins smashing about and setting torch to thatched roof. Slowly she swings the window open and takes aim. With arrow loosed she reaches for another. The arrow finds its mark and the first goblin falls to his knees. One of the goblin's companions turns to pull him from out of the street in order to preserve a sword swinger for when the archer is found. Another arrow is launched and the second goblin falls victim. Goblin heads swivel to find the source of their woe but to no avail.

Not wanting to press her luck and get trapped in an upstairs loft the heroine dashes downstairs and out the back of the small inn. Where the innkeeper's family has gone is unknown. Reaching the opposite corner of the inn from where she could get a new perspective the ranger shoots another arrow and knocks down one of the goblins that was previously hit. This time for good. Around the building she dashes toward the center of the din and discovers the source.

Outside of the mayor's house a line of 3 orcs stand guard along with a giant warg. Screaming and sounds of battle from inside the house are be heard even over the sounds of the town being torn asunder.

Amazingly the ranger moves into position without being seen. An arrow is knocked, aimed, and launched toward the wickedest beast in view - the warg. She underestimates the distance of the shot. The arrow passes beneath the fel animal and passes through the skin of its far foreleg. With a furious growl that unnerves even the orcs, it leaps into the air like a bucking horse and spins midair. The moment its feet touch the ground it locks eyes with our heroine ranger.

In haste another arrow is fired but it too misses the mark sailing harmlessly into the hazy background.

As the ranger backpedals and draws her longsword the warg falls upon her. The beast grabs her by the armor but even so through its primal strength she feels her STAMINA wane. Then the orcs enter the fray. One of lesser experience would have met their doom in such a circumstance, outnumbered as she was.

As time ticks on the gargantuan wolf tears and rends while the orcs stumble without being able to achieve instant superiority. One of them falls from the point of the ranger's sword as the warg drives her back.

"Ah, he has driven me out of the fray and given me opportunity." she thinks. And she takes it.

Able to put distance between herself and her opponents she huddles amongst the fallen wares of a merchant shop and downs her liquid STAMINA. Refreshed, she climbs to the top of the shop to gain new vantage but realizes that her bow is still on the ground. Cursing her luck she redraws her sword and leaps down upon the now bloody warg. Midair the beast looks up and grabs her and once again throws her to the ground.

Now beyond angry - with a sense of serenity the ranger swings the sword again and again. Warg and orc alike fall to the steel that sings as it finds blood. Upon the last orc the point of the blade is only paused before it finds the thing's wretched heart. A roar erupts from the mayor's house.

A bloodied orc chieftain lumbers onto the covered porch and pauses for a moment in bewilderment. His retinue is gone and so is his mount. As he turns to run away with a young boy slung over his shoulder the heroine sprints in pursuit.

The chieftain attempts to use terrain; tree, rock, and grade to his advantage. Leaping over piles of field stone, around and under great limbs of tree in attempt to shake his pursuer but to no avail he finds himself in a hollow with no easy egress. He fears not because he knows that the human will not shoot while he carries a child. And he believes in his own strength.

Clawing his way up the steepest part of the hollow's sides he begins to put distance between himself and the ranger. The grade was steeper and higher than he thought and the battle inside the house took more out of him than he realized. Breathless he slips and drops the boy.

Absentmindedly the ranger reaches for her bow but it is still on the ground back at the village. With purposeful demeanor she strides forward and falls upon the greater orc with her sword.

With pain and weariness the chieftain turns to fend off the attack with a beautiful short sword obviously plundered from whom and where unknown. While his weapon is beautiful it gives no edge in the battle. He dies and tumbles down the slope of his doom.

Now all that is left here to do is to check for coin, collect the boy and return to the village...

Some notes:

I didn't have stats for a warg so I went with a snow wolf and tweaked from there. It worked very well. The stats for the chieftain too were winged. I just took an orc and put a few points into him. Voila!

The final chase scene was riffed using the chase rules from Spirit of the Century as inspiration. Excellent. More on that in a future post.

Also, we went with the roll-high option for unopposed tests with 15 being the target number instead of rolling SKILL or under.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Memories of The Forest of Doom

Advanced Fighting Fantasy landed on the doorstep yesterday. I'm only about half way through but I'm absolutely loving it. I played the game books as a kid and extrapolated from them a stand-alone system when I didn't even properly know what an RPG was. The 1989 version never made it to my hands which makes this reading adventure all the more fantastic. More to come.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I just finished reading Bulldogs! and I have to say that it does indeed kick some serious rump. First off, I have to say that I'm a big, big fan of FATE 3.0. Ever since Spirit of the Century landed in my lap I've been running all sorts of games with the engine; everything from Lord of the Rings to Star Wars to Macross.

This is the first FATE release since Diaspora to really grab me. Why? Because it hews back toward Spirit of the Century while bringing a refined sense of, well, sensibility and guidance. The turn back toward SotC tacks closer to my heart. I love that full-wide-open feeling that I get when contemplating and running a game.

While reading Bulldogs! I couldn't help think about mashups with both Diaspora and Starblazer Adventures.

From Diaspora will come clusters as well as the mini-games. I'm not sure how to run social combat without them anymore. And I can easily see going the other way - using Diaspora for the base while pulling over gear and Resources from Bulldogs!

From Starblazer Adventures will come "fractal" mass combat.

But enough about mashups. What kinds of games can be run with just Bulldogs! itself? The built-in setting looks great. You're a crew member on a rickety freight ship run by the TransGalaxy corporation. Times are tough and scratch can be hard to come by. It's very well done and is fleshed out just enough to jumpstart a campaign, providing great opportunity to make it your own. To work with we've got; The Frontier Zone, Empires, Organizations and Corporations, Alien Species, Gear, and Ships - the whole ball of wax tuned for space opera which is implied through the skills and stunts instead of being ultra setting specific which opens up even more play opportunity.

Players create their characters while the group as a whole provide input for creating the captain who is usually run by the GM, and the ship. Players have their choice of alien species but can create their own which is a nice touch. Later in the book are rules for creating gear and ships which extends to vehicles in general. So really you can make just about anything.

Near the end of the book you even get guidance along the lines of advice and game tweaks (e.g. crew creation) for running games with other campaign setups including Free Traders, Explorers, Mercenaries, Espionage, and Pirates.

In short, it's a great time to be a FATE fan.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Old School Response

I've been reading as many responses to the release of Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG as I could since the game has piqued my interest. A few observations:

More than once the use of Zocchi Dice was described as a gimmick. In 1974 D&D must have been hella-gimmicky. What were they thinking?

And I've noticed a sense of anxiety over following various game approaches and rules. Guys, we're talking about a game that's about OLD SCHOOL gaming. Don't worry about Every-Single-Rule. If something doesn't sit quite right with you then don't use it or change it. If you roll something on a chart that doesn't quite fit then roll again. If you feel like making your changes is too much work and it'd be easier to play what you already have then it's a piece of cake.

Now, to finally check out the game itself.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's Zooming By

The month is zooming by and this is the first post for May? Geez.

I haven't played anything at all for the last few months. I have a big home remodeling project coming up which will push the play-less period out a little farther but it won't last forever. The first games in the queue are TechNoir and Dungeon World.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Castles Keeper Guide is Finally Here

When I discovered Castles & Crusades back in the neighborhood of 2007 I heard about the mystical Castle Keeper Guide. Intrigued, I placed an order for the C&C Player Handbook and Monsters & Treasure manual. While my books were en route I was hoping that the CKG would soon be available for purchase so as to round out the collection and so that I would have everything that I would need at my fingertips. After the books arrived and I had gotten some table time with them I realized that I didn't really need any more so-called core books. The game simply worked. And heck, I already had a shelf of older material with which I could plug any holes, both real and perceived. I don't have any personal insight but I'm suspecting that this played a big part in why it took as long as it did to get the CKG put together. It couldn't be yet another GM guide.

As the years reeled by the CKG percolated in the background. Questions were asked and were answered but it seemed like it was just back there bubbling. My personal opinion was that if the book came out then I'd check it out. The problem was that if you didn't visit their forums you wouldn't have a clue. But then the Trolls did something brilliant.

The Troll Lord guys jumped on social media where they opened up their doings and goings-ons on YouTube and Twitter. As a player and a fan I really liked that I could see the state of the project. I really appreciated that the Trolls had to juggle and re-prioritize projects to meet the needs of business reality. I can certainly relate. Their social media engagement kept me, well, engaged. Over the last year we watched their trials, triumphs, and tribulations. I respect them for that.

Now I'm waiting for my CKG to show up.