Tuesday, August 22, 2017

RPGaDay 2017 - The Whole Month

Day 1: What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?
Star Wars: Force & Destiny. I love, love, love that game. It captures the Force (not just the Jedi) perfectly and does it with a great rules set. I adore running it, but never get to be a player. Maybe some day.

Day 2: What is an RPG you would like to see published?
An RPG based on Neil Gaiman's novel/mini-series Neverwhere. It's a fantastic piece of open-ended urban fantasy that's just ripe for a role-playing game.

Day 3: How do you find out about new RPGs?
Like everyone else these days: The Internet! It's nice to get an occassional surprise, though that's rarer and rarer these days. The wierdest thing is when you find out about a new product because you're writing for it, but can't say anything - often for a year or more! - do to Non-Disclosure Agreements.

Day 4: What RPG have you played the most since August 2016?
Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars. I ran a long term campaign of it for over a year and it was an absolute thrill-ride. The group fell apart do to out-of-game issues, but it was a total blast when everyone was firing on all cylinders.

Day 5: What RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?
The original West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game. That 1987 cover had Luke, Han, and Leia leaping off the page with their blasters blazing and ready to save the galaxy. I never truly WANTED to be a gamer until I saw that cover.

Day 6: You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do.
First of all, I wouldn't. That's asking for burn out. Two games a week, tops - assuming I'm running them both. Three if I get to play in at least one. I'd spend that extra gaming time writing or prepping for my campaigns. At one point I was gaming six days a week in my early twenties, but that was a mind scramble even then.

Day 7: What was your most impactful RPG session?
That would be the session where I was playing in a Rifts game and another player said something specifically with the intent of hurting my feelings and embarrassing me in front of everyone else at the table - including my girlfriend at the time. I told him "Fuck you," and he proceeded to leap across the table and scoop me up in a choke hold before attempting to snap my neck. When I finally got loose, he then came after me with a butcher knife and I felt the house. Everyone at the table blamed me because "that's just how he is" and my girlfriend actually left me over the incident. Needless to say, that stuck with me and it took a long time before I was willing to play Rifts again.

Day 8: What is a good RPG to play for sessions of two hours or less?
Swords & Wizardry Light. The entire rules system fits on two double-sided pages and you can make a character in less than five minutes. You make your hero and jump right in with both feet. It's so quick and dirty that it ought to be a crime.

Day 9: What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?
Star Wars, either the FFG or WEG incarnation. You can have a fantastic story arc over that span of time and the characters really reach a comfortable level of power and proficiency. After ten sessions it really feels like you've told a "trilogy" of movies.

Day 10: Where do you go for RPG Reviews?
I usually follow word-of-mouth over on Google+ and see what folks are buzzing about. I tend to have similar tastes to many of my friends in the OSR, though with some deviation. From their opinions, I can usually get a sense of whether or not I'm going to like a game.

Day 11: What 'dead game' would you like to see reborn?
I got my wish answered recently. The original Star Wars RPG by West End Games. Fortunately, it's about to be unfrozen from carbonite, as Fantasy Flight Games is releasing a 30th Anniversary 2-book set of the core book and Star Wars Sourcebook. I can't wait. Quixotic Jedi, ho!

Day 12: Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?
In spite of my bad table experiences with it, I always thought the Rifts books had some fantastic black and white line art that really capture the gonzo sci-fi "that's so cool!" pulp nature of the setting. It made me want to BE what I saw in those pictures.

Day 13: Describe a game experience that changed how you played.
I could reference Day 7, but that feels like cheating. Years ago, when I was a teenager, I was in a game where my character was killed by other members of the party because he was under a charm spell and they (being self-serving thieves) left him to die because of the spell's effects. It was very appropriate for the session and the campaign and even though my character died, I didn't feel like I'd "lost." It taught me that character death can be a good and fitting thing in a campaign if handled appropriately.

Day 14: What RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?
White Box Fantasy Medieval Adventure Game. This is an repackaging and updated presentation of Swords & Wizardry White Box. It's light rules and reasonable character progression rate makes it a very "drop in/drop out" game, which is important to me in these busy times where I sometimes go weeks, or even months, without rolling them bones.

Day 15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?
This is an easy one. Swords & Wizardry White Box. It's strong and familiar foundation have allowed me to build some fantastic material onto it without getting lost in endless rules glut. I just love it for its core utilitarianism.

Day 16: Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?
There are a handful, both on opposite ends of the spectrum. White Box Fantasitc Medieval Adventure Game and Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars both are almost instinctive to me and I can run them without little-to-no rules changes. Same for Star Wars d6 and most classic World of Darkness games (Vampire: The Masquerade, Changeling: The Dreaming, etc).

Day 17: Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played.
West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game. Owned it in some incarnation since 1987 and haven't gotten to play (not GM) since 1997. Far, far too long.

Day 18: What RPG have you played the most in your life?
This is a softball question for most, and I'm no different. Like everyone else, the foundation of my gaming is found in one version of Dungeons and Dragons or another. It's simply the game that most people default to, often because it was their introduction to the hobby.

Day 19: Which RPG features the best writing?
Is it self-serving to say The One Ring? Well, that's my claim. The One Ring captures to near-perfection the nuances and subtleties of Tolkien's Middle-earth while still leaving plenty of breathing room for new advventures and original characters. I can open any book in the line and turn to any page and find something fascinating.

Day 20: What's the best source for out-of-print RPGs?
If you're talking digital, OBS is king. That's DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. As far as physical, I've found a lot of luck on the Google+ Goblin Emporium community where old gamers buy, sell, and trade games all over the place. Noble Knight isn't bad either, but their pricing is really swingy.

Day 21: What RPG does the most with the least words?
Swords & Wizardry Light. A complete game in 4 pages. Three races. Four classes. Gear. A solid bestiary. Combat and adventuring rules. It's built for speed, not for looks - but its damn fine at its job.

Day 22: Which RPGs are easiest for you to run?
White Box (either Swords & Wizardry or FMAG), d6 Star Wars or FFG Star Wars, or The One Ring. I know the White Box rules set like the back of my hand, and am immersed in the setting material of the other two. I'm proud to say that in the case of all of those listed, I often don't need to prep and when it comes to campaigns, I develop a vague outline and just jump in from there.

Day 23: Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?
I'd have to say Dungeon Crawl Classics. The art in that book is just splattered all over the place and captures the feel of the game perfectly, but it never feels obtrusive or unnecessary. The text is clean and easy to read, so between the two it's both beautiful to look at and easy to use at the table.

Day 24: Share a PYWY publisher who should be charging more.
That dumbass at Barrel Rider Games should stop listing his White Star and White Star Companion at PWYW. I mean he's even got the prints marked at that price. Total business noob who's throwing money out the window.

Day 25: What's the best way to thank your GM?
Invest in the game. I don't mean buy books, dice, or snacks. Take the time to learn the basics of the system, actively create ways for your character to be involved in the storyline presented, pay attention at the table (and put the damn cellphone away!). GMs work really hard to get the game set up for you and do a lot of work to make sure you have a good time. Show them you appreciate it by investing in material presented.

Day 26: Which RPG provides the most useful resources?
Depends what you define as a resource? For me it's utility at the table and material that's easily applied to a campaign. For that I'd have to say Star Wars d6 hit it out of the park with two of their products: The Gamemaster Guide (2nd edition) and Galaxy Guide 9: Fragments from the Rim. The Game Master Guide is the single best "how to GM Star Wars" book I've ever read, and its material is really applicable to any pulp-style game. Very few rules, but lots of golden advice. Fragments, on the other hand, was filled with ten thousand tidbits that could be used to launch campaigns, add depth to the setting, or introduce engaging NPCs. I used that book until the cover fell off.

Day 27: What are your essential tools for good gaming?
Other than the obvious books, dice, pencils, and players I'd have to say an actual table to play at. Not a coffee table or TV trays: a table. It keeps everyone's focus in the same place and creates the implicit sense that everyone is gathered together as a group and for a group activity.

Day 28: What film/series is the biggest source of quotes for your group?
Wow? Just one? Probably Star Wars, simply because we play it most often and everyone's seen it a thousand times. There's never a bad time to "Have a bad feeling about this."

Day 29: What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed.
Easy. John Wick Presents' 7th Sea Second Edition Kickstarter. Absolute transparency, regular updates, and early delivery of product. 100% top notch and professional.

Day 30: What RPG genre-mashup would you like to see most?
Though I never read it, I always liked the idea of Gothic Cyberpunk. GURPS CthulhuTech and an old CP2020/Vampire: The Masquerade crossover article from White Wolf magazine both really seemed like a lot of fun. But, you don't see sci-fi done quite like that every often. It's not "horror sci-fi," not really.

Day 31: What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?
Maybe I'll get to be a player in an on-going campaign? Maybe even a Star Wars campaign? Or The One Ring? Yeah, pipe dreams I know...


  1. James, just curious, do you prefer White Box: FMAG over your own The Hero's Journey? I really like THJ, what is it about White Box FMAG that you prefer over it?


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