Friday, September 29, 2017

Review follow-ups: Blades in the Dark (the back half) and Life and Death, Zarth Edition (for the Crypts and Things system)

I've been trying to make a dent in my backlog of quality RPG content without purchasing more.  So far, it's an exercise in willpower, but the alternative is the pathetic existence of a digital hoarder.  My role-playing backlog is the equivalent of a crawlspace full of unread issues of National Geographic.  It's nowhere near as messy, but I have nothing to show for it.

He probably actually read these

Anyway, I just caught up on two interesting projects that, for different reasons, return me to past reviews.  I recently completed my entire read-through of John Harper's Blades in the Dark; when I wrote my pre-review, I had only completed a read-through of the mechanics.  

I still haven't played the damn thing, but who knows when that will happen?  I want to review the rest of the text while we're still alive.

As for Life and Death, Zarth Edition, which is a recent conversion of one of the author's (Newt Newport) older adventures to his most recent rule-set i.e. Crypts and Things. I previously reviewed C&T very favorably, and this new adventure is worthy of the system.

First up: Blades in the Dark, part II:

Monday, September 25, 2017

Concepts in game mechanics

Any serious GM is always going to have a few ideas about gaming stewing at once, and inevitably some of the ideas will relate to game mechanics.  So let's talk about a few of those.

Super-simple die systems

I'm always obsessed with the idea of simple mechanics.  When I can identify some mechanics that reduce complexity without sacrificing simulation, I'm happy.  I'm also trying to find ways to make the hobby more accessible.  One way that role-playing games can be a huge turnoff to a lot people is the complexity factor.

Rolling the old D2

Reading Blades in the Dark (see my pre-review) has helped me figure out some of the final details on a super-simple die mechanic. The idea is that it boils down to a single D6 roll.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pre-review: Blades in the Dark

It's time for another one of my half-cocked opinionspre-reviews, and the subject of this one is that fresh-faced new hepcat, Blades in the Dark.  It was written by a fine fellow named John Harper and published by...a company?  It's hard to tell, because DriveThruRPG swears this was published by One Seven, while you can find the damn thing on the Evil Hat website (and not the One Seven site). The PDF sez it's an "Evil Hat Publication" but it is "In association with One Seven."  Well, it should know who made it.  Guess that clears it up.

Not a very subtle assassin, gotta say

Anyway, I'm supposed to hate this sort of thing, because I've declared myself an OSR nerd and this game is wading far into the storygame side of the pool.  You have players narrating flashbacks!  But as I'm sure my longtime readers know, I cleave to no orthodoxy, so instead I find myself quietly intrigued.  Well, not that quietly...after all, I wrote this.

Oh, what is Blades in the Dark, anyway?  It's a role-playing game where the players are members of a gang of ne'er-do-wells in a Steampunk world with gritty low magic.  You know, Dunwall from Dishonored.  This is Dishonored: The RPG in all but name.  I mean, the name of this city is Duskwall.  That's the opposite of trying to hide your influences.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A new DCC class: The Murderhobo

The idea behind this class is to take an obnoxious concept - a backstabbing jack-of-all-trades powergamer - and make it something fun and balanced. Functionally, the murderhobo is a bit of a twist on a magician/thief dual-class. From the thief, he only has stealth and backstabbing, and from the magician, he only has a small stock of first-level spells.  On the surface, this sounds pretty lousy.

Especially arson...there's always arson...

However, there are a few twists that I get a kick out of.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Empress session report - My Beautiful Sociopaths

I am, of course, referring to my players, the crew that refers to themselves as the "Murderhobros."  But before we catch up with them, I just want to let you know that you're in for a special edition of "What Did I Learn?"  Today I'm going to go big and list my Principles of Gamemastering.  This is eternally a work-in-progress, which is how it should be for us all.  Life lessons, people!

So anyway, where did we last leave our winsome charmers?

All credit to Gus L. - check out his awesome blog, Dungeon of Signs

Ah yes...they had just received a massive text dump of plot hooks, courtesy of the GM with two thumbs (i.e. "This guy!").  And they were very curious about the effects of their sabotage on the Pie Cult.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

More mini-reviews! The Pirates of Drinax, A Field Guide To Hot Springs Island and Enter The Dagon

It's been a while, hasn't it?  Of course, I'm keeping busy.  I haven't had much actual gaming lately, but (correction: I wrote that part of the sentence before Gen Con, so it is no longer true) there's been plenty of writing.  And as the title of this post suggests, I keep up a steady diet of OSR reading.

Well, is definitely arguable whether or not Traveller is considered proper OSR, and some people even argue against DCC's inclusion.  Oh well!  Who fucking cares?

OSR puts some lovely ideas out there, but I get the feeling that the movement is slowly losing steam.  I see fewer new adventures and blog posts as time goes by.  If I use forums as a guide, I'd say the peak of OSR interest was probably around 2012-2013, and I got on this train a little late.  Not that I'm particularly dissuaded, but it's sort of disappointing to hear the air hissing out of the tire.

Maybe it doesn't really matter.  OSR has contributed something extremely valuable to tabletop role-playing, and even if the "true" OSR community is waning, you can see its influence ripple outwards.  The reprint of so many old titles and properties, as well as games like DCC that take a step forwards while being mindful of their roots...and the elephant in the room, 5e itself.  Anyone who bothers to look can see OSR fully embedded in D&D 5e's DNA.

OSR is all about pillaging lost treasures of the past

I got off-topic!  Let's talk about cool games!

Gen Con 2017 - Judging for DCC

As I mentioned a-ways back, I signed up for Goodman Games' offer to Judge (GM) four Dungeon Crawl Classics sessions at Gen Con 2017 in return for hotel and convention passes.  I just got back a few days ago, and this post isn't going to cover it all.  To do that, I have to put together a bunch more media resources.  In fact, I really have to first get back to some of the people that I met at the convention.

Saw the cards, didn't see the Quinns...too bad, since I'm a fan

Summary: A great experience!