Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Review: Mutant Crawl Classics Role-Playing Game

Anyone who regularly (or periodically) visits this blog knows that I'm a big fan of DCC.  I've reviewed DCC materials in this blog, not to mention the fact that I went to Gen Con last year to GM a bunch of DCC sessions (and I'm slated to do it again this year).  

So you'd expect me to be the ideal customer for Mutant Crawl Classics, Goodman Games recent RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world.  Heck, I Kickstarted it last year, pledging enough for a hardcover rulebook plus a print block of the first eight adventures/supplements.  So I'm all in, right?

Fun in the PA

Well, I've got some bad news for you.  Cutting to the chase: I'm not very happy with MCC.  It's not unsalvageable, but if you expect MCC to be the ode to role-playing perfection that is DCC, then you will be woefully disappointed.

What is this?  Say it ain't so!  Sorry, folks, it's so.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Well hello there

Been a while, huh?

It's not that I haven't been active on the RPG front.  Far from it.  Very far from it, in fact.  It's just that I haven't been able to get off my ass to write about it.  After all, it typically involves a lot of writing in the first place.

So why don't I just run through stuff on my RPG radar?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Sandbox and the Railroad - then and now

Been a while, huh? Well, that's life in the OSR blogosphere! It's been a pretty happy holidays here at chéz A&R...no gaming loot for x-mas or my birthday, but that's OK.  I'm a big boy now, and I buy my own games. I'm already pretty gamed-up here.

Anyway, I picked up a mess of interesting games recently.  Too many to read, much less catalog in a single post. And that also includes a sprinkling of Steam games (you may have heard about the winter sale, no?).

Apparently, I haven't played all the games...

And from that material I draw the topic of this post i.e. comparing sandbox/railroad concepts between then and now. Specifically, I'd like to compare two very different games: Shadows Over Bögenhafen, the classic Warhammer Fantasy adventure, and The Escapists 2, a recent videogame.

Weird comparison, huh?

Thursday, December 14, 2017


So I took part in an interesting thread on the DCC G+ group today.  It's one of those perennial OSR discussions about "race-as-class," which is all fine and dandy, but Von Ether half-jokingly raised the idea of "human-as-class"...and that gave me a bunch of ideas.

Basically, humans tend to be the individualistic and practical explorers in a lot of sci-fi...you know, Space Americans. Other races are assigned these far more specialized and homogenized cultures that represent only small facets of our lifestyle. I'm talking about lazy Star Trek tropes like the eternally-warlike Klingons and coldly rational Vulcans.

Watch out for Space Americans, man

The same is often true of various demi-human races in fantasy settings, to an extent.  So not only are these mythological entities scrubbed clean of mystery by allowing players to run them, but they are further constrained by unimaginative stereotypes.  Dwarves are grumpy, greedy, industrious and proud.  Elves are elegant and aloof, often advanced but in decline. These lazy cliches have had all the life stamped out of them since Tolkien.

But what if humans were the strange and threatening aliens who belong to a heavily-stereotyped culture?  I proposed two possibilities in the thread: humans-as-orcs and humans-as-elves.

Friday, November 17, 2017

My own private Anomaly

I've mentioned here before how I've adapted Patrick Wetmore's brilliant Anomalous Subsurface Environment for my house campaign.  Or rather, I'm mentioned that I've adapted it, if not how.  Which is mostly fair, since I didn't start out with any major changes besides the stats and mechanics.  After all, I had a rationale to explain that the party traveled to the Land of One-Thousand Towers from their homeworld, allowing the two settings to be almost entirely distinct.  In other words, there was no need to figure out how to integrate ASE into my home setting.

I dig the metal bard in the lower right corner wailing on his ax

Given that I've been moving to a somewhat more ad hoc approach to GMing (perhaps better described as just-in-time design i.e. desperate brainstorming the night before and not a moment earlier), it makes sense that I didn't bother to think about things in great detail.  I'm into a more organic approach to world building, although I'm careful to avoid the pitfalls of illusionism.  Suffice to say, my approach was to just start with straight-up ASE and let it evolve from there.

And evolve it has.  At this point, some of the heretofore unimagined backstory is starting to coalesce.  I now know a lot more about what makes this world tick.  I know why wizards are all insane, and why their magical tools don't work after they are killed.  I know what happened to the ancient civilization that discovered/created the ASE.  Heck, I even know what the ASE is.  

At least, now I know all these things in the context of my own campaign.  And I'd like to share it with you.  It all started to come together when I tried to imagine a reason that my players might venture forth from Denethix to visit a distant village by the name of Carrowmere...

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Playing with mechanics

I'm currently in the midst of collecting ideas for a third edition of my personal RPG heartbreaker, Empress.  I don't know if there's much point talking about editions or versions, because homebrew rulesets like these are always in constant motion.  However, it's still a good idea to formalize these into something like "releases," if only for the sanity of the players at my table.  "How does initiative work, this week?" can be a rather pointed question.

This mechanic is all good

Anyway, the ongoing process as well as the process of formalization has me thinking about mechanics.  So here are a few of those thoughts!

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: