Sunday, 4 November 2012

Shadowrun Diaries: A Runners First Test

My friends and I have begun our very first foray into the world of Shadowrun. Here I will document our triumphs and disasters....probably a lot of disasters.

Week Two - Baby Steps
We started this week off with finishing up character creation. There are still a few things that need to be worked out, but I'm giving the players a chance to try out their runners before they make any permanent commitments. None of us have any experience with Shadowrun so this will help prevent anyone from being locked into a character that doesn't work how they thought it would. 

Next the players began their first job. For this I am using the pre-made adventure 'On the Run' from the Runners Toolkit. The adventure it self seems pretty good, especially for beginners, plus it gives a lot of GM advice. Though I feel like it suffers the same problem that I have with the main SR4 20th anniversary rule book; the layout is terrible. Information is all over the place, telling you stuff that you wont need for a few pages then backtracking on its self. Nevertheless it does provide me with everything I need to run the game.

So first of all I'll introduce the characters a bit better.

First of all we have Takamoto Kimiko or 'Miko' a 50 year old human Japanese Rigger. She came to Seattle from Japan in search of a better life but has found her self a squatter and a criminal, but as least she is free to do as she pleases. Miko spends her days fixing vehicles and machinery for a mechanic friend. She is also a pacifist, only resorting to violence when all other options have been attempted, this may cause some tension in the group but we will see how it plays out. 

Next we have the young Dwarf Hacker.... Simon, or as he prefers 'Neuro'. He has gone for a bit of a jack-of-all-trades character really, he may be good at hacking but he has also picked up some social skills, to fill in the 'Face' role when required. After all someone is needed to speak for the group. Neuro is also semi-capable with small guns so isn't totally useless in a fight.

Finally there is Viselliev (I have definitely spelt this wrong) formally Jurngen, a Troll Brawler from Russia. He works as a bouncer for a low level club and is an expert in smashing heads together, loving nothing more than being in the thick of a fight. He is a little dimwitted and prefers to let others make the decisions, hanging back until he is needed, plus he has a really bad fashion sense. 

So that's the group. I'm a little worried about what will happen if they find themselves in a desperate situation, but as far as I can tell, in Shadowrun it's best to avoid fire fights so this may not be too much of a problem if they play smart. 

The game began with Miko receiving a call from her Fixer with a job. She was directed to meet Mr Johnson at the Infinity night Club at 9pm. Miko promptly gathered her fellow runners and they met outside the club. Miko and Neruo went in without a problem, but Viselliev (I must find out how he spelt this) wasn't so lucky. His poor fashion sense worked against him and the Bouncers wouldn't let him in, not sure what to do he decided to accost an innocent club goer in an ally next to the club and swap clothes, this certainly didn't help things considering the human clothes were a poor fit for his Troll physique. The guy ran off, but there still may be repercussions for this. So now dressed in overly tight leather displaying his entire midriff to the world Viselliev attempted to enter the club again. The bouncers very confused at what they were seeing, didn't know how to react and accepted a somewhat smaller bribe than they usually would and let the Troll in. 

Miko and Neuro, slightly scared at the sight of Viselliev tried to push forward with the mission at hand and promptly bribed the elf barmaid to take them to see Mr Johnson. Mr J explained that his employer had something of value stolen from him, an old-style optical disc and he wanted the runners to retrieve it. Neruo attempted to persuade Mr Johnson to up his 10,000¥ payment but failed, still the team was happy with the amount and left in order to begin their legwork.

Things slowed down a lot here, the players had a lot of discussion and roleplay, which was great as it is something that didn't happen much when we played DnD. It will be a lot better though when we don't have to check the rule book every time someone wants to do something but that will come with practice. 
Through contacts and data searches they managed to discover that there was a good chance this stolen disc holds some lost tracks from legendary rocker JetBlack and that many big personalities in the music business received a fairly vague email offering a disc with something very special on it for sale, including the very popular Goblinrocker Nabo, who they discovered is playing a gig in an old warehouse in two days. Unfortunately it took them a very long time to bite this hook and kept trying to find more information from other sources which led to Viselliev not having a whole lot to do. I kept mentioning the Nabo gig and eventually they decided to attempt to access his comlink to retrieve the email while he is on stage. 

The game ended with Visselliev and Neuro going to check out the warehouse where the Nabo gig is being held. We had to finish there as we ran out of time. Next week we should be able to get through a fair bit more now that everyone has a better idea of what to do.

So will they manage to sneak into the gig? can they find who is selling the disc? does it contain what they think it does? Find out next time.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Shadowrun Diaries - So it Begins

My friends and I have begun our very first foray into the world of Shadowrun. Here I will document our triumphs and disasters....probably a lot of disasters.

Want more Shadowrun? Check out my Beginners Hacking Guide!

Week One - Character Creation
None of us have played Shadowrun before and with only myself owning the books we were some what in over our heads from the beginning. Though the character creation process is relatively straight forward and we managed to get through most of it.

The book itself seems to be a bit all over the place with rules, leaving us a little unsure on what exactly to do. But with a little searching we managed to figure most of it out.

As far as characters go, we have three of them. A currently nameless Dwarf Technomancer, A Troll brawler type by the name of Jurgen and a human engineer sort called Takamoto Kimiko who is an a pretty frail old women.
They each have some contacts that I'm going flesh out over the next week for use in the campaign, after we finish buying gear and applying the finishing touches to the PC's themselves.

I'm a little worried about the party make up but not having played the game before I have no idea how this will play out. With any luck they will turn out to be an awesome team, otherwise, killing players can be fun too.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Geek & Sundry guys mention Leaping Wizards

The guys over at Geek & Sundry collect together mentions from the around the internet and a few days ago they were kind enough to mention Leaping Wizards and my little fan boy rant about Wil Weatons show TableTop, which you can read here.

The community round up is here for anyone who wants to see other articles written by North Star Games and The Outhousers.

Oh also...THIS:

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Wil Wheaton's TableTop

Back in April the lovely Felicia Day started a Youtube channel and website called Geek and Sundry, it features a few shows including Day's vlog, named The Flog where she talks about her favorite things of the week, does some random and usually awesome activity and answers a fan question. Though most importantly it is the home of Wil Wheaton's TableTop which is by far the most entertaining thing I have watched on the internet since I realised Netflix had Firefly.

TableTop is a show where Wil Wheaton gets his friends and other awesome people together around the gaming table to play some of the best games around. I have already bought Settlers of Catan and Fiasco because of the show, which may reveal more about my impulse control than the show itself but nevertheless it is awesome.

Oh look I mentioned Fiasco! TableTop's three part episode of this game was amazing, just watching Will Wheaton, Alison Haislip, Bonnie Burton and John Rogers play this game was a truly enjoyable experience and I cannot wait to play it for myself.

For those of you wondering, Fiasco is described as a:

GM-less game for 3-5 players, designed to be played in a few hours with six-sided dice and no preparation. During a game you will engineer and play out stupid, disastrous situations, usually at the intersection of greed, fear, and lust. It's like making your own Coen brothers movie, in about the same amount of time it'd take to watch one.
 So please go HERE and watch TableTop and bask in all its glory. The show is truly a hero to the GMless crowd and does a great job of highlighting some great games that many may not have heard of.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Quest - Make Your Own Game

Quest is a tool created by a clearly awesome dude by the name of Alex Warren, that allows you to create your own text based adventures and even turn that game into an app. It simplifies all the coding involved,  into an interface that anyone can use. Best of all, its completely free.

I'm sure many people reading this have wanted to create a game at some point, most of you probably do every week at the gaming table but putting that game in an interactive format for random people to play, that takes a lot of fairly specific knowledge, well not any more. Quest is a tool that you can download or use right in your browser.

When beginning to create a game you are given two options, to either make a  'Text Adventure' or a 'Game Book'. A text adventure is similar to a MUD, you are given a description and you type in commands, such as, "I look at sword". The game book option is of course like a game book such as the Fighting Fantasy series.

The software makes creating your game unbelievably simple, walking you through every step so that there is no need to know how to code at all. But for those of us who like to get our hands dirty a code view is also available. You can also add sounds and images to make your game completely unique.

Another amazing feature is that you can turn your game into an iOS and Android app with very little effort and even sell it on the app store and google play, or give it away for free.

Although certainly not the only way to make your own text based game, Quest is a very powerful tool and bridges a gap for a lot of people, hopefully helping out a lot of budding game makers.

Visit to download Quest and check out the wealth of documentation and games available  all for free.

P.S. I was made aware of this by someone on twitter this morning, but I was mostly asleep at the time and have no idea who that was. So if in the unlikely event you happen to be reading this THANKYOU fellow game book enthusiast.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Podcast: Fighting Fantasy's Clash of Princes

On Saturday I sat down with my good friend Scott Malthouse from Trollish Delver to record our play through of the Fighting Fantasy book 'Clash of Princes'. This was a pretty special play through though, this book(s) is a two player adventure. It works really well and we had a blast, despite it being an abysmal disaster. Also we made it a drinking game, the rules were simple:
1. Drink if you loose stamina
2. Drink if you fail a roll
3. Drink when Status or Action changes (unique to these books I believe)
4. Down your drink if you die.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Shadowrun Online : Everything you need to know

"Shadowrun Online - is a cross-platform, online PC, Mac, Linux(see FAQ), iOS/iPad, Android Tablet and Ouya based tactical turn-based RPG set in the award winning world of Shadowrun. Create one account and play your game across multiple devices in whatever way you prefer!"
The aim of this article is to provide one neat and shiny place for all the information about Shadowrun Online. I will be updating this as often as I can, but I am just one guy, admittedly a kick ass guy but nevertheless just one guy so a few things may slip through my net so please feel free to point me in the direction of any new information in the comments at the bottom of this page.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Numenera - Monte Cooks New Project

If you are reading this and don't know who Monte Cook is then you must be some evil hellspawn (and even then you don't really have an excuse). Either that or your just new to the hobby, either way all you need to know is that he designs games, and he is awesome.

After leaving the D&D Next R&D group Monte started work on his latest project Numenera a Si-Fi - Fantasy RPG with a heavy focus on the story.

Monte has gone to Kickstarter to fun the project and before the first day was up he had already made double of the original goal of $20,000 and he has already released what he will do with the game when higher goals are met.

The game is described as,

"Numenera is set a billion years in the future. Civilizations have risen and fallen on Earth. Even though the current inhabitants live at about a Medieval level of technology, the leftover remnants of these advanced societies lie all around them. Some of these are extremely helpful: advanced tools, valuable means of communication and learning, transportation, defenses, and weapons. Others are dangerous: genetically altered monstrosities, flesh-warping radiation, creatures transplanted from distant stars, and clouds of out-of-control nanobots, just to name a few. This setting, called the Ninth World, provides all manner of opportunities and challenges to those that call it home."

There isn't much information about the game yet, but it's setting and promise of story driven gameplay has already got me excited about this. I will be pledging my money to it as soon as I get paid. $60 dollers will get you a hard backed full colour printed version of the corebook, plus PDF's of the Player's Guide and corebook and a character creator app, easilly worth the money in my opinion.

Or if you have a lot of money to throw around how about dropping $10,000 to have Monte Cook himself fly to your house and run a game for you.

I will be keeping up-to-date with this project and will be covering how it progesses. So far it certainly looks promising.

**UPDATE 11/08/2012**
Today Numenera achieved its first reach goal at $60,000. That's three times the original goal. Needless to say people are very excited about this game. With this goal reached Monte has said that the book will be extended from 300 to 400 pages, adding new setting material. Here is the full description:

"At $60,000, I will expand the main rulebook. I had been thinking about 300 pages, but we'll make it 400 pages. This means considerably more setting material, creatures, NPCs, and, of course, more gorgeous art.REACHED!"
**UPDATE 12/08/2012**
Funding is still going strong with another $10,000 gained and another goal reached. This time around Monte has promised to write a 32-page illustrated adventure that will be available as a PDF and print on demand. Here is the full description:
"At $70,000, I will personally write a 32-page adventure for Numenera. This will be released as a PDF and print-on-demand book, softcover, with art and maps--the whole shebang. I'll add the pdf in for free to anyone who gets THE REAL DEAL and the print adventure at all levels $180 and above."
Hopefully the funding will keep on coming and Monte and his team can come up with something truly special for us all.

**UPDATE 14/08/2012**
In just two days Numenera has gained another $20,000. Meaning another two stretch goals have been reached. Meaning Monte will be completing his trilogy of adventures to be released along side Numenera. Below are the descriptions:
"At $80,000, I'll write another 32-page adventure and distribute them into the existing reward levels as described above. REACHED!"
"At $90,000, I'll complete the trilogy of adventures and do the same. Just to be clear, this means that everyone ALREADY getting the THE REAL DEAL will get a 96 pages of adventure for no extra charge. The same is true for people selecting THE ULTIMATE EBOOK FAN level. Those contributing $180 or more will get them as print adventures.  REACHED!"
There are only two more stretch goals to go now, but with over a month left more may be needed if the this enthusiasm keeps up. 

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Shadowrun Online - Will it happen?

Some of you may have heard of a little game called Shadowrun. If not, you are truly missing out. It mixes Fantasy with Sci-Fi with amazing results. A popular pen and paper RPG for over 20 years, it has had a few forays into the realm of video games with mixed results. Recently Jordan Weisman, credited as one of the creators of Shadowrun way back in 1989 started a project on Kickstarter called, 'Shadowrun Returns' and it was a huge success, getting over 4 times it's original goal. Following this success Weiseman is trying Kickstarter again. This time to fund 'Shadowrun Online'.

If you are a fan of Shadowrun chances are you have already heard of this project and hopefully you are excited about it. Excited enough to pledge some money. The game is described as

"a cross-platform, online PC, Mac, Linux(see FAQ), iOS/iPad, Android Tablet and Ouya based game, with deep, rich story, sleuthing intel called "legwork", tactical single playerco-op, and player vs. player role-playing action, plus large in-game community hubs, all set in the unique and persistent world of Shadowrun."

It will feature a free-to-play, no money upfront game using micro-transactions and a premium subscription service, plus an optional one off payment for access to a 'Campaign Server' where all in-game items are free and no extra costs. 

It certain seems like they are trying to cater for everyone here. Personally I think this is a great idea, free-to-play seems to be the way to go today if you want to reach a wide audience, but there is a lot of stigma surrounding this pricing model and free-to-play micro-transaction ridden games can often be ignored by gamers. So offering a more tradional option as well is a great move.

You can check out the prototype footage for the game below.

Well I've got to say, this game looks pretty awesome. In fact I'm so excited about it I actually pledged money on Kickstarter for the very first time to help get this project made. The problem is though, it only has (at the time of writing this) 10 days to go and it hasn't reached the half way point yet. As each day goes by it is looking more and more likely that Shadowrun Online won't be funded. This of course doesn't mean the game will never be made, they have clearly made a good start on it already. But it will certainly delay the project for a good while. If your love Shadowrun or just want to play a new, interesting game set in a rich setting then consider pledging some money. I would happily thank every single pledge if the game is funded and that isn't enough for you, how about some cake?

Find out everything about Shadowrun Online right here.

Check out my review of the Shadowrun: Runners Toolkit

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Shadowrun: Runners Toolkit Review

Image from DeviantART
So for those of you who don't know, Shadowrun is a game set in a dystopian future where mega corporations run the world and physical and mental enhancements are just part of life. Oh and magic and Elves and Dwarves and frigging Dragons! are running around, and this is totally normal.

Now I've been wanting to play Shadowrun for a while, and figured I better start planning my campaign, in preparation of this I bought myself the Shadowrun: Runner's Toolkit. It turns out it is one hell of a collection of handy reference and game material.

The box includes:

  • A Landscape poster
  • A sticker saying "Shadowrun"
  • 5 books (more on that soon)
  • 4 double sided glossy maps
  • 6 double sided reference sheets
  • A GM screen

Contacts, Adventures, Sprawl Sites
Inside this book there is a very long list of contacts that the players may have each with possible uses for that contact, places you could meet them, similar contacts and a detailed description of how and why a player may develop that particular contact.
It also includes over a dozen adventure frameworks, these layout the background to many different kinds of adventures, it gives you NPC's, their motivations, how much they are willing to pay, pretty much all the details you would need to know to quickly run an adventure. Plus it has a bunch of tables for rolling up random runs.
It also has details on several sprawl sites, these are locations which can be used for lots of different reasons, these sprawl sites also match to the maps that are provided which makes the information even more useful.

This is the Pre-generated Auxiliary Character Kit System (PACKS), it offers an alternative to the character creation system in Shadowrun. It simplifies character creation into an 8 step process, where the player selects different kits, each of which have 'build points', you simply add these build points up to a certain number and ta da! with a good concept in mind you have made a character pretty quickly. I really like this, it saves from having to pour over pages of skills, metatypes, spells, adepts etc. Of course some people like this and they can of course still use the traditional process but I for one think character creation should be quick, the tinkering can come later.

Compiled Tables
This is a simple one, it's 48 pages filled with tables for pretty much anything you could ever need. It lists weapons, clothing, security devices, biotech, chemtech, vehicles, spells and even how long different types of forgery takes. This information is of course available in other sources but having it all in one handy book for quick reference is great.

Anatomy of a Shadowrun
This is an interesting one, a step-by-step walkthrough of a Shadowrun and I mean a literal step-by-step. It goes through everything the players and game master do, plus all the fiction behind it. This is something I have seen attempted before but never this well. It goes into every detail, explaining exactly what is happening and gives advice. This is perfect for new players, giving them brilliant insight into how Shadowrun is played.

On the Run
What kind of beginner box would be complete without an introductory adventure? Well the Runner's Tool Kit isn't about to disappoint us now. On the Run is a pretty exciting run written to help the Game Master at every step. It gives advice and references relevant pages in the main rule book. It's structured in an easy way to follow and gives you all the information needed to run it. My only problem with it is that there is maybe a little too much information, it is a lot to read and even reading through it all before hand, remembering everything would be very difficult, but if you were to split it up into a few sessions that would become much easier.

Reference Sheets
These are awesome.

I suppose I should probably say a bit more. There are 6 double sided reference sheets of very high quality, they are made of a sort of glossy cardboard, very difficult to rip or tear or even fold. One sheet goes through the steps of character creation, another explains how melee combat works, another explains autonomous drone combat. They reduce what are fairly complicated actions in to simple step-by-step guides.

Game Master Screen
The box also includes a GM screen, its fairly standard, 4 panels providing quick reference to some of the most commonly used rules in the game. Its very good quality, just like everything else in the box. Though it is folded weirdly meaning the center folds inwards when opened, with a bit of use this will most likely become less of an issue, but it is a pretty big design flaw.

Overall this is most certainly worth the money I paid for it. It will be a great help in running a game of Shadowrun. If you haven't played a game of Shadowrun before, then I highly recommend this. Hell, even if you have been playing for years, the information in this little box is well worth it.

Friday, 15 June 2012

De Profundis RPG

De Profundis is described as a psychodrama using H.P. Lovecrafts Cthulhu (who knew this was in bloggers dictionary) mythos. It certainly isn't like a normal RPG with dice and a game master. In fact in order to play the game the players must spend most of the play time away from each other. The game seems to mix fiction writing, LARP and online RP'ing like MUSH's all together into one horrifying -but awesome- game.

The idea is each player creates a character in the established world, it recommends the 1920's (for obvious reasons) or modern day. You keep close to how the world really is (was) but put a Lovecraft twist on it. The players correspond via letters and collectively tell the story of their decent into madness.

A few friends and I have just recently started a game of De Profundis and even though it has literally just started I've already been giddy with excitement. I know that sounds ridiculous but there is something exciting about role playing in such a different way.

We went against some of recommendations in the 'rule book'. For example it says that players should try writing actual letters to each other, I guess it gives a sense of legitimacy. We opted to go the techno root and are using email. At first I was a little apprehensive about this as I kinda liked the idea of writing letters, I never get letters, but then we realized that we have the whole internet at our disposal.. Soon we will have completely in-character blogs, twitter accounts (@NateCulture), we can link to online articles, share photos, videos, sound, pretty much anything we want and that seems much more awesome to me.

If you want to check it out for yourself you can get it right here. And you definitely should!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

D&D Next playtest Impressions

On Saturday I sat down with my group and began playing through the adventure that was supplied with the play test materials. After about 5 hours we all have a pretty good impression of the rules and are still excited to play some more. Here are my first impressions of the new Dungeons and Dragons.

The first hour or so was simply roleplay as the players got their quest and tooled themselves up for the adventure ahead. This all went down really well, the lack of a complete skills list was a little alien at first, meaning we simply used the appropriate attribute to modify a check. There were only a few disputes over which attribute should be used and generally it played smoother than having a full skills list since the players were less inclined to constantly refer to their skills to determine what they could do.

For combat we choose to do away with the grid that we had become so accustomed to in 4E. This wasn't an entirely new concept as we had played Tunnels and Trolls many times before. Everyone seemed to enjoy the more imaginative combat, feeling it flowed more smoothly. It got a little hectic as large groups of monsters were introduced but we never got bogged down. combat was also much quicker than in 4E, something that we were all thankful for. In the 5 hours of play we had maybe 6 encounters plus a whole lot of roleplay, a big improvement over 4E.

The advantage and disadvantage system was liked by all. It is a much more elegant solution than having a bunch of +/-2's to keep track of. Though advantage seemed to happen a lot for both the players and the monsters with disadvantage being much less frequent. It wasn't much of a problem but its something I will address next time we play.

The reduction to each turn being movement and an action actually allowed the players more freedom to act. In 4E the restriction put on the players by the different type of actions didn't really allow for much outside the box thinking. You would just pick a power, move into position and use it. Now though, since 'action' is so vague it gives the players much more scope to do kickass things each round.

The PC's themselves were pretty awesome. We had the Wizard, the Rogue and the Battle Cleric, each of which definitely captured the essence of that class well. The biggest problem we came across was with the Wizard. The players were fighting a lot of Kobolds to begin with and his Magic Missle was auto killing them each round since its minimum damage was higher than the Kobolds HP and with its auto hit the Wizard was getting pretty bored since he wasn't rolling anything. Of course this changed once they fought things with higher HP and the cantrips were a very nice addition, allowing the Wizard to still act after he had used sleep and burning hands to great effect.

Everyone especially liked the introduction of Hit Dice. They worked much better than healing surges, we all agreed that limited healing made each battle much more intense. Which of course led to us having a problem with healing up fully after an extended rest, something that even Mike Mearls has apparently errata'd on Twitter.

Over all we had a great time and I will most likely have some more thoughts on the new edition this weekend after we play again.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Cabin in the Woods RPG

Whew, this blog started out pretty well, then I suddenly stopped posting! I know I know, shame on me. But I have been working A LOT. But in between all this working I did manage to make some time for fun. How did I spend this recreation time you ask? well I went to the cinema to see The Cabin in the Woods, and oh boy did I enjoy it. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I decided to adapt its awesomeness into RPG form. My goal is a simple game that doesn't require too much prep time. I will be using the Unbelievably Simple Role-playing (or USR for short) system made by Scott Malthouse of Trollish Delver which can be downloaded for free here!

First of all I will say that if you haven't seen The Cabin in the Woods (well, for shame..) then get the hell out of your house and go watch it. Right now. Its awesome.

For those of you who didn't listen to my command and still plan on seeing the movie then I implore you to wait until after you do before you read this post  - it will still be here, promise - as it will ruin the greatness of the movie, as it contains lots and lots and lots of spoilers. Right, now that we have that out of the way, lets dive right in.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

GM Tips - Story vs Mechanics

In recent years the obsession with better and better graphics in video games has hit a bit of a wall. The more prominent games have been the ones with in depth stories, like the Fallouts, Skyrim, Mass Effect and even the traditional shooters  attempt to have rich campaigns. It seems now a days a game needs that captivating story in order to succeed and in a lot of cases it takes precedent over other aspects of the game. This is even more important in  your table top games.

Many RPG systems out there have a lot of rules and GM's and players alike can find themselves bogged down and restricted. This however doesn't have to be the case. Lets take a quick look at D&D 4E for a moment. In each round of an encounter the players can each take a Standard Action, a Movement Action, a Minor action and some Free Actions. This works well for the tactical game play that 4E wanted but what if your players want to try something a little different one round?

Lets say, as a player I wanted to run up to a table, jump onto and leap off grabbing the chandelier on the ceiling swinging across the room and plant my heel into the bandits face near the door.

This would require a Move Action to get to the table, a Free Action to get onto the table, an acrobatics roll to swing on the chandelier which is a Standard Action and then some kind of attack which would be another Standard Action, not to mention by the rules this would probably be an unarmed melee attack, which is going to be less than useful.

So to do this pretty awesome thing I would either have to take two turns or use an action point all to achieve a payoff that within the rules would not be worth it at all. That isn't fun, so as a DM you should rectify this. Instead of having your players try and figure out how to fit out-of-the-box actions like that into the rules just have them describe what they want to do and then you can work it the best you can. For example, just have the player move to the table, make a acrobatics test and then let them use an attack which makes sense and don't worry about what the rules say.

This way the player will have a much better time and that is better for everyone. My point here is that just because the rules say one thing it doesn't mean you can't adapt them when it is needed. That is true when you are playing any game. My example was of just one action in a fight but whatever the situation is you shouldn't let the mechanics of the game get in the way of telling your story and having fun with it. Your playing a Role Playing Game after all, the Role Playing should take precedent with the rules working as guidelines to resolve situations that arise.   

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

4 Great RPG's for Beginners

When starting out in the hobby, deciding what game to play can be pretty daunting. More often than not you will probably settle on the game you have heard most about, which will most likely be Dungeons and Dragons. D&D is certainly not a bad game and the current edition is the most beginner friendly one yet, but there are many more games out there that can introduce new players much better. Here are four RPG's which are great at doing just that.

1. Pathfinder Beginners Box

Pathfinder was released back in 2009. Based on the Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition rules, It aimed to resolve many of the problems of its D&D counterpart and has certainly done a great job establishing itself as a major force in the RPG world. Recently Paizo released the Pathfinder Beginners Box and as the name suggests its intention is to help introduce new players to Role Playing Games. It does this by providing a streamlined version of the rules that offer a simpler and faster way to play, that some people argue should be the definitive rule set. The rule books explain how to play the game better than any other system I have read.

So if you're looking for a well established, highly supported yet still simple game to start with, this is probably the one for you.

Buy from Amazon

2. Tunnels and Trolls

Tunnels and Trolls was first published way back in 1975 as a more accessible alternative to Dungeons and Dragons. Though it never gained the same recognition as its competitor, that isn't to say it isn't still an awesome game. Currently in its 7th edition T&T is a great and simple game. Character creation takes minutes, combat is fluid and fast paced and there are few rules to get bogged down with. But probably the most important reason this game is so good for beginners is that it is fully capable of solo play. There is actually more community support for solo adventures than there are for Game Master adventures.

So if you really want to play an RPG but can't get a good group together yet, with Tunnels and Trolls you can still play!

Free Abridged 5th Edition rules from DriveThruRPG
7.5 Edition Expanded Boxset from DriveThruRPG

3. Savage Worlds

Savage Worlds was first released in 2003. It is a setting-less rules system, allowing you use the rules to play any game that you want. Though many settings have been released for it. It is known for speed of play and simplicity, which is great for new players. A little bit more investment may be needed in order to get the rules and a pre made setting but Savage Worlds definitely has the most room for expansion once you have gained some experience.

If you're looking for a fast paced game in a non-traditional setting then Savage Worlds may just be for you.

Buy from DriveThruRPG

4. Wrath of Ashardalon

Wrath of Arshardalon along with Castle Ravencroft and Legend of Drizzit and the recently released Lords of Waterdeep are Wizards of the Coasts attempts to turn Dungeons and Dragons into a board game and therefore making the game as a whole much more accessible. Some could see these board games as more diluting of the D&D franchise but personally I think they are a great idea. The rules are simple, using cards to indicate powers and magical weapons, each game box comes complete with rule books, dice and miniatures, everything needed to play not only the board game but the proper D&D game as well. So without even realising it players learn the basics of D&D mechanics and get a good taste of what an RPG is like.

If you are completely and totally new to RPG's and would prefer to learn to crawl before you walk then Wrath of Ashardalon or any of the other D&D board games are definitely the way to go.

Buy from Amazon

Hope this helps someone out there find their way into the daunting world of Role Playing Games. If you have any suggestions of other games that are great for beginners leave a comment below!

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter either! 

Role Playing Tips for Beginners

Everyday people are introduced to the awesome world of Role Playing Games (of the table top verity), many of these people will have played so called RPG video games, but these often require very little, if any actual role playing and it is easy for those people to play their character in a table top game the same way. There is help out there in the internet but it can be difficult to find, especially for people new to the hobby, so today I present you with 5 tips to get you started with Role Playing.

1. Not just a stat block

Your character isn't just a bunch of numbers and dice rolls, she has a personality and motivations. It can be easy (especially if you have little experience) to just concentrate on the mechanics, but this sort of defeats the purpose of the type of game your playing. In an RPG you have the chance to create a whole and completely new identity which you can assume when play starts.

Your character has a personality and motivations,  you should know what these are, if only on a small scale. I find it a good idea to write down about 3 personally traits and a motivation about my characters on the character sheet which I can keep referring back to, it helps me think just how my character would react in different situations. Of course you can take this much further, but just having a short and clear idea of how you're character acts is usually enough.
For Example:
  • Stubborn
  • Quickly Angered
  • Lazy
Seeking answers to her parents murder. A ornate dagger left at the murder scene is her only clue.

Not understanding your character can not only slow the game down but destroy the suspension of disbelief, pulling everyone out of character. So this is something you should be considering right after sorting out all your stats.        

2. You weren't born yesterday

When you create a new character you will almost certainly not be making a new born baby - unless you're playing a very strange and uneventful game of crying and poop - that means your character has had many years of experience before you took control of her.

These experiences shouldn't just be forgotten when she goes out adventuring, they should affect how she reacts to different situations. Maybe her parents were killed by Kobolds, so now whenever a chance arises to kill Kobolds she will drop everything else and go to slaughter. Maybe she still wants to avenge her parents murder and tries to get her adventuring group to help her find the very Kobolds that took her parents from her. The loss of her parents could have made her tough and headstrong and she finds weakness disgusting or maybe she now has a soft spot for sob stories and always wants to help people.

It's easy to come up with backgrounds for your characters, just think of your favourite characters from movies, comic books, video games and books for inspiration and you will soon have a rich back story.

3. NO NO I didn't meant that...

Stay in character! that needs repeating again Stay in character!
This often happens when someone doesn't have a clear idea of what their character is, they end up just acting as themselves all the time which can lead to a lot of meta gaming (covering that next) and distractions. It is a good idea to adopt a 'character voice' and a 'passive voice' in order to differentiate between when your character is speaking and when you are speaking. This doesn't mean you have to put on a silly voice, but you certainly can if you want. It just means that when in character you should have a way of speaking that is different than you.

Your character may speak very flamboyantly or in short, to the point sentences, whatever it is just make sure to be consistent with it. It can get very confusing if you're constantly talking in different ways. You should use your character voice whenever your character is speaking, or making an action, well pretty much anytime you're talking about anything in game. You should use your passive voice if you have a question for the GM which you can't ask in character (like a rules question) or your saying something not relevant to the game.

4. Guys...guys, I've read this, there's a secret passage here!

Meta gaming is out of character thinking being used to dictate your actions in game. Everyone does it, it is very difficult not to. After all, as players we will know more about the game than our in game counter parts do, just as they know things about the game world that we don't know. But just because it is easy to do and can often give you an advantage, doesn't mean it is a good thing.

When faced with a decision, stop and think what would my character think of this situation. For example, you and you're group have nearly defeated the big bad villain when he suddenly grabs a hostage and uses him as a shield. A Paladin, the protector of the weak would probably stop his attack and try to save the hostage but the more morally grey Rogue would be more likely to take the risk of killing the hostage in order to defeat the villain. Neither is the wrong decision, it is simply how that character would react. Just make sure to know you're character and be consistent. Meta gaming can be very destructive so do your best to lose yourself in your character and worry less about the rules, that's why there is a GM after all.

5. I use my attack power on number 2

Combat should be an in character experience too. When attacking that Dragon, don't simply say you "attack the Dragon", explain how you take a deep breath, gather your courage before charging the dragon with your sword held high, and plunge the blade deep into its throat. This makes for a much more exciting time.
I must admit I am a huge culprit of this one, in fact my whole gaming group is, personally I blame the power/encounter mechanics of D&D4E that we are currently playing, the flavour of attacks is so complicated and encounters take so long you sometimes can't be bothered saying anything more than I use "Ardent Strike on that Rock Golem". But that isn't a good thing and is something I will attempt to rectify. 

Of course it depends on your system and situation, you don't always want to give long descriptions of every action but at the same time you don't want to be boring either. Finding a balance between the two is something you will have to work on and will depend on many things, including the game your playing and the people you are playing with.

I hop this will help some people who aare new to Role Playing games and give them an idea of how to get started. There are certainly many more tips I could give and probably will in moer posts. So check back for more RPG tips later!

Oh and I have finally got this Twitter thing (well one I'm not just using to stalk Nathan Fillion) so follow me here if you would like! I could do with a follower or two.

A Quick Introduction

Here is yet another blog about the good old hobby of Role Playing Games. First I guess a little about myself is needed. I've been playing RPG's for over 10 years now. My first experience was with Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition. I was just a kid but I'd always had a fascination with the fantasy genre, and after somehow learning about D&D a friend and I went to our local game store and with next to no idea what a Role Playing Game actually was we started looking for D&D stuff. We stumbled upon some old AD&D rule books but were quickly shown to the newly released (and much more expensive) third edition books. It wasn't for a few years before we managed to get more players and actually play properly but I read the crap out of those books and loved every page. I am now coming to the close of a very long standing 4E campaign with that very same friend I discovered the game with years ago (plus a few other people) and beginning to plan what game to play next, which will hopefully be something completely different. 

The aim of this blog I suppose is to share my experience playing Role Playing Games and with a little bit of luck help one or two people get started with the hobby. I will post Player and Roleplaying tips as well as GM tips as I think the former is under represented in the blogging world. I'll probably put up a few reviews of systems and RPG related things from time to time and share any news I happen to get over excited about (which could be a lot). Plus I will hopefully be able to entertain a few people with some funny stories along the way too.

For those of you who may have read this thank you, and make sure to come back soon.