Friday, October 2, 2015

Reviews: Exponential by Adam Cesare

I'm going to start this review with something that you, my fearless reader, might already know. In general, horror is not my go to genre for reading. Sci-fi, fantasy, superheroics- these are my bread and butter. But my own logical skepticism has a tendency to pull me away from truly enjoying most horror books and films. Especially when they devolve to unmitigated- and not scary- gore porn.

That is not the case with this book.

Imagine a world where a nightmare creature born of Miyazaki's mind blending a classic D&D Gelatinous Cube with a little bit of Katamari Damacy to make a perfect cinematic horror monster. Adam Cesare's monster, Felix, brings back memories of the thing in the lake from Creepshow 2 (aka Stephen King's the Raft), and I found myself wanting to hear the characters exclaim "I beat you!" before their imminent demise.

But Felix is not what made me love this book.

In any monster book or film, the monster can be creepy, scary, and downright disgusting- but it's only as good as the eyes that tell its tale. Here Cesare shines. Exponential is a series of small vignettes, each highlighting an individual character. While the protagonists earn multiple chapters to tell their tale and eventual meeting at Rose's Tavern- where the book finds its climax, victim after victim get to be fully fleshed out characters as their lives and potential are snuffed out in horribly messy ways by our not-so-beloved Felix. This made the book for me. Anyone can tell the tale of survivors holing up in a southwestern bar hiding or combating a horrible menace. Plenty of crappy movies have used that plot to hide small budgets and unimagined authors. But Cesare doesn't have that problem. He embraces every character, no matter how small, with the mantra that everyone has a story to tell.

Now, why horror usually fails with me because I let my disbelief color my ability to feel fear from books and movies. Yet there is one aspect of horror and disaster fiction that I love- rising dread. I love that feeling when characters go about their own lives unaware of the increasing danger waiting to find them. And like the first Fall about to embrace Pern's shores, Exponential has tons of characters waiting to die, unaware of how short their life really is or the troubles about to find them.

But in my desire to keep this short, and not ruin the whole story with spoilers, I'm just going to go right to the rating.

Final Rating:

Underwear on the Outside uses a FASERIP rating system derived from TSR's beloved Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game from 1984. We will give a numerical score somewhere between 0 (for the REALLY GODAWFUL) and 1000 (for the "slit your wrists because now you can die it's that good"). These numbers fall into categories on the chart above. Through varying degrees of dislike we would likely not recommend things from Shift 0 up to Typical. We feel fairly "Meh" about Good and Excellent. We'd spend money on Remarkable and Incredible but anything above that we get into varying levels of like, love and geeking out.  There's also a little space there numerically. We may give one item a rating of 35 and another 38. Both are considered REMARKABLE, but we think one is a little better than the other. 

Exponential is the third book I've read by Cesare. The first, Tribesman, was an enjoyable romp with cannibals attacking a movie crew reminiscent of old Italian cannibal movies. It was pretty much how I always felt King Kong should have ended, without the big, building climbing ape. It was good, and for a quick read, it scratched an itch.

Video Night hit me a lot closer to home. It brought back old days of video rentals, Nintendo, and classic horror fare. It was a nostalgia filled blast, but didn't transcend the genre for me. I enjoyed it enough to add it to my "READ ME AGAIN" pile, but not enough to put word to screen to laud its accomplishments.

Exponential took me places I didn't expect. I found myself rooting for characters I normally would have hated enough to cheer on the monster. It kept me engaged and drove me to eat up each word despite not particularly liking the reader on the audiobook version. On its own merits, Exponential earns a fitting 75 Monstrous  rating.

The audiobook version has issues. I'm particular in how I listen to a book. Originally, there were problems with the audiobook missing a couple chapters at the end, but that didn't flavor my review. Really, it's the reader. While competent, his voice and delivery grated on me. His throaty voice and the way he chewed on the words seemed incongruous to the majority of the characters he was describing- and don't get me started on his accents. It's enough to lower the grade for that version three levels. 32 Remarkable. Would I still buy the audio version? Yeah, sure. But unlike books like World War Z that were improved by their audio variant, Exponential suffers from it. Any day of the week, this book needs to be enjoyed in print or on screen rather than listened to.

In fact, go buy it. Now. Here.

Full disclosure: Adam Cesare is my cousin. However, he doesn't need to be my relation to get this review. Exponential is the third book of his that I've read and it is my favorite so far. The book earned a review all on its own and Adam's personal style of writing has made me embrace the genre more than I had reading heroes like King and Koontz. And if I wasn't related to Cesare, I'd say the same thing. Every single word.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

General Gamery: Back to Backwater- New Products & Promotions for Dime Stories

The impending doom that is Gencon always gets me working hard to finish projects in time for the con, and this year is no different. I hate to admit it, but work on Saturday Morning Games projects tends to take a backseat to freelance work, but not having a hard deadline for my own projects will do that.


Earlier this year, I noticed the fifth or sixth game project on Kickstarter that used the Bleeding Cowboys font for its logo- just like Dime Stories. It was enough to make me change the logo to something more original- so away to Illustrator and Photoshop I went to push out something that felt right. It took me a bit, but in the end I created something that really works and I'd be proud to put on every Dime Stories product from now on.

The timing for this change could not have been better. After working with a few printers on costs and formatting, it was made apparent that the landscape format I used for the main rulebook would likely end up prohibitively expensive and for some POD printers, impossible. To be fair, I'd already been reconsidering some of the art I had in the game- sure it was all free up to this point, but I wanted more. I've been in talks with some game artists I grew up loving, so that's already coming along. And changing to a portrait 5.5 x 8.5 format would end up far less expensive over all. So a new cover was also required. I wanted something that would be easily modified for different books, but would retain a consistent style throughout the line. This was far easier to accomplish with the new logo, so bonus!
And before you ask, no, the rulebook has not made it to print yet. While I am waiting for the new art, it will remain the same PDF only book as before. I expect to have a print run ready by the holidays.

New Products

All these changes made me reconsider some of the original products I had intended and more importantly, how I used them in practice.

Anyone that got to play last year's Gencon adventure, Among the Living, would have noticed that the Ten Cent Tale incorporated two sets of cards for play. The first (and I doubt I'm giving much away here) is the zombies and other NPCs that the player characters run into around every corner. These are randomly drawn, so I had simple cards printed out for my use only. The second deck was Infection Cards, since every attack from a zombie had a chance of spreading their disease to the player characters. This year, I wanted to use some more professional looking cards for the adventure, and I'd already been working on some Dime Stories cards with Drive Thru Cards (see Promotions), so it made sense to keep going. Once I'd reworked the
NPC cards with more of the free art I'd originally used for the rulebook, I continued on and made a card for each player character, and finally six cards to tell the adventure itself. This was an entirely new format for the module, and I love it. As long as the module clocks in under 70 cards, can even provide a nice plastic case for a dollar. If the proofs were halfway decent, I'd make it available to the public, if not I just end up with fancier cards for personal use at Gencon.

They came out spectacular. I really like this format and it makes a good and different product for our modules. Among the Living has the most use of cards for our current crop of Ten Cent Tales, and it ended up 70 cards exactly, so the cards fit in plastic case perfectly. As a result, today I hit the publish button and Among the Living will be the first Ten Cent Tale available to the public. By Gencon I will have the Potter Creek Massacre also in card for use at the convention, but our previous adventures probably won't be available until after Gencon (I'll update you if this changes).

I have ten adventures planned leading up to the Grand Imperial Civil War (Oh, didn't know we are doing a civil war in Dime Stories? Yep), and ten during/after. Each Ten Cent Tale will be available on Drive Thru Cards and I'll do my best to make them fit in the convenient plastic boxes. Pre Grand Imperial Civil War adventures will have the brown leather backing designs while later Ten Cent Tales will have different backing. Soon after Gencon we will have Among The Living, Easy Money (Jeph Lewis' Ten Cent Tale from the main rulebook), The Village at La Naranja Mesa by Geoff Bottone, and The Silent Silo Run by Jeph Lewis all done in this format. While The Potter Creek Massacre and My Dearest Clara will both be ready, I plan on holding off on publishing them until early next year since they have been written specifically for this Gencon.

I know what you're thinking: "Won't cards be a little small for maps?" You'd be absolutely correct. Instead, I will be providing free maps on Drive Thru RPG for free. My plan is two map packs- one pre and one during the civil war. As each adventure is published, the files for the map packs will be updated at no extra cost.

Finally, I decided to start a new small PDF line for Dime Stories. As I was working on the Gencon promotion, I wanted to write a bit more about the character involved- General Cassar. For the most part, Cassar is General Custer. With very little retooling, he fit perfectly in the Dime Stories universe. This meant a short five or six page PDF that I would put on Drive Thru RPG. IT would not only provide rules to make Cassar usable as an NPC in Dime Stories, but it would also give a character history and rules for the Imperial Units that follow him.

But why stop there? This is a great way to flesh out the universe, so I'm going to have to make more. In all likelihood, the villainous La Esqueleta will be next, followed by some more characters based on personalities form the wild west. The line will be called Dime Stories: Wanted. I hope you will all enjoy it.


I keep talking about how this promotion pushed me to work on other products, so here it is:

With a name like Saturday Morning Games, it stands to reason that our favorite events to run at Gencon would be the ones we run on Saturday Morning. This is usually the new game we're showing off, or a brand new adventure for one of our existing games. And each year I've provided individual sized cereal boxes and milk for all of our players.

This year I wanted to provide something special to our Saturday morning players. Last year, General Cassar showed his ugly, scaly head in adventure after adventure, this year our players will get to leave with him in miniature form. And true to form, it will be in a format befitting Saturday Morning Games.

I hooked up with Bryan Steele while he was still at Cool Mini or Not. He hired me to do reviews for Ravage Magazine, and when I needed a sculptor to bring General Cassar to life, he was more than happy to help. After a couple pictures and descriptions, Bryan sculpted a great 28mm scale miniature and introduced me to people that could take the green and mass produce it.

Emily at On the Lamb Games is one of the nicest people in the industry that I've had the pleasure of meeting. She patiently walked me through every step of taking the green to full production and my order for General Cassar miniatures were on their way to my home in no time at all.

I had barely received my General Cassar miniatures when I instantly dove into painting the figure, choosing the colors that would not only grace him, but all the Imperial troops in the upcoming war. The light grey I chose worked on many levels- especially when I began to nickname Imperial forces as Greyscales in my mind. Trust me, this is terribly funny.

Blackwater Gulch from Gangfight Games had been one of my favorite miniatures games since I'd been able to take part in their Kickstarter back in 2012. So naturally, if I was going to make a western style miniature, I'd want to be able to play it in that game. Thankfully, the guys at Gangfight Games were gracious enough to let me make a card for Cassar compatible with their awesome game.

This is where Drive Thru Cards came in. With cards for Cassar in Blackwater Gulch on the way, I thought it would make sense to (as in: I would be an idiot not to) include a card to use the character in Dime Stories. This card became the format for all the cards to follow and was where the idea for the Wanted line began.

Now all I needed was the right presentation. No matter what people try to tell you, if you are trying to get something to the public, presentation is always more important than content. Oh sure, people try to tell you not to but a book by its cover, but that's only because most people will, every time. I could have just handed out free blister packs with the miniature inside to my players on Saturday, but where would the charm be in that? That is piss poor advertising and honestly, not worth the attempt. Instead, my fantastic wife made the best recommendation- cereal. Make the miniature the prize in the bottom of a cereal box!

Despite the headache of finding a company to make individual cereal boxes cheaply- most companies won't touch it for less than 1500 units- I was able to get a local printer, Peerless Printing, to push them out for me with time to spare.

So on Saturday, players for our 3 events (Dime Stories: The Potter Creek Massacre, Dime Stories:  Assault on Fort Ss'zithriss or To My Dearest Clara, and Velour & Go-go Boots: The Vatizar Incident) will get a box of General Flakes with a prize inside.

Hope to see you there!

~the Doc.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

General Gamery: RPGaDay Catch-up 21-31

And finally, the remainder of my adventures in RPGaDay:

21st- Favorite Licensed RPG
There's a lot to this category. Evil Hat has had a stroke of genius in their Dresden Files and Atomic Robo licences. Cubicle 7's The One Ring and Fantasy Flight's Star Wars: Edge of the Empire/ Age of Rebellion/ Force of Destiny series of games are unequivocally the best incarnations of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars respectively. But there is one licensed game that takes the cake for me.

Marvel Heroic.

Yes, I know I'm biased since I got to work on this game (The Civil War: X-men supplement and the Annihilation books have my name in the credits). But seriously, everything about this game is awesome. It is born of the Cortex Plus rules system, but goes so far beyond its predecessors, Smallville and Leverage. More than anything, Marvel Heroic evokes the same feeling I got as a kid turning the 4-color pages for the first time. In fact, read my review for more.

22nd- Best Secondhand RPG Purchase
Ah, I love conventions. Sure, I've picked up my fair share of secondhand RPG books at Half Price Books, at my local brick and mortar, Yottaquest, at garage sales, and some just as hand-me-downs. But the bargain basement booths at conventions give me so many options to scratch that cheap RPG book itch.

Through the convention buy one get on free booths I've completed collections of great games like Margaret Weis Productions 3.5 run of Dragonlance, okay games like the d20 Conan from Mongoose, and pretty crappy games like Decipher's Star Trek RPG. But one series of games stands out among the morass of... admittedly mostly d20 products: Fantasy Flight's Midnight.

I usually explain Midnight as what Middle Earth would be like a hundred years after the fall of Gondor if Sauron had won the War of the Ring. The player characters have to hide their abilities and act mostly in secret to avoid being noticed for being heroes because the known world is under the occupation of the dark forces. It is fantastic. And one Gencon, I got used copies of every book in the series for less than fifty bucks.

23rd- Coolest Looking RPG Product / Book

I'm not the biggest fan of Monte Cook. I was one of the few people I know that hated Unearthed Arcana, and while I like his take on World of Darkness and I love the Iron Heroes books produced by his company (but mostly not written by him), for me most Monte Cook books fall flat.

However, Numenera is gorgeous. Set one billion years in Earth's future, Numenera seamlessly blends science fiction and fantasy for a rich and deep world. But as good as the world is, as innovative as the mechanics are (and Monte made a lot of great choices in his design elements), these are not what drove me to this book. The art is amazing. It is full of lush landscapes, evocative imagery, and some of the nicest paintings of the human figure I've had the pleasure to witness. And the graphic designer managed to keep their design elements unobtrusive enough to be able to showcase the art, but in a thematic way that brings the books together as a whole. It's enough to warrant the tagline: "Numenera- Come for Monte Cook's rich world and game mechanics. Stay for Kieran Yanner's amazing art."

24th- Most Complicated RPG Owned
I've played a lot of complicated games over the years- I am a product of the '80s RPG scene and an avid wargamer, so it comes with the territory. But despite the complications of certain aspects of Shadowrun, or Traveller, most of my games aren't all that complicated. Oh sure I've played HERO system, Mekton Zeta, and Hybrid, but none of those grace my shelves. Nope, my most complicated RPG shares double billing for my rarest RPG. I'll let you read more about it there. many graphs...

25th- Favorite RPG No One Else Wants To Play
This is an easy one. Mouseguard.

Mouseguard is based on the Burning Wheel system, but is a bit more approachable. I played Burning Wheel at I-con a few times and loved it. But Mouseguard takes those rules and simplifies them in the right parts while clarifying in other. It makes a good game great. But that's not the reason it's not played.

Mouseguard is based on the popular indy comic of the same name. The brainchild of the far too talented David Petersen, it is the Eisner award-winning tale of a cadre of mice charged to protect the borders and peoples of an all mouse society. It is full of medieval imagery, some blood, violence, and pretty amazing dramatic moments. It might be the best indy comic in my formidable comic collection.

So.. great world, great game, why does no one want to play?

Easy- too many games. To date, my amazing wife and I are the only ones that have read enough of or really have an attachment to Mouseguard. Add that into the inevitable glut of games like Pathfinder, Star Wars, Firefly, Shadowrun, etc, etc, ad nauseum. Yeah...back burner of the back burners. Maybe when my daughter is old enough to enjoy the comics, I'll find a way to indoctrinate her to the Mouseguard.

26th- Coolest Character Sheet
I was going to originally mention Spirit of the Century for this one, but then I looked up and remembered Numenera's unfathomable sheet.  I mean, seriously- look at this thing!

27th- Game I'd Like To See a New / Improved Edition Of
Please, please Star Trek.

Look, I love the old FASA system. Decipher and Last Unicorn should never have been allowed to write games ever. For anything. Ever. And the d20 Modern system that works so well for Spycraft doesn't quite fit for Prime Directive. What it needs is a rules-light system that lets you get thrust into plot and character over mechanics.

Sound familiar, Geoff?

Also, In Nomine. More than a revamp- this game of angels and demons needs a line-wide retooling. Scrap the old ruleset and start anew. But I might as well wait for hell to freeze over for that to happen (heh). Instead, I'll just write that myself in Cortex Plus. It's coming. I promise.

28th- Scariest Game I've Played
Spin the bottle in the 4th grade with Gina Fuentes. Oh, wait we're talking RPG.

It will seem cliched, but for me it was a game of the modern incarnation of Call of Cthulhu, a game called Cthulhu Now that I played in the early 90's. With a really descriptive and imaginative GM, this game can be as terrifying for the player as it is for the characters. I don't remember his name, but our GM that night in his seemingly abandoned house in Norwood was both of those things. And he set the scene with all the lights out in the house on a stormy night and only a couple candles to play by.

I remember having nightmares from it, but not much else.

29th- Most Memorable Encounter
There have been so many encounters over the years. Maybe too many to count.

Like the time I killed a party of overzealous 10th level adventurers with kobolds and clever use of murder holes.

The "Zone of Truth Incident."

Vecna's Knot with Treena hiding in the treasure room.

Jaster's great fall.

"Vesh just killed the Moff."

Khoth turns to the dark side.

Chris brings Khoth back to kill his other character- the traitorous doctor.

"You guys are level 6 right?"
"No Todd, we're level 3."

Fester, goblin cook, exalted of Vecna.

Jack Rolls a 20.
Adam: "Jack, I think Falcon just one-shotted Hades. Here's a hero point so you can reroll."
Jack rolls a 20.
Adam groans.

But for most memorable, I'm going to have to go with the play in the Council of Thieves adventure path.
You did not make them do a table reading of The Six Trials of Larazod!
Yes, Self, I did. And it was GLORIOUS.

30th- Rarest RPG Owned
Chivalry & Sorcery: Warfare and Wizardry in the Feudal Age (1st edition).

This book entered my collection as a hand-me-down form my father's board game collection. Released in 1977 as a more realistic slant on D&D, Chivalry and Sorcery didn't have a very large following or print run- at least initially. My dad doesn't roleplay, so how this ended up as part of my his collection, I'm not sure. And I really don't know when it ended up in mine, but I loved the book. Despite the abundance of charts and graphs that were exceptional, even for that era of gaming, C&S was more a study of feudal life and conflicts than monsters in dungeon.

While there are more than a few limited edition gems on my shelf, this book is by far the rarest and hardest to find.

31st- Favorite RPG Of All Time
I would love to say that one of my own games, Dime Stories, Superhuman, even the unfinished Playthings is my favorite RPG. But I don't really have that kind of attachment to any of my creations other than my daughter.

The problem is, so many different games are my favorites because of certain aspects of them. Shadowrun's setting, D&D's longevity, the way Pathfinder retools and fixes all of the issues I had with 3.5, the various incarnations of Star Wars... because Star Wars, Firefly for similar reasons, Smallville for no other reason than because it was my first professional credit, Marvel Heroic because it is Cam's best work and I got to write Nova and X-Factor, everything with the FATE rules because they are awesome. No sir, I don't have just one favorite. I have many, for as many different reasons.

Instead, I'll talk about the one game that should be on everybody's favorite list. The best free, downloadable, independent RPG on the market. The steampunk tour de force called Lady Blackbird.

Lady Blackbird feels as if it was written as an adventure first. The characters and game rules followed. In sixteen pages, John Harper (of Agon and Danger Patrol fame) gives us a pretty complete game with multi-faceted characters, a steampunk Firefly-esque universe, and just the right rules to make a fun, rollicking romp of an rpg. This is what I was failing at doing when I wrote Dime Stories, and will be the benchmark for me as a game designer for years to come.

It's that good.

Even better, John offers it up for free on his website. Go there now.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

General Gamery: RPGaDay Catch-up 14-20

Because Gencon happened and I got a bit distracted in the days following, here is the continuation of my adventures in RPGaDay:

14th- Best Convention Purchase
This is a tough one since I've been to nearly every Gencon and Origins in the last decade and several Gencons and I-Cons (Long Island convention at my alma matter) in the years before. A lot of games have made it into my stash thanks to these, so it's tough to narrow down to a "best." Instead, I'll have to mention two, specifically.

The First is going to be the Serenity Roleplaying Game. Not because it is a phenomenal game (It's not bad, but not great), not because it's Firefly/Serenity (most of my friends already know of my Firefly obsession), but because my interest in getting the limited edition version of this game led to the jump-start of my freelance career.

While working at the Slugfest Games booth at Gencon, I made it over to the Margaret Weis booth to purchase one of the limited edition copies of Serenity. In the process, I got to meet the writers and staff of MWP at the time- Jamie Chambers, Cam Banks, and even Margaret Weis herself. After a hurried presentation, I gave the kids at MWP a copy of my in-progress work on Superhuman. From what I understand, it was that presentation that led Cam to contact me to work on Smallville.

For the second, I'm going to have to break from the RPG specifics and move into board game/RPG hybrid. Cutthroat Caverns by Smirk and Dagger. Cutthroat Caverns is a competitive dungeon delve game. You need your allies to complete the adventure, but you want their share of the treasure. While it's only made it to my table a couple times, it is still pure genius.

15th- Favorite Convention Game
Again, the same goes as the above question. Too many conventions, too many games. Most of the games I played at conventions were either board game demos I ran for Slugfest like Red Dragon Inn and En Garde, or games I wrote myself *COUGH* Dime Stories *COUGH*. But, I did get to play a bunch of games not written by me. While I love Pathfinder, my PFS experiences at convention aren't all that different to my home experiences. Playing both Critical! Go Westerly and Gaesa were great experiences, but I can't say I would put them as my favorite.

That right goes to my pal Geoff Bottone's new RPG, Velour & Go-go Boots. V&GGB is only a temporary name for the game that started as a snarky take on Star Trek: The Original Series, but instead evolved into a rich and hearty Star Trek experience in Geoff's deft hands. Unlike actual Star Trek games, my companion Brian and I weren't bogged down by the rules system. Instead we could dive headlong into the type of moral quandaries the old Star Trek series used to emphasize. Even if Brian and I were Geoff's only players at that sitting, it was the best game I played this past Gencon.

16th- Game I Wish I Owned
This is an easy one. In the early eighties, TSR had the rights to Indiana Jones and released the short-lived RPG, The Adventures of Indiana Jones Roleplaying Game. Soon after, Lucasfilm took the rights back and TSR had to pulp any remaining stock.

To commemorate the end of the license, TSR employees in the UK made a small pyramid shaped trophy from some of the remains. Based on that trophy design, the Diana Jones award has been awarded since 2000 every Gencon for excellence in game design. I'd love to have copies of the former if only because my childhood best friend, Chris, and I were stalwart Indiana Jones fans. But more than anything else, I'd love to write something worthy of being awarded the latter version. While the Ennies are awesome, they can feel like a popularity contest. The Diana Jones Awards are really what will make me feel like I've written something worthwhile.

17th- Funniest Game I've Played
Okay, this is a tough call. I have, as seems to be the trend, two choices for this one. Crap... I have three.

First, My partners in the Saturday Morning Games Venture, Geoff and Jonathan wrote a great game called Critical! Go Westerly. It was written for comedic value and when I read it, I hear the narrator from Hitchhiker's Guide in my head. That was intentional.

Second, Paranoia. Anyone that has ever played this game knows there is little that is as hilarious as nonstop clonedeath (TM)- especially if your GM is particularly creative- mine was.

The third one is The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen. 'Nuff said.

I'm not deciding. Buy them all and decide for yourself.

18th- Favorite Game System
Mine is probably not a popular answer.

My favorite is the SAGA System from TSR used in their 90's iterations of Dragonlance and Marvel Super Heroes (Before you ask, this is NOT the same as Star Wars SAGA which is just D20 with a facelift). Instead of dice, SAGA used cards (called Fate Cards) to decide actions. While your hand was random, you decided how much effort your character put into an action by how high of a card number you played. It also used card suits to synergize with character attributes and descriptors on the cards for flavor. This was a great idea if a little before its time. The gaming community wasn't really ready for this concept as Magic: the Gathering was still fairly new and the concept of deck-building games hadn't come into light yet.

It sounds like it should be cumbersome, but it really isn't. At one point, I had a table of twelve players in Dragonlance using three sets of Fate Cards playing simultaneously and GMming felt effortless.

19th- Favorite Published Adventure
This could go a bunch of ways. In my youth, I loved a bunch of adventures- from Shadowrun romps like Bottled Demon and Harlequin, to my favorite D&D modules like Ravenloft, Isle of Dread, and the first Spelljammer module: Wildspace. These days, I love some of the brilliance I see from Paizo. Most of their adventure paths are perfect, especially the Rise of the Runelords adventure path and the Skull & Shackles path. The first is almost a gazetteer of Golarion, the second a wonderful pirate romp.

But my favorite is a trilogy form the old Marvel Super Heroes line. MT1, 2, and 3. Or by name: All this and World War II, The Weird, Weird West, and The Revenge of Kang. These adventure took modern superheroes through the history of the Marvel universe from WW2, the Wild West, through the creation of the X-men, Fantastic Four, and heroes like the Hulk and Spider-man- all in an effort to thwart the machinations of Kang the Conqueror. I liked it so much that years later, I tailored a Mutants and Masterminds adventure in the same vain.

20th- Will Still Play in 20 Years Time...
It's tough to say what I'll still be playing in twenty years. In all likelihood, it's less about the game than the world. Whatever it's incarnation, I'll likely be playing some version of Star Wars (hopefully my current favorite- the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG or whatever follows that), Marvel Super Heroes (preferably SAGA or Marvel Heroic), and Dungeons & Dragons (or Pathfinder as it were). In my own campaigns, I've seen my game groups keep the ties of a campaign going despite new editions, publishers, and members to our game groups, so nothing would really surprise me.

~The Doc

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

General Gamery: RPGaDay 13

Continuing my adventures in RPGaDay:

13th- Most Memorable Character Death
The most memorable death is a relatively recent death and wasn't one of mine.

A couple years ago, in Star Wars Saga RPG, I was gamemastering the Dawn of Defiance campaign for my friends. The group of  proto-rebels were deep in Imperial territory on Coruscant. And they were in the skyscraper fortress tower of the Inquisitors. As the tower began to fall, the resident scoundrel, Jaster, decided the best thing to do was to make sure his friends and the scientists they were sent to rescue were safe. Unfortunately for Jaster, despite securing everyone in pods that would inevitably keep them alive for the fall of a couple hundred stories, he had only his jetpack to keep him alive, and it was out of fuel. Jaster fell to the ground and several thousands of tons of building fell on him.

Heroic deaths are always the best in an RPG, and the group felt like it was missing something without Jaster, despite the fact that his player built a new character to keep playing. I've seen many other character deaths in my years of gaming, but Jaster riding a building down to his own end remains my favorite.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

General Gamery: RPGaDay 12

Continuing my adventures in RPGaDay:

12th- Old RPG you still Play / Read
Okay, once again, I have two. Recently I've been re-reading the old FASERIP Marvel Superheroes RPG and FASA's Star Trek Roleplaying Game- for similar reasons.

After working on Marvel Heroic, I've hatched an idea: I want my friends to choose their favorite Marvel characters. From there I will walk them through the introduction game for each version of Marvel roleplaying- from FASERIP, through SAGA, the horrible one with the stones (yeah- you know what I'm saying), and finally Marvel Heroic. Through each, they will play the same character and see how each system works. Ahhh, I can see it now... Dreadnoughts everywhere.. good times.

Similarly, I've been itching for a good classic Star Trek game. The old FASA game is needlessly complicated in the character creation portion, but I still think it's the best RPG made for the series. Plus, I loved the starship combat system that spun out of FASA's work.


Monday, August 11, 2014

General Gamery: RPGaDay 11

Continuing my adventures in RPGaDay:

11th- Weirdest RPG Owned
This was an easy one. The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen. This game is hilarious. In a lot of ways, this storytelling game is fairly rules-light, but the whole book is narrated by the good Baron, himself. The players have to try to one-up each other with tall tales of heroism and derring-do. But the questions and obstacles the other players posit will force each player to step up their game, as it were.

Hilarity ensues.

I found this game by accident at a Gencon a few years back (mostly due to my love of Terry Gilliam), and it has been one of my favorite games to peruse, even if I don't get to play it.

~the Doc