Reviews #004 – Alpha Omega

June 7, 2009


There has been a lot of buzz around Alpha Omega by Mindstorm Labs, what with people talking about the setting, the book itself and the system. Usually comments of amazing, beautiful and complex respectively. A new game from a new publisher has to do well to break into the rpg fraternities hearts and minds and from the discussions carrying on it looks like Alpha Omega has managed it with top marks.

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Map Library #007

June 6, 2009

Been very busy lately what with playtesting 3 books, designing a boardgame and writing 2 supplements but here is something that has been drafted up this week. After the 4th Edition D&D sessions the group decided to try out the new Starblazer Adventures game from Cubicle7. I have to say that I think this is rapidly becoming my favourite game at the moment, mainly due to the great rule set that is derived from Fate. I’ll do a review in the not to distant future but for now here is a collaborative system map that was designed by the group this week.

Starblazer setting

Starblazer setting

Into the Frey… Part 2

May 28, 2009

So here are a few of the comments from last nights 4th Edition game, see if you can guess the general opinion from the group:

  • “Nice boardgame”
  • “Its like Advanced Heroquest with extra bits added”
  • “Its a fun break from roleplaying”
  • “Its ok, but its not D&D”
  • “If it was called something else it would be ok, but its just not what I expected”

…. yeah, you guessed it, they pretty much saw it as a distraction from “real roleplaying”. Give them their dues though, they are determined to finish off the scenario next week and kill off as many Kobolds as possible. Also the added hint that there might be a dragon lurking in the depths of Kobold Hall gave them a lot of incentive to carry on as well. Im hoping that next week will convince them that it is an ok game, maybe not the best game but just ok.

As for GMing, well I found it ok. Thanks pretty much to the Newbie DM pack that I mentioned in the last post, the game flowed quite well. I only had to look up rules a couple of times and the encounter charts with pre-rolled initiatives was a great timesaver. Also worth a mention are the tokens in the DM starter kit. The guys really liked them and had much fun flipping them over to the bloodied side when they scored big hits on the Kobolds. Little things please small minds I guess :¬)

The long and short of this tale though is that the group seems to thing that 4th Edition is not what D&D once was, and they now see it as a one shot game. They cannot envisage using it at all for a campaign, even though they do want to try to complete the current adventure. My guess is that next week will not sway them too much but I hope that they enjoy it all the same.

Into the Frey.. 4th Edition style

May 27, 2009

So after much consideration I have decided to inflict the players in my Wednesday night game with 4th Edition D&D. The reasons for this are quite many and varied so I thought I might go over a few of them here just to enlighted those who give a damn.

I’m an RPG geek… new systems entice me like nothing else. If a new version of a game that I own comes out, even if I have never played the game, I want a copy. And so it was with 4th Edition D&D. The day it came out I was in a Waterstones store getting all 3 base books (with a pretty good discount it turns out) and taking them to read during my lunch hour. The outcome of this was pretty much negative. I managed to get 3/4 of the Players Handbook read before I gave up, the DMG and Monster Manual left untouched. The reason for this was that I felt that 4E had taken the roleplay out of RPG, I mean skill challenges? come on!! And so those 3 books sat on my shelf for the past year with no chance of me going back.

What changed? Essentially me mellowing and peer pressure. Firstly I figured, even a poor game needs to be tried at least once. I even own copies of some games that I am sure I will never play, but everything deserves to be given its fair shot. Secondly the amount of blogs out there that say that they play 4th Ed and enjoy it is amazing. Im not sure if these are people who have different wants and needs for an RPG, but if anyone enjoys a game then their must be some merit to it. On top of all that, running a one off of 4th Ed will give me a chance to see what its like without any kind of commitment to the group. If we like it, great! If not, well we need never mention it again.

So tonight I will be running the adventure from the back of the DMG, fighting the good fight for the Kobolds while my evil players invade their cosy home. To make it easier i’ve even got maps and tokens (thanks to the DM’s starter kit by Newbie DM  – Now tactical maps are not something that I usually use, so this will be a real eye opener for me. If it comes off well then I might try Savage Worlds next week with a tactical map.

Fingers crossed that all goes well tonight and i’ll let you know how it went.

Suggestions for campaign breaks?

May 21, 2009

Im currently running a Dark Heresy game for a group on Wednesday nights and so far the game has followed about 8 scenarios, both published and homebrew. Its getting time for me to take a break, just to get the creative juices flowing again and I really want a change of pace for the guys, something that we can mess around with for a few weeks, have fun, have a laugh and then head back to DH.

So far i’ve yet to come up with a solution as to what to do. I want to stay away from anything Sci-fi and I would prefer not to do a fantasy Dark Heresy, so that cuts out a lot of games already. Traveller is out, Warhammer Fantasy is out, Star Wars, Shadowrun, Rifts, Babylon 5 and Aliens.. all out. So far i’ve thought about

  • Maid – not sure if we could play this for 3-4 weeks without the guys losing interest.
  • Mouse Guard – again not sure how the guys would react to this for more than a one off.
  • D&D – rock it old school style… its possible.
  • Twlight 2000 – old school modern but it would kind of lead to a campaign style.
  • WOD – Werewolf: The Apocalypse or something? got lots of old stuff from teh campaigns I used to run.

Still not sure what to do. Maybe I could tempt them with Dragonlance 5th Age, Cold City or Savage Worlds….. better make the call soon, game will start in a week and I need to get started on it…. gulp!

Playtesting – Alpha Stage

May 18, 2009

I’ve been writing up a new board game concept that I had recently, so progress on the RPG books has been slow overall. This weekend I finally got to show off the new boardgame to a few friends in a semi-playable state, or as I call it Alpha Playtest version.

Coming from an IT background the ideas around Alpha and Beta testing are quite natural to me, but for those of you who have no idea what these are or what the differences are, here’s a little primer on the stages of testing.

Alpha Playtest is something that occurs when the initial ideas are defined, the concepts are refined and pretty much all of the pieces are in their final stages. I like to think that Alpha is when things are around 70% complete. There are lots of things right and still quite a few rough edges, but the game should be playable at the very least and should show where the goals and initial concepts are employed. However Alpha is something that is still rough, it may require the designer to explain things to the players or to make decisions regarding situations that arise.

Beta Playtest is when things have progressed much further. Beta testing should be able to be run independant of the designer(s). This way several Beta tests can be run in paralell and feedback can be reported back to the designers, rather than them be there for the testing. Beta should only occur when 95% of the game is complete, i.e. the way things work is locked down and only a few bugs remain.

With this in mind, the testing of my boardgame this weekend was an Alpha test. The first time out of the box, so to speak. How did it do? Well I took lots of notes on how the game needs one of the major systems refining and making less complex. Most of the Alpha was spent discussing this system and using a calculator to work out how things should be… not a good start really. I was nicely surprised in that the rules covered most of the situations that arose. I only had to clarify 2 points I think while showing off the game to the group. Other than that I bounced a few ideas off of the players in a post game chat and it seems like they enjoy the core concepts and the ideas but it just needs to be refined and simplified. Not bad for a Alpha game I think.

Alpha Omega

May 15, 2009

I just got hold of a copy of Alpha Omega (finally!) and so far im loving the book, it just looks great and the setting I have read so far is pretty good stuff. Kind of Shadowrun/Cyberpunk mixed with SLA Industries and In Nomine. The point of this post is that while checking up on the setting on the website, it seems as though the development team have a bit of a contest over there for people to submit scenarios and short stories.

Now this is not some small time thing. they are offering cold, hard cash and a chance to get your work published by them at a later date. Just from reading the first 3 chapters I already have about 15 ideas for scenarios, so I definitely going to give this a shot. Check out the site at and the forum entry on the competition at