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!

RPG Blog Carnival

May 14, 2009

This is the first time I have come across the RPGBlog Carnival, being a new RPG blogger. But my old adage is to jump in at the deep end so here goes. To find more info on the carnival, check out This months carnival is host by, a blog that I have been following with interest since it started around 6 moths ago. the idea behind the carnival is to take the current topic and suggest questions and wax lyrical about it. The basis being that you create a worthwhile read and promote discussion amoung the blogs… so here goes.

What games do you see emerging as the big players in the near future?
This is a fairly easy one I think. For me, new and inovative games are always the spear head of creation but these tend not to be big players. Big players always seem to come from the old stalwarts or from the company that gets the next big license. So for the next year or 2 I think we will see little change here. WotC will remain on top as always with the D&D jugganaut. Mongoose and White Wolf will be fighting it out for second fiddle with Taveller/Runequest versus the World of Darkness and Exalted. After that its a big drop off but I think Green Ronin may be in with a shot due to their new license for Dragon Age and the Song of Ice and Fire RPG they just released.

What companies should we be watching out for to release the next big product?
As mentioned above, Green Ronin. the Dragon Age RPG could be a big pull for them. Others to consider include Paizo with their Pathfinder RPG which will be the new D20 standard, or at least thats what they are hoping. Evil Hat games is also worth a look with their Dresden Files RPG, based upon the Fate engine, that will see the light of day later this year (fingers crossed) and while on the subject of Fate, Cubicle 7 has the new Starblazer Adventures RPG. This is something I have had the pleasure of playing at a con pre-release and I also got to talk to Chris the author about it and its going to be a great game in my honest opinion.
Something else I remember seeing and thinking should be big was a new game from Luke Crane, he of Mouse Guard/Burning Wheel fame. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called or where the website was, all I remember was that it looked pretty cool with a sci-fi vibe and lets face it, anything Luke gets involved with is worth looking at.

How will technology become more integrated into roleplaying games?
This is something that always bugs me as a gamer and as a person who works in IT. Why do people want technology to become more integrated with RPG’s? For me gaming is not something I do online or with a laptop at my gametable. The extent that I go to for tech in gaming is character generators and the like, and mapping software. Im not sure what WotC is trying to do with their latest push to get D&D players gaming online so much. I guess that its an effort to get more books sold to people who play MMORPG’s and to get gamers playing regularly where no groups are available. A nice idea, but I don’t think it will work due to the very nature of RPG gaming. RPG’s are all about the social interactions of the group telling a story and that is something that is very hard, if not impossible, to do online. I know this makes me sound like one of the old D&D fraturnity, “get your tech outta ma game”, but its something that has always puzzled me.

What industry writer do we need to be on the look out for?
A favourite of mine at the moment is Clayton A Oliver. He’s the guy who did a lot for AEG’s Spycraft and has recently done the Twlight 2013 game (a 3rd edition Twlight 2000 if you didn’t know). Why is he a favourite? No idea. I just like the way he writes and what he writes about.
Another name to look out for is Chris Birch, he of Starblazer Adventures from Cubilce 7. Chris and his writing partner Stuart Newman have written a great new game in Starblazer and the Fate engine that they have tailored to it is just brilliant. I know that Chris has mentioned that they are now looking to apply this to a fantasy game and I can’t wait to see it. Imagine the SB Fate ruleset in Fantasy, it will be like a new version of Birthright with all the cities, armies and countries defined like a character with their own aspects and skills.

What blogs do you see exploding into becoming the next big thing?
Err… mine? Hah, I wish! Seriously is my current favourite RPG Blog and I hope that Sam hits his current targets that he set for himself when he started the blog. It has been a big inspiration to me and this blog so I hope he keeps it up. Other than that just check out and pick one that is not reposting the same old stuff and they could be the next big thing.

What do you see for the future of the industry?
Time for some major predictions here.

  1. I think that the top 3 companies will remain the same for the forseeable future, WotC, White Wolf and Mongoose have things pretty much tied up and unless they drop the ball big time, its gonna be the same for some time. 
  2. I think a small company, new or old, will bring out a shining new game that captures the hearts and minds of the groupies. They will spend hours discussing it and it will always be one of the hot topics there. My bet currently is that it will be the Dr Who RPG from Cubile 7, and it will take over from Exalted as the hot topic.
  3. Palladium will finally update their system in a new big release and try to take on the big boys. This is something that people have been crying out for and I think KevinS is starting to listern to his fans. Witness the latest news where Palladium has finally released PDF’s of their games.
  4. WotC will screwup the digital revolution of D&D. Not that this will affect me (see my opinions of tech in gaming above), but after the mess that they had with D&D 3.0/3.5 and the character generator and the DM tools and then the botch-up that they have made of the new 4E online tools, im not convinced that they will ever get the whole tech thing right. Just license another company to do it and let them get on with it, concentrate on the Player Handbook number 37, or whatever is the next release.

Predictions aside, the future of RPG’s will remain largely the same as now I think. We are now in a spot where we have major publishers doing their thing, small companies doing some inovative things and one-man bands putting out some real head turners that slowly filter up to the larger companies. I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Tech will never replace the need to get together with friends, a big bowl of munchies and several litres of Pop/Beer/Coffee (delete as appropriate) and  just game. 

My one wish for the future? Someone finally picks up the Dune license and makes a great game…. that or the Harry Potter license and gets millions of the younger generation into the hobby. Imagine how things would change with that much fresh blood in the industry.

Related links
WotC (D&D)
Mongoose  (Traveller/Runequest)
White Wolf (World of Darkness, Exalted)
Green Ronin (Dragon Age, Song of Ice & Fire)
Paizo (Pathfinder)
Dresden Files RPG
Cubicle 7 (Starblazer Adventures RPG, Dr Who)
Twlight 2013

The Traveller Fauna Concordance

April 25, 2009

So what do you think…???

Traveller Fauna Concordance

Traveller Fauna Concordance

Naming games – Traveller Edition

April 24, 2009

Following from yesterdays post, im currently designing a supplement for Mongoose Traveller  ( thanks mainly to their SRD and open licence for the game. That inspiration and encouragement got me started when the game first came out last year. However despite the early posts on this blog I never progressed far enough that I even considered actually getting to the point of publishing it. Well the time has come to throw off that uncertainty. The license application has been posted and the development continues apace. So now what to call the thing.

Read the rest of this entry »

The names the thing

April 23, 2009

One of the most important things that RPG developers have their arsenal when trying to get people interested in their games is the title of the book. Be it a core rule book or a supplement, the title is often the first thing that a customer picks up on, not the cover art, not the setting and certainly not the system. So why is it that we have so many bad examples of titles for games?

Read the rest of this entry »