Tuesday, 1 September 2015

#RPGaDay2015 Entries

Having enjoyed last year's social media event, RPGaDay, I was keen to join in this year's August batch of queries; sadly I became too busy/distracted what with returning back to full-time at work, numerous projects, obligations and such, and thus I was unable to answer any of the questions beyond the 13th day. :(

Below is a compilation of the answers I did complete for those interested:

RPGaDay is back for another year and I'm already late to the party; I blame the local weekend-long LARP event I was at. I'll be posting my responses to the first three daily queries today but hopefully after that I'll be on track.

Allow me to start off these questions with the caveat that for the past several months I've haven't been focused on table-top as much I usually am, mainly because my gaming interest and time has been solely focused upon LARPing, so for many for these questions I won't have a ready answer to state and will require a bit of thought as I haven't been as keen to the latest RPG developments as I was previous years.

Day 1: Forthcoming Game You're Most Looking Forward To

After a bit of thought, I'm going to got with the upcoming version of Robert E. Howard’s CONAN: Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of, by Modiphius Entertainment. I, along with many other folk enjoy Mongoose Publishing's take of the sword & sorcery world of that savage Cimmerian, but I personally feel (as I've stated in the past) that the d20 system it runs upon is dated and a bit clunky for the high-action adventure that every Hyborian Age tale should contain.

As previously mentioned, I haven't been following this or really any other RPG, but as I've garnered the 2d20 system behind this game is rather cinematic and was designed by Jay Little, the brilliant designer of the narrative dice used in FFG's Star Wars RPG lines, so I suspect it'll fill that desire for cinematic, high adventure. It also has dozens of other well-known designers and artists attached to the line and also aims to mesh with the forthcoming Conan boardgame (another thing I backed on kickstarter), so I expect great things.

Day 2: Kickstarted Game Most Pleased You Backed

Let's have a quick browse through my meagre backer history on my KS account to discover the answer: Though I backed the 7th edition of Call of Cthulhu and the updated Horror on the Orient Express campaign nearly three years ago, I still have yet to receive any physical rewards so they don't count; Lusus Naturae, though excellent, isn't a standalone game per say, so I won't count it; my Numerena Reliquary Boxed Set is a standalone game but I didn't back the original kickstarter and bought the corebook at a FLGS, so also no; the Fate Core line delivered quite well but the one I believe I'm most pleased for plopping down cash for is Hillfolk: A Game of Iron Age Drama.

Although I've still yet to play this game, the chief reasons it pleases me the most are a) this book seriously made me think deeper about storytelling, scene-framing, narrative, etc. in games, b) such info has practical use in ALL incarnations of roleplaying regardless of system/genre, c) currently it is the least expensive RPG project I've backed (and didn't flop), and d) the designer/writer Robin D. Laws is a fellow Canadian.

Day 3: Favourite New Game Of The Past 12 Months

This is a tricky one, as I haven't really had the chance to play/acquire anything new as of the last RPGaDay series a year ago; I haven't even gotten around to picking up the books for the new 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Browsing my bookshelf and looking through my past archives it seems the only new game I've played/bought since was Mythender by Ryan Macklin at GottaCon 2015 back in February/March.

The designer himself ran a session of the game at our local convention and I enjoyed it and its over-the-top mythic, god-killing theme so much I brought a print copy and had it signed. To my shame though the book has been languishing since, just waiting to be read in its entirety and like so many of my other games unleashed upon unsuspecting players. I should really bump this game to the top of my reading queue.

For those interested, the PDF of Mythender is FREE. For those interested, check out mythenderrpg.com to find out more.

Day 4: Most Surprising Game

A tough question to answer; is it specifically referring to which system one found the most surprising, or a particular session that went in a completely different direction? Is this a good or a bad surprise? I think I can answer all of those queries with two answers:

As far as an entire game being surprising, thinking back, I'd have to go with Mouse Guard: One has to admit the initial premise of playing as tiny little mice sounds a bit absurd (yet, at least for me, quite intriguing) but once I read the mechanics, saw the gorgeous art, played and experienced a truly unique RPG, I was pleasantly surprised just how brilliant it all of it worked together almost seamlessly. It got me both invested in the writer and artist, David Petersen, and the game designer, Burning Wheel HQ.

On an aside, at the beginning of this year it was announced that the Mouse Guard RPG was to be getting a 2nd revised edition, most likely containing rule changes similar to those used in Torchbearer (a game whose system is based off of Mouse Guard's) and some lore updates to match the current graphic novels. Initially it was said to be released in April, but that's yet to happen, though some believe its bound to be out soon; Paizo has it up on their site for preorder. I'd love to get my hands on a shiny new 2nd Ed boxed set.

Anyway, onto the most unsought surprising game session: Many years ago, when I was first meeting and gaming with a few of my friends here in Victoria, we played a GURPS fantasy campaign that to be honest had very little interesting occur during it. Our band spent the vast majority of their time figuring out logistics at a small border outpost we were stationed at. Eventually the neighbouring kingdom declared war upon the kingdom we were apart of and marched its forces through the mountain pass our keep guarded. One of our players (the fighty knight guy) rode out with our force with the intent to meet the invaders in battle, but in a surprising twist (that had no foreshadowing as far as we were concerned) his force joined with the attackers and wiped the garrison and most of the other PCs completely out.

Needless to say, several of us where quite butthurt at the switcheroo the player and GM pulled upon us with no hint or implication of treachery. I think pulling off that deception would've been far better had there been more player agency, even if it might've suffered a bit from metagame knowledge. In media, the audience is always given some hint when characters are being misled to build tension in the story and to make the final reveal more dramatic because the audience is privy to the details the characters where blind to.

Also it was plainly apparent the traitors' player just wanted to be the winner of what is basically a cooperative game. The campaign ended after that session.

Day 5: Most Recent RPG Purchase

This is probably the easiest question to answer on this list because of how literal it is: For me that'd be Weird Discoveries: Ten Instant Adventures for Numenera. When I was browsing the shelves of my FLGS, I figured if I get the chance in the near future to run that Numerena Boxed Set I now have on short notice, having a book filled with low-prep adventures could be quite handy.

Whilst I was browsing, I very nearly bought the last copy of Force & Destiny instead, it being the third and final corebook of FFG's Star Wars RPG line, but decided it was out of my budget for the time being. But gosh, it was rather compelling with its gorgeous artwork and Force-relative mechanics.

Day 6: Most Recent RPG Played

The most recent RPG I played was the Sunday before last: It was a 3.x Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms adventure, The Twilight Tomb.

I thought I sworn off the d20 system, but it keeps dragging me back in!
And the session was rather... memorable to say the least.

Our all-human adventuring party (a bunch of bigoted xenophobes) consisted of a Paladin, Druid, Wizard, and myself playing a Barbarian (Dronk was both his name and what he was all the time). We began in town and took a couple jobs to find a stolen artefact and a missing nobleman's daughter respectively in this mysterious woods.

So after some preparation, we headed off to the forest but happened upon a random encounter before we arrived: Poking its head out from some shrub, was a (young, juvenile?) green dragon. Initially our party opted to flee rather than face this threat, but it somehow dominated our druid with a hypnotic gaze unexpected for one of its youth and commanded him to convince the rest of the party to ally with the dragon, which would then aid them on their quests for a "modest" share of the profit. The other members of the party weren't having it until the wizard also fell under its surprisingly powerful influence.

After soaring through the air, circling us, the dragon finally landed nearby and unleashed a generous torrent of corrosive gas upon Dronk which sent him into a frothing rage and charging headlong at the wyrm, scoring a critical blow upon its scaly muzzle. Doing the lion's share of work, Dronk bloodied the dragon before it managed to gulp him down. As Dronk was slipping beyond the veil, the dragon realized it had bitten off more than it could chew and was now choking on the remains of the late barbarian.

I can't recall if I had ever been in a campaign where my PC had been killed in the first session, but with Dronk having done most the heavy lifting his allies managed to slay the gagging beast and reap the benefits of the glory and its nearby hoard.

This session became even more memorable from the fact that the remaining trio stumbled into another random encounter with a nymph who ended up blinding the druid and wizard with her good looks, and went then out of her way to stalk the paladin who was purposely averting her gaze and was attempting to lead the two sightless fools to help when the nymph finally did away with the paladin with a sight her unearthly beauty.

Two PCs dead. Two permanently blinded.

And it wasn't even a Lamentations of the Flame Princess or Dungeon Crawl Classics game.

Yessiree. Memorable.

Day 7: Favourite Free RPG

There is an uncountable number of Free RPGs available on the internet, some of which are legal, art-less or basic versions of the more well-known systems, such as D&D 5e, Fate Core/Accelerated, Eclipse Phase, Labyrinth Lord, Laminations of the Flame Princess, Mythender, etc. to name a few.

I'm going to confess, I don't recall ever having the chance to play an RPG that was free in all its forms, but I've certainly read many, one of which is 44: A Game Of Automatic Fear.

The basic premise of 44 is its the 1950's and each character knows someone close to them who has been replaced by a robotic replica. Together the characters fight agents that seek to convert them and survive the overall conspiracy as the turns countdown to zero hour. Think along the lines of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Aside from being a great little free game that only clocks in at 36 pages, it's unique in that when a character falls to the robotic menace, he joins the conspiracy with the GM in opposition against the remaining players. I can imagine things can get pretty tense near the end.

I still have a personal printed copy and I'd like to give it a shot sometime when I get the chance.

Day 8: Favourite Appearance of RPGs in the Media

The future was then.

Chrome. Synth. Cyberspace. Neon. Hairspray.

It's not exactly pop culture or widely-spread media, damn but this promo video for Shadowrun called 'A Night's Work' always cracks me up. It's just so awesomely BAD:

Day 9: Favourite Media You Wish Was An RPG

A tough choice, for the vast majority of RPGs have been at one point or another based upon an existing IP, so its quite difficult to look at a work in which I'm a fan of and easily state "one should make an RPG of that" without knowing, or at least presuming, its already happened.

There are several existing ones I'd like to see new editions of with updated setting fluff or a wholly modernized system (Discworld, Hellboy), but many generic systems do exist so enterprising GM's could port such material if they desire.

But in this busy world, what GM has time any more to convert a whole setting and figure out any well-themed mechanics anyway?

That said, here's two series I quite enjoy that have yet to get an official tabletop RPG: The first is the Fallout series, and the second is the BioShock series. Both video games have already established rich and detailed settings, along with unique concepts that just beg to be supported by interesting mechanics, making them both prime for book-n-dice versions.

I'm sure that both franchise owners would like to keep them in the realm of electronic games where the money supposedly is, but I think playing in either that particular post-apocalyptic or dystopian world with a band of players around a table would be a hoot and much more social than sitting in front of a screen.

Day 10: Favourite RPG Publisher

I can play the favouritism game when it comes to RPG products themselves, but not so much to the companies that create them; just because publisher X made a favourite of mine shouldn't automatically make them my choice, at least in my opinion.

Publishers are a creative collective of individuals and they all have their perks and quirks, but unlike the majority of their products, we can't fully know them by just viewing them. Me judging publishers solely upon their product seems a bit unfair, not being privy to all that insider baseball.

So instead of being fair and impartial I'm going to shamelessly plug local indie-publisher Black Goat Games instead; partially because it's the only publisher in which I own a wicked company shirt and also in hope the owner will get off his laurels give up some fresh grimdark goodness!

Maybe a couple more patrons would motivate the slumbering goat-lord into spawning new horrors.

Day 11: Favourite RPG Writer

Rich Burlew. Not for any of his actual RPG writing credits, but his RPG-related webcomic Order of the Stick. This absolutely brilliant series has been going as long as I've been out of high-school, which is nearly a decade (September 29th for the comic).

Long live Order of the Stick!

Day 12: Favourite RPG Illustration

Oh wow, what an impossible question for me to answer. As the owner of quite a large extensive RPG library, many of those books are brimming with gorgeous art. Selecting a single work out of all that, combined with the existing art I've seen for games I don't own, seems inconceivable. There's too many amazing things to choose from.

So I'm going to go with this piece by Kieran Yanner I received in the Numenera Boxed Set as it's limited print signed by Monte Cook and Shanna Germain, and thus the only piece of RPG art to soon be framed and hung on my wall.

Day 13: Favourite RPG Podcast

My top RPG-related podcasts would be Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, Nerd Poker, Numenera: The Signal, The Save or Die Podcast, and The Tabletop Superhighway. I have countless others sitting on my feed, but I haven't taken the time to listen to them yet. That's the tricky thing about podcasts, I only listen to them when I have the free time and my attention isn't focused elsewhere.

Anyway, my favourite would have to be the Order 66 Podcast: Originally a show about content and advice for the Star Wars: Saga Edition RPG back in 2008, it's focus has switched over to the recent FFG edition. This was first podcast I ever listened to and what originally got me into podcasts.

Shame I didn't have time to answer all the questions; oh well, there's always next year!

Cheers! ;{١

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