Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My LotFP Kickstarter Package Arrived

My rewards for kickstarting the publication of Better Than Any Man for Free RPG Day arrived yesterday and I cannot wait to get this stuff to the table. The package contained a copy of Better Than Any Man (including the backers-only cover), three d6s with the Dead Sign on the 1 side, and a matching d30. Also included was one of the monster cards which I don't recall being part of my reward tier, but I'll definitely accept it.

The dice are my favorite part of the package. Having the Dead Sign pop up rather than the one makes for some extra dread at the table. I'm not sure, but I suspect that Raggi may have put some sort of curse on these dice because the Dead Signs seem to come up way too often.

And then there is the backers-only cover. As the shipments were going out, Raggi warned backers several time to not open their packages in public, at work, near children or the easily offended. When the publisher of Lamentations of the Flame Princess gives such a strong warning, I braced myself for impact.

And then I saw that it really wasn't that bad. It's just a monster with a mouth that looks like a human vagina. If you're offended by the way a vagina looks, I suppose it's pretty bad, but as someone who has recently gone through the process of childbirth, I think it just looks goofy. I definitely prefer the normal version of the cover since that monster has much more personality. He seems like a pretty fun guy.

I'm going to post the image now for the curious. It's pretty NSFW since it's an image of a big, sticky, fuchsia vagina. Don't scroll down any further if you have someone looking over your shoulder.

You've been warned. I am absolved from all responsibility.





Thursday, August 22, 2013

Funky Dice and Savage Worlds

My recent purchase of several "funky dice" was to facilitate a shot at running Dungeon Crawl Classics, but I immediately started thinking about how they could apply to my favorite generic system, Savage Worlds.

One of the beautiful things about Savage Worlds is that almost everything about a character is measured in in dice types. For example, a character with unremarkable intellect would have a Smarts score of d4, while a genius would have a score of d12. This system facilitates extremely easy and fast rulings.

Unfortunately, this system breaks down once a character achieves a power level over the d12. I've yet to look into the relevant supplements, but I imagine this is considerably common in games with superheroes. Because the next highest die type in a standard RPG set is the d20, the Savage Worlds rules begin to add a flat bonus for any rank higher than the d12 (e.g. d12+2, followed by d12+4).

I've never liked this system because adding the flat bonuses makes failure too unlikely, especially since I'm not the sort of GM who likes to add a bunch of penalties to any rolls. At the rank of d12+2, the player can only fail by rolling either a 1 or 2 on both the skill/attribute die and the wild die. This is extremely unlikely. Failing on a d12+4 is essentially impossible unless there is a significant penalty involved.

But what if the rank of d12+2 was replaced by a d14? This would allow for less math and a failure/success rate that is in line with all of the ranks below it. The broken system is fixed by adding a missing part. With the use of funky dice, the ranks in Savage Worlds can run from d4 to d24, all using 2-side increments. At a d24, the character is incredibly powerful but still has to worry about rolling a 1, 2, or 3. Using the old system, the rank would be rendered as 12+10.

I've considered how this could be applied to unskilled rolls, which are normally a d4-2. It's possible that this could be done with a d2 as the skill die and a d4 as the wild die, but the likelihood of exploding the dice increases as the number of sides goes down. Using the alternate dice could actually result in more successes than failures. This may require some actually experimentation.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Misery Index Kickstarter Has Lost Momentum

With the initial controversy tapping off, the much maligned Kickstarter campaign for the Misery Index collection of games has lost considerable steam.

The Misery Index: Terrible Games about Terrible Realities -- Kicktraq Mini

According to the normally optimistic Kicktraq, the campaign is not projected to hit its goal in the next 11 days. Looking at the day-to-day data is especially interesting as there are actually days in which the campaign lost backers and one day that found $35 being removed from the pot.

If I were to speculate, it may have been this interview that resulted in the net loss of one backer and $35 on August 10. When the details of the actual games, especially The Oldest Cruelest Sword are presented in full view, its understandable that some people would have second thoughts.

After having read some of the drafts of the rule sets, I am honestly not shocked that this campaign is slowing way down and would be much more surprised if Misery Tourism actually succeeds in funding this project. The controversy surrounding these games is the only thing interesting about them.

Gen Con: Day 4 Report

My last day at Gen Con was dominated by a single, very long RPG that had a lot of promise. It was a Doctor Who/Firefly mash-up run in Savage Worlds. I know, right?

This was probably the game I was most excited about playing in since I first saw the listing months ago. Titled "The Great T.A.R.D.I.S. Robbery," this game was going to put together two of my favorite sci-fi franchises, both of which should compliment each other nicely. A real chocolate and peanut butter situation.

There were three other players at the table and all three immediately grabbed up Doctor Who characters. There was the tenth Doctor, River Song and Captain Jack. Immediately our fan fiction switches were flipped. Since I didn't want Firefly to be unrepresented in the game, I grabbed the sheet for Captain Mal. It would appear that one Serenity crew member wasn't enough for the GM, so he had me also play as another Firefly character. I naturally picked Zoe but I was wary of playing two characters at the same time.

(I'd like to point out that the player who grabbed the Doctor only did so when prompted by the GM. The Doctor has to be the single hardest established character to role player, simply because he knows the very things about every situation that only a GM should know. No one should be forced to play the Doctor. I can't see how it could be fun for anyone.)

The adventure started out well enough. Mal and Zoe agreed to help the Doctor and companions get their TARDIS back from the local magical repairman (with intentions of selling them out to get free repairs) but the plan quickly changed when Inara was captured by crazed cultists. Our inevitable betrayal had to be put on hold.

It seemed like the GM was weaving in a lot of different elements and was withholding information from players based on their series of origin. This was pretty cool until I figured out where all the weird confusing stuff was coming from: Classic Battlestar Galactica.

You know that peanut butter and chocolate analogy I used earlier? It still applies, but now some fresh dog shit has been mixed in. Now nothing tastes good in the slightest.

Yeah, characters and technology from the old Battlestar Galactica started popping up and I'm pretty sure that only the GM was having fun with it. The other players were just confused. I was just frustrated because I had no idea what to do with this shit. We ran into two crew members of some battlestar and they proceeded to do pretty much everything important in the story while we just hatched schemes that the GM wouldn't acknowledge. The GM actually started acting bored with everything we were doing and would not allow us to progress the plot. Might I add that I paid $8 for this?

Here's the weird part about all the Battlestar crap that was added: it was both pointless and the only stuff that mattered. If you were to remove all of it, we would have had the same story since the players had no idea how to actually use or care about anything not from Who or Firefly. At the same time, the GM ignored any solutions we offered and instead let the douchebags from the wrong franchise swoop in an solve every problem.

This was pretty much the textbook case of how not to run a con game and it left a very bad taste in my mouth. By the time the climax came around, I couldn't even feel good about victory. Once it was clear that the game was done, I got up and booked it to the exhibit hall. I bought some more weird dice and got the hell out of Indy.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Today is H.P. Lovecraft's 123rd Birthday

This day in 1890 a man was born who would go on to become one of the most influential writers in science fiction, horror and gaming. A lot of things that I love would be very boring if it were not for Howard Philips Lovecraft.

If you're in the mood to celebrate Lovecraft's birthday by supplementing your gaming collection with come tentacled monstrosities, DriveThruRPG is having a sale on many Lovecraft-inspired products, including Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Delta Green, CthulhuTech, Achtung! Cthulhu and a ton of stuff by Chaosium and Cubicle 7. The sale lasts until August 26.

Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Gen Con: Day 3 Report

My third day of Gen Con was all walking and RPGs. Remind me when event registration comes around next year to write a post about how to make the most of your schedule while taking into account the distance between the different venues. This year I learned that the JW Marriott and Union Stations are the anchors of the venue conglomerate when I had to walk nearly a mile of crowded halls to make it from one game to the other.

I had three different RPGs on Saturday, each one a game that I had purchased in the past but have yet to run. Now, as the books and boxes gather dust on my shelf, I can at least say I played the games once.

Because of the tight schedule, no purchases were made. My wallet thanked me later.

DC Heroes

I have been waiting to play this game for probably twenty years. It was the very first RPG I ever purchased as a kid and I never got past geeking out over all the statted out superheroes. Here was my chance to finally take this beauty for a ride.

The game was titled "Time Bubble Trouble" and had the Justice League jumping around in time and space looking to put things right. Because I showed up early, I had one of the first picks of heroes, so I couldn't resist playing as Batman. As others filed in, we formed a team of mostly heavy hitters, but Metamorpho and Black Canary allowed for some fun, unexpected situations.

Let me focus on the positives first. The couple playing as Black Canary and Green Lantern were awesome and knew their shit. At one point we encountered an alternate reality version of Guy Gardner, who was naturally being a dick. I had enough and decided it was time to reenact one of the greatest moments in JLA history.
One. Punch.

Using more than a few hero points, I insured that I would be knocking out Guy in one punch. The player controlling Black Canary was there to joyfully announce that she finally got to see it happen and wished someone had been taping it.

Most of the other players, especially those playing Green Lantern and Metamorpho were very inventive in the use of their powers. They were a lot of fun to play with.

And then there was the guy who was playing Superman. Good god, he was the worst. He was a nightmare, an amalgamation of every bad trait a role player could have in a single package. He hogged the spotlight, role played the character terribly, metagamed constantly, outright cheated at least once, and farted in my general direction. And he thought he was entitled to be this douchebag because he was the god damn Superman.

At one point we had to take on the evil Russian Superman from Red Son and came up with an excellent plan of turning Metamorpho into a giant kyptonite bomb. And then our idiot Superman got between us and the target, as if he hadn't heard a fucking thing we said in the fifteen minutes we took to formulate our plan. I had to save his life as he plummeted to earth wrapped in a ball of 50 different types of kryptonite and he didn't even notice.

He was That Guy. Don't ever be That Guy.

The GM did nothing to reign him in or question his outright stupidity. I understand being a "yes and" GM, but none of us have chosen to play with this guy. Telling him to chill out or making him suffer for his idiotic actions might have damped his experience, but it would have greatly improved the game for the five other people at the table.

At least he helped me channel a decent pissed off Batman.

I ended up having to book it to my next game, which was a mile away. The plot seemed to crumble at the end of the session and I have no idea why we had to beat up on Darkseid or what the Time Trapper was even attempting. I would have loved to pick the GMs brain, but I had to go and get away from Superdouche.

Vampire: The Requiem

The next game was my first experience of the World of Darkness games. I had read most of the rules for nWoD and some of the fluff for V:tR, but the was probably the one system I had least of a gasp on.

There were only three players in this game, which was expected to have about six. This is probably for the best because this was going to end up being the most role playing focused game I've ever been in. When one of the players introduced himself his vampire completely in character with a Louisiana accent without skipping a beat, I thought I was going to be in trouble. On the role playing style spectrum, I am as far from the Actor end as possible.

But by the end of the game, especially during the lengthy debate and political posturing that developed in the story, I ended up speaking almost entirely in character. It was exciting to be so out of my comfort zone.

Of all the games I played at Gen Con, I suspect that this was the most improvised by the GM. This was probably for the best since things got a little crazy towards the end. I'll spare you a detailed plot summary, but the endgame scenario had us choosing between sticking with our Prince or siding with a insane ancient vampire with giant mutant animals in his control. Because we were only baby vampires, the smooth talking "face" of the group outright bailed from the story, seeing it as a zero-sum outcome.

I was of a similar opinion, but I felt that at a con game there is no reason to ever give up and not go out in a blaze of glory. In the end, I was able to harness the power of poor decision making, badass betrayal and snappy one-liners to muster the strength to ambush the Prince and tear her head from her body.

In my first game of Vampire I ended up becoming the Prince. It doesn't get much better than that.

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space

I don't know his name or where he came from, but this GM was amazing. He had put together an adventure and a cast of characters actually worthy of the Doctor Who name. It could have been an episode of the show. It was that cool.

(UPDATE: Actually, I do know his name. He's Clinton Boomer. He's an author, which explains a lot. You can kickstart the publishing of some of his books right now.)

Each character had a secret agenda and a history that tied in perfectly to the story. As we played, things kept clicking into place, forming a unified whole. It was astounding to experience. I can only imagine how much time and effort this took to plan.

Although the ripping off of a Prince's head was awesome fun, the following exchange was the single best role playing moment of the night:

GM (as immortal debutante in a house clearly occupied by Weeping Angels): "I have a guardian angel who protects me."

Me (a psychic con man who posses as a spiritualist): "An angel, you say? Can you show me this angel?"

GM: "It does not like to be seen! You will need to close your eyes."

Me: ...

GM: Covers his eyes with his hands.

Me: I close my eyes.

At that point I nearly had my head ripped off by a Weeping Angel in the exact same away I did to the Prince only a few hours before. I spent the rest of the game with my character at death's door screaming about ghosts and demons and using my psychic powers to feed clues to my fellow players.

Oh, and I spent the whole time speaking in a terrible British accent. We all did. That was silly fun.

It's worth noting that Doctor Who was the most rules-light game I played on Saturday and it was probably the only game in which all of the rules were actually followed. Vampire and DC Heroes were so fast and loose that the core mechanic was bullshitting.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gen Con: Day 2 Report

I meant to blog regularly from Gen Con, but my full schedule meant early mornings and late nights. Between eating, calling home and playing games with friends, I didn't have much time for writing. So, I'll do my best to document my time at Gen Con after the fact.

The day started at noon with yet another game of Arkham Horror, this time incorporating the King in Yellow expansion. Because of the extremely nasty nature of the expansion, our tactics immediately changed from the usual sealing of gates to intentionally waking up Nyarlathotep and punching him to death. This is the first time I've even encountered the Ancient One and not had everyone give up hope of winning. Our encounter with Eihort the previous night was an exercise in futility. Yet somehow we managed to beat the crap out of the Crawling Chaos and earn a win.

While my cohorts demoed Decent 2nd Edition, I fell into a demo of Blood Bowl Team Manager. Although the demo was very short, it left me with a good impression of the game. It combines elements of deck building and hand management that I love in a card game. Plus it has Warhammer races being goofy, which never fails to please me.

The day ended with a large group game of Castles & Crusades run by none other than +Stephen Chenault, the CEO of Troll Lord Games.

Not the best photo of the game, but the only one in which something awesome must have happened.
Because this was my first game of C&C as a player, I wanted to be a class that I've never seen at my table: the Wizard. I rolled up a level 5 wizard with completely random spells. This may have been a mistake since most of my spells ended up being about language and written words. These spells don't do much good in the middle of a grassland. Luckily, my Floating Disk did serve as a convenient elevator for our many chests of gold. Too bad those chests of gold had to be ditched soon after so that we had a chance to get away from the orc horde following us.

Steve did a great job running a game with at least 12 players without having it erupt into chaos. Everyone got a chance to shine (although the dice were much kinder to some) and he had an excellent scene of where characters where in a scene.

I did a majority of my shopping on Friday since I had a large chunk of free time.

My first purchase was a bunch of weird dice from Impact Miniatures, who seemed to be the only vendor selling unusual dice in multiple colors. I especially liked their 7-sided die, which has a pretty brilliant design. I purchased the weird dice because a GM can never have too many in his dice bag, but having the unique dice in my possession made it easier to give in and purchase a copy of...

Dungeon Craw Classics! I'm not sure I'll ever run DCC over C&C, but the game is just too fun and strange to ignore. And $40 for a massive book seemed like hell of a deal. I purchased the level-0 adventure Sailors on the Starless Sea, which allowed for a cool dice bag to be included. This made me feel a little silly when I had just bought a dice bag from Crystal Caste. If only I had gotten my head out of my ass and bought DCC earlier, I could have saved some cash!

I also purchased a sleeve of 1100+ Magic: The Gathering cards. I'm not a collector but I like the idea of making cool decks and I just can't make anything coherent with the small sampling I have now. At only $12 for all those cards, I think I'll be just fine.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gen Con: Day 1 Report

This is only half of the board.

Rather uneventful day. Played two games of Arkham Horror, one of which had all of the expansions in play. It was beautifully chaotic. The GM could have been better since a game with so many expansions and already overly complicated rules would require someone with encyclopedic knowledge of the game. Unlike the typical game of Arkham Horror, which is pure co-op strategy, this was more of a you're on your own survival horror experience.

Bought some weird dice but still unsure if I will purchase Dungeon Crawl Classics. It seems like a very fun game, but I'm pretty committed to Castles & Crusades. Also, purchased a sweet C&C screen.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reading 'Horus Rising'

I'm only 20% through Dan Abnett's Horus Rising but I'm stuck with two thoughts about the novel.

First, this novel is so character-driven that it doesn't even seem like the Warhammer 40k universe, let alone a story about the ultra-macho space marines. There is a lengthy battle sequence in the first chapter, but it's written in a very dreamlike style that puts more emphasis on how the battle felt than how it actually was. This brings Horus Rising into sharp contrast with the one other W40k novel I've read, Assault on Black Reach. Designed to provide lore for a box of space marines and orks, Black Reach is nothing but non-stop violence and hero worship. The plot is slaughtered along with the countless orks. It's honestly jarring to read space marines as multifaceted characters after that novel.

Secondly, Horus Rising was either written with a thesaurus in one hand or as SAT prep. The word choice is absurd in this book and it would be essentially unreadable without the dictionary built into my Kindle. I'd like to think of space marines as medieval knights in space, so I normally don't mind the archaic vocabulary, but it's going a bit far when the dictionary makes a point of saying that a word is only used in flowery language.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Misery Index Kickstarter is Live, Getting Jimmies Rustled

The newest controversy to hit the world of RPGs has arrived! And just in time if you ask me. Things were getting pretty boring and pedantic among those who think that games are the most important things in the world.

The Misery Index is a collection of "terrible games about terrible realities." Basically they are story games that combine genre settings (vampires, near-future cyberpunk, heroic fantasy, etc.) with disturbing and transgressive themes (racial violence, poverty, sexual assault, etc.). Naturally, there are more than a few people who think that these games are vile and will set back the human race hundreds of years. Others believe that they are either brilliant satire or smart examinations of themes that should be addressed. And others still don't give a shit either way, but those people don't post on forums or blogs, so you'd never know they existed.

I have no real interest in story games in general, so I'm probably not the intended audience for these games or the resulting controversy. However, if I had to play a story game and Fiasco wasn't an option, I'd probably try out one of these games. The reason being that unlike other popular story games about unsavory subjects, these actually look like fun. Yes, they require a good helping of dark humor and the genre trappings help hide the bitterness of the themes, but most "socially aware" story games come off as depressing death marches through the darkness of the human condition with the intention to somehow make the players better people by acting out the pain of those less fortunate then themselves. Pity should not be a core game mechanic.

I wish the creators of The Misery Index the best of luck with their campaign and I look forward to seeing some quality hyperbole and self-righteous nonsense in the realm of RPG punditry.

For a taste of what the Misery Index has in store, watch the above pitch video. You will experience extreme sensations of fremdscham. You will be miserable. Your character will die every time you pause or look away from the video. This is an incredibly hard game, but it does get much easier once you get to the Parent's Shed encounter.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New Bundle of Holding Includes Ars Magica and Colonial Gothic

The newest Bundle of Holding includes some doozies. Pledge more than the average (currently $20.54) and you will get a copy of Ars Magica 5th Edition and Colonial Gothic, both games that I have been interested in for some time. The third bonus game Clockwork and Chivalry looks pretty cool as well.

You have until August 12, 2013 to take advantage of this deal.

Cave Evil: The Grimmest Board Game of All Time

Holy shit, will you look at that art? That is the most metal art I have ever seen on a board game. There are some pretty brutal and grim board games out there, but Chaos in the Old World looks like Candyland next to Cave Evil. There is so much greyscale evil in the above image that I didn't even know I was looking at a board game for a while.

Cave Evil is a necrodemonic dungeon brawl board game (first printed in 2011) that takes place in a vast deeply subterranean cave-crypt necropolis. Players take on the role of Necromancers locked in a desperate battle to harness the power of The Pit, a chasm that connects to the realm of Shadow. The Necromancers must raise squadrons of creatures, demons and monstrosities to battle and do their bidding (players control 6 squads at the same time) through a maze of tunnels that can be strategically constructed or collapsed and are constantly evolving during game play in a process of brutal player elimination. Minions must mine and excavate or destroy opponents to gather up resources to raise their Necromancer's army. Resources come in three varieties and correspond to various types of creatures (130+ unique creatures are included in the game).
The publishers of Cave Evil are currently taking preorders for a second (and final) printing. They have reached the minimum of 420 preorders, so the game will receive a run of 1000 new copies. Ordering now will lock in the price of $75, rather than the $90 retail price. But hurry if you are interested! Preorders close on August 9, 2013.

Here is a look at the components in the first printing of the game:

There is a trailer of sorts for the game but it doesn't provide much insight into gameplay, so here is a special presentation of the teaser from me to you.

Review: ROLF: Steve Costigan and the Thief of Youth

This is a short adventure for two-players (one of which is the gamemaster) based on the adventures of Sailor Steve Costigan, one of Robert E. Howard's lesser known creations. Costigan is an unruly and uncultured sailor who solves all problems with his fists and the help of his little white bulldog Mike. Drawing closely on the source material, this adventure is filled with the pulpiest tropes possible and a sprinkling of old-school orientalist racism.

Having just reviewed the ROLF rule book and being left with uncertainties on the system, I'm glad that this adventure provides some insight on how to run a ROLF adventure. Although it is not clear in the rule book, this adventure makes it clear that ROLF should be played with a game master who takes the role of the antagonists and describes the world to the player who controls the protagonist.

Unfortunately, this adventure includes Traits and Combat Maneuvers not found in the ROLF core rule book with little indication as to where to find the new rules. The adventure is supposed to be compatible with a game called The Violent Worlds of Robert E. Howard, which may be bundled with other ROLF products but does not have a listing of its own. I understand that ROLF is a very loose system that is spread out across dozens of cheap supplements, but it would be nice to have some idea what products are required to run an adventure.

Likewise, on at least two occasions the notes state that the protagonist is not supposed to attack during a fight. I'm not sure how that is supposed to work, especially since he is expected to win at least one of the fights. Perhaps I am missing some obscure rule or this is a poor way of saying he should be on the defensive, but I don't see how the encounter is supposed to go down with the punch-happy boxer keeping his hands in his pockets.

Assuming that the players have the all the rules required to run this adventure, it should prove to be pretty fun. The plot is very well informed by the pulp fiction conventions and has its tongue locked firmly in its cheek. There is plenty of old-fashioned racist phrases and Yellow Peril is a major theme of this adventure. If you have a hard time telling sincerity from satire, you may want to pass on this one. 

Oh, and a tip on getting the most out of this adventure: Don't talk to the cops.

Buy Steve Costigan and the Thief of Youth on RPGNow.

UPDATE: NEULOW Games is very quick to respond to feedback. Here is their response to the problems pointed out in this review.
I can see we need to do a better job at labeling these things--or maybe just de-list this particular product. You picked the ONE ROLF! supplement that is the odd-one out among them. It was intended initially JUST for inclusion in the REH anthology "Shanghaied Mitts," but we decided to make it available by itself, in case someone had picked up "Fists of Foolishness" (which included "The Violent Worlds of Robert E. Howard") but didn't want to spring for the second anthology. It's the ONE time where the Combat Maneuvers and Traits not in the core rules but used in the supplement are not included.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review: ROLF: The Rollplaying Game of Big Dumb Fighters

I had to do a double-take when I was typing in the title of this game for this review. Yep, it's a "rollplaying game." I've heard an awful lot about rollplaying and how terrible of a thing it is, so I was surprised to come across a game that is all about the ill-aligned practice.

ROLF is a beer and pretzels game about sexy muscle bound idiots who either want to kill each other or fuck each other. It's a game best played with a lot of beer and pretzels. This is the kind of game you bring to the table when you've lost the cognitive faculties for a more nuanced game. A dumb, frisky warrior is very easy to roleplay when you've had a few too many.

The game is based on a simple roll-low system based three attributes and there are no rules related to anything outside of combat. At only 10 pages, you don't get much more rules-light than this. There are some rules for Traits, for players who want more fleshed out characters, but the book makes it perfectly clear that your priority should be killing things, not telling an interesting story.

The one problem that ROLF may have is its initiative system. Each character makes two moves each round, but in a forward and back order. For instance, if there are three characters in a fight the order of moves would be ABCCBA. This seems like it would add some interesting strategy, but I can also see it getting a bit messy since Character C's first turn may be a reaction to Character A's move, but first they have to wait through Character B's turn to resolve if Character A's move is successful. This can get very dicey if more than three characters are in a combat, which puts a hard limit on how many people can play ROLF and what a gamemaster can throw at the players.

As I wrote that last sentence, I realized that there is no discussion of a gamemaster anywhere in this book. I assumed that there would be a gamemaster, but it's possible that ROLF is intended to be a GMless free-for-all game. There is mention of using ROLF for a campaign, but that seems impossible if this is the case.

ROLF is an incomplete game. The foundation is strong, simple and goofy fun, but you can't help but think that there is a lot missing from this game. It's important for a beer and pretzel's game to be as complete as possible since drunk players are not going to want to figure out a way for fair rulings on the fly. However, ROLF is very well supported by the publisher, so some of the holes in the system may be addressed in other releases.

With a list price of only $1.50, ROLF may be worth a look for your gaming arsenal. The concept of stupid, sexy fighters is certainly something that would appeal to gamers who need something simple and lighthearted. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if it can match the quality of similar games like Old School Hack and Kobolds Ate My Baby.

Buy ROLF at RPGNow.

UPDATE: Below is a response from the publisher of ROLF regarding the holes in the system and which supplements to use to plug them up:
ROLF! was created as a spoof RPGs, which is the reason for the holes you mention; it's shot through with game design meta-humor. Said holes have indeed been plugged in the supplements that are currently available--with the most important "plugs" appearing in "Icing Oetzi." The strictly two-player variant "You Vs. Me" was not shot through with quite as much meta-humor as "Big Dumb Fighters," so it is complete ROLF! was also originally conceived as a GMless free-for-all and we had actually never seriously considered it usable for campaign play. However, we have learned that GMs have been used in running it and that there have been at least one campaign. So, in supplements, we have attempted to take that into account, (Again, "You vs. Me" is very clearly presented as GMless.)

Monday, August 5, 2013

No one is ruining the RPG hobby.

"I can't play the game I want to play because of someone on the internet."
                                   -No One Ever

A hobby is not a religion or a political movement. It is not harmed by the opinions on topics not related to the actual hobby. The only opinion that matters is your own. This means that your opinion isn't shit to other people unless they really want it to be.

Don't be a baby about people who think differently than you. They aren't villains. They aren't 'part of the problem.' There is no 'problem.'

Take some god damn responsibility for yourself. Stop thinking that stranger from the internet is going to take away the things you like in games or force in things you don't like. That will never happen. That's not how RPGs work.

I could spend all my time writing on this blog about things I don't like in games, bit that would be a waste of time. Those things don't effect me. I'll stick to writing about things I like. Those are the only things that matter.

What I Will Be Doing at Gen Con 2013

I will be attending Gen Con this year and with only nine days to go I am getting very excited. I attended last year but didn't really do much other than tool around the exhibition hall, play one game of Savage Worlds, play a single game of Dominion, and volunteer for four hours each day. It was still fun, but I couldn't help but feel like I missed out on the Gen Con experience.

This year will be different. I've taken full advantage of the event registration system and will not be volunteering at all. I will be playing in five different RPGs and a ton of Arkham Horror games. My schedule is so packed that I will be making rations packages because I will not have time to leave the convention center for a meal on some days. It's going to be a very busy four days.

Here is what I am looking forward to:

DC Heroes

I've been wanting to play this game since the early 1990s when I purchased the second edition box set and several supplements with my allowance. It was my first RPG but I just wanted it for the books of stats and background on various superheroes. I read some of the rules but never worked up the courage to ask someone to play it with me before eventually selling the set on ebay. It was a real missed opportunity since I didn't get to play an RPG until I was an adult.

I'll be playing in a Justice League game of DC Heroes at Gen Con. I"m currently re-reading the rules since I'm expected to know them for the game. This is probably the one game that I'm looking forward to the most because I can't wait to see how it actually plays at the table. The MEGS system seems like a strange rule set, but it's surprisingly simple and facilitates much more improvisation that its universal measurement system lets on.

Doctor Who Games

I'll be playing two different Doctor Who-related games. The first is a session of the Cubicle 7 official Doctor Who game. The second is a Savage Worlds game that mashes up Doctor Who with the Firefly universe. It seems that many of the games at Gen Con are big, high-concept, mash-up extravaganzas and The Great TARDIS Robbery sounds too cool to miss.

Ever since I registered for these games I have been binge-watching Doctor Who, viewing every episode from the beginning of the rebooted series. There's something terrifying about playing as characters from the series, especially the Doctor himself.


I'm not much for shopping in the exhibition hall, but it's very hard to resist the siren call of the giant bins of dice at the Chessex booth or the beautifully designed dice of Q-Workshop. Hopefully I will be able to resist buying another coffee mug worth of dice, but I will be on the lookout for unique dice that I can add to my GM arsenal.

Arkham Horror

I'll definitely be getting my Arkham Horror fix this year with three games, including a session of To the Barricades, which adds all of the expansions for a massive 18-player game. I don't play all that much Arkham Horror, so that game sounds terrifying for many reasons. I may be biting off more than I can chew, but the epic scale of the game is hard to pass up.

Being the Player

Since jumping into the hobby three years ago, I have been the player in a game only once and that was at last year's Gen Con. GMing a game is fun and exciting, but it is a very different experience than that of the player. The level of mystery and urgency isn't there. A game experience is so incredibly different when you are on the other side of the screen.

I'll also be playing in a Vampire: The Requiem and Castles & Crusades game, and I'll probably hang out at Games on Demand should I ever find myself without something to do for a good chunk of time.

Meeting New People

This is a weird thing for me to look forward to since I am an extreme introvert, but people at Gen Con are generally good people. Being surrounded by people with whom you have a shared interest and no pretense really helps bring the most staunch introvert out of his shell. I've heard a lot about people being dick heads at con games, but it seems to me that most people want to make the absolute best of their short time at Gen Con and are therefor on their best, most charitable behavior.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dungeon Robber: Flash Game That Takes You Through Appendix A

What started as a Kickstarter for a cool poster that presents Appendix A as a flow chart dungeon map has ended in the creation of a flash-based game that leads you on an adventure through a dungeon that generates as you go.

Dungeon Robber is a very fun game, being a very stripped down version of a dungeon crawl from the oldest of schools. You start as a penniless robber with a club and gradually become a hero with cool magical items. Just be sure to leave the dungeon and go to the bank to level up. And also be careful fishing. I caught a sea monster with my hook and was promptly killed.

Play Dungeon Robber.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wild Card Creator Public Beta Released

Almost one year ago a young man walked up to me as I waited to get a seat in a game during Gen Con 2012's Savage Saturday Night and handed me a business card. The card directed me to a Kickstarter campaign for a Savage Worlds character creator that would take all of the heavy lifting out of generating a character. Although it isn't exactly a nightmare to create a character in SW, I immediately thought of all the time I could save when creating characters for a new campaign, with new players. I backed the project as soon as I got home.

One year later Wild Card Creator has been released as a public beta. I've been a part of the closed beta for a while but now anyone can jump in. The cost of the beta (and the finished product once it is done) is currently $20.

Wild Card Creator is a very simple program that runs in Java and has builds for Mac, Windows and Linux. The no-frills approach provides an easy to use interface. Once you've created a few characters, you'll find yourself breezing through the process in less than a minute. After you've created the character, it can be exported to a setting-specific character sheet or a basic, clean print-out. The character can also be saved for easy advancement later.

For all its simplistic beauty, I'm hesitant to praise Wild Card Creator too highly. Currently there are several key features that are missing, such as creating custom Arcane backgrounds and Knowledge skills. While I can get around the Arcane Background problem, I believe that the Knowledge skills are a key way of making a character unique on the fly. To get around this you will need to create a homebrew campaign and manually create these custom skills, which is a lot of work for something that is designed to be easy. 

One of the selling points for Wild Card Creator is the ability to import all of the special character rules from various published settings, just by owning the PDF. This is the feature that really sold me on the program since my SW PDF collection is only growing day-by-day. Several PDFs are already supported, such as Realms of Cthulhu and the Fantasy Companion, but I expect the inclusion of additional settings to be very slow coming. The promise of this product makes being patient very difficult. Wild Card Creator is the work of one man, which means that updates are few and far between.

All things considered, Wild Card Creator is shaping up to be a fine product. If you're committed to running Savage Worlds in many different genres, it's definitely worth checking out. Just don't expect it to be a perfect product any time soon.