All posts by Peter R.

I have been blogging about Rolemaster for the past few years. When I am not blogging I run the Rolemaster Fanzine and create adventure seeds and generic game supplements under the heading of PPM Games. You can check them out on RPGnow. My pet project is my d6 game 3Deep, now in its second edition.

Dice or Cards?

I have had a bit of a fascination with card deck vs dice based rpgs for the last year. There is a rather strange game called ABS12 (A Basic System 12) which is all based around d12 rolls. D12s give a relatively large number of possible outcomes without having to have a bell curve of probabilities. Another consequence of this is that you can play the game by drawing cards from a standard deck of playing cards. The ace, 2-10, hack, queen, king give 13 outcomes. Discard the Kings and you have a pack of d12 rolls.

ABS12 is a very strange minimalist system. I helped with the play testing and I cannot say I particularly like it. Characters have just a single stat and everything is derived from that. You need a lot of imagination to play the game. If you are familiar with solo role playing then it is a perfectly viable writing aid. Ken Wickham, the author, shared several of his solo adventures. Check out his World of the Fifth Sun blog for more.

While I am not really keen on ABS12 the idea of using a pack of playing cards as part of the game engine does appeal.

So I was thinking about putting together a superlight RPG here in a short series of posts. Continue reading Dice or Cards?


I have been thinking about Patreon recently. One of the questions in this years #RPGaDAY was about the kickstarters that you have supported and I have never supported any of them. I tend not to buy games I will never run and my face to face gaming group are die hard Rolemaster players. Given the choice they would still be playing the original 1980s rules but I didn’t give them that choice. We only play 3 times a year but when we do get together we rent a house and have three days of solid gaming. As we are all around 50 years old it takes us three or four months to get over three days of thinking we are teenagers again! If you only get to play 3 times a year you are unlikely to want to lose time to learning a new system that you may well not like.

I also play and run games via PBP and I frequently enjoy these more than the face to face games. You lose the camaraderie but you also lose the petty squabbles and personality clashes. Some you win, some you lose.

When I get a new game it tends to be for research purposes and I like to borrow really good ideas and try and make the games I run even better. The general quality of free games is in my opinion getting better despite the opinion of some that free and pay what you want is lowering the quality of games. My first releases were pretty ropey I will admit but every generation has had higher production standards and goals than the previous version.

Not every GM needs new games but most GMs appreciate new resources. There are a lot of home brew settings out there and you can parachute in a ‘bought’ module or NPC quite easily. Sandbox games appear to be the fashion and in those it is easy to bolt together countless 3rd party materials.

So this brings me to Patreon. I have never been enthused by kickstarter but I can see the appeal of Patreon. If I find a creator that I like and use their materials then why not subscribe for a small fee and get regular new content and frequently content that is not available anywhere else?

I can can envisage whole game systems being sponsored this way. At the moment games publishers have to keep putting out new books to drive more sales. If they don’t then the players can keep on playing with what they already have for ever or worse still if you do not have a gothic horror genre book for your game then the players may buy a gothic horror game to play and put your game back on the shelf.

If the games were Patreon funded then you have a two way channel of communication. If the people who are funding your game say they want x, y, and z then you know right from the start that there is an appetite for x, y and z.

This is a step down the ‘pay to play’ route and I am not sure that if this was explicitly sold as pay to play if people would like the idea but it does also lower the cost of entry into a game. You could play the quick start rules or lite version of a game and then if you like it you subscribe to Patreon and get add on books as they become available and as a subscriber you could get a discount on all the books that have gone before.

I have very little artistic talent and two of the patreon communites I am most interested in are Heroic Maps and Dyson Logos. The first produces beautiful battle maps and floor plans and the other outstanding dungeon maps. These two have talents I lack and cannot fake.

I was interested in how Michael’s patreon community was developing. You can find it here and I am sure he would appreciate the support. This is of interest to me as I run a fanzine. Right now you can buy it on Amazon and the OBS sites but it does seem like a natural fit. I publish the magazine monthly and Patreon is about regular deliveries of content. In effect becoming a patreon would be the same as subscribing to the magazine.

So how do you feel about the idea of subscribing to a game system? Would you entertain the idea of pay to play?

I am guessing the answer is a resounding No! from the vast majority or am I wrong?


Eclipse Phase Second Edition Open Play Test

This game is currently in open play test and to me looks really good. I mean that both literally, the art and book layout of the quick start PDF is outstanding and as a ruleset it looks really solid.

The Open Play Test Bundle

Being a second edition, this is more evolution than revolution but there are plenty of tweaks from the looks of things. I have joined the development forum this week and it is nice to see a lot of positive feedback from the Eclipse Phase community.
I know plenty of GMs that fix dice rolls to make sure players survive fights but that is one of the cool thing about Eclipse Phase and being transhuman, death of the body is a mere inconvenience and if anything adds some interesting role play potential. If your body dies a back up of your personality or ego can be downloaded into a new body, resleeved, and away you go again but the back up only know what you knew at the time of the last backup. So if you meet someone it could be the first time for you but the second time or more for them.

There is an active discussion over at another forum I take part in about how GMs bring the party together so they will stick together. Eclipse Phase does not have that problem as the players are all cast as Sentinels, or agents of Firewall and so they are a team that has been brought together for a mission(s). This also means that it will be easy to introduce new players to an existing game, you just have the powers that be parachute in an additional team member. Likewise if someone drops out of your game then you have Firewall pull the character out for a different mission.

Game mechanics-wise this is a sort of ‘roll under’ system where you have to roll under your current skill but having said that when to skills are opposed such as you trying to hide and someone trying to spot you then if both succeed at their skill rolls the person who rolls highest wins. So you want to roll low but not too low. To me that sounds quirky but I like it. Skill rolls have plenty of opportunities for critical successes and critical failures that can give he GM plenty to play with.

As this game is currently in play test it is a great time to get involved. The playtest download from rpgnow. What you get is the quick start rules but also the beta test rules for the full second edition of the game. These take the form of a bundle of text based documents, one for each aspect of the game such as character creation or combat. Each document is typically 5 to ten pages in length. This makes them pretty easy to read and digest. Some play tests I have been involved with have been single 500 pages mammoths and it is nigh on impossible to remember if a reference to something on page 50 is consistent with an example of play of page 450!

Behind all of this is an community based around a forum where you can post questions, make suggestions and get more support.

I think if ever you want to try Eclipse Phase now is the time to do it and at the same time be able to give something back to the developers, even if it is just feedback on how your play sessions went.