Category Archives: Just my two cents

Dark Fantasy

These days having to wait for things feels so old fashioned! I have grown used to pdf rulebooks and if I want something I can have it right now.

For years now I have been using a tablet PC for virtually all my rules look ups at the gaming table that my ‘books’ are normally selected pages printed off and filed. The actual pages are selected on a session by session basis so I have the minimum amount of dead tree at the table.

One reason for this is that I tend not to play my face to face game at home, I have to take myself and all my gaming stuff half way across the UK and I try and use public transport as much as possible as well. I do have a car but public transport is environmentally more sustainable than everyone running around in their own cars. Anyway, that is a bit of a digression!

So I am conditioned into wanting my PDFs on demand which is bad enough but I will also confess to wanting a free pdf quick start or at least a ‘lite’ version so I can try before I buy.

The Deryni Adventure Game is only available as a physical print book and it is not on RPGNow/Drivethru. That absolutely threw me! Wanting to get my hands on this game lead me to email greyghostgames directly asking if there was a pdf available and the awesome Ann Dupuis has actually put a copy of the printed book in the post for me. I will be reviewing this game properly when  have had a real chance to look at the book and hopefully actually play it.

In the mean time I am still looking for my instant gratification fix. My first impression of Princess Bride was a little dismissive but I have taken another look at the quickstart pdf and although the game isn’t what I am looking for ‘off the peg’ there is more good stuff here than I gave it fair credit for at first glance.

Having read the Bride QS and not being able to get my hands instantly on Deryni I needed something else to satisfy my fudge craving. So I started to have a detailed read of the Fudge engine. That is a free PDF and I have had it knocking around on my hard drive ever since I first looked at the Ghost Ops QS booklet. There were terms used in the QS that were not clearly explained so I went back to the source to understand how the thing actually worked.

So now my brain is ticking along thinking I have the Ghost Ops booklet as a model for how I want a fudge game to look and feel. There are really good bits in the Bride QS. So if I took bits from here and bits from there and filled in the missing bits from the original fudge rules how hard would it be to create the game I am looking for?

Despite a promise to myself not to start any more projects until I have finished more of my ongoing stuff I found myself with a two page Word document of which Attributes and Skills I think I need.

I finally reined myself in and I have saved that document for future reference. The good thing is that now I want to work on that darf fantasy game I spent this evening completing and editing  pass of one chapter of a game I am working on and started writing up the creature stats for the bestiary for that game. There is still loads to do and it is mostly the difficult bit of actually writing the full text rather than the fun bit of creating mechanics. I hope this burst of energy is sustained and I can really crack on with this project with my plans for a dark fantasy fudge game as the carrot to get things done.

If you are into fudge look out for some future posts about fantasy fudge as these are definitely in the pipeline!

Rise of the Eurogame

I read an article this week about the rising popularity of European and particularly German board games, the so-called Eurogame.

The core difference apparently between American and German games in the past 50 years has been that American games have been centred on conflict, think RiskAxis & Allies, Star Fleet Battles, and Victory in the Pacific. Germany for obvious reasons was not so big on these conflict-centric games but favoured games based around construction and building things up like communities (Settlers of Catan), farms (Agricola) or businesses (Power Grid).

So this article, linked below, was interesting but it also struck a bell with other things I have been reading. Fria Ligan are Swedish but there is much  emphasis in Mutant:Year Zero on the collaborative building of the Ark.

Another Euro/American difference is that American games tend to eliminate players as the game progresses but Eurogames keep people involved right to the end. Tales from the Loop is build from the ground up with the presumption that the kids will not stand and fight, and die, but run away and find a different route or solution.

It may be just my perception but start up times seem to be faster in the European games. The original Iron Crown Enterprises (Rolemaster/MERP) was an American publisher and Rolemaster must have one of the most complex character creation processes known to man. In contrast the Fria Ligan way is very fast and light but at the same time construct characters using a detailed skill system created by player choice.

Maybe it is just my perception but is there a move towards role playing games being more accessible and less confrontational? Mind you, the high lights of my gaming life at totally hack and slash so who am I to tell?

Here is the original article, which is very interesting.

Game Master Emulators

I half expected Micheal to post this morning, it being Christmas eve. In our house we celebrate a Swiss Christmas today and then do a British one tomorrow as the two halves of the family have different traditions. That has nothing to do with RPGs but I was not going to crash Micheal’s post.

He hasn’t so I will.

There are three emulators I want to look at. The first is the grand daddy of them all, Mythic.

Mythic Gamer Master Emulator

Mythic Game Master Emulator cover
Mythic Game Master Emulator

Mythic Role Playing is actually a game in its own right. The Mythic GM Emulator is just part of the game but it is now a standalone product with its own following published by Word Mill Games.

Mythic is the most feature rich GM emulator I have ever seen. It is based upon multiple D100 rolls. It uses the idea of twists, interrupted scenes, chaos and random facts. The intention is to give the players as much inspiration as possible.

In my opinion Mythic is too crunchy for my tastes. There are too many rolls for each simple yes/no question.  On the other hand something that was unique to emulators is that the full RPG and the emulator use exactly the same game mechanics. What this means in practice is by asking a question like “Can I see any guards?” the perception/observation test and the emulator roll are identical. Obviously the better your observation ability the more likely the outcome of the test is going to be a ‘yes’. In the previous article in this series I tried to align the example GME with the M:YZ style of play as much as I could. The way that M:YZ resolves skill tests was a bit to complex to turn into a  yes/no answer generator but I could reference the  and   symbol dice and the D66 mechanic to keep the M:YZ flavour. Mythic is not just flavoured, it is truly unified with its parent system. Normally everything I reference is either free or ‘Pay What You Want’. In this case Mythic is a full paid product ($6.95) and a platinum best seller on both RPGNow and DriveThruRPG. If you want to try an Emulator and want a really professional product and all the supporting material you need to learn how to use it then Mythic is worth the $7 price tag. For me, as I said, there are too many rolls, too many tables (and that is coming from a Rolemaster GM!) that the rules get in the way of the game. On the other hand though once you grasp how Mythic Gamer Master Emulator works you can easily create a much lighter version to fit any game you want to play.

CRGE, Conjectural Roleplaying GM Emulator

Conjectural Role Playing Game Master Emulator cover
Conjectural Role Playing Game Master Emulator

CRGE is a much lighter affair than Mythic and is also a PWYW product. You can grab a free copy and see what you think before going back and making a contribution. CRGE is based around a table called the Loom of Fate that is your basic yes/no generator but with different probabilities for different types of questions. It breaks things down to ‘towards knowledge’, ‘towards conflict’ and ‘towards endings’. The Loom of Fate is a d100 table so there is ample scope for tweaking probabilities. One of the nice things about CRGE is that it is modular. There are different add on products such as a random NPC generator called UNE, The Universal NPC Emulator and BOLD that creates backgrounds, legends and adventures.  There are more bolt ons as well but I have not tried them. As I noted above, I don’t want too heavy an emulator as I feel it gets in the way.

CRGE is a lighter option than Mythic. The Loom of Fate is d100 and the twist part of the system runs off a d20 roll. If you don’t want to risk a whole $6.95 then I would recommend that you download CRGE and soem of the bolt on products. These standalone so even if you do not end up using the emulator the NPC generator, for example, could be useful.

ABS12 Flexible Solo Game Engine v 1.0

ABS12 stands for A Basic System D12 but it actually supports most common dice systems. In addition it also has a number of complimentary products such as a random fact generator and character generators. Of the three emulators here this is least professional, by which I mean you do not get a lot of hand holding and supporting material. You need to be pretty comfortable with GM emulators to understand what is going on. I have included it as it is feature rich and crams everything into just 5 pages. Something else that makes ABS12 stand out in this lineup is that ABS12 is primarily a solo engine. Ken Wickham, the writer, uses ABS12 as a writing stimulation tool on his own blog, World of the Fifth Sun. The blog details the development of the ABS12 solo engine and Ken’s super light RPG where characters have just a single stat. Ken’s rpg has the same ABS12 name as they were designed in tandem.

The advantage of ABS12 is the speed of use. Ken had the advantage of trying many other emulators before building ABS12. This emulator includes more options on the yes/no table for conditional answers. As another PWYW product it is worth downloading if you want to see another alternative system.

The last product I want to look at is something a little different. Rather than being dice and table based this is card based.

ALONe: A Solo Game Engine BETA

I like the way that the income from the PWYW BETA is being used to fund the development of the full products. Each deck of cards costs $9.99 and includes all the information you need. So, although this is pitched as a solo game engine it works really well as a collaborative social game. ALONe gives you half a deck to play the BETA with which is more than enough to get a feel for how it works. There are loads of decks of cards and expansions. ALONe itself is a Silver best selling product so it is certainly popular.

All of the above products are available to try for free, with the exception of Mythic, and they do a better job of illustrating how they work than I ever could. If you find yourself with some free time in the next week why not download a couple and see what they are all about?

Finally, I hope you all have a great Christmas.