Tag Archives: featured

Thoughts On Night's Black Agents Solo-Ops

I’ve played countless tabletop roleplaying games over the years, but only a few experiences come close to what Night’s Black Agents Solo-Ops by Pelgrane Press offers. What sets NBA Solo-Ops apart is, that it’s not your regular multiplayer roleplaying game, but it’s meant to be played by one GM and a single player. As I’ve already pointed out in my article about Cthulhu Confidential, another game powered by Gumshoe One-2-One, this is a very intense experience. Please note that this article contains spoilers.

In Night’s Black Agents Solo-Ops you – as a player – take on the role of Leyla Khan, a former MI6 agent who recently managed to escape from the influence of a Romanian vampire – at least if you are playing the official adventures included in the core rulebook. Players and GMs are of course free to create their own characters and come up with their stories.

Last year my friend Ralf ran the first adventure called “Never Say Dead” for me, which started with Leyla waking up in hospital bed with no memory of where or even who she was. During the course of the adventure I traveled to Budapest, uncovered some information about my character’s past, and avoided forces sent both by the vampire who once “owned” her and one of his rivals.

We completed the adventure in a single session and I not only managed to kill my former master, but I also escaped Budapest with a special artifact which supposedly helps against vampiric influence. Yay! Usually I am no huge fan of pregenerated characters but in this case it wasn’t so bad. Aside from some background Leyla is pretty much a blank slate (amnesia helps) and you can mold her into the character you want to play.

During the first adventure I was pretty much on the run all the time. Paranoia was high and most of the time I felt quite helpless, although Leyla is quite a skilled agent. Especially when dealing with mortal foes and regular opposition you feel quite competent, but – oh boy – things change as soon as you have to deal with the supernatural.

The second adventure, which we started playing last Saturday, is called “No Grave For Traitors”. This time Leyla is in Spain following a lead which may eventually lead to uncovering more about the vampire conspiracy. I don’t want to spoil too much, but this time I attended a drug boss’ party, fought members of a Moroccan drug cartel while wearing high heels and a little black dress, continued my research in London where I eventually tried to track down a former Hungarian scholar who was obviously under the influence of another Vampire.

As last time I had a lot of fun. If I hadn’t had a train to catch, I would have loved to continue playing. Playing Leyla Khan slowly becomes second nature and I am curious to see where my investigation leads me. I am a sucker for a good mystery, and the one spun by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is definitely an intriguing one. The game also makes you feel like a competent spy. You can truly be badass in this game, even though obstacles and opponents still feel like a threat. Having such a balanced experience is rare and I applaud the people at Pelgrane Press for pulling this off.

I also love the Gumshoe One-2-One mechanics, which I described in some detail in my Cthulhu Confidential post. The push mechanic is definitely more interesting than the spending mechanic from regular Gumshoe. I am glad Pelgrane Press decided to introduce it into their newer multiplayer games as well. Overall I am extremely happy with my Gumshoe One-2-One experiences. Cthulhu Confidential was great, but IMHO NBA Solo Ops is even better. One reason is that I get slightly tired of the Cthulhu Mythos, but I also just love the technothriller-meets-Vampires setting of Night’s Black Agents. My recommendation: if you have the chance to play Night’s Black Agents Solo Ops, don’t hesitate, but grasp the opportunity. It’s well worth it!

Kickstarter: Electric Bastionland

Into the Odd is one of the most unique and creative games I’ve played in the last years. It’s a weird mix between an ultra-light D&D clone and a unique, weird science meets fantasy setting. It is also a game focused on exploration and discovery – not combat. Combat is fast – and extremely lethal. I’ve run the “Iron Coral” adventure which comes with the game for various groups and everyone loved it.

Chris McDowall, the creator of Into The Odd, is currently raising money for Electric Bastionland, a standalone “sequel” to Into The Odd. The rules have been refined and expanded upon. A huge part of the book is devoted to 100 Failed Careers, which give your character their background and a reason for adventuring. Or do you think anyone with a proper career and a modicum of common sense would delve into the depths in search of treasures? I’ve followed the development of Electric Bastionland for a few years now, and I am extremely excited about it.

At the time of this writing the Kickstarter project has raised about 3600 € of a 13.926 € goal. The game itself is already written and even in layout, but Chris needs more money for artwork and eventually printed copies. So now’s your chance to contribute and help development of this exciting game along.

If you want to learn more about the game, I recommend you check out the official blog or the Electric Bastionlands Kickstarter project page. You can also check out the free version of Into The Odd to get a glimpse of what the world of Electric Bastionland is like.

UPDATE: A September 2017 playtest package of Electric Bastionland is also still available here. The game has probably changed quite a lot since then, but it might at least give you an idea on how the final product may look like.

UPDATE #2: Chris just let me know that there’s actually a free preview available on itch.io. Check it out!

Recommendation: Check Out Matt Colville on YouTube

A couple of days back I stumbled upon a video by Matthew Colville. He’s your regular white, middle-aged, bearded geek with many years of DMing under his belt. He has worked in the video games industry and he has written fantasy novels. He also comes across as a genuinely nice guy and he has a lot of advice for anyone interested in running D&D – veterans and newbies alike. I’ve watched a couple of his videos so far, and I recommend you to check him out. I embedded one of his videos below.

By the way, if you know of any other YouTubers talking about D&D worth checking out, feel free to post about them in the comments below!