About Tyler

In the wilds of Vermont.

#RPGaDAY 30: Rarest RPG Owned

#RPGaDAY prompts.

The #RPGaDAY prompt was concocted by Dave Chapman of Autocratik. Grab the list and join in!

US soldiers on a flying carpet fight a dragon and lightning-throwing mage.GURPS Technomancer might be one of the rarest role-playing books I own. At the time I was interested in reading it, I certainly recall the general consensus was “This book is out of print, not common in the second hand market and tends to be marked up when it appears.” If that was true then, it’s even funnier that I got a copy through Paperbackswap for the low, low cost of sending someone else a novel. I didn’t expect to get the book. I just put in an automated request and some way down the line, someone granted it. Easy, right?

Technomancer lives in that weird intersection of the modern world and magic, as Oppenheimer’s reported remark “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” uttered at the detonation of the Trinity device, concluded an unconscious magical ritual that unleashed a hellacious manastorm on the American southwest, and raised the world’s ambient magic levels enough that it became a going concern again. And it being the 20th century, the great scientific minds of corporate R&D offices turn their attention to systematizing and codifying magic so it can become part of modern manufacturing.

Technomancer put me off in two regards. One, the complexity of magic interfacing with technology, such as calculating the number of joules a spell generates, or are required for a magical industrial process. Two, the depth of changes in the world, as Technomancer posits that the modern age embraces magic and combines it ingeniously with existing technology and society, so much so that it’s really hard to envision what that world would look like. The world chapter of your typical 128 page GURPS book just isn’t long enough to paint a picture detailed enough for my druthers. Add on the 15 years of change since Technomancer published, and who knows what that world would look like now.

Honorary Mention

Continuum RPG cover art.Continuum is another game I get the sense is hard for some people to find — even harder since it’s not likely to get a PDF release, unlike ongoing companies who are bringing their back catalogs into the digital marketplace. At least, I occasionally see posters lamenting their inability to find the book for sale on forums. They never take me up on buying mine, though. It really does belong in the hands of someone who would get some use out of it.

#RPGaDAY 29: Most Memorable Encounter

#RPGaDAY prompts.

The #RPGaDAY prompt was concocted by Dave Chapman of Autocratik. Grab the list and join in!

Wake of the Watcher cover.In the midst of Carrion Crown‘s Wake of the Watcher chapter, beset by nightgaunts and mi-go, we happened across a creature sufficiently bizarre to put all the Lovecraftian beasties to shame. It hopped. It squawked demanding, nonsensical questions. It projected images between antennae. It was . . . the riddling turnip. Or really, it was a cerebric fungus. But the WTF factor of the encounter stuck with us for weeks after, past the mi-go’s Mr. Chunder blender, Gea the inside-out mockery of an eidolon from beyond the Dark Tapestry and even the incarnation of Shub-Niggurath herself.

“They must have ordered it late one night off the electric radish.”
— Geoff on Mr. Chunder

Honorary Mention

Way back in the day, there was the Stargate SG-4 campaign. This team of four tromps through the gate to a shiny new world, discover it’s the middle of the night in a museum and they immediately panic. Run! Hide! Don’t let the aliens find us! Never mind that this is the Stargate universe, where a simple “hi” works wonders. No, some primal groupthink instinct kicked in and the team members were all seized by an utter dread of actually encountering any inhabitants of this world they’d come to explore.

[Mummy's Mask] The Fragrance of Fallen Qlippothim

“You know there’s a bard in the party when you’re arguing about scansion during a fight.”
— Mentu

The Half-Dead City cover art. This week in Mummy’s Mask, the party continued their sub-contract of investigating the perfume shop in the middle of a ghoul turf war. The depths of the shop beckoned, but ghouls gathered outside, so they took care of those first, with Viktovich playing the star role plowing through them.

The back rooms of the shop boasted elderly perfume-making apparatus, an oven with a qlippoth-infested cat and a giant black widow in the bedroom.

Loaded down with fragile glassware, they beat feet back to the temple of Bastet with ghouls on their heels. It was Walkers of Nemret versus the Lapis Dogs in the street, with archery support from the temple steps. And Tath finally got to use enlarge person on Viktovich, so everyone was happy.

Moreover, we leveled after all that! And then I discovered that all this time, Mentu’s favored enemy was the undead. So he’ll be shifting closer, if less tactfully, to Akhil’s stance of complete disgruntlement at treating with ghouls. However well-spoken, ghouls are pestilent vermin.

#RPGaDAY 28: Scariest Game You’ve Played

#RPGaDAY prompts.

The #RPGaDAY prompt was concocted by Dave Chapman of Autocratik. Grab the list and join in!

The scariest role-playing game I ever partook in was not scary due to the adventure or other prepared material. Rather, it was the use of lights, music and sound effects that got me during the adventure’s climax. The GM did an excellent job of using rhythm and dissonance to get the heart pounding and me feeling off-kilter.

Once was enough for that sort of thing.

Board Games on The Dork Forest

Dozens of "dorky" characters in green tones crowd together in The Dork Forest logo.Jackie Kashian‘s podcast The Dork Forest is one of my absolute favorite shows. In addition to being a great comedian, Jackie bridges the worlds of entertainment and nerdery. I love hearing comedians and other entertainers take a step away from being “on” and talk about what interests them. It’s almost kind of spooky when the topic turns to tabletop games. “Famous people like to play games, too?!” my incredulous brain exclaims.

Recently, The Dork Forest had a short run of board game topics. Ed Baraf was on to talk about game design and his now-funded Kickstarter for Lift Off. And the week after, Peter Adkison and Jake Theis were on to talk about GenCon, tabletop games and more.

Jackie’s a great host, and always an energetic guide into new, unexplored passions. Check out The Dork Forest!

#RPGaDAY 27: Game You’d Like to See a New/Improved Edition Of…

#RPGaDAY prompts.

The #RPGaDAY prompt was concocted by Dave Chapman of Autocratik. Grab the list and join in!

A Uropan explorer surveys an airship in the valley below through a spyglass.Northern Crown is a alternate fantasy history of the colonization of North America. There’s magic, quasi-magical natural philosophy, strange creatures and wondrous civilizations to meet and it’s generally an accessible, fun though not necessarily light combination of early American history with the tropes of Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve written a bit more about Northern Crown previously.

The unfortunate part about Northern Crown is it hit the market after the d20 wave crested and began to roll back. It’d been in publishing development for a long time — and had been a freely available thing on the early web prior to that — so when it finally got to the market, all anybody saw was another d20 fantasy campaign world with the usual smattering of additional classes and new magic items. Northern Crown never got a fair shake.

The creator, Doug Anderson, is focusing on an introductory role-playing game for younger players called Dungeonteller these days, and some very cool isometric printable dungeon tile packs. He seems to have pretty much moved on from Northern Crown. Back in January, Atlas Games announced Battlefield Press planned to compile the setting material, adapt it to the Pathfinder rules and expand the game world to include the continent of Southern Cross. Battlefield’s own web site is silent on the project so far, but in the run-up to GenCon, I asked someone I think was associated with Battlefield via Twitter — certainly, he was publicizing a panel the company planned to hold at the convention — and the reply was the Northern Crown project was still a go, so far as I knew. I wish I could dig up the conversation, but my Google fu is failing me at the moment.

So here’s hoping Battlefield Press sees this project through. And if not, honestly, it can run pretty well in Pathfinder without much more work.

Geoff’s Do It Yourself Game Table

A red dragon, role-playing maps and elastic fastener bestride a DIY game table.

Dragon not to scale. Photo by Geoff. CC BY SA

My friend Geoff shared a game table he built, including pictures showing how to build your own and how it looks in action. There are two really cool things about his design. One, it has enough surface area to play games, but a height appropriate for people sitting on couches and armchairs. Two, it can be easily broken down into a couple pieces for storage.

Click through to Geoff’s post to see how he designed it. His pictures show how to turn one sheet of material into all the parts of the table, and then put them together. Very cool!

#RPGaDAY 26: Coolest Character Sheet

#RPGaDAY prompts.

The #RPGaDAY prompt was concocted by Dave Chapman of Autocratik. Grab the list and join in!

Deadlands Reloaded Character SheetDespite never having gotten to play the game, Deadlands Reloaded easily wins coolest looking character sheet in my library. I’m not convinced it would be very functional at the table, with all the textures, spatters and layers of graphical elements, but it is far and away the most impressive to look at.

#RPGaDAY 25: Favorite RPG No One Else Wants to Play

#RPGaDAY prompts.

The #RPGaDAY prompt was concocted by Dave Chapman of Autocratik. Grab the list and join in!

Four people seated at a table, in the middle of a role-playing session.

“Role playing gamers” by Diacritica – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There are days when it feels like no one wants to play my favorite games. Part of that is self-fulfilling prophecy, in that I haven’t tried to run a game in several years now, so there’s been no opportunity for someone to decide one way or another whether they would like to play. Further, I and my fellow players have been deeply embedded in Pathfinder adventure paths for years now, so the prospect of yet another on-going game doesn’t really come up.

In the past, I feel I had a hard time selling people on the prospect of most games that swerved outside d20 fantasy: Mage, Northern Crown, WitchCraft and Trinity are a few that come to mind. Only a few people ever said “Nah, you’re crazy!”, but there was never the kind of “Yes, I am on board!” enthusiasm that we all hope for in pitching an idea. It was more the polite “Ah, I understand what you are proposing” that doesn’t do a whole lot for convincing oneself that they’ve got a viable idea.

Some games I still would like to pitch, if the opportunity arose:

  • A periodic on-going Ghostbusters campaign with a regular group of players who can slip into their own characters.
  • A Cthulhu mythos campaign, something like Sense of the Sleight of Hand Man or Eternal Lies or even returning to Masks of Nyarlathotep.
  • A street level super powers game using Mutants & Masterminds and a healthy serving of elements from the Paragons toolbox.