#RPGaDAY Round Up

A big hand to everyone who participated in the first #RPGaDAY blogathon, and to Dave Chapman for coming up with and promulgating the idea.

#RPGaDAY represents the single most sustained run of writing and posting I’ve ever pulled off. My regular schedule for Held Action runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday, which makes it easy to queue up posts. So while I could apply the same workflow to #RPGaDAY, the volume was more demanding. The usual stream of posts wound up taking a backseat to the #RPGaDAY topics about halfway through the month when my buffer ran low. Still, I was satisfied in meeting the challenge. And I even helped spur my friend Geoff to take blogging back up for the month, so that’s very cool, too.

To sum up the month’s writing, I’ve collected all my #RPGaDAY posts here for your delectation. If you missed a day, you’ll find it below. And for at least one topic, I have to go back and add an honorable mention that really deserves to be the pride of first place.

Here’s to the second annual #RPGaDAY next August!
#RPGaDAY prompts.

  1. First RPG Played
  2. First RPG Gamemastered
  3. First RPG Purchased
  4. Most Recent RPG Purchase
  5. >Most Old School RPG Owned
  6. Favorite RPG Never Get to Play
  7. Most “Intellectual” RPG Owned
  8. Favorite Character
  9. Favorite Die / Dice Set
  10. Favorite Tie-in Novel / Game Fiction
  11. Weirdest RPG Owned
  12. Old RPG you Still Play / Read
  13. Most Memorable Character Death
  14. Best Convention Purchase
  15. Favorite Convention Game
  16. Game You Wish You Owned
  17. Funniest Game You’ve Played
  18. Favorite Game System
  19. Favorite Published Adventure
  20. Will Still Play in 20 Years’ Time…
  21. Favorite Licensed RPG
  22. Best Secondhand RPG Purchase
  23. Coolest Looking RPG Product / Book
  24. Most Complicated RPG Owned
  25. Favorite RPG No One Else Wants to Play
  26. Coolest Character Sheet
  27. Game You’d Like to See a New / Improved Edition of…
  28. Scariest Game You’ve Played
  29. Most Memorable Encounter
  30. Rarest RPG Owned
  31. Favorite RPG of All Time

#RPGaDAY 31: Favorite RPG of All Time

#RPGaDAY prompts.

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

Dave Chapman tasks me. Oh, how he tasks me. Over the course of #RPGaDAY, the topics have circled around the idea of favorite a lot. Different flavors of favorite — rarest, never get to play, favorite rules — but generally the idea that one candidate wins the title. And I’ve found that the same names pop up again and again when I consider what I will nominate: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mage: the Ascension, Ghostbusters and the other usual suspects you’ll find figuring prominently in the Held Action tag cloud.

While that’s fine, I’ve generally tried to make my picks more varied than calling out the same names over and over again. Finding that variety has also reminded me how many different games I like. I don’t know if I could pick a single favorite role-playing game from among them, and I don’t know that I want to. They all achieve something a little bit different, which I’ll admit when I’m not in the mood of denying that rules matter and insisting that by and large, whatever rules you prefer will do just fine, regardless of the officiality of an adaptation.

So how do I choose? The game I want to play the most? The one I see myself running the most? The one that brings me the most actual, real fun, as opposed to dwelling on the fun I could have if I ever got around to making it happen? The favorite premise? The favorite rules to support a premise? Hell, I can’t decide. Let’s just go with the obvious choice:

Ghostbusters RPG box cover.You’re all astonished. I can tell.

The format of a team of coworkers from various backgrounds being assigned problems has just the right mix of structure and flexibility to make it playable, in one form or another, for many, many years. Ghosts have haunted humans for almost as long as there have been humans, so you can flash back and forth along the timeline to any time in history when spiritual turbulence is on the rise. A 1920s campaign frame focusing on the restless dead of the Great War and the aftershocks of such carnage among the living has a lot of promise. It’s archetypal. It’s extensible. It’s timeless. Ghostbusters will always be my favorite, I guess.

#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.

#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.