The Game With No Name Math Trade

Matt Golec of the Penny Press design team has hosted a no-ship math trade at Carnage for some years now, coming up with thematic names to make us grin as we figure out what games we don’t want to own anymore. This year, it’s the Game With No Name math trade.

A math trade is a method of swapping whereby people list what they don’t want, list what they would like to get in return from other swappers and a computer figures out the details. The “no ship” part means no one ships anything. Show up to Carnage, drop off what you’re swapping, pick up what you’re getting. Done!

This year, I staked claim to the entirety of the third page of the geek list. You will find a bevy of light, popcorn games like Chez Cthulhu and the Cheapass family. You will find thematic bundles of HERO and GURPS sourcebooks. You will find Werewolf: the Apocalypse and Spelljammer books because I’m acknowledging that I’m not going to get around to running games in most of these settings.

You will also find lots of good stuff for which to trade with other folks posting to the list. Check it out, and offer up what you’re not interested in playing anymore!

Carnagecast 56: Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League

carnagecast-rss-image-300This week on Carnagecast, we talked with Al Spader from Jetpack Comics about Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, Wizards of the Coast’s new Adventurers League organized play structure and what Dungeons & Dragons-related fun folks can expect at A Fistful of Carnage in Killington this November.

Probably my favorite part of this episode was sitting more fully in the producer/engineer’s seat, which is my wheelhouse by trade and inclination. Ray leading the interview gave me the opportunity to focus more on making sure everyone sounded good. Sometimes this makes me feel hyper-critical, as I want to re-take every statement covered up by incidental noise, but having the freedom to watch the audio levels and listen for quality without also tracking the conversation and moving it forward was a rare treat for me, and greatly enjoyed.

#RPGaDAY 5: Most Old School RPG Owned

#RPGaDAY prompts.

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

Before we go any further, I need you to brace yourself. We’ve already covered that the first role-playing game I ever played was third edition Dungeons & Dragons. That’s a simple defect, though, one that could be rectified by any right-thinking GM with their copy of the red box handy, right? Maybe someday, sure, but not yet. I’ve never played or owned an edition of Dungeons & Dragons prior to third. The vast majority of games I own date from the 1990s or later. I’m a true third wave player. That said, I do own a couple games that come from the old school, or at least grew up listening to stories from the good old days.

Ghostbusters RPG box cover.It should not surprise anyone that I treasure the original Ghostbusters box set from West End Games. I found it for a steal on eBay, misfiled in the art supplies category, or somewhere weird like that. Still in the original shrinkwrap, with pristine manuals inside, the equipment cards unpunched and, the most treasured of treasures, the ghost die — scroll down a bit to see Dungeon Mistress showing her die off. It’s old school in that it sprang forth in the heady days when anything seemed possible, and nothing had been done before, and it’s the prototype system that went on to power countless Star Wars campaigns.

I’ve never actually used it, mind, because I’ve always gone with GURPS and, more recently, Cinematic Unisystem for my Ghostbusters convention games, but I love going to the plot seeds section for ideas and characters to adapt to my needs.

Playing Labyrinth Lord with Lasoleg the Elf, Gringo the Halfling, Bob the Cleric and Pope the Dwarf. Fittingly, Dingus the Thief cannot be seen.

Left to right: Lasoleg the Elf, Gringo the Halfling, Bob the Cleric and Pope the Dwarf. Fittingly, Dingus the Thief cannot be seen.

The other old school title in my library is Labyrinth Lord. It’s a retroclone, rather than a vintage, but I maintain its heart is in the right place. I once ran a game of Labyrinth Lord, far longer ago than I realized until I dug up that post. It was . . . fine. Crunchier and fiddlier than I would want to deal with in a game system, but fine. And I say that recalling how Neil, the unpictured Dingus in the picture, remarked that style of rule set was really too simple for strategically interesting decisions. Neil is a 3.x/Pathfinder guru who published his own rules supplement, so you can make your own call on that.

#RPGaDAY 3: First RPG Purchased

#RPGaDAY prompts.

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

Galael: There's a reason they call him "Heaven's legbreaker."Depending on your criteria, there are several candidates for the first RPG I purchased. For full, self-contained games, there’s WitchCraft, an urban fantasy and horror game in the vein of the World of Darkness. I’d spent downtime during my academic endeavors devouring reviews of various games on and the first time I walked into Quarterstaff Games, years after my last visit for Magic cards, my eyes stumbled across the WitchCraft core book — the whole line, in fact — tucked away on the bottom shelf of those rickety, sideways-leaning wooden shelving units that longtime customers of the store may recall. Clearly, this was fate to see something I’d been reading about right there on the shelf, however cunningly obscured, so I grabbed it and the companion Mystery Codex. And that purchase really set a theme for me, picking up games that sounded interesting, but didn’t have enough of an existing following for me to find interested people locally.

To this day, I haven’t successfully run or played in a single game using the WitchCraft materials in a substantive way, though they certainly proved useful when I brought my Ghostbusters convention series over to Unisystem last year at Carnage on the Mountain. And with the arrival of Madness Dossier, Conspiracy X 2.0 seems like a great starting point for a less crunchy implementation of neurolinguistic brain hacking and warring timelines.

Dragons of Winter Night cover art.Now, if you want to be really strict, the first role-playing book I ever bought was the player’s guide to the Dragonlance setting, without ever realizing it was a supplement to a game — really, without ever realizing there was a game attached to the series of novels I devoured voraciously at the time. And the first mechanical game thing I ever got was the Spelljammer box set, which is another lousy entry point into role-playing for someone who isn’t necessarily aware what Dungeons & Dragons is and how it ties to the myriad of products scattered around a Waldenbooks of the late 1980s, early 1990s.

#RPGaDAY 1: First RPG Played

#RPGaDAY prompts.

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

The first RPG I ever played was the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons. I was home from college and not having many friends in town during the summer, went looking online for local players to learn more about the tabletop game hobby that had grabbed my interest from a chance encounter with a stack of games in a student lounge at school.

Thanks to the Access Denied player database — retired as of February 2014; wow, it’s been a while! — I found some folks out in Essex. We met up twice, as I recall, and played through a short module from Dragon, plumbing the cave system attached to a well. It was my first encounter with the trope that there is always random treasure scattered at the bottom of a well.

There was some awkwardness, I was your typical super quiet first time player — with a dwarven ranger, who named his crossbow Winona, because I’d been watching a lot of Farscape — and we closed out the second night — or maybe spent a third night? — watching Rob Roy rather than playing, which was a letdown, even though that’s a really good movie.

I didn’t let that discourage me from the pastime, though.

Carnagecast 40: Gygax Magazine and Gary Con

carnagecast-rss-image-300There’s a new episode of Carnagecast up over on the Carnage site.

This week, James Carpio of Chapter 13 Press and more recently games editor of Gygax magazine joins us to talk about putting together a role-playing periodical in the modern age. Plus he’s just back from Gary Con and rather jazzed by all that he got to see and do there.

Huzzah for the Handy Haversack

Playing through Carrion Crown, my crossbow-slinging inquisitor racked up enough cash to acquire a handy haversack. Now I feel like I’m playing Dungeons & DragonsPathfinder, whatever.

There’s a certain delight I get from the more whimsical magic items and artifacts that come down through the annals of dungeon-crawling. The hat of disguise. The deck of many things. The apparatus of Kwalish. And now the handy haversack.

I mean, this is backpack that holds a crap ton more stuff than should fit inside. How can you not love that? Isn’t that something we’ve all wished for some time in our lives? Sure, a longsword +2 is spiffy, but it’s only really helpful if you’re in the murder-hobo profession. But a haversack with an extra — fine, non — dimensional interior. That’s got the right amount of whimsy to it that I smile just to think, “Hey, my guy’s got that. I never can, but he can.”

And by Iomedae, he’s going to cram it full of every kind of ammunition he lays his hands on.

Hex Generation

Being a game designer and small press publisher wasn’t enough for my friend James. Now he’s launched Hex Generation, by means of which he can hold forth on game design, role-playing games, 80s-90s goth and pop culture. So you can tell it’s going to be a variegated tapestry from the get-go.

James kicks it off by posing a pair of queries: how do the GMs out there use dice in their games beyond their intended use and how would you modify the grappling/overbearing mechanic for Basic/Expert Dungeons & Dragons described at the end of the post? The person who makes the best suggestion wins a copy of Ann Dupuis’ Night Howlers.

Role-Playing and Board Game Garage Sale

The time has come to weed the game library. Behind the jump you will find role-playing games, board games and card games I would like very much for someone else to own. Generally speaking, it’s all older stuff, so if you’re looking for titles from the 90s and early 00s, this might be the sale for you.

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Spring Meltdown Game Day in Middlebury, Vermont

March 19th in Middlebury, Vermont.

I can’t believe it’s already less than a month until Spring Meltdown, the Green Mountain Gamers’ spring game day. We only started talking about seasonal traveling game days about a year ago at Langdon Street Cafe. Since then, we’ve put on three successful game days, each larger than the last, in Burlington, Lyndonville and Barre, Vermont.

On March 19th, we’re coming to Middlebury to round out a year of tabletop games, good people and a lot of laughs. It’s bound to be a great time with the awesome folks who have been in attendance so far. Most of what happens at these days has been open board game play. We wind up with tables groaning under the weight of games everyone’s brought to share. People divvy themselves up, either because  there’s a game that’s caught their eye or they’d like to learn, or they brought some in particular they’re eager to have the opportunity to teach and play. I know the new Lovecraftian board game Mansions of Madness is going to be one of those; Carlo participated in the preview event this past weekend at his local game store in Quebec and is bringing it down to Spring Meltdown.

On the role-playing side, we’re working on growing that. We’ve got some old school first edition Dungeons & Dragons in both Middle-earth and a classic TSR published module. I’ll have the goods for GURPS Ghostbusters: Pumpkin Jack and something for Fiasco, either my still untested science fiction playset or one that caught my eye, like Toil and Trouble.

It’s gonna be a fun day! I hope to meet some new faces there.