Wednesday, August 16, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 16

Question 16: Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

The answer to this question is literally my post to the last question, since I answered in the negative. Most of them.

I guess I'm just dreadfully vanilla in this aspect. I suppose that comes from my basic rules-lawyer nature.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

NecronomiCon Providence 2017

I have not yet mentioned this here, but I am going to NecronomiCon 2017, in Providence, RI.

It is going to be an intense 4 days, my timetable is already packed, and there are a great number of things I want to see and do whilst there. I will try to update this blog while I am there, but I have the feeling that most of the posts will have to await my return, as long blog posts will not be a priority for me.

My experience of conventions has so far been limited to local conventions. I went to Conpulsion a couple of times when I was living in Edinburgh, and some of the smaller conventions here in Montreal, that have come and gone. This will be my first trip away just to go to a convention for hobby reasons (work congresses don't really count).

My previous experiences at Conpulsion have taught me that if you actually want to get any gaming done whilst at a convention, you need to be organised, so I have booked up at least one game per day. Including Delta Green, Call of Cthulhu, Cogs, Cake and Cthulhu ( a variation of Cogs Cakes and Swordcanes) and an evening LARP.

I'm also excited to go to the live recordings of the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast, as well as the Good Friends of Jackson Elias/Miskatonic University Podcast cross-over event.

Add to this, the tours of Lovecraft's Providence (both walking and bus tour), and the various panels on gaming and weird fiction, and socialising with other attendees, and I will have little time to visit the trade hall, which may indeed be the saviour of my wallet.

Thankfully, I have already scheduled my RPG a Day posts ahead of time!

This is going to be intense!

RPG a Day: Day 15

Question 15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

I'm not really sure what this question is getting at. Does it mean adapting a system to fit another background, or time period? If that is the case then I guess it would depend on the background or story I was trying to tell, and then I'd find a rules set that would best fit the tale I want to tell.

In the past, I may have used generic games systems to do this, such as GURPS, or the like, but these are not so fashionable in a day where people are building mechanics specific to the type of story, or core activity that the people at the table want to engage in.

If it means do I adapt rules, and make houserules? Well, if that is the question, then I don't really do that at all. Not with RPGs, wargames moreso. I sometimes play fast and loose with rules, adapting them to particular situations, or I forget what a rule is, and make something up on the fly to keep the game flowing, but that is the case for most games, even rules sets I know well.

So how to answer? I guess I don't adapt RPGs that much at all!

Monday, August 14, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 14

Question 14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

Call of Cthulu. Next question.

Okay, let me go a bit deeper here. I like Call of Cthulhu for Campaigns, as this allows you to have a slow spiral downwards in terms of character progression. I am not one for killing off characters quickly, but allowing them to breathe, and for their players to lead them down the path of madness through their own curiosity.

Cthulhu is also known for its long campaigns, be it the old classics like Masks, Orient Express or Mountains of Madness, or the newer ones like the Two-Headed Serpent.

Okay, I mean, this is my perfered style of game to play or to run, so I can and would do open-ended campaign sytle with most (but certainly not all) games. Other shout-outs to the WFRP Campaign, and Legend of the Five Rings for wonderfully complex worlds that allow for this type of game, that I have both played in and run.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 13

Question 13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play?

There have been a few. One of the biggest changed to my play style is easy to trace though, and it came with the simple act of changing gaming group.

For most of my life, I gamed with my brother and school friends, in a group that to my knowledge, still gets together weekly to game. We grew up together, and evolved together through many years of gaming, and playing certain games. However, there were certain tropes and styles that we stuck to, as that was how we did things. I'm not saying we were static, just comfortable.

The biggest change for me was moving through to Edinburgh, and joining GEAS. This exposed me to much more different ways to play games. I think the biggest change for me was allowing myself to become more immersed in my character, no matter which character. This immersion was allowed, and indeed encouraged in the GEAS crowd, without scorn or embarrassment. I loved that, and still aim for this immersion in my games today.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 12

Question 12: Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

SLA industries.

With art from Dave Allsop and Clint Langley as the backbone, with a  wealth of black ink drawing on the inside of all the books released for the game, the art was always integral to the game in terms of giving us a look into the headspace of the authors and artists. Not that that was always a comfortable place to be, but neither is the World of Progress!

This game was the essence of 90s gaming for me, and the art played a very big part in that.

Want to see what I'm talking about? Just go here and scroll down.

Friday, August 11, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 11

Question 11: Which 'dead game' would you like to see reborn?

Of course, 'dead game' is in quotations, as that is not dead which can eternal lie. No game is dead as long as the books exist in some form and someone somewhere decides to play it. I guess what the question is aiming at is which unsupported lines, or OOP games would I like to see getting the love! The thing is, in this golden age of RPGs, many of these games have been brought back. I mean, you don't have to look far to get new editions of Paranoia, or Chill, for example.


Yes, I know that since the demise of this super crunchy and of it's time Lord of the Rings game, there have been many other games that allow you to play in Middle Earth, but the death of MERP by Iron Crown Enterprises is one that still gets to me. Indeed, even though ICE has lost the license to write products for Middle earth, it seems I am not alone in this, as ICE still has a page to field questions about the game, so even this is not a completely 'dead game'.

For me, it was not just about Middle Earth, it was a conjunction of the world building through the connecting maps of the series, the Angus McBride artwork on the covers, the system, ok, that was of its time, but it was relatively simple. The books and adventure were affordable, and they introduced me to a concept that I strive for in my games even now, balance.

Yeah, if ever I would wish for a game to be brought back from the 'dead' it'd be MERP.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 10

Question 10: Where do you go for RPG reviews?

Into double figures, yay!

Okay, so reviews? does have a great wealth of reviews to search through of different calibre, I have been known to browse those if need be.

Reviews from R'lyeh is also a great place to go for reviews. It does have a Lovecraftian slant, but is not exclusive.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 9

Question 9: What is a good RPG to play for 10 sessions?

Very much like my last reply, as for one shots, so campaigns, if the story is good, and requires that format to be told, I can't see any game not working. For what it's worth, I'm not sure I would actually call 10 sessions all that long a campaign either, but that's just me.

What a 10 session game allows that a 2 hour session does not is you to explore many other aspects of the game, either story aspects, or rules aspects. So with that in mind, which game systems require space to breath to allow you to fully experience them? any with a power spiral, (either up or down) that add to the game experience. Levelling up in F20 systems, or the slow descent into madness of a Call of Cthulhu game. Both these experiences require longer games to get the most out of them.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 8

Question 8: What is a good RPG to play for 2 hrs or less?

I dunno, I've never played for that short a time. In answer, any game where the story that is being told, is told to completion and satisfaction in that time.

Its like a short story, what tales can be told in shorty story format? Answer, any genre, as long as it's told well. However, the skills for short story writing are completely different than for a novel, and someone who tends to run sprawling interlinked sandbox campaigns (i.e. me) isn't necessarily equipped to run a game in 2 hrs. However, I would like to try.

In terms of game system, there are some games that would work better than others, and some games where you certainly wouldn't get to see all the mechanics in use, but I can't think of a game system you couldn't use for a short session.

Monday, August 7, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 7

Question 7: What was your most impactful RPG session?

Hmm, from which side of the GM screen? I guess I'll answer from both points of view.

As a player:
There was once a Buffy game played in Edinburgh called The Watch House (it was only a matter of time before that game came up, no?). There are two sessions that stick in my memory. The first is the one where my character was possessed by his evil ancestor. The second was the breaking of the 4th wall episode, where some of us played our characters, the actors who played our characters in a TV show, and finally, played our versions of the actual players for another character at the table. It sounds confusing, but it was a hell of a lot of fun, and fun is the reason we're at the table. These sessions stuck with me, as they opened doors to my understanding of what you can do at the table, when the other people at the table are in it for the same reasons as you.

As a GM/Keeper:
Scaring the Players.

A Call of Cthulhu game, in Montreal, about 10 years ago. We were playing in the back of a games store, which was closed to the public at the time (the owners of the store were players in the game). I was running a pretty basic intro game in what went on to be a long running campaign, where the investigators had come into possession of a new house, which had a monster in the attic. I can't even remember what the scenario was based on, only that the players were exploring the house, and were deep in discussion as to what to do next, and in character. I banged on the table, to stimulate a nouse from what theya ssumed was the empty attic, and to a one, all the players jumped.

It was a cheap jump-scare, but it was well timed, and it showed me the players were deep into the game and their characters. It was that session that sealed the success of the campaign in many ways. It was also an insight into how the players were reacting to the game. In many ways, it's hard to get into their heads. We all know what we experience at the table, but as a GM it's important to understand how the players are feeling too.

Tabletop RPGs in Prison

Taking a little break from the RPGaDay posts to pass on this great article on how inmates conspire to play RPGs in prison, where dice are contraband due to gambling rules, and where even D&D is named as contraband in some cases. Very interesting.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 6

Question 6: You can game every day for a week, describe what you'd do?

Well, if I had a whole week of uninterrupted gaming, I'd actually more likely go for an over the top wargame, or inked wargame campaign, as it is very easy to run out of time with something like that, especially with all the setup involved. 

However, this is RPG a Day, not Game a Day, so I guess we're looking at a more RPG based response. With that in mind, there are some LARPs I have heard of that may be fun to try, and those take the time investment that requires this kind of time aside for them.

In terms of pure table top, I think a whole week at the table would actually be a lot of effort, and if I was stuck at one game, I can see burn-out coming on quite quickly, or it may got the other way, with people immersing so deeply, we end up in LARP territory again.

I think I'd be likely to want to end up with something like would happen at a convention, where you get to play many different games with many GMs, all short bursts and one-offs. Variety would be really something I'd look to in that situation.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 5

Question 5: Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

Quick answer, all the good ones! The good RPG supplements have good art, it kinda goes with getting it right.

Longer answer, I have a couple in mind

SLA industries, the artwork for this game was and is one of its central strengths, no surprise given the artists involved in its conception, but the grit and the rain on the front cover of the 1st edition to me sums up the spirit of the game, even better than the cover with Halloween Jack, as used on newer editions of the game.

Another game where the art and the game are intertwined. There is no doubt this is a fantasy game, but grittier, and gorier, and in some ways more real than the F20 games that came from the other side of the Atlantic at the time. Again, chaos, tattoos and goblin blood front and center.

The truth is, it's hard for me as a non-design guy to distinguish between art that does the job, and art that I love, or have fallen in love with through time and association.

Friday, August 4, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 4

Question 4: Which RPG have you played most since August 2016?

Easy one, since I have only played in one RPG since August 2016, and that was Call of Cthulhu. By the end of this month, after Necronomicon Providence, I hope to be able to answer differently.

As to games run, again, this rests solely with Call of Cthulhu.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 3

Question 3: How do you find out about new RPGs?

I wouldn't say I was in any way at the front of the curve when if comes to new RPGs. New miniature lines and games, yes, through facebook groups and podcasts, but RPGs less so. My social media bubble for RPGs tends to be limited to games I already know and love. However, if a new RPG comes up in one of my podcasts, for example, I'll hear about it. What I'm unlikely to hear about early on is games outwith the genres I am already into.

So, podcasts tend to be my largest source of RPG related info, with the odd RPG blog I follow (intermittently) as a secondary source.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Video: Waring´s Pennsylvanians "Hello Montreal" 1928

1928 song celebrating the lack of Prohibition in Quebec, and Montreal. Sung by Fred Waring, an his band, Waring's Pennsylvanians.

RPG a Day: Day 2

Question 2: What is an RPG you would like to see published?

Hmmm, this is a difficult one. I can't think of any that are not already out there in some form. Also, there are not many licenses for genres or properties that I like that have not already been taken up or have been cloned.

We truly live in the golden age of RPGs.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 1

I plan to do this every year, and up until now, I've never managed, or been able to commit. Let's try this year shall we?

The RPG a Day is a challenge to post something each day for the whole month of August.

Question 1: What published RPG would you like to be playing right now? 

Hmmm, that's both a very easy and a very hard question to answer. The easy answer is prettyy much any game! After many years hiatus, I got back into running RPGs through the Cult of Chaos for Chaosium, organising and running Call of Cthulhu, as a means of rebuilding a gaming group. That challenge then completed, I even got one of the palyers to run a game, thereby getting to play in an RPG for the first time in many years. The game was Call of Cthulhu, and I loved every minute of it. Indeed I had forgotten what fun it was to play in a game. Any game

So, that itch scratched (barely), what game, of any published would I like to play in?

I could split this into two. Games I have played and loved, and games I would like to try.

For those I have played, and want to play again, I think those are linked a little to nostalgia. The Oldhammer revival I have been following in terms of WFB 3rd edition, twinned with a love of fantasy RPGs that has always been there, has made me really want to play WFRP.

The release of Cannibal Sector 1, a skirmish wargame set in the World of Progress, has made me really want to play SLA Industries. However, I'm not sure that one would work so well with my current gaming group.

There are a great many other games I have played that I would love to go back to, but those two are currently at the top of the list.

In terms of games I have never played, I have yet to try any game based on the Gumshoe system, which is strange in some ways. Given the choice, I kind of like the idea of Timewatch, Bubblegumshoe, and of course Trail of Cthulhu.

The other game I'm really tempted by, is the locally written Fate of the Norns, based on Viking mythology. One of the reasons I'm really tempted by this is that the author is based in Montreal, so there is a good local meta, and I can see that this type of game would benefit hugely from the GM being steeped in the lore. This is also tinged by the fact I am currently reading Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology.

I could go on, but let's call it quits there.