I was recently listening to the Titterpigs episode on horror games, where Scott and Keith put out an open question to their audience: can you have a horror game that lets you retain agency throughout the whole adventure? I wrote up some long rant, recorded it, and sent it to them. I figured that, for my trouble, I might as well post that rant (somewhat edited) here too.
The Need for Horror Mechanics First, I think Scott and Keith did a great job recommending games that are out of the beaten path, so to speak (A Town Called Malice, Kids on Bike, Ten Candles, Liminal, and so on… listen to their show!
When Bud (of Bud’s RPG Review fame) did his RPG DNA on Twitter, it featured something not quite like a traditional RPG: Fighting Fantasy books. I remember going “huh” when he mentioned this in his “First, Last, and Everything” in the Grognard Files podcast #41, because Fighting Fantasy books were also a big part of my early gaming life. I can’t remember exactly if they came before or after The Dark Eye (more here), but of all these adventure books, one is forever etched in my memory: “Le Manoir de l’Enfer”, a.
I recently posted my #RPGDNA (since that’s a trending thing right now in RPG circles), but I figured it might be interesting to look a bit deeper into my choices. The meme format is either 4 or 6 titles, but because it’s my blog and I do whatever I want, I’ll go to 8 titles – otherwise, like I said in the original post, I keep flip-flopping between the ones I want to include or exclude.
From the Grognardia blog, which takes short looks at old-school RPG products:
My love is boxed sets is well known. I strongly believe that the shift away from them had a negative effect on the hobby’s self-identity, leading to the publication and purchasing of more and more “game” products that were, in fact, never used at the table at all but instead simply read. I understand why, for pragmatic reasons, boxed sets largely died out, but that doesn’t change the fact that I wish there were more of them available today, as they were in my younger days.
A few months ago I finally got to GM some sessions of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (a.k.a. “WFRP”), using the 4th edition’s wonderful Starter Set. Given that I’ve been GMing for more than 25 years, you could say I’m a bit late to the grim and perilous party… let’s go through a quick review of it, and the I’ll detail how I changed the starter adventure to be better suited to seasoned gamers.
I might have a Kickstarter problem. But hey, the first step is admitting you have a problem, and by posting about it, you can have a Kickstarter problem too!
The ones that I help fund in the past few months include Wrestlenomicon, Traveller 5, Magical Kitties Save the Day, and Cities of Harn… but let’s take a look at the ones that are still going, and that you can still pledge for.
I finally got the time to watch Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Crystal Palace, the one-shot adventure by the Critical Role folks.
I think the most impressive thing about this video is that the “critters” community (fans of the main Critical Role shows) is so big and dedicated that after the video aired, they basically flooded the Chaosium website to order the Call of Cthulhu Starter Set en masse. This caused… chaos at Chaosium (yes, I went there), to the point that they issues two apologies (with the second providing coupons to customers affected by delays).
Gen Con 2019 is over and the Ennie Award winners have been announced!
My first thought while going through the list is that the venerable Masks of Nyarlathotep has still got it. The new edition grabbed the Best Adventure award, probably thanks to Chaosium not only further expanding the text but also adding high quality art and fixing some of the most egregious problems with the gender and ethnicity of NPCs.
Over at the ENWorld forums there’s a thread based on a tweet by TheDiceMechanic about an 80’s reader poll from White Dwarf, a very popular UK gaming magazine from back in the days. I totally love how the Judge Dredd RPG shows up in the top 5 most played games… so 80’s British! Also notable is that the Toon RPG is in the top 20… which is probably about right since I haven’t played that since high-school.
The 2019 ENnie Awards nominations are up and I’m happy to find some of my favourite products in the list.
First, there’s a whole bunch of Chaosium stuff in there: the new, mostly awesome edition of Masks of Nyarlathotep is up for Best Adventure (duh), the new gorgeous RuneQuest books are up for Best Interior Art (double duh), and the Glorantha Sourcebook is up for Best Supplement (duh duh duh, especially since the last book in this line, the Guide to Glorantha, had won the Diana Jones award in 2015).
A few weeks ago, Greg Stafford passed away. He was best known as the founder of Chaosium (one of the greatest role-playing game publishers in history), co-designer of RuneQuest (one of the greatest role-playing games in history), and creator of Glorantha (one of the greatest fantasy universes in history).
Since then, there has been a lot of talk about his life and legacy, but I can mostly recommend Ken and Robin’s Special Podcast Episode, which has several anecdotes about Greg, and the Chaosium Forums’ Condolence Thread, which has quite a few nice pictures, stories, and words on the subject.
News of movie or TV adaptations come and go all the time but today my io9 RSS feed brought me a trio of titles that are directly related to my tastes:
News that the Vampire Chronicles’s TV show seems to be coming for real via Hulu (I’m just sad Bryan Fuller isn’t involved anymore but apparently he’s good friends with the showrunner so it might still turn out pretty).
After the nice one-shot “The Murderer of Thomas Fell”, my new gaming group decided to continue with the 1930s horror genre and we played through roughly a third of the Realm of Shadows campaign for Call of Cthulhu.
It ended with a near-total-party-kill.
You can read the actual-play for “Kith and Kin” (the first chapter) and “Provender of the God” (the second chapter) over in the RPG section.
One thing that I realize now that I’m writing those things up is how often I feel the need to explain why, as a GM, I’m doing this or that – making the bad guys attack here, adding some clues there, etc.
To celebrate 2015 (happy new year!) I’m starting a new section on this website: actual play write-ups of RPG games. I got back into gaming a few months ago, GM’ing a few Call/Trail of Cthulhu games.
The first one is “The Murderer of Thomas Fell”, a simple, one-shot adventure that acted as an introductory adventure to my new group of players. If you’re the kind of person that reads actual-plays, or if you plan on running that adventure, you can head over here.