Posted in RPGaDay 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 5: The Artistic Loop

Which RPG Cover best Captures the Spirit of the Game?


Well, I would have to say that has to be the cover for Tales from the Loop.  With the beautiful art from Simon Stålenhag.  This is kind of a cheat because Simon Stålenhag’s art is what inspired the RPG in the first place, his art IS the Spirit of the Game.

Regardless the cover is a beautiful piece that conveys the idea of wonder and adventure from the eyes of children, in a setting of futuristic past.  The art throughout the book is great and you can read more on my impressions of the actual game in my Fan Friday Post.


Posted in RPGaDay 2017

RPGaDay Day 4: Of Gods and Androids

Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?

This was actually a tough one; at first blush.  I have played Roughly the Same number of sessions of Gods of the Fall, Achtung: Cthulhu, and a Cypher System game set in FFG’s Android Universe.  Then I realized that Gods of the Fall just a setting for the Cypher System.


So the answer is Monte Cook Games’ Cypher System.  The rules are fun versatile and easily adaptable to whatever setting you want to create.  I have thought of many games I could easily run using this system.  Heck, last August I quickly threw together a Warhammer Fantasy Cypher game to run at GenCon with my old Warhammer buddies. We had Bright Wizards, Slayers, Witch Hunters, and Priests of Sigmar battling the Skaven horde in no time… And it was Glorious.

It will be interesting to see if Cypher maintains this place as most played next year as Modiphius is calling to me with their great offerings and I am discovering the joys of PbtA games.  Still, however, Predation just came out and I’d love to get into a game of it.


Posted in RPGaDay 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 3: Games in Action

How Do You Find Out About New RPGs?

Well, I usually find out about a lot of new RPGs through social media and browsing Kickstarter.  But lately, the place that has introduced me to new (to me) RPGs in the most meaningful way is a YouTube and Twitch program called RollPlay by @itmeJP.


This year alone in this Actual Play Program, GM extraordinaire Adam Koebel has Introduced me to Masks: A New Generation, a teen super hero RPG I recently started GMing.  Last week Adam introduced me World Wide Wrestling, and before that Dogs in the Vineyard. I learned a lot more about Fate Accelerated with the bonkers game he runs called Nebula Jazz, and I finally got to see the great Mouse Gaurd in Action.  But Adam’s not the only GM in on the action the Awesome John Harper got to introduce me to his great game Blades in the Dark as RollPlay Blades assassinated its way through Duskwall.

Rollplay makes my work day great and has introduced me a lot of cool games I want to play.


Posted in RPGaDay 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 2: Alien Concepts

What is an RPG you would like to see published? 

This is a hard question there are so many cool RPGs out there all genres are represented. I would have said one that combines tech and cool dinosaurs like a childhood favorite of mine Dino Riders, but along comes MCG’s Predation so I have that now.   What are we missing? A StarGate PRG?  No that exists.. a Narrative Pirate game, nope John Wick has us covered?  A teenage monster dating sim?  Monsterhearts 2 is already here.  It is hard to come up with a concept that isn’t already out there.

Well, there is one… The one I’ve been thinking about for some time.  In the mid 90’s I picked up a computer game at a local mom and pop software store that proceeded to suck away hours of my life.   In the game, I ran an organization and recruited named and controlled squads of soldiers as we desperately tried to thwart an oncoming Alien Invasion.  That game was X-Com UFO Defense.


Ever since playing that game I thought of how cool it would be to play an RPG game based off of it.  You played the soldiers but also took part in base building ala Mutant: Year Zero dealt with research and deciding what missions you wanted to go on.  The game doesn’t have to be about tactile combat like the video game, in fact, I would prefer it not to be. I instead envision a game with cinematic battles with aliens.  The game is about the soldiers the relationships they form, the sacrifices they make, the risks they take, and ones they leave behind.

Sure there are Alien invasion RPGs but none I’ve found that center on the members of an organization trying to fight back.

I’ve actually thought of trying to make this game myself.  Hacking the Cypher System and using rule structures stolen from Mutant: Year Zero, I even started writing a few outlines but I never got too far before I was pulled elsewhere.  But still, I’d love to see someone make a valiant try at an X-COM RPG.  If something like this already exists.  Please let me know.

Ohh Dear!
Posted in RPGaDay 2017

RPGaDay 2017 – Day 1

So this is a thing the folks at PRGBrigade put out.  It seemed like a fun exercise to try.  This is different from my normal blog posts, most of these will be shorter, but it will be more frequent.  I hope you enjoy my answers please feel free to give your own opinion.

So Day 1 What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?

My answer at the moment is Coriolis: The Third Horizon by Modiphius and The Free League.


Coriolis is a Science Fiction RPG taking place in the galaxy of the Third Horizon.  It is described as Firefly meets Arabian Knights.  The universe seems rather cool and rich in ideas.  It is a setting where the gods (ICONs) are thought by most to be real and they are prayed to often.  It is a world that is a bit gritty and lived in and has a wondrous but also scary and depraved view.  It’s more a dystopian future but not everything is bad.  This is a space game where there aren’t large fleets, massive armies, a big bad enemy, or an oppressive empire to overcome.  Instead, you are just trying to make your way and survive.  You can be a hauling crew, a bounty hunting crew, a salvage crew, you name it the options only limited by the ideas at the table.

It’s an interesting take on this type of sci-fi a new sand box to play in, with rules I really like.  Coriolis is built on the back on the Mutant: Year Zero engine. But much like Tales from the Loop modified them to create a very Narrative game in the 80’s that never was, Coriolis makes great changes to the core to make a gritty sci-fi game with just the right amount of crunch.

I’m particularly impressed with the ship combat rules.  In Coriolis space ship combat is not something that happens with fleets against fleets anymore there are not that many ships around.  Instead, it is more cloak and dagger affairs as you second guess your adversaries plan to out maneuver them.  It is more like old school submarine combat. Hunt for Red October style.  It seems to play our more like combat in the Expanse or Honor Harrington than something like Star Wars or Star Trek.  Intense and interesting with rules that make sure everyone on the ship as a meaningful role.

I’ve not had the pleasure of playing in a game of Coriolis just yet or even running one (if I had I would or already wrote a Fan Friday about this game yet) but I really hope I can find the time to find a game to play in in the near future.



Posted in GM Prep, Masks

X-Pelled Issue 3: GM Missteps

After the high of Issue 2, I thought I had this GMing PBtA thing down, boy was I wrong.  I should have known better.   Issue 3’s problems were partly my fault and partly circumstance.  It was my fault because I had let my familiarity with the rules and the heart of the game lapse.  I was reading up on other rule systems and not making sure Masks: A New Generation was fresh in my mind like I did for Issues 1 and 2 so I was quite rusty.  The Second issue was, I had one of the players cancel the day we were set to play.  Luckily he wasn’t a focal point of my prep (actually I  already had an easy exit for this character in my bullet points), but the player was the kind of player that drives actions and makes decisions easily which keeps the game moving.  I knew his presence at the table would be missed and didn’t have much time to figure out how to compensate.

So with a little bit of further ado, I’ll show you the Bullet points I prepped for Issue 3.   There were a lot more than for Issue 2 but now that the plot had escalated I needed to do a little bit of juggling so I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave anyone out.

So here they are:

  • Wolverine and Pryde discussing Options or lack thereof given to Cythor
  • 2 weeks later
  • Marc Hopper and Slip-stream part of the team
  • Slip-Stream screws up in training Obsidian gets hit.
  • Slip stream confronts Mobius about feelings
  • Cythor at Beat Street Club – How has he integrated.
  • Disk in Star Child’s locker – showing footage from the day of his accident.  Vanisher was there Vanisher stole something sabotaging the dig.
  • Mobius gets pulled out of the timeline.

I started like I always do talking about the cover for the issue.  I wanted it to be something iconic encapsulating the fallout of the end of Issue 2.  I asked the players and they decided on a top down shot of an empty classroom desk, with Cythors names carved into one of the corners amongst other small bits of defacement.  It was a great idea and encompassed the tone of the Issue.635981889605435507911660857_empty chair Continue reading “X-Pelled Issue 3: GM Missteps”

Posted in Gaming Advice, Rants

GMing Better: Failing Heroically

Games of late have given GMs a lot of new tools; rules that allow us to interfere with the narrative.  Whether it’s a GM Intrusion or a Despair dice roll we now have a codified reason to declare the player’s dropped his sword, slipped in the mud, accidentally insulted the princess, and ran out of ammo.  Lately, I have seen a lot of GM’s go mad with this power.  Myself included.

Recently I was talking with the GM of a Worlds in Peril game I was in and we were talking about these new mechanics.   He told me that he always tries to make sure to describe complications in a Heroic way. In the movies Captain America’s shield doesn’t accidentally fall off his back as he’s running for cover in an ‘oops’ kind of way; instead it gets blasted out of his hand by an enemy he didn’t notice, this causes him to dive after it, grab it and launch it at this new enemy.

This line of thinking open my eyes.  Too many times I would hold up 2XP in a Cypher Game and describe how the character “misjudges the weight of the grenade she’s about to throw, it hits the door jam and bounces back landing a few feet away from another PC,” only for that player to instead Hand Me an XP denying the intrusion.  I realize now that it wasn’t that the complication was bad per say, instead the problem the player had was with how I narrated it.  I made their Heroic character seem inept, or unheroic.  The Intrusion description did not fit with how the Player saw their character.  Intrusions are great in the way that players can buy them off if they don’t like how it paints their character, but in other systems, the player isn’t so lucky, so be mindful.

If I instead described: “you grab the grenade, yank out the pin, wind up, and as you are in the processes of throwing it down the hallway a sudden hail of blaster fire erupts from the far end of the hall, knocking the grenade from your hand, you watch in horror as it hits the ground and rolls next to Roselyn,” the odds are better the player will take that intrusion.   The PC wasn’t made to look like a fool, instead, something unexpected happened and caused the same result.

When you are describing the complication that is about the befall your player, make sure you take the character in mind.  Don’t have the sneaky thief accidentally knock over a metal candlestick, instead have a cat unexpectedly round the corner and hiss at the intruder. Same result but the catalyst doesn’t make the PC look bad.

There are of course exceptions.  The generally pacifistic hacker who doesn’t use guns is, of course, going to have the safety on the first time they go to fire the strange new weapon they are handed and odds are they don’t know where the safety is to turn it off.   That’s a humous beat that fits the character, and can lead to some great inter-party exchanges.  That same Hacker however isn’t going to fail to get the computer up and running because he forgot what he changed the password to.

So in closing, I will say:  When you as a GM are interfering with the narrative of the game, know your players and make sure your descriptions aren’t at odds with how they see their characters.  Do that too many times and you’ll have disgruntled players. Instead, if you can, make them seem more heroic.

Posted in General Writing, GM Prep, Masks

X-Pelled: Issue 2 Part 2

This is a continuation of Issue 2 of my Masks: A New Generation Game Check out Issue 1 and Part 1 of Issue 2 if you have missed them.

When we last left the group they were hanging out of the rooftop having lunch, and Star Chyld was failing to convince the group he was seeing an evil version of Mobius around.   That was until Marc Hopper was thrown through a window below them followed closely by Fabien storming out the door.

Fabian is clearly pissed at him and the words he uses conveys that.  The “Heroes” stand and watch.  So Marc creates a bunch of illusions of himself and Fabian gets really angry and starts shooting lighting and attacking each one. (Note to Marvel fans.  Since I accidentally created a drug that replicates the powers of Fabian Cortez I decided I had to change his powers. Sorry)  Mobius runs to get a teacher while the rest of the party watches from above.  However once Fabian strikes the real Marc Hopper knocking him into a tree and unconscious, the party jumps into action, quickly detaining the furious Fabian.

I decided it was time for the facility to get involved so as they take Marc and Fabien to the infirmary an assembly is called.  Cythor decided to split off from the team while sitting down he received a text message from his father “outside 1 hour”.  While everyone is getting settled Slip-Stream slips in and sits next to Mobius.  This I did mainly to stir the pot and see what happens.  Slip-Stream talked about the fight and how she had already put in a request to be removed from Fabian’s team because he is a jerk.  Mobius sexual preference didn’t come up (you have to let some plot-lines percolate) but the players were sure waiting for the shoe to drop. Continue reading “X-Pelled: Issue 2 Part 2”

Posted in GM Prep, Masks, Role-playing Sessions

X-Pelled – Issue 2 (part 1)

After the over-preparing I did for Issue 1 of Masks, I decided to go the opposite direction for Issue 2.  I had a vague Idea where I was taking the story line so I only had 4 Small Bullet Points for Issue 2, they were:

  • Shinobi Shaw meets with Cythor  and Star Chyld
  • Fabian gets in trouble at school Hurts Marc Hopper -Drug (RUSH) is involved.
  • Star Chyld still having visions of Mobious
  • Beast – Obsidian Scene.


I started the session once again talking about the cover of the Issue.  I knew Fabian was going to be an antagonist and Dr. Eternity was going to be involved as well.  I decided to go out on a limb. A dramatic cover was going to have a member of the cast on the ground in another team members arms while Fabian stands over and Dr. Eternity over them all.  I figured the Nova was the best bet his powers rely on him taking conditions and he still had a few leftover from the last session.  So Star Chyld was on the Ground being held by Obsidian.  It was a great image the players loved it, now I had to figure out how to get there.

I started with the last bullet point first.  Obsidian is a transformed someone who doesn’t fit in and can never look like everyone else.  Beast was supposed to be Obsidian’s mentor but I hadn’t had a scene with them yet.  So we started there.  Beast was asking about the team leadership and how Obsidian was fitting in.  Obsidian being a teen was playing aloof, noncommunicative and uninterested in what Beast had to say.  Obsidian basically ended with “I’m here because I won’t be accepted anywhere else.  I either make it work or I have nothing.”   Not what Beast wanted to hear.  I didn’t have Beast push the issue instead I just let the scene end.

The next major scene took place at Star Chyld’s locker. I let the players frame the scene.  Star Chyld was trying to show off the new handheld (Guessing Nintendo Switch) he picked up with his dad’s credit card, trying to prove that he’s cool.  This is where I had an idea.  The players early on talked about wanting to embrace the cliqued teen angst and drama of the High School setting, so I decided to go After School special and see what happens.  In the locker, another player notices a strange envelope, inside was 5 tabs of RUSH, the postage stamp type drug we established in Issue 1.   In Issue 1 Star Chyld took the drug so I wasn’t sure what they would do in response.  They all got conspiratorial, Star claimed it wasn’t his no idea how it got there and they were going to hide it and get rid of it.  The Delinquent, Cythor said he’d take care of it, and as he grabbed the envelope, Fabian Showed up grabbed the new Handheld Star Chyld had and acted impressed.  I was trying to convey that Fabian was a jerk yes but still just a high schooler trying to impress and maybe in a strange way make friends.  The group wasn’t having it, however, and unpleasantly told Fabian to take a hike.  Before he left he whispered to Cythor “Hey if you want to cut class and take a couple of those let me know”  indicating he saw Cythor pocket the RUSH.

Continue reading “X-Pelled – Issue 2 (part 1)”

Posted in Gaming Advice, Set Piece

Set Piece: Hold the Bridge

Olin, Hildr and Frode stood stalwart as the undead army approached.  They had set their traps, prepared all they could but it was a long time till morning.  They knew that the only way to keep the Illustrious City of Silasthorp from falling was for the three of them to hold the Bridge.

“Well Olin,” Hildr began as she grabbed her axe from her belt and turned toward the hardened warrior.  “We may feast in the halls of Valhalla before this night is through”

“Odin owns us all,” Olin replied.  The three then shouted the known refrain in unison as the undead army was upon them.



Whether it is the rickety rope bridge in The Temple of Doom, a strategic bridge to war effort like in Saving Private Ryan, or the last place you have to stop the Balrog a la Fellowship of the Ring,  a Bridge encounter is always a classic Set Piece.  One of the more exciting ways to use a bridge as a chokepoint, a place to hold from an overwhelming force. So let’s give that a go.


Evil must be stopped and this Bridge is the last place for your heroes to make their stand.  Have they had time to prepare or are they desperate?  There is hope however, they only have to hold out for so long. Wherever the scene is, be sure to describe the bridge itself in great detail make sure you include features for the players and the enemies to exploit narratively. How’s it lit? is the railing weak in areas? Are their pot holes? Is there cover? This is going to be longer encounter be prepared with a few ‘intrusions’ that could alter the landscape and shake things up. Don’t be afraid to choreograph them in your description maybe your players get the idea to trigger events first for their benefit.

Continue reading “Set Piece: Hold the Bridge”