Posted in GM Prep, Masks, Role-playing Sessions

X-Pelled – Session 1 GM Prep and Reflection

X-Pelled is my Masks: A New Generation Game in an original Marvel timeline where the players are playing students at Jean Grey’s school of Higher Learning.  To learn more about the cast and the start of the game check out my previous article:

Prepping for a Season of Masks: A New Generation. As Marvel X – kids…


please excuse my horrible design skills 🙂


I started my GM prep with two things going to happen.  One they were going to start the Session in the middle of a Danger Room Battle, and two they were going to a Dance Club (seeded into the Episode 0 Play) and a Sentinel was going to attach the Club while they were there. (ok maybe 3 things were going to happen)

In my group’s Worlds in Peril game Kingpin was horrifically killed by a slightly insane Hyperion.  With Fisk gone I figured this would leave a power vacuum in organized crime in NY.   So I figured I would come up with two groups to fight over that Vacuum and have the PCs running afoul of them.  Quick easy Meta Plot.    The problem is what two groups would work. Well, this is the Mutant side of Marvel, so the Hellfire Club makes a lot of sense.  The problem is these X-Men are teens so the Hellfire Club may just be too big and adult.  The party wanted to lean into the Teen drama so I wanted to try the teen outcasts angle as one group.   You know; someone trying to pull the group away from the righteous protectors of man, mutant propaganda the X school will be filling their heads with.  So looking through the interwebs I stumbled across a group called the Fallen Angels.  A great idea for a drug dealing, nightclub owning burgeoning crime syndicate.  Former X-students and general riff-raff who just want to have fun and live it up in NYC.  What about that wouldn’t appeal to Teen-Age mutants. Continue reading “X-Pelled – Session 1 GM Prep and Reflection”

Posted in Dark Souls Cypher Hack

Dark Soulsian Cypher: Breaking the Rules

I’ve been quite intrigued by the lore and dark style of the Dark Souls Video Games.   Games where death is a big theme, every item you find has a rich and interesting history, and the world is full of grim characters with rich history and monsters and Big Bads are unique and have large stories to tell.   I have wondered how to incorporate the feel of this type game into an RPG.   I know I am not the only one.  Andreas Walters of Metal Weave Games was having the same thoughts I was and Kickstarted a Monster/Setting book in the Dark Soulsian Vein called “Embers of the Forgotten Kingdom.”  As I wait patiently for the setting to be delivered to me from Metal Weave’s talented group of writers, artists, and designers I have mulled over rules for a Dark Soulsian RPG.

Art of the fairy queen by Vincent Yau

Now, what do you need from a Dark Souls RPG?  Well, the game is known for its tactile precision combat.  To be honest, that is best handled with a Video Game, I don’t want a miniature heavy RPG I want the FEEL for Dark Soul’s World not of its fighting mechanics.  So we are taking that off the table.  Sure I plan on fights to be hard and punishing and death of the players to be a common occurrence, but I don’t want all the bookkeeping needed for that type of fighting.

But what engine should I use?  To be honest the first one that came to mind was Cypher System.  I am quite familiar with the ins and outs of the system, and there are certain aspects of the system I thought I could hack for quite interesting results.


Continue reading “Dark Soulsian Cypher: Breaking the Rules”

Posted in Fan Friday

Fan Friday – GenCon

The Best Four Days in Gaming.   Yup, I’m a fan.  I’ve been going to the con for 4 years now, a relative newb compared to many.  But it is a great experience every year.  Held nowadays in Indianapolis (rather than Lake Geneva (where the GEN in the name GenCon comes from)) in the late summer Gen Con is a gaming treat.   Thousands upon thousands of gamers gather for fun and the love of the hobby.  Gen Con is a place to make friends, meet your on-line friends, play your favorite games and discover new games.

The first year I went I made it a point to try and play new things, I discovered 7th Sea, Spy Craft, and Dark Heresy.  I picked up Monte Cooks brand new game Numenera, and Fantasy Flights new Star Wars game Edge of the Empire.  I hung out with old friends, stayed up way too late and probably drunk a bit too much a night or two.  It was a blast.


Since then I’ve involved myself more in the hobby than ever before. Bolstered by on-line communities and the friends I made that are as passionate as I.

The second year I tried my hand at GMing.  I joined the ranks of Monte Cook Games’ Numenera GMs and enjoyed the heck out of it.  GMing at a con is a great Experience.  If you’re a GM but the thought of GMing at a Con scares you, let me say, Con GMing is easier than GMing your home game.  At a Con, the people are there to have fun and learn.  Everyone is usually super chill and actually listens to the story you are crafting and want to be active participants.  No lengthy side topics or distracting phones or laptops.  Your players are there to have fun.  GMing at Gen Con is invigorating.   I have GMed at every GenCon since then.


Last year I tried something else new LARPing.  Yup.  People that LARP seem to enjoy the heck out of it, and who am I to judge.  So I figured it was time to see what all the fuss is about.  So I gave it a try and had a blast.  The game I was in was Science Fiction in theme.  There were about 12 of us.  We were passengers on a spaceship.  A ship that suffered a catastrophic failure/accident/malfunction.  A ship that wouldn’t have enough resources for all of its passengers to reach its destination alive.  It was a game of hard choices, intrigue, self-sacrifice, and gut-wrenching betrayals.   It was a game that left me Emotionally drained.  But it was a game quite a few of us were talking about till the wee hours of the morning over quite a few beers.  It was a great time.  Something I want to do again.  This year I have my eye on a Cthulhu LARP or two if I can get one to fit in my schedule.

So it’s not too late to grab a badge for the GenCon 50, a plane ticket to Indy, or find a place to stay.  You won’t be sorry you went.  You’ll have a great time, and you might even see me there.  Heck, I might even buy you a beer.


Posted in Fan Friday

Fan Friday – 7th Sea 2nd Edition – First Impressions

At my first GenCon something like 5 years ago, I decided to play a bunch of games I had never had the opportunity to try.  (I recommend all avid Role-players use Cons for this purpose) One of the games I was able to get into was a 7th Sea 1st Edition game.  All I really knew of 7th Sea was it involved pirates in a colonization era society.  Which sounded great to me.  The game was one of the highlights of GenCon that year.  It was a blast.  I was impressed with a system that rewarded players for doing cool daring stunts and not always take the tactilely sound approach.  Coming back from the Con and looking up the system, I found it hard to find, out of print, and none of my players too keen on the idea of jumping into a “dead system”. ( I hate the idea of a “Dead System” it is more like a mature system, you have all the material there you will need. You can still play even though it isn’t in print)  Funny how they would want to play WEG Star Wars but not 7th Sea.  I didn’t call them on their hypocrisy.

Flash forward a few years and John Wick is reviving his game via Kickstarter for a 2nd Edition.  It was a no-brainer for me, he had my money.

I Now have the Rulebook and have read over almost all of it.  I’ve also read quite a bit of Wick’s pretty darn good Novel Daughter of Fate.   However, I hadn’t had a chance to get it on the table until recently.   A few of us in a Google+ community were lamenting the fact that we hadn’t played the game and there were no good Actual-Plays out there (besides ones of the pre-release demo adventure) that we could find to get a feel for it with. (seriously if you know of a good actual play let me know)  However, another member of the community came forward saying he’d played the game a lot with his home group and had been working on a Con adventure and would be willing to have us run through it if we’d give feedback.  Of course, we said yes and quickly assembled a party. Continue reading “Fan Friday – 7th Sea 2nd Edition – First Impressions”

Posted in GM Prep, Masks, Role-playing Sessions

Prepping for a Season of Masks: A New Generation. As Marvel X – kids…

A few months ago I was talking to one of my gaming regulars about never having played a Powered by the Apocalypse game.  He happened to be playing in an online game of “Worlds in Peril” in a few days that had an open slot and so he invited me to join.  I, of course, said “Hell Yeah.”  This particular game was being run in the Marvel Universe but in the GM’s own continuity.  I jumped in as Spider-Man. I figured it would be easier to play a known character rather than create my own for a One-Off thing.  The game was a blast.  It ended up being the end of a season (arc) for the other players.   However, when they started the second season they invited me along.  I created a brand new hero named Daedalus and had a blast playing Worlds in Peril.  So as season 2 was winding down (a 5 issue(session) arc)  the GM said he was going to take a break and run or play something else.  I then talked the group into letting me run them through a season of Masks: A New Generation in the interim.  The idea being they would play as young X-Men in the same continuity as the Worlds in Peril game.

The Jean Grey School of Higher Learning

I had only played 6 sessions of a Powered by Apocalypse Game and had never run a session so the idea of running the game is a bit daunting.  But I watched and rewatched Adam Koebel (@Skinnyghost) run a One Shot that was such a blast it became a two-shot over at Roll Play as I tried my best to learn the rules and prepare. I find watching/listening to actual plays is a great way to get a better grasp of the rules I’ve read before I run a game.

I’ve always been a plot and characters over rules kind of GM so the narrative style I didn’t think was going to be too hard.  However, one thing I’ve seen in PBtA games is that a lot can happen in a few hours.  While some systems you expect the players to get through one maybe two encounters and maybe talk to a few NPC per session. Masks, I quickly learned required a whole different kind of prep.  Basically, I thought up who the villains are, what their plans were. I will have them just doing their thing until the heroes get involved.  Because in Masks, the Heroes have their own drama to deal with, and the story is really about them.

So now I had to figure out who the characters were and what kind of character arcs I would take them on. So I started with Session 0:  Character Creation.   We ended up with a Delinquent, a Nova, a Transformed, and a Doomed.  With a pretty interesting mix of ages and personalities. Continue reading “Prepping for a Season of Masks: A New Generation. As Marvel X – kids…”

Posted in Fan Friday, General Writing

Fan Friday: Tales from the Loop – First Impressions


Tales of the loop is an RPG from Miodiphious and the Free League.  It is set in the 80’s that wasn’t and uses the Mutant Year Zero ruleset as it’s framework.  Being someone that has quite enjoyed the Mutant Year Zero Rules, and movies like the Goonies and the show Stranger Things, which the game tries to evoke the wonder and magic of, I quickly backed this project when it showed up on Kickstarter.  I must say I am quite surprised by the finished product and not at all disappointed.

Mutant: Year Zero’s ruleset is and interesting game where you build D6 dice pools for actions and require a 6 on a die to succeed. If you fail the first roll, you can always push yourself and roll again with potentially additional consequences added to the situation whether you succeed this second roll or not.   In Tales from the Loop, you always take a condition if you reroll, like Angry or Afraid.  This aspect reminded me of Masks: A New Generations.  There is one exception to this rule, however, and that is a mechanic called luck.  Luck is a free reroll, and how many you get per session is determined by your age. If you Ten you get 5 if you are fifteen you get 0.

Another thing I wasn’t expecting in the game is there are no combat rules, there is no initiative, and your players cannot die. This may turn some people off but I found it refreshing and really fit the setting.  Your kids can still get into combat with an angry robot or a strange dinosaur, but you play kids you are not really going toe to toe with these things, instead, you basically must overcome them, like a quick descriptive skill challenge.  If you players understand that they can have a lot of fun with it.

I found in the quick session I ran it played a lot like a Powered by the Apocalypse game, which was super cool.   The game wants to make sure that you intermix the mundane life of being a kid in the 80’s with all the strange and fantastical stuff they are seeing.  So, dealing with your bully of an older brother, your parents fighting and the kid next door you’ve had a crush on since 2nd grade all play a part in the game as well.  It keeps the game grounded (while your parents might ground you when they find out you snuck into that ‘abandoned bunker’)

Character creation is quick and has a few neat world building and party connections elements thrown in.  It would help to have a few more character types for your players to choose from; as listed there are quite a few that are a stretch to see hanging out together after school. (Hick, Jock, Computer Geek…)

I grew up in the 80’s watching the 80’s adventure movies so this game really punches my nostalgia button, but I am not sure how it will play out for the younger crowd.  The rules I think would be really great for kids to learn and play and have a lot of fun, but I am would think the 80’s tech (Walkman, Arcades, large home computers) would be quite foreign ideas so the tone would be quite different.

Overall though, I think Tales from the Loop is going to be one of my new “Go-To” Games, also a game that I’ll probably use to introduce a few people to the great world of Role-playing.

Posted in Gaming Advice, Set Piece

Set Piece: The Reverse Pickpocket


Will Smith is in a lingerie shop buying a present for his wife when an old friend (Jason Lee) runs into him.  The friend slips something in Will Smith’s bag, then runs off proceeding to get himself killed.  This, however, kicks off Will’s involvement in the wonderful suspense film Enemy of the State.    The reverse pickpocket idea is not a new concept.  It’s been used in fiction, film, and television for years.  Scott Lynch’s book The Republic of Thieves has got a great scene where the method is used multiple times by two opposing thieves on some unsuspecting officials.   Needless to say, you can kick off quite an adventure with a scene like this, without requiring much of any buy-in from your PCs.


The PCs are in a crowded market buying good our trying to find a buyer for their cargo.  When someone runs into them.  Classic pickpocket scam right.   They check their belt pouch or wallet.  Their cash is still there.   What they don’t realize is, something else has been added.  A crowded market of any type does well for this.  However, any public space or city street will do.  Even an Inn, Bar, or shop could be a great location for this scene. Continue reading “Set Piece: The Reverse Pickpocket”

Posted in Fan Friday, General Writing

Fan Friday – LARPs – A Beanduck Web Series


A couple of years ago, a saw a video on Geek and Sundry’s YouTube page about a web series called LARPs.  I personally was not a LARPer; I knew people in the Camarilla ( a White Wolf World of Darkness LARP group) in college, and I knew of the existence of boffer LARP, but LARPing wasn’t something that interested me.  However, something about this video caught my eye.  The production quality was top notch, these people obviously studied filmmaking, the acting was nothing to sneeze at either.   I quickly looked up the show and binge watched the entire first Season.  Then I went and helped Crowdfund the Second.

LARPs is a show that follows a group of gamer friends as they maneuver through life, while the characters they play brave a fantasy realm.  The writing and direction are quite good.  Each cast member is given their own moments throughout the series, and the show expertly weaves between the in-game drama, as well as the real-life drama.

From the tranquil forest opening of Episode 0 to the Epic Finale of Season 2, I can say I enjoyed every frame.  If you missed this series when it first came out, or overlooked it because you weren’t into LARPing, I highly recommend you give this short series a moment of your time.   You won’t regret it. LARPS is one of the best short form series on the internet.


While writing this article I discovered Beanduck now has their own YouTube Channel, and promises more original short film content. I can’t wait to see what they have in store.  Check them out here: Beanduck Productions


Posted in General Writing

State of the Blog

Hello, Everyone… if there is anyone out there. 🙂

I created this blog a while back to write about my life as it pertains to gaming.  I quickly established my Set Pieces and planned a lot of other things that life got in the way of.  You see I sort of started my blog prematurely.  I bought a house in Late November so the last few months have been all about packing, moving and unpacking, all while going to work, raising a 5-year-old and trying my best to keep up with my wife’s honey-do list.   Seriously I think I put together about dozen pieces of furniture. (6 shelves 4 curio cabinets, 2 storage units and a teepee… ok the last one was easy) We had Christmas, My Son’s Birthday, and we now have an exchange student from the Czech Republic.

It’s been a busy few months.  I have also done a lot of gaming.  It is interesting because a year ago I was running 2 games and playing in none.   Now I am playing in 4 games and running none.  Quite a change for me.  (I’ll talk more about them in future posts)

So, I wanted to write this piece to talk about my plans for this blog.  Set Pieces will still be a thing.  Hopefully still on Weds and on a more regular basis.   They are long pieces and take quite a bit of time so I might have to schedule them for every other week or so.

I still want to do adventure write-ups.  We just had Session 4 of Gods of the Fall so I am a few sessions behind but plan on catching up.  My Android Cypher game ran into a few problems that made it hard to write about.  A player left the game and the plot got complicated.  I misplaced my notes during the move so I couldn’t continue the write-ups for some time.  After that, well, we found new players but have decided to change to a different game.  So sadly, I’ll have no more write-ups from the world of Android.

I’ve been working on a couple ideas for making a Dark Souls-like Cypher game, that includes adapting some of the rules for a solo campaign (1 GM 1 PC).   I haven’t started playtesting yet, but I might put some of that material on here.

I’ve also been experiencing quite a bit of gaming awesomeness.  Whether it’s some cool Actual Play Podcast I’ve been listing to at work, or some fun Board games I’ve been playing at home, I plan on writing a bit more about things I find that I think are cool.

Another thing I want to start putting on here is some fiction.  I had thought about doing NaNoWriMo and posting the stuff up here but I was in the middle of packing up and moving in Nov, so I didn’t have the time.

I don’t want to commit to a schedule for this blog because, A. I don’t want to disappoint people when I inevitably can’t stick to it, and B. adding a schedule makes it feel like an obligation to me so it ends up being less fun.   But I will commit to having more post more often.


Thanks, everyone for bearing with me.  I hope you enjoy what I will put out in the future

Posted in Gaming Advice, Set Piece

Set Piece: The Gladiatorial Arena


The protagonists being forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena or fighting pit is littered throughout sci-fi and fantasy mediums. (Star Wars, Star Trek, Planet Hulk, Game of Thrones, John Carter, Mad Max, Hunger Games).  It is also a staple of roleplaying games.  It is an interesting way to start a campaign(DCC funnel anyone) or a great place to introduce new players into your game.


The players are forced to fight for spectators in an arena.  This could be a grand coliseum or a fighting pit.  How they got in this situation is up to you.  It could be the result of them being captured or part of a bargain with the authorities of the place or even something they volunteered as a show of skill or as part of a contest. Continue reading “Set Piece: The Gladiatorial Arena”