by Lev Lafayette, Karl Brown, and Michael Cole
Through the month of August David F. Chapmanm, designer of 'Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space', initiated an #rpgaday meme derived from a #bookaday meme from The Borough Press a month beforehand . The following is a contribution and conversation on the the meme questions by three major contributors to RPG Review.
#RPGaDay #1 - First RPG
LL: My first rpg experience was RuneQuest, 2nd edition in 1981 at junior high school. I was 13 at the time and some students a year above me were playing it in the school library during lunchtimes. I hung around for a couple of sessions and displayed enough interest until they let me join in, but in a limited role. At the time I didn't even realise it was RuneQuest, I just knew about the existence of roleplaying games and I think one of them may have mentioned it was "like Dungeons & Dragons". I recall an epic conflict with giant mantises with forelegs like swords who, like the smaller version of the same, engage in ambush predatory attacks.
KB: I grew up in a smaller town a couple of hundred kilometers from what was then the most isolated city in the world. 1983, I was twelve, and I was in the local library. I can’t remember if I had heard of rpg and was looking specifically for a book on it or if I discovered the little hardcover unimaginatively called "Fantasy Role Playing Games" (1981) by John Holmes during my random wanderings. In any case, the book was a review of the hobby containing descriptions of fabulous sounding games from the 1970's many of which I did not actually see until decades later if ever. I was enthralled. I remember thinking it curious that the author was a medical doctor, these games must be special indeed to hold the attention of someone my twelve year old self regarded as a godlike intellectual. Within that book was a slim chapter "The Reader Takes a Role". In 15 pages were a rudimentary system with character generation and an adventure. I played with my brother and a couple of friends. We were hooked. I fondly remember sessions by gaslight on camping weekends among the forests of giant trees. I photocopied the chapter and still have it to this day. We couldn’t even see any other games in our town but the book gave me the insight that rather than just Fighter and Magician other games had elves, gnomes, and well lots of options. I started adding new rules, looking back they where mostly obvious simple additions to the math in those slim 15 pages that where the only rpg rules in my world for a couple of years, but they got me started and I have never stopped.
MC: D&D, 1977 Box Set. Came with the blue book, and Keep on the Borderlands. Would have been from a '79 edition, because it had the chits instead of dice. It was bought for me as a present from my eldest brother, who was into miniature wargaming at that time; he had a full set of the Persian Immortals, and I used to go and watch him have wars against various others. I would have been 10. Shit, that's a long time ago.
#RPGaDay #2 - First RPG GameMastered
LL: The first game I actually ran was a couple of days after Christmas of 1981; Dungeons & Dragons Molvay Basic Set, The Keep on the Borderlands. One GM and one player, a schoolmate who I coaxed into playing. As our group expanded with a few more players, we played through those Basic and Expert scenarios for the better part of eighteen months afterwards. Those were heady days, discovering Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (great product, but I though B&E D&D were better games), Traveller, Swordbearer, and eventually rediscovering RuneQuest.
KB: Fortunately, given my lengthy reminiscence above the answer to this question is ‘see above’. I will add though that games mastering when you had never seen it done and only had a couple of paragraphs telling you how was very daunting for a twelve year old.
MC: Would have been the above set, first with my brother, who played with me to be nice. First time with others would have been at school (Dandenong Tech) in the library which was an unmitigated disaster. Six players, five were dwarven fighters and one druid, going through the initial adventure from the blue book. Only lasted a couple of sessions - Dandy Tech wasn't known for its cerebral pursuits...
#RPGaDay #3 - First RPG purchased
LL: Now this one is funny; because I of previous games (c.f., question #1), I considered myself an 'expert' in Dungeons & Dragons, and therefore I didn't need the Basic set. So ignoring the warnings on the back of the box, D&D Expert was the first RPG purchased. Within a few hours after purchase I realised I couldn't play it without the Basic set, so that was purchased a day or so later. In the immediate years that followed I picked up the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons core three books, Swordbearer, RuneQuest ("Wait a minute! This looks familiar!"), Traveller, DragonQuest, the Palladium Roleplaying Game, and the original modular box-sets for Rolemaster.
KB: 15pages photocopied, 2 pages to the sheet at 5 cents per sheet, a bargain.
MC: Would have been AD&D - TSR stuff was all I had for a long time. As for the first item, probably Players Handbook.
#RPGaDay #4 - Most Recent RPG purchase
LL: Would you eat a soul-destroying psychic cockroach dedicated to destroying all of humanity? No? What if it gave you tenure? 'The Shab-
al-Hiri Roach' was my most recent purchase, and I can't wait to try it out as a side game for the regular Call of Cthulhu group. I buy an awful lot of RPGs, second-hand and new, and about 1/10th have made into the RPG Review store (if I'm going to run a free gaming 'zine over several years at least I can use it as a sales boost).
KB: The Book of Lost Spells, pre-ordered. What promises to be a weighty tome of arcane lore for the 5th edition of 'that other game' Necromancer Games cannot name. I had drifted away from D&D when 3.0 was released. I had pretty much ignored the 5th Edition until my partner who lives in the internet pointed me at a couple of articles outside of the usual gamer areas. Intrigued, I read a few reviews and decided to tentatively check it out. Reading the new PHB has convinced me that I like the new edition enough to play it and even hunger for a few more options. The Book of Lost Spells and associated volumes has an all-star line-up including AD&D favourites Skip Williams, Ed Greenwood, and James Ward.
MC: Most probably would have been old MERP ICE stuff off ebay. I'm trying to get a complete collection. ICE is still the best version of Middle Earth
#RPGaDay #5 - Most Old-School RPG owned
LL: In terms of publication time, I have the white box edition of original Dungeons & Dragons [FP 1974], including the Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry and Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes supplements. Other contenders include the first science fiction RPG Metamorphosis Alpha , and a first edition of Bunnies & Burrows . In the past few years I've even had the opportunity to play OD&D and run B&B.
KB: An original Empire of Petal Throne. A friend of mine saw it at a garage sale and thought it looked like ‘those strange games’ I play. He haggled the guy down to 20 cents and gave it to me as a present. The box is a little rough but the contents are immaculate. I’ve always imagined I’ll use it as a sealed prime material crystal sphere in the AD&D Planescape cosmology. Dumping a bunch of cynical back-talking cutters with no idea of the local culture into Tekumel could be a fun adventure. Anyway, garage sales can be a great source of cheap stuff especially fantasy novels.
MC: I do also have a copy of the original D&D books. I also have images of the Dalluhn manuscript on hard-disk - I think that that is about as old as you can get.
#RPGaDay #6 - Favourite RPG I Never Get To Play
LL: This could be a very long list as there's a small mountain of games I've like to play but I don't seem to get the chance to; Empire of the Petal Throne, Earthdawn, and Talislana are all contenders in this regard. However at the top of this list must be Skyrealms of Jorune. I have the game, I have the scenarios, I even have a group of people who are chomping at the bit to give this a go. It's just a matter of finishing off some existing games to give it a run.
KB: Empire of Petal Throne you say? We should talk. Well while the other grandpa’s here are showing off their bone fides I’m going to go with Legends of Anglerre published way back in 2010CE. I have the two books I love how they use the FATE system to cover all the fantasy tropes, want to be a dragon or a goat-herder no problem we can do that and be fair to both of you. Most of all though I love that despite the book’s name it is really a kit for co-operative fantasy world building with a thin chapter on Anglerre at the back where it is easily ignored. Great stuff, but there is currently no slot in my group's schedule and there is no online fan-based to speak off.
MC: Don't really have one. For me, I've never been a "system" person. I don't really care which rules system, so long as the system doesn't take over the game. In terms of environments, again, nothing really jumps out at me. I generally prefer reasonably stock-standard semi-realistic fantasy. Dark ages to medieval. I'm pretty boring. Other environments I would like to game in would be, in no particular order, are early China/Japan/Korea, Wild West (either America or Australia), French revolution or Age of Sail. The problem with some of those is that for semi-realistic gaming, firearms are a distinct danger for player characters, and I prefer to run with a single character for a full game.
#RPGaDay #7 - Most 'Intellectual' RPG Owned.
LL: I'm interpreting this question as the one that encourages me to think deeply about the game in some way, whether it is setting or system. Certainly there is the classic cosmology of AD&D which encourages me in this direction (if only to suggest 'no, do it this way instead!'), or any Glorantha-based game on how to portray mythic thinking. But at the top of the list is Eclipse Phase, a near-future transhumanist game which really encourages thought in the combination of transformative technologies and social possibilities related to those technologies.
KB: GURPS 3rd Edition Vehicles, no wait that’s most computational. Anyway, I love the flexibility of designing vehicles unique to your setting with logical well-defined technological capabilities consistent with the rest of the technology for that culture. Inconsistent tech capabilities are an issue with most SF games. Say you want to a jet bike for an uplifted raven in a ‘realistic’ 2050? How big is it? How fast can it go? What electronics are onboard? What if it’s a sail powered airship built with Renaissance level technology by the 30ton squid-like inhabitants of Saturn? GURPS Vehicles is truly generic.
MC: I do have several of the FGU games, Bushido and Aftermath, which do have rather convoluted rules. I also have some supplemental systems for generating realistic firearms combat. Aside from that, probably Ars Magica would be the most "intellectual" that I have a lot of and would like to play.
#RPGaDay #8 - Favourite Character
LL: Like most long-term gamers I imagine that they have at least a dozen favourite characters who count among their favourites. In my own case, a medieval Korean daewi on a diplomatic mission to China serves as a favourite. Unlike other characters I usually play, this one was a nasty piece of work, but with a high level of tactical and personal military competence and the ability to pull the troops into line. It was GURPS, and he had military rank, meglomania, bully, and bloodlust. He was also falling for princess who was beginning to show some competence as well - and was seeking to change his heart.
KB: I’m with Lev choosing one favourite is hard. Two recent favourites are my uplifted raven for our table’s GURPS time-travel campaign, Weoxgyld a lightning giant with his faithful middle aged ex-pirate manservant, Paiter. Weoxgild was played in the Fantasy Craft forums. I wont bore you with details but if you want to know more about Weoxgyld use Google. Play-by-post is an interesting medium. There are things you can do in play-by-post that would be hard to impossible at a live table. Weoxgyld for example had a highly formal mode of speech and very foreign cultural norms that would have been near impossible to do consistently at a table. The pace of play-by-post enables careful consideration of every action and composition of every word ‘spoken’. If you haven’t tries play-by-post give it a spin.
MC: Ah, here we go. I seem to have become known for the playing of a particular stereotype of character; the angsty teenage girl, preferably with psionics, martial arts and mental issues. Started almost as an accident, but it is still what I generally look for when creating a new character, regardless of the system or environment. I can provide a list of those characters of mine who fit this bill, but it would be rather long...
#RPGaDay #9 - Favourite Dice Set
LL: For someone who has so many dice it may seem surprising that I'm pretty indifferent to them. My favourites would have to be my Hero System-branded D6s. They have nice contrasting colours (the deep green and black background), the Hero System logo stands out for the "1s" and they're oversized giving a satisfying 'clunk' as they land on the table. I tend to use them for games like GURPS and Pendragon which typically have up to 6d6 for effects; I don't know how anyone would cope with 15d6 worth which is standard for Champions, though. I also have an desire to one day to have a set of dice made from from precious stones because.. well, aesthetic reasons really.
KB: Before the advent of a smart phone and dice app I carried a travelling set of miniature dice that fit into a little tube about the size of a pen. They are kinda fiddly because they are so small but over the years they were often handy.
MC: I still have my original dice from when I first bought them. I honestly don't care that much about dice. No favourites and no superstitions.
#RPGaDay #10 - Favourite Game Fiction
LL: Assuming that this is fiction from games, rather than the other way around I'll readily admit being quite unfamiliar with such books, despite having a small collection which I will get around to reading "one day". One exception which I've thoroughly enjoyed is Oliver Dickson, "The Complete Griselda", a series of short stories based in the Glorantha desert city of Pavis. Written in the style of detective noir, these come with a great deal of charm and evocative humour.
KB: The Dritz origin story trilogy I suppose. Never really read many others. I have a copy of “The Man of Gold” Tekumel novel I'll get to one day.
MC: I can't think of any fiction that I have that originated from a game. Generally, that sought of stuff doesn't appeal to me. As for games that came from fiction, well I am a huge Tolkien fan, and this fandom massively predates the movies.
#RPGaDay #11 - Weirdest RPG Owned
LL: Arguably my copy of Alma Mater, the rather graphic sex-and-drugs high-school RPG from the early 80s, although the first edition of Bunnies & Burrows must come pretty close in terms of weirdness, or even first edition Metamorphosis Alpha, but only because I don't own something like Realm of Yolmi. I don't really think I can count a pirated PDF copy of the notorious Spawn of Fashan, once thought of as a hilarious parody of RPGs when reviewed by Dragon magazine. Turns out it wasn't although having gone through it, it really makes more sense that way. All this said, Alma Mater was actually quite well done in many ways, and was particularly good in its representation of social skills.
KB: Now days with the net lowering the barriers to publishing there are a lot of strange games around and I love these little internet oddities but will likely never play any of these PDFs. Anyway, big shout out to all the internet authors of oddities, love your work. I have a couple of long-term projects that are pretty odd but whether these will ever be played is debatable. For strange that I will or have played I'd say it's a tie between “Wonderland No More” a Savage Worlds Alice in Wonderland setting and my own “Gulliver's Trading Company”.
MC: Toon? Anything by Kevin Siembieda? Not really into weirdness.
#RPGaDay #12 - Old RPG Still Played
LL: Well, Call of Cthulhu came out in 1981 and I'm currently running that. I readily admit that we're defaulting to 5th edition rules, rather than 1st edition but to be fair, there really isn't that much difference between different editions of CoC - although I have heard that 7th edition is going to be substantially different, which will be quite a change; CoC was often considered the game which just added new material and new scenarios rather than a revision of the game system.
KB: Space 1889. Though, not with the original rules. Our group just played this for many months and the setting remains more entertaining and intriguing than more recent over-the-top steam-punk settings that have frequently forgotten to use any of the real society and history of the British Empire at its height. My draft conversion notes for using Ubiquity to run old 1889 materials are online if you are interested.
MC: GURPS 3rd Ed is my standard goto nowadays for GMing; as stated, the actual system is not something that I give much thought to. As for playing in, I'll play in whatever.
#RPGaDay #13 - Most memorable character death
LL: Assuming one is just limited to their own PCs, I will have to give this to Zoltan, a Magyar noble played by our good friend Stean in a fantasy Europe Dungeons & Dragons third edition game. Being D&D it was fortunate that Stean could find new and interesting ways to kill his characters as we could raise them with relative ease. In this particular case he managed to stumble into an obvious trap, get killed by wraiths and, in new wraith form, killed again the following round as the party decided to fireball the undead collection. Zoltan also managed to poison himself once with his own poisoned blade and, having mucked up a "three questions" offer, was burnt to a cinder from the flaming skull of Thanatos. It really was quite an art form.
KB: I can't remember if my character died but I should have. Trapped inside a rubber cage inside a small room at the top of a tower that was rapidly filling with a blue whale extruding from the end of a 1000 effect wand of wonder.
MC: In terms of my own characters, nothing really jumps out. In my MERP campaign there is the case of a half-orc NPC who was supposed to have a romance role and turn out to be a hero of the story, however a succession of rolls - 100, 100, 98 for the hit, and then 100 for the critical. So a character that I had worked out a big backstory and had planned a big future was lost to a fleeting arrow shot from retreating forces. I blame MERP for it.
In terms of other's characters, the current CoC campaign of Orient Express and Masks has produced many memorable goings insane and deaths, as is the want of CoC, but my character is still original. The only one who survived sane through all or Orient Express and currently still going strong in Masks. He needs to make it to the end, and then he can either heroically sacrifice himself, or be the only survivor again. Either way, he needs to make it through.
#RPGaDay #14 - Best Convention Purchase
LL: A local gaming convention, I think it was Arcanacon around 2008, where there was an auction for an absolutely crazy collection of B-grade fantasy and science fiction films that I'm still working through years later. Some are utterly terrible (e.g., Deathstalker), some have some good moments (Doomwatch, From Beyond The Gave, Wolfshead - The Legend of Robin Hood), and many just seriously strange (e.g., Carnosaur, Empire of the Ants).
KB: A dusty box in the bargain miniatures bin containing a large metal armoured dragon. $5. Those neglected boxes of junk are often worth a rummage. Unexpectedly, the miniature has seen the most use in play-by-post as an image representing my drake character Vandarzryx. I try to use what I have as much as I can, where I can.
MC: Have only attended a couple of conventions, and didn't really purchase that much. Got an el cheapo set of Tolkien calendars from one, that I still haven't done anything with.
#RPGaDay #15 - Favourite Convention Game
LL: It was around 2010 when I was in Wellington attending Linux Conference AU, when I discovered that KapCon, the local gaming convention, was also being held. I participated in several games, a "Five Go Mad in Dorset" one being particularly amusing. However one which really stands out, I could only be an observer as it was booked out: "In A Wicked Age". I had been interested in this for some time, and the opportunity to see the game in actual play and read through the rules was too much of an offer to ignore. Some months afterwards managed to run several sessions of the game on a "Blood & Sex" theme which was greatly enjoyable.
KB:Only ever played once at a convention and it was a rather ordinary dungeon crawl. Why? Well most of my life I've been variously small town, broke, or time poor so I haven't been to many conventions.
MC: Easy. A CoC adventure set around a reinterpreting of Hotel California by The Eagles at Dwarfcon in 2006. It was absolutely brilliant - so impressed by those that designed and ran it. The game could have been remade as a movie, it was that good. It set a benchmark that I am still trying to reach in my own game sessions.
#RPGaDay #16 Game You Wish You Owned
LL: Whether the Pharos Press or Hogshead Publishing edition, I would love to have a copy of Nobilis. I think I've seen one copy in a FLGS many years ago and of course it was selling for a small fortune. It is not just the courage of designing a game of very powerful mythological beings which impresses me, because it is always very easy to do it completely wrong, but the sheer substance of the material - at least according to the reviews I've read - and the very high production qualities. Alas, these days it appears rarely on ebay and for even more of a small fortune that the original price I saw at the FLGS.
KB: Over the last three years I’ve pretty much collected the small library of games I ever wanted. The only things left are books that don't exist yet like Fantasy Craft’s much delayed Spellbound and the DMG for 5th Edition D&D.
MC: Chivalry and Sorcery is one I would like to get, more as reference material than anything else. One of these days, I may lash out and get Harn, Dragon Age and/or Pathfinder.
#RPGaDay #17 Funniest Game You've Played
LL: Over several years our local gaming group would run Bunnies & Burrows, either the original or the GURPS version. Sometimes it would cross over with our existing games too, so we once had a Bunnies & Burrows game based in Glorantha at Rabbit Hat Farm. But on the challenge of one of the players, I organised a scenario of Bunnies & Burroughs, that is, Bunnies & Burros meets William S. Burroughs. The most appropriate game system was Over The Edge. The session by-line was "homosexual junkie rabbits against the Rock Apes of Gibraltar" and included favourites like Dr. Benway.
KB: See most memorable death (above) and most memorable encounter (below).
MC: That would have to be Polaris : Chivalric Tragedy at Utmost North, one of my first encounters with a strongly "narrativist" based game where the various players through a series of comic incidents managed to create a complex web of relationships which I then mapped out as a rather unusual family tree.
#RPGaDay #18: Favourite Game System
LL: Narrowing down to specifically the system, rather the completeness and supporting material, this would have to go to Wordplay. Whilst it includes free-form assignment, which I am fairly ambivalent towards, Wordplay does require that these are incorporated to the categories of Body, Mind, and Soul a providing a d6 dice pool, and also requires character Concepts, Goals. The resolution system is determined by either a no-roll method (compare value against assigned difficulty), one-roll challenge, or a multi-roll challenges for drawn-out conflicts. The degree of success and failure may result in damage to a category trait, with a specified period required for natural healing or a difficulty challenge. The type of damage received leads to some variation in description and healing time. It needs elaboration, but it is really on the right track.
KB: I’m a compulsive world builder. So I love generic systems that help you build worlds. GURPS would be most peoples pick for that but
most of the flexibility is in sourcebooks and add-ons to the rules. Also at its very core are three attributes centered on the human range
not a great foundation for a truly generic game. Still it’s my go-to for hard SF. In the end I’ll have to go with FATE specifically the version in the late "Legends of Anglerre" which despite being named after an obscure world is actually a complete build a world kit in a single book.
MC: Again, easy. Gurps 3rd Ed, revised. My standard goto for any adventure. Handles everything simply and realistically. Never had any need to look at anything else.
#RPGaDay #19 - Favourite Published Adventure
LL: Classic Cthulhu games like Horror On The Orient Express and Masks of Nyarlathotep obviously would rate very highly among many, or even Delta Green's Countdown. But ultimately I'm going for a relatively unknown mainline fantasy product, Rolemaster's Cloudlords of Tanara. This is a superb example of a sandboxed scenario done perfectly; a somewhat isolated region with four cultures having reached a point of high tension that just requires the PCs to come stumbling in an set everything in motion. Add to this a fanatical religious cult, an ancient evil demon, an ancient weapons (lost, obviously) to defeat the demon.
KB: Don’t have one. Virtually every game I’ve run has been with adventures I’ve penned myself. The one exception is the recent Space 1889 campaign and the adventures for that need serious tweaking before use.
MC: In terms of very early ones that changed the way I saw adventures, U1 - The Secret of Saltmarsh. Where everything up to that point had been
wargaming-inspired, this had characterisation and gaming requirements. Unfortunately that was shortlived when U2 - Danger at Dunwater came out, but Saltmarsh is still a benchmark.
#RPGaDay #20 - Game I Will Still Play in 20 Years' Time
LL: For years now I've been tinkering on a home-brew historical fantasy RPG, Mimesis. There's even a woefully underdeveloped website for it where I occasionally do a brain-dump of ideas. In various incarnations it's been a set of house-rules for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, a heavily modified RuneQuest, and has seen influences from HeroQuest, GURPS, FATE, Wordplay, and even Over The Edge. If I'm not still tinkering with it in twenty years time I would be disappointed with myself because that would mean that I've ceased to think about RPGs.
KB: Realistically the games I’ll be playing 20 years from now will not be my favourites. I in a couple of decades I’ll be even more busy than I am now and my players will be a mix of bored retiree newbies and busy RPG veterans. Not the kind of situation for games that are a lot of work to write adventures for, nor for complex rules. It will be something of low to moderate complexity and probably something that a lot of people have played. Realistically it’s going to be something like Savage Worlds or maybe D&D 5th and probably something that does not exist yet.
MC: Gurps 3rd Ed. 'Nuff said.
#RPGaDay #21 - Favourite Licensed RPG
LL: Whilst I am not overly enamoured by the system or even the setting, it is the sheer volume of work that has gone into West End Games's Star Wars products that I find particularly impressive, even more so than ICE's Middle Earth supplements which would come a close second. West End games came out with 140 sourcebook and adventure supplements, and fifteen issues of a digest magazine, the Star Wars Adventure Journal. Unlike MERP, the expanded universe presented in Star Wars has received acceptance and endoresement from the license holder (Lucasfilm).
KB: Ringworld. A short lived BRP game set on the huge artificial world dreamed up by Larry Niven. Thousands of different human species, lost civilizations of both low and high technology, alien life, and a surface area equal to about 3 million Earth-sized planets for the referee to create in. That’s the real attraction, the central premise is not politics, violence, or personal power, but the joy of exploration. I’ve run many campaigns where this is the central theme in a number of game systems. Exploration makes a great change from yet another dungeon bash or quest to save the world by the use of extreme violence.
MC: ICE, MERP. My goto environment for gaming. Never beaten.
#RPGaDay #22 - Best Secondhand RPG Purchase
LL: A massive collection of almost one hundred and fifty old RPG books - Traveller, (A)D&D, Tunnels & Trolls, Champions, early Ars Magica - a real late 70s to late 80s horde, from a bookshop in on the suburban fringe. I had a some twenty books on hold, and the shop owners wanting to get rid of stock that had sat there for too long, offered at around the same price that I had paid for the twenty, all the others. The problem was that I now had to travel about thirty kilometres via public transport with several heavy boxes of books.
KB: See most Old School above.
MC: Local FLGS (Mind Games) had some single index White Dwarf magazines which I picked up for a bargain.
#RPGaDay #23 - Coolest Looking RPG Owned
LL: This would have to go to Everyway, with a nod in the direction of Warhammer 3rd edition's impressive boxed set. It's mainly the large stack of cards with some rather beautiful artwork and the character sheets in Everway that win out for this one. The oversized box stands out as well, although the rather muted cover hardly screams out as impressive (best cover art probably goes to the FGU game Lands of Adventure). The three rule booklets themselves are not so impressive.
KB: Any of the Planescape boxed sets. The Lady of Pain with her swords for hair on the boxes, the cool illustrations, and those mind-bending
maps of the impossible multiverse.
MC: In terms of artwork I'd say that the recent Changeling : The Lost for the New World of Darkness is fairly good, as is some of the artwork in Eclipse Phase. The earliest single of pieces of artwork which stick in mine is from the original Deities and Demigods with Thor fighting the serpent and Glasya from Monster Manual II.
#RPGaDAY 23: Coolest looking RPG product
LL: This one's pretty easy for me because I don't really get many secondary products; one special exception is the Legend of the Five Rings Way of the Ratling drink holder. Because it's insulated it's much bigger than the impressive 1 litre that it holds.
KB: My beat up old leather dice box with the gold leaf border.
MC: Some "artistic" dice I purchased I thought would be good at the time, but now I think they're more annoying than anything else. The numbers can be hard to read. Going old school there was the sets of Endless Floor Plans, they were quite a good idea and unfortunately largely forgotten.
#RPGaDay #24 - Most Complicated RPG Owned
LL: There's quite a few contenders here; the Aliens RPG and Phoenix Command come to mind as certainly falling into the complicated category (at least one designer, Barry Nakazono, is a rocket scientist), although it's doubtful whether one can call Phoenix Command a roleplaying game because really, it's just a combat system. But for all the complexity in the actual combat system - and I have run an Aliens campaign using it - the character generation and other activity systems are remarkably easier. In comparison, first edition Chivalry & Sorcery takes the prize. Now it doesn't have a complicated system as such, because it doesn't really have a system at all. Each rule is pretty much a separate case and the magic rules are frustratingly scattered throughout the rulebook. Whilst C&S does have many redeeming features (good content and portrayal of a feudal society) the game rules aren't one of them.
KB: A supplement really, GURPS Vehicles, but I’ve already talked about this. I love to tinker with complexity during set-up but prefer moderate to low complexity at the table so I don’t have too many complex games.
MC: In terms of an RPG, I think that first edition Twilight 2000 is pretty difficult, and a lot harder than some people think if you're not winging it. For an actual supplement, Greg Porter's 3G3, also known as "Guns! Guns! Guns!". It allowed you to develop any sort of weapon for any system - it really did everything. But you wouldn't want to try using it without a spreadsheet.
#RPGaDay #25 - Favourite RPG That No-One Else Wants to Play
LL: Ahh, this one's easy; Megatraveller. In my considered opinion the most interesting setting of the various incarnations of the Traveller universe and with some innovative aspects in the rules system, the game is alas let down by some particular clunkiness in the combat system. Megatraveller posited a setting of an assassination conspiracy, factional conflicts, localised rebellions, and alien incursions. There is plenty of opportunties for all sorts of mercenaries, vagabonds, and rebels (take your pick) but alas I've never managed to get a long-term group together to elaborate the story.
KB: Megatraveller you say? I am very interested. The above response is therefore invalid. A Time of War (Battletech). I’d love to run a campaign starting in the period of relative peace at the height of FedCom’s power and encourage civilian PC concepts. Show off the prosperity and peace, explore a really nicely detailed setting without too much focus on the big walking tanks, do some aid missions to the periphery and then… wham
the FedCom Civil War. It all goes to hell, civilians get sucked into war and its horrors, and the birght future is lost. An analogue of the Second World War. Problem is I just discovered the great setting hidden behind the distracting giant robots but my current group already played Battletech to death years ago before I was on the scene.
MC: Not strictly an RPG, but I've been hanging on to a How to Host a Murder game, Hoo Hung Hu for about fifteen means but have never gotten around to running it. Then there's Advanced Squad Leader, it's hard to find people who want to play a lengthy and realistic small unit combat game with chits.
#RPGaDay? #26- Coolest character sheet
LL: "Cool" is not the sort of adjective that I normally give to character sheets, being far more interested in the more functional aspects. GURPS does particularly well in this regard, as does HeroQuest. But if it's a combination of form and function, then Mouse Guard does very well indeed. It contains all the character information on one side and all the conflict resolution material on the other. It's well-laid out with a good mix of white-space to text and includes a few graphics to break things up a bit.
KB: Either The Wonderland No More sheet with Tenniel illustrations or the sheet for Infernum a RPG set in Hell with spaces for items like
‘Handle Spawn’, ‘Groveling’, and ‘Chain of Crawling Flesh’.
MC: This a is a bit of weird one, but I found the the coolest character sheet to be Best Friends if only for the fact that the other players are the ones who determine your stats on the grounds of how much your 'best friends' really hate you for particular characteristics.
#RPGaDay? #27 Game I’d Like To See Receive A New / Improved Edition
LL: I wouldn't mind seeing a new version of Rolemaster that takes up the game's original simulationist agenda with a thorough inclusion of more efficient mechanics, even though there are now four or more editions, depending on how you count them. However, more than this, I would like to see another edition of Dennis Sustare's Swordbearer from the early-mid 80s. A classless system it had 'spheres of influence' instead, social status instead of money, a gritty yet fast combat system, and a magic system based around capturing pure elements or psychic humours. All this and an excellent content-to-page-count ratio.
KB: Ringworld. With more people thinking that they want more from RPG than beating up things and taking their stuff making this game more
available would be nice. Maybe I could find someone online to play with. Additionally though the BRP mechanics are very robust some more
modern thinking on rules for roleplaying encounters with new cultures and for alien personalities would be nice.
MC: I'd like to Palladium Fantasy or Rifts done by anyone but Kevin Siembieda. More seriously, Torg had some really good concepts but had a few parts that were not so good, some power creep issues in supplements, and could really do with a rewrite. The general concept of typically storybook environments and could be extended.
#RPGaDay #28 Scariest Game you've played
LL: It was the late 80s in Perth in the Q-club where the Gamers Guild used to meet. It was my first exposure of Call of Cthulhu. There was a scenario in the third edition of that book called "The Mad Man" who, as the title suggests, involved a crazy chap spending far too much time in the woods getting down with various Lovecraftian entities, specifically Mi-Go which are horrific as far as things go themselves. Anyway, the party of investigators worked out that that the Mad Man was working with the Mi-Go to summon Ithaqua and, due to a series of conflicts and misadventures, my character became separated from the main party and found himself lost in the woods on the night that Ithaqua was going to be summoned. The Keeper handled the suspense wonderfully. In desperation my character decided to bury himself in a shallow grave with an airhole in the hope of remaining hidden.
KB: A Wraith (oWOD) game set in Perth and about teens. Wraith’s Pathos mechanic keeps you focused on your character’s fears and regrets making a good base for horror roleplaying. We players were all in our 20’s at the time so our own teen years were still fresh in our minds and some of the stuff was a little close to home. I think the key to horror is ensuring the players really relate to their characters and keeping those character’s vulnerable.
MC: The current Call of Cthulhu game is pretty scary for the characters. Players don't necessarily get scared of course, but for the characters the experiences in Horror on the Orient Express and Masks of Nyarlathotep are terrifying.
#RPGaDay #29 Most memorable encounter
LL: Picking from the dozens of memorable encounters is difficult. Their was, for example, a great set piece in a Call of Cthulhu Horror on the Orient Express which involved beating up a vampire with the leg of a simulcrum on a roof-top of the train ride. Then there was the time where, in an early fantasy Europe AD&D game, we fought Satan inside the mind of Lucifer on what would be Mont St. Michel (it was currently known as "The Temple of Elemental Evil"). We ended up driving the devil out of his own mind. However, I think the most epic encounter was the appearance of the Crimson Bat, that major demon from Glorantha, in a HeroQuest game, specifically the Battle of Iceland in that setting's history. The slow moving demonic bat was defeated by an intelligent rubble runner who was dropped on the back of the bat by a Wind Child (both whom had difficulty flying due the lack of Orlanth). The runner, armed with a Mostal hand grendade (and whispered instructions on how to use it) scampered into the bat's ear, pulled the pin, leapt to safety, and blew its brains out.
KB: Easy, the European PCs versus the Empire of Lilliput during play-test of Gulliver’s Trading Company. From the Lilliputians’ point of view an enormous ship (a longboat) of crazy 60 foot tall giants shows up and starts trading lumps of gemstones (dust from a Brobdingragian Gemcutter’s floor) for bed-sheets utterly upsetting the economy of the Empire. The giants then foment a civil uprising in the major port, and rout the Imperial Army before rowing away leaving a nation in chaos to its fate. I particularly liked the Scottish Presbyterian panicking a cavalry charge by running at them and shooing the horses with his handkerchief.
MC: A GURPS time travel campaign, Krononaughts, were went back into the Ice Age landing on Doggerland and trying to rescue a Wooly Mammoth. Then there was the RuneQuest Prax campaign where one character summoned Lodril the God of Volcanoes and wasted a major troll city. Of course after that we went on the Hill of Gold HeroQuest which saw Zorak Zoran felled in a single blow.
#RPGaDay #30 Rarest RPG Owned
LL: There's not too many of these about - 1st edition RuneQuest. The first one I picked up the previous owner discounted it with the warning that "it has writing on the inside cover". The writing was Steve Perrin's signature. Since then I've had the bizarre fortune to find another as well. I don't need two, so it's up for sale on the RPG Review store on Quicksales, he plugs subtly.
KB: Original Empire of Petal Throne.
MC: In terms of supplements I have some interesting Judges Guild material, such as Dark Tower, and many of their earliest publications such as The Dungeoneer and the Judges Guild Journal. There's also early issues of Ares which I have a pretty good run off as well. But I do have a collection of original D&D supplements. To my regret as a youngster I cut one to pieces for the various pages and filed them in folders.
#RPGaDay #31 Favourite RPG of all time
LL: This an interesting one; it is not a personal assessment of the best RPG of all time, whether by setting, style, or system, but a favourite of all time. For this category, I am choosing a game which does have an excellent system, multiple excellent settings, and is pretty stylish in its own right. It's probably not the best in my opionion of any of the individual categories (system, setting, style), but it has the advantage of being a game that I've had many years of experience with and have noted its influence in numerous contemporary games; RuneQuest (3rd edition) will take the position for my favourite game of all time.
KB: Easy, my personal favourite is Gulliver’s Trading Company for purely personal reasons. Creating that game was a labour of love for me. Is it the best RPG? No. Is it for everyone? No again. Does it portray a neglected masterpiece of world-building by one of the most misunderstood greats of the English language? Yes. There is much more to Gulliver’s Travels and Swift than most people realize. I hope my game opens that world up for a few people and that they have fun in the process.
MC: In case one hasn't guessed, it'll be GURPS 3rd edition.