Friday, 25 August 2023

Review: Four Against Darkness

Disclaimer: Note that some of the links below are affiliate links (meaning I get a small percentage of the sale without extra cost to you or the publisher).

In 2023, we are truly spoiled when it comes to dungeon crawling. A plethora of games focus on or have a robust system dedicated to delving the deeps, from computer games to board games and RPGs. There have been many solo options, but the pandemic really helped developers new and old to find a market starved for the strange alchemy of killing monsters, avoiding traps, and finding treasure — like the subject of today's review, Four Against Darkness.

Friday, 11 August 2023

Review: The Drifter

Disclaimer: Note that some of the links below are affiliate links (meaning I get a small percentage of the sale without extra cost to you or the publisher).

Last year I only played a handful of RPG sessions overall (about 10, according to my notes). However, in addition to picking up solo wargames and painting miniatures as a new hobby, I also played a fair amount of solitaire board games. Some of these were rules-light thematic games (mostly of the roll-and-write variety), while others were of the more involved, almost RPG-lite kind. I slowly intend to write about a few of these games, starting with The Drifter, an interesting paragraph-based hexcrawling game in the vein of Barbarian Prince.

Friday, 10 March 2023

Benighted Betrothal on Kickstarter

I swear I'm not doing any more KS news for a while (although I do decided to be more conscious about promoting projects I'm involved in). However, this one's really close to my heart.

Not long after I started blogging in 2013, I started a new campaign — one that turned out to be one of my most significant campaigns. It was great fun, and it led to long-lasting friendships around and away from the gaming table. To this day, that particular campaign is one my favourites, so it was only natural for me to try and write up the quintessential parts and massage them into a coherent module for others to enjoy and pull apart for their own use. The manuscript was largely finished in 2017, I believe, and it already went through some editing in 2018, but every turn it was delayed more and more. I can hardly believe it's this close to release...

In short, Benighted Betrothal is a viking soap opera. It has romance, tragedy, and (in most likelihood) lots of violence. It's statted for B/X D&D as a sort of lingua franca, but it could easily be used with OpenQuest or Vikingr (personally, I really want to try it with The Fantasy Trip once).

Enough rambling, though. Check out the Kickstarter if you're intrigued.

Sunday, 26 February 2023

I'm Back and Kickstarter: Sinless

Disclaimer: Note that some of the links below are affiliate links (meaning I get a small percentage of the sale without extra cost to you or the publisher).

Wow, it's been a hot minute since I last posted here. I didn't run or play that many RPGs last year, to be honest. I played a lot of boardgames (simple stuff with my family, like Catan, Codenames, and Mysterium, and a few interesting solo games, like Voyages, D100 Dungeon, and The Drifter) and a handful of miniature games (Five Parsecs from Home, a little bit of Lion Rampant, and even a fairly long session of Cursed City).

RPG-wise we moved our Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign to Discord voice chat. Before this, we only played about twice a year when all eight of us could get together for some marathon sessions. With this move we might be able to finish the campaign before Christmas! We also started another Werewolf: the Forsaken campaign with a new player joining our group, so that's been fun (even though I'm not as happy with the "new" World of Darkness (now Chronicles of Darkness 1st edition) system as I used to be). We also made characters for Warhammer Fantasy 4th edition, but with all the other things going on, we have yet to begin the campaign.

I kept one eye on all some things OSR, but truth be told, I have mostly been interested in tactical combat games (whether gamey or simulationist), historical games, and military games. I've mostly scratched that itch through collecting and painting miniatures and playing solo wargames, but I'm sure it'll bleed into my next few RPG campaigns as well.

Which neatly brings me to the other thing I wanted to say a few words about. Courtney Campbell (of Hack & Slash fame) is Kickstarting his new game, a heavily Shadowrun-inspired fantasy-cyberpunk game called Sinless. It's crunchy and tactical and has all sorts of guns and weapon upgrades and GM advice and procedures... I was contemplating running Shadowrun 3rd edition a few months ago (after reminiscing about old times with my brother), so this is weirdly providential to me. I need to confess that I have a working relationship with Courtney — on this project, too — but the game's already funded, my rate is a set number regardless of the project's performance, and you can check out an early version if you pledge at least a buck (which you can then cancel if you really don't like what you see).

I'll be back shortly with further good news, and hopefully some new reviews and whatnot.

Friday, 3 June 2022

Review: Maelstrom

Disclaimer: Note that some of the links below are affiliate links (meaning I get a small percentage of the sale without extra cost to you or the publisher).

Maelstrom is a British old-school game written by Alexander Scott and published in 1984. The subject of this review is based on the current edition published by Arion Games.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Kazamaták és Kompániák - Spells for MUs and Elves

As promised way back, here are the spells in KéK available for Magic-Users and Elves (albeit in an abbreviated form).

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Project Edgerunner: First Glance

An old friend of mine and I have been slowly working on a cyberpunk game engine (tentatively called Edgerunner) following our initial disappointment with Cyberpunk Red (which, in our estimation, oversimplified rather than improved an otherwise good combat system). It began as a house rules document, fixing CPRED in ways aligning with our preferences and priorities, but as we thought more and more about the various subsystems, it became clear that a complete overhaul would be necessary.

The goal of the system is straightforward: a fairly realistic, simulation-first approach to combat and technology; traditional GM and player responsibilities; no fate points or bennies; reasonably realistic outcomes (whether in or out of combat); a fairly accurate representation of character capabilities (i.e. a separation of raw talent, knowledge, and practical expertise). Ideally, the system should be able to handle most modern eras of history and speculative sci-fi. As for the default setting, we have a couple of assumptions that are a mixture of genre conventions (corporations overshadowing the state, the economical divide between the rich/corpos and the poor/punks) and our own estimations regarding a possible future.

Here are some of the features of the system as it stands now:

  • 2d10 + modifiers vs. Target Number as general resolution mechanic for that sweet bell curve
  • 2-second combat rounds; this makes combat rounds long enough for several things to occur but also short enough to allow quick reactions
  • stance is something that must be tracked (standing, crouching, and prone) with appropriate modifiers to movement, attacks, and defence
  • after much deliberation, we opted not to use hit location tables (as the chances of hitting a particular body part are subject to many factors, and we didn't want to go the silhouette route like Aces & Eights)
  • melee combat is almost entirely maneouvre-based and handled by opposed rolls
  • grabbing is handled like all other maneouvres, and it makes it harder for the grabbed target to do anything other than melee maneouvres specifically against the grabber
  • rules for choking, shoving, tackling, disarming, and dragging
  • ranged attacks are against a distance-based TN usually modified by cover (none, partial, or full), stance, and running
  • a single attack roll and the recursive application of the weapon's recoil stat determines the number of bullets hitting in case of autofire
  • actions can be prepared to a specific trigger ("I'm gonna shoot the first bloke who exits through that door over there" or "I'll start running as soon as I hear Jim drawing the corpos' fire"); a prepared action can be changed only in case of being attacked
  • damage die type is weapon-based; two dice are rolled on a normal success (+1 die per each 5 above TN)
  • armour reduces damage by its current Defense; the amount of damage absorbed reduces current Defense (subject to the armour's Durability)
  • hit points are a factor of Physique (a primary stat); taking 5+ or 10+ damage from one source cause bleeding or heavy bleeding

It's a pretty lethal system that encourages smart tactics and teamwork. It's pretty crunchy, which means it starts fairly slow but picks up nicely as the players get accustomed to the rules. Our latest internal playtest scenario involved 3 player characters versus 13 gang members in and around an abandoned warehouse (on a 48 by 48 grid) — in 4 hours and 45 minutes of riveting firefighting, two player characters fell (and were promptly replaced by backup characters) in a blaze of glory (or foolishness, depending on whom you're talking to), three gang members escaped, and the boss was apprehended for further questioning — the rest were killed viciously. All in all, a night of fun cyberpunk skirmishing.

We have only begun working on a skill system proper (after much, much headache and discussion) and the cyberware subsystem, and there's even more to do. Expect sporadic updates on the process with more details on both the system and the default setting.