Big Day for Gaming

Today was a big day for the nerd gaming with Free RPG day which included a new Runequest quickstart, new DCC adventure, the intentionally controversial Vaginas are Magic from lotfp and while I’m not a Pathfinder fan, there was a quickstart for STARFINDER, a new space game from Paizo.

In addition to the RPG goodness, it was the official release of the new version of Warhammer 40,000 in it’s 8th edition.

The 40K book looks incredible, as you would expect from 2017 GW. I had a short talk with Dan about the rules and they look good–it does not seem like they age of sigmared that shit up as was feared. I’m looking forward to breaking out my 1987 beakies and having a go at some point.

The Free RPG stuff Matt and I grabbed up was a trove of goodness. Swords Against Owlbears for 13th Age looks boss, the new Runequest adventure is SOLID Glorantha, though I wasn’t able to make heads or tails of the magic system after a short perusal. The DCC adventure is cool, but what’s best is that the quickstart has the character creation rules in a module format! So I won’t need to lug around the big book all the time nor pass it around the table to get all sorts of greasy hands all over it and spilled beer/bong water.

Finally there is Vagina’s are Magic. While it’s silly and fun, the important bit is the update to the LotFP magic system. It’s similar to the playtest packet that came out awhile back in that no spells have levels. In addition, spellcasters can keep casting spells but have a danger with every cast over their level each day to have a miscast, which can be horrible as you would expect from LotFP. While the spells in the book are cool, what has to happen now is that ALL the other spells in the game will need a miscast chart appended to each one. This will make the LotFP book nearly double in size with 1 page for each spell in the game (much like DCC). VAM may be just testing the water before going that far with the magic descriptions for the core lotfp spells. Looking forward to trying this out.

For me, I got a chance to run Feng Shui 2 (with a new adventure I wrote that will get posted to the blog eventually) and today I got to play FASERIP after a gap of about 30 years!

Fuckstarters 2016 edition

A year ago I posted about fucked kickstarters that I made the terrible mistake of backing. I want to post again because some of them have become unfucked, made progress or are now even more fucked than before. I backed a couple more since and I want to add one I’m really sad about being fucked as well.

First let’s get Star Citizen out of the way. From the Kickstarter viewpoint, there hasn’t been an update since 2013: that’s almost THREE YEARS and no updates. I realize there are other channels they are going through, but my policy is this: deliver me your finished game and we’ll call it a day. Based on kickstarter, this has never happened, and the backers on kickstarter have been abandoned. The last time I installed anything Star Citizen it did not work at all. There have been big articles on the internet the last couple months on issues surrounding development– bottom line is: I kickstarted this game and haven’t been contacted via kickstarter for three years.  Poster child of Fucked.

Second, River City Ransom. This is fucked as it’s shockingly late at this point (2014), and updates aren’t looking very good for completion. This is not an easy game to make but you know who did it? Behemoth with the Castle Crashers! It can be done. Where is it? is it Fucked forever?

Third, Exalted 3. There’s no book. Nothing has come in my mail box. The rules are out in PDF form and despite them not being all that great, (what did we expect, seriously….) they are better than 2E’s.  The art, even with all that budget, ALL that fucking budget, is weak compared to 2E though.  Those things aren’t the issue, the issue is that I don’t have the book I paid for nearly four years ago. Fucked.

Fourth, Bulldogs! 2nd edition.  It’s a year late now.  I shouldn’t have backed this as it uses FATE, which we had a brief affair with for five sessions or so, and like everyone else, we realized that FATE quickly becomes a total waste of time.  FATE is useful in that it influenced other games, but itself is just not worth bothering with.  Despite that, I like the Bulldogs! universe and adventures– it just needs a better system to go along with it (Mythras? Sci Fi 13th Age?  Numenera???).  Fucked.

Fifth, Thirteenth Age in Glorantha.  While I don’t think I would ever game using Runequest in Glorantha as a GM, I’ve played some con games and am intrigued by the setting due to King of Dragon Pass.  This is over a year late!  What’s the deal? FUCKED.

Last is going to be nearly a year late, and that’s the 4th Edition of Dungeon Crawl Classics.  I talked to Goodman at Gencon and saw the proof version of the book and had a fucking orgasm right there over it. It is a massive tome. Ridiculous really.  Technically this is a fucked kickstarter, but like 13th Age Glorantha, it’s just real fucking late: it will happen.

Here are kickstarters that have become UNFUCKED in the last year.

Moongha Invaders – this took a long, long time to come, but it did and it’s a great game.  If you can find this, for sure pick it up.  It’s a Martin Wallace jewel.  UNFUCKED.

Double Six dice rollers.  Came late in 2015.  Great dice, was just very late. UNFUCKED.


13th Age characters are tough as hell!

We’ve been playing 13th Age for over a year now and I’ve been following the balanced encounter advice in the main book (with an excel sheet some dude made to back it up).   Most of the time they’ve been fighting humans, which are easy to make on the fly, but a few times I generated a monster with Raggi’s RANDOM ESOTERIC CREATURE GENERATOR FOR CLASSIC FANTASY ROLE-PLAYING GAMES AND THEIR MODERN SIMULACRA and slapped the 13th Age stats on them (and triggered powers, gotta love those).  The system makes it fairly easy to create battles that won’t totally fuck the characters, but I’m finding now that maybe as published the advice leans a wee bit on the easy side and by wee bit, I mean a lot. Most of the stuff I’ve thrown at them is pretty much in line with what the characters, now at level 2, supposedly can take on, but last night I threw the kitchen sink at them, and no characters dropped!  The battle was tense, and the characters got messed up, but I went for the (planned) dues ex machina without them really needing it.


Basic math suggestion is that with 4 characters at level 1, you should have 4 (normal sized) monsters of level 1 for an even fight (or equivalent).  This changes with tiers to be finally about 2-1 at Epic tier, but if I was to give advice to start the calculation, I would say # of creatures at the party’s level +1.  So five first level characters vs 6 first level orcs should be a balanced encounter.

I had a prepped battle ready for about 6 months to pull out when needed (wasn’t sure where it would take place, but I knew what was coming) and I tweaked it from time to time to make sure it wasn’t too hard, yet it was supposed to be a hard fight, the capstone of part of the campaign if you will.  It ended up being a 2-session battle and even without the Barbarian in the first session, they mopped the floor with the bad guys including a nasty Hungry Star.

How did they do it?

  • Paladin (with the apt nickname “the dauntless”) has a ridiculous AC as the escalation die goes up due to a magic shield.  By round 4, she was nearly unhittable by the mooks, and one of the bigbads couldn’t manage to hit her.
  • Bard had a power to give 2 free recoveries out during the fight.  This saved a couple character’s asses and is very powerful.  The bard’s song also helped quite a bit.
  • Doling out huge damage from the ranger, including special effects.  The ranger class can stunt to get bonuses/effects and there was incredible rolling. He rolled at least two 30’s during the combat– enough to hit anything that exists!
  • And, as always, the Barbarian in session 2 of the fight, even without being able to Rage this battle, was destroying everything nearby with nearly comically high dice rolling.
  • The sorceress can and will be a mega-damage dealer as long as she doesn’t get attacked by enemies too often and dropped.

Now they get their first long rest (unless they do something… stupid) after about 6 sessions and the recovery gas tanks will be filled to the brim.

13th Age and the Halfling takes a savage beating again


The group is still in the mine/ dungeon crawl for the last session and upon awakening an earth elemental, the halfling was smashed into a wall instantly, only saved by the Paladin’s guard skills on a hit that would have taken him out. I noticed reading the session summaries that nearly every battle the Halfling took the brunt of nearly all the damage, and is the only character that consistently goes down during fights, even with a near-guaranteed dodge skill for those nasty blows.  Now, the group has some squishy characters, three in fact, but the other two (Elf Ranger and High Elf sorceress) don’t seem to take nearly as much of a beating as the Halfling does.  Why is this?  It’s not like it’s a gnome that I would go out of my way to kill off out of general principles, it’s a Halfling and a bard no less.

They also seriously discussed cramming him down a lavoratory hole to see if it ‘led to the 2nd level.’

Later in the session, during the post fight decompression, the paladin mentioned off hand: “I still hope to lower him into a toilet.”

13th Age session, Interview with Raggi, other stuff

It’s been 10 months and we finally got back on Roll 20 for some 13th Age.  Unfortunately, the group was right in the middle of a dungeon, so the break between sessions sucked for everyone.   I blame this on 1) Summer 2014, 2) Runequest 6 which most of the same group played in person after summer 3) people not showing up on Thursdays on Roll20 (myself included!).  4) Me taking it too seriously and building a huge campaign area and series of prepared adventures (whether original or pulled from wherever) instead of going the lazy route, which 13th Age allows. 5) Moving.

I think it was a good getting back into the game session, but I still have problems spending player’s Icon rolls in these short 2 hour sessions, especially when they  roll well and I’ve got a bunch of 5’s there.  5’s are the hardest.

More RPG stuff to read.

Interview with Raggi and the guy that finished the new TOWERS TWO adventure after the GWAR guy died:

– Provocation is the entire purpose of fiction

Raggi always has a lot of really interesting stuff to say and ways to say it.

also an erection

As the Runequest name goes back to Chaosium and Gloratha for good, we have Design Mechanism’s new name for their BRP D100 game following the RQ6 ruleset: MYTHRAS.  While I won’t need to buy this since I have RQ6 already, I likely will.  Best thing is that any supplements based on Mythras will be RQ6 compatible, and that’s fucking awesome for you and for me.


What’s more, DM is coming out with Classic Fantasy, a hack of RQ for dungeon crawling old school style. Here is a preview of it.

For those playing/GMing 5e, below is an article detailing that you can stack your D20’s (like 3D20 and take the worst one or vice versa) and it works. Say someone is wounded, turning to stone, being eaten alive, etc.  you can double down on the disadvantage roll and the math doesn’t turn to shit. Overall Advantage/Disadvantage is a great mechanic that has definitely trickled into my games.

Stacked disadvantage in 5E with maths.

Lastly, the Shinobigami translation will be ready for playtesting in about a month.  This is a ‘get together for about 5 hours’ type of game like Carolina Death Crawl, so look for that on your calendars in May.

13th Age Campaign first session

Ended up being one big battle, but was a good time.  Trying to do some sandboxing with 13th Age to see how it goes. I have an overall plot in mind if the icon rolls and players let me pull it off, if not, there are many other plots to be found in the 13th Age.   Even though one of my players will read this, I won’t lie, this is all a precursor to EYES OF THE STONE THIEF which is a champion tier adventure.

Comments on Roll20.  I’m not sold on the amount of prep I have to do, but that’s not the worst thing ever.  I am a lazy fucking GM (I think Exalted sucked all the non-lazy GM out of me) and I just want to sit down and play after reading some modules on the bus.  13th Age, like LoTFP, let’s me do that as long as I don’t have to memorize everyone’s class powers.  Yet with roll20, if I think there is going to be a set-piece battle, I have to build it out with maps and tokens and all that.  Once the players are off the first few session rails, this may be more difficult to prep for before hand.   I may go to narrative rather than miniature based combat which is the same as how I play face to face.  Let’s see what happens.

After this session, one bit of tech I will ALWAYS use in D20 games forever anon is the Disadvantage/Advantage rule from D&D 5th Edition. It’s just a really easy way to give a bonus with out a +1 or +2.  Crits happen more with Advantage, and Fumbles with Disadvantage and I think that’s great.  What could be easier?  I know it probably slowed the game down a bit when I gave it (mostly to the ranger who was stunting) but it was worth it.  I bet this leaks into Lamentations play as well.

I’m not going to give away what happened, as I may elude to what is to come too much. There is a point where the story arc may near it’s end and then I’ll post a big thingy about it.  Suffice to say that the Halfling Bard was gravely wounded and was worried he had died at 0 HP– conditioning from LotFP no doubt.

13th Age – first real session

13AgeLogoFull-TransparentWe still had communication problems, but were able to eek out a few hour session of 13th Age last night. I really like Roll20 for facilitating online play, despite the crappy voice chat, the rest of it is fucking top drawer. I mostly hate it when people describe what actually happens in a PnP session so I won’t bore you with the details around what happened, but rather stuff about what it’s like to GM the game.

There was a short fight in the session, and it went fairly fast– slower due to communication problems than it should, not because of the game. I built the antagonists for this encounter in about 10 minutes and could have been faster but I wanted some sort of weird power for the caster so did a bit more searching. Balance wise it was exactly perfect for what I was trying to go for, the characters took some damage (two of them were at their staggered level) but the enemies went down quick, since this was a bit of an interlude from the main plot. There’s a lot of stuff that 4th Edition D&D did right, and the encounter building was one of them and it’s even better in 13th Age because only the most ungodly powerful monsters have the mega stat-lines that 4th Edition has.  So, I don’t feel like I have to build out mass stats for, say, an Exalted enemy (making the 10 or so that I did took hours and hours) and yet I can have enemies with interesting powers that sometimes don’t come into play during a single fight since they may not proc.  Surprise for next time!

This is another area where this game shines.  After last night’s session there was no diddling around with XP since…there’s no XP at all! It’s just slowly dawned on me after the last two sessions how awesome this is for me as a GM. I get to decide when the players level up– when it’s best for the STORY and I feel like they’ve earned it. It removes all the fiddly crap since people aren’t writing large numbers on their character sheets, erasing it over and over, using a calculator and then messing around with trying to get into fights with barmaids to try to milk out 5XP for the next level. None of that shit is in 13th Age and I don’t think anyone will miss it at all. I do favor the per-session XP of WFRP as an alternative to no XP, but that is as about as detailed as I want to get.

I frankly don’t know what all the characters can do yet. I’ve read through the classes, but my retention is low– I really leave it up to the players to let me know what their class powers and talents do so far. A couple of the dudes do not have the book, so the fact that they put out an SRD for the game is fucking AWESOME.  Really a player just needs a character sheet and the 5-8 pages for their class info and that’s it.

I’m running the first adventure out of the back of the book, it’s no Oldenhaller Contract, but works fine. The players could read it, sure, but with the Icon Rolls and other stuff going on, it’s likely going to be very different than what it’s written as. I have written a custom 5-6 session adventure for the group, if they choose to continue so we’ll be hitting that next.