Fav RPG books of 2018

Anyway these are not necessarily from 2018, but just books that I took a fancy to throughout the year.

Shinobigami Modern Ninja Battle Game

I finally got the final PDF of the rules and printed them up and have read them cover to cover. If you like Hillfolk or Fiasco, you can see where they got all their inspiration for those games from (this and Tenra Bansho Zero). Looking forward to running this. I have not played this yet, so I can’t truly review the game itself.

Down Darker Trails

While this uses an inferior D100 system to Mythras, Down Darker Trails is an incredible supplement to CoC for the old West. It’s extremely thorough in it’s descriptions of the era and nature of roleplaying in the old west with monsters without getting totally overboard like Deadlands (which is cool too). The adventures in the back of the book aren’t too great, but it would be easy to wing something with this source material. With the rate at which I’m able to run games, this may never get played, but it’s a great read.

Runequest Glorantha/Guide to Glorantha

These are excellent RQ books, especially the Guide to Glorantha which finally laid out to me what the heck is going on. While RQ requires a lot of player knowledge of the setting, it’s much easier to have it all consolidated in a couple of books than all over the place. No matter what system you may choose to run RQ with, the Guide to Glorantha is a must read.

For play in 2018 year, we continued the Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign, but some of the players got sick of the non-levelling up and general low power level of the game (with silver=experience, it can be rough to level up), so we are going to switch to Mythras after the current campaign arc is done.

My favorite game from 2018 is probably DCC, we’ve had a lot of fun with friends and the kids with the game and adventures. My favorite RPG event of last year was the 2 day 13th Age level 1-6 switching GM’s every 3 hours.

Greg Stafford the creator of Glorantha has died

Greg Stafford, a huge visionary in roleplaying games and founder of Chaosium passed away in his sweat lodge yesterday.

This is a bit more sad since Runequest and Glorantha got beautiful new editions this year, yet the man had a pretty awesome run as a game designer. While we (unfortunately) did not get into Runequest as kids, we definitely did the Call of Cthulhu and a little bit of Elric. The BRP system (designed by Steve Perrin) is the best RPG system (in it’s modern forms) there is and we all owe a great debt of gratitude for years of excellent gaming with Call of Cthulhu as kids and gaming to come with Mythras and Runequest.

Stafford came up with his ideas for Glorantha while at Beloit College, proving yet again that Wisconsin is where all the critical RPG ideas came from and will come from in the future.

What’s more, without Glorantha/Runequest there would be no Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and likely the Warhammer old world and 40K would be VERY different than it is today (discounting Age of Sigmar entirely as it’s fluff is basically fanfic).

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!

Mythras- Classic Fantasy is out

alexandriaWhat is it? Classic Fantasy is a mod of Mythras (formerly Runequest 6) focusing on old school dungeon crawls with miniature-based combat.  So you have your solid Runequest 6 combat with special effects and weapon builds that actually mean something in battle with the added framework to play crawls, another magic system (akin to Olde schoole D&D) and the monsters to go with it.

Some differences:

  • RQ is not a dungeon crawl fight to fight to fight game, so Classic Fantasy has allowances for healing up between fights easier (and spells for that to boot)
  • Use of mini’s is a big change.  RQ likely works fine with miniatures (I’ve never played it that way) but this has rules for movement, hexes and squares, etc.
  • Race and class character creation a bit more streamlined than the concept, culture, class style of normal RQ.  All the race and class stuff is what you’d expect from D&D.

This marks the first Mythras branded product from Design Mechanism (the RQ6 guys) and it’s pretty great.  Granted, it’s more complex than D&D, but anyone that has played any D20 recently and remembers the long, drawn out fights with attacks to no specific location (I was in one such fight today in 5E) may want to look a this as a salve for that type of combatboredom.  In addition, having a new magic system for RQ is nothing to sneeze at either.

This has a better run down of the system than I can do (I have real problems reading PDF’s– I need a physical book or I just can’t plow into a text and that ain’t here yet).

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.

Edge of Empire – first play

I got to play Star Wars: Edge of Empire Saturday with Matt and run by Dan at this benefit thing.   We could pay $$ for rerolls or the game’s version of bennies so it was good.


I have a fucking sore spot for Fantasy Flights ‘special dice and cards’ style of RPG/board game after they fucked up Warhammer Fantasy 3rd Edition with one of the most complicated RPG’s that it could have only come out in 2009.  I wanted to like it, bought a bunch of stuff in the fire sale but it was VERY difficult to learn, VERY difficult to play/GM and covered the table in crap.  The core dice mechanic wasn’t terrible though, it was everything else surrounding that which had the suck.

Secondly, while I like the new film a lot, I’m not a big star wars GAME fan. Yes Xwing vs Tie fighter was awesome but I pretty much stick to the movies and that’s it. There’s just not much there that’s gameable to me.  Two factions, one is on the run, the other one is cool for the movies, but otherwise boring.

Naturally when Edge of Empire came out I scoffed at it since it was a version of WFRP3.  However, having played, it’s not that bad.  Gone are all the stupid cards for attacks, and though the character sheet is about 4 pages of crap long, it played fast.

What’s more, while it uses some elements of those lame-ass story games like FATE and Dungeon World, it can be played entirely ignoring that type of stuff on the dice, and use those sides for entirely mechanical effect.  It has some blammo sides to the dice (triumphs) but their effect is completely dictated by the GM, it’s basically a reason for GM fiat to hurt or help the players.  This is without any mechanics if you want, unlike FATE which piles every fucking thing about everything in the game world into ‘aspects’ that are really just wholly mechanical +2’s.  So if your group has realized that the FATE-style games are a total waste of time like ours has, you can roll and not care about that stuff.

We played with minis, but it was very abstract, like Numenera, 13th Age, etc.  That is very good.  No nurpling around with goddamn squares and five foot steps and all that 3.5 bullshit.

So, I have a plan, that may or may not happen. I want to run a 1 v 1 JEDI fight using Edge of Empire, the Star Wars West End D6 game from the 90’s and … Design Mechanism’s free Mod for Runequest 6 and see which is the most fun.  I know where my hypothesis would tell me, but let’s see what happens. Volunteers?

Star Wars

Runequest Vikings!

Ah…. the camping trip RPG sessions.  Trapped people in the tent in the rain at whoever agrees to GM’s mercy forced to try yet another new RPG system… and usually it works out despite the drunkenness and chaos and insects and general darkness despite everyone having a headlamp.

After playing in Steve’s Lamentations game last year, where my thief nearly died from one of his own traps, I was on deck run something while in the wilderness.  I thought long and hard about sticking with Lamentations again this year, since it is easy to grasp and easy to roll up characters when they die.   In addition there’s just a shit ton of adventures from DCC to any of the TSR stuff to the LotFP originals available to run, you can just pull one off the shelf and  go go go. However, since we only had three players this year, I took a chance and busted out Runequest 6.  While I am a stalwart fan of the system, it’s been mostly via reading as I’ve only run it about 3 times, and only once with a big group of players.  It worked really well so far, but I am still very inexperienced with it, despite a couple years of Call of Cthulhu under my belt as a youth.  I was a bit nervous doing this on the camping trip. Was it too involved with all the skills? Will it be OK without player-mastery of the combat special effects?  Animism?  uhhhh…

I meant to run the start of the new Mythic Britain campaign, but the initial part of that campaign is very…political.  Not exactly what you want to lay down as an intro to the system on a camping trip mostly sober.  That left either Early Modern (1600’s) or VIKINGS.   Vikings are easy right?  I started prepping a couple months ago armed with both Mythic Britain (which takes place during the Saxon invasion but has a ton of info on England and it’s petty kingdoms) and Runequest 2’s Viking sourcebook, which is excellent.  What adventures to run?  Things get pretty violent and I didn’t want to run any big raids (yet) or mass battles (yet) for the weekend, so worked up a mash up of a few ideas I had and a part of a module.  Frankly, I didn’t know if it would work and procrastinated a bit on getting the playing started and was sad that I did as it turned out I had to help make two characters. That took a really really long time in comparison to a lot of RPG’s, so if you are going to play RQ, it goes without saying either have pregens or have characters all made first.

Since characters have to go through three steps of adding points to skills (Culture, Career, Bonus) they may mull it over too much, or not enough and then they want to change it around later.   And it’s 300-350 points to skills…  As an alternative, I was thinking instead of choosing Culture, then assigning skills then picking a Career, etc.,  a player would simply choose a class (like Ranger, Fighter, Magic User, Rogue) and then roll on a table associated with that class for your ‘career’ to get 200 points of skills auto added (like rat catcher), then you just worry about your 100-150 bonus points, which at 15 points max per skill should not take to long or break anything in the game.  Look familiar? Yeah that’s the way WFRP 1 and 2 handled it.  Then you can jump in quick without all the mulling over 300+ points to assign.  While Runequest is a very deep game with a lot of potential customization, I would rather hit fast with a quick start.

So what happened?   The characters got invited to hunt an elk by their Jarl with a gold armband around it’s horn.  In a shocking stroke of luck, they actually found it before the other teams of hunters and after expending all of their ranged weapon ammo (axes and spears) they were able to take it down.    While lucky, they were able to get close to the thing because it was moving away from another hunter towards them, so that helped.  The first hit with a throwing axe would have toppled it, but it hit it’s horns and didn’t strike home.   Dragging the elk through the snow, they got ambushed on the way back by some of Matt’s character’s enemies, but talked their way out of it.  Back at the meadhall they had a big feast and their pseudo-Skald critically succeeded a storytelling/oration roll to describe the hunt and so that will have some repercussions throughout the land as it will be on the lips of the nearby viking villages for some time.   Trouble was brewing with Matt’s character’s enemies, so his mother suggested strongly a vacation.  The characters then headed out to the western shore of Britain to assist with a trade caravan going inland from the coast (a real rarity for vikings who do their business on the shore only, so strange).  Turns out Matt’s character’s mother sent them on this errand to unwittingly send a message to his father who was off fighting in Northumbria somewhere.  Whether the characters are there to protect the caravan or the caravan to protect them to get across the island, who can tell?

The group got into one big fight with some rather crappy thugs and there was some splitting of heads with a Dane Axe and we had our first full decapitation (11 points of damage to an unarmored head will do it). Matt (the noble) had himself disarmed by one of the shitbirds, so that will be one to grow on.  This part of the session illustrated what happens when a person with no action points or taken unaware gets hit by a dane axe.   I urged the guys that every fight can be terribly dangerous, and I think that some of the normal murderhoboish tendencies were abated, certainly a lot more than your standard 3.5 or Pathfinder player who wades right into any fight knowing that the adventure path they are in wouldn’t dare have a TPK.

It was a fine set of sessions for me for practice, and I am fond of the RQ 6 system for this type of game.  The Viking era seemed a bit limiting at first, but then you realize that’s where all this D&D stuff came from in the first place and matched with some of the Lovecraftian weird and some of the historical maelstrom, it’s cooking with gas!

A poem about Runequest 6

If you read a Bernard Cornwell novel,
you’ll feel the need to run a gritty, medieval RPG.
So you’ll go to reddit to ask the people there what to play,
You will find that they are young and ill-informed and in many cases,
They will recommend Dungeon World and FATE
without reading the entirety of your question.
You will ask yourself: are these really gritty or medieval?
The answer will be no.
This will remind you of an older game you’d long forgotten,
and you will search on the internet and won’t remember the name,
you will go to Half Price Books
and look to see if anything there jogs your memory,
but it won’t
you will go on /TG and ask
and though the people there are explicitly
they will answer you with knowledge and thoughtfulness,
albeit rudely and with disdain for your person,
(Since you will likely be a summerfag or worse)
They will tell you Runequest 6 and you will coerce your friends to play,
they will complain about the long character creation
and lack of options for character powers, and at the table,
They will be shocked at the true horror of combat
at the blood loss and fatigue and destruction of limbs
and they will ask you to play more
and playing more will remind you of Bernard Cornwell
and you will need to read one of his novels.