Saturday, August 30, 2014

The November Man (review)

 An ex-CIA operative is brought back in on a very personal mission and finds himself pitted against his former pupil in a deadly game involving high level CIA officials and the Russian president-elect. (from

The November Man stars Pierce Brosnan (Remington and Mrs. Steele), Luke Bracey (G.I.Joe:  Retaliation), Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace), and Bill Smitrovich (Millenium). You will likely recognize several of the other actors playing second string characters.

The movie is based on the book There are No Spies by Bill Granger. I have not read the book. If anyone has, please speak up as to whether or not it's worth picking up.

Pierce Brosnan makes his return to the world of the spy/thriller genre with a solid movie.

An ex-CIA operative is brought back in on a very personal mission and finds himself pitted against his former pupil in a deadly game involving high level CIA officials and the Russian president-elect.

It stars Pierce Brosnan (Remington and Mrs. Steele), Luke Bracey (G.I.Joe:  Retaliation), Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace), and a bald Bill Smitrovich (Millenium). You will likely recognize several of the other actors playing second string characters.

The movie is based on the book There are No Spies, by Bill Granger. I have not read the book. If anyone has, please speak up as to whether or not it's worth picking up. The book and movie are likely very divergent, that does not matter to me.
There was much speculation over the ending of Pierce Brosnan's run as Ian Fleming's James Bond. A role he strove for during and following his run on Remington and Mrs. Steele. A role I felt he was destined to play and a role I feel was destroyed by the end of his run. His third and fourth were the first Bond films I remember never seeing in the theatre. (But Goldeneye, oh Goldeneye, you were a thing of beauty.) He has repeatedly held the line that the end of his run was a decision of the production company deciding to move in a different direction. Seven years after The World is Not Enough, Casino Royale hit the big screen and proved they went in a new direction like they said they would. Post The World is Not Enough, Pierce Brosnan has stayed away from action roles. Pierce Brosnan makes his return to the world of the spy/thriller genre with a solid movie. 

Pierce Brosnan plays Devereaux, a man who retired from the spy business, lives in Europe where he runs a cafe, and has a deeply burried secret that even his old friends know nothing about. The movie starts by setting up the primary male leads of Peirce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, and Bill Smitrovich's character. An Op goes down, tradecraft saves the life of the bad guy's target, but there is blowback due to a mistake. You find out later how much blowback likely occurred. We aren't told, we're just shown what paperwork was filled out. Flash forward a few years and Devereaux is a retired man when Hanley (Bill Smitrovich), his former handler, walks back into his life. Hanley shows some evidence of bad things happening and who he thinks is next, an old acquaintance of Deveraeux's.

This is a basic set up. As we move through the story, we discover that opposing players (from the same team) are working to exfil the next target, a bad ass Russian assassin (played by Amila Terzimehic), and several different reversal reveals. We learn the truth from the bad guys (of course) and it's a truth we can't handle (but we will). We learn what buried secret exists about our hero, and there are at least three reversals of who is a good guy, who is a bad guy, and who is just a selfish bastard. The movie does not confirm the death of all the characters, which could leave it open to more movies. However, I don't think another movie is needed. Everything is wrapped up in a mostly neat bow by the time credits roll.

There are elements of other spy/thriller movies at play. At times I was reminded of Bond, Bourne, and even Sam. Throughout it all, Pierce Brosnan plays it to the hilt. He is conflicted over his secret, conflicted over who is burning who, conflicted over he should let others get their revenge their way or his own, and uses whisky as necessary. In a way, this is James Bond five years later. He's done, retired, making a living outside the Agency, the Company, or in Bond's case, MI6. When completely stressed, he turns to alcohol, a feature of the Bond films I find is not as solid in movies as it is in the books. All Devereaux wants to do is the right thing to help the people that need the help.

This movie is not for people who do not like the spy genre. This movie is not for people who like big, over the top, spy movies such as Bourne or Bond. There are big scenes, but it is not a movie filled with big explosions and over the top chase scenes. It is more realistic (as much as movies can be) than that. It is a movie where the characters try to do smart things to outwit the others, before shooting each other. If this movie does not do well at the box office, it is because it does not pander to the stereotypical movie goers who just want to sit and watch a screen.

This movie is for people who like the genre. There is action, there is very little blood, and enough thinking for people who want a little brain candy. Do not think too hard throughout the movie, as there are a couple of things that occur which made me do a double take. There was nothing in the movie that made me feel like I had to see it on the big screen. It would be just as good on the television via your video provider of choice. The movie was fun to watch and is not overly bloody. In face, in most scenes involving blood, they are reaction scenes - as they should be. Showing blood after the fact reinforces the point someone was just injured. Showing blood during the fact is a way to show off the action and does nothing to move the story forward.

Moving the story forward is something done very well in this film. The writing is tight and the editing follows right along. There are not a lot of extra story bits included in the movie. The movie is stripped down to what is needed and stays focused on just that. At the same time, nothing feels left out. We need to know Devereaux is a former spy, who is a bad ass, and is thrust back into his old life. That is what we get. I find we get more than that in movie's today. I don't want exposition. I want a tight story that moves along and gets me to the end. Exposition will show itself in the actions of the characters and the actors portraying them.

For those of you playing Night's Black Agents or other spy games (Spycraft, Top Secret, or even James Bond), this is a good movie for you. The activities are present for you to see and count the spends. When Bill Smitrovich's character is being questioned, he spends the points to resist interrogation, playing the situation back on the interrogator. They then spend more points to bad ass the situation up. When Luke Bracey is racing to save the day at the end of the film, he burns through at least six points in Athletics and likely another 10 in Firearms, looking like the pro he is throughout the entire sequence. When Devereaux needs money or to move between locations, it stays in the background like it should with an NBA game. "I spend Preparedness and hand a wad of money to the girl" and then we see the money exchange hands. There is no, "Let's go show where all of this money is hidden" business you see in many movies. We already know Devereaux is a bad ass, so why would we need to watch him go get his money? On the technology side, there is a hand held cell phone tracker that I do not recall seeing in a film, before. We see the use of an aerial, unarmed drone. They even track cell phones that are not being used to locate someone.

Friday, August 29, 2014

#FavoriteRPGofAllTime #RPGaDay

#FavoriteRPGofAllTime #RPGaDay

This is a bit of a hard one for me. I don't like to play favorites with rpgs. I tend to be very picky about my games.

Most nostalgic that no longer plays like it used to? World of Darkness products

Most nostalgic game I feel I never had an opportunity to do enough with it? Traveller

Most fun I have had at a table with a game that had lots of dice to roll? WEG Star Wars game of Jedi. My players rivaled Warhammer 40k players with the number of dice being cast on the kitchen table.

Most innovative game I've played in the past two years? Action Cards! from Age of Ravens.

Game I seem to go back to time and time again in this series of blogs? Most likely All Flesh Must Be Eaten. That probably sets this up as my favorite rpg of all time. Night's Black Agents creeping up on it, though.

Well, that's it for this event - a double tap to the brain. . . 

#RPGaDay #RarestRPGOwned

#RPGaDay #RarestRPGOwned

I don't think I own very many rare RPG products. Sure, I have a bunch of Traveller stuff. Maybe some of that is rare? I think the rarest book I own is the Deities & Demigods book for AD&D containing the Cthulhu Mythos and Nehwon deities. I picked it up used for the fact it had deities in it. I had no idea there was a whole controversy surrounding the book.

And if you want to find out more about that controversy, I suggest you check out book one of the Designers and Dragons series. It's a great read!

#RPGaDay #MostMemorableEncounter

#RPGaDay #MostMemorableEncounter

I think the most memorable encounter I have played in would be part of Lowell's World of Darkness game. We were on the track of an informant and our Assamite player did not catch on to something the rest of us caught in an interaction with the Prince or some other higher than us in station muckety muck. We broke into the informant's apartment and discovered vampires can't see in the dark without flashlights - or at least our vampire assassin couldn't. We crept into the bedroom and the Assamite did what they do best, he killed a human informant by staking him through the heart!

You see, the player had it in his head that this NPC was a vampire that needed staking. We broke for a smoke break, came back in and replayed it.

But there's always the first year we ran demo games of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the high number of women who came out to play for the first time.

And running an one shot of Night's Black Agents and thinking, this is a damn cool game.

And discovering that World of Darkness first edition and early second edition combat rules were bad for Werewolves. I could hit a gnat, but could not do more than one point of damage on TWELVE dice.

#RPGaDay #ScariestGameI'vePlayed

#RPGaDay #ScariestGameI'vePlayed

I can't think of the scariest game I played, but I can think of one that I have run.

I ran an one shot of Werewolf first edition for my brother and a friend in the way back. You can find bits of it in prior World of Darkness related posts. While investigating the murder of their Sept, they discovered an enemy who was using mirrors to move through reality and other nefarious places best left to their elders. They went into those mirrors and nefarious places trying to capture the person responsible for skinning their Sept-mate alive. They never did catch him, but they did confront some nasty demons and shred them with their claws.

The scary part was due to the fact we were playing late at night, in a house that was cramped, with the lights turned down low, and we had to be quiet as to not wake the friend's kids. This led to a very spooky evening of good fun.

Now, if you want to know about the most terrifying games I've run. . . well, those would involve Kult and All Flesh Must Be Eaten, but we're not talking about terrifying in this post, now are we?

#RPGaDay #GameYou'dMostLiketoSeeaNew/ImprovedVersion

#RPGaDay #GameYou'dMostLiketoSeeaNew/ImprovedVersion

I think John Dodd called it when he proclaimed a|state needs a new edition. Talking with +Malcolm Craig about the game after it was published, he told me that his direction was to provide a setting where the idea was to build hope. He thought about adding mechanics to reward the players whenever they brought hope to the community.

I think the idea is solid and I think he could easily find a way to port that into the game. He has proven he has the ability to develop unique settings and rules mechanics.

Other games I would like to see a new edition of include All Flesh Must Be Eaten, 7th Sea, and Ravenloft. I know I'll get one of the three. I just don't have a date, yet.

#RPGaDay #CoolestCharacterSheet

I can't say as I have a fave of these. They are a tool to get the job done. They can be notes cribbed on a lined piece of paper, printed copy of a text only character sheet, or a fanciful work of art. I don't care as long as it doesn't detract from the game. So, let's go with a few standouts.

The first character sheets I remember having an impact on me were created by friends and myself for the WEG Star Wars game. We made them for each and every archetype. We listed out all of the skills. It was 1992 or 1993 and I have no idea what computer program we were using.

I'll mention some of the work for Night's Black Agents next. There are character sheets floating around out there designed to look like dossier pages. That's pretty cool to me. Maybe I am under exposed to such things in the rpg world? Don't care, I like 'em.

I'll wrap this up with the character sheets and journals you can get for All Flesh Must Be Eaten. You can start with the core book. There, you have a character sheet and a sheet for tracking all of your bullets. If that's not good enough for you, the Character Journal should set you straight.

#RPGaDay #FavoriteRPGNoOneElseWantstoPlay

#RPGaDay #FavoriteRPGNoOneElseWantstoPlay

Seriously? I don't have one. As I go through my list of books in my head, I have so many players interested in games around me that there is a different struggle at play. When do we have time to schedule all of these games?

There's Streets of Bedlam, Dark Heresy, Night's Black Agents, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Ars Magica (3rd edition, please?), Pendragon (we're getting that one started soon), Conspiracy X, Deadlands Noir, Amazing Adventures, Ghosts of Albion, Savage World of Solomon Kane, Kult, SLA Industries. . . 

Seriously, I can line up players for all of these games - and more! With online resources like Google Hangouts and Roll20, the only thing holding us back is scheduling time!

PS:  Amazing Advenures and Streets of Bedlam have Kickstarters going on RIGHT NOW!

PSS:  Streets of Bedlam is on sale for $10 (digital format)!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

#RPGaDay #MostComplicatedRPG

The most complicated rpg setting I own is likely Vampire: the Requiem. Someone unfamiliar with the WoD is stepping into a setting where they need to track their Coterie, Clan, and Covenant. If the player is stepping into an experienced group, it is likely they will need to learn the other supernatural groups, too. And all of that is before The God Machine Chronicle updates.

For complicated due to the depths of rules, I think Dark Heresay is likely the winner. However, I think they work. As in depth and detailed as they are, they work for me.

For overall complication, SLA Industries wins the prize from me. The setting is all over the place between the different books over the decades of publication and companies publishing it. The magic rules are something that have never made sense to me and the combat is over the top. And I still love it and all of its supplements. The more that gets published, the more it all conceals. 

And if that's enough of a reason to like it, well, I suggest you check out The Esoterrorists from Pelgrane Press. All of the monsters from SLA Industries could fit into an Esoterrorists game, because the Ocean Game is by the same creator as SLA Industries.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

#RPGaDay #CoolestLookingRPG

Stylistically, I think the two magic supplements for Kult are some of the coolest looking rpg supplements out there. They have metallic looking paper, crazy color choices, and a lay out that was far and away better than the core book (first USA edition).

For lay out, I tip my hat to George Vasilakos for Buffy core book and the Decipher Lord Of the Rings core book. When it comes to using screenshots from media in a rpg, George makes beautiful books.

For interior text lay out, check out what Chris Huth did with Pelgrane Press core book for Night's Black Agents. That book is filled with text, in three columns, not two, and it remains legible. It's pretty darn awesome.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Eclipse Phase rpg books from Posthuman Press.Those books are beautifully done in full color. The text is nearly as tightly packed as Night's Black Agents, but something about them just isn't quite as sleek about them. Still, their color and art more than make up for the text. Adam Jury has a whole line of these books.

Friday, August 22, 2014

#RPGaDay #Favorite2ndHandPurchase

My favorite 2nd hand purchase is Traveller:  The New Era. Don't cry foul, just yet, gentle readers. Let me explain why.

I picked this up used, likely at the local rpg shop of the day here in South Bend. It would have been within a year of publication, because I was on Memphis the following year and I had the book before I moved to the South. At the time, the only sci-fi rpg I had played was WEG Star Wars. I had heard of Gamma World, but balked at it after it was described as D&D in space. At the time, I don't think I even owned any of the Star Wars rpg products. I think all I owned was D&D and WoD related.

Anyways, I loved the setting, but the rules did nothing for me. It also fed my developer side, allowing me to create my own worlds. I never got to play it before I moved and I had no idea what people meant when they kept referring to, "Little Black Books."

Flash forward to Memphis. I meet up with a group playing three nights a week and often two games per night. GMs alternated and games came and went. One of the games we played was Traveller. Imagine my excitement at finally getting to play this game...only to find out I had a different edition of the rules. Still, I jumped in without fear and enjoyed the hell out of it. After all, I managed to not die during character creation.

The game was fun and I had a blast with it. There were cool twists and turns. Everyone had a secret - mine was that my skeleton was a form of plastic, not bone, and companies and governments wanted access to me. And I had no idea how I became that way, naturally. 

None of that was ever resolved. We moved on to Oriental Adventures before resolution came about. Still, I loved the game so much that I have spent a good chunk of change tracking down nearly all of the first edition LBBs, New Era, T4, and many if the miniature games. I didn't back the new edition, because I have all I need to run the game.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

#RPGaDay #FavoriteLicensed#Game

Hands down, it's Star Wars. I refer the out of print West End Games version.

I have run this as a run and gun game, a pick up game, a campaign, and a game of mostly Jedi characters. I think it does a great job of emulating the universe.

My friend Wojo ran a campaign that ended with the player's characters taking on the roles of leaders at the Battle of Endor, as the movies characters were incapacitated.

Second choice would be Buffy, for all of the opportunities she gave Eden Studios and myself.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

#RPGaDay #RPGWillStillPlayin20Years

Do you honestly have to ask? It's All Flesh Must Be Eaten. I own all the books, have most of the rules memorized, and who doesn't love killing and being killed by zombies? It's a past time around here!

I could also see some WEG Star Wars being played, as well. I have gone nearly a decade between running campaigns, so it could happen. 

Anything I haven't played in 20 years is highly unlikely to be picked up, again, today. I think that's all of D&D, AD&D, and 2nd ed AD&D.

#RPGaDay #FavoritePublishedAdventure

I have not run many published adventures. A few F20, a few Werewolf:  The Apocalypse, and demo games for AFMBE and Con X.

Out of all of those, James Wilber's "Dead Ops" from Eden Studios Presents #2 is my favorite. The story is a military op to rescue American scientists goes awry in South America, due to zombies. It's great fun and we use to keep track of how many characters die per convention. Jim even brought headstone stickers to put on his ZM Screen for each kill. 

Good times.

#FavoriteGameSystem #RPGaDay

This is another hard one for me. I ran 2nd ed Storyteller for years. I ran it long enough that I had my own tweaks to it and even layed out my own character creation booklet.

The other system I know and live to run is Unisystem. The system reminds me of a Storyteller - GURPS mashup. I've done a lot with it and I have tweaked it, as well. There are gaps in parts of the rules for the different magical beings, but what game doesn't have gaps.

I've recently tried out #GUMSHOE and #ActionCards! . Both are good systems, but they are too new to me. I've never been a fan of F20 rules, I can take or leave them.

I am going with #Unisystem for this one. I recently ran some nWoD and it just didn't do it for me.

Monday, August 18, 2014

#RPGaDay #FunniestGameYou'vePlayed

I have two that fit this category.

For games played at a convention, I have to go with Gregor Hutton's Best Friends. I have discussed it elsewhere and it is a crazy, silly game worth the price of admission.

For games played not at a convention, I have to go with Lowell Francis' Freakish Band of Adventurers campaign. The game was set in his 2nd continent fantasy setting using a homebrew system that was one part GURPs, one part BRP, one part RoleMaster with a heavy dose of Glorantha influence. The group was large, for me, 8 players at one point. I think I played the only straight human in the group. We had a half-demon, a cat person, a couple of elves, a dog person, a wizard of indeterminate heritage, and myself. The game was a disaster around every corner: we were constantly bumping into things, knocking plot points on their sides, releasing gods from imprisonment, and travelling to the moon to fight evil ratkin. We traversed the continent finding adventure and mayhem wherever we went. It ran for several years (3?) before being wrapped up. We lost a player due to him moving down to Indy at one point in the campaign.

I believe Lowell has some write ups on the game over at his blog, Age of Ravens.

#RPGaDay #GameYouWishedYouOwned

Pendragon 4th edition.

We may be doing a 5th edition game here in the near future, but I am curious to read through this one. It has material in it for expanding the cast of characters to include spell casters and a few other items not included in other editions. I looked for it at GenCon, but could not find it. I will just have to order it from an online store like Noble Knight Games.

#RPGaDay #FavoriteConventionGame

I am going with game to run at a convention with this one. Hands down, it's All Flesh Must Be Eaten. The players show up expecting to die and hoping they go out in a very cool way.

I have run "Road Trip of the Damned," "The Burning Wheel of Karma," and "Dead Ops" for AFMBE. All three of them give me fond memories.

Not a single one of the memories from RTotD are for polite discussion and they all tend to revolve around the first reveal. You can pick this one up for free at the Eden Studios website.

TBWoK was written by Derek Guder and myself. It involved a flashback, which turned out to be very tricky when one character tried to kill the other during the flashback sequence, and involved a reveal at the end that often ended poorly for over half of the party. This is the only one of the three scenarios not available to the public.

DO was written by James Wilber and is an awesome military with zombies scenario. You can find it in Eden Studios Presents volume two. We use to keep track of how many characters died during this game. We even had one group make a huge mistake after the first reveal and died in the first two hours of the game.

#RPGaDay #FavoriteConPurchase

Finally, another easy one for me!

My first convention was Origins. I went with a handful of friends and had a horrible experience in the hotel connected to the convention. Our rooms were atrocious and the staff were no help.

Still, I made a purchase at this convention that would change my place in the world of roleplaying games forever. Little did I know, that the Greek guy who wanted to sell me a copy of a monster book for a modern conspiracies RPG would later hire me to do stuff for him in the RPG world.

At this first convention of mine, I purchased a copy of of all three Bodyguard of Lies books and the All Flesh Must Be Eaten core book. I loved all four books. I already owned the Conspiracy X core book and screen. In the back of a Conspiracy X book there was an ad calling for people to help the cause. I had no idea what it would lead to, but I knew I loved the product. So, I shot off an email late one night to the address listed in the ad.

Within a week, either George Vasilakos or Alex Jurkat got in touch with me. They needed help play testing material for All Flesh Must Be Eaten and was I interested in helping. Was I? Absolutely, I was! Within the week I was pouring through material for Shane Lacy Hensley's Fistful o' Zombies and loving every word on the page. I ran play test sessions with my group and even submitted the archetypes I made up for the sessions. We had a great time playing the scenario I ran.

This would start a series of firsts for me. First time play testing material for a game company. First time submitting material and being published via a game company for those archetypes. The following year I would run events at Origins for the first time in my life with demo scenarios for All Flesh Must Be Eaten. I ran "The Burning Wheel of Karma," a scenario I wrote with Derek Guder. (Rumor is, it may become available for use with Fate. Maybe Unisystem, too.) I think I also ran Dead Ops that year. Maybe it was the following year.

So, those four books are my favorite convention purchases. They led to where I am today as the Unisystem developer for Eden Studios, Inc.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

#RPGaDay #MostMemoriableCharacterDeath

Here is another hard one for me. I run so many games that it is rare that I actually play. However, this one time, I lost a character and gained a wife.

I was playing 3rd edition Vampire:  the Masquerade. I had come up with a Toreador and was working my way up through the Clan, burning down the homes and business of enemies, and getting the Malkavians to help. Then, one night, the characters were travelling through an underground tunnel. Suddenly, we were attacked by Sabbat or anarchs or something.

My character was a Toreador complete with Toreador-related skills and abilities. His combined total dice for Dexterity plus Firearms was 2. His total dice pool for Dexterity alone was 2.

I think he died in the second, maybe third, round of combat. I managed to hit one of the enemies with my revolver. I didn't do any damage, as they were combat monsters. Even the most experienced characters were getting their asses handed to them.

As the combat started, I got a text message. A woman I had met the night before was interested in meeting up. I was mad about the character death. I had spent a lot of time and energy developing the character and that point, it was best if I simply left. So, I agreed to meet up with her for a pint or two.

That woman would agree to see me again in two weeks, move in with me a few months later, and a couple of years later, be my wife. Thus, this was my best character death ever!

#RPGaDay #OldestRPGYouStillPlay/Read

The oldest RPG I still pull off the shelf and look through is likely All Flesh Must Be Eaten. There are others from the era of the first printing of this game that I might pull down and review for a quick memory jog. However, none are as much read as this one.

And the thirteenth printing of the game sold out at GenCon 2014.

#RPGaDay #WeirdestRPGOwned

I don't feel I own any truly gonzo rpgs. So, let's go with the item most odd on my shelves. When you look at my shelves, there is mostly horror and sci-fi with a bit of fantasy intermixed for good measure. The book that does not appear to fit in with the others is Best Friends.

Best Friends is a masterpiece about "girl friends and all their petty hatreds." The players all take on roles of girl friends, choosing who they like the most and the least, working out how to back-stab each other and come out on top.The rules brilliantly lend themself to playing it all out at the table. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a highly social, sit down game that can be played in a single session.

Friday, August 15, 2014

#RPGaDay #FavoriteFiction/TieinNovel

#RPGaDay #FavoriteFiction/TieinNovel

Time for another confession:  I hate rpg fiction. I know hate is a strong word and I mean it in it's strongest definition here. Okay, why? 

First, if you can't describe your material, without fiction leading into your setting book, module, whatever rpg splat book, you need to spend more time working on your ability to evoke emotional responses to your writing. Too often, I see this as a crutch used by weaker writers. I have read this in other people's products and rejected submissions sent to me due to it. My recommendation is to write the non-fiction first, then let that inspire you to write the fiction lead-in. If it does not inspire you to write something awesome, why would it inspire your readers?

Secondly, keep lead-in fiction minimal. If you can't do it in 2000 words in a core book or less than 800 words in a supplement, you have lost me. Give me a quick read, a taste, a sampling, and move on! I don't want 16 pages of fiction by various authors whose voices are so different to be jarring and turn me off. 

Now, if you are butt hurt at this point, don't be. This is just my opinion. There are plenty of fans who love what you wrote. I simply am not your core audience.

As to fiction novel tie ins, I don't know that I can pick a fave. It's been too long. I will go with The Book of Cthulhu as edited by Ross E. Lockhart. It is not designed to be fiction tie in, but it is some of the best Mythos I have read.

Friday, August 8, 2014

#RPGaDay #FavoriteCharacter

#RPGaDay #FavoriteCharacter
I have performed the GM task for most of my rpg career. Yet, a few characters stand out through the ages.

My first Vampire the Masquerade character was a Giovanni. This would lead to me running a full-on campaign of Giovanni (and related sub-Clans) while I was living in Memphis.

My first character in one of Lowell’s games was a Werewolf the Apocalypse character named Merik. Despite a really bad player, the game was awesome. It also showed the inherit flaws of the rule system’s combat damage mechanics. What do you mean I’m a nine foot tall werewolf who just did no damage on a 6 die successful attack roll?

Then, there was Ur-Traczek Qingu Adapa-apkallu the Gunslinging Goblin in Steve’s Freeport True20 game. We called him “Ur” for short. He started with an eyepatch that he didn’t need. It covered his “shooting eye”. He ended with a sombrero no one needed. Where the werewolf character was flawed at dealing damage, Ur was a powerhouse to rival any other powerhouse in the party, except for the magic users. He had more guns than teeth and didn’t believe in waiting for the rest of the party to catch up before moving on to the next room (or five) in dungeons. Ur was different for me, because he wasn’t cautious, he wasn’t worried about being cut-off from the rest of the party, and I didn’t try to be in charge with him. Not that he was a beta personality, either. He was a solo adventurer in his own world  and the rest of the party was there to back him up as needed.

He may have also been a bit of comedic relief.

That leaves my D&D 3rd edition, half-orc. This poor boy was an orphan, adopted by humans in a very human-centric village. He was a ranger, carrying on the tradition of his adopted father. He also stuttered, unless he was in combat. The players thought it was great that here I was, playing a stuttering, nervous, shy, giant sized half-orc. I had even managed to botch up some die rolls about ranger-y things before the first real combat, which helped sell the bumbling kid act. At soon as we went to initiative, the stuttering stopped, the shyness fell to the background, and the killing machine started. I did not get many feats with the half-orc ranger, but I maximized everything I could improve. He would eventually manage to use a magic scroll to kill off a troll as we reclaimed a keep for the baron (or whomever it was). That was likely the highlight of his life. Kip ran a great game and the group was a lot of fun when they got along. Sadly, personality issues crashed our group within 3 years.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

#RPGaDay #MostIntellectualRPG

#RPGaDay #MostIntellectualRPG

I’m not sure I own intellectual RPGs. I probably do. I probably own several. Let’s see what I can come up with:

Microscope – It’s about designing and building whole worlds. I would argue it is not a RPG in Gary’s view or my view. However, it is a great tool to set up a shared world setting. I put Microscope in the same pile of books as Aria. Great products, but not what I am looking for with this topic.

Primal Order – Is an older product from Wizards of the Coast. The idea was to supply ideas on how to include deities and religion in your game. They supplied rules for various games in publication and received several cease & desist notices and maybe even a lawsuit occurred. The books are okay, but again, I don’t think this hits the nail on the head.

Nobilis 2nd edition – This is a physically beautiful book. The rules are light. The players take on the roles of sovereign powers where they represent abstract concepts (death, time, cars, the color orange, etc.). This game is likely the most intellectual in my collection.

However, I am going with Mage as my most intellectual. Mage requires the group to work through what is reality, to the individual and the masses. It also requires the group to work through spell casting, what is rote and what is improvised? When does one become the other? This game requires the most “thinking” among my collection. It is also a game that many people I know just never understood. It requires the players to get inside their characters’ heads and understand their view on magic and reality.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

#RPGaDay #FavoriteRPGNeverGettoPlay

#RPGaDay #FavoriteRPGNeverGettoPlay

Mine isn’t a specific game, but rather game-genre. I would love to get into a gritty, military sci-fi game. I have touched it on occasion, but never had the luck of playing in an active campaign that lasted more than 4 sessions. Traveller, Hammer’s Slammers, even Warhammer 40k with its mentalists and demons would be alright in my book. Settings like Apophis Consortium’s Obsidian or Mongoose’s take on Judge Dredd would also work for me. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

#RPGaDay #MostOldSchoolRPGOwned

#RPGaDay #MostOldSchoolRPGOwned

Traveller – little black book edition. . . in the original LBB format, and the reproduced landscape edition. . . and Megatraveller, and New Era,and T5 (and 2300 if you think it’s part of the universe). I know I don’t own Traveller d20 or the new Big Black Book. I own a GURPs book or two for it and I picked up Hammer’s Slammers and Judge Dredd, which use the Mongoose Traveller rules. I have several boxes of books and maps for this game. I even have boxed set miniatures rules and ships for the game.

So, um, yeah, I like Traveller. Yet, as much as I like it, I have played it the least, among the sci-fi games I have played. I think I like it the most as it has the most “open” feel said sci-fi games and I found it very inspiring to be able to sit there and create whole vistas of places to travel. Star Wars, Fading Suns, and Dark Heresy all have their worlds mapped out for you. Yes, you can create your own, but they don’t have the charts or the math involved like Traveller.

Monday, August 4, 2014

#RPGaDay #MostRecentRPGPurchased

#RPGaDay #MostRecentRPGPurchased

The most recent book to make it into my collection is the 13th Age Beastiary. I pre-ordered this as part of their Kickstarter when I was running a 13th Age game. It’s a good book filled with better write ups than art. I may not be running a 13th Age game at the moment, but I may one day in the future.

Maybe a viking game.

#RPGaDAy #1strpgGameMastered

#RPGaDAy #1strpgGM

I do not remember the first rpg I GMed. It was likely AD&D or Superworld (from Choasium). They would have been one-shots for my little brother. The first game I ran as a campaign was Werewolf:  The Apocalypse. Robb was running VtM, so I picked this one up. Some of my fondest campaign memories are from the all but one female group and the one was again, my little brother. He was not always available to play with us. It was after high school for me and we would often start late at night and end early in the morning. He was in high school and very active with tennis at the time.

I would go on to run other campaigns via WtA. Another great one was a four person, six episodes, miniseries of a game with an awesome climatic battle as the pups became full on warriors of Gaia. The entire thing was action-packed fun that I wish could be captured in a bottle and doled out as needed. The players were very into their characters and I was dead on with the NPCs.

I made it to second edition, but not third. I have picked up the nWoD core book, but have not done anything with it. If you are looking for a game with a lot of combat in the modern day, this could be the game for you.

When will you rage?

#RPGaDay #1stRPGPurchased

#RPGaDay #1stRPGPurchased

The first core book I remember owning would have been AD&D 2nd edition. I may have owned the D&D Rules Compendium, but I didn’t understand it. The 2nd edition book led to my first true gaming group during high school. I played Friday nights at a friend’s house. I could not tell you who or what I played, only that I did play and had no idea what I was doing. I was out of my league playing with seasoned veterans. They helped me learn and eventually I would leave them for a game of Vampire:  the Masquerade with a group my own age.

Friday, August 1, 2014

#RPGaDay #1strpgplayed

#RPGaDay #1strpgplayed
The first roleplaying game I played was D&D red box edition. My friend Aaron owned it and invited me over to play. It was the early 1980s and I was in elementary school. I do not remember much of the experience, emotions only, really. I had fun. It was a new experience. I had no idea what I was doing, I am sure. I played it two times, maybe three. The first two times were solo adventures with the dungeon master. The third was with a different dungeon master and my friend as another player. I did not care for that experience much. I think it had more to do with not wanting to share time with my friend with another kid I barely knew, than anything else.

From there, I discovered the Choose Your Own Adventure books. These led further down the rabbit hole for me. May father would eventually come home with a boxed set from Chaosium featuring their Basic Rules, a supers setting, a futuristic setting, and a fantasy setting. What I remember from this game was not liking the rules. The percentile system did not lend itself to a young boy wanting to play a tough fighter already experienced in the ways of war. We tried, my brother, father, and I, but it did not go very far.

To this day, my experiences with the art are what continue to inspire my fond memories. For the D&D game, it was the maps my friend created. While I would not go on to run the game myself, I would create hundreds of maps. Sadly, I never made it past drawing in 2D. Outside of geometric shapes, I never made it to 3D drawing.

From the CYOA novels, it was the covers. The colors, the movement, the characters facing danger. From Chaosium’s boxed set, I think I gained a wider worldview of the roleplaying game genre. I was raised to read and I read as often as not. The boxed set showed me roleplaying games related to novels, comics, and movie posters.

And that is where I started. Where did you start?