Free RPG Day – Great Success!

This post is a bit late, but, better late than never.

On June 16th, Wizard’s Comics and Collectibles hosted Free RPG Day.  Throughout the day, we had games running for people to try out and a number of freebies that were available for people to pick up.

Here’s an image capturing the action:

We had a number of first-time RPGers and a bunch of folks who hadn’t played in many years and used the event as a way to get back into the hobby.  While it wasn’t as busy as I had hoped, the fact that we had a number of new people join us made it a success in my mind.

Thanks to John, Brandon , Toby and all the rest of the Wizard’s staff for making the event possible and the RPG community would definitely like to see this event happen again next year!

Free RPG Day!

On June 16, Wizard’s Comics and Collectibles is hosting Free RPG Day.  You should come out, ESPECIALLY if you’ve never played.  The demos at Wizard’s are going to be 2 hours in length with some really fantastic gamemasters, who are looking to bring new individuals into the hobby!

There are a variety of games being played and what is being offered barely scratches the surface of all the variety there is in the world of RPGs.  Demos will start at 11am, 1:30pm, and 4pm.  The full schedule is available on the Free RPG Day Event Page.

What is being offered?  I’m glad you asked.

Pathfinder

In Pathfinder, you are a brave adventurer in a fantasy world beset by magic and evil.  Will you adventure into deep caverns filled with treasure?  Will you save a village from an Orc invasion?  Pathfinder has many resources that will allow for countless adventures for your merry band of explorers.

Savage Worlds

Savage Worlds provides a rules system that can be used for any genre of game.  There are many official setting books and a large number of fan-made conversions and creations.  The core design philosophy of Savage Worlds is FAST! FURIOUS! and FUN!

Necessary Evil

When the world’s heroes are eliminated by an invading alien army, the only ones left to save Earth are the super-villains!  In this Savage Worlds setting, you take on the role of a super-villain who must save the inhabitants of Earth!

Deadlands: Reloaded

The year is 1879.  Mysterious beings called the Reckoners have given life to monsters and magic, causing history to shift.  In this Savage Worlds setting, the Wild West is mixed with Lovecraftian inspired horror and steampunk trappings.

Warhammer 40,000

In the Grim Darkness of the Far Future there is only War.  The WH40k line of RPGs takes the setting of the popular miniatures battle game and provides a multitude of options for exploring the universe in the far future. The WH40K line of RPGs use the same underlying game mechanics and each game has suggestions on how to incorporate characters from the different games into another.

Only War

In Only War, you take on the role of a soldier in the Imperial Guard, the backbone of the armies of the God-Emperor.

Deathwatch

In Deathwatch, you become of the Adeptus Astartes, or as they are more commonly known, the Space Marines.  Singled out as an exceptional soldier, you have been seconded to the Deathwatch, who protects the Imperium of Man from the threat of the Xenos (aliens).

Now, don’t see something that interests you?  Well, here’s a deal for you, my blog-readers!  Since I had such a fantastic response to my call for volunteers, I am not scheduled to run any demos, but there is space for me to do so.  As such, if you can bring 2-5 people with you, I’ll run a game using Savage Worlds in a setting/genre more to your liking.  There are a few ‘rules’ to this offer though.

  1. I need time to prepare.  If you want to take me up on this offer, please let me know before June 8.  Let me know when you’d like to have your 2 hour session.
  2. I may have to decline your desired setting if I don’t have the knowledge to capture the world for you.

So, that’s that.  I hope I can share my favorite hobby with some of you.

Well, I didn’t mean that to happen…

Looks like I’ve been away for much longer than I wanted to be.  I’ve been busy, but posting here is something I want to make a priority so that I can continue to work in my writing skills, among other things.

I played a game of Deathwatch over this past weekend.  The game itself was fun, but a little too long for me, as I didn’t get home until 2 am, which really made me drag for the rest of the weekend.  I’ve enjoyed that I’ve been able to play games frequently, but the late hours are difficult, especially with kids who hate to sleep in.

In the Deathwatch game, I played a new character, a Wolf Priest.  In terms of role that he fills in our team, he’s a mix of medic and leader (or, Apothecary and Chaplain, for those WH40k fans) and I really liked playing him.  My other character, a Rune Priest is also fun to play, but with another Librarian at the table, it was time to fill a hole in the team’s skillset.  It was a fun change and good to get back into the swing of things, RPG wise.

Speaking of RPGs, I’ve been mulling an idea around for a Weird War II game for the past few weeks and it’s coming along really nicely.  Hopefully I can report on those games soon.

The world is shrinking…

I try to tell people (via Twitter) about the books I really enjoyed in a given week.  #yeggeek usually puts out a question to the masses about what book(s) they enjoyed in the week, so I am usually involved in that response string.

But sometimes I miss that.  Or something is so enjoyable, I feel the need to tell people about it right away.  Last week, Mind the Gap and Higher Earth fell into the later category.

A few hours later, I got a reply from Bryce Carlson (@brycercarlson), the Managing Editor of Boom! Studios, thanking me for reading and spreading the word.

Yesterday, I had expressed that I was excited that I was going to get two books by Nathan Edmundson (@Nhedmondson) and Nathan also responded with a thanks for reading.

I have had similar experiences with other comic creators, Greg Rucka (@ruckawriter) and Kurtis Wiebe (@kurtisjwiebe).  In the RPG realm, regularly interact with Sean Preston (@realityblurs) and countless others on an occasional basis.

Having creators respond to you (a fan) is pretty cool.  It’s even more cool when they’ve just come across the tweet (or whatnot) based on a social media search and took the time to respond.  It makes me feel great for being able to say “I appreciate your work” and know they’ve read and appreciated the feedback.

Anyway, in the world of social media, its great to get real-time feedback and acknowledgement that your fan mail has been read.  Great stuff.

Who’s the audience?

I think I realized why all my previous attempts at writing scenarios for public usage have petered out at one point or another.  Simply put, it’s the audience.

Most of what I was writing was not tailored to a wide audience.  It was meant for the characters in my group, who had VERY SPECIFIC needs in terms of character development and plot.  So, because of this, my previous efforts would likely fall very, very flat with people that weren’t in my group.

So, I needed to open my scope a bit.  Hooks needed to be more open.  Assume less about the player characters.

I think my initial one-sheet concept does fairly well at being open to a variety of groups in the setting it’s designed for.  There’s hook for players that have encountered certain kinds of creatures, hook for future adventures, and some new stuff that I think fits nicely with the setting.

I haven’t made much progress on the outline to draft, but, I am nearing completion of the introductory section, which provides the key facts of the adventure.

It’s been fun to try and think about this sort of thing over the last while.

 

Forward progress

Over the past couple days, I’ve been putting some time into outlining my first One-Sheet for mass-consumption.  I like how it’s shaping up, but it’s still in early stages and I think there’s several revisions in my future.

As I alluded to in Writing for other people, I want to start producing content for public use, as I build up my confidence and abilities as a writer to finally get started on a large-scale project that I think the gaming community will love.

Part of this process is documenting what I’m doing.

For the one sheet I’m working on right now, I had an idea.  For this particular adventure, was the location and an era, but the location could be in almost any modern city of the era.  I had an enemy in mind as well.

I let the idea bounce around my head for a while.  After the kids were in bed and wife and I were sitting in front of the TV, I took out some paper and started writing down bullet points.  I started with the City, since the idea began to take on a true location.  I did some brief investigation and wrote down a better time frame.  I wrote down the goal of the mission.

To me, One Sheets generally have three to four ‘scenes’.  I wrote down Scene 1, Scene 2, etc and left space to fill in the gaps.  I began to write details.

Scene 1 was the setup.  How the PCs were engaged on the task at hand, etc.  Basic stuff.

Scene 2 was a little bit of investigation.  I briefly noted the things that would be accomplished in the scene.

Scene 3 was to be a combat encounter, with some investigative elements.

Scene 4 was going to reveal the reality of what was going on, and a combat encounter.

I was happy with the outline.  The opponent I had thought was going to be involved – wasn’t.  No worries, he’s on another planning document for another time.

The next morning, I typed up the outline and added even more details.  Combat encounters weren’t built up more than knowing what creatures would be present, but the overall feel of the One-Sheet was there.

I passed this draft to a few trusted friends for comments.

Once I have those back, I’ll be incorporating any feedback into the outline and I’ll begin to design the combat encounters, which I think is going to be my biggest challenge.

 

Writing for other people

It’s no secret that I’d like to be able to cook up an adventure or two and put them out in the wild, as it were, maybe even on a commercial basis.  However, I find this dream incredibly difficult to achieve, simply because I think my writing stinks.

Obviously, it doesn’t completely stink.  I’ve been running PbF games for years with great success, which really is driven home by people’s eagerness to join anything that I put out there.

And, with my GM style, only really plan scenes, rather than scenes and paths to get there.  Sure, in my scenes I have some ideas of how to go from A to B, but really, its up to the players to sort it it.  I think this sort of adventure construction would be ideal for creating One-Sheet Adventures for the Savage Worlds.  But, for some reason, I think my stuff is unfit for public consumption.

Well, I’m wanting to worry less about what I think about stuff and let the public decide about it.  I’m going to working on some One-Sheets and I’ll make them available online for GMs to use.  Hopefully I can get some feedback on those and move into a more full-fledged campaign as I gain more comfort with what I’m producing.

So, all you Savages reading, keep your eyes out for some One-Sheets from me.

Does the gear make the man?

The same conversation that got yesterday’s post going also started another discussion regarding the importance of gear to a character.  Tim Hannon (@theloremaster) suggested that gear in Savage Worlds was overrated and the real character choices are in the Edges.  Sean argued that many well known characters (King Arthur, Elric, Indiana Jones), their gear are integral parts of the characters.

Here’s the thing: they’re both right.  In Savage Worlds, if you have a piece of gear that is iconic to the character, you’re most likely going to use the “Trademark Weapon” edge and through that selection, define the circumstances of that relationship.  In the case of other gear (such as Indy’s hat, for example) one could handle that through the Quirk hindrance – he’s always got to have his hat.  While I feel this covers most cases, it does have some problems.

Now, I feel that there two situations here: where the gear actually is SIGNIFICANTLY better when being used by a particular character (ie. Excalibur); and gear that has sentimental value to the character (ie. Indy’s Hat).

In the former category, this is going to cover weapons that are magically tied to the user in some way.  For my understanding of the Arthurian legend, Excalibur proved that Arthur was the rightful king of England and could only be wielded by the rightful king.  So, in this case, I’d actually suggest that the weapon would have a stat block as follows:

If rightful king, Excalibur grants the Trademark Weapon Edge, even if prerequisites are not met.  Additionally, Excalibur grants +2 to social based trait-tests when dealing with subjects of the realm.  Str+d8

If not rightful king, Str+d6

Similarly, if you look at a weapon such as the Sword of Truth or Sword of Shannara, I’d say similar treatments would need to be made.  These weapons are magically tied to the user and are more than just a preference of the character.

Now, on the flipside, let’s look at Indy’s whip and hat.  I’d say that neither piece of gear grants any real benefit to Indy (other than he’s used having them around), so for Indy’s stats, I’d say that the Whip is a Trademark Weapon and the Hat is a Quirk, as above.  They define the character, but they are (in my view) a preference of the character, rather than a mystical object.

Obviously, there’s major game implications for the magical weapon angle.  It really hangs a hat on one particular character as the ‘main character’.  With that said, look at the fiction that my examples draw upon – there is an incredible cast of supporting (and equally important characters) that don’t have or need a piece of gear that is tied to the fate of their character.  So maybe, in game terms, it isn’t so bad.

This sort of discussion has been mostly focused on Savage Worlds, but I think does have some general application to other games.

Anyway, that’s some thoughts on gear and characters.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Simplifying Gear Selection in RPGs

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of having a brief conversation about equipment in the Savage Worlds supplement, Agents of Oblivion with Sean Preston, the President of Reality Blurs.

Sean had made a comment on twitter about how the formatting of gear tables can be a tedious job after quite a while, which I would have to agree.  Table formatting was perhaps the most uninspiring work I had to do when working on my CMA papers.

Anyway, this got me thinking about Agents of Oblivion’s gear tables, and in particular, how firearms were handled.  Being set in modern times, there’s literally thousands of different kinds of fireams, all with their own quirks/effectiveness/etc.  For a game like AoO to try to recreate a listing of all the options would result in a very, very, large list and likely, a large number of extraneous entries (for example, in terms of Savage Worlds, is an MP5 really any different from a UMP? I don’t think so).

On top of there not being substantial differences between weapons, picking gear becomes a more difficult task as you need to weigh small differences (this one weighs slightly less, but this one does slightly more damage, etc) instead of getting gear picked and moving on to playing the game.

What did Sean do in AoO?  He broke it down.  Firearms can be classified by two defining features.  First, the weapon class (Pistol, Submachinegun, Shotgun, Sniper Rifle, etc) and then the ammo caliber (small, medium, and large).  Each weapon class has a variant with a different caliber of ammo.  Each class/caliber combination has a set of statistics that define any weapon that matches that class/caliber combination.  This leads to a much smaller list of selections that are generalized.

Someone wants to use an AK-47?  That’s an Assault Rifle with Medium Caliber ammo.  An M16?  Same thing.  Now you just have to select a weapon based on the job you need to do then decide the “trappings” (ie, Brand name).  Yes, it’s a simplification, but one doesn’t play Savage Worlds for a simulation of real life.

Now, as I was thinking about how Sean handled this, I realized that he had used the ideas that are presented with respect to powers in Savage Worlds.  Most powers in Savage Worlds (at least in the core product) are vanilla.  There’s no trappings, just ‘the power does this’.  So, Blast is an area affect power that creates a medium burst template centered where you desire and deals 2d6 damage.  You decide if the bolt is lightning, a fireball, swarm of bees, etc.

I like this approach.  It cuts down on the number of entries for the same power with a different flavor text.  It gives control to the players to make their powers their own.  Others don’t like this approach (and that’s ok), as maybe the setting flavor is lost by not having the trappings (see: D&D).  That doesn’t enter my thought processes, so its not something that bugs me.

Back to the firearms.  I’m not going to say this is perfect for every setting.  Take World War II.  I would want to see exactly what is presented in the Weird War II setting book.  A table for each major country in the war, with their own signature weapons and appropriate stats.  Each nationality is going to be starting their gear with something from their country list, so it doesn’t get overwhelming in terms of choice there.  For this setting, that flavor is important to me, but again, each PC only has a short list to choose from, which is the most important part.

Ultimately, a generic ‘skin as you go’ model doesn’t work for everyone in all situations.  But, I think it fits with Savage Worlds and Fast, Furious, Fun and is a very welcome addition in my games.

Focusing my efforts

For several years, I’ve been collecting anything and everything in terms of board games and RPGs, which resulted in much eye rolling and questions like “When are you going to play that?” from my wife.

Recently, it all sunk in.  I don’t need to have every game ever.

Consider RPGs.  Years ago, I had delusions of designing my own game, so collecting all sorts of games was ‘research’.  Right.  Let’s just say, this probably isn’t going to happen, and if it does, I should stick to doing something with a system that’s already proven to be great (for me).  Savage Worlds is a generic game system that has rules available (official, or fan made) for pretty much anything I’d ever want.  Admittedly, Savage Worlds doesn’t really float my boat for some game types, but it does pretty well cover a bunch of what I’d want to do and provides a framework for designing my own homebrew worlds.  So, add a Warhammer 40k game (or two) and Star Wars and I’m really set.  Everything else – well, it needs a new home.

Now, Boardgames.  I’ve got a bunch that I’ve never played.  I have a bunch that are well, not really of interest anymore.  I’m not a “eurogame” player.  I find them too dull and would much rather play something that oozes theme.  So, that leaves me with a core group of frequently played games of Memoir ’44, Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, Battlestar Galactica, and Fortune and Glory.  This tells me to focus my purchases on expansions for these titles only.  The rest of my collection is, well – really excess, and should find a new home.

By concentrating on only getting items that complement my core group of games, I can limit the number of unplayed games in my collection and increase my capacity for other pursuits (such as comic books).

I’d like to think this is a decision that DanicaHere would approve of.

PS, if you’re interested in acquiring some of my excess, check out my Kijiji listings – RPGs and Boardgames.