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Actual Play - Blades in the Dark - The First Job

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The Dragons were a new crew in Duskvol. A city of near perpetual night, much like the rest of the world, with a pitiful dawn and dusk every day. Yet life went on. Unless you hired the Dragons to end someone. That was what they did. They endeavored to keep it as quiet as possible.

Two of the small crew were on the job this night - David "Dirk" Burke and Tocker "Ogre" Helker. Ogre, unsurprisingly, was the muscle, whereas Dirk was the more subtle type of fellow.

They'd been hired by an agent by the name of "Rufus", representing some undisclosed parties on the city council. The captain of the Leviathan Hunter Billy Budd, one Tyree, was to be terminated. Ideally the ship as well should be scuttled or destroyed.

They got aboard ok - the Billy Budd was in harbor readying for a long trip and they acquired forged papers from a contact of Ogre's so they could pose as medical inspectors to do a final check of the crew's health before departure. Not requ…

Dan's Top 19 RPGs - #1 - Call of Cthulhu

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The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. - H.P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"


At long last we come to the end of our long journey. Far longer than I'd have anticipated, with quite a bit of upheaval in life slowing down my blogging. I made an initial list when I began posting this Top 19 - and as I posted and had chances to reflect, some games made slight moves. Call of Cthulhu never budged from its perch at the top. 
Call of C…

Dan's Top 19 RPGs - #2 - Star Wars (West End Games)

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Welcome to the penultimate entry in this journey that has lasted a lot longer than I'd anticipated. I'm one of those Star Wars fans who were there at the beginning, seeing it for the first time at the age of five in a Brooklyn movie theatre - a big one, one with balconies.

In the mid 1980s, Star Wars entered a lull. I still loved it but popular interest in it had waned. At Quassy Amusement Park, where I worked in high school, we had a few gazillion Snowtrooper figures redeemable with tickets from Whack-a-Mole and Skee-Ball.

But it began picking up steam slowly. I remember being overjoyed at the first Star Wars Encyclopedia that I picked up from a Stop & Shop that had a small book section. And in 1987 I remember seeing advertisements for a new Star Wars RPG. I was overjoyed. I'd tried my hand at adapting AD&D for Star Wars but it wasn't right. I'd had better luck with the Marvel Superheroes RPG oddly enough.

The West End Games Star Wars RPG is my favorite i…

Dan's Top 19 RPGs - #3 - ACKS

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I have a special place in my gaming heart for early editions of D&D. I'm not quite enough of a grognard to have played the original D&D when it came out - my gaming career began in the early 1980s. I played a lot of the Basic and Expert D&D incarnation as well as a ton of Advanced D&D. But they didn't quite make it this high in the list.

One of the things I loved about the Companion rules of D&D was the way it brought about domain play. Early in this list I had Pendragon as a game I really like but didn't get a lot of time playing. I really like the idea of PCs ruling domains. It's a reason I greatly enjoy George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. But there were a few frustrations I had with D&D. I liked the idea of demi-humans having their race as their class - it added a certain amount of character - but I also found it a bit limiting. When I played, I liked being a magic-user but I was frustrated by the limits of low-level magic-us…

Dan's Top 19 RPGs - #4 - Fate

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Fate was a way harder game for me to "get" than I thought it would be. I suspect if I'd never gamed before it would have been a lot easier.

There's a ton of blogs and reviews that can give you all the details of Fate. I'm going to talk about the Fate Accelerated version where I finally grokked the game. Fate Accelerated and Fate Core are officially the same game, but there are some definite differences.

Fate uses Fate dice - six sided dice with two plusses, two minuses, and two blanks. You roll four of them and add them together - adding various modifiers as well, but the dice give a range of -4 to +4. You're trying to beat some difficulty. It sounds pretty traditional.

Here's where it diverges. Fate Core gives your character traditional skills like shooting, piloting, etc. Fate Accelerated goes for approaches - how you do something, Are you forceful? Are you sneaky? Both a wizard and a warrior can be forceful. But your aspects and stunts give more defin…

Actual Play: One in Darkness Part 1

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Do you think I care if there was just beer in that keg? I know what's in it. I know what you've been doing all this time, how you got those clothes and those new cars. You've been telling Ma that you've gone into politics, that you're on the city payroll. Pat Burke told me everything. You murderers! There's not only beer in that jug. There's beer and blood - blood of men!- Mike Powers, The Public Enemy

Based on the adventure of the same name by Doug Lyons with L. N. Isynwill, contained in the Chaosium anthology The Great Old Ones.
Setting: Boston; Wednesday, April 20, 1921

Characters:
Earl Crowley - Antiquarian settled in ArkhamJordaine Furst - Strasbourg-born Great War spy for FranceFredrick Tardiff - Great War veteran, Kingsport artist
Summary: After some unpleasant bouts with madness in New Orleans, Crowley and Tardiff had spent the previous two months undergoing psychiatric care. In the interim, the chaos of the early days of Prohibition had seem an incr…

Dan's Top 19 RPGs - #5 - Cthulhu Dark

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Cthulhu Dark is without a doubt the briefest game in this list. The rules take up two pages and that includes examples. I'm going to do something a little weird and reproduce the essentials of the first page of the rules. You can see a the full rules of the first incarnation of the rules at http://catchyourhare.com/files/Cthulhu%20Dark.pdf. You can purchase the newest version at RPGNow which includes lots of campaign settings, interpretations of the rules, adventures, etc.


Your Investigator
Choose a name and occupation. Describe your Investigator. Take a green Insight Die.

All dice, including your Insight die, are six-sided.

Insight
Your Insight shows how far you can see into the horror behind the universe. It starts at 1.

When you see something disturbing, roll your Insight Die. If you get higher than your Insight,
add 1 to your Insight and roleplay your fear. (This is called an “Insight roll”.)

Is your Insight real? Can you really see a deeper truth? Or is it just insanity? Someti…