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Showing posts from June, 2016

Impressions of the Auran Empire

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"Forward, as occasion offers. Never look round to see whether any shall note it... Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle."

- Marcus Aurelius


I've been going through some of my newer stuff for the Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS) over the past week or two. Of late I've been thinking of fantasy RPGs, especially with a focus on the ability for characters to be movers and shakers of the world. (I've also been reading the new Laundry novel by Charles Stross and checking out some of the newer DCC stuff - the fun of being scatter-brained... Though in Icons our heroes have met their first aliens. More on that in a few days I think...)

One of the things I liked about ACKS was its implied setting, one that has begun getting more fleshed out with the ACKS Player's Companion, The Sinister Stone of Sakkara, and the quarterly Axioms digital magazine.

The ten thousand foot view is it is a setting based …

Gaming in the Ancient World

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As I've been thinking about a fantasy game with domain management and/or generational play, for some reason I've also been thinking about time periods before the typical medieval-inspired settings - from Westeros to Greyhawk to Middle Earth.

I've begun reading Susan Wise Bauer's The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome. Mind you the pace is slow, between grad school, work, family, and prepping for superhero adventures (next game - an invasion from spaaace!!!)

What I've been finding in the earliest period is a much smaller and more person world. Kings rule over city-states. Uruk's population at its height was perhaps fifty to eighty thousand. Compare that with the million who would live in Rome during the height of the Roman Empire (though it would be near modern times when a city would again reach such a population!)

The potential I see in such an environment is it becomes possible to imagine PCs rising to important role…

Unearthly Adventure Comics #254 - The Return of Thor

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Unearthly Adventure Comics #254 had a cover date of May of 1958 and appeared on newsstands in March of that year. It featured the return of Thor to the comic for the first time since 1947's issue #125 featured him returning to the city in an attempt to defeat it with an army of dark elves.

Cast of CharactersRobert Builder/The Atomizer - Reporter for the Port Henry Times-Herald, nuclear man granted powers by Trinity nuclear test.Susan Samiel - Widowed reporter for the Port Henry Times-Herald, sorceress. Specializes in binding magic.US-Polaris 1 - Robot space probe invented by Jack Parsons. Altered by aliens and now possessing telekinetic abilities. Yuyu - High Priest of Osiris in the 19th Dynasty. Granted immortality and superior abilities by a mystical Ankh, as well as the ability to summon minions.
Capsule SummaryRobert and Susan were covering the release of Mario Genco from Port Henry Federal Penitentiary. A gangster active in the 1920s and 30s, he was an early adversary of Thor…

Dinosaurs on Glorantha - Grokking Glorantha

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"Inhabitants Dwarves, dinosaurs, and humans are the main inhabitants of Slon."

I was flipping through the pdf of The Guide to Glorantha while having lunch today and came across the above text. Which I found rather neat as I love dinosaurs and am a 30-year Glorantha newbie.

Admittedly it's difficult to be a newbie for 30 years but I've somehow managed to do so. If my recollection is correct, I first encountered RuneQuest and Glorantha for the first time in 1986, receiving the Deluxe Boxed Set version of the 3rd edition of the game as a Christmas gift. I didn't know what to expect, but had heard enough about the game to be somewhat curious.

Without an internet to guide me as to what was "wrong" with the game I was unaware that for most people RuneQuest and Glorantha were designed to be together. As I flipped through the box I found a foldout map of fantasy Europe. The box contained five main books. The first four were the Players, Magic, Game Master, and…

Icons Bundle of Holding

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After my depressing last post, something a bit easier to digest. I don't do much in the way of pure advertising for a game, but I see that Icons is available at Bundle of Holding for the next two weeks (until June 28 if my math is right). I'm currently having a lot of fun running an Icons game, which makes it the first superhero RPG I've had last more than two sessions in ages.

Ten percent of the money made (subtracting payment gateway fees) go to The Trevor Project, a group providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBT youth. I'd encourage you to give directly if you can.


Reflections on the Orlando Mass Murder

I've tried to keep my blog reasonably nonpolitical and in a way I find it sad that commenting on an act of murder and terror is a political act.

Forty nine people were murdered early Sunday morning at the Pulse nightclub. The Pulse being a gay nightclub, they were almost certainly targeted due to their sexual identities. I don't know what to call it - an act of hate, an act of terror. I don't think it really matters what you call it. Forty nine lives were ended and their loved ones are left dealing with the horror of what happened.

I've been wrestling with my own thoughts. They're layered but for what it's worth, this is what they are...

As far as guns are concerned... As a nation, we're not going to do a damn thing. Twenty 6 and 7-year old children were killed in Sandy Hook, along with school personnel and the killer's mother. We didn't do anything then. When we decided nothing was the right course of action for dead children, we accepted that mass…

Superhero Presidents

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My last post on Domain Play in Superhero RPGs received a fair amount of discussion which gave me some additional food for thought.

One of the biggest takeaways is there are two primary ways of handling a PC or major NPC ruling over a nation in a superhero game (or any other genre as well). The easiest way would be to simply make it a point of the character's background. In many comic books, the fact that a character rules or is royalty in a far-off land is perhaps an interesting plot point that gets used every once in a while. This is fairly common in comic books, particularly in the Silver and Bronze Ages.

If, on the other hand, domain play were to be a major point in the game, then you would want to have rules that facilitate such a game. You would want to manage the domain's resources, be able to generate events, handle conflicts/alliances/wars with other domains, managing espionage, etc. You'd certainly want this to be superhero-centric. For example, a dispute on the …

Atlantis vs. Wakanda: Domain Play in Superhero RPGs

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Given I've been thinking a lot about domain play lately, I had a passing thought this evening as to whether or not such play is applicable to superhero gaming - given I'm running an Icons game at present.
After a little reflection I realized it absolutely is. As seen by the image at the top of this post, superheroes and supervillains are often at the heads of nations and organizations.
There's a number of ways to realize this in play. At the most obvious there is the example of superpowered beings ruling over entire nations. You have Black Panther's Wakanda, Namor's Atlantis, Doctor Doom's Latveria, etc. The nation of Genosha has gone from a mutant-dominating apartheid state to a mutant sanctuary ruled by Magneto to being destroyed. Beyond nations are entities beyond Earth - Asgard, the Skrull Empire, etc.
One thing worth noting is the rulership of such nations tends to be a bit on the unstable side. All of the examples I listed above have their rulers deposed…

A Look at "A Game of Thrones" from an RPG Perspective

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“If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.”

- Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell. A Game of Thrones


I'd thought about doing a straight out review of A Game of Thrones but it occurs to me that with over 8,000 reviews on Amazon I might do better to narrow my focus a bit. With that in mind, I'm going to look at the novel A Game of Thrones from the perspective of an RPG gamer. I'm therefore assuming someone who has read this and later novels. 
We'll begin by taking a look at the world. If you or I were to visit the world we'd be hard-pressed to find much in the way of magic. From an RPG perspective, it is an extremely low-magic world. A few of the characters have encounters with the supernatural, but they do occur and are far more significant for that. At the start, a trio of rangers encounter a group of Others and Wights. Only one rang…

Some Thoughts on Domain and Generational Play

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You have read that Muad’Dib had no playmates his own age on Caladan. The dangers were too great. But Muad’Dib did have wonderful companion-teachers. There was Gurney Halleck, the troubadour-warrior. You will sing some of Gurney’s songs as you read along in this book. There was Thufir Hawat, the old Mentat Master of Assassins, who struck fear even into the heart of the Padishah Emperor. There were Duncan Idaho, the Swordmaster of the Ginaz; Dr. Wellington Yueh, a name black in treachery but bright in knowledge; the Lady Jessica, who guided her son in the Bene Gesserit Way, and—of course—the Duke Leto, whose qualities as a father have long been overlooked. Dune by Frank Herbert

Right now I've got a decent Icons game going and with the summer semester at Brandeis having kicked off I'm likely safe from jumping into a new campaign for at least a little while.

But I do have time to think about possible campaigns. With the new season of Game of Thrones on I've been thinking a bi…

Remembering the Late 1990s in Gaming

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The time leading up the the year 2000 was pretty neat for me in gaming. I had way more free time than I did now, what with no kids. Heck, I actually had more money, even though I make more now than I did back them - supporting two kids ain't cheap.

Going through my notes, old games, and PDFs I found some interesting gems I'd not thought about in years, in rough order of publication...

Conspiracy X - The truth is out there...Deadlands - wonderfully complicated with spellcasters trying for winning poker hands in a battle for their souls. One of those games in the "man I'd love to play someday" bucket.Dragonlance: The Fifth Age - TSR made the bold choice of totally shaking up their Dragonlance setting and using a player-facing card-based task resolution system. Big Eyes, Small Mouth - Based around the Tri-Stat engine (your main stats were Body, Mind, and Soul), BESM and its related games were absolutely huge for several years. I recall a time whenever someone would …