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Showing posts from January, 2018

Actual Play: The Art of Madness Part 1

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The Art of Madness is an adventure from the anthology The House of R'lyeh, written by Brian Courtemanche. Featured heavily in this adventure is the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Living fairly close to Boston, I've been to the Museum many times. It's been neat playing an adventure with a familiar place...

Setting: Boston, Mass. Wednesday, December 1, 1920

Characters:

Earl Crowley - Antiquarian settled in ArkhamJordaine Furst - Strasbourg-born Great War spy for FranceFredrick Tardiff - Great War veteran, Kingsport artist
Summary: Fredrick Tardiff had been constructing a new series of contacts to assist with investigations into the bizarre, with the last of his Great War compatriots moving back to Harlem. He had begun meeting with Earl Crowley, an antiquarian who had uncovered one too many things that couldn't be explained by science. Jewelry from Innsmouth of metals unknown to science. Reviews of a French play that had made its audience go mad. He'd also made the re-acquai…

Remembering Ursula K. Le Guin

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I discovered Ursula Le Guin back at the University of Connecticut in my final year. I had the opportunity to take a few electives - my last year included classes like Age of the Dinosaurs and Science Fiction - and the Science Fiction class included her The Dispossessed. It was my favorite book in that class - and to this day it remains one of my favorite books. Subtitled An Ambiguous Utopia, it's great science fiction that makes you think. It doesn't give easy villains but rather people trying to do the best they can.

Ms. Le Guin passed away on January 22 at the age of 88. She lived a long life and had a successful career - in my opinion her greatest works are among the greatest of the 20th century. She bridged genres and made it look easy. There was a hardness to her science fiction, such as a universe with no faster than light travel. But her stories were very much social ones, exploring ideas such as sexuality and gender roles, anarchy, capitalism, etc. Her Earthsea novels…

Some Thoughts on the Rules Changes of Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition

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I've had the opportunity to clock in a decent amount of time playing the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition RPG since its initial release in 2014. Like the previous editions, characters from one edition are very much compatible with previous editions, though the rules themselves have undergone a lot of tweaking and fine-tuning.

So what changed?

Looking at the character sheet the first thing you notice is characteristic scores no longer are in the 3 to 18 range but rather in a percentile range. You generate characteristics in the same way - 3d6 or 2d6+6, depending on the stat, but you multiply by 5. This makes it perhaps a bit easier to make percentile rolls against abilities but it doesn't affect gameplay very much. Looking at the quickstart rules for Chaosium's upcoming RuneQuest revision it doesn't seem like this change will carry over there.

Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of a full difficulty system. In previous versions of Call of Cthulhu, there was no difficu…

RPG Review: Blueholme Journeymanne Rules

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For a number of older D&D players, their introduction to the game came from the D&D Basic Set as written by Eric Holmes. It wasn't my start - I began with the magenta set that followed it - but some of the people I gamed with had the Holmes Basic Set.

The Holmes Basic is an interesting artifact, an intermediate step between the Original and Advanced D&D rules. Michael Thomas a few years ago developed a retroclone of the Holmes Basic rules, called Blueholme PrenticeRules. Like the original Basic Set it was a low level game. With the JourneymanneRules the game covers levels 1 to 20.

It's a well done book that fits a lot into a slim volume - when I received it I was amazed how much it crammed into its 112 pages. This review will assume familiarity with D&D which I presume is a reasonably safe assumption.

Like every D&D game it has the classic six ability scores. As is often the case in older versions of D&D these scores aren't as important as they are …

The Sims as a Tabletop RPG Gateway

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My 12-year old daughter, the geekier of my two kids, has begun experimenting with tabletop RPGs. Over the holiday break I decided to spin up the Sims 4, a game she's pretty obsessed over. I played the Sims once a gazillion years ago - I think the one I tried was the Sims 2 if I recall correctly.
For those totally unfamiliar with the franchise, the premise is it is a life simulator type of RPG. You create one or more characters or "Sims". Your Sim has various traits that you can decide and by completing various aspiration quests you can build up more traits. You manage money, your Sims' social lives, hygiene, careers, relationships, eating, bladders, etc. 
One thing I found as I build up a household is how much of the skills a player develops in playing the game are applicable to a tabletop RPG. I've built up a household from a single Sim who got married, had four kids, a cat, and a dog. The initial stages of play are like a low-level D&D game - living in a c…

My Dream Call of Cthulhu Sourcebooks

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I've been poking my nose in Call of Cthulhu a bit of late. I recently picked up Chaosium's Darker Trails supplement for Call of Cthulhu, detailing Mythos gaming in the Old West. It's very well done, though I'm not yet at the point of being able to give it a full review. I'm pleased that Chaosium seems to have regained its footing after many years in the gaming wilderness.

With Chaosim exploring new settings for Call of Cthulhu, I got to thinking of a laundry list of settings that would be interesting for current edition of the game.

Updating the Gaslight and Dark Ages sourcebooks. The Clark Ashton Smith setting of Averoigne could work well in a Dark Ages type campaign.Gilded Age America - kind of an east coast counterpart to Darker Trails. I've had Gaslight games find their way to New York City and it's an untapped setting for such gaming.Colonial-era America - Using Cthulhu Dark to experiment with colonial American Mythos gaming really made me appreciate h…

My Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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I've waited a little while to post my thoughts on The Last Jedi to give a reasonable delay for spoilers. This isn't a review per se as it pretty much assumes you've seen the film.

Being a Star Wars geek I've seen it in the theatre three times. My 12-year old Jasmine came along for all those viewings. I think she might be a bit of a geek too (with additional family members at some of those viewings).

Overall I liked it a lot - and surprisingly, I found my opinion going up with repeat viewing. My initial thoughts were I found the storyline with the Resistance Fleet being pursued to be a little bit weak and taking too short an amount of time to sync with Rey's story. Repeat viewings made me appreciate it a lot more. The Last Jedi goes for more subtlety than most Star Wars films. The Resistance Fleet storyline nicely exhibited the importance of leadership. If Poe, Rose, and Finn had done nothing, there would have been far fewer casualties. In most stories the hot-shot…