Welcome to Delta Pavonis

Dom Mooney's Website... Cybergoths no more.

Aug 2014

#RPGaDay - 22. Best Secondhand RPG Purchase

#RPGaDay

Over thirty years in gaming has meant that there are lots of candidates for today’s entry, split mainly between games acquired at conventions (and I think that I mentioned 'The Flaming Eye' and 'Wordbuilder’s Handbook' earlier), games bought in the late 1990s at Best Books & Games in Liverpool, 'Traveller' material bought through BITS old auctions when I was filling out my collection, and then eBay and other sales site (especially when I was after 'Pendragon' books).

My most strenuous searches were from some of the material produced by 'Pagan Publishing' for Call of Cthulhu. I hunted high and low for the old 'Delta Green Chapbooks' at a sensible price, ultimately unsuccessfully, but in the end backed the Fundable campaign (an earlier take on Kickstarter and Indie-go-go that failed.) for the collected hardcover versions. I also looked hard (and found) their scenario and campaign books such as 'The Realm of Shadows', 'Mortal Coils' and 'Coming Full Circle' but there was one that always escaped me. I’d lose bidding wars on eBay, and never found it in shops. The few conventions that had it were asking silly prices.

Anyway, recently Angus was clearing some of his old games, and I finally managed to get myself a copy of 'Walker in the Wastes'. It hasn’t made it into an archive cover yet, not has it been read (but it’s sitting in the ‘to-read’ pile), but I hope that it likes up to the anticipation of a decade long hunt!


#RPGaDay

#RPGaDay - 21. Favourite Licensed RPG

The One Ring RPG Dice and matching ARU case

I choose 'The One Ring', by Cubicle 7. It triumphs over Chaosium’s 'Elric!' (reprinted and expanded as 'Stormbringer 5th Edition'), but only just.

'Elric!' is a game that I spent a huge amount of time playing being the fourth iteration of the 'Stormbringer RPG' that had won my heart for its chaotic, power gaming, devil-may-care embrace of Michael Moorcock’s 'Eternal Champion' sequence. I still hold the game engine as one of the best iterations of the BRP d100 system, and some of the supplements were superb (for example the third party 'Corum' book). I spent several Continuum/Convulsions as Loz’s only friend at the Eternal Champion seminar (I exaggerate a bit). I ran an extended campaign with a number of people here on Facebook for some years - Derrick, Duncan, Andrew, Charles, Sarah-Jo to name a few and it was great fun. Two things eventually broke it for me. Firstly, time. One of the scenarios (‘The Fang and the Fountain’ from 'Perils of the Young Kingdoms') had a brutal, power-wielding, conclusion which was truely epic. But the battle took 7 hours. When you get maybe 8 hours of gaming every two months with a group, this took too long. I thought I’d found a solution when I accidentally managed to write a 23,000 word conversion of the game to 'HeroQuest', which was going to be published as a Continuum con book, but then the rights moved to Mongoose and I lost heart. The campaign ended with a whimper… Recently, I’ve started playing with a house 'Wordplay' port, and my old material may appear again. Maybe.

Anyway, 'The One Ring'. Quite simply, this nails the feel of Tolkien’s 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit' and puts you in a position where you can run a campaign without fear of the epic story intimidating or trampling over you. It is evocative, and the system quite simple. The default setting is between 'The Hobbit' and LotR around Mirkwood, and the writing is gorgeous. I mentioned 'Rivendell' back in the 4th entry. The standard of that book resulted in me re-reading the Core Rules (revised), 'The Heart of the Wild', 'Tales from Wildland', 'The Laketown Guide' and 'Words of the Wise'. I only didn’t re-read the superlative 'The Darkening of Mirkwood' because I only just read it only and it was still fresh. I rarely binge on RPG systems like this, and it really gives me an itch to run or play it. Simply superb.

#RPGaDay - 20. Will still play in 20 years time…

#RPGaDay Traveller Rules...

Almost certainly 'Traveller'. Mind, I’ll be in my sixties and may be looking for that gaming retirement home.

I love SF, always have. 'Traveller' epitomises that for me and is meshed to the books that I grew up loving after I discovered Andre Norton at my local library, and then E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith, Arthur C Clarke (not ‘Sir’ then) and Isaac Azimov on my father’s bookshelves.

Incidentally, if you love SF, then I commend Jo Walton’s 'Among Others' to you as a novel that will remind you of how you discovered the genre.

#RPGaDay - 19. Favourite Published Adventure

#RPGaDay

Now this is a hard one, as there have been so many memorable adventures out there… I’m going to limit this to something that I’ve run, rather than just read or played, as that cuts the field down somewhat.

I’ve always had a soft spot for 'Masks of Nyarlathotep' for 'Call of Cthulhu'. I bought it second hand when I lived back in Holmes Chapel from a group of gamers over there and started to run it twice. It is a great epic adventure in the horror genre, but very messy in terms of character mortality. It’s possibly only challenged by the recent Pelgrane Press release 'Eternal Lies', or maybe Chaosium’s 'Beyond the Mountains of Madness' (although that needs a certain mindset). As a GM you need to make sure that the players have ‘corresponding’ friends so that they have an easy excuse to introduce new characters. In both the campaigns attempts I made to run this, the original party had all passed away or gone non-functionally insane by the time that they reached. As a result, I don’t think that this makes the cut.

What else? Well, 'I6 - Ravenloft' for 'Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition' was a very different classic adventure. Dark horror with a very dangerous enemy. It had all the classic horror tropes, and actually makes players with high powered characters scared for their survival. Great scenario, but I’ve not touched it for a long time so not that.

One of my favourite scenarios ever was 'Phantom of the Northern Marches' for 'Middle Earth Role Playing (MERP)'. It was so evocative and epic, and really reflected the lower power sad beauty and feeling of the northern realms of the Dunedain as they slowly crumbled before the power of the Witch King of Angmar. This was a non-epic scenario that made the players have a chance to feel completely heroic. Lovely setting, lovely writing, lovely scenario. But not my favourite.

If I had allowed scenarios that I hadn’t run, then the 'MegaTraveller' supplement 'Hard Times' would be a strong contender. This puts the players in the position of ‘keeping the flame’ as the Imperium collapses during the Second Civil War under infighting and factionalism. The characters have a ship and can make a difference to a small number of worlds. Absolutely brilliant writing and a great campaign; incidentally, it’s one of the reasons that I really didn’t like Virus with Traveller: The New Era was released as it wiped all these efforts out. But I’ve not run it, so it’s not in the running.

I think that I will go for a campaign pack that has given me hours of fun as a GM, is broad enough that you can do pretty much anything with it, and was really the first book to give my favourite RPG the true flavour of it’s setting. I am talking of the Classic 'Traveller' Adventure 'Adventure 3 - Twilight’s Peak'. This is a campaign framework for a group of players to take a starship that has seen better days along the Spinward Main, ostensibly to earn enough cash to properly refit it. But they also get a great big hint about lost treasure which could make their fortune. They may, or may not, stumble upon this. I’ve run it twice and one party found it, the other didn’t. But it doesn’t matter; you soon come to the realisation that the journey – the Travelling - is actually the most important thing. This is still usable with the current versions of 'Traveller', and if you get the Classic 'Traveller' DVD [from Marc Miller] then you are set for hours of fun as that has all the other published adventures to mesh around it too.

#RPGaDay - 18. Favourite Game System

#RPGaDay

I find this quite an interesting question, as sometimes the system is fundamentally meshed with the setting. However, if I had to pick one game system as a favourite, it would be 'Wordplay'. Developed by Graham S and the group of Sheffield gamers which I used to play with regularly, this is a game dear to my heart. I spent a lot of time involved in play testing and also in helping to develop parts of the system. I also proofed and laid out the game for publication.

At its heart, 'Wordplay' requires you to build a hand of ordinary common-a-garden six sided dice. You throw these, and each 6 gains you two successes, each 4 or 5 gives one success, and 1-3 gives you nothing. You then compare the difference in levels between an opponent or a fixed difficulty, and the wider the gap, the bigger the success level. In many ways, 'FATE' works in a similar way, but that wasn’t an inspiration for the game engine.

You build the hand through taking a trait (which is rated in numbers of dice that go into a dice pool) and then potentially picking up to two supporting traits (which add a reduced number of dice based on their original levels). Other players can help by lending you a helping dice from their character. You can also gain dice from equipment and the environment. You can create temporary traits through narration or action that can also help.

Nothing ever takes dice away from you; you can only ever gain dice. Even if you are wounded, you do not lose dice. Say you had 'Broken Arm (3d)' and that trait would act against you in a task, then you would give your opponent 3 extra dice. One of the sweet things in the system is that you can see who helped or hindered you.

Final task resolution effectiveness can be gauged from a table - in all cases, a 7 success margin is a total victory.

'Wordplay' sits firmly on the fence between contest resolution and task resolution. You can use the system in either way; either frame the outcome you want to achieve, or approach it like a traditional RPG and roll with the dice at a more granular level. You can resolve with a single roll, or have an extended contest. The use of descriptive traits makes it really easy to build characters and adventures. The dice mechanic is quite clever, as it engages gamer instincts in building a hand of dice, but the process is quite swift. The outcome supports narrative resolutions, and the whole system hits a sweet spot for me.

'Wordplay' deserves more recognition than it has, and hopefully it will get it soon. Currently, the PDF and POD book sit at [Lulu.com], but the intent is to migrate them to RPGNow/DTRPG in the near future. There are two supplements nearly completed, so hopefully the game will gain in popularity.

So that, ladies and gentlemen, is my favourite game system.

And yes, I also love the bell curve functionality of 'Traveller' and the d100 simplicity of the Basic Role Playing engine which started at Chaosium. But 'Wordplay' is now my go-to system.

#RPGaDay - 17. Funniest Game you’ve played

Undoubtedly West End Games' ‘Paranoia’. Dark, apocalyptic humour set after an atomic war, where the players are all clones who live in a complex controlled by 'The Computer'. I started playing this with the first edition, but my heart was taken by the revised and simplified second edition that Games Workshop released as a hardback.

I lost touch with this game after school, and I wouldn't mind running or playing it again.

#RPGaDay - 16. Game you wish you owned

Basic dnd

This one is quite simple. I wish that I still owned the first boxed set of 'Dungeons & Dragons' that I was given as a Christmas Present. I sold it after I moved on to 'AD&D First Edition'. I still have my 'Starter Edition Traveller' and 'Call of Cthulhu 2nd Edition' boxed sets, and would love to have had the other game I got at the start of my gaming.

It's pure nostalgia, but it's that simple.

#RPGaDay - 15. Favourite Convention Game

CoS cover

I'm going to split this into a number of different categories, starting with my favourite convention game to run. It may surprise you, but it isn't 'Traveller'. Nor is it 'Singularities' or 'Wordplay'. It's a small indie game called 'Conspiracy of Shadows' which - while available - is no longer actively being supported.

The game is set in a dark medieval Eastern European style setting, and could best be described as a 'Medieval X-Files' with lots of guidance on building conspiracies and developing plot arcs for players to interact and investigate. As a game, it drips atmosphere, and the author is also an artist and nails the whole experience.

Now, the reason I love this game to run at conventions is a style of play that it has called 'The Blood Opera'. This is a scenario where all the characters are set up to conflict with with other for different reasons, and effectively the narrator's role is to light the fuse on a powder keg, or to give the row of dominos a push. I've run two versions of this repeatedly at conventions. The first is the classic Blood Opera where a noble family tears itself apart in the snows of winter after the death of a beloved wife. The second is one I built myself called 'The Fall of House Atreides' which does much the same but uses the start of Frank Herbert's classic "Dune" as the scenario. Anyone - including Paul Atreides - can be the traitor. Both of these seem to get a good response from players, although the first tends to develop silly accents which actually tend to add to the fun.

The game I most enjoyed running at a convention recently was a Savage Worlds game in the 'Runepunk' setting. 'Runepunk' is a science-fantasy setting in a metropolis separated from the rest of reality after some kind of incident. The technology is steampunk and clockwork and it has a feel of Stormbringer and Bladerunner placed in a blender. A couple of 'Furnace's ago I decided to run it, using an investigative campaign called 'DarkSummer Nights'.

The game itself was a delight to GM, with players really getting into character (and me as GM having too much fun interacting with Tom Z who was a clockwork automaton). Several of the players were regular 'Call of Cthulhu' players, and engaged the scenario in exactly the same way that you would play that game. The resulted in no combat at all during the adventure (something I never expected with 'Savage Worlds' as it is at heart a skirmish game) and the discovery that the game engine works quite well for general resolution. A great game in a great setting made memorable by some great players.

Games I have played and enjoyed at conventions are a bit of a challenge. First of all, I don't get to play that often. When I do, I often pick games to get an idea of how the should play because I am thinking of them.

So, memorable games include: Graham S running is Middle Earth games. The first one I played used a hack of 'Burning Wheel' (and was set just after the Battle of the Five Armies way before Cubicle 7's TOR written), and the second one used 'Wordplay' (and was set in the First Age during Turin's saga). Both were super games to play in, and Graham's love and understanding of the setting came through clearly.

Next up would be John Ossoway running 'River of Heaven', his d100 engined SF RPG. Playing this was superb, as John and I have a similar taste in SF and the game showcased the system and the feel of the setting to perfection. It's a style of gaming that I would love to do more often.

After that, I have to give @Evil Gaz a shout out. I played a 'Savage Worlds' game of his one 'Continuum' which involved a pulp expedition to Darkest Africa. It was great fun. I remember riffing with @Tom Zunder and others as explorers in a dangerous world.

I have to include the first 'Hero Wars' (aka 'HeroQuest') game I played. This was run by John Hughes, and it helped me to click what the whole HQ engine was about, and the differences in the style of play.

Finally, an honourable mention to Newt - I previously mentioned his 'Unknown Armies' game. This is one of my happy game memories from conventions past.

So - no Traveller here? Probably as I usually run it, and almost never get to play. Sad

#RPGaDay - 14. Best Convention Purchase

These go back to GenCon UK, back in the day when it was held in Loughborough. One year I came across the old Digest Group modules for MegaTraveller that I didn't already own on a second hand stall. They also weren't priced stupidly; as a result, I scored a copy of The Flaming Eye and World Builder's Handbook for the price of a normal softcover supplement.

Another year, my friend Richard T and I came across a pricing scheme for boardgames that hadn't been thought through. It was something like 10% off one, 20% off two, 30% off three etc. which on three games meant you effectively got one for free. We bought a selection between us and immediately after the trader changed the offer to something less generous. There are times when being numerate helps.

I also have fond memories of buying two copies of the shortlived Dune RPG at list price, one for Duncan and one for myself, which was great as they rapidly went up in price afterwards to the point I wouldn’t have been able to buy a copy.

#RPGaDay - 13. Most Memorable Character Death

This is one that I find a struggle. I've mainly acted as Games Master throughout the time that I've been gaming, and there aren't that many memorable occasions where I've had a character die. It's not something that worries me too much - if it matches the story and feels right, then I'll go with it as it can open up lots of interesting character interaction. Probably the only one that really sticks in mind was during a game of Legend of the Five Rings that Richard M was running, where my Crab Clan Warrior ended up in some kind of honour duel (I think) which he won, but immediately had to commit suicide to maintain clan honour. I've only vague memories of this, but do remember that I did get a decent replacement.

I've seen some other memorable character deaths; probably the most significant was Greg L’s character 'Art' during a Traveller campaign that I ran back when I lived near Chester. This was a blend of Twilight's Peak, a bunch of other Traveller scenarios and a bit of CJ Cherryh's Merchanters and Andre Norton's Free Traders. It was a game of restaurants, docksides, and side missions, with a very mixed and dysfunctional crew. If anything, the party ended up more nervous of dockside interactions because "bad things happen in bars and restaurants", usually driven by the players. Art died off camera, and the repercussions shattered the campaign. Alli M’s Aslan stalked off, and Steve H’s character 'Kira' was left holding the baby. Probably the best write up of this was done by Steve, and he kindly lets me host it on my site.

The other kind of memorable character deaths that spring to mind tend to have been when I have run Traveller convention adventures. These have included the character group that decided to risk breaking into a starport when sighted by a starship scale laser defence battery, ignoring the warning shot. As they were in an Air/Truck, basically a flying Transit van, this wasn't especially smart. Another included the last surviving crew member of a ship which had been swallowed into a corsair, who rather than surrender and be murdered, opened up inside the corsair with the ship's lasers, scoring critical hits until the reactor exploded.

True Detective

True_Detective_2014_Intertitle

The holiday gave me a chance to catch up on some films and TV series that I’ve wanted to see for a while. One of these was the recent HBO series True Detective, which has had a good reputation amongst the gamers I know. The basic premise is an 8 hour show, split in one hour episodes, set in Louisiana in the USA. The core of it is told retrospectively in 2012 where two detectives are interviewing two of their predecessors (Cohle and Hart) about an investigation into an occult linked murder in 1995 which turned out to be the actions of a serial killer. The new generation of detectives believe that the case has not necessarily been solved as another killing with the same modus operandi has been found.

I really enjoyed the show, although Jill got bored with it after the first two episodes as they were too slow for her. This was actually intentional, as the action suddenly ramps up from episode 3 as they get a break in the case. The first two hours really get you to know the two flawed protagonists. The show mixes a number of occult horror memes together, with Cajun Voodoo, and hints at Robert Chambers’ King in Yellow and the dream reality of Carcosa. It also contrasts the seedy hypocritical dichotomy of US life between middle class values/religion and sex/drugs/prostitution. It builds nicely to a climax, with the story spread episodically over 17 years of the character’s lives.

It’s shot beautifully, even spectacularly in some ways and the director took a conscious decision to shoot on 35mm film rather than digital, accepting that it may be the last time that he does this. The music works really well, subtly enhancing the atmosphere. The interaction between two leads – Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey – is superb, with a tension where they rub each others characters up the wrong way yet work well together.

As a gamer, with a liking for both the Delta Green Lovecraftian modern day setting, and Pelgrane Press’ The Esoterrorists, I found this as great source material. It must be said that there is none of the quasi-military organised action against the occult found in the two roleplaying settings, but you can imagine that it relates a tale of those who are not initiated into the conspiracies stumbling upon the fact that the world is not how it seems. I found myself starting, in parts, to analyse the clues found in the way that the latter game builds its spine of clues. The ending left a beautiful hook to create a sequel to this for either setting. Good stuff.

I really recommend this if you want to try some intelligent TV. It’s the best thing that I’ve watched recently since Utopia (Series 1)1 on Channel 4. Very different to Person of Interest, which is much more traditional in format for US TV; this is far more British in feel. Watch it!

1. I’m currently watching Series 2 of Utopia which is in transmission as I write this, so can’t give a judgement against that yet!

#RPGaDay - 12. Old RPG you still play / read

#RPGaDay Traveller Rules...

Traveller.

Ok, so I use the Mongoose rules these days (which are a retooled update of the original little black book classic Traveller and the later MegaTraveller) but the setting material and plot can still be used with minimal effort.

I love the blend of Andre Norton, EC Dumarest, Azimov's Foundation, Sir Arthur C Clarke and more, combined with a hint of Star Wars, with which is shared a release year.

In a lot of ways, Traveller became an archetype for other systems with careers and past experience and no-levels a la D&D. Surprisingly modern and still effective.

#RPGaDay - 11. Weirdest RPG owned

Unknown Armies...

The weirdest RPG that I own is Unknown Armies. The game is a take on a modern occult conspiracy setting by John Tynes (Pagan Publishing, Delta Green) and Greg Stolze (Reign, others).

It's weird in that it fits nicely into the genre known as weird tales, and also because some of the ideas are completely bizarre, for example a cult built around fast food franchises.

However, it meshes together really well and I had a very enjoyable game of this at the very last Convulsion, run by Newt N. His game had the conceit of an occult investigation run by a variety of TV cops. I had Lewis (Morse's assistant) and Martin S had Regan from The Sweeney. The interplay between my Lewis being nice and polite and his Regan was somewhat entertaining, and the exchanges somewhat rude. Great game. Especially as Jonathan Creek kept on getting abuse from everyone.

As an aside, Lamentations of the Flame Princess nearly made the cut for this, but I only own scenarios and supplements for that rather than the game itself. It's most definitely weird though.

#RPGaDay - 10. Favourite tie-in Novel / Game Fiction

Delta Green fiction.

Undoubtedly, it has to be the Delta Green tie in set of novels and short story collections, especially The Rules of Engagement.

They capture the weird blend of Lovecraftian horror, despair and hints of the X-Files and Millennium perfectly.

#RPGaDay - 9. Favourite Die / Dice Set

This one is quite a close run thing. At the moment, I'm kind of in love with the set of dice for The One Ring RPG that I bought at Continuum the weekend before last.

The One Ring RPG Dice and matching ARU case
The One Ring RPG Dice and matching ARU case

However, the ones I really like, and have done for a long time, are the sets that I bought at one Furnace that match the covers of Hot War and Cold City nearly perfectly. I should give a shout out to Elaine McC as she's the one who egged me on to get them when I was procrastinating!

Hot War Dice
My favourites

#RPGaDay - 8. Favourite character

I usually end up games-mastering, so a favourite character is a challenge as I rarely get to play over an extended period.

One of my earliest characters that I was fond of was a Paladin under (initially) AD&D first edition rules. He wasn't a holier-than-though character, as I modelled him upon a Crusader Knight from one Religious Orders (I think I picked the Hospitallers as they were slightly less dubious to modern sensibilities) blended with the character Sparhawk from David Eddings' Diamond Throne books. He was one of the highest level characters I ever got, reaching at least 9th level. It was a collegiate game with 2-3 GMs.

For the life of me, I cannot remember the character's name (Sir Something-or-Other, obviously), but I remember that his arch-nemesis was an Illusionist run by one of the other GMs. The game reached the point that we were starting to carve out kingdoms, and in one case we had a visit to one of the circles of hell. I can also remember the panic we had one battle when we realised that a creature was regenerating all hit points at the end of the round unless we managed to kill it. We were dealing 70-80 hp+ of damage each round and it wasn't enough so we thought we were goners! Somehow we survived.

The other thing I remember about the game was that we changed to 2nd Edition AD&D part way through because of the clause in the books that the GM's decision and interpretation was final. We had one player who was very much a power-gamer rules-lawyer so this was a deliberate decision to change the environment to deal with this.

RuneQuest 3 & River of Cradles

So, I suppose I should have a character who has a name for this, so I think I shall have to choose Marcus Inerious. Marcus was a RuneQuest 3 character, a Lunar Centurion placed on Gardening Leave who somehow ended up meshed into a party on their way to become the River Voices in the River of Cradles. We rocked up and down the river, building a small trading empire and having a lot of fun. Duncan R had another Lunar, and Derrick J ran a cracking campaign. My strongest memory was the crazy long range ballistic bowshot Marcus made very early in the campaign, something that helped to mesh him into the group. A great game even when it went a bit mythic every now and again!

#RPGaDay - 7. Most ‘Intellectual’ RPG owned

Durance RPG

Probably Kingdom or Durance or Fiasco. One of the indie storytelling games that has minimal demand for dice but a lot of expectations for behaviour and approach.

When they work, they’re brilliant. When they don’t, they are dire.

And sometimes they go somewhere in the middle, which is disquieting.

(I've used intellectual in a more pure sense here, rather than meaning intricate or complicated.)

#RPGaDay - 6. Favourite RPG Never get to play

Pendragon RPG
Pendragon 1st and 5th Editions, plus the Great Pendragon Campaign, the only supplement you need for years of fun.

That’s a hard one.

Maelstrom (Story Engine) RPG
Maelstrom RPG line - a favourite I never get to play or run.

Probably either Maelstrom (an early narrative game in a world of shattered dreams and realities, not the Elizabethan game) or Pendragon. I had a campaign of that at school and loved it and would like to retrun to the setting. I also loved playing Unknown Armies and Hot War for the short sessions I had of those.

But, if I had to pick just one it would be Pendragon.

The reality is, getting any game to play is a bonus. My current gaming mostly revolves around conventions like Furnace, Continuum, TravCon and Dragonmeet, plus some games via Google Hangouts (The EsoTerrorists and Dungeon World).

#RPGaDay - 5. Most Old School RPG owned

#RPGaDay AD&D 2nd Edition

Well, I still have AD&D 2nd Edition and some supporting material from Basic, 1st, 2nd and 3rd. And the original little black book Traveller sets. And RuneQuest 2nd Edition, Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu 2nd Edition. And Ringworld and Pendragon 1st Edition. And there are probably others lurking there.

What do I use of those? Traveller. The system (except for combat) remains pretty light and compatible with the present Mongoose rules. The setting material is still valid too.

The Pendragon and Call of Cthulhu material can all be used if I ever get the chance to game in those settings again without modification.

Lately I have been revisiting the D&D material with a view to using it with the Dungeon World indie gaming take on it. And I have resisted the siren call of D&D 5th Edition so far.

Update: 31/8/2014 D&D5 appears surprisingly well written, simple and clear.

#RPGaDay - 4. Most recent RPG purchase

Rivendell
Screenshot from PDF. Lovely art, lovely book.

The most recent RPG related purchase I made was the pre-order of the Rivendell Supplement for The One Ring RPG. My love of Tolkien’s world pre-dates my love of gaming. The Hobbit and the SF of Andre Norton such as the Solar Queen books came into my life sometime between the age of 7 and 10, and have clear influences on my gaming preferences. (Norton was one of the influences on the Traveller RPG).

Now, Rivendell is a PDF at present, and I hope to get the physical book before the year end, despite the Late Summer release it is listed for, but my read through says it will be worth the wait(*). Rivendell is beautifully presented and looks like an excellent addition to the game. It introduces everything needed to adventure between Bree to the West, Rivendell to the East, Angmar to the North and Tharbad to the South, in the period between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It also details the Dunedain and High Elves as cultures for player characters, whilst suggesting that their use is minimised to maintain the feel of the game. The book (PDF) makes me nostalgic for the games of MERP I used to run at school, set before the Northern Kingdom fell.

Had this question have been answered last weekend, the RPG related purchases would have been dice for Ubiquity (for the new edition of the Space: 1889 RPG) and dice for The One Ring (mainly as I am not certain if I will sell my original edition when the hardcover comes out). I find more of my purchases being board and card games these days, mainly as there seems to be more chance to get a short game of one of these, especially with the pressures of being a “grown up” married with children and a job that is quite demanding.

(*) Cubicle 7 can often be delayed - I have one product that was due in 2010 but they make lovely products.

#RPGaDay - 3. First RPG Purchased

Starter Traveller RPG
My second choice game, which wasn’t there either! So Call of Cthulhu it was. This is not a collector quality copy. This is a well used, well worn and well loved copy of Traveller complete with sellotape patching.

The first RPG I purchased was Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu which I spent my birthday money on in a little shop in the Arcades in Chester when I was eleven years old. I also picked up copies of the collected Lovecraft that Penguin had issued around the same time. I think I got those through WH Smiths back in the day when it was still a decent bookseller.

I didn’t want to buy Call of Cthulhu. I wanted either the D&D set I had seen at the local toy and gift shop (“Rainbow” in Holmes Chapel) or a copy of Starter Edition Traveller. My passion for these had come from reading
What is Dungeons & Dragons? (by Butterfield, etc.), especially the split text walk through of the Shrine of Kollchap dungeon included in the book. However, Rainbow had sold its copy, and the shop in Chester only had Call of Cthulhu, which kind of set me on my course.

As an aside, my mother tells me I was very cross that the copy of D&D had sold, and she had to keep a straight face as she had bought it for my aunt to give me as a Christmas present.

We played Cthulhu a lot around 1983, and I enjoyed it a lot. However, by the time the 3rd edition hardback book shipped, I was bored by it. You couldn’t get the same fear and terror, because everyone else had bought and read the rules. So I put it aside for some quite some time.

#RPGaDay - 2. First RPG Gamemastered

Call of Cthulhu 2nd Ed
Here it is, my original boxed set.

The first RPG I Gamesmastered was 2nd Edition Call of Cthulhu, using the UK boxed set version printed by Games Workshop. From recollection, the first scenario was The Haunted House which is part of the core rules and pretty much a classic. I can’t remember if I played it with my friends Mandy, Louise and James who lived across the road, or if I first ran it at school. If it was the former, then I can remember it all going horribly wrong in the sense that the characters pretty much went mad or got killed.

This scenario was also the one that I tried with my father when away in France Eurocamping. He took a very direct approach and blew up the haunted house, figuring that as the contract with the landlord of the house was to resolve this issues then that met the needs. I much later found out that my dad didn’t really like the horror genre at all.

I would have run Basic D&D first, but when I went to buy that, it had disappeared from the local toy and gift shop so I ended up consoling myself with a copy of Steve Jackson’s Ogre Microgame. Ogre has remained a game I love, and I recently took part in the Kickstarter 6th Edition release. This arrived
when I was away in Hamburg and was so big that it was a struggle for Jill, Nathan and Aidan to lift between them!

#RPGaDay - 1. First RPG Played

Basic dnd
My first copy of D&D - Holmes Basic - picture found on internet as I no longer have it.

The first RPG that I played, as opposed to ran (I was a Games Master before I ever played) was Basic D&D. If I remember, it was the
Red Box version that was compatible with the Expert and Companion rules that were released later. My friend Ged was the DM, and we started with B4 The Lost City, a classic adventure set in a pyramid. I don’t remember a whole lot except kicking open doors, throwing in ceramic flasks of lamp oil followed by a flaming torch if we saw something that looked too dangerous, and getting hopelessly lost. I’m not sure if we ever completed the adventure or died horribly.

We played at lunch time at secondary school, a Catholic Comprehensive in Cheshire, and the RPG club we had was sponsored by our RE teacher, of all people. She was a young teacher who had recently qualified, and the idea of gaming wasn/t anathema to her as she had come across it before. She let me form an official club and use her classroom every lunch time. I’ve lost touch with most of the gamers from that time with the exception of Mike S and Mark H who I keep touch with distantly through Facebook. Happy days.

----
If you want to see the genesis of #RPGaDay, take a look at http://autocratik.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/rpgaday-in-august.html
These entries will be cleaned up versions of my posts on Facebook.