Monthly One-Off Recap: Pendragon!

KAP+Pendragon+5.1Every month, I or a guest GM, run a “one-off” for any one who wants to come.

It’s always a pre-determined game, set several months in advance, and we use it to teach, learn or try games, we’d not play normally, either due to interest, trepidation or others. It’s sort of a time we cut loose, just play an RPG, and enjoy company with out the structure or stricture of a full campaign (which we love, but a break is nice).

This month, we played King Arthur Pendragon, the 5.1 edition from Nocturnal Media. Only one of our players had played before, so it was a new experience for the rest of the guests.

I’ll recap: the reason I chose Pendragon was two-fold. First off, Pendragon is my all-time favorite roleplaying game. Bar none. I consider the mechanics, setting, roleplaying, and theme perfectly melded into the perfect game. As an RPG designer, it had more influence on me than any other game. I can’t talk about it enough, or rave about it enough to anyone who will listen (and often those who won’t). kap2

Secondly, due to my constant raving, talking, and musing on Pendragon, several of my players from my various groups who had never tried it, wanted to try it.

So we sat down, and I walked them through the base character creation in the core book. I was using the new Great Pendragon Campaign expansion of 480 – 484 that recently came out with The Book of Uther (review here), and set it in that time frame. KAPBookofUther

Character creation was a blast. The explanation of Traits (internal personality and emotional drivers) and Passions (external attachments and drivers) instantly fired the new players, and made visualizing their knightly character much easier for them. The skills, the family history, and the land ownership instantly invested them in the setting and the game, and made everyone much more involved that I usually see in a one-off.

That took about an hour to get everyone through, we determined their land, and got them started on their quest.

It was a brief adventure, involving brigands who were holding a small ford used for trading, newly knighted characters with something to prove, and a scheming manor lord out for more power and authority.

We did the Winter Phase (despite the one-off nature), because I wanted the players to experience the phase I consider the most fun in the game, and the aspect I enjoy the most, namely manor management. all the players but one successfully had children, and the odd one out lost his wife and child during the winter phase, and there was mourning throughout the land.

There was excellent roleplay all around, some great rolls, some terrible rolls, inflamed passions (in characters, not players), revenge, and honor. The game felt instantly captivating to me, and after the game, we had a recap, and the reviews were unanimously positive regarding the mechanics, setting, and ideas behind Pendragon.

(Highly Biased) Grade:

  • Mechanics: A+
  • Setting: A
  • Accessibility: A+
  • Replayability: A

I think I might be able to reboot my Great Pendragon Campaign shortly if I can keep selling the game like this. Of course, the game makes it easy to sell, due to it’s excellent and awesome nature.

Overall, a resounding success.

RPG Review: Angakkuit from AbstractNova

166565-thumb140.jpgAlright. It’s time to review another RPG! This time, it’s Angakkuit, the RPG of Inuit myth and legend from AbstractNova

As a disclaimer: I was granted a free PDF of this RPG to review.


1.) Size and Production Quality 

Angakkuit is a smaller RPG, clocking in at 72 full-color pages. The book is 8 by 11, well laid out (truly, it was a gift of layout, so easy to read), and concisely written. No complaints, and I think the price point lands just about right.

10/10


2.) Art

I’m a reasonable guy, and as a guy who’s worked in RPGs and games, I understand art is expensive. But I also know it’s not something you skimp on. The art in Angakkuit is great, but exceptionally sparse. There’s maybe a half-dozen to a dozen pieces in the whole book. That wasn’t nearly enough for me, and I could have used more to understand the setting.

5/10


3.) Content and Rules

So, Angakkuit uses a deck of cards for resolution. It has a mechanic, where based on your skill, what certain cards mean for your success. It’s not too hard to understand, although a bit hard to keep track of.

The mechanics are…workmanlike, in that they service the needs of the game, but certainly aren’t terribly evocative or latched into the game setting.

The bits of setting fluff were great, and really did an excellent job educating me regarding a culture and mythos I’m not personally familiar with. It was enough to inspire extra reading and research and I found everything I read interesting and new. It was a good feeling, and well presented.

7/10


4.) Game Master Section

The GM section is essential in this game, and they sell it well. It covers a myriad of topics, from character death, how to use dreams as storytelling, monsters to fight, and what sort of adventures to run. There were a few parts that either were too short, or too long, or didn’t present all the information you’d think you’d want. Overall though, well done.

7/10


5.) Pre-made Adventure

The premade adventure conveys the themes and elements of the game in an excellent manner, and is concise but still interesting. They divide it into several “scenes” and they flow naturally from one to another. Very well done.

10/10


Total Score: 39/50

I love RPGs that explore cultures, mythos, settings or worlds unfamiliar to me. I love learning, and I love learning through a game (even though it’s never accurate, it works for me). Angakkuit hits all those notes for, with it’s carefully attention to detaiul, setting and theme. Hence the high score.

I’m unsure I’ll run it with it’s base mechanics again, but I can easily see myself adapting it to Savage Worlds (my favorite generic system).

Angakkuit is a game I’m happy to have in my PDF library, and I’ll be picking up an extra copy in PoD from DriveThruRPG very soon to put on my physical shelf. I’d recommend it to anyone.

 

New Update! Tiny Galaxies!

Shiny new update regarding my next project! Tiny Galaxies!

You can find out more HERE, and see the cover art/logo, and a piece of art from the interior of the game!

You can expect more regular updates as we get closer to the Kickstarter.

RPG Retrospective: Dark Ages: Vampire from White Wolf Publishing

2676This is the first post in a series of post I’m titled (unimaginatively) “RPG Retrospective”. I’m a fairly young guy when you compare my age to the history and length of RPGs (I’m less than 30, where as oD&D was published in 1974), which means I’ve really only been playing RPGs for about 15 of the 41 years they’ve been around.

The goal of these posts is for me to dive into historical RPGs (ie. ones that I never played or missed due to age/etc), and try to understand and study them. I’ve played some of ’em, and I will play more of ’em, but I’m gonna start with the one I’ve ran the most, Dark Ages: Vampire.


 

So, my first true exposure to the World of Darkness was the “new” World of Darkness game Vampire: The Requiem, and I was exposed to it through a friend who wanted to run Mage: The Awakening. I was 18, impressionable, away from home at college for the first time, and V:tR scratched an itch I didn’t even know I had. It was a pretty great time for me. About a year later, a co-worker was offloading a bunch of RPGs they didn’t play anymore, and offered them to me for a great deal.

The copy of Dark Ages was shrink-wrapped, and I didn’t get a chance to play it until my friends Jeremy and Ken convinced me to open it late one night at Dragon’s Keep and run it (having never read any oWoD materials). We made characters and started playing at like 10 pm, and come 4 am, we were still going strong on our first session (with me learning the rules as I went). I fell in love.

That campaign ran for a bit, traversing 1100’s Europe until we invited some new players who wanted in, and the game sorta…fell apart. In a giant flaming cluster of a mess frankly. I wasn’t GM capable for that game.


 

Dark Ages: Vampire deals with the medieval machinations of 11 clans of Vampires in Europe, North Africa, the Holy Land, and Eastern Russia/Europe. It’s dark, and gothic, and a product that stands on it’s own, in the best way.

The ruleset is dated. There are poorly written points, and unbalanced mechanics (screw celerity), and the fiction is dark and deliberate throughout the book.

It’s a White Wolf production through and through, and it shows. However, I love it. I wouldn’t change a damn thing (except Celerity, ugh), and I’d run it again in a heartbeat. Dark Ages: Vampire and by extension games inspired/similar to it were a huge inspiration to me in my design, and I didn’t realize it until almost 8 years later.

8 years. Wow.

I consider Dark Ages: Vampire the pinnacle of White Wolf gaming for me, and I intend to pick up the 20th Anniversary Edition (which somehow I missed?) as soon as possible and get down to gaming with it again.