LTUE Appearances and Schedule

I’ll be at LTUE again this year!

I go every year, as I love seeing my friends and hanging out down there. This year, I’m a special guest!

Let’s see what I’m on eh?

THURSDAY: 

9 to 9:50 AM – Spycraft! Sneaking where no one has snuck before!

1 to 1:50 PM – Rules & How to Write Them!

  • I’m moderating this panel, so I’ll be making sure to steer the conversation into productive and helpful advice on how to create rules!

FRIDAY: 

6 PM – Kaffeeklatsch: You can come hang out, have a drink with me, and ask me any sorta question you want! It’s a little more personal Q&A.

SATURDAY: 

4 to 4:50 PM – Alan Bahr Presentation: Games from Start to Finish

  • This one is great. It’s an hour-long Q&A about the process of getting a tabletop game out onto market, on time, on budget, and how to avoid those pitfalls.

That’s it for my panels, but I’ll be there all day. You can find me or grab me after a panel, and I’m exceptionally happy to sit down, chat and talk. I’ll also have a selection of Tiny Frontiers (including some of the Kickstarter LE), and Nocturnal Media products with me, if you have something you’re interested in!

 

Crazy End to a Crazy Year.

Wow. 2016 has been a pretty bonkers year as far as things go. Shall we recap?

1.) I ran my first Kickstarter  for a Gallant Knight Games product! (Tiny Frontiers!)

  • We delivered the PDF 5 months early, and the physical book 3 months early.
  • Reviews have been good! Especially for a first effort. Is it perfect? No, but I’m very proud of the quality of work our little team did on this game. It’ll only get better as the line expands…

2.) Speaking of which: We Kickstarted the first Tiny Frontiers expansion: Tiny Frontiers: Mecha & Monsters! Also…fairly crazy. That delivered TODAY to the Kickstarter Backers, the PDF being a month early. This one is full art, gorgeous, and 160 pages, 40 pages BIGGER than it’s sourcebook. And none of that increase is rules. Awesome.

  • TF:M&M will be on time. Which is great.
  • Reviews are super positive already. I’m over the moon. Again, our little team knocked it out of the park.

3.) Power Mage RPG. We launched and ran the Kickstarter for the Powder Mage RPG. We’re gonna be really rolling on that very soon, so we can get that out. Really exciting.

4.) The sale to Nocturnal Media.

  • Yeah. That happened today too.

What a 2016. If 2017 looks halfway like this, I don’t know what I’m going to do.

Just really grateful and lucky to be where I am today.

Top Ten RPGs of 2016

So, I’m doing a non-review of my favorite RPG products of the year. I don’t review RPG products anymore, but I can certainly tell you what I loved. This is simply my impressions and responses to products that have come out.

Consider these recommendations, but there are so many great RPGs out there. It was hard to choose the best of list, and there are many more I wish I could mention.


1051yd0i7mrxl-_sx380_bo1204203200_.) Volo’s Guide to Monsters

So, there was a small slew of Dungeons & Dragons 5e product this year (all of which is excellent), but Volo’s stood out. Volo’s is a book best described as luxurious. Entire page spreads dedicated to details about monsters, where they live, their cultures, and so much more.

It’s clearly a labor of love from game designers who love what they do, and want to share that with fans. Additionally, the addition of several new playable races to the D&D 5e ruleset is fantastic.

If you dig D&D, and you really wanna dive into monsters, this book is perfect.


horselordsofrohancovermockup-793x10249.) Horse-Lords of Rohan

First off, my love for The One Ring is entirely unabashed. I consider it a triumph in the RPG space, and one of the best made and most beautiful games I play and own. Cubicle 7 does a great job with the line, and I’m ecstatic with every release they do.

That being said, this book delivers the piece that was always missing, that of Rohan and the Rohirrim. I’ve been in love with the culture, vision, and style of Rohan since I read the books as a teen, and my single biggest complaint with TOR has always been the lack of playable cultures.

Well no more! This book is beautiful, full of maps, locations, stories, two new cultures to play, rules for mounted combat, and hits every button for me.


haiku-warrior-cover-scaled-downwithtagline38.) Haiku Warrior

Hm. Not really an RPG, but a card game. But it’s a card game that tells a RPG like story. Through Haiku. Pretty cool.

I demoed it at GenCon and loved it. I’ve got a copy on the way, and I can not wait to introduce it to my group. It’s fun, clever, and beautiful, marrying card game mechanics, roleplaying game fun, and clever design into a wonderful experience.

I can’t recommend this one enough.

 


7.) Weird War Iwwi_pg_cover-455x700

I’m a big Savage World fan and a big fan of their pseudo-historical Weird Wars game line. Weird War I is the perfect fit into the game line and expands to a perfect place.

The morally grey era of World War 1 is a stark contrast to the more black and white conflicts of World War 2. The use of various components (zeppelins, cavalry, melee weapons), puts the warfare here into a less familiar but very surreal place.

Battling a Zeppelin crewed by the living dead is a unique experience, and Weird Wars 1 delivers on those sorts of stories repeatedly and with the ease and elegance of the Savage Worlds ruleset.


keepercover6.) Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition

The return of Chaosium’s flagship roleplaying game is one of the best produced books of the year. The standard editions are gorgeous, full-color books (they even have ribbons!), and I adored the rules updates to the game.

They felt appropriate, streamlined, and pulled Call of Cthulhu into a more narrative space, while retaining the good horror elements.

It’s a great example of how an ongoing and evolving ruleset can stay true to the roots, without having to sit stagnant (You can see my review of Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition for another example of that).


unnamed5.) Polaris

I missed the Kickstarter on Polaris (due to already throwing piles of money at other projects), and waited to get it until it was out retail.

Well it is! And it’s a stunningly pretty book.

Seriously. For no other reason than you will own one of the prettiest RPGs made, you should buy this.

The ruleset is solid (it’s similar to Pendragon), and the setting is evocative and delicious. There’s so much to read and explore here. A purchase I would repeat in a heartbeat.


scarredlands4.) Scarred Lands Player Handbook 5e

Wow.

I think I found my new default setting for my 5th Edition games.

This book is a triumph on so many levels. The mechanical design is rock solid.

The art is top notch.

The graphic design is great.

The setting is evocative, dramatic, and intense, and the book serves as wonderful introduction to someone who has never experienced the Scarred Lands before. Right now I only have the PDF, but I’ll be getting the physical as soon as I can. Really regretting not Kickstarting this one.


rhune3.) Rhune

D&D 5e replaced Pathfinder for me a while ago, but this book constantly drives me to want to run Pathfinder. It’s a great production, and something about the setting really grabs me.

I love the new races, new classes, new abilities, and there’s so much in here that is so well done.

There’s something for everyone here (unless you hate awesome), and it’s just a great book. I’m glad I have this one on my shelf, even if I never run it.


174365-thumb140.jpg1.) A Single Moment

Ah. #1 on my list for the year, is a tie! Let’s go over the first one.

A Single Moment is a masterpiece. An RPG for two players, A Single Moment stands apart in a crowd of indie games due to the brilliant design behind it.

There’s a strong focus on theme and mechanics that support theme, while allowing for dramatic and personal storytelling.

The designer of this game will be one to watch for a long time to come.I just couldn’t place this game any lower than number one.


regular_cover_ryuutama1.) Ryuutama

Much like A Single MomentRyuutama is a force of RPG ingenuity and deserves the highest accolades. The focus on the journey as the best part of the game (both thematically and mechanically), and it’s JRPG design notes, while remaining fully in the tabletop RPG space all come together.

Ryuutama is a game I could wax poetical about for a long time to come. Instead I’ll say you should pick it up for yourself if you want to try it.


 

Free RPGs for Veterans Day!

Several RPG Creators are giving out free PDFs of games:


Attention, veterans! Your service to your country is greatly appreciated! We here at Kyoudai Games would like to offer our gratitude. Following the example of Alan Bahr at Gallant Knight Games, we’d like to offer a complimentary PDF of Thunderscape, either Pathfinder or Savage Worlds version, to any interested veteran. Contact shawncarman32@gmail.com for your download link!

Gallant Knight Games is giving away Tiny Frontiers for free to any veterans. Contact alan@gallantknightgames.com for a download link.

Moebius Adventures is giving away Mazes & Perils for free to any veterans. Contact fitz@moebiusadventures.com for a download link

Ad Astra Games will give away the $5 Squadron Strike starter kit. Contact design@adastragames.com for a download link.

Battlefield Press is giving away Kaiser’s Gate for free to any veterans. Contact thompsonjm@gmail.com for a download link!

Blue Moon Ink is givng away three issues of their D&D 3.5/3.X magazine!
Contact blue.moon.ink.press@gmail.com and they’ll sort you up.

Tobie Abed has joined us to give away “A Single Moment” a two player RPG about samurai duels! Contact tobito_abad@yahoo.com for a download link!


Thanks to all these wonderful companies for supporting our veterans!

 

Halloween Game 2016

It’s that time of the year! I ran my annual Halloween game.

This year, we did Science Fiction horror using the Savage Worlds rule-set, and played for about 4 hours.

I ran two separate games, with two different groups.

Highlight for me: The Asteroid Encounter. It went off even better than I expected.

Basic premise: Amnesic spacers wake up on their spaceship, and have to deal with finding equipment to repair their engine, while being harassed and attacked  by demonic entities!

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Alan Plugs (and sorta of reviews)

front-coverSo I’m breaking my normal “No Review” rules, because the creator of this game specifically came to me and asked me to review this game. (Note: I was given a free PDF of the game). If the publisher is ok with my reviewing it, and I feel it’s of interest to players out there, it’s probably a good thing to do!

I’m normally fairly critical of the OSR scene (Old School Renaissance) as I feel the projects from that school of thought don’t do enough to add back to the hobby (in a game design way). However, I was challenged to try and change my view, and I pride myself on being willing to defend and learn my viewpoints and change them as I learn more.

So here we go. Mazes and Perils Deluxe Edition!

What is Mazes and Perils Deluxe Edition? Well it’s the updated version of the Ennie award winning OSR game. That seems pretty cool. It’s “grit and wit” roleplaying (as the publisher calls it). Designed to harken back to old “Holmes” edition Dungeons and Dragons, it’s a pretty stripped down version of OSR.

But, there are some things about it I found very impressive.

  • Clarity of Purpose: A big thing for me when I get an RPG is clarity of purpose. I usually don’t want a game that tries to do all the genres or all the types of stories in that genre. Games that narrow their focus and try to deliver an experience with their rules are my sort of game (Pendragon being a notable example). Mazes and Perils does a great job of keeping the eye on the prize (the prize being OSR style roleplaying), and they jettison anything that gets in the way.

 

  • Easy to Read: An issue I’ve ran into with OSR games is that often times, they’re written to evoke the original style of Gygax, and…that just doesn’t work. We’ve moved a lot of the design space for RPGs into modern language, modern concepts, and sometimes, keeping the language and wording stuck in the 70s doesn’t work out. M&P doesn’t fall foul of that line. Aside from some noticeable exceptions, they modernize a lot of what’s going on in there, and take their time to explain the various pieces of the game.

 

  • Evocative Art: The art isn’t going to be award wining, but what it does, is evoke a particular feeling (that of early RPGs). It’s chosen with an eye towards theme and it clearly shows when you read the book.

But how does it play?

Actually, really well. I was impressed how quickly it was grasped by the players (none of whom had done OSR before). The death toll took a bit to adjust to, but they quickly came around, and suddenly there was a certain level of investment in the game and the setting.

It’s a game that shifted my views on OSR, and now I’m eager to go back and see if I can find other ones I like. It’s always pleasant to find your viewpoints challenged and grow a bit, and realize you were wrong.

So thanks to the Mazes and Perils team!

You can find their game on their website (linked above), or on DriveThruRPG!