Jun 212010

Looks like Fred Hicks and the Evil Hat crew have a hit on their hands with the Dresden Files RPG. I have to admit that I’m both a fan of Jim Butcher and the urban fantasy genre but at first I wasn’t too keen on the FATE system. I got over that.
This game was literally years in the making and there were times I was thinking that it just might be another fantasy heart breaker. It had taken so long to create that people were busy doing their own house ruled Dresden games with World of Darkness, Unisystem or Savage Worlds just to name a few.
There’s all sorts of buzz about the DFRPG and there are some pretty good discussions going on over at Jim Butcher’s forums. Folks are already tweaking the game for other poplar urban fantasy worlds or their own. And this is before Origins and before the dead tree version hits the shelves of your FLGS. I just see this game getting more popular.
The urban fantasy genre is still going strong and getting stronger. While I choose to ignore the whiny tween claptrap, shows like Being Human, True Blood and the recently premiered The Gates (the jury is still out on this one) seem to garnering fans. Buffy fans will always be, well, Buffy Fans (me included). And there’s just a whole boatload of fiction and graphic novels. So, this genre is still alive, well and growing.
With this climate White Wolf should be doing well. I speculate that they are but not quite the way they were in days gone by. If you’ve been a gamer for a while, you’ll remember how White Wolf stormed onto the scene out of nowhere. They brought a lot of new blood (OK, pun intended. I couldn’t resist) into the hobby. They stressed story over munchkin crunchy mechanics. And a lot people liked it. But they got scooped up by CCP and it seems most of their focus is on the sometime to be released (maybe 2011) World of Darkness MMO but I think that time line is doubtful since I couldn’t find any neat tidbits from E3. Looks like the guys doing Secret World are going to beat them to the urban fantasy MMO finish line. Then late last year, Ryan Dancy told us that White Wolf is just a “legacy business”. Yeah, White Wolf as a table top RPG publisher is pretty much staggering around mumbling, “Brains.”
Now enter the Dresden Files RPG. The rules are flexible and can be easily tweaked . You’ve got the building blocks to pretty much create whatever urban fantasy world that strikes your fancy. The system stresses story and narrative over “kill the monster and loot it” which is one of the things that drew so many people into the hobby back in the day of Vampire: The Masquerade. Despite the heft of the books, the system should be very easy for non-gamers to pick up quickly and easily. Evil Hat is easily in the position to assume White Wolf’s gothy crown. Of course, the only way to really make a product popular is with huge marketing and advertising budget neither of which I’m sure are available. The other is viral marketing. It might be a good time to reactivate the Bookstore Commandos at your FLGS.
I have no idea what plans if any Evil Hat has for the DFRPG. A few fans have mentioned some supplements to update the game to the most recent novels. Currently, there really aren’t plans for a Dresden SRD like the other FATE games. In my own fanboy deluded imagination, I think it’d be neat if they managed to continue the line in some manner .

RPG Survey Part II and Redux

 My Gaming Projects, RPG, Savage Worlds  Comments Off on RPG Survey Part II and Redux
Apr 122010

Well, ran into a few problems. Such as me being an idiot and not reading the complete terms. But never fear. Things will be well. I’ll be posting the results of the first survey later this week.
I don’t want it to be said that I don’t admit my mistakes or don’t act on constructive criticism. After some feedback, it sounds like folks are really interested in what others are playing. So in I put together another survey dealing more specifically with what people are playing, what they want to play and how often they do it. This time I used a different survey service so shouldn’t hit my free account quota so quickly. This is a different survey from the first so feel to take this one as well. I promise I won’t do another survey for at least three months.
So here it is the RPG Habits and Trends Survey. Remember I am not a professional survey writer. Thanks again and I’ll be posting the results later this month.

Apr 112010

Curiosity has gotten the better of me so I decided to create this little survey. It’s rather short (only ten questions). And I think might yield some interesting results about what folks feel about RPG blogs, third party publishers and the industry as whole. So please just about 30 seconds of your time take the survey. Feel free to pass on the link. The more responses I get the better the information shall be. Right now. I’m planning on running this survey for two weeks and then report back with the results.
Click here to take survey

Happy 2009 & A GM Resolution

 RPG, Savage Worlds  Comments Off on Happy 2009 & A GM Resolution
Jan 012009

A new year and a new campaign starting in about two weeks. Fun for all. But as most folks I looked back at the previous year’s accomplishments and failures.
I’ve had loads of fun playing in our Pathfinder campaign and the home brewed GURPS game. But I have to admit that a lot of my characters end up pretty much the same. However, I have to admit that I was disappointed with my Star Wars campaign. I was running Dawn of Defiance and things were going well at the start. But towards the end (especially after we got ahead of WOTC’s schedule), I feel like I started phoning it in. I didn’t put as much work into the adventures as I should have and I didn’t role play the NPC’s that much gusto.
So my GM resolution for 2009 is be to a better GM. Ham it up on the NPC’s. Write better adventures. Pay more attention to the quirks of the characters and make them a bigger part of the story. With the new Savage Worlds campaign starting, it’s my chance for a little personal redemption. Not to mention, this is going to be the first real chance for most of the group to play Savage Worlds. My hope is that they enjoy and at least have enough fondness for the system for us to have other Savage Worlds campaigns.
As a player, I’m going to play characters that different from my normal. Somehow, I always end up being sort of swashbuckling type. It doesn’t matter what game were playing, I do this. Yeah, I enjoy it but there is more and I know it. We’re also starting a new Vampire campaign. My character? He’s a nerdy Malkavian computer hacker and conspiracy nut. He’s knows a little about swords from what he’s learned at the Ren Faire. Guns, yeah, well, I think bullets come out this end. Something different but still fun.

Hunter: The Vigil Initial Thoughts

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Aug 262008

I got lucky and picked up the last copy of Hunter: The Vigil at my FLGS and I’m not disappointed.
The folks at White Wolf did a great job on this one. I know initially everyone was saying that there wasn’t a need for Hunter because the core book and its supplements focused around mortals but this book adds a few tricks to help even the playing field. First, Hunters are all about skills and merits. The two best mechanics are the Professions which give an extra free Skill Specialization plus a few additional benefits on the side. Then there’s Tactics. A simple Merit that grants the entire team various bonuses. Another great mechanic is the Practical Experience. This is pretty simple. It’s pretty much like normal XP but you can also burn to get that precious Willpower. And speaking of Willpower, Hunters also get the neat little trick of “Risking it All”. You burn the WP point, if things go well you get it back plus another but if you fail, you fail horribly.
It may sound like the above mentioned things are great but it gets better. They went ahead and did generic stats and abilities for monsters making it a stand alone product. So if you’re Vampire hunting, the GM doesn’t need to shell for the Vampire book. But (in my opinion) the very best thing they added was Tiers of Play. The designers at White Wolf realized that not everybody will play Hunter the same way, so there three Tiers. Tier One is just a lone cells fighting against the darkness. No special munchkin like tricks or special gadgets. Then there’s Tier Two. Compacts are loose organizations. The easiest example is the TV series Supernatural and the network of demon hunters (speaking of Demons, they added them as antagonists for Hunter). White Wolf even added a compact called The Union which is a network of blue color monster hunters just like Supernatural. Finally, Tier Three are the Conspiracies. These are the guys with nifty supernatural powers, massive amounts of wealth and nifty high tech gear. GM’s are free to make their campaign whatever Tier they want because the Tiers aren’t really hard wired into the game like the Orders in Mage or Clans in Vampire etc.
Overall, it’s good as a stand alone game for standard World of Darkness but it also has a tool kit approach to let groups make a campaigns at the power level they want. Definitely a good buy and a great addition to your WoD campaigns.

Monte Cook’s World of Darkness

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Aug 292007

Finally, the review that I promised last week. First this is one heft book. The basics are simple. It’s the 3.5 rules reworked into the World of Darkness. So the basic mechanics are pretty much well known and not very revolutionary (except for the magic but more on that later).
Let’s start with characters. Other than the basics, characters have a type and a focus. First, there’s Type. This is meat. Gone are classes. Instead you chose from Awakened, Mage, Vampire, Werewolf or Demon. You get all your neat supernatural tricks here. The one that merits the most examination is the Awakened. You’re basically a mortal. No nifty magical tricks but you did get tons of feats and massive skill points. You get a few other mostly defensive tricks and that’s about it. I’m not sure how well they’ll stack up against the supernatural types. In my opinion, they could use a few other tricks.
Now there’s focus. This probably the one thing that I really don’t like. Players can choose a focus at each level. They get a stat bonus and this defines what are class skills. Whenever the focus is changed the stat bonus is changed and class skills change. It just seems that this is too much bother and for a modern game I really don’t like the concept of class skills. It ain’t D&D, it just uses the same rules.
There some improvements on the feat front as well. First, the supernaturals get their special abilities similarly to feats. Every few levels, characters gain a new trick. Pretty cool and looks like it keeps thing pretty much balanced. I do like what was done with the usual feats like Armor Proficiency. No more light, medium and heavy. Just Armor Proficiency. And now there’s just Exotic Weapons Proficiency. There are,of course, the usual feats to give you those extra maneuvers in combat.
The magic system is the real gem of this baby. It’s the one thing that just about everyone is talking about. So the basic fuel for spells is called Components. Mages get a pile of these to fuel their spells. To cast a spell it is a simple Spellcraft check. The DC is equal to the number of Components in the spell. After a few spells, the Exhaustion Rating kicks in making it more difficult to cast spells. There are a whole slew of charts giving the Component costs for various effects. From that you make whatever spell you need on the fly. Pretty cool. It’s kind of complicated so it may bog down the game until folks get used to it.
Now, I’m not that crazy about the fluff. The whole post apocalyptic thing is a bit over done but it wouldn’t be difficult to port this to your own background or even use the core World of Darkness setting.
Overall, it’s pretty good. I think the best thing about it is that there’s finally a decent urban fantasy/horror game out there for d20 players.