#RPGaDAY 2015 Day 21, Favourite RPG Setting

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This is another tough one, after 20+ years of gaming I’ve gained huge amount of love and respect for a number of settings, for different reasons and what my favourite varies based on my mood and whatever I’m running/planning at the time. I can narrow it down to 3 and that’s where I get stuck-

  • Planescape
  • Shadowrun
  • Dragonlance

Looking at Planescape, that was the first setting I collected to any great degree and remains a firm favourite to this day. I think Sigil is a fascinating place and is literally full of possibilities, absolutely endless possibilities.  I like the fact that you can do anything in Planescape, send PC’s to any setting, use any enemy and we’ve stories on a scale that can’t be managed on the Prime Material Plane. Additionally I love the art work and style of Planescape with it’s almost Victorian London feel and it’s rough, jagged lines.

Shadowrun is different, where Planescape is vast and endless, Shadowrun is immensely detailed on a very small scale. As I’ve mentioned before, Shadowrun is probably the single most detailed setting I’ve ever read or played, with fans of the world being able to follow and debate political careers and campaigns and chart the rise and fall of Megacorporations. Shadowrun presents itself as a living world, evidenced by the way the sourcebooks are written in game, with commentary from Shadowland (and later Jackpoint) members who provide detail, rumours and background. Shadowrun works as a logical progression from the real world and evolves as a result of our own technological advancement and I appreciate that as it always feels futuristic.

However, at the end of it all, I’s probably say my favourite is Dragonlance, but it’s a close call. Dragonlance wins it out because it’s a setting I’ve loved and lived in since I was 9 years old. For the longest time I refused to even consider running it as an rpg setting, fearing that I couldn’t do it justice, but when I finally did run a party on Krynn I found that my love for the world helped me craft a deeper, more involved story. Dragonlance works because it doesn’t run like normal D&D, the lack of magic items, the absence of the cleric (in the War of the Lance era anyway), and the requirement that all mages take the Test means players need to think more about how to approach encounters.

Dragonlance is fantasy at it’s best and the fantasy that people want to play, it’s swords and sorcery, it’s romance and love, tragedy, elation, comradeship and more all rolled into a deep and interesting world.

 

Kihraxz Fighter Unboxing

Kihraxz Fighter Expansion , front of box

The Kihraxz Fighter is a small based ship expansion for the X-Wing Miniatures Game. It was released as part of Wave 7 of ships and forms part of the Scum and Villainy faction. Within the Star Wars universe the ship was designed specifically for the Black Sun Cartel, a criminal organisation with considerable resources and reach and the one that the Scum and Villainy faction of the game has drawn most of it’s inspiration from.

The ship comes packaged in the smaller of the small based ship blisters, this is worth distinguishing since FFG have introduced a larger blister for ships such as the StarViper, TIE Punisher and K-Wing. The ship is displayed top down, angled upwards giving you a good view of the paint scheme used on the ship, a paint scheme that roughly match that of the Scyk Interceptor from Wave 6. As normal the ship is housed in an inner blasted to keep it safe for transport (and this one was a tight fit, I had to pry the ship out) and the cards are housed behind the planet artwork in the background.

Kihraxz Fighter, Contents

The Kihraxz is the smallest expansion this wave and comes with the least number of overall components. Inside the pack you get-

  • 1 x Kihraxz Fighter ship
  • 1 x Small ship base and pegs
  • 1 x Kihraxz manoeuvre dial
  • 9 x Cards (split between Upgrade Cards and Pilot Cards).
  • 14 x Tokens (more on specifically what they are in a bit)

When it was first announced I wasn’t all that sure what I thought about the Kihraxz, it had a weird name (and I’m still not sure how to pronounce the name, I’m going with Ki-Raz) and it was dwarfed by the other ships in this Wave. Now I’ve got my hands on it, i’m quite impressed. The Kihraxz looks like a bit like an E-Wing on steroids, the downwards angled wings set towards the back of the ship. In addition to the standard cannons on the wings the Kihraxz also has large missile tubes mounted on either wind giving it a more beefed up and offensive look.

As I mentioned above the Kihraxz is painted with the same green and purple colour scheme as the Scyk from Wave 6. The purple is painted in a Y shape down the length of the ship and on to the wings, with the rest of being painted in the dark green. The cockpit, cannons, missile tubes and exhaust are painted grey and highlighted in black. The paintjob is actually fairly neat, mine doesn’t have any overspill between purple and green and the highlighting and washing is pretty well done and restrained.

Kihraxz Fighter, Pilot Cards

 

As standard for a small based ship you get 4 pilot cards in the Kihraxz Fighter expansion. These are split between 2 Generic and 2 Elite Pilots. In this pack you get-

  • Cartel Marauder
  • Black Sun Ace
  • Graz the Hunter
  • Talonbane Cobra

The art is pretty solid on these cards, I tend towards brighter and more action packed scenes and these cards don’t disappoint. My Favourite is probably the Graz the Hunter card, which show the Kihraxz in a hanger with steam rising from below it and making it generally look quite ominous.

Of the Pilot abilities you obviously have to mention Talonbane Cobra. He’s the first PS9 Pilot that Scum and Villainy have had, putting him in the esteemed company of Wedge Antilles, Baron Soontir Fel, Han Solo and Darth Vader. His Pilot ability is a strong one, doubling the range modifier when attacking or defending, potentially giving him a 5 dice attack and a 4 dice defence. I’m the wise scheme of things i’m not sure how useful this will turn out to be as the Kihraxz has not movement adjustment action but only time will tell.

Grax the Hunter’s ability looks like it will allow him to be used a little more recklessly, as he gets an additional defence die when defending if his attacker is within his arc. I could see this being fairly useful in the right circumstances, although without the ability to adjust movement this might also be quite situational and he’s really going to suffer to highly manoeuvrable ships such as the TIE Interceptor.

Kihraxz Fighter, Upgrade Cards

The Kihraxz fighter comes with 5 upgrade cards, one of which is unique to the set, while others are hard to come by. A complete list of upgrades is-

Elite

  • Crack Shot (Also available in the Hound’s Tooth Expansion)
  • Lightning Reflexes (Unique to this set)
  • Predator (Also available in the TIE Defender Expansion)

Missile

  • Homing Missile (Also available in the A-Wing and Slave 1 Expansions)

Illicit

  • Glitterstim (Also Available in the Hound’s Tooth expansion)

I’m not keen on the art on any of these cards, it’s just a little mundane and dull with nothing looking overly dynamic. Fortunately the art is the reason that I want the upgrades.Looking at what you get, obviously Predator is a great addition, it’s a solid Elite Pilot Talent and it’s nice to have a second source for it. I like both of the other Elite Pilot Talents, which are 1 point, 1 use upgrades that allow fairly useful bonuses that could change the course of a battle if used right. It’s nice to see other options in the 1 point Elite Pilot Talent slot that can give Veteran Instincts a run for their money.

I see Glitterstim being very useful for the Scum and Villainy faction. I like the Illicit slot in general and the fact that all of the upgrades that fall into it have some kind of a downside and generally feel pretty shady and underhanded to use, Glitterstim being no exception. In the wider Star Wars Lore Glitterstim is reported to provide a limited telepathic boost and that is replicated in the game by allowing a pilot to take a point of stress in exchange for changing all focus results, while attacking or defending, for hits or evades, for the the entire turn.

Kihraxz Fighter, Tokens

 

As you’d expect FFG gives you the standard pile of tokens with the Kihraxz Fighter-

  • 1 x Kihraxz Fighter Manoeuvre Dial
  • 2 x Ship Base Tokens (Double sided as Talonbane Cobra/Black Sun Ace and Graz the Hunter/Cartel Marauder)
  • 6 x Ship ID Tokens (3 each of numbers 46 and 47)
  • 2 x Target Lock Tokens (Double sided red and blue as QQ and RR)
  • 1 x Focus Token
  • 1 x Stress Token
  • 1 x Critical hit token
  • 1 x Shield Token

I think the Kihraxz is an interesting addition to the Scum faction and I think its a considerably more viable option than the Scyk. at 20 points for a naked PS2 Cartel Marauder you get 15 attack dice, 25 hit points and a fairly reasonable dial. The downside is the same as the X-wings and that’s that it doesn’t have any ability to readjust it’s movement, which is a real liability in the modern meta. That is made up for a little by the fact that you can get 5 in 100 points (compared to 4 Rookie Pilots with minimal upgrades) but since they just have the 1 Shield they’ll be pretty susceptible to critical hits and go down fast.

All that said, I think we’ll see the Kihraxz making a few lists, time will tell whether it is truly competitive, i’m not all that sure it is, but it’s a fun little ship and Scum players will value being able to get a PS9 Pilot for a change.

 

Hound’s Tooth Unboxing

Hound's Tooth, Boxed

The Hound’s Tooth is a large based ship expansion for the X-Wing Miniatures Game. It was released as part of the Wave 7 of releases and forms part of the Scum and Villainy faction for that game. The Hound’s Tooth is the personal ship of the bounty hunter Bossk and is a modified is a YV-666, created by the Corellian Engineering Corporation. The Hound’s Tooth is the first ship within the X-Wing game to be able to transport a second ship, the Nashtah Pup, which is a Z95 and was the Hound’s Tooth’s escape and scout vehicle.

The size and shape of Hound’s Tooth means that it has to be angled slightly oddly in the packaging but this also affords a good view of the ship. As always for large ships the ship is stored on the right hand side of the box, in an internal blister to keep it safe. The cards and tokens are stored on the right, out of sight as normal. My one criticism is that the scale feels off somewhat as the Hound’s Tooth is meant to house a Z95 inside it and there is absolutely no way that that could be the case without it taking up literally all of the available space inside.

Hound's Tooth, Contents

As a large based ship expansion the Hound’s Tooth comes loaded with content. In this set you get-

  • 1 x YV-666 (Hound’s Tooth) Large based ship expansion.
  • 1 x Large Ship Base and 2 pegs
  • 1 x YV-666 (Hound’s Tooth) Manoeuvre Dial
  • 1 x Nashtah Pup Manoeuvre Dial
  • 20 x Cards (split between Pilot Cards, Rule Cards and Upgrade Cards, more on these soon)
  • 21 x Tokens (more on which ones a little later)
  • 1 x Rule/Mission booklet

I really like the look of Hound’s Tooth, it’s blocky style and overall shape just really appeals to me in a way I can’t properly explain. A friend of mine attributes it to something he called the ‘aesthetic of ugly’ and thats just about the best explanation I’ve heard for it. it’s shape is a product of not needing to be aerodynamic and so it’s purely functional in design and I really like that about it.

The paint scheme is very different from anything else in the X-Wing range so far with the majority of the ship being painted a copper colour. It’s engines are  painted grey and spots of battle damage have been added over the whole of the ship to give it a more worn and battered look. Areas of worn red have been added around the manoeuvring fins, along the top and sides and around the bottom front. The painting isn’t particularly well done but it’s passable and with a little work it could be made to look great.

The Hound’s Tooth comes with 5 Pilot Cards, as opposed to the usual complement of 4, one of which is the Nashtah Pup, which works a little differently to normal so i’ll get to that in a second. The 4 Hound’s Tooth Pilot cards are split in the normal way for Large ships, with 3 Elite Pilots and 1 Generic.

Hound's Tooth Pilot Cards

The Pilots included in the set are-

  • Bossk
  • Moralo Eval
  • Latts Razzi
  • Trandoshan Slaver

The art on all of the ships depicts the Hound’s Tooth, which is a bit of a shame as I’d like a variant colour scheme to paint up as an alternate ship. None of the art is particularly bad but i don’t think it does the look of the ship justice really.

In terms of the Pilot abilities Bossk is the standout here, with the ability to swap a critical hit for 2 standard hits, effectively giving him the ability to always choose a direct hit critical. Load Bossk up with a Mangler Cannon and he can suddenly swap a single normal hit for a critical, which he can then turn back into 2 normal hits and that is quite a tasty attack. Eval and Razzi both have interesting abilities with Eval being able to use secondary weapons in both the YV-666’s auxiliary arcs and Razzi being able to spend locks to reduce an enemies agility when a friendly ship is attacking.

Nashtah Pup, Pilot Card

 

The last Pilot card is the Nashtah Pup. It’s basically a Z95 and it gets deployed when the Hound’s Tooth is destroyed. Not that this is specifically the Hound’s Tooth so your YV-666 needs to be loaded with the Hound’s Tooth Title for you to use it. It’s stats and dial are as per a generic Z95 with the ship gaining the PS and Ability of whichever Pilot you took for Hound’s Tooth.

Hound's Tooth, Upgrade Cards

The Hound’s Tooth YV-666 Expansion comes with 13 Upgrade cards, a couple of which are unique to this set and most of the others are only available in one other set. What you get is-

Title

  • Hound’s Tooth (Unique to this set)

Modifications

  • Manoeuvring Fins (Unique to this set)
  • 2 x Ion Projector (Unique to this set)
  • Engine Upgrade (Also available in the Millennium Falcon YT-1300 set)

Elite Pilot Talents

  • Stay on Target (Also available in Outrider YT-2400 set)
  • Lone Wolf (Also available in the Outrider YT-2400 set)
  • Crack Shot (Also available in the Kihraxz Fighter set)

Crew

  • Bossk (Unique to this set)
  • Outlaw Tech (Also available in the Most Wanted set)
  • K4 Security Droid (Also available in the Most Wanted set)

Cannon

  • Heavy Laser Cannon (Also available in the Slave-1, Lambda Class Shuttle and Outrider YT-2400 sets)

Illicit

  • Glitterstim (Also available in the Kihraxz Fighter set)

It’s a nice set of upgrades and while none of them are outstanding artistically, many are extremely useful in certain builds. It’s nice to see FFG finally put cards like Lone Wolf and Engine Upgrade into new sets as it means players have access to these valuable cards without having to buy multiples of other large based ships or buy into  faction that they aren’t interested in.

Hound's Tooth, Tokens

 

As expected FFG load up Hound’s Tooth with the usual pile of tokens to make sure you have everything you need to sue the ship. Inside this expansion you get-

  • 1 x YV-666 (Hound’s Tooth) Manoeuvre Dial
  • 1 x Z95 Headhunter (Nashtah Pup) Manoeuvre Dial
  • 2 x Large Based Ship Tokens (double sided as Bossk/Latts Razzi and Moralo Eval/Trandoshan Slaver)
  • 1 x Small Based Ship Token, Nashtah Pup
  • 6 x Shield Tokens
  • 1 x Focus Token
  • 1 x Stress Token
  • 4 x Critical Hit Token
  • 2 x Target Lock Tokens (double sided red and blue as letters PP and QQ)
  • 4 x Mission Tokens.

Noticeably absent from this pack are Ship ID tokens. It isn’t a concern as most players have a significant number of them already but it’s worth pointing that out.

The Hound’s Tooth expansion brings some interesting possibilities, first of all, at 29 points for the PS2 Slaver, you can fit 3 YV-666s. with some light upgrades or with a Z95 for support in 100. It wouldn’t be the strongest list but it’d be hard to take it down in a 60 minute turn with it 40 total Hit points. It’s paired auxiliary arcs, that give it a 180 degree firing arc to the front make it a hard ship to dodge and it’s only the 2nd ship that has the ability to perform a full stop action which allows it to make proper use of those arcs. To me the Hound’s Tooth has potential, nothing about it is groundbreaking or game changing but it has enough going for it that it’ll prove to be a tough nut for many lists to crack.

#RPGaDAY 2015 Day 20, Favourite Horror RPG

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As opposed to yesterdays Supers question, today is all about a genre I have played a fair amount or, Horror. Despite it not being my favourite genre overall, I’d say horror is the game I run best, probably because I think it’s the easiest to run well, but thats another story, and it’s one i’ve played off an on since my earliest days at the table.

Like most folk my age, my first introduction to horror RPG’s was through Vampire, The Masquerade. I started gaming during the 90’s at the height of the Anne Rice craze and everyone was obsessed with Vampires, not dumb twinkly Twilight vampires, but ancient, tear your throat out vampires and I was just the same. That first game of Vampire did not go well, the Storyteller didn’t really know what he was doing and we struggled to escape from the warehouse we started in, something about needing multiple 9’s on D10’s to open a door.

That didn’t stop me though, I bought Werewolf and tried to run that, without much more success than the Vampire ST, but it was a start and it wasn’t long after that I was introduced to what I consider to be the best Horror RPG, Call of Cthulhu.

My first Call of Cthulhu session, which was as a player, not a Keeper, pretty much set the bar for any session of Cthulhu I run. It was a simple investigation, just playing through The Haunting from the rule book, but the low lighting, the focus from the group and the Keeper and just the overall atmosphere just worked and by the end I was rocking back and forth in my chair muttering “This is not happening” over and over. In short, it was AWESOME.

I’ve played other horror games since, Vampire Dark Ages, Hunter the Vigil, Vampire the Requiem, Ravenloft and more but nothing has come close to Call of Cthulhu. I’ve also run several Cthulhu campaigns myself, including Masks of Nyarlathotep, Beyond the Mountains of Madness and Tatters of the King, with the latter being one of the finest campaigns, of any game, I’ve ever run.

#RPGaDay 2015 Day 19, Favourite Supers RPG

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This is probably the hardest of the entire challenge because, as far as I remember, I’ve played exactly 1 Supers RPG, ever. It was a Marvel game, quite possibly the classic TSR game, Marvel Super Heroes but I honestly can’t be sure. I don’t even really remember what happened all that well, I know Wolverine ran off and attacked something but that’s about all I recall.

If I was going to try a new Supers game I’d probably go for either Mutants and Masterminds, Marvel Heroic (mostly because it’s by Margaret Weis Productions and it’s powered by Cortex), or maybe something like Silver Age Sentinels.

Actually, it just leapt to mind, I do have a favourite, Spirit of the Century, it’s not a classic Supers game but the Centurion concept does kind of fit with the Super Hero theme. Spirit of the Century was my first foray into the FATE system and it’s a perfect system for a game about exceptional people doing absolutely extraordinary things. I love the early 20th century setting because any game that lets me put my uber villain on a zeppelin is going to be a winner and when that villain can have an intelligent gorilla in a suit as a heavy, then it might just be one of the best things ever.

 

#RPGaDAY 2015 Day 18, Favourite Sci-Fi RPG

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I tend towards fantasy settings more than sci-fi but, nonetheless, I own several of them, most significantly Shadowrun, but also pretty much all of FFG 40k RPG settings, Cthulhutech, Starblazer and a few others.

Ultimately my decision here is a pretty simple one, my favourite sci-fi game, bar none is Shadowrun. I’ve been playing Shadowrun since 2nd edition and I’m very proud of my 80% or so complete 1st-5th edition collection (it’s getting hard to find books i don’t own at prices i’ll pay).

I’ve actually been talking at length about Shadowrun today, discussing the things I don’t like about it and I think they bear mentioning before I tell you why it’s my favourite sci-fi game. All my issues come down to one simple thing, the system. The problem with Shadowrun is that it’s system is a little too crunchy for my group, combat takes a little too long and the game expects a level of familiarity with the system that my players aren’t able to commit to.

So what do I like? Simply put, the world. Shadowrun is by far the most complete world of any RPG setting i’ve played. Other systems might have more fluff in novels but Shadowrun has the most detail for a single world of setting i’ve ever owned and it’s all great. I like the fact that I can genuinely discuss the politics of Seattle, or the candidates for UCAS Presidency and I love the fact that it all matters and all links.

With respect to Catalyst, the current publishers, they have managed to pull the system in and come the closest to making decking work of anyone so far with the system in 5th edition. They’ve also managed to keen the timeline fresh interesting and relevant while also managing to still make it feel futuristic, which is hard with the rate of change in modern technology. It’s not really cyberpunk anymore, Shadowrun has moved onto the mirror shades era, with runners pursuing personal interests and doing runs for the payday, rather than sticking it to the man. When other cyberpunk games stagnated, Shadowrun thrived.

I like other games but little is as cohesive and well written as Shadowrun, few worlds are as evocative and alive and few seems as real. Reading the news every day I see something that reminds me of Shadowrun and it’s that closeness, that realism that draws me in and keeps me coming back.

RPGaDay 2015 Day 17, Favourite Fantasy RPG

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I’m trying to remember the different fantasy RPGs i’ve played. I don’t think it’s all that many, especially if you only could the whole of D&D as one. Off the top of my head its-

  • D&D in it’s myriad of forms and settings.
  • Stormbringer
  • WFRP (specifically 3rd ed)
  • Earthdawn
  • Numenera
  • Runequest

The question is an easy one to answer though, it’s D&D, it’s not just my favourite fantasy RPG, it’s my favourite RPG period.

Other fantasy games are fun but nothing quite achieves the same goal as D&D, especially when you take into account the various settings. If I want a horror setting I have Ravenloft, if I want low magic, Dragonlance, high fantasy noir, Eberron and for limitless possibilities I turn to Planescape.

I like other games, I love the setting of WFRP (pre End Times, I’m not sold on Age of Sigmar) with its black comedy and ever-present threat of falling to Chaos. I like Earthdawn for all it’s little nods and links to Shadowrun and I think my feelings about Numenera are pretty apparent but this point.

Runequest I enjoyed, no so much for the system or setting (in fact I could literally tell you nothing about the setting), but because of one particular character, Ralph the Goatherd. Ralph is one of may favourite all time characters, he was stupid, being barely more intelligent than the parties ogre who, in turn was barely more intelligent than his pet/lover bison named Fluffy. He adventured because he’d lost his goats (because the ogre ate them) and saved the world a couple of times by accident.

Unfortunately I think my experiences with Stormbringer (as detailed a little on day 16) soured me on the setting, despite being a fan of Moorcock and Elric of Melnibone.

RPGaDAY 2015 Day 16, Longest Session Played.

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It’s been years since I’ve player a really long session. sure i’ve tried to plan a few in recent years, all day play-tests of new systems or one off games to try and enjoy a particular adventure but it never seems to work, real life always get in the way now. Such is the curse of growing up.

Back when I was at uni, and before, long sessions were the norm for me, usually starting in the morning and heading long into the night. No-one had anything more important to do and everyone just wanted to enjoy the game.

Two sessions in particular spring to mind when i’m thinking of the longest sessions I’ve been involved in. One I played, one I ran, both D&D.

The first was when I was around 15 or 16 and it was a 3 man party back in 2nd ed AD&D. The game was very freeform, with the DM letting us make up very imaginative characters that stretched the rules somewhat. This was the same DM that ran Stormbringer and in the first session we stormed the planes, killed a god and became demi-gods so you get the idea as to how free form this was.

This particular DM liked evil characters and so we played an evil party, a dark Cleric, a sadistic Harlequin and an Anti-Paladin, which was me. I don’t remember the exact plot of the game, it doesn’t really matter anymore as the campaign wasn’t that memorable but what stood out was the length of the first session and a particular encounter.

That first session lasted hours, probably 18+ and i know we went from 1st to 9th level during it, pretty legitimately, despite the fact that were were a little overpowered. During the game we had one encounter when we were around level 4. We came upon a procession of good clerics and, being very very evil, we decided that they needed to die. We set up a pretty elaborate ambush and managed to drop a couple in the first round, determining that they were around level 7, before things started getting tough.

The combat lasted a little while and wound up with the leader of the clerics surrounded by a wall of holy fire, summoning elementals against us. I couldn’t breach the wall of flame, but I could fight off the elementals easily enough. We devised a plan that involved the Harlequin taking a run up, flipping off me, up into a tree, over the wall and down onto the cleric. This involved a pretty impressive set of tumbling rolls to accomplish but we tried nonetheless and the dice were rolled, a 20 for my throw, a 20 to flip into the tree, another 20 over the wall and a final 20 for the attack. I don’t recall the damage roll, it doesn’t matter, after that streak the DM ruled and instant decapitation and evil won the day.

The second game is a much shorter story. It was while I was at uni, during the 1st-22nd level campaign. It was early on in the campaign, still on my home-brew world though I don’t recall the actual adventure. My players had bugged me the day before, after finishing a session, to play again and I was happy to acquiesce.

We started in the morning, around 11am after everyone had woken up and played until early evening. At that point a couple of my players has a gig they had tickets to and so went out, the rest of us carried on. Sometime later those players came back, surprised we were still playing and sat back at the table, carrying on while others went to bed to, ‘sleep’. Again rest of us carried on and those players joined us again a while later. To this day I couldn’t guess what time we finished playing but I know the sun was coming up, so probably around 6am.

 

RPGaDAY 2015 Day 15, Longest Campaign Played

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If I count just campaigns physically played then it’s probably not that long. I played an 8 year old girl named Mina in a friends D&D campaign from 1st to 12th level, but that probably only lasted a year or so. Mina was awesome, having absolutely no direct combat abilities and relying purely on her abilities to buff other characters through inspirational abilities based on the Marshal class in 3.5.

Outside physical games them it’s probably the Galen Saga. This was played over an extended period of time, years in fact, on the message boards of the Secrets of Kargatane website before it shut down. In that game I played a clone of my namesake, Trebor Minntt, trapped and altered within the demi-plane of Ravenloft. The story followed the adventures of the Taverners, patrons of the Malodorous Goat Tavern in Vallaki, as they tried to protect and understand the truth behind the mysterious child Galen, who appeared on the taverns doorstep one day. It was purely play by post, no dice rolls, no DM, it was freeform and collaborative story telling at it’s best and it was amazing.

As I’ve said many times, I’m a DM far more than a player and the longest campaign I’ve ever run was probably the first one that I ran when i moved away to go to University. It was D&D 3rd edition (leading to 3.5)ran for 2-3 years, I don’t remember exactly, and that was playing at least twice per week for 6+ hours a time with many multi day sessions as part of it. It ran from 1st to 22nd level, give or take, and took the players from my homebrew world, to Ravenloft, to Planescape and finally back to my own world.

The plot of the campaign was complex, twisting and turning many times, but, basically, it saw the PC’s being played off between two Yugoloths, Anthraxus and Bubonix, and trying to prevent an Tanar’ri incursion of their home world. They played through Ravenloft’s Nightmare Lands and Castles Forlorn, and the Planescape modules Hellbound the Blood War, Dead Gods (including battling Orcus), Harbinger House, Doors to the Unknown and more besides.

I vastly prefer long campaigns, I think they allow for true character development and story options that shorter campaigns simply can’t achieve. Playing the same character for years makes them a part of you in a way that can’t be replicated in the course of a few months and it lets the DM tell an epic story.

I liken long campaigns to TV shows. Single episodes can be fun, but the story told over the course of the whole season is more interesting and when that links to develop the plot of the shows entire run then it becomes something special. Look at Buffy, it has great single episodes, like Hush, fantastic seasons, like season 3, but it’s when you take the whole journey, from season 1-7 and combine it that you feel like you’ve been on an epic journey with the characters. Thats the kind of story I like to tell and participate in.

RPGaDAY Day 14, Favourite RPG Accessory

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In anticipation of this one i’ve been looking at my collection and generally trying to think of what actually qualifies as an RPG accessory. Off the top of my head I can only think of  couple of things that would genuinely count as an accessory and not a sourcebook.

The first is the DM Screen. This is a quintessential RPG product that dates back to at least 1st ed AD&D and possibly longer. I own a great many screens, for a variety of different games, some good, some bad. A screen isn’t the must have item that it used to be, some games don’t have official screens and others don’t even require the DM to pick up a dice, let alone hide their rolls, but they are still an important tool for the DM, providing easy access to tables and lists that save watching time searching through rulebooks. I’m a big fan of the DM screen.

After that, what else is there? Well there are player handouts, but they tend to come as part of an adventure than a stand alone accessory. Call of Cthulhu has some of the best examples, with Beyond the Mountains of Madness having it’s own accessory pack of handouts and with every single pre-written adventure coming with pages of letters and clues for you to photocopy for use in game. Call of Cthulhu also has packs of forms with such things as birth and death certificates and Sanatarium Admission forms, all designed to add a little depth to your game. Few games make as good a use of the handout as Call of Cthulhu but, used right, is another great tool that came really help make a game.

Lastly, at least from my own collection and off the top of my head, there are audio accessories. I covered these in a little in my article on atmosphere in gaming, but here bear mentioning again. Of all the various accessories these are probably my favourites because, used right, they can transform a game. Planescapes Mimir in the Planers primer to the Outlands is one outstanding example, as is the Ravenloft adventure A Light in the Belfry. Others might not like them as much as I do but I think that they can change the tone of a game if they are employed correctly.

Also falling into this category are the excellent sounds effects and soundboard tools produced by Battlebards. To me anything that draws the players into the world further and helps them suspend disbelief is a good thing and adding an audio element to the game is  simple and effective way to do that.