Tag Archives: Roleplaying

RPGaDAY 2016- Day 27, Most unusual circumstance or location in which you’ve gamed.


I’m a pretty organised chap, I don’t tend to break out the dice and character sheets in random places and settle down for a quick game so I guess the strangest place I’ve ever played was in a field during a break in a LARP session.

I’ve run many a game on short notice, i’ve had players leave to go to concerts only to come back and carry on playing when it was over. I’ve gone out and bought adventures to read that afternoon and start running immediately but it’s always been in a home, at a table or sat around on the floor.

I guess that makes me pretty boring  but I prefer to be prepared rather than just pull out some dice and make something up on the fly.

RPGaDay 2016- Day 26, What hobbies go well with RPGs?


Wow, so many hobbies go well with RPGs. Let’s start with the obvious one, wargaming. RPGs have their roots in wargaming and the two share a whole lot of characteristics, especially combat heavy RPGs.  Plus you can use your pretty wargames mini’s in your RPGs if you are so inclined.

Next, boardgames. My first exposure to anything related to RPG’s was the Heroquest boardgame by MB and GW and it really kindled a life long love of fantasy that grew into an obsession with RPGs. Nowadays boardgames have entered a bit of a golden age with dozens of new games coming out each month, many with strong RPG elements, games like Dead of Winter, Imperial Assault and T.I.M.E. Stories.

Third up, reading. I’d argue you couldn’t really enjoy RPGs without enjoying reading to some degree, especially if you are running games. I have hundreds of thousands of pages of RPG material, more than i could read in my lifetime I feel, but that won’t stop me trying, or buying more.

Finally, and this is a bit of stretch because it technically is roleplaying, but LARPing. LARPing takes RPGs to the next level as you very literally play your character, complete with costume, weapons and more. It’s not for everyone but it is great fun.

There are so many more hobbies that work with RPGs, computer games, TV, Movies, Drinking (if playing Drinking Quest), and more, but those are the ones that jump out to me.

RPGaDAY 2016- Day 25, What makes a good character?


Generally, choosing a good alignment makes a good character. Sorry, it’s been a very long day and my brain is mush.

I tend to think that the most important element of a good character is playing something you really want to play and picking some elements for the character that you really identify with, either because it lets you play a favourite character from a TV show or book, or because the character has an agenda you strongly believe in.

It’s important to feel comfortable with your character and enjoy the elements that make them unique, if you have a personal hatred of violence then playing a bloodthirsty gladiator might not be for you. It’s about finding the nugget within the character that you can run with and use to make your character stand out.

RPGaDay 2016- Day 24, Game you are most likely to give to others?


Thats an open question if ever I heard one. I guess it comes down to what that means to me. For me a game I would give to someone else means a game I would suggest others to try and introduce them to the hobby.

For me then, there are two options and it would depend on the people. For the great majority of people, especially children or people in their teens I would suggest D&D, probably either 3.5 or 5th ed, more likely the latter nowadays. D&D is such an easy and manageable game to play to get into the hobby, it can be combat heavy if thats what people want (and it often is when they are new, because it’s easy to manage and understand), it has worlds to fit all tastes and everyone has at least heard of D&D.

For older people or people with more of a serious temperament, I’d use Call of Cthulhu. The advantage of Cthulhu is that it doesn’t require people to learn complex rules and it’s set in the real world, which gives people an easy basis for understanding the context of the game. Further, it relies far more on ideas than actions, especially in investigation heavy games, which is something many people would find easier than detailed rules governing combat.n


RPGaDay 2016- Day 23, One of my best ‘worst luck’ stories.


It’s not one of mine, as in one for my character, but it’s one that happened to a character in one of my games.

A few years back I thought it’d be really good fun to try and arrange a new gaming day, one that would be once a month or so, be a little more casual than my normal sessions and would allow me to try and run some of the many adventures and games that I’ve never really managed to get going. In this case I thought it’d be really good fun to run the epic Rod of Seven Parts.

Rod of Seven Parts Box Aer

Only one of my players had ever actually played 2nd ed AD&D before and I was insistent that it be run in 2nd ed since that was all part of the experience I was trying to convey. We made some 12th level characters and went straight into it.

The first couple of encounters went well enough, with everyone getting used to their characters and abilities before they reached the first proper dungeon. Just outside the dungeon is an encounter, a fairly low level one with some generic monsters who have set some traps for the party. The group attack them as expected and one of the party, the thief, played by my friend Alex, succumbed to a pit trap and fell, injuring his leg.

The rest of the party were engaged in combat and Alex set about climbing out. Just as he reached the top of the pit the monsters attacked again, pushing him back down and throwing pots of burning oil in on him, resulting in another failed save and his sudden, unexpected first death.

The rest of the party survived and we quickly decided that Alex’s thief had an identical twin brother who also happened to be a thief and was only  few minutes behind the party and, soon, they were on their way into the dungeon.

Well, the party decided that Alex should go first, being the thief, and check from traps, which he did and FAILED, resulting in another, yep, you guessed it, another failed save. This time a giant boulder slipped down from the ceiling and crushed him. Five minutes in game, two deaths.

Alex was a bit annoyed by this time and so he just declared he was playing the same character again, maybe it was a triplet, i can’t recall. Either way he basically carried on with the same character. He went forward, checked for traps, failed, rolled another save, failed, and was crushed by another identical trap 10 further feet down the corridor.

Three deaths with the same character inside of 10 minutes in game, he wasn’t a happy gamer. The session did continue and Alex rolled up a mage, and then basically cast invisibility and stayed invisible for the rest of the night, hiding in the corner of an room the party went into.

RPGaDay- 2016, Day 22 Supposedly random game events that keep recurring.

This one made me chuckle quite a lot when I read it and it reminds me of the late, great, Terry Pratchett quote from Mort-

 “Scientists have calculated that the chances of something so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one.

But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.”

It certainly seems to be an untold rule in RPGs, that those random and million to one shots come up a whole lot more often than they should.

My two best examples are with characters I’ve played (which makes a nice change). The first was my wizard, Sam, from my long running 3rd/3.5 D&D campaign. In that campaign Sam died a total of 3 times and we never actually had a priest, nor could we find one much of the time, so our only recourse when a character died was the druids reincarnate spell. Sam died twice in the campaign (I’ve covered the 3rd death on a different post) and both times he was reincarnated as a Pixie, requiring a very precise roll of something like 51 on a D100.

The other example is much more recent and relates to my current character in a Dark Heresy campaign, Lady Pandora. Recently we were reaching out to our contacts to try and obtain some equipment between missions, we’d been after a few pieces before but always seemed to come up short on the acquisition roll. On a whim, realising that Pandora actually needs very little else, I declared I was searching for a force sword, which required a roll of 001 on a D100, after the modifiers. I rolled and, low and behold, 001. The GM was surprised.

Next someone wanted to try and acquire some power armour and they failed their roll, I reached out to my contacts and rolled a 004, obtaining power armour. I don’t recall what the last item was, I think it was some form of gun and, again, we needed a 001 on that D100, another player rolled and failed, I rolled and got another 001. At that point I declared that I’d stop looking, having exhausted my contacts as it seemed to be getting a bit out of hand. However, the next week, we needed something else, it didn’t need a 001 but that’s what I rolled when I tried.

Rather amusingly I was a Rogue Trader I our last 40k RPG campaign and I collected Xenos weapons. I wanted to try and obtain an Elder Warp Spider Death Spinner and, again, required that supposedly elusive 001 roll and, against all odds, that’s exactly what I rolled.

As a final example there is a rather silly story involving one of my players. I don’t recall the specific scenario but he got it into his head to try and force a D20 into his ear (he was in his late 20’s at the time, which I feel is relevant here). He managed to hold it for a second before it rolled out and landed on a 20. They were in combat at the time, and since it was his turn I let him keep the roll and that meant rolling to confirm the critical (it was a D&D game) for which he tried to jam the dice back into his ear. Again it fell out and again it landed on a 20. Somewhat surprised I told him that if he could do it again and get another 20 I’d let him get and automatic killing blow on the enemy and, much to my surprise, that’s exactly what happened.
They say that it’s ‘random chance’ but I prefer to put it down to the fickle whims of the dice gods, as a great many players do. Those supposedly million to one chances happed all too frequently for it to be coincidence.

RPGaDay 2016- Day 20 Most challenging but system I have ever learned.


I’m not a huge fan of complex games systems, I’ve played a few and I tend to find that they get in the way of the game. As with a great many in the roleplaying community, I’ve moved towards a preference for rules light systems that favour flexibility over rigid details that cover every minor occurrence in a game.

In terms of games that I considered complex at the time, it’d be AD&D 2nd ed. It was the first rpg that I properly played, the first I ran, the first I learnt and given that I was in my early teens at the time, it was a pretty damn complex game but it was also the game that set me on the path i’m on today, decades later.

For games that at truly complex, maybe Shadowrun, 3rd is probably the most complicated i’ve ever gotten properly to grips with. Shadowrun is one of those systems that has rules that cover everything, including the infamous chunky salsa rule for rebounding shockwaves from explosions. If you ever want an interesting challenge, check out the various rules for building and creating your own cyberdeck and programs in Virtual Realities 2.0.

The most complex i’ve read and tried to get to grips wth is Alpha Omega. That game has something like 12 modifiers that apply to EVERY SINGLE COMBAT ROLL, including, attacker’s stance (lying down, crawling, crouching ducking, standing), defender’s stance, attacker’s movement speed, defender’s movement speed, relative distance between attacker and defender, cover, concealment, lighting, distance between attacker and defender and more. That’s all before you get to monstrosity that is it’s magic system.


RPGaDay- 2016 Day 19, Best way to learn a new game?


The best way to learn a new game kind of depends on whether you are running a game or playing it, there is some overlap, but there is a much greater onus on the person running the game than those playing it.

Starting with playing, I honestly believe you can just show up and have the DM walk you through the game, starting at CharGen and working through to a very simple adventure that highlights the key components of the game, usually combat, exploration, social interaction and skill challenges.

Personally, as a player I like to get  copy of the rules of any game i’m going to play, ahead of time, so I can familiarise myself with CharGen and the rules that are likely to be applicable to the type of character I want to play.

As a DM I think the job is harder. The job of the DM is to learn pretty much all of the general rules of the game and be able to walk the players through the system. Thats not to say that the DM need know all the rules straight away (if ever really) but they should know all of the basics so the game can run reasonably smoothly and then they should note down any additional questions to check between sessions. In most cases, between those first few sessions, the DM will likely have a fairly long list of questions but as the campaign develops it should dwindle to nothing.

Personally, I also like to get a pre-written adventure when I’m learning the game, one written by the games designer preferably. This lets me understand how the game is intended to be run and played and helps me understand how to create my own stories within the framework of the game. I know a lot of people frown upon pre-written adventures but they are something that I find to be a great resource, even if I never run them.

At the end of the day, learning a game can be a painful process, especially if it’s a complex system, like Shadowrun or Alpha Omega, but as long as everyone is on the same page, forgives mistakes and are willing to adapt to week by week changes in how the rules are interpreted until things get settled, then it can be a very rewarding and exciting change from the norm.

RPGaDay 2016- Day 16, Historical person you’d like in your group? What game?


I’m going to be very unoriginal here, I don’t think I’d like to play with any historical person of note, I can’t see what Tesla or Gandhi or anyone could bring to the table that would interest me. Thats not to say I wouldn’t like to meet these people, I’m just not sure what they’d add to a game, boring I know.

So, if I could game with any historical person it’d be Gary Gygax and, unsurprisingly, it’d be D&D. Why? Honestly I’d love to know where the game came from, I’d love to experience what his group did back in the 70’s when roleplaying was in it’s infancy.

See, I told you it wasn’t going to be original.

RPGaDay- 2016 Day 15, Best source of inspiration for RPGs?

It used to be books, I am, or more accurately was, a voracious reader and since I’d read a significant amount of literature set in the games that I wanted to run or play in then I could use that to my own ends. That’s changed though, I have significantly less free time and so when I’m running a game virtually all of my reading time is usually devoted to the rules and adventure, as opposed to wider reading. I still use books as inspiration and I still recommend certain novels to people who want to play certain games, 2XS and House of the Sun for Shadowrun, The Chronicles and Legends for Dragonlance, At the Mountains of Madness and The Dunwich Horror for Cthulhu and many others.

For me, nowadays, it’s TV, far more than even movies (though I saw a whole lot of Numenera in Guardians of the Galaxy). TV has advanced to such a state that it’s held almost in the same regard as film, actors don’t see it as a step down if the show is right (say like True Detective) and networks pump massive amounts of money into shows with Game of Thrones reportedly costing $6 million per episode and Walking Dead around $3 million. Plus, with the rise of traditionally fantasy and sci fi genres in the mainstream, like the aforementioned Game of Thrones and Walking Dead, plus the surge in popularity of Comic Book movies, more subjects that would traditionally be too niche for the mass market are being greenlit.

This means I can find great, hard edged sci fi, like in The Expanse, or fantasy like Shannara or Game of Thrones, it means that I can see settings and themes I love treated seriously and with respect and that helps me form ideas in my head how I want to run games or what kind of character I want to play. If I want to understand how close nit a criminal organisation might be then shows like The Sopranos can help me, if I want to understand gangs then Sons of Anarchy, the Shield and the Wire all give me different perspectives on different types. If I want source material for Deadlands then I need look no further than H*** on Wheels or Deadwood.

I’ve even found inspiration for games like Call of Cthulhu in TV shows recently, with Season 1 of True Detective essentially being about a worshiper of Hastur and with more supernatural shows like Sleepy Hollow essentially being a mash up between Cthulhu NOW and he forthcoming Pulp Cthulhu. H***, Hunter the Vigil is literally embodied in the TV show Supernatural in everything except name and all this is before I start looking into lower budget shows like Dark Matter and Killjoys that make perfect inspiration for Traveller, Firefly (which has its own show anyway) or anything in a space operah setting.

Inspiration for RPGs can come from anywhere but, today, I find it most prevalent in TV as the world embraces geekdom, as ComiCon becomes a mass market spectacle and people tune in every week to find out what an orphaned girl with 3 pet dragons might do next.