Surprise, it’s not the normal Level One Wonk this time, though I am gladly ripping off his format. At the start of the month, nominations for the ENnie awards were released. The nominations present a wonderful resource for GMs and gamers, and similarly for game reviewers. It had turned out that a number of nominations were games that we had written about in the past, but there were plenty more for us to study as well. In particular, there was one category that interested me: Best Free Game. Occasionally, players and GMs run on tight finances but still require their gaming fix. SRDs are plenty helpful, but sometimes you want to try something a bit different. A number of these games are more demos or skins for games that stop early than full, completely ready out of the box systems, but it is enough to get started, and to see if you enjoy the product enough to buy the full version . . . or creative players and GMs might be able to push it beyond expectations. These are only cursory reviews, and if something interests you, I fully recommend checking them out. They are, after all, free.
Now, we rejoin the adventures of the Albatross crew!
The smoke from the hookah lounge downtown swims through the place, heavy and sweet. At a back lounge sits a bald man with a gold hoop earing who knows just what you need to do to get what you want…if are able to ignore the literal fire flickering in his eyes. In the Industrial District’s meatpacking plant, a grizzled old timer working the graveyard shift wonders how life passed him by, noting with some curiosity how his skin didn’t break on that saw, when he slipped and ponders why all the leftover animal parts always seem to vanish when he takes a nap on the job…and why he just gets hungrier whenever that happens. In the financial district there is a business guru who, despite his age, always seems to be in exceptional vigor and with an improbable knack for turning seemingly useless investments into gold…and nobody seems to know how long he’s been here? It’s like he’s practically immortal. But lots of strange things happen in The City. Once its inhabitants were wide eyed and agape, but now they’ve seen it all…or so they like to think.
I have previously written about my interest in the Traveller setting, more specifically the Pirates of Drinax as a Beta Campaign, and over the past few months I have actually managed to get it off the ground! I am a more inexperienced GM, and this campaign has marked the first time I have gotten a campaign to two whole sessions! As such, I’ll keep up the tradition of our other CH GM’s and offer a bit of a “Lessons Learned” post-mortem.
Back a decade ago, in 2008, I was fascinated by Code Geass, a mecha and fantasy anime series. While looking around I found a forum with people creating their own stories, imagining themselves on different sides of the conflict and imagining their own strategies. I had seen roleplaying threads on other internet forums, but this was something different: an entire board, devoted to making a game to be played. Rules were pretty much non-existent, other than the admins and mods making pointed suggestions, and rewarding players who played out uncomfortable or losing scenarios or roleplayed richly. There were no game mechanics. But I had found my first Play by Post. For me, the roleplaying and storytelling aspect of gaming was the best part and it was often overlooked at my school’s gaming club and the few sessions with friends. This was all about the story, and through that I met two of the people I game with now. As a note, driving out of state to the house of someone you’ve only known online, and not telling people where you are going might not be the safest idea, but it’s how I met a really cool group of people.
This week in the vault, we are going to reach for something a little…different. In fact, you could say it is EFFIN’ EPIC. OH YEAHHHHHH! There has been recurring jokes in many campaigns that I’ve been in, certain over the top scenes deserve to be airbrushed on the side of whatever transport we have that counts as a van. (Once game had a space Winnebago, so let’s not judge). So when I say that Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards is over the top, I mean that playing 80s metal over your play would be a thematic decision which would work. This is a game that found the top, and magically kicked its ass so hard it saw the curvature of the Earth. As the game phrases itself in its own rulebook, it is about “Ball Rocking Magic” and it crams every bit of over the top, Rule of Cool justification to cover its play.
A hush falls over Megapolis City. Citizen Dawn stands from atop his platform, looking over the destruction that her minions have wrought. “I am burdened with a great purpose.” Her voice, though not raised, seems to echo in the dead silence of the normally bustling street. “The bright lure of freedom has led you away from the joy of service. Service to people like me. I am here to correct that mistake.”
Splash Page: “Not if we have anything to say about it!” *The Freedom Five burst into frame* “Let’s go team!”
Based on the popular fixed-deck card game Sentinels of the Multiverse by Greater Than Games, Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game takes you inside the capes of its heroes, pitting them against various dangers and threats which plague the city. Players take up the mantles of very familiar sounding superheroes, combining the backstory from the card games with fresh RPG mechanics and greater narrative freedom. The Starter Kit provides a copy of the rule book, six characters to choose from, and a number of missions, enough to get a campaign of your adventures in Megapolis City going.
Raid the dungeon. Take the treasure. Don’t get killed by the dragon. Backstab your buddies? This might sound like a standard Dungeons and Dragon campaign (maybe not the backstab your buddy part), but it is one way to summarize Clank!: A Deck Building Adventure by Renegade Game Studios. Rather than picking up a character sheet and some dice, Clank! instead operates as a combination of a deck building game (such as Ascension or the DC Comics card game) and a more standard board game.
Welcome back prospective GMs! Last week, we started off intrigue and mystery in the City of Brotherly Love using Dresden Files Accelerated from Evil Hat Productions. In Break & Enter, the players discovered a Fomor burglary ring attempting to steal a mysterious document from a wealthy collector. In Group Texts a missing researcher found himself seized by a spirit beyond his control, looking to tap into a well of power.
I also encouraged GMs to take some time with Case Files of their own in order to address plot elements brought in with the players. While this isn’t necessary, it does help people flesh out their characters. However, if you are feeling anxious and want to get right into the action, we will bring this plot arc to a head with Raising Cain and Court Summons.
Welcome back prospective players and GMs! Last week we took a crash course to learn about a slew of the movers and shakers of Supernatural Philadelphia for a Dresden Files Accelerated campaign, and some advice about aspects for the city. Now, we’ll start with some Case Files for GMs to use for their players. These, quite obviously, contain spoilers, but a clever GM can have ways to use that to their advantage if they discover that players are planning things to go exactly to script.