After over a dozen years of playing tabletop RPGs and nearly as many systems, I got excited about a new game. I had played fantasy and sci-fi and supernatural and post-apocalyptic games, but here was one for my favorite genre, horror (the names and faces of the games have been withheld because this is not a review). The problem I ran into was that I couldn’t find anybody who wanted to run the damn game. Then one day my boyfriend suggested to me that *I* run it. Oh boy. So now I was a Game Master (GM). What exactly had I gotten myself into? Let me tell you a bit about some things I learned in my first forays into GMing. I promise you’ll make your own mistakes, but maybe you can at least avoid mine.
Welcome to this month’s edition of Kickstarter Wonk! As Kickstarter season has well and truly kicked off, it has become more clear to me that trying to write up every single new RPG project on Kickstarter is a fool’s errand. I have a day job, after all! Therefore, I have decided that Kickstarter Wonk will represent the Level One Wonk’s top ten RPG Kickstarters of the month. These are all new games, though some of them use existing rulesets. There were a ton of interesting supplements this month also, but that at least doubles the material to choose from and I have to draw the line somewhere! Like before, I’ve noted if I’ve funded the project already or have saved it to potentially fund later. Though I most likely will not fund all of these (my day job doesn’t pay *that* well), I believe that all of them are worthy of your consideration.
I’m on the lookout for games you can play with kids. Yes, my own is still measuring his age in weeks, and the nature of this sort of thing means that he’ll probably end up a football player or something and hew to the associated stereotype of not wanting anything to do with geeky things, but still. The instinct is there. Got to plan ahead. I thus found it very good fortune to find a game meant just for that landing in my To Be Reviewed inbox. Today The Independents are taking a look at a game built specifically with parents and their children in mind, a superhero world not quite our own, with Power Outage by Bebarce El-Tayib!
Style Over Substance. Attitude is Everything. Take it to the Edge. Break the Rules. I’m the Level One Wonk, and today we’re going to the hairy edge, the space between real and digital where high tech and low life mix into a dark future where it’s always raining and everyone wears their mirrorshades at night. That’s right, choombas, we’re going Cyberpunk.
A rookie Warden, a wizard assigned to protect the city against supernatural threats, receives his first assignment. The last known priestess of an ancient order devoted to fighting the unholy comes to terms with both her powers and with living with one foot in the old country and another in America. A changeling journalist seeks out stories to trade for protection, hoping to buy enough to keep her Fae mother at bay. A grad student, who is a member of a secret society at least as old as the United States, disguises his supernatural research as part of the studies for his degree. Meet the Party brings you ready-to-play characters, complete with backgrounds and relationships, for use both in your own games and as inspiration for creating characters of your own! This week, we have a group of supernatural investigators in the (possibly ironically named) City of Brotherly Love: Philadelphia!
DeGauss stepped off the bus and shouldered his backpack, another day at Halcyon City High School #5 behind him. The house he walked towards was a curious one, first of all because it looked more like three identical houses joined side-to-side. More curious was that one section looked brand new, a second was currently under construction, and a third looked like it would need repairs soon. Just as DeGauss reached the doorway a desktop computer was thrown through the bay window of the soon-to-need repairs section, followed by a torrent of sulfurous cursing, causing DeGauss to roll his eyes; it must be payday again at Collateral Damage Demo and Construction Co. The young man let himself in and started to make his way to his room when a sultry voice piped up: “Ah, young DeGauss. What did the establishment try to drill into your head at school today?”
So why does one play an RPG? Why do we live and die by the dice?
Some people love rules. Their hearts desire to crunch numbers, using and exploiting the respective systems they play in order to deliver maximum “l33t Ub3r Pwn4g3” as the kids say, or at least used to say like 13 years ago. The characters they create are vessels to deliver the sweet stats and abilities they’ve selected and lovingly crafted. Players like this focus on the “G” in “RPG”.
Others focus on the “RP”. They love the escape. They love getting lost in characters and stories, and the stats and skill trees are just there as a vessel to get into the headspace of another person.
This post is in essence an extension of the latter. In a departure from this blog’s usual fare, I present to you, the reader, a story in two parts. This story takes place in the Dresdenverse, that is to say the universe of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series of urban fantasy novels and accompanying Fate-based RPG, appropriately named The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game. It takes place in the year 1937, and it’s from the perspective of a certain famous author.
And for those who enjoy a s’more, (some crunch with their fluff, get it? Food jokes. Man, we’re killing it right now.) at the end we’ve included a ready-to-use character sheet for your own Dresden Files RPG campaign.
With that, pour yourself a brandy, a hot cup of tea, a Faygo, or whatever you would normally pour yourself, and enjoy “Probation”.
Rating: PG-13 for brief language.
Different genres of role-playing game have different implied stories. Thanks to D&D the most common implied story of a fantasy game is one of adventurers growing into heroes as they make their way across a treacherous land of monsters and dungeons. Thanks to Cyberpunk 2020, the implied story of a Cyberpunk game is one of operators from the fringes of society alternating between struggling to survive and pushing back against the forces which control them. What if you took the story mode of Cyberpunk and placed it, whole-cloth, into a fantasy setting? Then you’d have Spire, a game which takes setting notes from D&D and Steampunk, story notes from Cyberpunk, and mechanical notes from Apocalypse World and blends them all into something wholly unique.
A spy and scout for the Rebellion who has picked up a number of strays with his ship. An old soldier who had found a living as a doctor, returning to the fight to atone for past deeds. A survivor from an extinguished Order, stealing to survive. A former star of an Imperial Academy, forced to flee because of a secret she did not even know she possessed. Meet the Party brings you ready-to-play characters, complete with backgrounds and relationships, for use both in your own games and as inspiration for creating characters of your own. This time we’re destined for the dark times between the death of the Republic and the rise of the Alliance, as we create Star Wars Roleplaying characters using Dawn of Rebellion!
I have a confession to make: I am a massive fanboy for the Dresden Files. A few years ago, I was having a rough summer: I had broken up with a long term girlfriend, I was finding out that my degree was worth less than I thought it was worth, and I was preparing to move to Philadelphia, a city where I knew absolutely no one. And in that time, I finally had the chance to read a book series that I had heard fellow nerds go on about. As I visited a new city with crammed together townhouses, a decidedly different attitude, and loads of history, it became fun to look for ogres under train trestles, secret societies in Independence Hall, and ways to dig into a city where strange but wonderful things lurked.