I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural PAX Unplugged with my wife this past weekend, and while I (quite wisely, we needed a vacation darn it) wasn’t attending in any sort of official CHG capacity I was still viewing the convention as a whole with a critic’s eye. So what worked, what didn’t, and would going yourself next year be worth it?
The Last Ditch docked with the newly captured and newly rechristened Time Sink as the CR-90, Interdictor cruiser, and the rest of the rebel task force hurtled through hyperspace towards a rendezvous with Rabblerouser One. Patience came aboard, the last of the Borrowed Time crew to do so, eager to take command of an even larger flagship for the Rabblerouser Fleet. He arrived on the bridge to find a skeleton crew of former Imperials who had been convinced to join the Rebellion and his fellow Borrowed Timers all a flutter; while they’d made their escape into hyperspace, they were going to have to repel some boarders.
An honorable bushi sworn to stand against the Shadowlands but longing to follow her heart. A wily courtier keeping the Emerald Empire together with his eye straying towards wealth. A ninja disguised as a magistrate, working in the shadows but dreaming of standing in the light. A shugenja tasked with keeping the people of Rokugan pure, even while corruption eats at her mind. Meet the Party travels to a land of samurai, bushidō, giri, and ninjō to create a party of ready-to-play characters living and struggling in the Emerald Empire of Rokugan, playing with Fantasy Flight Games’s Legend of the Five Rings Beta!
Fantasy Flight Games is at it again with their open beta tests, this time for the Legend of the Five Rings RPG! L5R, as it is often abbreviated as, was originally published back in ’95 by Alderac Entertainment Group, and is set in the feudal-pseudo-Japan setting of Rokugan, a land of samurai, shugenja, and courtiers fulfilling their duties and struggling amongst themselves in the Emerald Empire. The roleplaying game got through four editions under AEG before the property was sold to FFG in late 2015, and fans have been waiting to see what FFG would make of it since. Now that the beta version is in our hands (for free, thankfully), let’s see what they’ve put together!
Welcome to a special and spooky edition of Level One Wonk! Here on Halloween Eve, we’re going to take a look at horror in RPGs: how it’s different than most genres, why it’s so tough to pull off, and how Don’t Rest Your Head manages to do so. Don’t Rest Your Head was published by Evil Hat in 2006, and both serves as a great precursor to the player-facing narrative tools developed for Fate Core, and a creepy tale of downward spiral into madness as your insomnia awakens you to the true nightmares in the world.
Keandra Hunt spent a long time working the journalism beat in Halcyon City, eventually rising to Editor-in-Chief of the Halcyon City Herald and its many associated publications. Nobody can stay in this business forever though, tracking down the truth of the City and its many superpowered events. Hunt is finally moving on, but she’s got one last bit of editing to do. She’s leaving behind a portfolio of interviews, articles, reports, and pictures all selected from her time as Editor-in-Chief. Her successor will get it as an inspiration, a challenge, and a warning. We get it as the Halcyon City Herald Collection, the first supplement for Masks: A New Generation!
Dungeons and Dragons, by many standards, lives up to Wizards of the Coast’s claim of “The World’s Greatest Role-Playing Game”. It has the longest history and the greatest impact of any game, paving the way for the expansive role-playing hobby we have today. And the versions published in the 1980s are those which had the strongest impact on one of the earliest generations of gamers. Between TSR’s mismanagement and the limitations of technology, though, these early versions were almost lost to history. The desire to rekindle support for the playstyle of Basic D&D was one of the collective motivations which kindled the OSR, or Old School Revival, movement. Today’s System Split splits four ways, looking both at two versions of Basic D&D (B/X and Rules Cyclopedia) and Retroclones which were designed to give them renewed accessibility: Labyrinth Lord and Dark Dungeons.
An investigator wielding her lightsaber in the shadows, cleaving to a Code that most think is extinct. A bounty hunter and skip tracer who always has the weight of her family, culture, and people on her back. A ‘retired’ combat analyst who has turned his programming towards solving mysteries. A small-town marshal on a big-city planet, trying to look out for the little guys. Meet the Party heads into the depths of an ecumenopolis in a Galaxy Far, Far Away to try something a little different, genre-wise: a Star Wars party of sleuths, vigilantes, and Private Investigators!
Just because Asmodeus is top dog in the Nine Hells doesn’t mean he’s the only source of fiendish influence on the material plane. Even the Nine Hells as a whole don’t have a monopoly on it; the demons of the Abyss certainly have their own goals and influence, decidedly messier though they may be. From different breeds of Tiefling to infernal cults to abyssal champions, the latest Unearthed Arcana presents us with all sorts of new Fiendish Options, for both sides of the DM’s screen.
The history of Dungeons and Dragons, especially recent history, is all about the mystical notion of game balance. Fourth Edition was designed the way it was in part to repent for the excesses of Third Edition, and Fifth Edition was designed the way it was in part to repent for the excesses of Fourth. Fifth Edition also comes closest of any edition of D&D (save maybe the very first) to accepting a more broad axiomatic truth: Mechanical game balance doesn’t actually matter.