Tag Archives: Review

Solitaire Storytelling: Last Tea House

I run a tea shop on the border of the living and the dead. The recently deceased visit for one last hot drink before their long journey to the Great Beyond. Time is strange here. Days and memories blur. Nobody visited yesterday – I am sure of that. Someone passed last week, but I am unable to picture their face.

The fog thins. A figure approaches. I stoke the fire. “Welcome to the last tea shop,” I say. “You are welcome here, To The Dregs.”

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Solitaire Storytelling: Paranoid Android

The war with the androids has made everyone paranoid. Including me, and including my interrogators. See, Asimov Landing Station is on the far edge of the galaxy, manned by only a skeleton crew, most of them scientists doing research. Nothing ever happens here. But after the government discovered that androids have the capacity of perfectly mimicking human beings the atmosphere in the Station has started changing. Several things had gone wrong or malfunctioned in non-critical but totally avoidable ways before, but now things are getting more severe: research has been delayed, the station’s systems have broken down at critical moments, and people have disappeared. Station security has singled me out as a suspicious person and they’ve taken me in for questioning. I’m starting to wonder… am I really human, or a sleeper agent with programming? Could I be one of them?

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The Forest Primordia, or, My First Module

There’s a vast diversity of experiences that fall under the big tent of tabletop roleplaying. From different playstyles to games to even venues of play, everyone plays a little bit differently. There are some things that are common at one table and unthinkable at another. And some products, from battlemats to GM screens to even pre-written adventures themselves just aren’t seen at every gaming table. That said, if someone, say, reviewed RPGs for five solid years and had never once ran a pre-written module, you could be forgiven for saying they might be missing out on a common gamer experience. Well, that someone is me, and this month I made a change.

Do not think that the title of this review is a quip about the Troika module The Forest Primordia. I do not call it “My First Module” out of snark, it is literally the first prewritten module I have ever run in a serious game (my attempt to run the Tomb of Horrors doesn’t count, for multiple reasons). I don’t think I’ve ever had anything against modules, but for me the interest in running games was always couched in writing, and using pre-written material always seemed to produce a disconnect where there didn’t need to be one. As a result, it took about twenty years of my RPG career before I decided to give one a whirl.

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Kickstarter Wonk: December, 2021

Welcome to Kickstarter Wonk for December! I don’t know what it is about timing at this time of year. Several great campaigns are ending today or ended yesterday, not really giving enough time for readers to grace them with their clicks. On the other hand, it seems like everyone is rushing to get a campaign wrapped before the holidays…and some of these campaigns needed to bake a little longer. No matter. I read a lot, but these seven I will stand behind as new games you should definitely check out. Onward!

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Game Wizards Review

The story of role-playing games begins with the story of Dungeons and Dragons; the story of Dungeons and Dragons begins with Gary Gygax. And Dave Arneson. And, frankly, all of TSR. As our hobby evolves and our record keepers get older, we need to look back and make a good record of what got us to this point. With both Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson passed away, the invention of D&D is becoming just a story, in some people’s minds a footnote to Mentzer and Moldvay and Allston and Tweet and Mearls and Crawford that have come since. Well, Jon Peterson to the rescue.

Off the success of Playing at the World, a history of the role-playing game as a concept, and The Elusive Shift, an investigation of the role-playing game as its own standalone ‘thing’, we now have Game Wizards, arguably now the definitive text on the luminaries who invented D&D and how rabidly they fought over credit for that specific thing. Peterson is showing his breadth here, moving from broad-based historical synthesis (Playing at the World) to deep, particular investigation (The Elusive Shift) and now into that popular but difficult historical realm, disputed narrative. In some ways, this is a bit of a departure from Peterson’s earlier work, which was very much grounded in the how and why that made RPGs what they are. That said, Game Wizards as a book has convinced me that, as someone interested in RPG history, the story of Gygax and Arneson is one I need to know.

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Solitaire Storytelling – The Broken Cask

Well, hello there! Welcome to the Flying Stag, our hearth and home among the treetops. My name is Wulflen Skyway, I’m the proprietor of this fine establishment. Now, the dancing doesn’t start until twilight, and you don’t look like you have an undead problem, so what shall it be? We have a moongoat shawarma that’s proven very popular, and craftsmanship demands I recommend the Frozen Drupelet, our raspberry spiced ice wine made right-

Ah, touring around looking for stories, are you? Well, I was a bard back in the day, before some… stuff happened, so I could spin you a few yarns. No, no, the scale armor is just an affectation, nothing to worry yourself about. No, I’m not going to “dish” about my past, thank you. The Flying Stag, though, well, it may not be as well known as The Broken Cask – yet – but it has its stories to tell. Continue reading Solitaire Storytelling – The Broken Cask

Solitaire Storytelling – Time To Kill

Another job, another hotel, another lobby.  Being a paid killer might sound dangerous, or exciting, or glamorous, and it can be, I suppose. More often than not, though, it involves waiting. Lots of waiting, when the planning is already done and there’s nothing to do but count the moments, watch the goings-on, and think about what you’ve done and what you’re about to do while you wait for your target to appear.

That’s okay, though. I’ve got Time To Kill.

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Twilight:2000 Review

The RPG hobby is driven by remakes and revisions. Fifth Edition this and Seventh Edition that, yes, but entire movements in the hobby are built around hacking and re-hacking D&D’s sub-sub-genre of play, fantasy dungeon crawling. With this perspective, RPGs fit in nicely alongside movie studios who remake Spiderman and Batman decadally, and media companies who continue to make live-action versions of critically acclaimed anime without asking how they’re actually improving things. In a young hobby like RPGs, though, there is still space for remakes to be good. So if you want to make a good remake, why not start with a game that practically screams ‘don’t update me’, the 1984 classic Twilight:2000?

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KÖ-ØP Kickstarter Review – x1 Flat Pack Relationship Game

Our relationship is in trouble. But bringing that up never helps. Instead, let’s focus on our new flat pack furniture that just arrived! If we can just put it together – correctly, without it becoming a whole thing, everything will be fine. And we’ll be fine.

We’ll be fine, right?

Grab the bag of random parts, decipher the instructions with the vaguely Swedish names, and try to put together some furniture without everything – including your relationship – crashing down around you. Maybe you’ll even get to enjoy some meatballs. This is KÖ-ØP from offcut games!

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The Game Master’s Book of Non-Player Characters Review

There are only so many ways you can spell – or pronounce – the name Bob before your players are going to realize that you’re just making up Dungeons and Dragons characters on the fly. There’s nothing wrong with making up NPCs as you go, of course, but it’s a lot of work! You have to name them, make them interesting, and then you actually have to remember to write down what you made up or next session you’ll have players asking why Ba’ab is named Dave now. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that work done for you, in such quantity that you don’t have to make anything from scratch for a good while? How about, say, 500 characters? Think that’ll be enough? That’s what you’ll find in the The Game Master’s Book of Non-Player Characters from Topix Media Lab!

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