Tag Archives: RPG

Meet the Party: Heroes of Tal’Dorei

A member of a Tal’Dorei-wide criminal empire, actually a monk hunting knowledge and fighting those who would use it for evil. A child of two worlds with magic in his blood and runes on his skin, taking back control of his life and mastering the arcane. A barbarian warrior of the Terrah Ashari with the strength of stone, a juggernaut instructed to join a new generation of adventurers. A former cultist of the Whispered One, now a cleric of the Matron of Ravens, using the power of blood to strike down her former allies. Vox Machina may have retired, but the world of Critical Role still needs heroes. Let’s see what some of them might look like with a Meet the Party for 5th Edition D&D made using the Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting from Green Ronin Publishing!

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The Independents: Bluebeard’s Bride

A young Bride. A powerful and rich man with a beard that is shockingly blue. A massive house full of rooms, each room full of horrors. A ring of keys to open the doors, but one room is forbidden to the Bride by her new husband. A message that calls the husband away, leaving the Bride alone to explore her new home. An inexorable curiosity that drives her to open the door anyway, only to discover the bodies of previous, slaughtered brides. The husband returns, and discovers what the Bride has done, and the forbidden room gains another occupant. This might summarize the French folktale known as Bluebeard, a story whose most famous surviving version was published all the way back in 1697. But in this case it also summarizes Bluebeard’s Bride, an investigatory horror tabletop roleplaying game from Magpie Games in which you, my friends, are the Bride. Continue reading The Independents: Bluebeard’s Bride

Meet the Party: Legend of the Five Rings: Winter Court

An Illusionist with a well-earned reputation for honesty, all so they can tell a lie exactly when they need to. A Bard without a voice, tasked with telling grandiose tales. A one-armed Duelist struggling to quell the rage within her heart. A Worldly Rōnin hiding a deadly secret that forced her to flee her clan. An Outrider with a chip on his shoulder, trying to make others accept his clan while wanting to prove his clan’s superiority. Each of these Samurai has found themselves invited to the Winter Court of Rokugan, so we’re following them into another Meet the Party for Legend of the Five Rings!

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Masks: Unbound Review

An alien invasion that’s taken all the adult superheroes out of the picture, leaving the new generation to fend for themselves. A re-written world where heroes are only now beginning to discover their powers, where crime rules the streets with an iron fist. An academy of learning, where prospective heroes learn history, math, and how to punch a supervillain across the gym while trying to navigate a high school social life. A cosmic roadtrip that takes the heroes across worlds, time, and dimensions  in pursuit of the notes of a universe-ending song. A warning from the future, a cosmic wanderer, and a child of evil. Such are the new worlds and new heroes to be found in Unbound, the third and latest supplement for teenage superhero roleplaying game Masks: A New Generation from Magpie Games!

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Tachyon Squadron Review

There’s always been a bit of mystique and fascination with fighter pilots from the days of the Red Baron, so it should be no surprise that there has been a fascination with those same tight dogfights IN SPAAAAAAAACE!!! Space fighters have been a big part of the Space Opera for decades, popping up in places as varied as the venerable Mobile Suit Gundam and Macross  franchises (as forerunners to the famous mecha), to harder sci-fi novels such as the LAC’s in Honor Harrington, but probably the biggest exposure has come through Star Wars, with starfighter v. starfighter combat being staples of the movies, the well loved X-wing and TIE Fighter franchises, and a long stretch of novels in the Expanded Universe that brought fans fleshed out and loved characters in the form of Wedge Antilles and Corran Horn. And so the concept of these  awesome space fights has been brought to us in tabletop form by our good friends over at Evil Hat with their new installment, Tachyon Squadron!

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Meet the Party: Legend of the Five Rings: Mahō Hunters

A Purifier of the Crab, dedicated to hunting down Mahō-tsukai and forcing others to give his clan the respect they are due. A Shrine Keeper of the Phoenix, a perfectionist who strives to both prove herself to her clan and show them what true loyalty means. A Wardmaster of the Scorpion tasked with keeping dark artifacts safe  who scoffs at the curse of the Yogo. An Investigator of the Dragon, unwilling to remain isolated in the mountains, looking for justice and a home in the wider Empire. A Smuggler of the Tortoise, tracking illicit goods of a particularly dire nature, longing for the respect of others. Meet the Party returns to a now-finished land where honor is stronger than steel, with ready-to-play characters for Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying from Fantasy Flight Games!

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Meet the Party: Star Trek Adventures

A Captain who finds profit in intangible ways and sees everyone as a potential asset.. A helmsman who pilots a Miranda-class like an attack fighter, and who learned all the wrong lessons from human engineers. An Operations Manager determined to make her mark and willing to shred the manual to do so. A Security Chief with a mostly-repaired chip on her shoulder trying to adjust to peace. A Ship Counselor who helps his patients face their issues head on – sometimes with a well-placed strike of the head ridges. We’re boldly going where no Meet the Party has gone before, with the ready-to-play crew of the U.S.S. Crimea (along with the ship herself) for Star Trek Adventures from Modiphius Entertainment!

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Adventure Log: The Flight of the Albatross Part 4

Now, safely back onboard the Albatross after the adventure with the Chimax, the crew was able to interrogate Krrsh. It didn’t take too much prompting to get him to spill the whole story: he had been the Captain of one of the ships that attacked Clarke, onboard an S-class Scout ship. He wasn’t part of the job on Toprol, so he had decided to stray off to make a bit of side money. On his trip he had stumbled across a merchant vessel, one that he thought would have been an easy kill. As it turned out, he was mistaken in his assumption: the trader held a set of concealed guns, and when Krrsh had ordered the ship to cut thrust and prepare for boarding, the merchant ship and opened up a broadside at almost point blank range. Krrsh had managed to get the ship out of the firefight and held it together long enough to make a jump to the next rendezvous point. However, the other two captains, Ferrik Redthane and Miria Silverhand were none to happy at his misadventure, which had rendered the Scout ship useless for pirating and as a punishment had marooned him on the ancient station as a warning to the others.


However, their act of ruthless pragmatism was now a windfall for the Albatross. While they had one of the pirates now, Krrsh was proving to be a most useful ally in their hunt. With a bit of prompting, the party was able to get the whole story: The reason for the attacks is due to Ferrik somehow running afoul of his former boss “Admiral Darokyn”, one of the heavy hitters on the pirate planet Theev, and as a result the pirate has been exiled from the planet, forbidden to touch down on one the one safe haven for pirates in the subsector. Ferrik was desperately looking to make big, flashy scores in order to convince another pirate captain that he was worth taking on and protecting from Darokyn. While he himself, couldn’t set foot on the planet, he would work through his second in command Miria to negotiate on his behalf. All too eager for payback, and with few options, Krrsh volunteered to join the crew, especially when it dawned on him that the party was trying to track down Ferrik. Krrsh could provide the up to date callsigns and passcodes to get through the pirate patrols along Theev, and was willing to be a guide around the capital of Blanksand City, and he had a few ideas as to who Miria might have gone to.


The group prepared to make their way along their preplanned path, firing up their jump drive and continuing to the secret refueling location they had been travelling to. However, when their reality bubble shifted back into real space, they were greeted to a distress beacon with Imperial Scout Service codes. Onboard, Kardoth Denive, retired Imperial Scout, struggled to try to keep everything on the ship together. Something had badly damaged the ship and left him drifting…the strange thing was that he couldn’t remember quite what, likely from a hit to the head during the blasts before jumping to safety leading to some Easy Amnesia. His scanners told him that a ship had just jumped into the sector, a…a Harrier-class? Did anybody still make those beauties? It was his lucky day that had brought the Albatross to his doorstep. The crew of the Albatross was happy to pick up Kardoth and see what the problem was. After a quick review of the S-clas, it was quickly written off as a loss. Kardoth offered what could be salvaged in terms of parts as a buy in to the venture, and was pleasantly surprised, if not a little suspicious, at the salary and “performance based incentives”. His buy in came with a very nice set of quality components, and Festus felt that he could likely use them to continue fixing up the ship, perhaps to complete some of the functions that Princess Rao had classified as “aesthetically pleasing but non-essential”.


With their stocks and fuel replenished, the Albatross made one more jump, arriving in Theev. They were quickly hailed by planetary control, and gave the pseudonym The White Witch. They were directed to a docking berth in Blacksand City, and were greeted by a smiling woman, dressed all in black with a neat bun of red hair. She cordially invited the group to the city, and took a moment to pointedly stress for the newcomers to follow the rules. Krrsh hushedly filled the party in: this was a Widow, one of those in the city charged with ensuring that the pirates followed the Laws of the Lords. In the starport, or the Upper City, or any building marked by red flags, the Law of Lords decree that is no murder, no weapons fire, and nothing that offends the calm and tranquility of the city is permitted. Those who do quickly find themselves with a slit throat in a back alley. Other than that, they were free to go about the city, so long as they watched their backs.


The crew had a few options to try to find Miria. They decided against seeing Admiral Darokyn, the former employer, and instead decided to go after the two names that Krssh provided as Miria’s hopeful partners: Petyr Vallis and Hroal Irontooth. The party tried Petyr Vallis first, traveling to his tower in the lower city, saying that they wanted “to show their respects” as newcomers. The guards gave them curious looks, but let them inside to meet their boos. Vallis was happy to meet with them, offering a feral grin from a scarred face. He seemed absolutely overjoyed that the newcomers had come to honor him as their first stop, and that “there weren’t any more cats making the city their litterbox”. It didn’t take much to realize a few things: one, Vallis hated the Aslan with a fiery passion, and that he was, at best, a borderline psychopath. With the pleasantries out of the way, the crew got down to business. They wanted to see if the man knew about where Miria was. Vallis claimed that he did, that Miria had holed up in the lower part of the city and was using street urchins to act as messengers so she wouldn’t be. Of course, that hadn’t stopped him from tailing them back to her hideout. The issue was, why would he give the Travellers that information for nothing in return? The pirate wanted 50,000 credits, an amount the Travellers didn’t have after spending the gains from their first heist…or a favor. Vallis went on to describe that he was looking for a way to wage war on the Aslan, and he was always looking for assistance. What he wanted was to be able to share access to any ports that the group considered their own. A few looks were exchanged, not wanting to give away Drinax, but Festus spoke up, mentioning Asim. A light suddenly caught Vellis’ eyes: Asim was right up against the border of the Aslan Heirate, and close to one of their shipping lanes…one that they Albatross crew had themselves raided. Vallis asked for the communication codes to identify as a friendly agent, and then he would provide the location. If his information didn’t pan out, they would be free to revoke it or change the codes. If it did, and the Albatross reneged on their promise, there would be hell to pay….


I want to take a moment to go back around the character creation process for Traveller. The rolls for Attributes and the lifepath generation puts a fairly distinct mark on the game. Overall, I enjoy what it does to the characters that it creates. Life rarely goes exactly the way we want it to, and the lifepath reflects that. There is also ample evidence that raw starting stats aren’t everything. In my first foray into character creation for Traveller, I got a decent stretch of starting Attributes when I did a pure line roll. Most tended to be around average, bounded by minor dips around the mean, but two stood out to me. Bisuke had near perfect stats, nothing below average, and a maxed out strength. She passed the roll to get into Marine academy and graduated with honors…and then promptly failed her first operation in the field and received horrific injuries, leading her to be discharged and requiring almost all of her benefit rolls to pay off a massive medical debt. In contrast, Declin started with below average stats in every category, and I honestly thought he would be a washout, so I put him into a career where I thought there was a small chance he would survive long enough to get some skills: Artist. Declan then promptly passed advancement roll after advancement roll, boosting his social stats far past what I expected and accruing a truly impressive number of skills and advancements.


That said, the process has one area that can infuriate people, and it’s not a bug, it’s a design choice: attempting to pick one certain path. This session was meant to be an introduction for a group of new players (Kardoth is one who I believe will be sticking around). One player in particular had been a bit apprehensive about the setting, and I had tried to kindle interest in mentioning that an angle he could take for his character could fall along the lines of the Honor Harrington franchise, one that I knew he enjoyed. However, when he attempted to make a character along those lines, the dice gods were just not having it. He tried to make six characters, none of whom managed to get the kind of career that he was looking to play and the process left him frustrated and resulted in him bowing out from the session.


This part of the game simply won’t appeal to some people. Personally, I think that there would be plenty of back doors to move up in careers that rather suit themselves to the environment of Drinax. To bring up Kardoth, I think he is a great example of a player making the best of some funky rolls. Kardoth had taken a stab at being a thief, washed out, became a drifter (and was stabbed by a fellow hobo), and then incongruously found himself drafted into the scout service. When disaster struck (stuck adrift in space with no memory of what happened), the player decided it was fitting that Kardoth would fall back on old instincts and be pragmatic about what would keep himself alive, even if it meant bartering with parts that weren’t his to spend and allying with people he has strong suspicions are outlaws. But if you really want to build a military vet, or a noble envoy, or a genius mechanic, and you absolutely MUST BE THAT THING…well, then maybe Traveller is not for you.

The Noob GM: My First Original Scenario

It was time to take the training wheels off. My previous attempts at GMing have, up to this point, been drawn from modules and published campaigns, or had been drawn up using notes provided to me when I stepped in to guest GM. Now, there is nothing wrong with running from a module, and it is required for something like D&D’s Adventurers League. However, with an upcoming gaming marathon on the horizon (As Aaron, Seamus and were running the planned scenarios, it was dubbed CHGCon) I found myself preparing to run a session of Blades in the Dark, something I had been looking to do for a while. The problem, however, was that the first time everyone would be able to sit at the same table would be gametime. There wouldn’t be time to weave together the backstories of characters without making them myself. I would have zero idea of team dynamic, or what kind of gang they would be, and that would prevent them from having access to team benefits. While I could have made characters in advance, I didn’t want to take away from the character creation process for them, especially with a system with fairly streamlined and boilerplate mechanics for character creation.
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Kickstarter Wonk: October, 2018

Welcome to Kickstarter Wonk for October! This month, as the leaves turn and the days grow shorter, many designers, from the US and Italy and Sweden and other far-off places, are all ready to bring you autumn light in the form of new RPGs! Like most months, there were far too many games to cover all sufficiently, so here is my top ten; nine games and one collection of indie gaming material that (in my opinion) is too good to pass up. Whether you’re looking for Autumn leaves in The Forest Hymn and Picnic or something spooky in Things from the Flood, this crop is a perfect harvest for October.

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