While Mel is away, he’s entrusted me with keeping the Virtual Play flame burning, a task to which I have not applied myself as assiduously as I ought. But now that summer’s here and my teaching duties in the real world are not as onerous, I’ve managed to pull together an episode that discusses Kevin Allen Jr.’s game-in-progress, Trouble for Hire, which I played back in February at Dreamation in Morristown NJ. It was a lot of fun, and I was very impressed at the carefully constructed design of the game. Now that I am getting the hang of this, expect more regular updates! This episode clocks in at about 45 minutes in length.
This episode of Virtual Play is a quick look at Goodman Games’ Dungeon Crawl Classics. A fantasy RPG in the old-school tradition, DCC was a lot of fun to run. The recommended method to start play is to take 2-4 randomly generated 0-level characters per player into a gauntlet of some kind as an initial adventure and see which characters emerge. This ‘Character Creation Funnel’ establishes survivors bound to each other in the game, and–perhaps–particularly bound to the players. In any case, the low level characters are forced to be innovative in dealing with obstacles and opponents because they just don’t have much room for error. The excerpts in this episode try to draw out that point. DCC was also fun because the random tables create a lot of unexpected results that make GM’ing the game exciting. Overall, the game reminds me a lot of playing and running Advanced Dungeons & Dragons many, many years ago. There aren’t rules for everything, so the GM has to be ready to improvise. I had a great time! Enjoy the show. The episode is 55 minutes long.
I am making up for some lost ground in November with a quick turn on another show this month. I’m excited to be talking about Black Seven because I had a great time playing the game. Joe ran the game for us several weeks ago and it was a blast. Black Seven is billed as an espionage RPG but it is the type of game that groups can adjust to different genres with simple name changes. For example, change Agent to Adventurer, Facility to Dungeon, Guard to Hobgoblin, Control to King, etc., and the game transforms from a modern spy game to a sword and sorcery fantasy. We played in ‘espionage’ mode, but I can easily see playing again in the future with a different genre. In the excerpts from the game, Joe talks about how ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ could easily be played using Black Seven. Other excerpts highlight the skills used in the game, and the relation between character actions, facility threat levels, and character status. There is a neat interplay between these features which helps drive play by making it in the player characters’ best interest to do ‘something’ or act in certain ways in order to improve their status or avoid making the facility threat level worse. All in all, a fun and flexible game! Information on Black Seven is available at http://www.zeropointinformation.com
This episode runs at approximately 51 minutes.
Welcome to Virtual Play! Today’s episode is about Tenra Bansho Zero. This is a Japanese game from 1997 that is being translated into English. I believe the English version will be available within the next six months or so. I played the game a few years ago with Andy Kitowski, who is doing the translation, and then my friends and I recently played at the local gamestore after getting the PDF from a recent Kickstarter project. The Tenra website is at www.tenra-rpg.com. In any case, it was great fun! There is a lot going on in the game, my favorite parts of which are the tie between character fates (goals, objectives, issues of importance) and character karma levels. Strong fates help the character gain mechanical benefits, but putting those benefits into play causes increased levels of karma and once karma reaches a certain point, the character’s story is over. Karma can be reduced only by changing fates–so the characters are always evolving and moving the story forward. That sub-system alone deserves attention in order to master it.
This episode runs at approximately 64 minutes.
In this episode of Virtual Play, Bill and I talk about the Chronica Feudalis game he is running. Set during the First Crusade, Bill’s campaign is a great opportunity to intermix history with roleplaying. The campaign has run about 4 sessions or so; I’ve had the opportunity to play one evening so I can share that with you. These highlights are from the siege of Antioch, where the player characters get to not just witness history but make it! We face an imperiled bishop, a mad king of peasants, and a devious visionary–and those are just the characters on the side of the Pilgrims!
The episode runs at just under 60 minutes.
Bill and I are back with the final episode recounting our games from Dexcon 2012. Today’s episode is about Cthulhu Dark, a rules-light game of Lovecraftian Horror by Graham Walmsley. The adventure is titled ‘A Head of His Time’, and it involves Andrew Mellon and his family gathering the artwork that Mellon intends to use to establish the National Gallery of Art. In addition to talking about the adventure, we also talk about the mechanics of Cthulhu Dark as well as Bill’s ideas on what it feels like when roleplaying. The episode is one hour and 10 minutes long. Enjoy the show!
Welcome to Virtual Play! In this episode, Bill and I discuss Ashen Stars and Night’s Black Agents. Bill ran both these games at Dexcon. They are both based on the Gumshoe system, by Pelgrane Press, and so share the same basic mechanics. Ashen Stars includes rules to give it a science fiction feel: space combat, space travel, cyberware, and other features. Night’s Black Agents recreates the spy thriller genre, with the addition of vampires!
I apologize in advance for the sound quality. Bill and I must have had a bad connection for our conversation but I hope you will bear with the rough patches.
The episode clocks in at 80 minutes, so it is a little long. I wanted to include enough excerpts from the games to give you a sense of how they sound in play.
As promised, this episode is a recap of the two Classic Traveller games Bill ran at Dexcon. I find these games very entertaining to listen to. They make me want to play! Both these games were essentially pick-up games, with characters and the adventure more or less determined on the fly using the Traveller rules for things such as patrons, animal encounters, ship combat and other stuff. Bill points out that the tables are a great help for running the game off the cuff. One thing I will point out is that in the first game, ‘Mustering Out Blues’ Bill was using a large poster size map for the sub-sector that has seen a lot of use over the last year or so, as the same sub-sector is the setting for the ‘Mustering Out Blues’ adventures. It’s neat to see the map amended over time, as the characters discover new things about the different systems, or even change things in those systems!
This episode runs at just under 60 minutes. We’ll have more Dexcon recap episodes as soon as possible!
Our Dexcon wrap-up episodes continue with this look at Skulduggery. It’s an adventure pitting heroes of Mankara against a giant automaton built centuries earlier that has awoken once more to threaten the city. Bill points out a key thing about players that I have been overlooking–sometimes it’s important for a player to solve whatever mystery is facing the characters. It’s not enough to prevent something bad from happening; sometimes the ‘why’ is equally important.
This episode runs just over 50 minutes.
Our next show will be about Classic Traveller!