Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Labyrinth Lord at Lift Bridge This Sunday

My public Labyrinth Lord game starts this Sunday, June 3, at 1pm at Lift Bridge Books in Brockport, NY.

Whoever shows up will be starting their adventures in an underground city located underneath a step-pyramid buried in the desert. If you are an RPG'er (or would-be-RPG'er) in the Rochester area, please consider coming by. All are welcome!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Adventures of James Bomb - Skills

I have done a small amount of preliminary groundwork toward a FATE-based Adventures of James Bomb RPG. Most notably, I have perused the Victory Games James Bond 007 RPG Basic Game book and copied down all the skills they list on pp. 33-42.

Also, thanks to Jim Pacek's helpful comment to this post, I have looked more carefully at FATE 2.0 and have tentatively decided that Fred Hicks and Rob Donoghue's adaptation of the FUDGE system may in fact be easier to read and more concise than the original 1995 iteration of FUDGE.* Hence, FATE may become the default system for The Adventures of James Bomb, whatever that's worth.

Abilities (Skills that every PC has)
First Aid

Electronics (incl. computer hacking)
Fire Combat
Hand-to-Hand Combat
Local Customs
Lockpicking and Safecracking
Sixth Sense

Plus Skills horked from FUDGE/FATE:
Assets (track)
Resolve (track)
Stamina (track)

I may add a few more skills to this list, and/or modify a few names here and there, but then again, if it ain't broke, why fix it?

"The name's Bomb. . . James Bomb." 

Next time: Stunts
* For the acronym-curious, FUDGE stands for Freeform Universal Do-it-Yourself Gaming Engine; it was written by Steffan O’Sullivan. FATE stands for Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment and is an adaptation of FUDGE; the differences between the two are glossed on p. 72 of FATE 2.0.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Adventures of James Bomb

I have always been a big James Bond fan, and that fandom not only extends to the Ian Fleming novels and the popular film franchise, but to the Victory Games James Bond 007 RPG as well. I haven't played the latter much, but have a couple of times, and I recall the system being pretty fast-paced, easy to pick up, and generally quite elegant. Back in the day I played Top Secret a great deal, but have looked over those rules recently and find them a bit clunky.

So one of my "back burner" projects this summer will be to take a look at the James Bond 007 Basic Rules and see how easily they dovetail with the FUDGE RPG system. I will dub this project The Adventures of James Bomb. While fans will observe that "James Bomb" is the name of one of the characters I played in Carl's now-defunct Mutant Future campaign, its actual source is the Ian Fleming novel Goldfinger (1959), wherein the partially deaf Auric Goldfinger accidentally calls Bond "Mr. Bomb" early in the book.

My sense is that the James Bond 007 system will adapt relatively easily to FUDGE, and when and if I get the basics written up, I will share them here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cid's Blog Has Begun

In my recent discussions of the FUDGE RPG and all my various summer gaming plans, one name looms large: Cid Phoenix, a player in the opening sessions of my local The Lost City Campaign and the referee behind all of the games I currently play in. So I am very happy to announce that Cid has created his own website, Sandman Gaming, and blog, Words of Power, which you can look at here. Cid is a prolific generator of campaign and gaming ideas, so even if he just posts all the ruminations I have heard him voice in my presence over the past few months, he could keep that blog content-rich for a good long while. Yet I suspect that Cid has even loftier ambitions -- among other things, he mentions "a series of gaming products" in that opening blog post -- so I urge you to support him and regularly check in on his progress over at Sandman Gaming!

Congratulations Slartibartfast, I mean Cid!

"Hurry up and kill this thing so we can get over to Sandman Gaming!"

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer RPG'ing Plans

As I stated in a post late last year, local RPG'ing opportunities abound! And with school out for the summer, my work activities are less intense, and my schedule is more flexible, so I can more easily partake of many of these delicious gaming offerings. Here is the rundown:

As Referee

(1) Of course, there is my longstanding "home" (actually Skype-based) Labyrinth Lord campaign, which takes place in the Lands of Ara setting. That group has recently played its 57th session, though my session reports are still lagging a bit behind.

(2) As I've recently announced, I am about to commence an open, public Labyrinth Lord game which will start on June 3 at 1pm at Lift Bridge Books. That group, technically a continuation of a campaign I started in early spring, will be starting their adventures in an underground city located underneath a step-pyramid buried in the desert. But I do not necessarily assume that they will stay underground for long, nor even in the general vicinity of the step-pyramid, for long. In fact, I suspect and hope that sooner or later they will wander into the Lands of Ara proper.

(3) I will return to OSRCon 2012 in nearby Toronto this year, where I will run a homebrewed Labyrinth Lord adventure entitled Keep of the Zombie Master. I will be running that adventure twice during the Con -- I am GM #6421 on the OSRCon event schedule. Event coordinator Chris Cunnington is doing a great job keeping the OSRCon blog updated and bringing together a great roster of guests this year, including James Maliszewski, Ed Greenwood, and Ken St. Andre. Please consider attending this superb event, 10-11 August 10-11, 2012 (Fri. and Sat.) at the Lillian H. Smith library in Toronto.

As a Player

(1) There is the FUDGE-based Star Wars campaign that just got started last weekend.

FUDGE dice, which totally rule.

(2) I also started playing in an every-other-Tuesday evening campaign called The Mordav Initiative, a fantasy setup using a modified FUDGE-type system that Cid, the referee and system creator, is calling Zodiac since it uses the d12 exclusively. The first session took place last week, and it's out of town with a different group than my usual Brockport- and Rochester-based gang.

That's all for now, though one of the other players in the FUDGE Star Wars game has been talking about running a campaign, maybe on Tuesday evenings alternating with The Mordav Initiative sessions. I do not know exactly what he is planning, though he did say he would "kill" to run this particular campaign. So we will see. I will not be able to sustain this kind of gaming schedule come fall, when my teaching duties resume, but right now it is awesome to have the luxury to participate in this many RPG campaigns at once.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

FUDGE Star Wars Begins!

We played our first session of FUDGE Star Wars today, and it was a total hoot! Of course, the Star Wars universe -- especially with most of the ridiculous prequel material excised -- is particularly fertile ground for fast-paced science-fantasy adventure. Our campaign is set just before the events of Episode IV: A New Hope, with a revised back story that largely ignores the prequel trilogy.

We PCs are a crew of a Firefly class smuggler ship (yes, we are source-mashing here!) of which my character, Corellian smuggler Jackson Tarkanian, is the owner / captain. My companions include a Jedi knight, a bounty hunter, and a mentally unstable Dug.

My character's "Firefly" class ship, the Starblazer.

We began our adventure marooned on (where else?) Tatooine, looking for ways to earn credits with which to repair our ship. Luckily, Jabba the Hutt was looking for some desperate bounty hunters for a dangerous mission, and we accepted.

Due to time constraints, we did not get very far into the adventure itself -- we mainly looked for rumors (and got embroiled in a drinking contest) in the famed Mos Eisley cantina. Character generation ate up a good portion of our afternoon, but those familiar with the FUDGE System RPG know that chargen is a big part of the fun, especially for the ways in which it encourages players to interweave their characters' back stories and intertwine their fates. Indeed, as I have said before, the best thing about FATE / FUDGE* is the way in which its "Aspect" subsystem encourages good role-playing. In fact, one of our players who DM's a d10-based Wild West RPG with a different group has said that he now uses the "Aspects" subsystem from FUDGE in his own (non-FUDGE-based) game. In other words, this is a subsystem that could be grafted onto practically any existing RPG.**

If you haven't looked at FUDGE before, I would strongly encourage you to follow this link, download the "FUDGE 1995 Edition," and check it out for yourself!

Greedo didn't shoot shit!

More to come on my future plans for FUDGE. . .
* FUDGE is the "official" name for this RPG: it is an acronym which stands for Freeform Universal Do-it-Yourself Gaming Engine and was written by Steffan O’Sullivan. Fate RPG is a game based upon the FUDGE system, and I sometimes use the names interchangeably, though I may be doing Fate an injustice by so doing since I know nothing about it specifically.
** I would add that our Star Wars referee, Cid, has come up with a few additional guidelines for use with the FUDGE system, all of which deal with "tagging" and/or "compelling" Aspects. I may eventually publicize and discuss Cid's enhancements here, though I have it on good authority that he is developing his own website. . .

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Star Wars, FATE Style

So today was gaming day, only the four of us weren't (for various reasons) super-motivated to game. Instead we sat around my table for four hours and chatted about a wide array of subjects. In a way, this brief gaming hiatus for the purpose of casual socialization makes a great deal of sense, since we all four met via gaming and don't know each other super well outside the RPG'ing context.

The four of us being self-identified nerds, one of the subjects that inevitably came up was our shared love of Star Wars, or at least of Star Wars sans the disastrous prequel films.

Darth Maul: just about the only worthwhile thing to come out of the prequels, and he gets killed off way too soon.

After much general discussion of all things Star Wars and a quick viewing of a superb fan film, talk turned to role-playing in the Star Wars milieu. It turns out that both Cid and myself have some very happy memories surrounding the old West End Games d6-based Star Wars RPG.

For me, West End Star Wars was a game I played back in the early 1990s, when I was still in college. I played several sessions of the game with three buddies -- Harry, Jeff, and Nick -- and we all had a grand old time. I remember liking the system a lot and feeling like the game moved along at a fast, satisfying pace appropriate to Star Wars. I played a "greedo," which I only recently learned is in fact called a "rodian."

Before I knew these guys were called rodians, I called them "Greedos."

Harry, our referee in those days, was (and is) a particularly avid Star Wars fan -- here is a very recent picture of Harry with his daughter:

(That's Harry in the stormtrooper getup.)

Now as I've reported before, this group of ours has been playing Diaspora, a rather elegant hard sci-fi game using the FATE system. I am simply in love with FATE. It is very intuitive and encourages good role-playing. And what's not to love about those cool dice?

You can no doubt see where this is headed: somebody (Cid I assume) said "Why not use the Diaspora rules chassis to create a Star Wars campaign?" And with that, our fate (ha, ha) was decided. Cid already had a faux-lightsaber device written up for our "Gateway Late Night" Diaspora game, so all we'd need to add is a rules mechanic to simulate use of The Force. A couple of us could even play the same characters we've already generated -- my guy, Jackson "Floyd" Tarkanian, is a space merchant trying to resist the urge to return to black marketeering. I could easily convert him into a Star Wars-style black marketeer with very little need to alter his aspects, skills, and stunts as writ. The FATE system is just that flexible.

So that is that -- next time this group meets, we will be shifting gears into the Star Wars universe. Cid, our referee, has stated that the action will take place between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, WITHOUT acknowledging the material presented in the prequels. Actually, I am pretty sure Cid will cherry-pick a few ideas/characters out of those more recent films, but will greatly modify their motivations and history for our purposes.*

An inspiring day, and now I cannot wait to start swashbuckling "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away."

Boba Fett sez: "What am I doing in this stupid fucking Special Edition??"

* I have been urging Cid to start his own gaming blog, as he is one of these guys who veritably oozes game and campaign ideas constantly, and who, by his own admission, likes to "pontificate." But starting a blog is a big commitment and thus far he is resisting.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Another Slowdown

It is a busy time for me as I plunge into all my end-of-semester grading duties, commencement, etc. I also just got word that an academic article of mine has been accepted for publication, which is great news, but it also means that I have some revisions and formatting tasks to be completed quickly over the next few weeks.

Spawn is also in the midst of a busy period, preparing to head out-of-country for more fieldwork. All of which means that things may be slow around here for awhile. But I will keep reading other peoples' blogs as I am able, and will try to keep up on session reports at least.

Keep on gaming!

"I want my Lands of Ara fix -- NOW!"

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thoughts on a Couple of Ex-Croakers

Here are a couple of RPG'ing products that would have made my bucket list except that I've had a chance to play them in the last year:

- Swords & Wizardry White Box: This is the scrappy little system I used for my first ConstantCon session of Tales from the Hotel Kaladarian. Prior to that single session I had never before played any D&D edition (or retro-clone thereof) prior to 1977, i.e., Holmes. It ran well, though at times I missed the easy familiarity of Labyrinth Lord. In any case, I haven't even come close to playing enough White Box to say that I've given it a fair trial yet.

I am attracted to S&W White Box due to its d6-only weapon damage, d6-only PC hit dice, universal attribute bonuses, no thief class, and "imagine the hell out of it!" ethos. For the purpose of having the rules readily available for all my players to download or obtain, a well-supported retro-clone like Swords and Wizardry is a great bet, much more sensible that trying to play strictly with the original LBBs, IMO.

- The Lost City:  I got my chance to run dungeon module B4 by using it as the kickoff module for my local gaming group which started last February. After their first three or four sessions, they found their way to the Underground City, and then the campaign went on hiatus. It will soon start again as I originally intended it, as a public Labyrinth Lord group at my FLBS.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Games to Play Before I Croak

A long time ago Beedo posted about the D&D modules he'd like to play before he "finally hangs up the dice for good." My own D&D "bucket list" includes not only modules but also some OSR-ish games I would like to play before my final days. To wit (and in no particular order):

- LotFP Grindhouse Edition: I hope I get to referee or play in an LotFP Grindhouse campaign at some point. Raggi has written a really clear and functional rules set and has added some inventive twists, in particular his Specialist Class, that I would love to road-test. Maybe Spawn of Endra could be persuaded to run LotFP one day?

- The Grinding Gear: Of all the Raggi modules I've seen, this is the one I most want to run a PC group through [see my review here]. Maybe as a one-off, or as a tournament module at some future convention. Maybe it could be done over two consecutive convention sessions.

- The Isle of Dread: Gods, this is the "classic" module I most want to run but never have. That dino on the cover has always appealed to me, as does the module's open-ended "sandboxy" nature. Viva Moldvay!

- Knowledge Illuminates: A strong module with which to kick off a campaign and/or unite a band of adventurers -- perhaps this may be run in my public gaming group in the coming year, or perhaps to start my next Arandish campaign, if the current one ever reaches an ending point. Tim Shorts' fresh, generative module is a terrific wilderness campaign-starter which I've reviewed here.

- Mutant Future: To be fair, I've played this one: I entered the OSR via Mutant Future, playing in Carl's awesome campaign which eventually wrapped up. One day I would like to run a Mutant Future campaign, or at least a few sessions of the game, to see how I like it. I have only played, but have never run, a post-apocalyptic game (outside of Shadowrun, a game I have run in the past but have little interest in playing again), and Mutant Future would probably be my system of choice, unless I get more serious about learning Twilight 2000.

- James Bond 007 or Top Secret: One day I will get around to running a "contemporary" espionage RPG, at least as a one-off or short "single mission" campaign, and it will likely be using one of these two systems.

"Hey Carter, can't we be friends?"