• Freelancers

    One open review call on G+, and my email is completely under siege with storyteller RPGs. Leave it to those designers to never miss an opportunity to change the narrative… Eh? All kidding aside, many of these indie products will be featured in the next couple of reviews, and I’m really looking forward to it.

    Here at EN World, I’m continuing to look at all-ages tabletop role-playing games, board games, and card games. Do they engage the players at the kids' gaming table? Would they cut it at the adults' table? Are they genuinely fun for every age? Hero Kids core rules and the Basement O Rats adventure is a tabletop role-playing game for 4 to 10 year olds. The core book provides rules for GM’ing younger audiences, combat, skill tests, character creation, monster compendium, and character tokens for $5.99 (PDF).

    Published by White Wolf in 1999 as part of its line of supplements for Vampire: the Dark Ages, the 94-page Cainite Heresy provides details on a heretical sect within the vampiric world. Part of the apocalyptic "Year of the Reckoning" line of World of Darkness products that traded on real-world millennialist fears, this book is clearly marked on the cover as "For Adults Only" and was published under White Wolf's "mature content" imprint, Black Dog Studios. As the disclaimer quoted above indicates, this book earns this moniker, both in concept and execution. (As is usual for Black Dog publications, there's more than a bit of nudity scattered throughout the illustrations.)

    Honestly, sometimes my game design looks like it's not really design at all. It's more a remix of classic ingredients; an RPG compilation album of greatest hits. On a mechanical level, you can see the lineage though on a surface level, you might need to squint a bit. For me, game mechanics are defined just as much by the terms and phrases you associate with them as the ways they interpret dice. It's similar with setting. Some fantasy worlds haven't even tried to hide the marks from when they filed the serial numbers off. Others are deliberately innovative, occasionally for it's own sake. Reinterpreting, re-codifying and even revivifying are all well used tools in the designer's box of tricks.

    Where people go to the bathroom matters a lot, worldbuilding-wise. They may use an outhouse, a chamber pot, a porcelain commode, or an advanced vacuum-flush system aboard a space station, but the infrastructure of sewage disposal informs a lot of urban planning, clothing, agriculture, public health - even diet. It’s not usually a topic most worldbuilders want to think about for fear of reverting to juvenalia, but assuming it just gets taken care of offscreen can be detrimental to setting.

    An RPG GM has many of the same tasks or duties as a game designer. Even though what I’m saying today can be taken as game design advice, it also applies to the GM as he/she creates an adventure, even as they prepare to run an adventure created by someone else. "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder. Fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won." Joseph Campbell

    Hello and welcome to the latest PAZIO NEWS ROUNDUP! Or as it’s feeling these days, the Starfinder News Roundup, because we’re loaded to the brim of our spacesuits with new information for the upcoming Starfinder ruleset.

    There is no shortage of fantasy RPGs. While one look at the market proves a severe drop after D&D 5th Edition & Pathfinder, it never ceases to amaze how many smaller companies are churning out interesting (non-D&D, fantasy) products on a yearly basis. Let’s take a look at one. Sertorius is a fantasy and high magic RPG, by indie veteran Bedrock Games. Players will likely create Sertori, inheritors of an ancient and deceased ogre deity’s spirit. Sertori wield powerful emotionally driven magic, which if incanted foolishly cause the character to be overwhelmed with primal energy. If abused, the effect potentially leads to madness, physical affliction, and eventual (unwanted) transformation to an entity/creature known as the Grim. In the words of Sir John Dalberg: “… absolute power corrupts absolutely…”

    Games masters and players alike struggle with character names, settling for a thief named “Bilbo”, a wizard named “Harry” or “Dave the Fighter”. When faced with a group that reverses nearby objects for characters resulting in “Lemarac” or “Reeb”, then it’s time to consider other options. Fantasy names tend to be weird and varied, ranging from the made-up, hard to pronounce (“Xygag”) to the real world (“St Cuthbert”), with many in-between as something recognizable but modified.

    There has been a recent resurgence of interest in Africa's past and present. A lack of archeological evidence hinders our ability to piece together many of the earliest myths. However, this has not stopped creators from forging ahead with great content, like MV Media's Ki Khanga or the general Afrofuturism movement. As we journey around the world seeking hidden lore, we find ourselves in ancient Africa. Today, we will explore some of the legends of East and North East Africa including Nubia/Kush and Ethiopia.

    Hey y’all, it’s time for another edition of the PAIZO NEWS ROUNDUP! As before, my name is Ben, and I’m going to use this space to fill you in on some of the ins and outs what’s happening in the Paizo world. The good folks at Paizo have been releasing updates for their upcoming Starfinder product launch left, right, and center. Let’s get started!

    Mutant: Year Zero (MY0) is a hardcover 272 page full color post-apocalyptic RPG by Swedish Fria Ligan (Free League). Awarded with a Silver ENnie for Best Rules at Gen Con 2015, Mutant: Year Zero uses attributes, skills, and items to form a d6 dice pool with one 6 indicating success. Players play human mutants with roles like enforcer and gearhead. Each PC has one or two mutations, all randomly determined and extremely powerful.

    Think of the old days of FRPGs when parties bumbled into encounters, opening doors without preparation or scouting. Think of how few parties actually took prisoners in order to gather information! And how few parties ran away occasionally rather than engage in a fight that had nothing to do with their mission and might get them killed. And today?

    Here at EN World, I’m continuing to look at all-ages tabletop role-playing games, board games, and card games. Do they engage the players at the kids' gaming table? Would they cut it at the adults' table? Are they genuinely fun for every age? Little Wizards is the English version of Contes Ensorcelés, which is based on P'tites sorcières. Antoine Bauza created the French originals while Amanda Valentine is responsible for co-translations and some modifications to Antoine’s work. Without a command of French to verify, Little Wizards is akin to the third edition of this game. Targeting ages 6 to 10, the game puts each player into two roles: a lil' mage and a familiar. For $14.95 PDF or $24.95 print, the 128-page rulebook covers character creation, game mechanics, magic, GMing for a young audience, and three adventures.

    Talislanta is a fantasy role-playing game created by Stephen Sechi. Talislanta: The Savage Land is a recent kickstarter that takes place right after the disaster that in the original rules took place centuries in the past. Stewart Wieck was the sponsor and publisher of this newest version. The game will be full color and available in five games systems: the original rules, D&D 5E, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, and Open D6. Mr. Wieck worked hard to bring visionary RPGs to gamers everywhere and he will be missed. I am sorry for his family’s loss.

    If it wasn’t for digital tools, my shelves would be completely overloaded like they were in the mid 90’s. While supplements of D&D, Palladium Books, and the World of Darkness, claimed most of the shelf, between these were a number of duds (which shall not be named) and some of the more innovative and in my opinion underrated RPGs in those days. Two such come to mind, Amber Diceless and Pendragon. Both of these were not only unique to the norm of RPGs, but challenged some of the fundamental ideas of the hobby at the time.

    Most RPGs are designed around slipping into the shoes of someone exceptional, but in Tales From the Loop the heroes are a bunch of teenagers whose powers are limited to baseball, punk rock and half-remembered DOS prompts. Perhaps that’s what makes it one of the most fascinating games to be released in a long time? Produced by Sweden’s Free League Publishing, Tales From the Loop was spawned from two interwoven strands of inspiration. The first is a series of paintings by Simon Stålenhag showing an imaginary town based around a powerful and mysterious particle accelerator known as 'The Loop.'

    Have you thought about player preferences in relation to the kinds of adventures and campaigns that you run? I hope you have, since knowing your "target audience" is fundamental to meeting their needs. But you may not have thought in terms of the styles I'm going to describe today.

    Four blocks from the subway, in South Philadelphia’s Point Breeze neighborhood, you find a novel take on cuisine and nightlife called American Sardine Bar. This hotspot features the staples of art crowd and hipster culture. Home to creative food, craft beer, cheap shots of rotgut whiskey, and an upstairs bar with a stage where one could expect to see local comics, acoustic acts, and open mic nights. Tonight however, was something a little different. Tonight ASB was hosting Drinks and Dragons.

    Big Eyes Small Mouth 3rd edition might have been a more popular game despite coming too late to save its parent company of Guardians of the Order. That having been said, the 3rd edition of Big Eyes Small Mouth (shortened to BESM) is exemplary of quality and dedication to the anime aesthetic coupled with tabletop game design.
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