Friday, February 28, 2014

My Personal "Star Ace: Adventures In Space" Hardback Volume

I have been trying for a few years now to acquire a boxed set of Pacesetter's Star Ace RPG (for less than the crazy-nuts prices it's going for on eBay and Amazon). Not only to round out my Pacesetter RPG collection, but also because I owned it as a kid, and the "space opera grand adventures" setting really struck a chord with me.

So, a bit of inspiration hit. I purchased the Ronin Arts version (the current rights-holder) from Drive Through RPG and had the whole thing printed as a one-off, print-on-demand, hardback volume by Lulu. Boom -- my very own hardback copy of Star Ace.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shiver Me Timbers! A Review Of "All For Me Grog" Cinematic Pirate RPG

Arrr, me ladies, so it's a pirate game ye be seeking, eh? Well, I've come across somethin' that brings to mind the swashbucklin' cinematic adventures of yer Errol Flynn, yer Douglas Fairbanks, and yer Robert Newton. (You don't know of Robert Newton? Eh, yer ignorance makes me weep, laddie. Tis him what created this dialect we all speak in. And "Jonathon Depp," ye say? Never heard of 'im.)

OK, I'm done with "Talk Like a Pirate Day." On with the review.

All For Me Grog is an RPG of piratical adventures on the high seas by Ryan Shelton of Mount Zion Press, and it's become one of my recent favorite games -- not just because of the theme and genre, but because of the incredibly simple system that powers this game. (And the other things it can do -- more on that later...) AFMG is less-concerned with reality, taking its cue instead from the swashbuckling, high-adventure pirate movies you'd see in a Saturday matinee, i.e., Treasure Island, Captain Blood, and (sigh, OK) Pirates of the Caribbean. The rules (only 32 tightly-constructed pages) is sprinkled with quotes from various buccaneer tales as well as plenty of illustrations straight from Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates. Just a quick thumb-through is enough to get your timbers a'shiverin'.

Characters in All For Me Grog have three primary attributes: Bloode, Skull, and Grog (effectively representing your physical, mental, and spiritual aspects, respectively). You have 9 points to divvy up amongst the three. Your character also starts with 9 points of Salt, which is more than just "hit points," but rather an overall score of "well-being." You can lose Salt when injured, sure, but you can also lose Salt in a battle of wits, if you fail at a task, or any number of downfalls. (But you regain Salt fairly quickly depending on how it was lost.) Finally, each character starts with 15 more points to split amongst a handful of Vocations (a general description of what you know or skills you have) as well as 3 final points to apply to any Embellishments (items you possess or secrets you know). So your new seadog (my ship's doctor, for example) could look something like this:

Sawbones McGuirk
Bloode: 3
Skull: 4
Grog: 2
Salt: 9

Doctor: 5
Swordsman: 3
Negotiator: 3
Lockpick: 2
Marksman: 2

Doctor's Bag: 2
Superstitions: 1

As for the game's resolution system, it's very simple. Anytime there's a risk or challenge involved -- whether swordfighting, lockpicking, moving stealthily past the city guards, etc. -- you need to roll as many dice as you have for the appropriate attribute plus any appropriate vocation. For example, for ol' Sawbones above, if he was trying to open a locked cell door, he'd roll 4 dice (Skull) plus 2 dice (Lockpick) for  total of 6 dice. If he was trying to stop someone from bleeding to death from a gunshot wound during a pitched sea battle, he'd roll 2 dice (Grog, due to the pressure of the situation) plus 5 (Doctor) plus ANOTHER 2 for his ever-present doctor's bag, for a total of 9 dice. (You can never roll more dice than your current Salt level though, so the more you fail, the fewer dice you may have in your pool.)

What are you rolling against? Well, this is where it gets simple: you only need three "successes" to pass a task, and you're only concerned with dice that come up EVEN (in other words, a 50-50 shot on each die). So, if three dice comes up with even numbers, you succeed. The more dice in your pool, the better your odds. You can use six-siders, four-siders, anything with same number of odd/even sides. Personally, I like to use toy pirate coins (or "doubloons") for a heads=success; tails=failure randomizer.

There's much more to the AFMG system, but since the rules are fairly brief, I don't want to spoil the entire system in this blog post! There are rules for using Panache (like bennie points allowing you to reroll or change a scene for a more postive outcome) as well as contested risks, assists, healing, mass assaults, and ship-to-ship combat. (It's a pirate game, of COURSE there'll be broadside cannonfire!) Several tables in the back help you name and outfit your newly minted ne'er-do-weel, plus some pre-created pirate NPCs, samples of treasure to be dug up, and names for your home ship.

And if you don't want to play pirates? The system is easily re-skinable! Wanna play a pulp '20s adventurer game? Rename the attributes something like Guts, Brains, and Moxie. Superheroes would use Power, Intelligence, and Reputation. Add some appropriate Vocations and Embellishments, and you're off and rolling. The flexibility is very appealing to me.

AFMG is a rules-light, but incredibly evocative RPG of pirate adventure. Plus the resolution system is incredibly simple and encourages players to roleplay a situation so that they can add more dice to that ever-important dice pool. And best of all, the game is only $3.00, which is a bargain for the amount of streamlined gameplay it evokes. I'll be running games of AFMG at conventions this year, so grab an eyepatch, throw a parrot on your shoulder and prepare to walk the plank with Cap'n Sniderman behind the GM shield!


Monday, February 24, 2014

RIP "Egon Spengler" AKA Harold Ramis

Sad news today as actor/director Harold Ramis passed away at the age of 69. His body of comedic work is legendary: directing/writing Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, National Lampoon's Vacation and appearing in many movies including Stripes...and one other famous film role....

In my eyes, he will always be remembered as brainiac parapsychologist Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters. And Mr. Ramis' photo actually appears on the cover of one of my favorite RPGs of all time.
Thanks for the laughs, Mr. Ramis.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Savage AfterWorld Garage Sale! Take These Off My Hands!

Hey gang, I need to free up some space fast on my gaming shelves. So I'm posting some stuff I'm looking to get out of my house here for anyone who may be interested. Prices are marked, but I'll be willing to entertain offers if you're buying a bunch of stuff in a lot. (Except for the SAS mega-lot at the bottom, which is already priced to move!)

Shipping will be calculated based on weight, cheapest way to get it to you, and your location. So drop me a line at gameagain at gmail dot com and let me know what you're interested in and your zip code. I'll figure up a total and, if agreeable, we'll make arrangements and I'll mark the items as sold. Thanks for looking!

** D6 Space hardback -- West End Games -- Like new  -- SOLD!
** D6 Fantasy hardback -- West End Games -- Like new  -- SOLD!
** Monster of the Week RPG -- Generic Games -- Very good  -- SOLD!
** Transylvania Adventures for DCC RPG -- Land of Phantoms -- Very good  -- SOLD!
** Adventures of Indiana Jones box set -- TSR Inc. -- OK condition. Everything there (including original dice and crayon) except for the 4 cut-out standee pages. Color cardstock prints are included as substitutes. Box is also well-taped together. (Afraid to remove the tape for fear of ripping the box art.)  -- $15.00

** Escape: Curse of the Temple board game -- Queen Games -- Like new. Opened, punched, but never played  -- $15.00
** Escape: Curse Promo 1 (The Pit) and Promo 2 (Doomed) -- Queen Games -- Like new, unpunched  -- $5.00 for both
** Wiz-War board game -- Fantasy Flight -- Like new, unpunched -- SOLD!
** Heap card game -- Bodgers games -- Very good condition -- $6.00

** Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes core rulebook (white) -- Flying Buffalo -- very good  -- $5.00
** Mugshots 1 and Mugshots 2 for MSPE -- Flying Buffalo -- Very good  -- $8.00
** Stormhaven for MSPE -- Flying Buffalo -- Like New  -- SOLD!
** Raid on Rajallapor for MSPE -- Grenadier -- Very good  -- $4.00
** The Adventure of the Jade Jaguar for MSPE -- Flying Buffalo -- Very good  -- $15.00

** Silver Age Sentinels RPG Tristat Hardcover Core Rules -- Guardians of Order -- Like new
** Silver Age Sentinels Game Master's Screen -- Guardians of Order -- Sealed
** SAS Roll Call Softcover Supplement (Silver Age Sentinels) -- Guardians of Order -- Like new
** SAS Roll Call 2: The Sidekick's Club softcover supplement -- Guardians of Order -- Like new
** SAS Roll Call 3: Country Matters Softcover Supplement -- Guardians of Order -- Like new
** SAS Emergency Response module -- Guardians of Order -- Like new
** SAS Criminal Intent Softcover Supplement -- Guardians of Order -- Like new
** SAS Path of the Bold -- Guardians of Order -- Like new
** SAS From the Files of Matthews Gentech -- Guardians of Order -- Like new
** SAS Character Folio -- Guardians of Order -- Like new
** SAS Shields of Justice supplement -- Guardians of Order -- Like new
$12.00 for the entire SAS lot!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

[Labyrinth Lord] Magic Item: The Annahr Key

NOTE: This magic item was to be my third entry in the OSR Superstar competition over at Tenkar's Tavern. However, I missed the cutoff for this third magical item entry, so I thought I'd instead toss this befuddling little item out to you folks.

The Annahr Key appears to be a simple, unremarkable iron key with the word "ANNAHR" scratched along the shaft. However, it radiates very powerful magics if any magic-user thinks to inspect it. The Annahr Key can automatically shape itself to fit into any ordinary lock, unlocking any normally locked door, portal, chest, etc. that the party encounters. (The Annahr Key can only unlock normal locks and is ineffective against magically locked or held portals or objects.)

However, The Annahr Key also has a powerful curse upon it. Although the Annahr Key can easily open any locked item, it will at the same time magically lock and trap any previously unlocked item it's been in contact with. When it is used to unlock a portal or item, the previously unlocked object or portal will slam shut and will be under the effect of an 8th level Arcane Lock spell. The Annahr Key will be unable to unlock this new magically-locked item. Also, at the same time the object is Arcane Locked, an 8th level Symbol of Conflict will appear on the item, affecting any who see it.

It is said that a very powerful chaotic magic-user created the key, saying "The Annahr Key opens doors, while it sows the seeds of discord."

Friday, February 14, 2014

Submissions Being Accepted For New CRYPTWORLD Supplement

Goblinoid Games is now accepting submissions for a future supplement that will feature new THINGS and Unsettling Powers for the CRYPTWORLD RPG! If you'd like to participate, download the Submission Guidelines at this link:

Submission Guidelines for the new CRYPTWORLD Monster Book

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hundreds Of Board Games, All In One Little Box

The other day, I had a boardgame marathon. I first played a space-race game where a friend and I plotted our starships through a wormhole-spotted galaxy. Then we played a land management game where we were rival tribal chieftains attempting to colonize a primitive island paradise. After he left, I broke out a solo dungeon crawl featuring a randomly generated board. Before turning in, a played a quick game of table croquet, flicking a wooden disc through some strategically placed targets in the fewest moves possible.

And all of these different boardgames came out of this little box. Meet my new "piecepack."

Simply defined, a piecepack is a collection of specifically designed pieces that can be rearranged and reassembled into hundreds of different boardgames. Created by James Kyle in 2000 and released into the public domain, a piecepack is to board games what a deck of cards is to card games. With a standard deck of cards, you can play hundreds of different games: poker, solitaire, rummy, pinochle, cribbage, blackjack, war, etc. The cards stay the same -- 13 sets in 4 different suits. It's the ruleset that changes for each game. The piecepack is set up in a similar manner. Same set of pieces, but the layout and ruleset changes depending on the game you want to play.

Pictured above is a piecepack. It also has four suits like a deck of cards: red suns, black moons, green (or yellow) crowns, and blue arms. And each suit has the following pieces associated with it:
  • 6 tiles numbered 2, 3, 4, 5, Ace (a spiral symbol), and Null (blank) on one side. The other side are two lines dividing the tile into four equal sections.
  • 6 coins (small discs) with the suit on one side and numbered 2, 3, 4, 5, Ace, and Null on the reverse side.
  • A pawn with the appropriate suit on it.
  • A 6-sided die with the same suit on each face and numbered 2, 3, 4, 5, Ace, and Null.

Although some games incorporate dominoes, poker chips, actual 6-siders, play money, etc., I prefer to play piecepack games that only use the pieces found in one standard set. For example:

Here's the set-up for a game of Chaos Cruisers, a space-age racing game around a figure-8 track. The dice are used as the playing pieces with the top-most face representing the speed of your vehicle. The player at the intersection narrowly missed the obstacle while he heads toward the scoring gate at the turn.

Here's a four-player game of Everest, a mountain climbing game where four yetis try to knock each other from the summit. The coins are secretively chosen then revealed by each player at the same time as "movement tokens" in a pre-programmed brawl for supremacy!

A piecepack can even play the classics. Four-person Chinese Checkers anyone?

 It can even be used for tabletop "flick" games like hockey, golf, and -- shown here -- a game of 9-ball.

Since the piecepack is open source and in the public domain, anyone can make their own or even commercially create and sell them. (I purchased mine from a vendor.) People are constantly creating new games for it all of the time, sharing them online under the GNU Free Documentation License. (I have a book of 107 different piecepack games I'm working my way through.) Some creative folks have even adapted popular games like Settlers of Catan and Forbidden Island for the piecepack. One game I particularly enjoy plays like a combination of Chill: Black Morn Manor and Betrayal at House on the Hill. (I'll share a playthrough in a day or so to show you how the piecepack system works in play.)

I'm just now scratching the surface of this boardgame phenomenon and wanted to share my discovery with the rest of the folks out there who like boardgames and love a good do-it-yourself modular system.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CRYPTWORLD wins Diehard Game FAN 2013 Tabletop Gaming Awards

I just found out that Cryptworld took two runner-up awards for the Diehard Game FAN 2013 Tabletop Gaming Awards!

The awards are:
Best Remake/Re-release: First Runner Up - Cryptworld
Best Art: Second Runner Up - Cryptworld

Read more about it here! Congrats to Goblinoid Games and Pacesetter!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

[Mutant Future] Savage Menagerie: Mako

No. Enc.: 2d4 (4d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30'); Swim: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: 1 (bite or weapon)
Damage: 2d6 or per weapon
Save: L5
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: XIX

Mako are half-man, half-shark humanoids who live in underwater oceanic communities. Mako (the term is both singular and plural) are able to breathe air as comfortably as they do water, and they will come ashore if they see a need to do so -- usually to hunt if their oceanic food sources migrate or begin to dwindle. Mako are in a constant state of hunger due to their increased caloric needs drawback. Due to this, Mako society is an isolated one as they fear that The Mindless Hunger will strike while socializing with other intelligent creatures. Their weak will causes them to have little control and act impulsively when the need to feed arises. Although Mako are, by nature, quiet, thoughtful humanoids, stories and legends of "the Man-eaters" have already filled most with fear of these huge ravenous creatures.

Mako attack with either a weapon (swords and axes being preferred) or by biting for 2d6 hit points of damage. Once they've entered into combat, a Mako's weak will will push it to continue attacking until their foe is defeated and, usually, immediately consumed. Mako are also pain insensitive, and will not show any signs of tiring or injury during combat until it just drops dead once the final blow is struck.

Mako are actually an honest and honorable race. But The Hunger drives it to commit atrocities that make it impossible for Mako communities to be trusted. Some Mako have learned calming mental exercises that push The Hunger away for short periods of time (up to 8 hours), allowing the Mako a degree of control. But when The Hunger returns, the Mako needs to be away from family and friends as it enters a feeding frenzy that may run for an equal length of time.

Mutations: water breathing, increased caloric needs, weak will, pain insensitivity

Friday, February 7, 2014

Troll And Toad Great Deals Part 2: Silver Age SCORE

This is a follow-up to my earlier post about the great deals that can be dug out of Troll and Toad's bargain bin. In the mood for a new superhero RPG (having played Champions and V&V for years), I poked around the T&T bargains one final time and found a whole stack of Silver Age Sentinels material on clearance. Nearly the entire product line can be had for a song, all brand new, most in shrinkwrap. Check this out:

  • Silver Age Sentinels RPG Tristat Hardcover Core Rules -- $1.99 USD
  • Silver Age Sentinels Game Master's Screen -- $0.49 USD
  • Roll Call Softcover Supplement (Silver Age Sentinels) -- $0.49 USD
  • Roll Call 2: The Sidekick's Club softcover supplement (Sliver Age Sentinels) -- $0.49 USD
  • Roll Call 3: Country Matters Softcover Supplement (Silver Age Sentinels) -- $0.49 USD
  • Emergency Response module (Silver Age Sentinels RPG) -- $0.49 USD
  • Criminal Intent Softcover Supplement (Silver Age Sentinels) -- $0.49 USD
  • Path of the Bold -- $0.49 USD
  • From the Files of Matthews Gentech -- $0.49 USD
  • Silver Age Sentinels Character Folio Softcover Supplement (Silver Age Sentinels) -- $0.49 USD
  • Shields of Justice supplement (Silver Age Sentinels RPG) -- $0.49 USD

Amount -- $6.89 USD
So if you haven't yet gone bargain huntin', I suggest you hurry on over there!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Atari "Video Computer System," Indeed!

Today's quickie post is not RPG-related or OSR-related or even tabletop-game-related, but it IS mega-super-nerdy-geeky cool, so here we go:
My pal, Phil Hergatt, surprised me on Friday with an Atari 2600 VCS with a set of paddles. He knows I love the old retro gaming systems, so I was surprised and pleased with his gift:
He smiled and explained that this wasn't an Atari VCS anymore, but rather he had converted it to a TRUE Atari "Video Computer System" by gutting the non-working electronics from the game system and replacing the innards with a high-speed, Intel-driven computer. The cart slot now held two fans to cool the system, the joystick ports were now UBS ports, and those paddles I mentioned were converted to a pair of speakers. Here it is up-and-running:
And how well does it work? Well, what do you think I'm making this blog post on? ;) Thanks again, Phil!