Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Conan RPG announcement from Modiphius

Early yesterday morning the news broke out across gaming social media that Modiphius had officially announced a new licensed Conan RPG. I knew that someone had the license from Paradox and Conan Properties but not who, nor when it would be released.

Modiphius is also working with Monolith Board Games, who are currently Kickstarting a Conan board game, to cross-promote (using the board game miniatures with the RPG; playing out RPG scenarios in the board game).

The RPG will use the 2d20 system, which I am not familiar with but is used in the Mutant Chronicles RPG that was successfully crowdfunded last year and is now beginning to show up in PDF.

I'm keeping an optimistic eye on how the game develops. With Howard scholars Jeffrey Shanks and Mark Finn on board, it should be in good hands.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Happy Birthday, Robert E. Howard

Today marks the 109th anniversary of the birth of pulp writer Robert E. Howard. It has become a tradition on this date for Howard fans to read a favorite story and raise a toast.

Howard wrote something for every taste: sword and sorcery, hard-boiled detectives, weird horror, historical fiction, boxing, westerns, pirates, and poetry.

I have a copy of Conan Meets the Academy checked out from the library, so I might read a few of the essays rather than one of his stories this year. Brian Murphy wrote an outstanding review and critique of the book at The Silver Key (the comments are good, also).

For more information on his life and career, start with the following sites:
I would also recommend Mark Finn's Howard biography, the Locus and World Fantasy Award-nominated Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard. An new expanded edition was released by the REH Foundation.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What to expect here in 2015

I have become wary of promising myself too much in these New Year "looking ahead" posts. Inevitably some crisis will knock me off track from what I've proposed, and I'll feel like I haven't been able to keep up. Even so, putting these ideas out here still seems like the best way to focus on projects.

I'm eager to run an RPG campaign again. We had a short test run of D&D 5e for three sessions, using the Starter Set adventure The Lost Mine of Phandelver. The players and I had fun, although I'm not sure it was enough time to really test the system. My takeaway -- based as much on other reviews I have read as on our playtest -- is that it delivers just what I want "D&D" to be. There will always be tweaks and house-ruling, but it works as written, and at the right balance for me between simplicity and complexity.

The campaign ideas foremost on my mind at the moment:
  • D&D 5e, possibly starting with Phandelver and leading into Horde of the Dragon Queen (a heavily hacked and curtailed version) and The Rise of Tiamat (dragon cultists!). Or something completely different.
  • A Red and Pleasant Land, using 5e for the rules system
  • Shadowrun, perhaps using Savage Worlds.
  • Night's Black Agents: Dracula Dossier (not out until August/September)
  • Call of Cthulhu (a perennial favorite)
  • Conan, using Barbarians of Lemuria (The Mythic Edition of the game is due any moment now)
I'm in the very preliminary research stages for my Golden Age of Ballooning RPG, and one of my main gaming goals for the year is continuous movement towards a fully-polished game for public release.

On the blog, I'd like to write more reviews -- both of games and gaming products, and of films, reviving the Cult Classic of the Week series.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Goodbye to 2014

2014 was full of personal loss and challenges. I know it was the same for many other people, and the news stories were usually grim.

There were some great things that happened and fun times were had, but even so, I'm glad to have it in the rear-view mirror.

Next post: What to expect in 2015.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

D&D 5e Test Drive, Session 1

I was the DM for the first of three test sessions last Friday night using Lost Mine of Phandelver from the Starter Set box and it went pretty well.

6 1st-level PCs in the party:

Elf Fighter Gladiator
Half-Elf Rogue Spy
Human Warlock Criminal
(Starter Set pregens:)
Hill Dwarf Cleric Soldier
Human Fighter Folk Hero
Elf Wizard Acolyte


The party was ambushed by the goblins, found the goblin trail but set off again for Phandelver (the Warlock and Human Fighter went below 0 HP and had to make death saves). Went to the Shrine of Luck, learned of the banshee Agatha and Cragmaw Castle from Sister Garaele, and spent the night at the inn. The next morning visited Daran Edermath, the retired elf adventurer, and found out about Cragmaw Caves, and then killed the four Redbrands at the Sleeping Giant. Leveling up next session, and they have clues for several different avenues to pursue.

I need to study up on the pre-gen background connections to events in the adventure, and another look at the Basic Rules so I'm not following any preconceived ideas from past systems.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Basic Tenet of the Call of Cthulhu RPG

The purpose of horror roleplaying is to have fun.

This sentence appears on p.10 of Call of Cthulhu 5th Edition, under the heading "Purpose of Play." It is the most important rule in the book.

"Fun" for your group can be defined many ways. If it's shotguns vs. Cthulhu, great. If it's roleplaying the tortured emotions and madness of artists and poets reading blasphemous tomes with nary a weapon in sight, also great. Both methods of play are valid. Both are possible with the same ruleset.

If the difference in hit damage between an M1 rifle and an elephant gun is important to a player, run with it. The unwritten rule is that all of these rules are optional, and use them as your group wishes. Whatever your group defines as fun is the object of the game.

The strength of a traditional RPG such as Call of Cthulhu is the ability to play anywhere on the continuum between the Most Important Rule and complete Rules As Written. It is not a bug. It is a feature.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Gen Con 2014 loot

From left to right, top to bottom:
  • Gen Con Program Guide (filled with articles, maps, mini-modules, etc.) from Goodman Games
  • Caroline Munro, First Lady of Fantasy and Peter Cushing, The Gentle Man of Horror and His 91 Films, both from McFarland Publishing (35% off two or more books on Sunday!)
  • Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad zines #1 and 2, and Wayne Snyder's Dark Ruins art-zines #1 and 2
  • From Chimera Hobby Shop's "Buy One, Get Three Free" deal: Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor, Fantastic Treasures (still in shrink-wrap), The Valdorian Age sword-and-sorcery sourcebook for Hero System, and Planet Stories' The Outlaws of Mars by Otis Kline.
  • Shadowrun 5e quick-start booklet from Free RPG Day (Battletech on the flip-side)
  • 13th Age module "Make Your Own Luck" from Free RPG Day (for running Timewatch for Pelgrane Press)
  • Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Game Masters by various authors for Engine Publishing
Not pictured: Pelgrane Press t-shirt, Gen Con 2014 die from Crystal Caste, and Friday's blue d6 from Scotty's Brewhouse.

Now to carve out time to read all these books...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Not going dark yet

This spring and summer have been challenging. The end of one school semester, the passing of a close family member, then the start of another semester with a changed curriculum, have sapped my creative energies and then months go by without any posts.

I have volunteered for several gaming-related events this fall, so maybe putting many irons into the fire will help kick up the creative spark I am missing at the moment. Expect a Gen Con post and more to come after.