Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Winners of the 200 Word RPG Challenge

The three winning entries in the 200 Word RPG Challenge have been announced. Here they are in alphabetical order (because there's no first/second/third place for this contest):

Congrats to the winners! I also recommend reading the other finalists, which made up 28 out of the nearly 700 (!) submissions.

Monday, May 8, 2017

International Tabletop Day 2017

My gang and I celebrated another International Tabletop Day recently! Here's what we played. (You can also read about what we played last year.)

Game 1: Elder Sign

One of my friends hadn't played this before, so we were happy to introduce her to it. This game gets a lot of play in my house, because it captures the fun of Arkham Horror but is easier to set up and--for us--win.

I had to document this anomalous die roll. It was one of two similar ones on this day.

Four "peril" faces in a single roll!

Game 2: Evolution

My friend Jeff brought this one, and none of us had played it before. It was pretty fun! On round one, at least 2 of us went extinct because we failed to understand how to feed our organisms.

Below are my wife's three species. Each species can have up to three traits, and you can change traits later.

Game 3: Utter Nonsense!

I'm normally too afraid of embarrassing myself to play a game like this, but I'm glad I did. Each round, one player is the judge, and randomly picks an accent for the others to imitate. Then each player chooses a line to read in that accent. Some of the accents we had to mimic were Southern Gentleman, Mexican, Australian, Super Mario, Whisper, Mumble, and Chicken.

Game 4: Tokaido

My wife and I never get tired of this game, which we discovered on Wil Wheaton's Tabletop. We find it a peaceful change of pace from other games. The goal is to sample different items and experiences on a journey in ancient Japan.

Game 5: Star Trek Panic

My favorite Castle Panic variant! Each player chooses a Star Trek character to play (original series), each of which has a unique special ability. (As Chekov, I did extra damage with phasers.) Then you try to complete five missions based on episodes from the show, while also having to deal with randomly appearing enemy ships and space phenomena. One of our highlights was defeating the Doomsday Machine in a single turn!

We were victorious, but as you can see, we barely got out alive...

Parting Gifts

I used this occasion to unload some surplus collectables from my son's LootCrate subscription. I intended it as a prize table, but since two of our games were cooperative, I just let people fight over this stuff, gladiator style.

Did you play games on Tabletop Day?

Friday, April 21, 2017

200 Word RPG Challenge

I’m working on a 200-word roleplaying game. And so are lots of other people!

The 200 Word RPG Challenge is a pretty casual contest where anyone can submit up to two bite-sized RPGs. Organized by David Schirduan and Marshall Miller, the contest encourages creativity and judges only content, not formatting. Submissions must be in plain text, with no art or fancy layout involved.

The contest website contains all the entries from the past two years, and you can already start reading the submissions that have come in for this year.

Prizes for the three winners include free graphic design, artwork, and layout for the winning RPGs; mentions on two gaming podcasts, inclusion in a gaming fanzine; and copies of a few RPGs. And two of the judges are Jef and Jon, the hosts of one of my favorite gaming podcasts: System Mastery!

The submission period is open now and runs through this weekend (closing at the end of April 23).

Wish me luck on my submission (or, if I’m being optimistic, submissions). It might be difficult, fitting something that could be called an RPG into the exact length of this post.

If you submit something, let me know!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Lawful Good Gaming

Back in January, prolific gaming blogger (and pal of mine) James Walls vented on Facebook about feeling the need to do something positive to counteract the bad feelings generated by the recent attempted Muslim ban. And, being a hard-core tabletop gamer, he wondered if that positive activity could be something game-related. Some of us other like-minded gamers felt the same way, and together we started a group we call Lawful Good Gaming.

Here’s James’s introduction to the group:
There is some good in this world and it's worth fighting for...

The world had given us about as much as we could take. So we decided to use the talents and skills cultivated in our tabletop gaming hobby to help make our world just a little bit better. So we formed LAWFUL GOOD GAMING.

Lawful Good Gaming coordinates, hosts, and participates in tabletop gaming events (both online and in person) to help raise money for progressive charities, organizations, and causes. Make no mistake... to paraphrase a great Browncoat, “We aim to misbehave."

If this sounds like your kind of adventure, come join us! We’re just getting started, and your voice will most certainly be heard.

The group’s current home is the Lawful Good Gaming Facebook group, until we get our website up and running. The Facebook group is public; only members can post, but we’re happy to add all gamers who want to join the fight.

Season One

LGG is planning to divide its games up into “seasons,” with each season focusing on a different thematically-linked group of charities. The first season is called Champions of Equality and supports three charities that focus on (yes, you guessed it) equality: the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Government Accountability Project.

So far, members of the group have run three online RPG one-shots to raise money for our selected charities. We ask players to make a donation to one of the charities before the game and send the GM some form of proof-of-donation. (We don’t handle money ourselves.)

Our first three games were Gods of the Fall, The Strange, and Night’s Black Agents. In those three events, we raised over $700. I think that’s a great start!

We have five more events scheduled at the moment, and more on the way.

Saturday, April 8 at 8 PM - 11 PM EDT: Numenera - Let's Go to Queslin (2 open seats). GM Ethan Hammersmith. Charity: Government Accountability Project. 
Wednesday, April 12 at 6 PM - 10 PM: Cypher System - Modern Setting (5 open seats). GM Shaun Ramsey. Charity: Government Accountability Project.
Saturday, April 15 at 9 AM - 12 PM: Masks: A New Generation - Saturday Morning Supers Presents: Civil Outreach (0 open seats). GM Taylor LaBresh. Charity: National Immigration Law Center. 
Thursday, April 20 at 6 PM - 9 PM PDT: Delta Green - Springtime in the City of God(s) (5 open seats). GM Alexander Lepera. Charity: Government Accountability Project. 
Saturday, May 13 at 3 PM EDT: World Wide Wrestling: FIGHT-FEST 2017 (4 open seats). GM Jeff Stormer. Charity: Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Join us!

If any of this sounds appealing to you, come join us! We are looking for more players and more GMs but we also welcome folks who just want to discuss topics of interest to activism-minded gamers.

If you ARE interested in running a game for the group to raise money for charity, come on in and let us know. Group admins will help you get something scheduled.

Facebook Group: Lawful Good Gaming
Twitter: @LawfulGG

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

MidSouthCon 2017 - Day 3

MidSouthCon 2017 continues! If you missed the previous posts, here they are:

Dungeon World

My third and final RPG of the con was Dungeon World. It was also the third time trying a game I'd never played--which is usually my goal! The session was called "The Great Below," and because of the way it felt and the fact that I can't find an adventure of that title online, I suspect our GM wrote it himself. Which impresses me, because it was a fun one.

I got to play a bard (my favorite fantasy class), and my wife was a cleric. One player was a thief (and my character's best friend), and the other was a custom "psion" class. The adventure had a fantasy feel but in a post-apocalyptic setting--and as a fan of Numenera and Mutant Crawl Classics, I like that quite a bit. I got to make enemies attack each other, which I chose to do because that's what my wife did to great effect in our Rifts game. Our party worked well together, and at the climax of the adventure we had control of a giant robot ape.

I forgot to take any photos, so boo on me. Try to picture a giant robot ape.


I had forgotten to bring anything to ask Keith Baker to sign on day 1, but for the rest of the con I wagged around two items. On Sunday, I spotted him again, and he kindly signed my games. (You might be thinking of pointing out to me that I could have found him in one of his panels, but I kept too busy this year playing games to make it to any of those.)


Cthulhu Fluxx

Later, in the art gallery, I met artist guest of honor Matt Stawicki at his corner of the room. He was also amazingly friendly, and added his signature to my copy of The Strange, along with those of the other creators I've met so far. In fact, so did Cathy Wilkins, who was there too! Double artist greatness!

I was interested to learn that Matt's favorite world in The Strange is the biomechanical world of Ruk, because he likes the bizarre setting.

More Board Games

We squeezed in three more board games on Sunday, too.

Battle Sheep is a kid-friendly game in which players alternate placing land-masses and then try to fill the most space with their own sheep using simple movement rules. It was fun, and didn't take too much brainpower. (At the time we played it, that was a plus.)

Roll For the Galaxy is a cool-looking dice-based worker placement strategy game. The players are competing to create the most powerful empire. I wanted to love this game, but my two fellow players and I couldn't reach the top of the learning curve before frustration made at least one of us lose interest. I'd still like to give it another try sometime. I like the space setting and the use of many, many dice.

Exposed is another kid-friendly game where each player is a pickpocket. Nobody knows at the start who the other players are, and you're trying to collect the most wallets without being identified.

Con Complete!

And so we come to the end of another successful MidSouthCon! I played more games than usual, and spent less than usual, so I call that win-win!

Monday, March 27, 2017

MidSouthCon 2017 - Day 2

MidSouthCon 2017 continues! If you missed the previous post, here's a link: Day 1.

Savage Rifts

My first stop on day 2 was my first game of Savage Rifts. As I mentioned last year, I backed this Savage Worlds edition of Rifts on Kickstarter, and read the books as soon as they arrived at my house--but this was my first opportunity to play.

It was great fun! Our characters were dog boys of different types in a biker gang. (Mine was a crazy poodle who thought he was a cat.) The adventure was "Meet the New Boss" from Savage Foes of North America. My dog boy, Felix, went out in a blaze of glory saving townsfolk from a collapsing building. (Full disclosure, our team member collapsed the building.)

Escape the Room

My second game of the day was a board game we checked out from the library, Escape the Room. It's a tabletop recreation of an escape room experience. It was fun, but there's just about zero replayability to this one.

Feng Shui 2

My other RPG on day 2 was another first for me, Feng Shui 2. The adventure was "Red Packet Rumble," and I had fun playing as the Scrappy Kid. I documented my favorite attacks in this stylish Hong Kong action cinema game (in this case set at a wedding):
  • flying kick to the face (success!)
  • somersault toward a mook ending in splits at his feet to deliver a punch to the crotch (fail!)
  • sweep the legs since I couldn't reach the crotch (fail!)
  • drown a mook in the punch bowl (fail!)
  • throw a mook into the groom's cake (fail!)
  • whip cupcakes at a mook to soften him up for a flying kick into the buffet (fail!)
  • bash a new target with a serving platter (success so solid it took out a second mook!)

Feng Shui 2's action tracker

In the end, this session was OK-but-not-great, though I may save the details for a post about that topic later. The Feng Shui 2 system, though, I really like.


I hesitate to call mine a costume, since it's only made of a few parts and a prop, but this year I accessorized my new ultra-long Doctor Who scarf with some other wardrobe elements to represent the 4th Doctor.

TARDIS provided by a skilled builder at the con

Here were my favorite costume-related moments from the con:

  • An older lady gave me a heartfelt "Thank you!" (I assume she meant for representing the classic series, but it's possible she just appreciated me moving out of her way.)
  • A young man simply nodded and said, "Doctor."
  • Someone said, “I’ve always wanted a scarf like that. I just never made the time to make one.” (I wasn't sure how to answer that one. Neither have I? Also, he never actually complimented mine, so...)
  • A vendor excitedly told me about his favorite Doctor (#7)
  • And, my favorite: a young girl passing me simply said "Nice."

During my Time Lord adventures at the con, I also met one of my future selves, #8...

...and even ran into my mirror image!

This fellow was devastated that he'd forgotten
his wig and scarf, but he still looked amazing!

Here are some other costumes I liked (and got close enough to capture)...

So happy I found a Ghostbuster! 


As an admitted dice addict, I must confess to purchasing a set of dice within half an hour of entering the dealer's room. Much later, between games, I bought the Doctor Who 10th Doctor Sourcebook (adding him to my other favorite Doctors, #4 and #1) and a Gloom Expansion (in honor of Keith Baker).

Here's my favorite vendor. (Also, not coincidentally, the only one selling roleplaying games.)

Coming Soon: The MidSouthCon 2017 Finale!

Friday, March 24, 2017

MidSouthCon 2017 - Day 1

Here are some highlights from the first day of MidSouthCon 2017.


My con experience got off to a great start with a game of Gloom moderated by its designer, gaming guest of honor Keith Baker himself! Keith led two tables of Gloom, alternating between our table and a neighboring one. They chose Fairytale Gloom and we (ok, *I*) chose the new Gloom in Space!

For my crew I assembled Team Adorable: The Farmboy, The Kid, The Cute One, and The Robot. In the finest Gloom tradition, all of them died miserably.

Action Cats

Because we finished Gloom a little early, Keith invited us to try out a new game he's testing out, Action Cats! It is fan-tastic!

Reminiscent of games like Cards Against Humanity, in each round of Action Cats one player is the judge and the other players compete to put together the funniest phrase. In this case, the phrase is intended to describe the pictured cat.

Keith had the judge name the cat who was the subject of each round. A different cat is on the back of each card. In our game, this was Kitty Conway...

These were the contenders for one round.

Keith said he plans to Kickstart the game later this year.

Board Gaming

We finished out day one by sampling some games from the board game library. It's been a long day, so I don't remember their names. Here's a shot of the room:


Here are a few of the cool costumes I saw today. I expect to see much more tomorrow, as they ramp up for the costume contest.

More to Come on Day Two!