Saturday, May 27, 2017

200 Word RPG Challenge Entry: Carfax Abbey

Here's my other entry for the 200 Word RPG Challenge...

Carfax Abbey

by Keith Garrett
Do you love aristocratic family drama but feel it needs more bloodsuckers? Or do you fancy gothic horror but believe it would be improved with the addition of servants and scandals? Then mash them together in the setting for this gothic aristocratic vampire drama: Carfax Abbey.

Set at Count Dracula’s English residence, the game asks players to imagine Dracula (and associated characters) as part of a family of nobles—or their servants.

Players choose characters from those featured in either Dracula or a beloved period drama. Mix them up! See how Renfield would do as the resident cook, or picture the family matriarch as one of Dracula’s brides.

The GM then presents the players with a situation inspired by both sources. Some stories can come from one source, some from the other, but the really fun ones will likely be a blend. Sure, Dracula knows how to handle a group of hunters arriving to stake him—but what will he do when the chauffeur gets his granddaughter pregnant? How will the butler handle things when visitors from Transylvania show up and turn out to be messy, bloody eaters?

Players then resolve the story with dialogue, drama, scandal, and horror. 
(Also available on the 200 Word RPG Challenge website.)

Friday, May 26, 2017

200 Word RPG Challenge Entry: #Resist

Now that the contest is over, I wanted to share my own entries. Here's my first...


by Keith Garrett
Everyone chooses a different type of Resister made up of an adjective/noun combination, such as Veteran Activist, Socialist Politician, Social Media Warrior, or Newly Woke.

Choose one player to start as the Mouthpiece. Instead of playing her Resister this round, the Mouthpiece invents an Order: some harmful law, executive order, or other legislation. The Mouthpiece can announce the Order as she likes, such as a line from a bill, a quote from the Press Secretary, or a tweet from the President.

Then, each Resister states what their character would do to oppose the Order.

Next, the Resisters state what their character would do to conflict with the stated efforts of one other Resister. This conflict could be spun as intentional or unintentional.

Finally, the Mouthpiece states which Resister's action stymied, impeded, or annoyed the Administration the most. Similar to the Order announcement, this response might come as a pundit's rant, a midnight tweet, or an SNL parody.

Continue play for a predetermined number of rounds (switching the Mouthpiece role each round). The winner is the player with the most successful resistance.

Alternatively, the game may end when a simple majority of players agree that we are all screwed.
(Also available on the 200 Word RPG Challenge website.)

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!