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Category: Gaming

One-Shots: Beyond the Wall

My folder for Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures is complete. This is an OSR D&D-like game aimed at super-quick pickup and play. The concept is that the PCs are all friends who grew up together in a small village, and the cool character generation twist is that you work through a four-page story path playbook to figure out your history and your stats.

For example, in the Self-Taught Mage playbook, you get to a bit where you find a tome of magic. Let’s say you roll a 2 on 1d6: the book was written by a famous bard who travelled far and wide. You get +3 Charisma, and add Survival to your skill list. You then roll 1d6 to find out what kind of mage the bard was, and you get a 3 — the bard was a summoner of dark spirits. This means you get +2 Intelligence, and you learned a specific selection of spells.

I love this. It means every characters has a story grounding their stats, and it means you’ve got that random oracle goodness which sparks so much creativity. It also explicitly generates connections between the characters and, in several places, generates the details of the village in which the characters live.

The scenario packs are similar, with the additional twist that you fill out blank spaces on the random tables with details generated while the players are rolling up their backgrounds.

Thus, it was easy to prep this one. I printed out the playbooks and scenario that came with the base game, indulged my materialism by buying a stapler, stapled stuff together, and voila: done.

Building a One-Shot Book

I literally spent half an hour trying to make the phrase “commonplace book” fit this, but I couldn’t, so maybe stop procrastinating and go? Yes.

One of the tabletop gaming things I want to do this year: build a binder full of one-shot games that can be run with minimal prep. In some cases this means building pre-gens and scenarios. Some games make it easy enough to create characters so that you can just pick it up and go. Add in scenario seeds, with the same caveats, maybe system cheat sheets as necessary, and I’ll have a gaming pack.

In the interests of accountability, here’s my initial game list.

I also need something pulpy in here but I’m not sure what yet. Maybe one of the Triple Ace Ubiquity games, or maybe something Savage Worlds-ish. I’ve always wanted to run The Day After Ragnarok.

Wheels & Walls

You have Walls and you have Wheels. It was ALWAYS that way and it will ALWAYS be that way!”

Donald Trump

Who am I to gainsay our President? And I’ve seen worse creative prompts. Thus, I present a one–page RPG: Wheels & Walls. The good mechanics and GMing advice in this game are lifted directly from Lasers & Feelings, a one-page tabletop RPG by John Harper. Everything else I wrote in a few hours before getting back to the business of celebrating the New Year.

This game wears its political opinion on its sleeve.

If you like it, you can find a long list of other Lasers & Feelings hacks here.

Weighty Gifts

As always S and I do a minimal Christmas. This year we were accidentally gravity themed — I got her a Gravity Blanket and she got me Gravity Dice. Since we consulted on these, we elected not to wait till Christmas Day to open them. Items from other people are still wrapped, since we’re not barbarians.

The blanket is really nice. It’s relatively small — smaller than a typical blanket, just 72 x 48 inches. This makes it a bit short for me but perfect for her. Both of us sleep easier when using it, so I will probably wind up with one of my own soon enough.

Gravity dice.

The dice are also awesome. They’re machined aluminum; solid but not too heavy. 3/8th of an inch on a side. The FAQ says they’re carefully balanced and I imagine they’re reasonably close.

I got these twelve as Feng Shui dice. I also have six I’m going to use for Blades in the Dark. I am super-pleased.

We are also grateful for the jams and jellies my lovely Aunt Kathy sent, the gift boxes from S’ family, and everything from my mother.

Live-Read: The Mechanism

This post is a cleaned up version of a live-read Twitter thread I posted today; I’ve been doing those as the mood takes me, and it’s a kind of fun, lazy way to review tabletop RPGs. My wise friend Ginger noted that I should be collecting these on the blog. I half-thought I had been but I was wrong! Thus, here we go. (It might be entertaining to compare my speed-written text with what happens after I have a chance to re-read it and wince at my clumsier phrases.)

I just received “The Mechanism,” a Night’s Black Agents convention scenario by Gareth Hanrahan, as a bonus with one of my other Pelgrane Press orders. As I read the first scene, I realized the loosely written approach was interesting to me, so I figured I’d share.

Shadows over Six Towers: Session One

After a bit of searching about, I finally found the Blades in the Dark game I’ve been looking for. I dug up two people on Reddit, of all places, and we had our first session last week. It’s a cool group of PCs, sort of occult-leaning novices to the criminal world. Dock is a kid who was raised in a cult and has no idea how the world works (but lots of occult knowledge); Crucible is an alchemist and sailor from the Dagger Isles who got kicked off her ship for stealing things and now has to figure out how to live well in Doskvol; and Loretta (aka Etty) is the child of a noble family who lost all their money and status, so she’s stuck living on the streets with the ghost of her childhood pet for company.

This game sparked my documentation obsession, so we have a wiki. For the click-adverse, the record of the first session follows.

200 Word RPG

My 200 word RPG is up. I’ll move a copy here at some point but right now, let’s go over to the main site to read it, check out a couple more microRPGs, all that stuff.

The Widening Gyre is basically a sidestep away from a mechanic I was thinking about for Feng Shui, which I basically lifted from Blades in the Dark. Asymmetric relationship stats for the win. I think it’s basically playable although I did not work out the math.

On Track for a Beating

There’s this cool story about a pair of gamblers who figured out how to beat the odds at the Jockey Club in Hong Kong. Read it if you like that sort of story. If you’re a Feng Shui player, first read it, then have five plot hooks:

    1. Your friend Bill Menter, professional gambler and statistician, calls you. His system is failing for the first time ever and someone’s clearly messing with the odds. As it turns out, it’s a Lotus sorcerer making some cash to fund a more dire scheme. If a player character is a Gambler, the system may be an unnecessary component of this plot hook.
    2. No, the system really is bullshit. Bill Menter is a front for the Jammers and he’s been screwing with the odds by implanting cyber tech into horses. Your friend at the Jockey Club knows something is wrong and needs you to fix it. (The falling out between Bill and his partner was really because his partner went with the New Simian Army.)
    3. Bill has cause and effect reversed. His code is interacting with the complex Chi flows of Hong Kong in such a manner as to create a temporary feng shui site, which the Ascended notice and object to. You are making some extra cash as a runner when they show up to shut the operation down.
    4. Yeah, that whole story about how Bill didn’t cash in that winning ticket? That’s a lie. Bill is using it as a prize in a martial arts tournament, with the intention of trying to hire the winner for certain plans of his own. But the real prize would be stealing his methodology, and some of the tournament competitors know that.
    5. The system really works by stealing luck away from other people — but not in the current day. Rather, the horses Bill bets on are stealing luck from the past. Much to nobody’s pleasure, they’re specifically stealing Wong Fei Hong’s luck — the young Wong Fei Hong played by Jackie Chan. The Guiding Hand cannot allow this to stand.