09 #RPGaDay2020 Light

After a childhood full of Cyberpunk, WFRP, and D&D, it was not just rules light/lite that interested me, but unencumbered characters. Shopping can be fun, many RPGs provide escapist fun when it comes to planning and acquiring many different items for our characters, but obsession and greed can run things; both IC and OOC. Whilst still at high school I came to realise why some games felt like a struggle, the circular emphasis some had regarding loot and acquisition, how for some players it invited them to step on the murderhobo treadmill. Obviously a few clearly choose murderhobo treadmill, I could at least appreciate the clarity of preferences they provided, so we didn’t waste each other’s time.

Discovering V:tM in 92 helped me learn different things, in part because with much older adults. One bonus being that typically Vampires do not care about lists of items, no more PC shopping obsession; both as a player and a GM/ST. Playing various TTRPGs and Play-by-Mail helped me find peace with regards to PC shopping; obviously growing up and getting some maturity helped. 😉 Curiously being introduced to GURPS and Champions was interesting, both could feel encumbered due to all the options, but they could also be played in in a light way as well. I also liked that the old Storyteller was a bridge between detailed equipment lists and specialised explanations and the more minimalist systems. I appreciate that some see this as a half measure, or even categorise Storyteller as crunchy due to vast list of powers; well it is, but as always they are optional. People can of course play any as murderhobos … keeping this light 😉

Returning to Cyberpunk in 96 resulted in a very different game. 🙂 The vast lists of equipment were now appreciated for what they added to the setting and an individual’s style. The differences between the various firearms and armour barely mattered.

Not a separate Street Fighter answer today, just to explain this is one reason I love SFRPG, it is very minimalist in regards to equipment, focusing on character and martial arts. For its time it was quite revolutionary, showing how building a focused relationship between ‘Rules-Setting-Goals’ could enhance the game. Some people saw the game as a joke, a few I spoke with saw the minimalist setting as slapstick. The game was not helped by the company handling, the fast turnaround leading to the infamous Players Guide. Still the overall game was solid back in the 90s, just amend Cartwheel Kick many times and its golden; these days the community has hammered the problems out. 🙂

With SFRPG, whilst a few equipment lists exist, for most games they are irrelevant. Interestingly, for the people I have run games for, they have never complained about the depth of the Special Maneuver system, because it is clearly a part of the heart of the game. I was tempted to add a mechanic or maneuver for today, but I’ll keep to the Light prompt and reflect upon what will enhance, not overload.

Other Peoples’ Answers

Anthony Boyd @Runeslinger

https://castingshadowsblog.com/2020/08/09/rpgaday2020-day-9-close/

Craig Oxbrow @CraigOxbrow on Rules-light RPGs.

https://thewatchhouserpg.blogspot.com/2020/08/rpgaday2020-9-light.html

Sue Savage @SavageSpiel

https://savagespiel.blogspot.com/2020/08/rpgaday-light.html

ivanmike1968

Bryon1187 @bryon1187 duration of light sources

Kehaar @DissectingWrlds

https://clarkythecruel.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/rpgaday-9-light/

Melestrua @Melestrua

https://melestrua.wordpress.com/2020/08/09/rpgaday2020-day-9-light/

Paco from GMS Magazine @gmsmagazine

Bob Freeman @OccultDetective

https://bordermengames.wordpress.com/2020/08/09/rpgaday2020-day-9-light-dark/

Roberto Micheri @Sunglar

@PPMGamer

https://www.ppmgames.co.uk/2020/08/09/rpgaday2020-day-9-light/

Heather Fey @slapjellyfish

https://ko-fi.com/post/Light–RPGaDay2020-Z8Z3217ZJ

John M. Kahane @jkahane1

https://jkahane.livejournal.com/2168887.html

SM Hillman @smh_worlds

https://zer0meansyouredead.wordpress.com/2020/08/10/rpg-a-day-2020-light/

Paul Baldowski @deesanction

http://thedeesanction.com/light-rpgaday-9/

This is a non-exhaustive list; I still have many posts to read today, so I might be adding more links. I’d recommend searching the hashtag and judge those great answers for yourself: #RPGaDay2020, some people use #RPGaDay.

03 #RPGaDay2020 Thread

I had plenty of thread ideas, so I consulted my #PieChartofIndecision. Patterns, Fate, Time, Labyrinths, Ariadne, and TV series The Dark were all strong contenders. I’ll be writing about my Trophy RPG Incursion: Labyrinth of the Mind, after this event. Reminiscing about my long running LARP character’s pattern being merged with a Fate Elemental is probably of no interest to anyone but me. Mystic Threads in Mage: the Ascension are a topic I love, enabling diverse paradigms to more easily tap into potentiality, but I write about Mage too much. Several participants have mentioned running multiple plot threads, see below. So I went with pluralising thread and to write about character and clothing.

An old saying that appears in varying ways is: “the man is his clothing” or “clothes makes the man”; to modernise that: “the person is their clothing”. Whilst I don’t entirely agree with this sentiment, since I’ve met too many interesting people in rough clothing, I appreciate it still holds social power. My first two years of RP mainly covered fantasy clichés, if I even thought about clothes it was to copy descriptions from fantasy novels and the few movies I’d seen. At 13 years of age, it was my old referee Pete that introduced me to Cyberpunk 2013 and “Style over substance”; the invitation to explore what a character wears as an extension of their personality. Obviously many adult gamers, and I’m sure some young, understand the fun of exploring a character’s attire, whether the surface level of appearance, to exploring different fashions, or maybe diving deeper to the psychological underpinnings of why an image may appeal to someone. Add in the social norms and we have a complicated social tapestry, how our threads can quickly weave different groups together, or set them apart.

As a player I like to take a bit of time to consider my character’s look and what it means, implies, and why they care. If a character doesn’t care, that in itself speaks volumes.

GEF 1112 Stalik 2
The cobweb threads of my old LT character Stalik. Hot day, after lots of running around healing, so face paint has mostly melted.

Street Fighter RPG Answer

Keeping with my answer of threads, it is hard not to laugh at the tropey nature of the game setting and the prominent characters and their clothing. Having been part of martial art demonstrations, wearing different outfits in public, I appreciate how weird can people treat you looking silly (to them), so it just goes to show what outsiders/rebels the World Warriors are, to not care about their appearance, or how they’re perceived. Thankfully various comics and anime had the characters wearing clothing more appropriate to the social situation they were in, helping to break the cliché appearance some players assume their character is required to keep.

Building upon Punho do Guerreiro (Warrior’s Fist) issue 5 introduction of Items of Power, and taking inspiration from Jackie Chan’s The Tuxedo, we can explore the idea of magic clothing for SFRPG. This is easier to integrate for a chronicle that utilises True Magick, like issue 8 does with a fusion with Mage: the Ascension.

Duplicating Jackie Chan’s Tuxedo would result in a very powerful item, certainly requiring more than 5 background points. However, if we tone things down, an item could be made giving a non-martial artist basic fighting process. Temple guardians with Elemental Sashes. As normal with SFRPG there is the issue of not overwhelming the core game with more modifiers, if a PC can have magic items, maybe the World Warriors and others have some as well. 😉 It is a busy month, but it is something to work  on later for future issues of Punho do Guerreiro 🙂

Other Peoples’ Answers

Autocratik

https://www.autocratik.com/2020/08/rpgaday2020-day-three-thread.html

Runeslinger

https://castingshadowsblog.com/2020/08/03/rpgaday2020-day-3-thread/

Sue Savage presents a story about threads

https://savagespiel.blogspot.com/2020/08/rpgaday-thread.html

Complex Games Apologist

Roberto Micheri

What ties sessions together?

The Rolistes discussing threads of Fate

ivanmike1968 discussing social threads

GMSMagazine with a great example of a plot thread

Parts Per Million on Solo Role-Playing and Zweihander

https://www.ppmgames.co.uk/2020/08/03/rpgaday2020-day-3-thread/

Eleanor Hingley @Magpie_Elle

https://theanxiousgamer.wordpress.com/2020/08/04/review-threadbare/

John M. Kahane with alternate usages for webs

https://jkahane.livejournal.com/2167329.html

 

M&B Liam @_Boganova_

This is a non-exhaustive list; I still have many posts to read today, so I might be adding more links. I’d recommend searching the hashtag and judge those great answers for yourself: #RPGaDay2020, some people use #RPGaDay.

RPG Impact 6

Continuing with RPG Impact. The sixth RPG that had a big impact on me was Call of Cthulhu. When I was first told about the game, I was confused as to what all the fuss was about; although I was still a kid. I’d read horror stories, I’d run horror sessions of D&D and WFRP, well, what I thought was horror; the usual stuff: windy isolated locations, abandoned places, ghosts, spiders. Later I played and ran a lot of Cyberpunk and Vampire; I appreciated tragedy, personal horror, and the beast within that cannot be ignored.

I first played Call of Cthulhu (CoC) at 18 and it had a big impact upon me, because I played it wrong.

I don’t enjoy phrasing it that way, after all we can play RPGs in all manners of ways, but obviously there are ways to play something wrong; granted most of them are childish tantrums. Since the mid-90s, I’ve been open to different play styles. Whilst I still have my preferences, I am willing to play things I’m not keen on, to compromise with a group, etc. All part of growing up. When I play/run a game, I strive to play the genre and intent of the game, appreciating both players’ and characters’ goals. This has served me particularly well at conventions, or games clubs, because playing with strangers is always a big gamble. All of this came about partly because of my first CoC session and a lesson in role-playing.

I was playing a one-on-one session with someone who didn’t particularly like to run games. I had nagged them into running something. I rolled up a character, the Keeper laid out the scenario and of note I had an old character that was very rich. The character had purchased a bargain property, the plan was to renovate and flip it for profit, however, the workforce was refusing to complete the work, so my character went to inspect things. Several odd but low-key incidents occurred; eventually the foreman left, my character was left alone in a strange big house. They couldn’t find anything of note. Another strange and frightening incident occurred, so the character ran out of the house. My character tried to arrange for someone to investigate the house, using their vast wealth. The Keeper got frustrated, said time passed, that no one answered the call. I got frustrated and said that since my character could afford it, they’d write it off as a loss. We hit an impasse, neither of us seeing a way to realign our differences. The Keeper called an end to the game, I didn’t argue, nor did I present a workaround.

We didn’t fall out over the game, but sadly it reinforced my friend’s opinion that running games sucked. That night I relived the game events and came to some conclusions about how we could have played differently, I appreciated that the Keeper had likely become frustrated with me earlier, that I was playing CoC without keeping the genre and game goals in mind; yes I was playing a character, but I was not playing an investigator. At the time I’d mostly been GMing, I wanted to be a player, to explore someone else’s story; a particularly unhelpful approach for a one-on-one. Plus, nagging someone to do something they don’t like was the origin of this whole mess; obvious in hindsight.

Later that week I chatted with several players about why they loved CoC. We discussed the issues of IC and OOC goals, how these sorts of games were not so straightforward regarding the alignment of player and character goals. They also explained more about Chaosium, because despite having a lot RPG experiences, in many different systems, it was a company I had barely looked at.

My friends loaned me copies of Call of Cthulhu and Pendragon 🙂 It changed my opinion from: “Chaosium, maybe I should finally try one of their games.” To “Chaosium, there is something extra special about them.”

Part 7

#RPGaDay2018 Day14 Failure Became Amazing

Describe a failure that became amazing

I go into some depth about a crazy game Vampire that I run back in the 90s, which become a disaster from a certain point of view, but most of the players loved it. It also led to an amazing game. No LARP stories, nor have I included tales about a critical dice roll radically altering a game, not that I have anything against those moments, just that the list I think I made is enough 🙂

Just realised I badly explain my point about high fantasy RPG, pesky sleep deprivation. I guess my foggy thinking was that high fantasy is typically about big failures and big successes, so many of the stories I know from others are the overly-epic type. Such as intentionally pushing scenarios to create guaranteed failures, invulnerable NPCs monologuing, which then requires Deus Ex Machina or there is a party wipe.

#RPGaDay2018 Day14 graph

#RPGaDay2018 Day11 Wildest Character Name

Wildest character name?

I mention a few character names that could count as wild on Day 05: Spat the Spider-Cat-God from Changeling The Dreaming 6 point Companion. The Goatface time travelling Chaos Lord from my old Warhammer Fantasy RPG party of Independent Chaos Champions of course had a Daemon name, as did some of the other PCs. Sadly I forgot their names and cannot find the character sheets from 1995.

I also forgot to talk about some of the crazy character names from Lorien Trust LARP. I even went for something silly for one of my character’s, which was supposed to be a throw-away one, maybe I’ll write/talk about them another time.

Otherwise I have nothing particularly extra to add to what I discuss in my video, I focus on my work at KJC Games. No #PieChartofIndecision but there is an #RPGDeepDive on today’s video.

Kickstarter Sigmata RPG p2

This follows on from Kickstarter Sigmata RPG.

I am currently playing about with campaign ideas for this game, as well as future ideas merging with other games. Chad’s previous game Cryptomancer included a suggestion about a mechanical bolt on approach for other games, hence my thinking along this line for Sigmata. If you’ve not checked out the Sigmata Kickstarter page yet, here is a quick overview. The game is linking together serious and silly ideas, drawing upon numerous political ideas, people movements like the Arab Spring, as well as 80s pop culture. Major influences include things like Synthwave, plus films like Akira along with Saturday morning cartoons like Transformers and G.I. Joe.

Sigmata is an RPG in the Cyberpunk genre of games, joining the likes of famous RPGs like Shadowrun and Cyberpunk. For a few people defining Cyberpunk is an almost religious process. My simple take on the subject is that Cyberpunk is a broad encapsulating term that includes all sorts of products; I agree with the following genre overview:

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a futuristic setting that tends to focus on “a combination of low life and high tech” [1] featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.[2]

Sigmata allows players to play as Cybernetic badasses, who have access to diverse and interesting capabilities. Players (receivers) receive their powers via hearing signals, which are broadcast via radio towers. When the players have access to a very strong signal they are akin to superheroes in power level. The game includes a campaign tracking system, which in particular intrigues me.

I plan on running Sigmata by itself first, so I can get a good appreciation for the game and the practical experience of the rules. Additionally the Sigmata Kickstarter already has many goals unlocked, which includes alternate time periods to play in. This alone should keep the majority of gamers engaged for years to come. Lots of game options at launch, most impressive.

Merging with other RPGs

Whilst Sigmata is much more than just resistance tracking and signal towers giving powers, but these two ideas in particular are what I am very keen on exploring in other games. Following on from my previous post and my habit of mentioning RPG mental tool kit/belt, I’ll provide a list of ideas, like I wrote for my Changeling Kickstarter blog.

I love the idea of adding the Signal to a fantasy game, whether a high fantasy setting like D&D’s: Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft, Planescape, etc., or a grim-dark setting like Warhammer. Part of my thinking is that Sigmata could provide Avatar-like potential, as well as an extra level of campaign goals, but with mechanics of how to track such things. Whilst I have run very politically and rebellion focused campaigns in D&D previously, it was a long-time ago, and I didn’t make any mechanics for tracking resistance movements.

Consider how many fantasy settings have tyrannical rulers, but not just mortal monarchs, but also Magocracy or Theocracy, etc. Many magical settings include abilities empowering communication, speed of travel, as well as divination, all of which would really mix things up. However, what if magic cannot be trusted, and the party has to travel to hand deliver importance evidence, trying to avoid a scrying government, relying more on individual power, charm and guile. In a world of rare powerful magic the Signal could provide the party a much needed edge. Whether playing Rokugan with the Legend of the 5 Rings system, or the D20 system, there is interesting potential for Sigmata crossover.


Cthulhu mythos could take the Sigmata into dimensional territory, as well as paranoia and insanity. Imagine a game with cults having infiltrated tyrannical governments, so not only do the players need to resist things, but the fate of the world is at stake. Players (receivers) wondering where the signal comes from, and whether their newfound power cost something like sanity, or worse!


The World of Darkness is a game setting has all sorts of potential. The Signal could be related to any one of the existing supernatural groups, or something new. A Changeling campaign based in the Dreaming could have tyrannical Sidhe ruling commoners with an ‘iron’ fist, maybe the Signal allows a commoner to overcome the increased power of their innate nobility that Sidhe have in the Dreaming. A Werewolf game could have Garou being empowered by the Signal, which could be a new techno-spirit, providing new tools in the fight against the Wyrm. The same applies to a Mage centric game, but the metaphysical debates and paranoia regarding the Signal would be what I would want to focus on. An interesting twist to the Jyhad, such as Anarch vampires fighting Camarilla Elders, or Hunters avoiding Kindred. This could also work with the Chronicle of Darkness games.


Although the Trinity Continuum is about to be relaunched in the near future, the Trinity, Aberrant, Adventure settings of old included a powerful signal altering people. I am currently running Trinity and will be for a while yet, so I may start including things.


GURPS Riverworld, this setting is based upon a great sci-fi novel, which has its own sort of towers and effects on the world. I will avoid spoilers here; I guess most of those that have read it will appreciate where I am going with my thoughts. For me the wonderful GURPS reference books epitomise the RPG mental tool kit, so there is easily infinite scope regarding Sigmata ideas added into the GURPS system.


Shadowrun or R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk games should be quite easy to merge with Sigmata due to the genre closeness and the typical adversarial nature of Corporations. Since powerful cybernetics already exist in these games, imagine if they were further empowered, which radically alters things. The magic in Shadowrun could also be enhanced, maybe in a way like with the D&D ideas I mention above.


I hope I’ve convinced you to at least check out the Kickstarter page for more information. Join in and #RepeatTheSignal.

Kickstarter Sigmata RPG

At the time of writing there is a week to go for the Sigmata RPG Kickstarter. The main designer is Chad Walker, and this alone is reason for me to be interested; I’d like to persuade you as to why this should spike your interest. It’s worth noting that I’ve written about Chad’s Cryptomancer game previously; a great game idea plus it adds something original to the role-playing community.

I am a big fan in reading practically anything to expand my RPG mental tool kit/belt; I need to work out some comedy picture ideas to demonstrate this point 😉 Since Cryptomancer added important real life concepts like Cyber security to RPGs, and Chad is a big believer in life gamification, I am quite optimistic regarding what he plans to add to the RPG community with Sigmata.

From the Kickstarter overview:

“SIGMATA: This Signal Kills Fascists” is a cyberpunk tabletop role-playing game about ethical insurgency against a fascist regime, taking place in a dystopian vision of 1980’s America.

Players assume the role of Receivers, the superheroic vanguard of the Resistance, who possess incredible powers when in range of FM radio towers emitting a mysterious number sequence called “The Signal.” When the Signal is up, Receivers lead the charge against battalions of Regime infantry and armor or serve as the People’s Shield, protecting mass demonstrations from the brutality of a militarized police force and neo-Nazi hooligans. When the Signal is down, however, Receivers are mere mortals, desperately fleeing from a powerful state that senses their weakness.

It’s called the Sigmata, a Signal-induced stigmata, because it is a both a blessing and a curse. At least when you’re marked by the state, you can’t sit on the sidelines anymore.

Just based upon the full Sigmata title it should be clear that Chad takes the concept of life gamification seriously, just from daring to mention the word fascist. Politics is always a complicated subject and now it seems to be even more complicated. Personally I’d say political actions/events always matter, but cycles vary and some actions/events matter even more. I think it is reasonable to state that the current cycle matters in particular, so it’s no surprise to read comments questioning Chad’s reasoning for attempting such a project; especially since some view RPG as politically neutral, but I’ll write about that tricky subject another time.

I love the fact Chad is tackling such a tricky subject. Even though I have played a lot of political heavy RPG games, I am sure this forthcoming specialist game will present a more sophisticated game world to explore than the typical RPG. The mechanical explanations Chad has given reassure me that the rules will support the narrative/game goals. I am sure Sigmata will be adding a powerful mental tool to my RPG mental tool kit/belt.

There is a lot to unpack with Sigmata, and I plan to do so over the next few blogs. Meanwhile I hope I’ve convinced you to check out the Kickstarter page for more information. Join in and #RepeatTheSignal.

Prelude – Secret Rage PBM 4

This continues on from part 1 PBM Thanks & Secret Rage.

Where and when to start a game are typically essential questions. When I worked at KJC Games I took the long-time running fantasy game Quest and added in role-play with moderation. Since the game had been running for so long, and some customers knew nothing about role-playing, there was a lot of discussion about the best ways to implement such a dramatic change. In hindsight there are so many things I’d like to have done differently, but given the scale of the operation and time pressure, at least it mostly worked out well. So when I proposed this campaign I knew I would need to treat it as another professional undertaking, and not ignore lessons I had previously learned due to being too caught up with enthusiasm.

Years before when I had run my two big Vampire PBM games I had written out very detailed backgrounds, as well as spent a lot of time discussing things with the players. The Elder Night City PBM game had even more background than the Methesulah game, in part because I was merging R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk with the World of Darkness (WoD), plus the WoD timeline had moved forward by many years. Although two players were replaced, since they lacked the time to play, surprisingly the final sixteen players eagerly read everything and put a lot of effort in to their turns 🙂

The previous bit of nostalgia was at the forefront of my mind when working on Secret Rage. Since Richie and I know the World of Darkness so well, at least I didn’t need to write a synopsis of the cosmology and numerous powerful organisations. This brought me back to the essential question, instead of having the character be somewhat established, why not set the game before the spirit even existed, or better yet at the birth of the spirit. This was somewhat inspired by a local role-player who decades ago was somewhat infamous for setting his D&D games at level 0. The joke became that in the next campaign the players would be playing the grandparents of their characters, with the goal being to make sure their family got born. Then the next campaign their grandparents’ dogs.

Since Richie is an artist, and a lover of comics, I had the idea of making the prelude a comic. I am not much of an artist, and I need to be careful about my ever present wrist RSI, so I accepted that I could not make it high quality. As spirits are more abstract than mortals, I thought this simpler approach could even turn out to be something distinct. Whilst I cannot use speech recognition software to draw, I can use things like https://pixabay.com/ for free artwork, and a few minutes with GIMP https://www.gimp.org/ isn’t a problem. Apart from using a few Werewolf glyphs I decided it was best to avoid using any official artwork, which is a shame since the WoD has some amazing art.

#SecretRage 0

Batjutsu Secret Rage p1

Batjutsu Secret Rage p2

Next time, more of the prelude.

Disclaimer: This is a fan project for a friend, not a commercial product. Vampire, World of Darkness, Vampire the Masquerade, etc., are registered trademarks of White Wolf Publishing, Inc.  “Portions of the materials are the copyrights and trademarks of White Wolf Publishing AB, and are used with permission. All rights reserved. For more information please visit white-wolf.com.”

#RPGaDay 06

If you are not familiar with #RPGaDay, then please read this page first. For the 6th day of #RPGaDay the question is:

You can game every day for a week. Describe what you’d do!

My answer is: #RPGaDay 6, discuss with my group: 1) run the week like a convention, or 2) see link

As always whatever I run would be discussed with my group. Since we’ve gamed together for decades I guess the vote would either be:

  1. Running the week like a tabletop convention. I’d have a choice of different games that the players could then vote on what games to fill those slots. Ideal for mixing things up, enabling players to return to old campaigns, start something new and also a chance to try out the latest RPGs.
  2. I am currently playtesting my own game (Elemental Masters (rubbish working title)). I feel it would be best to take breaks from this so I could take on board any feedback, and then tweak designs as necessary. The other 50% of the time I’d go with my answer for day 1 of returning to a long running L5R campaign, but adding in Cryptomancer shards for: “Shadow in the Shardnet”.
  3. Run a multitude of different settings using GURPS. Maybe on the final day the different settings are all linked up.

RPG Reality

I currently only have one group, and we are all too busy. Sadly we wouldn’t have a week we could put aside, and even if we did I would still want to focus on writing and design. Still I appreciated the dream time that the question instigated.

Quick Nostalgia

Like many gamers in their youth, I gamed as much as I could. During the summer holiday of 1990 I played Cyberpunk 2020 practically every day during 10+ hour sessions, for most of the 6 week summer holiday. I had been playing a lot of D&D before then, and World of Darkness once it was released.

Some years later I had less time to due to work, but for a while I did play in many different groups and ran several groups.  So I was gaming 5 days out of 7, mostly classic World of Darkness, but also some Street Fighter, Palladium (Ninja and Superspies) and D&D.

By 2000 when I was working at KJC Games I didn’t get to game as much. I was not gaming in as many groups. I started going to gaming conventions, as well as helping a bit with the local convention TowerCon. I stopped going to tabletop conventions since I returned to playing LARP. More recently I’ve mostly been finalising years of designs.

https://batjutsu.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/street-fighter-rpg-look-back/ and other links to old articles can be read via my RPG post summary page https://batjutsu.wordpress.com/role-playing-game-links/

#RPGaDay 05

If you are not familiar with #RPGaDay, then please read this page first. For the 5th day of #RPGaDay the question is:

Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

There are so many amazing game covers I contemplated picking, I’ve listed ones I nearly choose below. Since this question has no correct answer, choosing one was quite difficult. I went with:

#RPGaDay 5 Usagi Yojimbo, also the only game I’ve bought simply due to the cover.

Batjutsu RPG IP Covers

Since any RPG using existing intellectual property (IP) brings with it a lot of sentiment, be it: Star Wars, Trek, D.C, Marvel, Middle Earth, Babylon 5, Street Fighter, etc., could be thought of as having a bonus to any dice roll to help capture what the spirit of a game would be; I’d go as far as claiming that it’s an automatic success. This is why I think it puts any RPG cover for such an IP in to a special category. This is not to diminish some of the amazing front covers for any RPG using a big IP setting; I’m just saying that for me I already have an opinion of what the spirit is.

I had no idea what Usagi Yojimbo was when I bought it, so I am ignoring the fact the game used an existing IP; also it’s clearly not as famous as the IPs mentioned above 😉 I vaguely recall thinking it might be a bit like TMNT, but it looked less zany, more serious. Also my first introduction to Greg Stolze, whose varied great work I’ve enjoyed many times over the years.

I almost choose the stunning artwork used for Tales from the Loop. So many are saying it really captures the spirit of the game, but I have not played it yet so I thought in inappropriate to pick. Whilst the game is partly inspired by Stranger Things, but it does not use the title, so I think it is fair to not treat like the big IPs like Star Wars.

Minimalist Front Cover Shout-Outs

It’s hard make a front cover whilst keeping details to a minimum. It makes sense to make epic fantasy/sci-fi pictures for an RPG, since the fan base is usually the sort of people that will plaster their walls with pictures of dragons and spaceships. So it is understandable that the majority of RPGs use an epic scene for their front cover, especially given how important drama is for any RPG.

Two games that deviate from this norm, that I also think use the front cover to capture the spirit of their game are:

  • Traveller’s text on a black background somehow works; maybe because it is a gripping short story, atop the black which represents deep space and vulnerability?
  • Code and Dagger (Cryptomancer) does a great job of encapsulating that game.

CodeDagger

Other Shout-Outs

There are so many other front covers that I nearly choose: Cyberpunk 2020, Warhammer 1st Ed, Shadowrun, L5R, Deadlands. Of special note to me is Aberrant, there is a lot going on in the picture that captures the drama of the setting, without it being too busy.

Batjutsu RPG covers

Like many others I have spent too much time on pinterest if you’d like to look at more RPG artwork: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/batjutsu/