#RPGaDay returns for 2020

A follow-on to my post #RPGaDAY2020 Has Been Announced and Dave’s (Autocratik) blog post, Anthony (Runeslinger) has also blogged about it. There is a key clarification that I missed off my blog post, although it is mentioned in video Dave and Anthony made, that the emphasis for #RPGaDay is that of positivity. I’ve reblogged Anthony’s post so you can check out the few rules. 😀

Casting Shadows

If it is possible to have a perfect year for RPGaDay to be run, I imagine 2020 is that year – the year of perfect vision. Hopefully, our hindsight will be as accurate as our day to day sight, and they will conspire to improve our insight and foresight as well.

Dare to dream!

Some Background

Each year for the past few I have enjoyed collaborating with the Autocratik blog on his idea for a month-long celebration of all that we love about roleplaying games. Each year, the event grows and changes a little bit, and each year brings all sorts of surprises as responses come in from all over the globe in different languages, in different forms, and about different games.

Last year we shifted from providing full questions to single-word prompts. We did this for several reasons, not the least of which was to make it easier for…

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#RPGaDAY2020 Has Been Announced

This year’s #RPGaDay has been announced, another inspiring collection of prompts, once again presented in a fun graphic by the great Will Brooks. I look forward to the event each year; I strive to read as many tweets and watch as many videos as possible, plus try to reply and encourage others to keep going. There are always interesting stories and ideas about role-playing, a treasure trove of anecdotes and wisdom.

I have thought about the various ways I could answer the prompts. I am tempted to be more creative this year, inspired by many previous participants, but in particular @Catrinity and @CoronaTinoF, who I wrote about in my summary of #RPGaDAY2019. Although this may cause me to have less time to read and respond to other people’s posts; I already know I will have a busier August than the last few years.

I have a few tabletop and play-by-email (PBEM) games on the go, plus I have started my #Lynchcraftian PBEM game, so I’m pondering whether to focus my answers for this year on something more IC, maybe Flash Fiction fiction. Or should I go with something relating to the Street Fighter RPG, since I’ve spent a lot of time recently translating the Brazilian issues for Punho do Guerreiro, plus I am planning a SFRPG PBEM.

For more information, check out David F. Chapman’s blog, plus watch the video of Dave (Autocratik) and Anthony (Runeslinger) discussing this year’s event.

https://www.autocratik.com/2020/06/announcing-rpgaday2020.html

#RPGaDAY2020

1    Beginning

2    Change

3    Thread

4    Vision

5    Tribute

6    Forest

7    Couple

8    Shade

9    Light

10    Want

11    Stack

12    Message

13    Rest

14    Banner

15    Frame

16    Dramatic

17    Comfort

18    Meet

19    Tower

20    Investigate

21    Push

22    Rare

23    Edge

24    Humour

25    Lever

26    Strange

27    Flavour

28    Close

29    Ride

30    Portal

31    Experience

Review Mage Made Easy

TL;DR: the book covers what the title says and has some useful suggestions. If you are a Mage fan this book has ideas for you. If players/STs are struggling then I definitely recommend this book. If you are a Mage expert, maybe this book is just a 3/5 for you, since experts likely have many proven dynamic pitches, plus the ability to quickly adapt and personalise chronicles; but maybe they’d still get something from this book, or enjoy reading more Mage things.

For those wanting more details, here is a deep dive. From my experience, players new to Mage typically fit into one of the following non-exhaustive groups:

A) Those that need help with the scale and implications of the setting. Character creation alone introduces a lot of Factions; does a player need an overview of each?

B) Those that struggle with the concept of what Spheres can do, plus maybe the rest of Mage’s metaphysics: Paradox and its many manifestations, the different realms, and in particular the topic of what counts as Coincidental / Witnesses / Vulgar magick.

C) Those that also that struggle with A + B.

D) Those that struggle with neither.

For people wanting more advice for dealing with Group B, I can appreciate why some might give the book a 3/5. However, from a certain P.o.V., Satyros does provide advice about the Spheres, from Focus over Spheres, ways to reconsider Witnesses and Vulgar Magick, different ways to use Paradox, to highlighting centring a game low level characters and stories, on more mundane but personal matters. My advice is don’t be quick to dismiss how these threads interact with each other.

Some might think advising people to strip back the scale of Mage, especially given the vast number of books, never mind just looking at the size of Mage 20th, is a simple and maybe even useless answer. I disagree, years ago I used to talk about the rich setting and the fun creativity of the Spheres, some of the players admitted to being intimidated before they began. When I returned to Mage I had an easier time persuading some new players to explore the game by focusing on the personal, not trying to summarise lots of factions, history, or metaplot.

I particularly liked the Arcane Approaches section. Whilst some may view this section as being weak or even obvious, maybe in hindsight it is. Personally, I think it helps make things easier, especially when combined with the rest of the book.

Will players in Group D benefit from this book? The title itself then should be an obvious indication to them about the book’s goal. It seems unlikely that Group D will see this book as a must read; I don’t think it is for them, but if someone enjoys reading Mage books, then I’d recommend this.

Could this book have gone further for those in Group B? Maybe, but I’m not sure more explanations will achieve what some are after. I’ve not experienced long-term problems with people in Group B, since over the course of a chronicle they have learned their characters range and explored different potential; but, I appreciate others may have different experiences. There are other products available that look at the Spheres, Nodes, etc., and maybe this work will inspire another product focusing on the details that some are after. I’ll be reviewing Sources of Magick next 🙂

I enjoyed the book and I think this book succeeds in its goals, 5* drivethrurpg, 4* on Goodreads. 😀

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/314476/Mage-Made-Easy-Advice-from-That-Damn-Mage-Guy?affiliate_id=11172 (Mage the PodcastMage the Podcast Affiliate Link)

https://www.patreon.com/philbrucato/

RPG Impact 10

Continuing with RPG Impact. For my tenth RPG, I’ve chosen Pendragon. I recall seeing this game at my local games shop when I was still at school. No one I knew played Pendragon, and I thought the idea of King Arthur was boring compared to all the other games, so I didn’t discover this gem for a few years. As I mentioned in my Call of Cthulhu post for RPG Impact 6, I finally played some Chaosium when I was 18, and then was taught a bit about the company and Greg Stafford in particular.

I was impressed when I first read the book, but due to all the other games I was playing, it got put on to a list of games, and for years it was never chosen. When I did return to Pendragon was I surprised at myself, how had I not prioritised this game?

Like many growing up in the UK I’d read and seen lots of Arthurian legends over the years, so I had a basic grasp of variation on the tales. Whilst I still thought as the Knights of Camelot as interesting, but I’d mostly been playing games about super powered entities (Vampires, Changelings, Mages, Supes, Cyborgs, mystic Samurai, etc.), in some cases radically changing society or even reality. I recognise that so many games, such as Middle Earth or Changeling the Dreaming, have Arthurian legends at their core, so to an extent I did get to explore some common themes and character arcs. When we played something more mundane, it was modern day or near future.

I’m one of the many role-players that enjoy research, experimentation, buying new games just to read them. The indie scene is fabulous and rich with new ideas and tweaks. With Chaosium I am reminded of the old games company Looking Glass Studios, makers of many amazing and innovative games, in particular System Shock, which led to the epic Deus Ex and also less impressive but still great Bioshock, as well as the fabulous Thief series. Another quick PC game comparison, Planescape: Torment, which for years was a niche gem, but reviews by the likes of PC Gamer had the score go up every few years. For me Pendragon is like this. An RPG gem that many know about, but sadly most role-players don’t.

Pendragon had a big impact upon me for a few reasons. One being the winter season downtime system, not only is it different from most role-playing games, it is also something that easily fits a Play-by-Email style. The game’s focus on family and lineage is great, plus ties in with the game’s troupe style play. After completing my psychology and writing degree, I also gained a new perspective on the brilliance of Pendragon, specifically in regards to the personality mechanics. It is common for games to build upon the ideas of Freud or Jung, but less common to build upon the more complex science like the Big 5 personality traits, I think Pendragon’s personality traits are sublime. I appreciate that some players hate those sorts of things, feeling they are the tools of punishment by bad GMs, etc., but for any doubters, trust me with Pendragon it works wonderfully, empowering characters, supporting the themes.

There are a few videos about this RPG, such as:

RPG Impact 2

Continuing on with RPG Impact. Around the same time I started tabletop RPG I was introduced to wargaming, starting with Warhammer Fantasy and the then brand new 40,000 (September 87). Later an older friend was selling painted Skaven models, which I started using in my D&D games. I think it was 88 when I came across a 2nd hand copy of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP); even 2nd hand, it still cost me more than I earned in a week delivering newspapers.

Whilst the players at my high school RPG club mostly played D&D, I saw other RPGs there, in particular Star Wars (West End Games), Palladium Fantasy, WFRP and later Cyberpunk. WFRP felt different to D&D and Palladium, not just because of the mechanical differences, but the grim rich setting. I was growing bored with the various D&D settings, which felt like a zoo, whilst WFRP lore seemed to be more cohesive, dare I say realistic; of course at that young age, and without the Web, I was not aware of how much stuff had been made for D&D. Also, I guess it was easy for me to get into WFRP due to the wargame and reading White Dwarf. Reading about famous battles and then getting to play our own battles, plus the obvious basis of real life to the ‘Old World’ went someway to giving the WFRP setting a relatable sense of gravitas.

WFRP was my first introduction to Fate Points (FP). Initially they seemed so obvious, but then the question of why other games didn’t have FP resulted in some interesting debates. My young mind needed to learn why genre expectations mattered, what a story promise was, plus how FP affected a game and player decision making. I’m all for taking little bits from different systems, even large-scale fusions, but FP are something I rarely use in games that weren’t designed with them in mind.

Another thing about WFRP was how much fun I had, in particular my Chaos Champions campaign. Two of my old time favourite RPG supplements are the Realm of Chaos books: Slaves to Darkness & The Lost and the Damned. I also learned about Narrative Wargaming from this game, which later helped me appreciate different types of Play-By-Mail.

Part 3

#SecretRage Comic

Huzzah, I’ve just submitted a story for another writing competition; this one was for New Writers North. During my writing breaks I chatted with a few players about game ideas. Some more Play-By-eMail games have been preliminarily arranged. Besides tabletop games, I am currently running PBEM:

  • #FatefulMemories this is a fusion of Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, and the World of Darkness; plus bits from other games. This game has been slow but steady, so far it has been ‘mostly’ set in the Forgotten Realms, but is likely to go full Planescape soon 😀 If the player agrees, maybe in the future I will publish some of the game turns.
  • A Mage the Ascension freeform discovery game.
  • One of the World of Darkness games I had started in 2017 was #SecretRage; I had previously blogged about this as Prelude – Secret Rage PBM 6. This game led to a spin off game, set in modern days, which then metamorphised in World of Darkness Sliders. I am running Sliders primarily as a tabletop, but it still involves PBEM 🙂

I might now also be running

  • A Twin Peaks game, likely another freeform game. Probably using Esoterrorists, Mage and Cosmicism. I saw some recommendations for other games to look at, which focus on providing a Twin Peaks like experience #Lynchcraftian
  • I’ve touched on Satyros’s: Powerchords with a music friend.
  • I have big plans for an epic Reality War game. Sadly I’d need a lot of infrastructure to do that, I’m not healthy enough to tackle so much coding; speech recognition is so annoying with code.

I had put a lot into the primary #SecretRage chronicle. Originally it focused on Werewolf: the Apocalypse. The idea changed to allow the PC to be a spirit, and I also incorporated some of my designs and code from old PBM games. The game would span the whole World of Darkness, allowing for any time or place to be explored. Despite being quite ill at the time of planning this, I managed to do a lot of preparation. I even made a comic; not bad for a rubbish artist with hand problems. Sadly, #SecretRage faded away, but I kept tinkering with it, making new scenes, hoping it would get going again.

Motivated by various chats, as well as discussion tonight in the Mage the Podcast Discord server, I have tweaked the comic that I made and uploaded as a complete PDF: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZKGqsu4Q6q42dvoNlUV7RjzxsI7U9fCH/view?usp=sharing

#SecretRage 0

Batjutsu Secret Rage p1

#RPGaDay2019 prompts 25 to 31

Continuing on with my video summary of #RPGaDay2019 tweets, prompts 25 to 31. Previous prompts 1 to 8

I badly explain a point in the video about RPG and suspension, using the example of how big breaks in music can really add to a song, adding suspension. I also couldn’t remember any tracks in that moment, so:

The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations, Nine Inch Nails – March of the Pigs, Metallica – Sad But True, Beastie Boys – Sabotage, Garbage – Supervixen, Alanis Morissette – All I Really Want, Scissor Sisters – I Can’t Decide, Fleetwood Mac – Oh Well, Tool – The Patient, Portishead – Only You, Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench, Queens Of The Stone Age – The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret, Tool the patient, Sigur Ros – Staralfur, Queen – Fat Bottomed Girls, Rage Against The Machine – Freedom, Kavinsky – Nightcall, plus so many more.

Maybe I need to return to this and explain myself clearer one day?

#RPGaDay2019 prompts 17 to 24

Continuing on with my video summary of #RPGaDay2019 tweets, prompts 17 to 24. Previous prompts 1 to 8

#RPGaDay2019 Prompts 1 to 8

Another year of RPGaDay, but this time instead of questions they are prompts. I’ve been Tweeting and posting on the https://www.facebook.com/RPGaDAY/ page.

I kept putting off making videos, but I finally made a batch 🙂

Trinity Continuum Aberrant Erupts

At the time of writing Trinity Continuum: Aberrant is in the final 24 hours on Kickstarter. I’ve been waiting years for this event, a reimagining of Aberrant. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/200664283/trinity-continuum-aberrant

Aberrant is a fabulous Supes/Super RPG that was part of the Trinityverse, now called Trinity Continuum. Back in the late 90s Aberrant presented a world obsessed with super powered celebrities (Novas), hyper focused reality TV (N!), individuals with the power of gods but also dark conspiracies, and power that tainted the Novas. The old game was very socially minded, why rob a bank when sponsorship and mercenary work is available, etc. The new Trinity Continuum: Aberrant builds upon this, but crucially there are some differences that I love! The game requires the Trinity Continuum core book, I wrote about this last year https://batjutsu.wordpress.com/2018/02/28/impressive-reboot-of-trinity/.

“What would you do with the power of a god?”

First a quick shout out to Ian A. A. Watson (@VonAether), who in particular has spent years trying to create a new Aberrant. There are many interviews covering the process, so here is a summary of the journey about how the old White Wolf merged with CCP Games. Richard Thomas formed Onyx Path Publishing and producing old and new RPGs. Later Paradox Interactive purchased the World of Darkness IP, whilst Onyx Path negotiated to buy Trinityverse outright, which is now solely owned by Onyx Path. Hence the IP of Trinity, Aberrant and Adventure! have had quite the journey.

Aberrant Trinity Batjutsu

I’ve run a few Aberrant games over the years. Some of the games were more like D.C. Comics or Marvel 4 colour style, more carefree fun, sometimes a bit silly. Whilst with my main I ran a dark investigation game for over ten years. This chronicle was about hope, about trying to prevent the inevitable Aberrant War. When we last played it seemed that maybe the PCs had helped solve so many problems, that the future looked positive; I’ll not froth about this campaign, whilst I loved it, typically with RPGs you needed to be there ;-). Like many RPGs the tone can be tweaked, along with keeping in mind PCs motivations and player preferences, to create the style wanted. The new Aberrant includes an examination of this, with an explanation of how to approach the different styles of Supes.

The system is not the old Storyteller one, instead using the Storypath. I’ve still yet to play the system but I do love what I read when I backed Trinity Continuum. In addition to the great momentum mechanic, is the idea of Scale. Scale is reminiscent of the old D.C. Comic RPG, but is designed to be easier to allow for quick decision making, allowing everyone to focus on narrative. From the Kickstarter page Danielle Lauzon explained:

“Okay, so Narrative Scale is for when you just want to know how badly you crush something because of your difference in Scale. It’s described liberally as a multiplier to your successes on a simple roll to get a thing done, but what that really means is that a Scale 1 difference doubles the number of successes you have to do the thing, Scale 2 difference triples, Scale 3 quadruples, etc. Narrative Scale is there for the following kind of scenarios “Superman flies through a building, and we want to know how much damage that does to the building.” We accept that he flies right through, so the roll isn’t to see if he can, but instead to find out his damage to help figure out if the damned thing falls down. Sometimes the SG might just look at a Scale difference and decide narratively that we don’t even need a roll, it just crumples.

I loved the old Aberrant the most out of the numerous Supers RPGs, even though I appreciated it had a few mechanic problems. I’ve read/run/played old Heroes/Champions, GURPS Supers, Mutants & Mastermind, D.C. Comics, Marvel and Palladium. For me, I think the old Aberrant presented both a great setting and rules that worked well enough. Trinity Continuum: Aberrant seems to stride the middle ground between these various systems, providing a vast range of powers, in a setting with different types of powered and baseline characters, with rules that better understand what they are focused on. I’d be very surprised if I don’t love the game when I run it!

Usually I’d write about different game ideas, even crazy ideas about merging various RPGs together. Instead I look forward to returning to my old long running chronicle, which included Adventure! and Trinity. The fact the group and I have had so much fun over the years speaks volumes about the game, and I am sure we will continue to love it for years to come.

The factions are still there, but there have been some important tweaks. Another titanic difference is that Taint is now Transcendence; Novas are no longer time-bombs towards physical and psychological disaster. Characters can still grow distant from humanity, for example Dr Manhattan (Watchman) is a great example of ludicrously powered individual who has very high Transcendence. Check out these two interviews for more details about changes:

https://thestorytold.libsyn.com/bonus-episode-aberrant-kickstarter-interview-with-steve-kenson-and-ian-watson

Onyx Path have a free Aberrant comic at http://theonyxpath.com/comic/you-are-not-alone-cover/

Join the Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/200664283/trinity-continuum-aberrant

#TCAberrant #TrinityContinuum