Monday, September 24, 2012

RPG Review Recess - Marvel RPG Civil War

Now, I will tell you something you already know. The set up for how the Marvel RPG books are done is amazing and is backwards to so much of the advice that I have gotten over the years.

That advice? Adventures don't sell. Write them, but give them away for free because no one buys an adventure.

Well, Margaret Weis Productions is set up to completely and utterly destroy that concept with their Marvel Civil War. Inside you'll find an adventure that will take you months to complete, seriously it will take you a couple of months to complete and what a set of wonderful months it will be. If you haven't read the comics, or at least checked out the timeline on wikipedia or something, then let me explain briefly what this is. Civil War is the arc of stories that deals with the Marvel Universe's Extension of the We're Scared of Mutants Act (Paraphrasing) to the We're Scared of Superheroes Act. It breaks down into anyone with any weird powers, no matter how they got them, needs to register with the government so they know where they are at all times. This causes a schism to occur between super heroes and a fight breaks out between the pro and anti-We're Scared of Supers Act. I'm not really going to talk about that more, if you want more go look it up. It's not like this knowledge isn't readily available.

What I'm going to talk about is the book, which comes in two flavours. The super flavour which comes with all the rules so you don't need to have picked up the basic rules in order to buy this game. Of course, for those of us who did you can pick up just Civil War as well. This is great on so many levels because it provides people with options. I know I was grateful for it when I picked up the base game that they were going to let me not buy the base game every time I bought a copy of the book. It's great, and while it's awesome it isn't the design for every game I have to repeat that it's absolutely perfect for this game.

The content of the book is amazing as well.  It gives you the feel of Civil War without actually having to play Civil War exactly as it is in the books. I will admit I was uncertain how they were going to do that when dealing with iconic moments in the book without them being those moments in the book. The answer to that is by giving you the outline of the moments and giving you tips on how to use them to fit how you've decided to take the characters you've chosen to play rather than the characters that were in the setting. Instead of Spiderman revealing himself as Peter Parker, you get Ms. Marvel revealing herself to the world as Sharon Ventura. Why? Because you have a player playing Ms. Marvel who thinks this would be a great thing to do, and the rest of the players think it would be awesome to try to talk her out of it, or stop it from happening because they don't want her to go over to the other side.

There are pages, and pages, and pages, and pages of this kind of material and how you can set it up for your game. Pick the pieces you think are interesting, do what you want and make the story change for you. Here's what can happen, and here are the characters as they are in Civil War. I read the book, and couldn't wait to see how things were turned and twisted depending on the situation.

It's just brilliant. You should get it, now. Even if you don't play it, as something to check out a great design.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ultimate Free RPGs - Because Stealing is Caring

So, this is a post inspired by Ryan Macklin who was inspired by John Harper. Instead of putting out what's the must play games for designers, or ... whatever John Harper said because I didn't look that far back, I have a question for the few, the proud, etc.

What would you consider to be three free RPGs that you would recommend to people as some of the best free RPGs that are out there and why? Now, you don't have to have played them or even liked them, but what ones do you think people need to read.

Here are my three.

1. Warrior, Rogue, Mage
This is one of the tightest free fantasy games out there. It doesn't have a setting so you can drop it anywhere, and it's got a great premise in regards to how your characters are made. You're just basically made up of how much of a warrior, rogue, or mage you are. Any skill stuff that you do is based off of that, and for a traditional RPG it's so fast to plug and play that it's a great introduction game for a lot of people. They've got a pile of supplements, and you should check them out.

2. Metropole Luxury Coffin
One of the best cyberpunk games ever made that you might never have heard of.  The link for the game is in the review over at the Free RPG Blog, but it's great because it's not about doing all the cybercrime that you'd find in something like Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, Tech Noir etc.  No, it's about the every day existence in a world where your credit is the only thing keeping you from being dragged off to the work camps. You and the other players are all living at the Metropole Luxury Coffin and you're all working on schemes that will help you get enough face time to get out of that dive. It's totally the cyberpunk version of the Trailer Park Boys. It has rules for fashion people, fashion!

It was the winner of the Cyberpunk Revival Project on 1km1kt.

3. Eclipse Phase
Now people might feel that this is a bit of a stretch, but Eclipse Phase is licensed under Creative Commons. That means you can get many copies of the book for free, they provide a bunch of epub formats on the website and have lots of different places you can pick it up. That said, if you like it buy the product because that's how they can keep making more stuff. What they're doing is allowing you to check it out before you buy, and you should the stuff is damned pretty.  That being said, they're really the only Transhumanity game out there, and they do a damned good job with it which means it's probably going to be the only Transhumanity game for a while.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Consuming is Creating or Why am I reading Game Books I'm not really gonna play

I have a giant pile of RPG books in my home. I'm sure I don't has as many as some, but I tend not to buy everything a game system puts out. I'll have a sourcebook here or there if it interests me, but for the most part I really just like buying the main book and seeing how they deal with introducing the world, the mechanics, all the kind of fun stuff. I do this because reading what other people are doing is perhaps the best way to actually get past any blocks that I'm having.

This has been said a million times before, and it will probably be said a million times afterwards but this is me saying this right now. If you're currently having problems with something in your game, stop and go out and play other games, read other games, cut the pages out of other games and eat them. Whatever you really need to do to help your head get through that problem, because otherwise you're going to beat your head in wondering why you can't figure something out.

Case in point for me, I've been bouncing that Being Human game in my head for a while now an how things were going to work out hasn't come together yet. There have been a few hit or miss things but nothing really helped pushed that dynamic between that drive the be human, and the desire to be the monster. I knew that I wanted a Wyrd, a breaking point that made you break the things you cared about but got stronger for it. I just didn't know how you were going to get towards that Wyrd, and a lot of other things. Just wasn't coming so I stopped worrying about it and started just reading other stuff.

I read Matt McFarland and Michelle Lyons-McFarland's curse the darkness, I read Ryan Macklin's Mythender, I reread Joe Mcdaldno's Monsterhearts, and I read Elizabeth Shoemaker-Sempat's They Became Flesh. These games all kind of helped form some ideas in regards to what I wanted to do. Now did I take the mechanics there and go "I'm going to use this!" No, I didn't. However, just some concepts and ideas that might work when modified for Being Human (because that's a better working title than Worst Enemy).

To be even more specific, I read They Became Flesh and enjoyed the idea of locking dice. Now I threw out the double mechanic because there's not a finite amount of dice in Being Human, you'll roll ... something (see, haven't figured out everything yet) something but any 1s that show up are going to be the things that get locked into your Wyrd. That doesn't mean you can't use them, but it's a physical representation of how close you are to going over that edge and pushing yourself closer to that edge of being a Monster.  Of course the thought process was a lot more like this.

"Okay, so doubles lock?"
"No, that doesn't make sense, maybe just 1s then."
"Yeah, that makes the tension exist without the finite amount of dice, every time you roll there's a chance that you will get closer to your Wyrd without guaranteeing it."
"Okay, what makes up a roll, damned if I know but I think that works better."
"Yeah, got to have that space for failure and 'Aw shit!'"

But you get my point, this comes from pulling in all this extraly awesome creative works and letting them rattle around in my skull for a while.

Just another little piece of straw on the back of the "You need to consume to create" camel.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dice Tests - People with far more dedication than I have

Now there are dice, and then there are dice. If you've been around you've seen the Game Science booth, with their dice methods, and how they're more reliable, etc.

Anyway, the real cool thing is that someone decided to take some dice and try to provide some actual data.

Check it out over at the Awesome Dice blog. Now it's just a very small sample, one of each type of die rolled 10k times but that's about 10k more than I would have done. They've got some interesting findings, now only if we can find people who can reproduce it.

Firestorm Ink's Fan Box