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What Happens Next? Shit.

Shit Happens, right? An NFL player suffers a non-contact injury, costing them their season. We drop our keys and they fall down a grate. We spill coffee on our white shirt.

RPGs are unique, because players want to remove the element of random shit happening (or non-random shit- if your game is about going #2, no thank you). But, it does happen.

The more granular a system gets, checking for traps, gathering info, etc… The more that players can crunch the numbers and tell the GM what might happen.

I am not suggesting that a GM intentionally screw over the players by having a proverbial pen explode in their pocket.

Instead, think about things that can happen, no matter how many precautions are taken, and spice up your game.

Approach the game with a sense of the real, and sense of humor, and explain that the PCs are not immune to Shit.



RPG Saturday, Toxicity

toxicity-i-am-zombie-00002-2The man behind Vampire started up a new company, Make Believe Games. They have released several RPGs which use what they call the Axoim system. I was able to play in one of these games at GenCon.

Toxicity is their second I Am Zombie game, and like White Wolf games, there is a lot to sift through. The IAZ book really could have used another editing pass, and some of the cards have giggle worthy typos on them.

The core of the game is that players are zombies, infected.

There are lots of rules for embracing the zombie-ness of (un(life, the GenCon game I played didn’t really do that, which seems to miss the point a bit.

Toxicity is the mondo 70s iteration, the conceit being it is a reprint of an Old School game.


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This is a character.

Make dice pools, roll dice, etc.

The system and scenario was workable, even amusing, it had to do with a zombie car. I wish we delved more into the flip side of the game, and I wish I got to see some of the more crunchy bits at play.

The Axoim system has potential and I have considered doing work on a supers version.






Friday Refresh, Lord Love A Duck

Subversive satire. George Axelrod is a director whose catalog of work should be examined for the incredibly poignant nature of it all. Find this film on DVD, be transported to the surreal and sinister reality of it, and imagine it being remade by… Eli Roth.



Wow or Woe, Release Date 3/14

JAN180976Marvel Two-In-One #4

The Fantastic Four are difficult to write, which is a real shame, because, when written well, they are great! This series started out great, but this issue was…. not. I hate to give it a WOE but it certainly is not a wow.



Comic Covers, Week 11

Comic Covers looks at comic book covers and give a brief examination of them through the years.

Here is what the local pharmacy spinner might have carried, which one is more dynamic, which one would you spend your hard earned nickel on?



The Pull List, Release Date 3/14

718522_d95015418ad907a93233580c995121643746ebbf.jpgNew Mutants: Dead Souls

I will give this one a shot.

The alternate cover featuring the original New Mutants had me more excited, the description doesn’t really mention them, so I’m not particularly hopeful.





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What Happens Next, Competitive Play.

When explaining RPGs to friends and family who scratch their heads, often we explain that there are no winners and losers.


Many GMs absolutely operate on the mind-set of trying to beat the players, and many players are all about beating the GM.

How about, instead of making it a pissing contest, we all spectate as we all do awesome things?

Use the rules, absolutely, but embrace them in a collaborative way.

This is not to say you cannot have adversaries and conflict, rather, it means that everyone is at the table to have fun.

I believe that competitive play is a very slippery slope, because the rules, and their interpretation, are not always as transparent as they need to be.

And, even if so… why? Who cares?

Go out into the world and be awesome.



13 for 13: A Round Table

category19796On the 13th day of each of the 13 months, we will bring you some content and ideas for 13th Age, our absolute favorite D&Derivative game.

One of the awesome things about 13th Age is how “skills” work, in this game, they are called Backgrounds, and more to the point, they allow characters of the same class to be drastically different. In one game I ran, one character was an Assassin-Paladin, mainly because all they needed was the Assassin Background, 13th Age does not concern itself so much with penalties for wearing armor and using Move Silently.

So, what about a game where many of the characters were the same class, or a small selection of classes, and even more to the point, classes with options limited, for campaign flavor.

In this case, experiencing a King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, most of the characters would likely be paladins, and more, they would not have access to Cleric Training, and possibly Lay on Hands. Backgrounds would allow the characters to be different as well. Magic items don’t need to be prevalent.

arthur_round_tableBut, because this is a roleplaying game, players might want to roleplay. And, you might think I will know delve deep and list 13 Arthurian Icons, Merlin, Arthur, Galahad, Morgan, etc.


Instead, in a circumstance of incredible synergy, I am detailing 13 Personality Trait Groupings, and declaring that characters should use these are their Icons, choosing one of each Trait (Chaste or Lustful, for example) for a positive or negative, or if conflicted for a character who is conflicted.

I would suggest sticking with 3 points, lest campaigns become too weighted down in having to pay heed to these Iconic Personality Traits.  Or perhaps, allow each player 6 points, but allow them to distribute those points among only 3 Personality Groupings.

So, my knight is Merciful/Cruel conflicted 1, Reckless 2, Valorous 3. The Knights were often paragons and exemplars of specific virtues, your 13th Age Knightly game can now be the same.

At the end of each session (using the end of session rules on p.179) I roll, and the GM has plot seeds for my knight, incorporating these personal dilemmas with greater story arcs.

  • Chaste/ Lustful
  • Energetic/ Lazy
  • Forgiving/ Vengeful
  • Generous/ Selfish
  • Honest/ Deceitful
  • Just/ Arbitrary
  • Merciful/ Cruel
  • Modest/ Proud
  • Pious/ Worldly
  • Prudent/ Reckless
  • Temperate/ Indulgent
  • Trusting/ Suspicious
  • Valorous/ Cowardly