Well friends, this is the end! The last six questions for #RPGaDAY 2017, to be answered and shared between members of this hobby. When this post is published, I should be back home from Japan, probably still ungodly jet lagged, and I’ll have plenty to say about that. However, until then, you’ll have to be satisfied with the last few answers to RPGBrigade’s annual conversation starters, because my ass is not going to be getting out of bed for a while. The penultimate set of answers can be found here, and here are the final questions answered!
August 26th: Which RPG provides the most useful resources?
My guess is that 80% of people doing #RPGaDAY are going to give the same answer for this question, and you bet you’re ass I’m going to as well.
Kevin Crawford’s Stars Without Number is like 50% composed of some of the best GM aides gaming has ever seen, ranging from the A+ random planet generation tables to some fantastic advice on adventure and alien creation. The best part of all of this is the detail: Crawford spends paragraphs on every result for his random tables, describing what the results really mean, how they could affect your game, and how you can spin them off to make for interesting new adventures.
Just, take it from me, Stars Without Number is an essential tool for any big sci-fi game, and arguably is a useful resource for people running, really, any game. But, hey, you don’t have to take my word for it: the core book is free.
August 27th: What are your essential tools for good gaming?
There are three things which I believe are essential to every single campaign you run, and by essential, I mean completely optional but I really like them and, since I am an internet blogger, I am so pretentious as to misinterpret that as essentialness.
The first is a notebook! Every good campaign comes with a good campaign notebook, a place for the GM to jot down both all of their prep, assorted custom random tables for use when players venture into improv territory, scrawl down random notes during a session, and just to doodle maps, faces, and whatever else in the game inspires your sketching urges. I’m a big proponent of getting a special notebook for every campaign, instead of jamming everything you do into one big catch-all notebook. Sometimes this does go out of control, including recently, when I purchased a notebook and then got so excited about it that I concepted out an entire campaign just to justify the purchase.
The second essential thing you need is dice! Anyone who’s been in the hobby long enough will probably accumulate just a comically large pile of dice, some of which are inevitably completely useless (I have a set of d12s which show signs of the Zodiac?) but just cool to look at. In just as dumb a manner as the notebook, I like to have dice specifically associated with a campaign in question. This is partially because it turns your dice bag (which, let’s be real, is an old Crown Royal bag, just admit it) into a sort of collection of memories, as you look over your dice and remember the games you bought them for. Another reason is because I’m an addict and love excuses to buy cool dice.
The third and final thing which is positively essential for any game is a laptop, phone, or anything else with Googling capabilities. While technology is frequently an unfortunate distraction on the table, when you’re GMing, no matter what, you’re probably going to get asked a question that is either incredibly dumb, requiring extremely niche knowledge, or both. For this, you’re going to need to pop open an incognito tab, type in “Google.com”, and figure out how many blocks of C4 your can stick to a horse before it becomes slower, or how much blood is in a giraffe, or how many employees usually work a night shift at Denny‘s, because your game has gone terribly awry.
August 28th: What film/series is the biggest source of quotes in your group?
Unquestionably this episode of the YouTube series Kid Snippets. It’s never really relevant to anything, we’re all just morons.
August 29th: What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?
Uhh, I actually have never funded an RPG Kickstarter. This is awkward. Let’s see, give me a second…
Spire: The City Must Fall is a fantasy RPG by…oh, hey, look at that, Grant Howitt, depicting a fantasy world ruled by a bourgeoisie class of high elves. Your characters, the normally despised dark elves, are watching their culture being destroyed in the streets, and have decided that this regime must fall, and it must fall hard. It’s a storytelling game about a slow, dirty climb to the top of the ivory towers, if only to push those that reside there off the edge.
The game seems pretty interesting, even beyond the relatively unique fantasy revolutionary setting. The classes described are instantly interesting, from the hyena-worshiping Carrion-Priests to the noble-turned-bottom feeder Knights of the Docks. The brief description of the rules describes benefits for knowledge and planning, as well as the accrual of stress, both of which sound both evocative and interesting.
And, yeah, seeing as this is the third one of these that I’ve mentioned his name, Grant Howitt’s name attached to this project fills me with confidence, as he’s put out a variety of both microgames (including Honey Heist and Doctor Magnethands, games I’ve mentioned previously) and a pair of Kickstarted releases, Goblin Quest and Unbound. The veteran crew, of both RPG industry vets and Kickstarter vets, puts me at ease, and a promise of transparency helps me feel not that bad about dropping sixty bucks on a book I’ve never seen.
The Spire Kickstarter will be long done by the time I post this, but, hey, maybe there will be a slacker backer option available?
August 30th: What is an RPG genre-mashup you would like to see?
Easy. Fantasy road trip.
No, fantasy games are not already this. I’m not talking Lord of the Rings here, which is just a fantasy game which takes place over a long distance and period of time. That’s maybe 80% fantasy, 20% road trip, and what I want is essentially the reverse.
Think about all of the unique things about American road trips, especially a road trip in a really shitty car. The car itself is a source of excitement and adventure, as you constantly pray the thing doesn’t fall apart on the way, forcing you to find a local repair shop and track down some parts (a real thing that has happened to me!). Beyond that, there’s stopping, briefly, at dumb little road attractions like massive balls of twine or giant rocking chairs of whatever. There’s staying at tiny garbage hotels or AirBnBs in towns you’ve never heard of, maybe enjoying the evening in a small town bar with some locals with lives completely unlike your own.
The thing about road trips is that you don’t stop in every podunk down and offer your help for quests or whatever, your stops are mainly there to either obtain something needed (be it food, drinks, a snack, gas, whatever) or to stave off your own incredible boredom and soreness from sitting in a car for hours. Fantasy adventures tend to have this very “roughing it” vibe, but that’s not what a road trip is. Road trips are far more focused on exploring, on being places that you’d otherwise have no reason to be in and planning on the fly. It’s about seeing a lot of weird and beautiful and boring stuff all in rapid succession.
A fantasy road trip is not a great quest across the kingdom to claim the Relic of Whateverthefuck to slay the Evil King, it’s a group of friends hopping in a ride and taking a trip, pretty not sure what they’re going to come across, but venturing forth with equal parts curiosity, fear, and a desire to keep moving forward.
August 31st: What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?
Oh man, a lot.
I’m excited for The Witcher tabletop RPG from R. Talrosian Games to finally be out, because the Witcher universe is one that I find extremely cool and seemingly a natural fit for tabletop gaming. The idea of a system which is equally interested in preparation and planning as the fight itself is one I find extremely interesting.
I’m also excited for Wrath and Glory, the first Warhammer 40,000 RPG to come out since the license was lost by Fantasy Flight Games and given to Ulisses Spiele, the creators of The Dark Eye. I have nothing against the FFG titles (I own quite a few, in fact), but seeing a new take on this extremely dumb setting, especially something that’s a little more freeform and exploratory than the FFG games, all of which had very prescribed premises, excites me.
(I should note that technically neither of these games has been formally slated for 2018, but I’m just being pessimistic in terms of The Witcher, which was supposed to come out a year ago, and optimistic for Wrath and Glory, which was announced the day I’m writing this).
I’m excited to be playing Genisys, which technically comes out this year but I probably won’t really be playing until next year. Genisys, which is a setting-stripped edition of the rules for Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars game, could be an extremely cool system to run a nice, rules-medium game with a lot of creative liberty on both the player and GM sides. The custom dice this system uses are great for letting situations snowball out of control in Star Wars, so I can’t wait to put them to use in other settings.
I can’t wait for PAX South 2018! I already bought my pass, and I’m excited for hopefully even more tabletop fun this year. If things go as planned (which they probably won’t), I might even have some games of my own to show off! I’d love to go to San Antonio with a game online I can point people to, and maybe even a prototype RPG or card game in my bag to have people play, but even just being able to see what other people are doing is usually great as is!
For my world, the thing that I find maybe the most fascinating is that I very well might move for my job in 2018, and while a location, or even if I’m going to move or not, isn’t set in stone yet, this will be the first time I’ve ever truly moved away from home. This means new FLGSs, new groups, the ends of old groups, the discovery of new scenes, increased access to new conventions (being closer to Gencon or one of the bigger PAXs doesn’t sound bad at all), and just new people in my local space in the community. I honestly have no idea what to expect, but that’s the fun part!