Archive for the ‘Rules’ Category

Thoughts on Crossfire, the RPG

Posted: February 23, 2016 in Modern, RPG, Rules
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cfcoverSo I was reading reviews on Dust Adventures, the RPG version of the Dust Tactics wargame, and it got me thinking. “I have a great WWII wargame, why not turn that into an RPG?”
For those who’ve never played Crossfire, it’s a (as I said) WWII wargame by Arty Conliffe (he also did Spearhead and a number of other rulesets). Here’s a link to the wikipedia page on it for info. Awesome game, played without I-go-U-go turns, rulers, measuring tapes, or any of that stuff. Just figures, a table and some dice. So how to turn that into an RPG?


Recent Acquisitions

Posted: September 2, 2013 in RPG, Rules
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Just wanted to jot down a quick note on some recent purchases I made in the RPG realm.

The most recent, just this weekend, was something the boys talked me into…a copy of Edge of the Empire from Fantasy Flight. I didn’t spring for the $70 full book, but I also didn’t get the “beginner” book. I found a copy of the pre-release “beta” for only $20! How much of a score is that? So far it reads well, and I’m anxious to start playing. The boys have already worked out exactly what kind of bounty hunters they want to play, so now to get a game set up. Review and more details to follow…

Blood! for fun

Posted: May 28, 2010 in RPG, Rules
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Wanted to stick in a review of a set of rules I picked up before Christmas.

Blood, from Postmortem Studios, is a modern day horror game for stories along the lines of Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Scream.  Now, I love horror movies like these ones.  I remember the original Friday the 13th, and those wonderful John Carpenter films like The Fog and Prince of Darkness…even They Live.  So the opportunity to play those stories out was a big draw for me when I learned of Blood.  So I picked up the PDF.


I have a confession to make.

I’m a Gemini.

What this means is that I spend my life in a perpetual state of “Oooo shiny!” and I get very easily distracted. In fact I often thought that my family motto should be “Ooo shiny”, though i suspect that it wouldn’t sound very good, even in latin. I did once have the motto “But I digress” (latin: tamen ergo digresus), but that has nothing to do with the post at hand…or to put it shortly “but I digress”.


Dog Town – thoughts

Posted: November 3, 2009 in RPG, Rules
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Having played some Dog Town now, and having gained some better familiarity with the system, I thought I should probably put down what my opinions were and make some assessment of the game. My honest feeling is: I like it. But I’ll also say it’s fundamentally flawed, not in terms of rules so much, but in terms of layout and explanatory capabilities.

What do I like about Dog Town? I actually like the detail, I like the fact that there’s so much there it’s almost like a true simulation rather than just a set of abstracted game rules. I’ve found myself more than once in the last couple of weeks thinking of real world events in terms of those four aspect combinations that Dog Town uses for it’s skill values. I like the “realism” in the combat and the fact that characters (non-Psycho characters at least) need to test to see if they have the guts to make an attack. I like the sharp, short combat that has some really serious and realistic consequences.

Okay, so what don’t I like about it? I don’t like that the one hit (not even one round, but one HIT) of combat I played through took almost an hour to figure out, and I’m sure I missed rolls I was supposed to make. The problem was that I needed to flip backward and forward though the book to find all the areas where bits and pieces of the ‘how to’ were hidden. And it’s not even like they were broken into obvious sections. A few pluses and minuses on this page, a few forty pages further on, a short explanation paragraph fifteen pages before that…everything is spread out all over. And did I mention that there’s no index?  Less “jive patter” and more coherent editing would do a world of wonders for this game.  Also lots more examples of how the rules are implemented would go far toward explaining some of the more esoteric concepts involved.

If it was easier to learn, and/or once the GM and players finally learned the system and what all the rolls and such were for, then the system would play remarkably quickly I think. The fact that the core of the system is a vs. table that’s simple enough to memorize means it’d be a snap to use. Pair that with the fact that the multitude of skill values are the actual “what do I do” test values for that vs. table I mentioned, and figuring out what’s needed to be rolled is a snap!  But even now, after having been heads down on it for a couple of weeks already I still keep having to refer back to the book for some of the most basic information on a very regular basis.  It’s got a steep learning curve, but it seems to be one that rewards learning with faster play in the end.

Except combat.  That’ll always need the book.

Character creation is another painful process.  It’s so math heavy that it’s really daunting to create a character.  And after all the calcuations you need to double check your sums to ensure you’ve done them right.  And it’s the same process for NPCs as for player characters too. Luckily I’ve developed my own spreadsheet for character creation which greatly speeds the process, having the computer do all the accounting for me on derived stats and skill values.

Dog Town addresses an important niche in the RPG spectrum that pretty much nobody else has touched.  There are lots of hero oriented games, pretty much all of them.  And there are a few “criminal” games, but they tend to be violent, and nothing else.  Dog Town is smart.  There is the potential for violence there, but there’s also the potential for so much more.

Unfortunately, the system as written seems geared toward violence heavy stories.  The inspiration bits are from films like Goodfellas and Scarface and Reservoir Dogs.  But I think it’d be a great system for playing out stories like Ocean’s 11, or The Italian Job.  Real “crime capers” where the crime is the story, not just an excuse for criminals to get together and shoot each other while swearing.

The other thing I’d do would be to ditch the 70’s setting, which seems contrived and not a little overdone.  Plus the rules are strewn with references to “homies” and other modern slang.  Even the author wanted it to be a broader anytime crime game, not just locked into Barney Miller.  Heck, a few sourcebooks for expanding the game to other periods wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.

So, final analysis?  I like Dog Town, I’ll play it again, I’m sure.  And you can’t beat the price.  If you’re interested I’d really suggest you go to RPGNow, download it for free and give it a try.

Play quietly by yourself in the corner

Posted: October 5, 2009 in RPG, Rules
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I realized after the last post that it’s an actual play example, but I was playing alone at the time.  I figured that I ought to explain a bit how I was doing it, and also highlight a really awesome game product.

I was using “Mythic” by Tom Pigeon, available from Word Mill Games which is both a generic rule set of its own, and a means of playing without a GM!  The game uses two key components that allow this to work.  The first is called the “Fate Chart”, which gives yes and no answers on questions along the lines of “did this happen” or “is Bob here”.  The chart operates with modifiers based on the level of story action going on, and also with odds or similar power stats to help set likelihood.

The other key component are the event charts which together give focus, direction and word combinations for interpretation of events beyond the yes and no focus of the fate chart.  The importance of this bit has become more and more clear over the last few weeks though discussions on the Mythic discussion forum on Yahoo Groups.  It’s wonderfully useful for all sorts of interpretation where ever it’s needed.

The beauty of Mythic is that it also has mechanics to introduce randomness at almost any point in the game.  There is also a companion piece called “Mythic Variations” which has some genre specific tables for things like horror, mystery and even drama stories.  The shocks and surprises it can bring are amazing, but it always seems like it comes together in the end.  There is also a new product published called the “Creature Crafter” that allows for random generation of monsters and other beasties for any game system, but works exceptionally well with Mythic.

I will say that it takes some practice and interpretation to figure out how to play it, but after you wrap your head around it, it’s a fantastic tool to enable play even when you’re all alone.  Some groups us it as game master, with three or four players playing and no human GM running things.

So, in the Lacuna example, I was using Mythic to play out the story, asking questions after the initial “Tiller is following a female HP”.  It answered as to whether the street was busy, if I could get ahead of her, and it even introduced the randomness of the girl appearing out of nowhere when Tiller went to grab the HP.

It’s an easy system to learn and easy to use as an adjunct to your favorite rule set.  It’s easy to play on the go as well, I often use it in the car on the way to work, using license plate number for my “rolls”, which is especially easy since it’s percentile based.  I’ve heard of other people using the hundredths cycle on their watch, or even using the barcode digits on packages.

Mythic is an awesome tool, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.