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I'm a fan of pen-and-paper RPG's. That's what you are going to find on this site. Sometimes there might be a blurb about the Secret World MMO; but the focus here is my drifting through Wisconsin's gaming communities.

Links will be added as cons are visited, games are played, and authoring is published.

Wander around. Grab a tankard. Relax and immerse yourself into polyhedron geekness, Wisconsin style!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Era V: 2014: A Giant Steps Back…

This is the year of Dungeons & Dragons rebirth ala Hasbro and WotC. Personally, I have a feeling that this is the point in time where folks are going to buy the core books and a lot of multi-system generic accessories, but the core additions will flounder. Only time will tell what will come…

Segue-ing off from that idea comes the fact that I’ve hit the end of what began as a ‘ten best’ type of list. Instead, I’ve looked at over 1,500 core rules spanning five decades of gaming. The crazy thing is that there is easily twice that number. I was only hitting the more or less common titles for each year!

Wow. 50 years of this nutty d20 stuff and still going strong with no end in sight. I’m wondering when the ‘new’ core rules will begin to taper off and folks will simply begin authoring more content for the already existing rule sets. Like dice and cards, there are only x-number of combo’s that one can manipulate before settling into a routine of “play genre ‘x’ in system ‘y’ for a ‘z’ type of game”. In this example, the GURPS and d20 rules fit nicely…

Horror / Thriller
Dead Teenager RPG by Creepy Doll Studios using a generic system. Play the victims in a card-based RPG horror genre game.
Legacy of the Slayer by The Game Crafter using the Legacy Game system. This card-based rpg is set in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer knockoff universe.

Lowell Was Right! - A Very Different Now by Flying Mice. Lowell Was Right! is an alt-universe SF game set in a universe where western science as of 1880 was basically correct, and all newer changes were wrong, brought up to the present day, like a Hard SF sort of Steampunk.
Neon Sacntum Playtest Kit by Grenade Punch Games. A dystopian cyberpunk post-cyberpocalypse card-based RPG… featuring cyborgs!

Sci Fi
Firefly RPG by Margaret Weis Productions. Out run Alliance cruisers and deal with bounty hunters as only a star gun slinger can.
The Gaean Reach by Pelgrane Press. Enter the interstellar challenges of Jack Vance classics.
Mindjammer: The RPG by Modiphius Entertianment.  Newly updated to Fate Core rules for the transhuman sci-fi RPG setting.
Warriors of the Red Planet by StudioDenmark. This is a planetary romance set on a Burroughs-esque Mars.
Star Wars: Age of Rebellion by Fantasy Flight Games. This is the hardcover to last year’s box set.
Atomic Robo: By Evil Hat Productions. A sci-fi Fate Core game where you play as a two-fisted action scientist, immortal robot, super spy, etc. Multi-era and pick-up-play oriented.
Dr. Who: Adventures in Time and Space by Cubical 7 Entertainment.  Third edition of this exploration into the Whoverse!
Myriad Song by Santuine Productions Ltd. Play as an adventurer travelling in the strange reaches of an alien empire.
Second Coming 2e by Modern Paradise using a custom d20 system. Aliens have attacked and humanity has spread across the spiral arm.

Modern / Last Century
High Strung being developed by Flying Mice. a game set in the 1970s, where the player characters are rock musicians.
AMP: Year One by Third Eye Games. Set in 2015, when supers begin to become publicly known.
Heroine by Ginger Goat. A coming of age game where the singular Heroine is surrounded by her Companions to bring closure to the story arc and personal issues.
Out of Dodge by Bully Pulpit Games. Designed to be played literally on a road trip, where the passengers in a car take on the roles of fugitives fleeing a botched crime scene, with little swag to divide between the lot of ‘em.
Amazing Adventures by Troll Lord Games. Second edition of the 2012 game.
Corporia by Brabblemark Press using the GRAIL 0 system. Knights of the round table battling the magic of chaos… in contemporary, corporate 2014!

Building, Talking Playing: A Beginner’s Guide to Bleake Rebellion by Houseless Hills. A low fantasy, simplified version of the 2013 Bleake Rebellion game.

Humor / Toon
Fantasy Heartbreaker RPG 2e by Subcellar Games. Featuring 111% fewer typos! This is a fantasy / humor d20 system.

The One Ring RPG by Cubicle 7 Entertainment. Based on the LotR beginning in the region of Mirkwood. This is the hardcover of the box set released in 2011.
Castles & Crusades Collectors Edition: Black Box by Troll Lord Games. Abbreviated core rules books in a box.
D&D Next, or 5e; whichever you choose to call it! It has been whispered that this is the edition that will make or break its presence under the Hasbro umbrella. So far, the hype has been strong and most of the reviews have been ‘average’ or ‘a little above average’.
D&D PDF (free) Basic rules for play.
D&D Starter Set a box set with stripped down rules.
East Mark by eXtra-Dimensional Publishing. OK, bear with me on this one: This box set is the English translation of the Spanish-language retro-clone that was inspired by Menzter’s red box D&D.
The Clay That Woke by Paul Czege. Play as a minotaur upholding the stoic minotaur philosophy of silence.

Parallel Worlds
Qalidar by Peryton Publishing. Where there is a hole in time, there are cracks called Qalidar. Adventure in the cracks of broken reality and seek alien worlds.

Generic / Non-genre
P.E.R.K. by Dire Ninja Media. A simple, generic-setting / genre RPG system.
Insight RPG by NEVR using a generic system. This is a universal game world using a d10 system.
Simple System RPG by Dashing Inventor Games. Using a generic system that employs cards, this is a genre neutral system.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Era V: 2013: Retro retro retro! Get yer RETRO here!!!

Jordane Thiboust of Beenox criticized the term "action RPG", saying that it does not represent what core experience the game offers to the player. He claimed that "action RPG is not a real subgenre" but "the current marketing slang for [...] 'RPGs that are cool to play with a pad'", so as more and more RPGs are marketed as "action RPGs", the label becomes increasingly useless. He also pointed out the danger of creating false consumer expectations, as "action RPG" describes mainly what type of combat to expect in a game but says nothing about the overall player experience (narrative, sandbox, or dungeon crawl) it has to offer.

Shadowrun HC / Special Edition by Catalyst Game Labs using the Shadowrun 5 system. This is the 14th and 15th editions of the 1989 game.

Sci Fi
Fading Suns by Holistic Design, Inc. This is the GM’s guide Revised Edition of the space opera game.
Traveller 5e: Reproduced from the earlier editions to create a consistent whole.
Star Wars: Age of Rebellion by Fantasy Flight Games using the Age of Rebellion system.
Foreign Element by Mystic Ages Publishing using the Mark System. The Great Blackout has halted human expansion into the stars. It is up to you to discover why.
Hulks & Horrors by Bedroom Wall Press using a generic system. Explore uncharted space as a scavenger.

Modern / Last Century
The Esoterrorists by Pelgrane Press. This second edition of battling occultist’s intent on tearing the fabric of the world asunder.
The Climb by Evil Hat Productions. Climb to a virgin peak in the Himalayas.
The Day After Ragnarok by Atomic Overmind Press using the Fate Core 1 system. Set in 1948 after Truman’s atomic fire has slain the Midgard Serpent..
1%er- The Outlaw Motercycle Game by Creepy Doll Studios using a custom system. Yep, play a biker ala Sons of Anarchy.
Cover Ops by DwD Studios using the D00Lite system. Espionage! Paramilitary! Rules lite.
Classified by Expeditious Retreat Press using a James Bond 007 retroclone system.

Hillfolk by Pelgrane Press. An Iron Age saga using the DramaSystem.
GURPS Locations: St. Georges Cathedral: Part of the fictional settings set of design.

Horror / Thriller
Cryptworld by Goblinoid Games using the Pacesetter system. A retroclone of the 1980’s Chill game.
Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle by White Wolf Pub using the Vampire: The Requiem 2 system.
One Foot in the Grave by Creepy Doll Studios using a custom system. Zombies in the assisted living facility!
Bath Salts by Creepy Doll Studios using a custom system. You play a CSR trying to survive your 8 hours in a call center.
Dude, Run! by Creepy Doll Studios using a custom system. Play a reality show member where mundane events are mis-interpreted as supernatural occurrences.

Humor / Toon
The Monster Hunter International Employees Handbook and RPG by Hero Games using the HERO 6 system. The first words out of my mouth was “Really? That’s the title?” A Ghostbusters clone.
Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3 by Spectrum Games using the Cartoon Action Hour system. Using ‘cartoon logic’ of the 1980’s cartoon era.

Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine by Jenna Moran is a slice-of-life game as well as an adventure game. 2013 A warm-hearted diceless slice-of-life adventure game.
Golden Sky Stories, a Japanese heartwarming, non-violent role-playing game uses resource pools, called Wonder and Feelings, rather than dice.
Tenra Bansho Zero by Kotodama Heavy Industries. A ‘hyper-Asian’ magic / tech anime game.

Science Fantasy
Volant – Kingdoms of Air and Stone by Flying Mice. was released on March 29, 2013. Volant is set on a world where some types of stone float, the mountains tear themselves out of the ground and fly through the air, people ride giant birds through the sky, with sailing ships built from floating stone, and monsters inhabiting the earth below.
Dark Heresy 2e by Fantasy Flight Games using the Dark Heresy 2 system.

Lords of Gossamer and Shadow uses no randomization, but has Good Stuff and Bad Stuff to influence circumstances of chance. This is a spiritual successor to the Amber Diceless system.
Bleake Rebellion by The Houseless Hills, UK using the Sortition system. Set in a fantasy / low-historic 18th century Europe.
Spears of Dawn by Sine Nomine Publishing. African-inspired fantasy iron-age landscape.
Arrows of Indra by Bedrock Games using a D&D retroclone system. Hindi-D&D world with a caste system and reskinned classes.
Atlantis: The Second Age by Morrigan Press using the OMNI system. This version has been purchased by DiLaGames.
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG by Goodman Games using another D&D retroclone system.
Shadows of Esteren by Agage Editions using the Sahdows of Esteren system. A dark fantasy world based on a French RPG system.
Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok by Pendelhaven using the Runic Game System 0 system.
13th Age by Pelgrane Press using the d20 system.
Swords & Six-Siders by Vanishing Leviathan using the Swords & Six-sider system.
Mazes & Perils by WG Productions using a retroclone D&D system.
Blueholme Prentice Rules by Dreamscape Design using a retroclone D&D system.
Age of Arthur by Wordplay Games using the Fate 3 system. Aruthurian fantasy set after the fall of Rome.
Fantasic Heroes & Witchery by Dice of Might using the OSR and OGL system.
Pits & Perils by Olde House Rules using a generic system. Formed off of the old war-games-turned-RPG concepts of the 1970’s.
Sojourner’s Quest by R.C. Ellis using generic AD&D system.
For Gold & Glory by J. Brown using a D&D 2e retroclone system.
Whitehack by C. Mehrstam using a retroclone d20 D&D system.
Grey Matter by Leonaru using the OD&D system. A retroclone of D&D.
Heroes & Other Worlds by Christopher Brandon  using a generic system. Medieval D&D-esque game world.

Child oriented
Mermaid Adventures by Third Eye Games. In this children’s RPG, take on the roll of a resident of submerged Atlantis.
Thimble by Third Eye Games. A children’s RPG where you get to adventure as a Squelk who lives in the walls of a house. Beware the car, the barking dog, and the stealthy cat!
Little Wizards by Crafty Games. This is a re-release of the French version of the children’s game of the same name.
Camp Myth by Third Eye Games. A children’s game where you get to go to summer camp with the mythical creature of your choice.

Generic / Non-genre
Risus 2.01 by Cumberland Games & Diversions using the Risus 0 system.
Bandits and Battlecruisers by Underworld Kingdom using a generic system.
Fate 4e is produced by Evil Hat Productions.
Narratives Unlimited D10 by A Maher using a D10 generic system. This is a meta-system that allows for virtually any story type.
Valiant Girls by Night Sky Games. A nano game, taking one session to play, using a card system.
Dawn of Fate by TRPG CLUB. Urban fantasy multigenre modified FATE system game.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Era V, 2012: A Return to the Now

This year was a little lighter in the RPG release universe. There were a few more leanings to games with a more contemporary flair. Some fantasy retreads and a few new versions of core systems popped onto the market (diceless, card, rock-paper-scissors, etc). More or less a quiet year in publishing. Maybe it was the Summer Olympics this year; or it was the whole Mayan end of the world thingy.

Onyx Path Publishing is founded by White Wolf’s Creative Director Richard Thomas. This company is licensee for WW’s WoD lines and Exalted, Trinity Universe, and Scion.

Nightfall Games announces that they have sold SLA Industries to Romark Entertainment (film, TV, comic, games, and other media production).

Punk / Apocalyptic

Frankenstein Atomic Frontier by Owlman. An Australian role-playing game, uses cards with players drawing a quantity equal to their trait, counting Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks and Jokers as a success. Create and play a Frankenstein creature that is attempting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.
Mystic Empyrean by Level 99 Games. A collaborative world-building / character-building game set in a Fantasy / Post-Apocalyptic.
Rogue Mage by Misfit Studios. In this biblical setting after the Time of Plagues, join with Thorn St. Croix against those who have fallen.
Shadowrun by Catalyst Game Labs. Part of a quick-start rules re-release.
Iron Kingdoms by Privateer Press. Steam-powered magic world of guns, steel, and mechanika.

Sci Fi

Fading Suns by FASA Games. In this 2.5 edition of the game, explore humanities fate among the stars.
Durance – Prison Planet by Evil Hat Productions. Play an inmate or guard to build a new life on this planet of few resources. 2012
Star Wars Roleplaying Game by FFG.
Traveller by Mongoose. Latest edition and all the supplements.
Only War by Fantasy Flight Games. For the Warhammer 40K RPG that looks at the Imperial Guard.
EZ SPACE 2012 by Tri Tac.

Modern / Last Century

In Harm's Way: Pigboats was released on July 27, 2012 by Flying Mice. This game is about American WWII submarine sailors in the Pacific, fighting a silent war beneath the waves.
Stalker by Burger Games. An adaptation of the novel Roaddside Panic, where players enter one of six locked down world locations hiding alien tech.
Colors of Grey by Accessible Games. Play as a ‘Chameleon’ member of an ancient, world-wide thieves guild in this contemporary heist game.
Hobomancer by Hex Games. It is 1930 and your character is riding the rails, protecting the songlines by keeping things in balance.
Amazing Adventures by Troll Lord Games.  1930’s pulp adventure of cultists, fedoras, and steampunk.


Marvel Heroic Roleplaying by Margaret Weis Productions, using the Cortex Plus system.
This is a ‘retired’ game, as sales could not bolster further supplements in the line.
The game is the veneer of the Marvel comic universe overlaid upon the Cortex Plus ‘roll-and-keep’ mechanic.
Character write ups are based upon defining each attribute, skill, and power by the strength of the dice (d4~weak, through d12-most powerful). Each character has a Distinction (plot point), Affiliation (solo/buddy/team), Power Set (one dice per power), Specialty (skill mix, knowledge, contacts).
Plot Points are earned and used something like ‘luck’, allowing a character to power up abilities, increase dice pools, keep extra dice in play, or alter an incoming stress.
The Watcher (game master) has ‘doom points’ derived from a ‘doom pool’ which drop stresses into the game story that serve to activate reinforcements or (in extreme cases) may immediately end a scene. This Doom Pool defines the power level of a given game verses the power level of the hero(es) experiencing the story.
Experience points to improve dice pools are also based upon character concepts; so the Thing may earn points for being ‘moody’, and Emma Frost’s checkered past has the potential to earn points as well.

Night’s Black Agents by Pelgrane Press. In this world of espionage, play a shadow soldier in a world controlled secretly by vampires.
Mummy: The Curse by Onyx Path Pub. An esoteric game that is part of the new WoD metaplot.
Monsterhearts published by Buried Without Ceremony using the PbtA game system. Play as a teen with a monster’s heart beating within your body.

Science Fantasy

Eldritch Skies by Battlefield Press. Play within the alien side of the Lovecraft universe.


Lords of Olympus by Precis Intermedia Gaming is inspired by Amber Diceless in which players take roles of Greek pantheon characters.
Troika Moira uses secrecy to replicate chance for most actions and a double-bluff system for combat, similar to rock, paper, scissors. Can be used for almost any fantasy realm, from dungeon crawls to high-politic games.
Rolemaster Unified is a re-release of the previous versions of the Rolemaster games into a single system.
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea by  North Wind Adventures. Enter the Conan-esque world of adventure!
BareBones Fantasy by DwD Studios. A rules-lite fantasy realm of the Keranak Kingdoms.
Synergy 1.5 the Synergy game was revamped and re-released in this updated version.
Wayfarers by Mongoose Publishing / Ye Old Gaming Companye. This is the second edition of the fantasy game.
Adventurer Conqueror King System by Autarch. In the Auran Empire, your character has retired from adventuring and have turned your wealth and power to kingdom or guild building.
Dungeon World by Sage Kobold Productions and RNDM Games. A simple, yet elegant game system for dungeon crawls.
RuneQuest 6th ed. by Design Mechanism. ‘Nuff said.

Parallel Worlds

Broken Rooms by Greymalkin Designs. Enter one of the 12 ‘other’ parallel worlds of the Nearside through broken rooms. They are dying and you have a limited chance to tap into their various powers…

Child oriented

Mermaid Adventures RPG by Third Eye Games. Play in the city of Atlantis!
First Fable by One Book Shelf Inc. This is an introductory fantasy RPG for young players. A free pdf that contains five books; a core book and four character books.
Online, the RPG’s of note are World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria release, Dragon's Dogma,  Way of the Samurai, Drakengard, Fable, Yakuza, Devil Summoner, Mass Effect and The Witcher video games.