Blades in the Dark is hard. The system ensures that getting everything you want is impossible. It wants you to make difficult choices about character priorities, but sometimes your choices are non-existent – you just do what is necessary to survive. I like it, but some players don’t enjoy being kicked in the teeth over and over again in their free time. Caveat emptor. Continue reading
I’ve been aware of the annual 200 Word RPG Challenge for a few years now, but this is the first year I’m actually submitting something and I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. Better yet, a few friends and my partner have submitted games as well, which has helped to build a lovely sense of camaraderie as we work on each other’s games (most of my best ideas being stolen from them). Continue reading
Last year I produced a rules menu for the Cortex Prime RPG system – a breakdown of all the variant rules modules used by the game, in an digestible format, that GMs could print off and tick through to build their own personal ruleset. Since then, there have been two more versions of the beta released, so I’ve produced a new version of the rules menu to keep up with the changes.
I’ve said before that I don’t really “get” John Harper’s Lady Blackbird, but it’s more accurate to say I don’t “get” the evangelism. Undoubtedly, it triumphs in conveying depth of setting in few words, with a simple system that compels decisive action, from an explosive inciting event. That’s not nothing, but it’s not the best game of the decade either. I thought it was fun, but that the system didn’t translate well outside Blackbird’s controlled environment, and felt no more inclined to replay one scenario than I would any other published adventure.
Released six years later, Magister Lor was precisely the next step I wanted. But like Lasers and Feelings, the shelf-life is limited. If you’re looking for a way to extend your Tales of the Wild Blue Yonder, I wouldn’t set aside longer than another four hours. Continue reading
My obsession with Cortex Prime shows no sign of abating. Since I put together the Cortex Prime Rules Menu last year, I’ve been playing more than ever – both as a GM (a one-player modern day, young adult, superhero thing with my girlfriend) and as a player (a high-concept, pretty gonzo, reformed supervillains game). In between games, I’ve been devouring the latest iteration of the SRD, and sending across bits of feedback to the designer. It’s safe to say I’ve caught the Cortex bug. Continue reading
There’s no shortage of roleplaying games with horror settings. If the book is well written, and the players are receptive, they provide a compelling horror experience. But a horror roleplaying game – where the mechanics themselves exist to scare players, not characters – that’s much rarer. In my perhaps limited experience, only two games come to mind: Ten Candles, the candle-lit tragedy I reviewed last year; and Dread, the one with the Jenga tower. Continue reading
I think 2017 was a pretty good year, certainly compared to the one before. Here are my 17 highlights from a year with lots and lots of roleplaying games! Continue reading
The first mini-review I ever wrote, Smallville, was published a year after the game went out of print, because that’s how behind the curve I am. Margaret Weis haven’t produced new Leverage content for years, but the Cortex system is alive and kicking, with a new design studio at the helm, a successful Kickstarter, and a resourceful fan community (including yours truly). As 2017 ends, nostalgia moves me to re-examine where the seeds of Cortex Prime were first planted, and in a way, this blog too. Seven years later, Leverage still holds up. Continue reading
Full disclosure, I’m not usually a fan of modular roleplaying game systems. Providing a hacker’s guide for an otherwise complete ruleset is one thing, but a game that requires players to assemble it themselves before they can start play is often hard to distinguish from something unfinished. I was pondering this whilst reviewing the latest Cortex Prime beta recently, and arrived at a conclusion: for Cortex Prime to be a really excellent release for me, it would need to produce a really solid and exciting core un-modified system, or it would need to be modular in a way that roleplaying games have never been before.
So my plans to develop a turbo-accelerated version of my accelerated character creation for Smallville have taken a back seat. After the last post, I had an opportunity to review the latest beta for Cortex Prime, and that’s where my heads at now. I might return to it, but at the moment it feels more rewarding to be seeing the future, than designing content for a game that went out of print four and a half years ago. Continue reading