Sunday, 20 August 2017

#RPGaDAY - Day 20 - Where do I get out-of-print RPGs?

Day 20 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?

The best source is probably DriveThruRPG or RPGNow or DnDClassics or whatever you want to call that massive conglomeration of sites we call One Book Shelf. The thing is, that's not where I get mine out of print RPGs. I get mine from out of town game stores. One of my favourite things to do when on vacation is to go FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) hunting. 

Back in the day this meant either checking into the hotel and grabbing the phone book or if not staying over night actually finding a phone booth and browsing through the yellow pages. You kids these days have no idea how easy you have it with the internet :D Actually I kind of miss those days as there was a skill to it. Back in the day "Game Store" was not a category you usually found in the phone book. You had to get creative. Hobby Shop. Comic Book Shop, Hobby Store, Gaming Supplies, Gambling Supplies, Comics, Book Store, Model Shop, Train Store and HO Trains were just a few of the categories I would search for. 

It was very hit or miss. Sometimes you would find an awesome sounding "hobby shop" only to show up and find out all they sell is model kits. Or you would find a "gaming supply store" and find out that it's a place that rents poker tables for bachelor parties. That was all part of the fun though, and sometimes you would find a really cool place that you didn't know you were looking for. One example is AVF Hobbies in London Ontario. We went there looking for RPGs and board games but only found model kits. The thing is we found a ton of model kits. An insane amount of model kits. Wall to wall model kits in a shop larger than any local game store. They had very cool kits I didn't know existed and some classic kits I hadn't seen in years. Despite not knowing I wanted them I picked up some great AMT Star Wars snap kits. I also picked up some great pieces that I could use for scenery in miniature gaming.

The best times though were when we found legitimate hobby game stores. I love browsing a new game store. I love to see what they carry, why they carry it if they have gaming space, how they use their space and more. Most of all though I love finding one of two things. Either "new old stock" meaning stuff they have had on the shelf for years and years and just never sold, or a used games section. Most stores have one or the other if not both. It's here that I get my classic out-of-print RPG fix.

As an example, Imperial Hobbies in London Ontario to this day has a great selection of new old stock RPGs. They are usually covered with a thin layer of dust, but they are there, still marked with their original price stickers. I've seen Cyberpunk 2020, Harnworld, RuneQuest, Warhammer Historic, Palladium, TSR Marvel Super Heroes and more there. Another example also in London is L.A. Mood, which started off as a Comic shop but has grown to be more and more gaming over the years. You may not know it if you just stop into the store but they have a gaming area in the basement. Past all the tables are 50 or so long comic boxes. Most of these are classic sci-fi and geek magazines but you can always find about 10 boxes full of used RPG stuff that people have sold/given to the store. What these boxes have is random, and the condition of the books is sometimes not the best but the prices are dirt cheap. We're taking $5-$10 for hardcover rulebooks. 

SCORE! Mekton Empire new, on
the shelf for $8
These finds aren't just limited to London, or even Ontario or Canada. I spent a week working in Hebron Kentucky and managed to find an out of the way comic book store that had pretty much everything printed for Feng Shui sitting there on the shelf as new old stock. I managed to complete my collection that day. 

While it's really cool and awesome that I can just go online now and pretty much find and buy any old RPG I want, it's just not as much fun stumbling across a cache of classic RPG stuff at a game store. Being able to get the book I know I want right now Print on Demand is great, it doesn't match the discovery of a game I never knew I needed sitting right there on the shelf, as it has for 30 years at an out of town game store.


For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 19 best writing in an RPG.

Day 19 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which RPG features the best writing?

My answer instantly is Paranoia. That book was a joy to read. A perfect mix of rules, fluff, and comedy. It's one of the few books I've read more than once just because it's fun to read. The thing is, I'm trying not to repeat games for this #RPGaDAY deal so I have to think of something else. Hmm.

I'm going to go with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay with the caveat that you look past just the core rulebook. Not that the writing in the core rulebook is bad, it's just that there so much more out there. There's the Enemy Within Campaign which I still consider one of the best-written RPG campaigns ever. There is the two Realm of Chaos books. The Black Library put out some amazing novels set in the Warhammer World that were very different from the standard fantasy novels we were seeing from other RPG publishers. Heck, they even had a heavy metal band at one point. Someone had to write those epic lyrics.

I have always loved the Warhammer world and that world was brought to life to me through some of the best writing in the industry. From epic descriptions to try British humor, I can't think of a Warhammer book I didn't enjoy reading. Technically this also spreads to the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Back in the day many of the supplements were actually for both worlds and multiple game systems in those worlds. For example, those Realm of Chaos books had rules for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader.

It's not just the fluff that makes me choose Warhammer for today's question either. It's also for clarity of rules. Of all the RPGs I've run I think I've had the fewest rules arguments in Warhammer. 


For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Friday, 18 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 18 The game I have played the most.

Day 18 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which game have you played the most in your life?

Wow. I have no idea. It's between three RPGs. First off AD&D 2nd Edition which I mentioned back on day 14 where I talked about running a campaign that I ran on and off for 10 years. Second would be Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay which I used to run every single Saturday from 6pm until Midnight at the Windsor Gaming Society for many years. At least 5 perhaps longer. While running that at the club I was also running home games.

But then came Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. While I didn't run it as long as AD&D 2nd Edition or Warhammer I think I ran more individual sessions of 4th Edition D&D. This was due to the fact that 4e D&D got me into the RPGA and public play. I started off as a player at the FLGS on Saturday nights and quickly signed up and became a Herald Level Dungeon Master (back then you actually had to take a test and be certified to be an RPGA DM). During the 4e heyday I was running up to 4 games a week. I had a home game on Monday nights where we were playing through the whole kill Orcus adventure path. I ran D&D encounters on Wednesday nights at the FLGS. I also ran Living Forgotten Realms on Saturday at the FLGS, often two sessions a day, running two different groups through two different adventures.

While I know a lot of people did not like 4e D&D, I loved it. I introduced more new gamers to the wonderful world of roleplaying through 4e than I have with any other system.


For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 17 - game on my shelf of shame the longest.

Day 17 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?

My father was a gamer. I'm sure that's not so strange nowadays but back in the 70s when I was born it was pretty strange. He collected war games, Strategy & Tactics Magazine, Avalon Hill Bookcase games and yes even RPGs. Sadly my father never got to play any RPGs. He just couldn't find anyone else interested in it. While his extensive board game collection got played with family friends multiple times a year (Every New Year's Eve we go to The Brown's so my mom and dad could play board games with them while I played with the kids), his RPG collection never saw any use. That changed when I was 8 years old and snuck a peek at his copy of TSR Marvel Super Heroes when he was out of town on the bowling trip. After that trip, I asked if I could have his old games and he passed them on to me. In that set of games was the original printing of Gamma World from TSR.

Of all the games I inherited from him that's one that I never actually played. It's still sitting on one of my RPG bookcases to this day. While I've opened it up and flipped through it, I've never actually sat down and read it, let alone played a game with it. I honestly don't really know why. I think it just looked too dated. Typewriter font, lots of tables, not very interesting cover, interior art that just wasn't that evocative. Maybe sometime this year as part of #RPGaMonth I should at least read it. 


For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 16 What RPG do I play as is?

Day 16 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

No one is going to expect this one.

First off let me know that my general answer is "all of them." I am a big fan of Rules As Written or RAW. I'm not someone who enjoys tinkering with RPGs. I've got some really strong beliefs about RPG rules and how they are the one common language every player at the table shares and how messing with that language can impact the game negatively. I'm not here to talk about that though.

What I want to talk about is Paranoia. One of the things that amazed me the most about Paranoia back in the day is that it was the only RPG that I owned that encouraged you to break the rules. But, it had great rules! It was so ironic. Paranoia (at least in 2nd edition which is the one I ran the most) has a very decent D20 skill based system that I found brilliant compared to the games I played at that time.  The combat system was quick and solid and as deadly as you wanted to make it. They managed to put in funky super powers (sorry mutations) that all managed to work together and didn't break the game while still breaking the core rules. It was a great system, and here they were telling me to ignore it.

So what did I do? I stole it. My first self-published RPG was called Rad City and was a post apocalyptic RPG that was a mesh of Phantasy Star, Final Fantasy, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Cyberpunk 2020, and TSR Marvel Super Heroes and the glue that held all that together was the Paranoia D20 based system. I have friends today that still think Rad City was one of the best RPGs they played. 


For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

#RPGaDay 2017 - Day 15 - Which RPG do I love to hack?

Day 15 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

This was a hard one for me as I'm not a hacker. While I love the whole DIY movement in RPGs it's just not something I've ever really been into myself. I'm more about finding that right game for you than taking a game and making it right for you.

That said there is one RPG that I hacked the setting off while keeping all of the rules. That was Dream Park from R. Talsorian Games.  The actual setting has players who are playing characters who go to a Dream Park which is this virtual reality simulator theme park. While there those characters play characters in various Dream Park Settings. So yes: this is an RPG where you play a character who is playing a character.

What I did was mash this with Running Man. I make the Dream Park a live broadcast TV show in a cyberpunk future. The players were contestants on the show. Everything they did was televised. Each episode they would meet their GM who would give them information on the game they were about to enter and the goal of that game. The various GMs were all played by me and I made up 5 or so different ones to keep things interesting. The players never knew exactly what to expect each 'show' and had to re-build their characters based on the information they got from the GM.

Some GMs would run gritty realistic games and if players missed the hints during the pre-game interview they could end up taking things like Super Powers or Magic and then they would get in game and it wouldn't work. Other GMs were willing to let anything go.

Dream Park worked awesome for this as it's the only universal system I know where you can have a Power Ranger, A 1920s Mobster, A Nam vet Sniper and a Wizard in the same party, fighting Mecha with light sabers and the game still works and is balanced. It's a brilliant system. 



For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Monday, 14 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - day 14 - What I prefer for open ended play.

Day 14 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

Most of my RPG experience has been running open-ended campaign games. Some of my most memorable games were in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition, Cyberpunk 2020, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. To be honest I can't think of a specific system I think is really best for this style of play. Obviously not some of the indy one shot games, but most traditional RPGs are designed for this.

For my official answer, I'm going to have to go with AD&D 2nd Edition. Not because of the rules themselves but because of some of the amazing supporting products that were released for that edition of D&D. Products that let me run an open ended sandbox game that went on for more than 10 years and had probably hundreds of characters adventure through our shared world.



What these products let me do is run my game on the fly. While I did prep work, a lot of prep work I used these tools to be able to react to what my players did during the game. As most of them involved random elements it means that my players and I experienced the game and the evolving story together. It was "playing to see what happens" before that was cool.  I guess I'm an RPG hipster eh?

When the PCs traveled between two areas I would draw from the appropriate deck of encounters (based on the terrain type they traveled through). When that encounter noted that the dead Ogre the party just found had a lair nearby I would grab a dungeon out of the Book of Lairs. When the party found a prisoner in the Lair I would draw a card from my sorted trading cards to give me an NPC. When the party was rewarded for returning the NPC home I gave them a treasure map from the Mystara Treasure Maps supplement. Using these tools I was able to run a game set in the same campaign setting for almost 10 years.



For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 13 - an experience that changed how I play.

Day 13 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

What I really want to talk about here is the playtest of the game: carry. a game about war. but I already talked about that back on the 7th when I talked about my most impactful session.  That seems like a cop out though, so I think I need to come up with something different.

Does reading an RPG rulebook count as a game experience? Today it does.

I couldn't even tell you how long ago this happened. It wasn't recently. I was sitting there reading the Mechwarrior The Battletech RPG and I had just read something that blew my mind as a GM. It was a chapter on how to GM and it said to do something so simple but so effective. I don't have the book in front of me by here are the cliff notes:

Before you describe a scene to your players take a moment. Close your eyes. Picture the scene in your head. What do you see? What do you smell? How does it feel? Is it hot? Is it humid? Is there a taste in the air? Soak all that in, open your eyes and tell your players what you just experienced.

This changed my GM style forever.


For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 12 - epic interior art?

Day 12 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

I read Fading Suns as part of my #RPGaMonth efforts this year. One of the first things that struck me about that game was the very cool very evocative interior art. Unfortunately, the arts wasn't inspiring enough to overcome the rules. So I've never actually played the game but I have to say the universe looks really damn cool. 




For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.

Friday, 11 August 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Day 11 - dead game necormancy!

Day 11 of #RPGaDay 2017. 

Which 'dead game' would you like to see reborn?

It seems like this question gets harder every day. I think I get an email or see a G+ post about some game coming back through kickstarter every time I sit in front of my PC. Most of my favourite games from back in the day have come back in some way. Paranoia is the most recent. Traveller still goes strong. Warhammer just had a 4th edition announced. I am very tempted to answer Cyberpunk 2013/2020. There was a more modern release of that though, V3 which received very negative reviews (I own a copy but haven't actually read it).

Instead of cyberpunk I'm going to go with an RPG system that I would love to see come back and that's the SAGA system that premiered in Dragonlance: Fifth Age Dramatic Adventure Game. I don't necessarily need a new Dragonlance game (though I actually wouldn't mind that) but I really want to see something new done with the card based SAGA system.  I really loved SAGA. As far as I know it was the first player facing RPG (something many people seem to wrongly credit to PBtA games or the Cyper system). What this means is that all of the action is driven by the players. The Orcs never attack the characters, instead the characters defend from the Orcs attacks.

I love the card based system introduced in SAGA. The fact that each character class had a suit that was trump was very cool. Hand management added a very interesting meta to the game, where experienced players would choose places for their characters to fail in an effort to build a better hand for when they really needed it. The use of the deck to determine narrative cues was also brilliant. Overall I think this is the perfect example of a game that was way before it's time.

Now I know that there was a Marvel Super Heroes version of SAGA released. That I have not had a chance to check out. For some reason copies of that game and the associated deck sell for more than the almost impossible to find Last Unicorn Dune game.  

For those wishing to play along at home, here are the topics for this years #RPGaDay. Feel free to use these cues in your tweets, facebook posts, g+ threads, blog posts and more.