Designing Eldritch Sigils

Last Sunday I published the beta version of rules for Eldritch Sigils. This is a game I have been working on for about five years. I have actually published earlier drafts over the years but this was the first time it actually has consistency and it is actually playable.

This has been a long process and one that is still in the works. But now that the rules are “out there” I thought it would be a good chance to talk about them. Since game design is quite an interesting topic I hope that sharing my process might produce new ideas or at least be curious.

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Asking Help from Community

Roleplaying communities in internet are a beautiful thing. Back in the day when we played Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay I was really active on Strike-to-Stun. I quickly learned that if I had a problem or wanted to change ideas an international community of likeminded players was a great place to start. Now we haven’t played WFRP in ages but I still visit the communities because I want to keep up with the people there.

There are a lot of rpg communities all around the web. There are dedicated forums, publisher’s forums, Facebook and (my personal favorite) Google+ for example. Combine them and you have almost unlimited resources of information and ideas. Ask help and you will get it.

Most of the time.

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[Uncharted Worlds] Creating a Character

Last week we managed to play the first prelude mission for our upcoming Uncharted Worlds campaign. We plan to start the campaign quite soonish. And since I already have a character concept in mind I decided to build it in advance. I have no idea if it is something that we will be able to use but we will see. In this post I will discuss the creation of the said character and include some thoughts behind the process.

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Trying Out: Uncharted Worlds

spiliaprime1Short version: Uncharted Worlds is an Apocalypse World hack by Sean Gomes. It is a game for a space opera in the style of Firefly (amongst other things). It’s a complete game not requiring the understanding or ownership of the Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker. And it is a good hack with a lot going on.

Long version: After a number of times failing to get the group together we finally managed to sit down for a game of Uncharted Worlds. Sami (our GM) has been talking about this and has prepared for it by running the Out of the Abyss-campaign. He has even vowed to write about running it at one point. With 20+ sessions I would imagine he has quite a bit to say about it. Once he actually does it…
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Ropecon 2016 – Weekend at Ropecon

Gallery

This gallery contains 47 photos.

Here is the gallery for random photos I took at Ropecon 2016. As always if you find an image of yourself you do not wish to see online, let me know and I either remove the picture or blur you out … Continue reading

Assassination in Three Hours — Blades in the Dark

blades3

In mere three hours, we created our group of scoundrels and planned and executed an assassination. John Harper’s roleplaying game Blades in the Dark, dear readers, is awesome. This is my experience of our first session. Note that this is not a review nor an analysis of the design, just a description of a subjective experience. Continue reading

Ropecon 2016 recommendations

To begin with – the roleplaying games are (once again) quite well hidden in the time table of the Con. And once again the gaming system is not given (unless it is written in the description of the game). You can find (hopefully) the full list HERE.

Past two years we have the games that seemed to be most interesting and here we are again! There are a lot of games running this year and this is not a definitive list. These are our recommendations and in no way represent any actual ranking system. Also – this year there are no stickers.

Since there is no registration in advance for the games (which might lead into total chaos – according to the theme) you might consider these games to be the ones where you could spend your “queue-jump card”.

Notes:

Any time a description says the game uses a modified version of known system, it’s not automatically out, but almost. As before we don’t see how any changes could make the experience better. When you are sacrificing possible previous knowledge of the system for possible small advances with the system, you are shooting yourself in the foot. You might have very good reasons for your changes, but those will almost never outweigh the opportunity cost presented by losing prior understanding of the system by players. (I don’t agree with this paragraph. Or any other paragraphs for that matter. -Ville)

Also, if we know the system, and the description of the game is somehow contrary to the system, we can’t recommend it. For example, Savage Worlds is clearly designed for fast-paced, tactical combat. If you are using it for something else, you really should expand your knowledge of games. Right tool for the right job.

Scenario Competition

This year’s annual scenario competition has had some changes from previous two. I read from somewhere that the time limit of 45-60min can be lifted if the group is ok with that. I’m a bit reserved about this change since it can affect scheduling your other games and might affect the whole experience. Nevertheless the Guild still recommends to try out as many of these new minigames as possible! (I failed to find them from the official time table but they are most likely ran at Experience Point/Kokemuspiste.)

Games by the Guild

Through the Breach, Henchman, Penny Dreadful
Fri 16:00 – 18:00 & 18:00 – 20:00, Sali 307
None of us who’ve participated in this page have played in a game by this Tero, but the Guild is a good place to learn, so we’d trust him to be a good GM. Also ran at Sat 11:00 – 13:00, Sali 203a

Also, if you keep your eyes open, you might be able to test out a prototype version of a board game by a guildmember, Teemu Vilen. No-one knows when or where, but again, keep your eyes open. Its been over two years, so the current state of the game is unknown to us, but here’s a preview from back then.

Lauri’s Recommendations

These are all the games I would attend, if I could:

ROLEPLAYING GAMES

Dread – Under silicon fist
Fri 20:00 – 0:00, Sali 307
Dread has yet to fail me as a Ropecon game. If you haven’t tried it yet this might be your chance. It’s a story game of horror that uses Jenga as a gaming system. Ran also at Sali 307, Sun 10:00 – 14:00

The Warren
Sat 10:00 – 12:00, Sali 203a
I really hope this is THE Warren. I really like Bully Pulpit Games and have no doubt that this game about rabbits is going to kick ass if it runs smoothly. It’s REALLY early on Saturday so I hope this goes a little under the radar and I get to participate. Ran also at Sali 203b, Sat 12:00 – 15:00

Dread: Gansterien kaupunki
Sat 20:00 – 0:00, Sali 301
As stated above, Dread seems to work very well in Con environment. This is also a game about gangsters so you can finally live up to your wiseguy dreams.

Teini-ikäiset mutanttininjakilpikonnat: Vaaralliset viemärit
Sun 11:00 – 15:00, Sali 214
Savage Worlds really isn’t my choice of gaming systems – but this time it is used in a game of teenage mutant ninja turtles so fast and furious action is almost guaranteed! Bujakaza!

Cthonian Highways: Matka Lahteen
Sun 12:00 – 16:00, Sali 203b
Cthonian Highways is an upcoming rpg from Finnish Iron Spine (Heimot, Astraterra). It’s still in development but trying out new games is always fun. Or at least educational and different. Quite likely an excellent chance to wrap up this years Ropecon.

Aki’s Recommendations

Gladly Lauri went with the Dread game, so I don’t have to use my slots for that. Not that we have slots, but I wanted to limit this a little. I found plenty of interesting stuff, but recommendations don’t work if there’s too many of them. Anyhow, here’s what I’d try to get into first, if I was going (sadly, I can’t this year).

I Say a Little Prayer
Fri 16:00 – 21:00, Sali 307 & Sat 10:00 – 15:00, Sali 301
Five gay men in a single apartment, when AIDS comes along. This is one of those things you’re probably hesitent about, but you’d feel good about attending afterwords.

Kesä 1254!
Sat 10:00 – 14:00, Sali 212 (two concurrent games, so take your pick of two different GMs)
I still haven’t had a chance to test Mouse Guard, but what I’ve read and heard about it is definitely encouraging to say the least.

Deranged
Sat 10:00 – 14:00, Sali 301 & Sun 10:00 – 14:00, Sali 301
“Semilive”. So, basically it’s a good chance to mess with the players in the other tables in the same room, because they can’t stop watching what you are doing. The line where it says that you need to have a sense of humor, but its not striving for comedy is the one that sold me.

Ville’s recommendations

Lauri and Aki picked out cool stuff already — Mouse Guard is about as good as roleplaying design gets — but here are some others. I’m not choosing I Say a Little Prayer again, since I’ve already played it and enjoyed it. My first impression was that there’s little interesting this year, but looking more closely, it’s just the opposite: tons of interesting stuff on offer, and no chance of participating in them all! I’m also writing a bit about most of the games I found interesting and why, since I’ve no authority to recommend anything.

But please, GMs: learn to pitch your games. Know what they’re about, what you can offer, and give it straight. I don’t want to read a novel about the milieu, I want to know why and how your game stands out and is worth playing.

If you want to be absolutely sure about having a fun time, pick a game of Fiasco or Dread. Here, however, are some others.

Kult: Divinity Lost
Fri 18:00 – 22:00, Sali 203a
The old Swedish ultragrim horror RPG had horrible rules. The new one is based on Apocalypse World. I’m not sure how good a fit it is, but I’m tempted to try it out. Besides, horror tends to work well in cons.

Sotakarjut – operaatio Kärsä
Fri 18:00 – 22:00, Sali 203b
I’m really intrigued by the concept of Sotakarjut, a science fiction wargame inspired by Philip K. Dick. It’s got genetically modified war pigs (cue Black Sabbath ear worm in 3… 2…) whose programming starts to fail. I’m somewhat wary about it being combat-heavy — war in RPGs works best when you can focus on questions of power, hierarchy, psychology and all that jazz — but I’m curious!
Fellowship
Fri 18:00 – 22:00, Sali 214
I’ve never played with the GM, but he has a great taste in games. The system is a modification of Dungeon World, it empowers players, and yes, mushroom orcs are definitely my thing.
Continuity
Fri 19:00 – 0:00, Sali 203a
Eclipse Phase has a cool world, and this one uses GUMSHOE for the system, which is a personal favorite. Mystery, horror, and seriousness — sounds fun. I hope the GM does a good job of introducing the world, since it can be quite a mouthful.
Matalalle haudattu
Fri 19:00 – 23:00, Sali 203b
Psychological horror and drama in the shadow of a dictatorship sounds like a good time. I’ve played Montsegur 1244 with the GM and ran Night Witches for him, which means he has great taste and I’d like to see him GM for once.
Depressing Dungeon
Fri 20:00 – 2:00, Sali 203a
I’ve been wanting to play Fate. This has pregens. Still, the six hours’ playing time reaching deep into the night might be too much for moi.
The Doom King
Fri 20:00 – 22:00, Sali 203a
I’d never heard of Protocol, which this game uses. However, it sounds quite interesting, and this is from the game’s description on Drivethrurpg: “Players take on the roles of directors outside the action and characters inside the action, using the ebb and flow of four different scene-framing styles (vignettes, interrogations, interludes, and ensembles) to tell meaningful stories about characters in crisis.”
Nibiru
Sat 10:00 – 14:00, Sali 214; Sun 10:00 – 13:00 Sali 203b
Rules-light self-discovery and memory recovery in an unusual and wondrous sci-fi setting full of mysteries and opportunities for adventure. Sounds like fun!
Viljakkalan vihat
Sat 10:00 – 14:00, Sali 307
If you need me to explain you why you should play with Wille Ruotsalainen, you’ve lived in a fucking barrel and need to come out ASAP.
Nukkemestari
Sat 12:00 – 15:00, Sali 302
Cyberpunk jeepform about identity, memory, and the dissolution of reality! Probably the most interesting pitch this year.
Korruptiota Rethessä
Sat 14:00 – 16:00 (and onwards), Sali 203a
The GM really knows his stuff. He’s passionate and smart and can think on his feet.
Palimpsest
Sat 14:00 – 17:00, Sali 301; Sun 10:00 – 13:00, Sali 302
It’s freeform and it’s about memories. I’m a sucker for stories about memories. I haven’t met the GM, but she’s smart and active in the Finnish roleplayers’ Facebook group.
Äänitettyä tyhjyyttä
Sat 16:00 – 20:00, Sali 302
It’s about a 1970s rock band recording it’s second album. Drugs and relationship drama and artistic disagreements using a modded Primetime Adventures and it’s not a comedy game. I trust the GM Eero Laine can pull of a modded system.
The Stars Our Problem
Sat 18:00 – 22:00, Sali 203a
More Eclipse Phase with GUMSHOE. This time with a derelict spaceship! I’m a sucker for derelict spaceships.
Huone, jossa Lombardi kuoli
Sat 19:00 – 23:00, Sali 307
A surreal psychological thriller about a writer travelling to Los Angeles to sign a contract for a movie. The GM knows his stuff and the pitch is at least as interesting as Nukkemestari’s. I’m a sucker for writers in a surreal City of Angels.
In conclusion, if the stars are right, my Friday is somewhat open still, but it’s a bloody fight between Fellowship and Matalalle haudattu. On Saturday, Nukkemestari and Huone, jossa Lombardi kuoli; and on Sunday, the second run of Palimpsest. Looks like my tastes this year tend towards freeform, and I like memories, and I’m a sucker for a lot of things.

ZWEIHÄNDER is complete!

Back in the day I used to play Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay for years. It was “my D&D” (since I never really played that). I have a lot of memories about that game, I have made quite a few fan supplements for it, heck, I was even the other admin for long forgotten HAMMERZEIT (web site for WFRP3) and have been running the Daily Empire apparently for seven years…

Every now and then I have tried to get back into the game that really sold roleplaying for me but having been spoiled by Apocalypse World it has never really worked out.

Back while I was really active “some dude” got an idea of remaking the 2nd edition game. Since I really  (REALLY) loved the 2nd edition I was immediately on board on this. Then time passed. Games Workshop decided it was better to just destroy the Old World (with Age of Suckmar). I even played a little D&D! But yesterday “that dude” finally did it.

“That dude” is naturally Daniel Fox and his Grim & Perilous Studios. And the game is called ZWEIHÄNDER.

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Casual Forum Roleplay

Let’s make things clear. I’m not talking about fantasies on Tumblr. Savvy?

What I’m going to talk about is my experience on running, taking part of and closely following rpgs played on our private forum. Since gaming time is an issue for grownups playing via forum might become handy every now and then.

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New Games by Guild Redemund

kiltamerkki_peleihinI’m cheating with the topic but at least you are reading still, right? These games are not “new” per se but hacks and adventures. There is our newest collaborative Fiasco playset, an agnostic fantasy adventure (though it does have Dungeon World threat sheet) and a game that is built on Matthijs Holter‘s Archipelago.

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