Friday, 17 October 2014

Kampi's Edda: First Days

Last entry of Kampi's Edda covered the backstory of my LARP character, Ref 'Kampi' Vandillsson. Today consists of a whole bunch of narrative covering his first week in the world of Medieval Chaos:

A few days following his arrival at Dagger Deep:
Kampi had been hired as a guard/porter for a small merchant caravan that was travelling south from Uberland via Dagger Deep to a place in the south called Helm's Deep. To his fortune, he had been hired on last minute to fill an opening, though he was fairly sure his payment was to be low due to his inexperience with the company; he still didn't fully understand the worth of trade in this land and accepted the only way to learn it was from the bottom up. Still, where he was from, low-work was handled by unpaid thralls, so at least he could afford to keep from starving to death. For the time being at least. 
He didn't talk much during the journey with his travelling companions, instead doing what he thought he did best: listening; both to the conversations within and the sounds outside. He partially hoped this vigilance would grant him a degree of professionalism and reliability with his peers, but it also allowed him time to ponder on the recent events in his life: 
During the past week alone Kampi had survived shipwreck, being stranded alone in a strange land, captured by slavers, slain fleeing from captors, and was returned to life and introduced to the local settlement of Dagger Deep, where he saw many different walks of life, some of whom he met. Before he had time to come to terms with what had transpired, creatures calling themselves valkyrja suddenly appeared in town with a retinue of supposedly dead warriors and demanded several named folk. Obviously not his concern, but the whole event fascinated him: it was said in the sagas of his people that the valkyrja mostly appeared to those whom were slain in battle, but here it was to mortals.

Kampi had been slain twice more that day when men who were once-dead-but-still-dead rose up against the living; perhaps the tales of the aptrganga were also true to some extent. Twice more Kampi had returned to the land of the living, a confusing and painful process that he sought to avoid in the future.
Kampi thought long and hard on what this all meant against his previous beliefs on death and the afterlife during the long, uneventful journey to Helm's Deep.

Upon cresting a hillock, Kampi's eyes widened with wonder as they fell upon the great city below him. He had heard tales of giant towns to the south, but had never seen them with his own eyes. He could scarcely believe the sheer size and splendour of Helm's Deep, and briefly forgot himself until the words of his employer drew him back in. As the company wove its way along the increasingly crowded road toward the huge gated entrance, Kampi's spirits lifted; A town this immense must have anything a man may need; he thought. He kept close to his company as it made its way through he gate and toward the market, lest he be swept away by the throngs of people.

The market was awash with crowds, and all sorts of sounds and smells, both familiar and strange, pervaded the air. Kampi forced himself to keep from distraction and his mind on the task at hand as he hauled the goods he'd been transporting for his elven employer into a tall building made of wood and stone. Once all the goods had been stored, he lined up last with his peers as their employer handed out payment along with his thanks.
When he reached Kampi he handed him half a dozen coins and spoke that his company would be leaving from this spot back to Uberland the morning following; he had proven his worth as a porter and was welcome to join them if he wished. Kampi thanked the elf-man as they all went their different ways. 
Resting his tired, sweaty muscles in a quiet corner of the market for a brief moment, Kampi carefully looked over his payment: one coin was made of gold, two of silver, and the rest copper. His stomach growled and he realized he had not eaten for over a day, when he consumed his last stale flatbread. He had some business he wished to take care of, but knew it was best to have a full stomach before undertaking any task, and what better way to find the value of this coin then by buying food? 
Kampi spent some time browsing various vendor stalls, and to his surprise discovered many of them served prepared food. Back home, one would acquire items to cook ones own meal, but it did make sense in this city since there was little room to set up a personal cooking fire anyway. But the mongers' asking prices did reflect the convenience of ready to eat food. 
At last Kampi could not abide his hunger any longer and settled on spiced boar meat served upon a slice of crusty bread for a silver coin. He filled his drinking horn with a thin ale costing one of his coppers and downed it in a single gulp; it tasted stale and bitter but it helped alleviate his thirst. 
Finding another quiet spot, he took a large bite of his fare and nearly spat it out! He was not used to such spice and briefly wished he hadn't downed his ale first. Once he managed to choke down his bite, he chuckled to himself: the whole thing reminded him of when Kail, one of the trio of warriors that had recovered him from his death a few days ago, had offered him an odd fruit covered with a thick, ochreous hide. He was not accustomed to such strong flavour at first, but found he liked it. 
That in turn reminded Kampi of one of the reasons he came to this town apart from employment. He quickly finished his food in smaller bites and found the spiced meat to be delicious; he could get used to such fare, if he could afford it this is. Kampi then struck off on his first task.

Kampi made his way through the dense mass of folk in search of a merchant who dealt in weapons. The crowd did not bother Kampi much, he was used to spending many a week sailing on a cramped drakkar, pressed against fellow crew-members. A twinge of sorrow plucked at his heart when he thought of his recent shipmates, lost to the sea when their drakkar capsized in a fierce maelstrom.
He prayed to his gods that he was not the only one of his folk who made it ashore alive, and that those who did not had brought gold with them so the sea goddess Rán would be pleased with their gift, grant them a place to rest in her hall, and perhaps a seat feasting at table of Ægir. 
Kampi turned his attention back to his task: as far as weapons, he had but the single sword he had taken from one of his slaver captors. Though not familiar design, Kampi new firsthand it was of decent make. But it was not his own through spoils of victory but more so of theft, and he considered that one of the reasons why he felt no attachment to it; it was not his by true right. Still, a weapon is a must amongst his people, regardless of profession.

He stepped into a building that looked promising.

After his eyes adjusted to the dim light, Kampi gazed upon the racks and shelves stacked with various tools of war, along with many other goods. There where many different types, makes, and designs; and several he did not recognize at first as a weapons. He narrowed his focus to the main weapons used with a shield by his people: axe, spear, and sword: 

Obviously a shield is of real use in combat when paired with a weapon; it may protect one from harm, but alone it cannot remove threats. The store had shields of many strange shapes, but few of the simple round design Kampi was familiar with. 
The axe was the poor man's sword: usually easier and cheaper to make than a sword because it used much less iron; the shop carried mostly long, two-handed designs or bizarre double-bitted varieties. These had the disadvantage that one could not use a shield effectively when wielding such a broad weapon. Of course one would have to have a shield to begin with... 
Kampi was hoping for a spear; a weapon that benefited from being shield-less by keeping you out of your opponents' reach in the first place. It was also the favoured of the chief god of his folk, Wodinaz. If a foe does manage get in close, then one could be in trouble, thus the trick was to keep them at bay. Sadly to his dismay, none of suitable length were to be found here; rightly so thought Kampi, they're relatively inexpensive. 
Finally the sword. Kampi already had a sword and there was no chance he could trade his current blade for a better one. Maybe for a smaller weapon like a seax or dagger, but he wasn't enthusiastic about losing the reach granted by the sword.

He had come here to exchange the bandit's blade for a cheaper weapon and get some coin for the trade; and after browsing the wares Kampi figured he might have to settle for smaller blade. But doing so might only jeopardize his livelihood, but also his future position as a caravan guard; no merchant worth his weight would hire a guard armed only with a knife. On the other hand, Kampi desperately needed money, and unless he was going to take up idle banditry or challenging the honourable to duels for death or profit, a sword would help little in a non-martial career. 
Kampi was just about to enquire with the merchant about a trade when something caught his eye: hanging from the wall on a thong of leather was something hafted like a handaxe, but it's head was more similar to a woodworker's hammer on one side and a miner's pick on the other.

Aye see dat yer interested in dis war hammer?” Said the portly shopkeep as he took the weapon down off its hook and extended it to Kampi. “Yes... I've heard of them, but never seen one.” Replied Kampi as he took the weapon and made a few light swings, testing its weight. It felt good, very good, similar to a handaxe he once had. 
“De 'ead 'n' spike punch drough armour.” Said the shopkeep. “Anyding from basic lead'er to maille to full plate. A piece may turn a blade edge, but it canneh stop de weight behind a decent blow from one of deese beauties. Break de bones undernead, or a least knock dey teed out!” The shopkeep grinned, showing a large gap in his mouth where his front teeth used to be. Kampi smiled and nodded. 
Something inside told Kampi to get this weapon. He wasn't sure if it was because of the similarity and weight to an axe, the somewhat merciful prospect of disabling rather than killing a foe outright, or the darker idea of causing undue suffering through shattered bone and ruptured gut rather than a relatively quick death by blade. 
It certainly would be just as effective wielded against lightly the armoured, as well as beings whom clad themselves in thick metal plate; Kampi had seen a both in this city and in Dagger Deep. The war hammer's reach was shorter than the sword he had acquired, but not by much; it measured about his arm minus his hand in length. The fates had led him here, so it must be ordained. Plus did not the mighty god Thonar wield a hammer in battle? 
Kampi spoke: “Yes. I like this... war hammer. I have this to trade for it.” He drew his sword and extended the hilt to the shopkeep, who took it, swung in experimentally, and then closely examined it. “Good weigh'. Nice make. Decen' condition.” Said the shopkeep who then scratched at his balding head with an pondering look upon his face before speaking again. “Yeah, I'll straight up 'rade you fur dis. We 'ave a deal?” 
“Hold a moment.” said Kampi. “That doesn't seem a fair trade for the amount of steel between the two. Granted I am turning in something previously owned, but I was hoping I'd get a little coin to return for this trade.” He motioned to several smaller blades on display. “Which of those do you consider of equal worth to trade this sword for?” 
The merchant strode over to the blades, considered a moment, selected one and handed it to Kampi. “Dis one.” he said. Kampi felt its weight; honestly not too light, nor too heavy. “How about this then: we place this blade upon one side of the balance over there. Upon the other, we'll place that loose war hammer head I see sitting upon that bench. The difference between the two is how much coin will be paid. Fair?” The shopkeep scratched his pate for a moment and then nodded in agreement.

Both parts were placed upon the balance; much to Kampi's relief the blade outweighed the head, but not by much. The merchant then began to add coins to the blade side until the balance was equal. “I dink de difference is nine and twenty coppers worth. Fair enough?” 
“Thank you good man, we have a deal. Make it twenty-seven for indulging me.” The portly gent counted out the coins, handed them over with the hammer, and thanked Kampi for the business. Kampi holstered his new weapon on his belt and smiling, strode back out into the market.

Content with his trade, Kampi pondered on his next course of action. The interaction netted him more coin to barter with but still left him with a decent weapon. He now moved on to his next task: working to fulfil one third of the trice-bound oaths to each of his redeemers. 
The vows he personally swore before his gods consisted of three parts: an oath of tribute, an oath of service, and an oath beholden to their longevity. Unfortunately his duty to his own base needs meant he was unable to fulfil the last two on account of not being present with his any of his redeemers. In fact, several times during his journey to Helm's Deep he had prayed to the Norns that they may see fit that none of his trio would fall to an ill fate during his absence; it would be a further great dishonour to himself if he wasn't present to aid those he already deeply owed in their time of need. 
But he would seize this opportunity to at least attain worthy tribute! Kampi pledged as he started to slowly walk the market, considering options. The gift of coin, though useful, lacked a personal connection, and expensive gifts may have value but no intimacy; not that Kampi could afford such luxuries at this time anyway. Practical presents were in order, but Kampi came upon a problem: at this time, he knew very little about those he was oath-bound to beyond their base profession and skill; their interests, trades, beliefs, loves, fears... 
Kampi felt shame at this but it deepened his resolve to learn more about his companions when he returned to Dagger Deep. For now, he would attain something worthy to fulfil his oath of tribute to each of them. But what? His eyes traced around the market square. He seemed to find himself back where the majority of costermongers had their carts set up, hawking their fruits and vegetables. 
As Kampi's gaze fell upon a barrow filled with caskets of golden-hued apples, a notion came upon him: In the sagas of his people, apples were commonly associated with youth, for the goddess Idthuna carried an magical eski made of ash wood. Within it contained apples blessed with granting youth (for the gods age like mortals, be it slowly by mortal standards), and relied on the apples of Idthuna to remain forever hale and youthful.  
Kampi couldn't keep from grinning like a fool; what nobler gift for his redeemers than a symbol for eternal youthfulness? He strode over to the cart, plucked three of the nicest apples he could find, and was about to hand over the requested coin to the monger when something caught his eye: sitting in a smaller basket were several small orbs he wouldn't have recognised before until very recently, when Kail had shown him the ochre-hide fruit he called an 'Or-An-Jeh'. 
Kail had said that it held mystical properties that kept mariners and the like from illness when on long journeys. Kampi surmised it might have something to do with the strong flavour or perhaps the bright colouring of its skin; in fact, Kampi kept the dried hide from the 'Oranjeh' they shared for good measure ever since.
Kampi scooped up the fruit and thought: For his gladiator friend, this is a more fitting gift than an apple. He returned one of the pomes back to where whence it came, paid the merchant, and tucked away the gifts in his bag, deeply satisfied with his acquisition.

The remaining part of the day saw Kampi inquire about future employment in Helm's Deep, but to little success. The trade he knew best, woodwork and carpentry, was, as nearly all artisans were, controlled by guilds. If you weren't a member of the appropriate guild in this town, there was little chance of finding legitimate work in your given trade; and illegitimate work runs several risks if one was to be discovered operating outside guild regulation.
Joining a guild was an option, but the process was long, time consuming, and certainly not conducive to those who desperately needed employment, like Kampi.
The fact that most of the streets Kampi had so far traversed in this city were lined with a liberal amount of beggars seeking alms might further lend credence to the power of guild rule. In partial jest, Kampi considered that he may be forced to do the same with his own bowl after a few weeks of unemployment would make him gaunt and filthy enough to benefit from charity, and thus run the risk of violating the unseen rules of a 'thieve's guild'. 
After little success in the artisan quarter, Kampi made his way to the harbour district also known as Water Gate, seeking a job in the second and third best trades he knew: seamanship (particularly as a ship's carpenter) and general labourer. 
The harbour's scents filled Kampi's nose before he reached the dockside, and the crying to gulls and the clamour of mariners and dockworkers filled the air. All shapes and sizes of craft of unrecognisable design filled the port, few similar to the shape of the knarr, byrding, karvesnekke, or drakkar of his homeland, but none of obvious Nordthfolk make. Kampi was dismayed by this; he had hoped to find a vessel with obvious ties to his people, but it was not to be. 

Still, resolved Kampi, a ship's a ship; the basic principles are the same and I'm more than willing to learn any innovations of craft and marinership
Unfortunately for Kampi, the remainder of the day was a fruitless as his time spent amongst the artisans: no work was to be found; not particularly because of guild rule, but all the captains he spoke with already had a full complement for their vessels and the port merchants had many a stevedore to shift goods. 
Exhausted, Kampi found a relatively quiet side-street when dusk fell, leaned himself beside a several wooden crates, took a moment to place his valuables underneath the stack (lest he be robbed during his slumber), and allowed a fitful sleep to take him.

The light of early dawn found Kampi as he awoke shivering. With numb hands he checked his person and hidden stash; nothing untoward seemed to happen to him that night. The sun made it difficult to tell the hour in this land, but to his best reckoning, Kampi felt he had an hour or so before the elf had said his caravan was to leave north for Uberland. 

Beating his limbs for warmth, Kampi stiffly stood. His impromptu bed did little to relieve his soreness and his stomach growled with hunger. The streets of the city where desolate at this hour, a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle the day before.

A few pedlars were hawking their wares and Kampi purchased some dried foodstuffs to break his fast and prepare for the journey ahead, along with a woollen cloak of good quality for his single gold coin; though this land was considerably warmer than he was used to, the nights were still chill and the season was turning towards winter.
Kampi lingered around muster point the elven merchant had mentioned, and was beginning to worry that he had missed the caravan when several folk he recognized approached with an empty wain. 
After exchanging brief pleasantries, their employer emerged from the building they had ported goods into. Following the directions he gave Kampi and the rest of his colleagues hauled goods from the structure into the wagon, and once it was full, shouldered their own load. 
From then on the company made their way out of the city of Helm's Deep and began the trek north. Kampi was pleased to hear they were to make a brief stopover in Dagger Deep for a few hours as their caravan was to pass though it to Uberland; there he hoped to see his redeemers, deliver their gifts, and aid them to the best of his ability. 
Despite all the hardships that happened recently, Kampi felt optimistic about his fate in this new world...


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Kampi's Edda: Backstory

Last entry of Kampi's Edda, I went over a bit of the development and kit construction for my first Medieval Chaos LARP character, Ref 'Kampi' Vandillsson. Today I submit for parties interested, his backstory, as told from his lips:

"My tale is a long one, are you sure you want to hear it? Very well, I will tell it to you:
"My family was originally from a small village in the land Nordthheim, known as Hvitberg. I was the only son of Vandill, a carpenter by trade, and a young maiden named Deirdru, who was originally a thrall from the Keltlands before she was granted freedom. When I was young, my father Vandill was displaced and exiled by a warrior named Frann, who then married my mother. When I was about fourteen-fifteen winters old, the three of us packed our belongings, boarded a knarr, and sailed across the sea for many weeks to a Nordthfolk settlement in the Keltlands my people called Hængvik. There we dwelt somewhat peacefully with the local Keltfolk, and I even adopted some of their styles of dress and spoke in their tongue. 
"Frann was a member of the the local chieftain's hirdth, so at times he was away viking, but when he was able, Frann had taught me how to wield the three weapons used with shield by our people: the axe, the spear, and the sword. Unfortunately my training did not avail me when our village was beset by marauders late one night whilst Frann and most of the other fighting-men were away on journey. Our folk managed to drive off the horde, but whilst I was keeping our homestead from being set aflame by a group of marauders, one of their blades had slashed deep across my belly. 
"Such a wound was considered fatal by all but my dear mother refused to accept it as such. She knew some ancient runic charms and had secretly practised seidth, a form of sorcery that is taboo amongst the men of the Nordth. It was by her tender care and magics I was kept from dying an unworthy death by a helsótt and my soul from crossing into Helheim, the realm of the unworthy dead. 
"Many seasons later, I was selected by Bragi Wulfsson, our jarl who was going a viking, to be apart of his crew. I then experienced life outside my village, which was mostly by the trade of a carpenter up to that point. After a successful voyage, to honour me, my jarl presented me with a drinking horn made of auroch and banded with gold. The gods seemed to be smiling upon me for the time being, but perhaps the Norns had other plans… 
"The past few years became difficult for the settlement; spoils had grown in short-supply locally or were now too well-defended from our raids, and our folk where forced voyage further south to find new plunder. Recently, during such an expedition, our drakkar came upon a calm, fog-filled sea and we became hafvilla; lost I think is your word for it; for a nearly fortnight. Whispers drifted amongst the crew that we had entered into the realm of mists, Niflheim in my tongue. We made sacrifices to the gods of the weather and the sea: Ægir, Njordth, and Thonar; but perhaps we offended them because suddenly we where beset by a terrible storm. The sea swelled, bore a great maelstrom as you call it, and our drakkar was tossed and torn asunder by its fury.  

"I know not how long had passed floundering in the water before I had washed ashore onto this strange land. My fellow sailors must have been caught in the goddess Rán's net because it seemed that I alone survived the wreck. It was not long before I was set upon by crude folk whom meant to take me as a slave; without a weapon or shield to defend myself, I was quickly overtaken. 
"I was marched wrist-bound for several days through the wilderness. Upon the third night I saw my chance to escape; I had no desire to spend my remaining days as a thrall, and when my guard and I were alone together and he was distracted, with my bound hands I briskly drew his sheathed sword from the scabbard at his hip, struck him down, and fled into the woods. 
"His companions quickly pursued me into a moonless field before I had the chance to remove my bonds. Thrice I took a spear point to the gut but managed to wound the wielder on his forearm, buying me the chance to flee, but his comrade must have hefted an axe through the air in my wake, for I recollect a terrible blow to the back of my head. I faintly recall staggering for the tree line, and I collapsed beyond the edge of it as colour began to bleed from the world and my ears pounded with the sound of my struggling heart. Soon all was still. 
"That was the first time I died. I do not not know so much, but rather feel that my soul was waiting for something. To perhaps be recovered by the valkyrja if it was worthy enough to join the einherjar in Valhalla or Folkvangr, or to be collected by Hel herself to dwell in her underworld with the rest of the dishonoured. 
"But neither arrived, and by powers I do not fully understand, life was breathed back into my body and my soul returned. I started awake, blinded by sunlight, my joints screaming with a pain of stiffness. I could make out three silhouettes standing close to me, asking questions in a tongue I knew. My mind leaped to the thought that my captor's had discovered me and still desired me as their slave despite the trouble I had caused. I raised the sword I still gripped in my stiff, still-bound hands defensively, stumbling back further into the brush on weak legs before collapsing again. 
"Through my own bleary eyes and calm words from the group, I soon realized that they were not of the same party that had me as their prisoner: their dress was different and countenance much more pleasant. Two females and a male made this trio. The man removed my bonds after their assurances that their intention was non-violent and that slavery was punishable by death in this land. I quickly decided that these three were a sign from the gods, for three has a powerful magic within it; I am thrice oathbound to each of them and obligated by my honour to repay their mercy in anyway I can. 
"They led me to the local settlement called Dagger Deep, and there I continue my further adventures in this strange land…"


Friday, 10 October 2014

Kampi's Edda: Concept, Development, and Kit

Today will be my first full entry of Kampi's Edda, a sort of design diary/character journal for my first live-action roleplay character in the fantasy realm of Medieval Chaos: Ref 'Kampi' Vandillsson, devotee of Wodinaz.

Character Concept

Based upon my initial read-through of the career trees and classes in the Players Handbook, I was originally going to make a Rogue character, but further consideration of my enjoyment of the combat we practised at Vanguard Training the past couple months meant that most Rogue characters aren't as martial compared to other classes, at least the concept I was going for (think Solomon Kane). One the other hand, I'm not a particularly good fighter and most of the Fighter classes held little interest for me mechanically. So after rethinking my interests I decided upon a Divine Caster, with long term plans of becoming a Cleric after being an Acolyte.

I think this may be the closest visual where I'd
like Kampi's concept to end up.
Acolytes (and their high guild offshoots, Paladin and Cleric) are the more martial of your Divine Casters, as opposed to the more magic-heavy Priests (and their offshoots Bishops and Cardinals).

I think tend to initially gravitate to rogue/thief-style classes in most fantasy RPGs, but I think I enjoy playing Clerics the most: Healing, Spellcasting, Heavy Armour, and all that delicious RP potential from having a dedicated Deity. Not so much Paladins, which tend to have way more restrictions and thus seem always similar to me. Clerics can be of any walks of life and have all sorts of philosophical viewpoints. Paladins tend to be archetypical, not so much with Clerics.

So Kampi, as he is commonly known as, is this at his core: a Viking warrior and true believer of the gods of his people. Thus he's heavily based upon Old Nordic culture and belief, with a bit of Celtic influence.

I even made his name reflect such: I based the first letter of each part of his name around my own acronym: RKV. Each component follows similar Old Norse word use: Ref means 'Fox'. Kampi is his nickname, which means 'Whiskers or Moustache'. Lastly, 'Vandill' (which is similar to my own surname Vandall) means 'Sword'. The suffix of '-sson' belongs to an Old Norse naming convention still used in Iceland: essentially the name of my father; ergo 'son of sword'.

You can see how much thought I put into this, and how forever lost I am.

Development References

Aside from seeing recently the wicked Vikings exhibit at the Royal BC Museum, and browsing the internet, there's a couple books I've read that further helped me get into the mindset of a Norsemen and build Kampi's backstory and beliefs:
  • Viking: The Norse Warrior's Unofficial Manual by John Haywood: This excellent book covers all the basics of the Viking Age and has been an invaluable resource developing Kampi.
  • GURPS Vikings, Second Edition by Graeme Davis: Although an RPG book, this title has a good collection of info on everyday life on vikings, not just gods and raiding we all know.
  • D&D's Legends & Lore and Deities and Demigods contains useful information for the construction of Kampi's beliefs in gods and cosmology.
  • Mythology by Philip Wilkinson & Neil Philip, and Mythologies of the World by Max S. Shapiro and Rhoda A. Hendricks help round my knowledge of Norse myth. I'm a big fan of mythology in general, and Kampi allows me to bring that interest into character.

Kit Overview

Here's a basic overview of the kit I've currently assembled for Kampi, from left to right, top to bottom:

  • Tasselled touque/chullo cap: I might opt for more appropriate headgear in the future, but for now I quite like this thrift-store find. I'm also considering a helmet for both IC/OOC protective reasons.
  • Large hooded hoodie: front pocket removed, beads added to drawstrings, and embellished with a few slash and stab marks sewn up with runes: The longer phrase says "May Eir keep this soul from Hel." stitched in elder furthark, and the three short marks are the names of Kampi's oathbound in younger (long branch) futhark. I might adorn the edge of the hood with more runic in the future.
  • Acrylic sweater: I wanted to do the whole Monty Python and the Holy Grail trick and find a used sweater in the ideal style and spray-paint it silver to make cheap faux chain mail. The Missus' came across this thrift find instead and I didn't even need to paint it! I turn it inside out because the inside knit pattern looks more mail-ish. Currently not apart of my kit until Kampi has an IC reason to have heavier armour.
  • Charcoal cloak: A simple 5'x5' piece of a very nice wool-based fabric. I wear it on cool nights post-mission Viking/Saxon-style with the opening over my weapon arm. I currently pin it with the Celtic penannular brooch I got for the Missus a few years back from Gaukler Medieval Wares. Am currently seeking my own brooch closer to the style/size I'd prefer. Another thing I love about this cloak is that it doubles as a pillow/blanket when I go camping. The Missus found some fox fur that we're going to eventually add as trim around the neckline.
  • Antler pendant: My much more talented, better-half carved a valknut into it, the holy symbol of Kampi's chief deity: Wodinaz.
  • Hard-leather vambraces and fingerless gloves: The bracers keep my forearms protected and were made by local artisan Labyrinth Leathercraft; they were also the last pair in my small arm-size so they were on sale. The gloves help me keep a better grip upon my weapons and protect my hands a tiny amount from strikes.

  • 'WorkmanUtilikilt: A birthday gift many years ago from a best friend. I was super excited when I realized it was perfect for my lower apparel needs; it allows for much mobility and customization. Main pockets are currently empty but I may start to keep Kampi's prayer/notebook in one (a small, brown leather-bound, hand-binded journal by another Victoria artisan, Spellbinding Books; for $19 a pretty sweet purchase for a custom journal). I keep my weapon slung in the adjustable tool loop on the right-side of the kilt.
  • Plain canvas messenger bag: I've had this bag for years, it's perfectly sized for porting around items I can't fit upon my person, such as:
    - Waterbottle.
    - Drinking Horn. Boiled and waxed for use. Decorated with 'gold' band.
    - Potions.
    - Various foodstuffs wrapped in parchment paper and tied up with twine.
    - Misc. Goods.
  • Bandoleer belt with leather pouches: The belt itself I picked up off of a VSE vendor a few years ago for steampunking. The two conjoined pouches are World War era from an military antiques place I also acquired years ago for steampunking; the single one I found in Mexico years ago; I keep a wrapped lighter in its external pocket and a small torchlight clipped to the belt for when I cast the Spark and Ray of Light spells respectively. The pouches contain naught but empty tins right now. I also hang a wooden mallet upon the belt (speaks of Kampi's background as a carpenter/woodcarver and has possible future use with the Repair Armour ability). I used to hang some rabbit fur from the belt to cover up the Utilikilt logo until the hide ripped. Seeking solution.
  • Sporran: Can't own a kilt proper without a sporran, even if it is a contemporary kilt. I acquired this sporran online the year after I graduated high-school, before I even had my Utilikilt and was rocking a kilt-skirt like a fool. The sporran currently contains a comb made of horn, a partially used tall candle, and small wooden bowl with lid (once held shaving soap); inside the bowl is a variety of sentimental/found items: dried orange peel, a sprig of long fur/whiskers, some fabric scraps, bone dice (2d6), a glass bead, and a squat beeswax candle.

  • Weapons; I currently own two: the first is a Calimacil two-handed studded club (known as The Dentist); it's length is a little too long to justify its use as a starter weapon for human peasants in MC, so currently I use a shorter Calimacil warhammer (Percefer) as my main. I'm planning on acquiring/making a staff/spear/polearm in the the future, and possibly a shield. I've been borrowing my friend's Epic Armoury 'Gobbo' latex shield for Vanguard Training, and it hangs easily from the left-side clip of my kilt. Also the nice thing about a shield is if I use the larger club as my main, I can tuck the smaller warhammer behind the shield grip for easy access if I become disarmed or an opponent gets in close and I need a shorter weapon. Right now I can't weild shields as a peasant/apprentice, so I'm debating if I want to get a Gobbo-style, the slightly larger Ironshod, or the full punch-grip Viking shield in the future.
  • Pair of foam shin/knee guards: I got them unused and cheap from a thrift store following particularly harsh training day at Vanguard had caused my right ankle to swell up from all the bruising I sustained upon my leg. Currently I don't use them, but I intend to when I get into heavier combat. Although bright red, they are hidden perfectly when I pull my kilt hose over-top or under pant legs as an NPC.
  • Kilt hose and woollen socks: I wear two pairs of socks, I helps fill out my boots and cushion my feet/shins a bit.
  • Shin-high, leather Demonia 'Gravel' boots: Steel-toed, good tread, and studded; this pair of heavy metal boots I've owned for a long time and are great for MC. The only downside is that because the way they're built they're not really that waterproof, but I'm seeing if I can rectify that.
As you can see, I'm attempting to keep Kampi's visual pallet limited to black, silver, greys, and browns. Grey is a colour/shade associated with Woden/Odin and thus Wodinaz, so I'd like to incorporate that as much as possible.

This all for this entry. Have any tips on developing one's character in a LARP? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Medieval Chaos - Impressions

Howdy everyone!

It's been a while since I posted any sort of entry here. Nearly all of my free time during the past few weeks has been occupied with roleplaying; and not of the tabletop variety as usual, but of the live action kind.

You see, I finally got to get out to Medieval Chaos with a few good friends and experience the whole thing. And it was just that, an experience. Months of attending weapon practice at Vanguard Training, viewing photos, and pouring over the Player's Handbook doesn't adequately prepare a new player for the sheer awesomeness that is MC.

For the past three weeks I've been able to attend MC each weekend (first three events are no-charge for newbs, then it's $10 each; $5 for members), and after three sessions, I feel I've acquired a good grasp of it. I'll try to briefly summarise each weekend:

September 19th-20th - First Weekend

Prior to the event on Saturday, the location was open to players to spend the night on the huge acreage of what is known as Dagger Deep. My buddy Ash, with permission from the property owners, would run a Book n' Dice Night at least once a month, where players would eat, drink, and occasionally play tabletop games, and some of them would then camp out under the stars.

I was totally for this for a couple reasons: First, I hadn't been camping in over half and decade and was seriously hankering to do so; second, it seemed like an excellent way to be introduced to the layout of the Deep before my character was brought in.

So I booked the date off work, bought a few camping supplies, and set to work developing my character and his gear (referred to as their 'kit'). On the day of, I caught a ride with a few friends up to North Cowichan, and they gave me a tour of the grounds before I pitched my tent.

Nobody ended up playing any games that night and mostly splintered off into groups to discuss various In-Character (IC) and Out-Of-Character (OOC) things, so I mingled with a few before I retired to my tent for the evening.

The next day, after I stowed my tent and gear, I changed into my character: Ref 'Kampi' Vandillsson, whom I'll detail in a later posts. I registered as a new player, signed the appropriate wavers, and then entered fully into the world of MC.

Kampi with two of his redeemers:
Sprig in the front, Kail behind.
Photo Credit Damian Lucas-Ray Joulie
IC, Kampi's introduction went brilliantly. The gist was he was found dead in the bush by a trio of adventurers, who then revived him, freed him of bonds, and brought him to the town proper. Kampi feels thrice oathbound to each of his redeemers, which I figured would be a good tie-in to MC.

OOC, I sort of ended up an unbridled peasant for most of the remainder of the day when the players I had been attached to had their own business to take care of as NPCs in the upcoming mission or whatnot; not seeing familiar faces had me wander a bit on my own with few to answer any IC/OOC queries I had. It made sense though IC that Kampi would be a bit overwhelmed with everything that had transpired, this wasn't a huge problem. Still it would've been nice to have a 'guide' of sorts.

The mission (the primary overarching story of the day, which usually involved the most combat) was mostly plot/roleplay-based, which Kampi had little part of beyond observing and later being slaughtered several times by raging zombies.

Kampi taking a moment to comb his facial 
hair and ponder recent events.

Photo Credit Damian Lucas-Ray Joulie 
At the beginning of post-mission, as it is called, saw me back at my ride waiting for my friends, when my friend David stopped by and asked me how my first day was. I told him my concerns and he understood them well. He informed me that Ash and his wife usually attended post-mission IC for a few hours, and he asked Sarah who just arrived (whose character Sprig was one of Kampi's trio and is the apprentice to David's character Relan) to escort me as Kampi about the Deep for any post-mission hijinks. Sarah apologised that she didn't realize initially it was my first day at MC as she recognised me from Vanguard so she thought I was accustomed to the ways. No harm, no foul. :)

This helped me grasp a bit better some of the nuances of MC, and I had some decent roleplay.

All in all, I'd say my first day at MC was both over-and-underwhelming for reasons. Still the experience as a whole was positive because I wanted to return the following weekend; and so I did.

September 27th - Second Weekend

The following Saturday brought me back to Deep. This time it was my friend Max from Vanguard's first time at MC, and being somewhat familiar with the ins-and-outs I kept him with me most of the game as we roamed the Deep for a glove I had lost OOC-and concurrently-IC, and had a good time interacting with each other and other characters.

Hog-Eye Johnny!
Sometime before conch (the signal used to summon all players to muster OOC at a site known as woodhenge for mission briefing) we met with the other players who were playing the opposing NPCs for the day and changed into our appropriate kits: Zombie Pirates! I also shared the 5L jug of non-alcholic grog I had made the evening before with our team to good reception.

Playing an NPC is a good role for a new player; it introduces the basics of combat, and one doesn't have to worry about being killed because you usually have various ways of returning from death. The downside to being a zombie is that you're somewhat limited roleplay and interaction-wise. Still much fun was had.

After mission Max and I then spent most of our time in the tavern conversing with other characters, acting drunk, and sharing the jug of cider Kampi had picked up escorting a caravan to Uberland (a.k.a Duncan). OOC I'd received so much positive feedback on my grog/cider recipe, which tasted like apple pie to many, and that I was told I should bring it in the future and sell it for daen (the in-game currency). This is something myself/Kampi is deeply considering doing in the future, as long as the profit meets/exceeds the costs of making and toting the jug around...

Verdict: A much better day at MC than my first. :)

October 3rd-4th - Third Weekend

This was an excellent weekend for me. Again I was able to attend Book n' Dice Night (which again, sadly, had no games which was a bit of a bummer for me; gaming in any form helps me break out of my introvert-shell, but no biggie. Camping was even more fun since there was no fire-ban this time, I got make a few changes to my gear, and try out a new sleeping cot I had picked up: it was worth the added weight comfort-wise though I'm still looking to lighten my kit as a whole since I don't have my own vehicle and need to port my gear to and from my rides.

The following day I helped haul and stack firewood for daen and good exercise, and then I had the opportunity to spend the whole day as Kampi having excellent interactions and RP with many characters pre-mission.

During mission I avoided most of the combat for IC reasons. I then attached myself to my buddy Ash's relatively new character (The Pict) when Kampi had the chance, and spent the remainder of most of the mission tagging along with him before the final confrontation between the PC forces of Dagger Deep and the invading NPC forces Northbrook. Kampi aided a bit during the final battle, but was slain when he was magically Held by a sneaky goblin and killed by a death knight. In the end, the forces of Northbrook where routed, and the denizens of the Deep victorious!

No photos of Kampi this day, he was too busy hiding in the bush, and with good reason too:
Look at the enemy force! Photo Credit John Marusiak
Post-mission had Kampi share a drink with his new comrade, and then the two roamed the lengths and breadths of the realm looking for trouble and in search of the members of the magic college of Illodia for several reasons.

After much walking and fruitless searching but excellent RP between Kampi and the Pict, Ash and I returned to late to Victoria utterly exhausted from the day. Best day at MC yet, and it looks promising for even better! :D

There's only a bunch of weekends remaining before MC shuts down for the season, only to reopen April next year; aside from the weekend coming up, I hope to attend as many as possible!

To The Pain!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Music To Roleplay To: Ambient-Mixer

Today on Music To Roleplay To, we look at another audio app that can be used in your games, this time focusing not so much on music but instead on background ambience:

My attention was recently brought to a site called The site is a compilation of user-submitted templates containing up to eight audio files mixed together to form an 'atmosphere'. The application is designed for a variety of uses: general ambient listening, background music for a short film, etc.; and for the mobile versions, an alarm clock and night timer. The applications for gaming have not been overlooked.

The nice thing about Ambient-Mixer is that there are figuratively tons of free, pre-compiled ambient templates to listen to; organized by category, recentness, popularity, and entirely searchable. (Doing a few quick test searches I pleasantly discovered users have complied a bunch of specific mixes tagged for RavenloftNumenera, and Star Wars games.)

You can view public atmospheres created by other users, which is handy if you dig their sound. That said the quality of mixes varies and thus so may your mileage; at least there is a wide selection and multiple genres to choose from!

You can also actively alter the mix you're listening to, changing the volume, cross-fade, frequency, etc. of tracks, which is convenient if you want to emphasize a particular sound or you need to mute one you find grating. I didn't have the time to make an account and create my own custom mix/save a template, so I didn't see that side of the coin.

One of the downsides of Ambient-Mixer, regardless of using it via desktop or mobile, is that it can take up to a few minutes for the mixer to download the necessary audio tracks; thus creating a period of dead air when searching for/swapping between atmospheres. Not really conducive for GM's like me who like to keep the game from being interrupted by fiddling with music. Also if you want to download an atmosphere as an MP3, the site charges you $5-16 USD based upon the length of the file.

The mobile version of Ambient-Mixer seems to also (at least with iOS devices) suffer from the inability to play sound when operating in the background or with the screen switched off (at least the screen blackens after a minute or so to minimize power loss); relegating your device purely to producing audio. Also the app has crashed once or twice on me, so I don't know how stable it actually is.

Additionally to note, all of my testing was done with the free mobile version of Ambient-Mixer; there's a full version about $4.99 USD for iOS devices and $4.73 USD for Android; the only difference from the 'Lite' version and full seems to be the ability to save atmospheres; when you already have access to all the other features combined with the currently stability of the app and its lacklustre interface doesn't make it seem worth the price.

All in all my impression is that Ambient-Mixer's major variety balances out its mild utility in gaming.

Keep On Listening! ;{١

Sunday, 31 August 2014

#RPGaDay Entries

This August I participated in +Autocratik's #RPGaDay event that was making its way around the interwebs this month, and instead of answering each entry with a blog post, I just replied on the social media sites I frequent. But I've complied all 31 entries here for ease of future reference:

Day 1: First RPG Played

The first RPG I 'played', like many grognards, was Dungeons & Dragons Basic (1st Edition a.k.a Holmes Basic); played is used loosely in this sense as it was more so coming across the boxed set at my Dads', being amazed by the concepts within, and later trying to figure it out with a bunch of uninterested friends from highschool, all way back in the day.

I still have the tattered box on my shelf. Ahh memories..

Day 2: First RPG GM'ed

Related to yesterdays entry, I immediately assumed the role of DM of our first 'game'; the introductory module that came in the D&D Holmes Basic boxed set: B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. This particular set didn't come with dice, just a print out of numerical chits one was supposed to randomly draw. Suffice to say the group soon lost interest since we had no idea what we were supposed to do. I just goes to show that back in those days you needed someone familiar with the hobby to show you the ropes.

But obviously that setback didn't deter my interest in RPGs at all.

Day 3: First RPG Purchased

I'm fairly certain the first RPG I actually purchased with my own money was Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition, specifically the Player's Handbook. This was when the hobby began to take off for me; some highschool friends were getting into it with me (they actually got me the Dungeon Master's Guide for my birthday that year), and I met some people who were also passionate about gaming and became best friends with them.

Despite this personal revolution so to speak, I was pretty D&D/d20-system insular for a many years, only getting to play one other RPG (new-WoD) a few times. I'd amassed a decent array of 3.x splat-books that I still have to this day. I think that's why I took the news of a 4th edition pretty hard; I had already given WotC a fair share of my earnings at the time, so I refused to lay down any more cash for a new edition. With my bubble burst, I began to consider other RPGs.

I was still somewhat devoted to 3.5, and never went to Pathfinder as the majority of d20 gamers did despite hearing it was essentially a '3.75' edition with some of the flaws fixed (I've played Pathfinder a few times, know most of the differences, but I've never actually bought the corebook). Also I found that the Star Wars: Saga Edition d20 Role Playing Game is my one of my favourite incarnations of the d20-system; reasonably light with a decent amount of crunch. It wasn't until I really experienced other RPGs I began to really see the inherent flaws in the d20-system by comparison.

3.x edition will always be important to my gamer development, and hold a special place in my heart, but as always the times they are a changing. With a new 5th edition D&D is arriving that seems to getting closer to its roots, and tons of brilliant systems already out there, perhaps a golden age is upon us.

Day 4: Most Recent RPG Purchase

Today I'm not going to include any recent 2nd-hand purchases in this entry nor bought PDFs, only things I've picked up from a brick-and-mortar FLGS:

My most recent RPG purchase was on June 21st a.k.a Free RPG Day, and was Dungeon World (Have I really gone that long without buying an RPG?). I had gotten the chance to play DW once before finally adding it to my collection, but I've played tremulus a couple times and they're both based upon the Apocalypse World Engine, so I'd like to think I'm somewhat familiar with the core mechanics.

With simple rules, low-prep, complete collaborative world building, and cinematic fantasy action; what more could one ask for? One can easily see why DW has grown quite popular and is one of the contenders WotC's D&D 5e has to deal with. Also with playbook use, this makes a Dungeon World true pick up-n-play RPG, something fairly rare in this hobby. Can't wait to try this one out.

Day 5: Most Old School RPG Owned

In literal terms, one could easily determine the old school-ness of an RPG by its age a.k.a the date of its printing. In this case it would be a toss up between the aforementioned D&D Holmes Basic edition I own (complete game) circa 1979, or the AD&D 1st edition Monster Manual (book) circa 1978, in terms of age.

But the era something was printed in shouldn't be the only factor that determines whether or not an RPG is 'old school'. Old school can be a mindset, a play-style, afeeling as it were.

In my opinion, I believe that Torchbearer by Burning Wheel HQ. is a modern old school RPG. Created by the designers as a love letter to Basic D&D, it focuses on the classic dungeon crawl, but with fresh new perspective. Though a bit heavy on the rules compared to many OSR contemporaries, Torchbearer makes the now somewhat tedious prospect of dungeon crawling much more compelling by brilliant mechanics.

Day 6: Favourite RPG I Never Get To Play

This is a tough query to answer when you have an RPG collection as big as mine, have played as many as I have, and/or the recent season has limited your gaming to maybe five times a month at the most between two games. One could easily say any RPG I'm not currently playing right now could potentially be a favourite that I never get to play.

I'm not saying that every game on my shelf is hence a favourite, but out of the vast collection there are many I would count as such. I've limited the parameters to something I've actually ran/played before, and not within the past two years. The conclusion I've arrived at is: Spirit of the Century.

For those uninitiated, Spirit of the Century (or SotC) is a pulp RPG, and by pulp I'm referring to the serialized adventures of the early 20th century and their modern echoes: Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Rocketeer, Tintin, Indiana Jones, Hellboy/BPRD, etc. I like my action just how I like my orange juice, with PULP.

A little background: When I first moved to Victoria and managed to find a group of gamers, the first game we played was a pulp-style scenario our GM was running using the FUDGE system (the precursor system FATE is based off of, which is coincidentally the system Spirit of the Century uses). Our group only lasted a session or two before it broke up, but a few years later I ordered in a copy of SotC from an FLGS and it's been a favourite ever since I read and run it.

All my friends who played in my SotC games say they really enjoy it, so why don't I play it more often? I'm not sure. I want to, but it seems other games take priority, especially ones I haven't tried at all. Keeping up with the Jones' in my own way I suppose.

Spirit of the Century was my first introduction to FATE; although the system is now immensely popular with the recent Fate Core release, SotC still leaves me with an itch for two-fisted action!

Day 7: Most "intellectual" RPG Owned

Today's query seems to have a lot of fellow gamers participating scratching their heads over what could be considered "intellectual" as far as RPGs go and coming up with some pretty interesting and/or amusing answers. The answer for myself came rather quick and easy, perhaps because it leapt to mind before I even considered it: Hillfolk: A Game of Iron Age Drama.

In terms of "intellectual" Hillfolk was one of those few games that made me think more deeply than ever about roleplaying and narrative theory than any other RPG I've currently read up to this point. It's not a game that requires a degree to figure out any complex mechanics, nor is it pretentious telling you the 'correct' way to play. But it IS different than most other RPGs out there. And that's why I consider it the most "intellectual" RPG I own in my opinion.

I won't go into further details here, as I've already typed them out a while ago in a blog post about Hillfolk; it's available for viewing here if one is so inclined: [Link]

Day 8: Favourite Character

As many gamers are aware, answering this question goes against an unspoken rule, because nobody wants to hear you prattle on about a character in a personal game your unfamiliar with, so I'll try to keep this short.

As the majority of the time I GM games, my characters are mostly NPCs and although I do like to add personality to each one that my players deem important, I can't say that one is my all time favourite, and since they're NPCs I don't really get attached to them that much. They're all fun to play, that's one reason why I like to GM games; why play one character when you can play many?

Regardless, I'm sure this question is more aimed at the player side of things so I'll try to answer it as such. I'll narrow it down to two of my most recent PCs:

First is probably Edward Dunsmuir, a time-displaced turn-of-the-century Egyptologist in modern-day Victoria, from The Dresden Files RPG. Edward is/was the longest character I've played consistently by far. He enjoys his friends' company, tea, reading, and looking dapper. He has the ability to speak with ghosts and practices ectomancy (a spiritualist), is a scholar in many occult fields, and always a gentleman first. Despite his reserved nature he tends to be a magnet for weird happenings. He was recently placed under arrest by a warden by the white council under the charges of breaking several laws of magic, punishable by death. His companions believe he was set up, but the current situation is unresolved...

Second is Jabez, a grizzled, stubborn American Civil War veteran-turned-Mormon. Along with his companions, Jabez kept the peace and the true faith by patrolling the State of Deseret (pre-Utah) as God's Watchdogs (commonly referred to as Dogs) during a few sessions of the indie RPG, Dogs in the Vineyard. Jabez was a hoot to play.

Day 9: Favourite Die / Dice Set

I'll keep this quick and short, because the only thing that can be more boring than character gushing is dice gushing. I have three sets of dice I'm fond of:

First is a dark violet-white/gold set that I've had nearly as long as I've played RPGs. They're sentimental for that reason, plus they're my favourite colour. No sure on the make, probably Chessex or some combination there of.

Second is a metal-black 'steampunk' solid steel dice set by Q-Workshop, given to me by a co-worker who found them whilst packing to move and was unsure what they were. A set like this goes for nearly as much as an RPG book and I got them as a gift! Talk about lucky! They've a nice hefty feel in my pocket and because they're so weighty, I don't really have to worry about a die or two 'jumping' out of my pocket when active. On the downside they can leave marks in certain bare surfaces.

Third is a 'ancient' beige-black set of 4dF a.k.a four FUDGE/FATE dice. Also by Q-Workshop. Skookum.

Day 10: Favourite tie-in novel / game fiction

I'm not a huge fan of tie-in novels and game fiction for RPGs beyond what is presented in the actual game. I've read a few Forgotten Realms books in my day; they were entertaining but I don't have them now because they're not really worth keeping in my opinion.

And most of what I consider decent fiction is already from an existing non-game-based intellectual property, like J.R.R. Tolkien for The One Ring, and MERP; H.P. Lovecraft for Call of Cthulhu, Trail of Cthulhu, tremulus, etc; the TV series for Doctor Who; Robert E. Howard for Conan and Solomon Kane; and anything Star Wars for any SWRPG. So I won't count them.

RPGs are a way of collectively creating your own story in a given setting, so why would you want to read fiction that someone else has written instead of crafting your own?

Regardless I'd have to say my answer to today's question is The Amber Monolith, a short story set in the far future of world Numenera. Short but evocative, it sets the tone for Numenera quite well. I suggest checking it out if you're interested in this setting. Plus it's free to browse or download here: [Link]

Addendum: Though I kinda pooh-pooh'd the Forgotten Realms books, as an admittance of a guilty pleasure, will say I do enjoy the cliché-filled, semi-biographical Ravenloft novel: I, Strahd. My tastes are not that refined. :)

Day 11: Weirdest RPG Owned

Hoo boy. Here we go. My pick for today is a game that isn't intentionally weird per say, at least not in the way games like Gamma World or Laminations of the Flame Princess could be considered weird. No, this is a peculiar game that freely came into my possession and I can basically sum up with a phrase:

Flowery Genital People.

Welcome to Wraeththu: From Enchantment to Fulfilment.

The premise is you play as androgynous, hermaphroditic beings called Wraeththu on a post-apocalyptic earth that abduct and transform humans into themselves; like vampires but even creepier. Oh, did I mention they can only transform males? And they also ejaculate acid? And that this is based of off an actual series of novels? (Mind you I've heard the novels are much better than this RPG tripe.)

The concept is as bizarre as it sounds, and the game itself is very poorly written; full of bad writing that spans 400+ pages of wasted paper. I pity the trees that gave up their lives for this.

But what about these flowery genitals I spoke of? The book goes into needless depth of the sexuality of the wraeththu. See that faded image underneath the dagger on the front cover? That is a graphical representation of the penile part of wraeththu genitals. I really wish I was joking.

Why do I have this game, knowing that'll never play it because of the very strange content, terrible writing, and horrible mechanics? (Though the wraeththu do have possibility as bizarre predatory antagonists in any other game.) It's an RPG oddity for sure, and I might be keeping it in my collection because its infamy makes it somewhat rare/interesting...? Or at least that's what I tell myself to sleep soundly at night.

If you're interested in further info on this level of weirdness (hopefully not), look it up on the web; there are at least a dozen in-depth reviews going over this "unique" RPG with a fine-toothed nit comb.

* sigh * There are many highs to this hobby, and some really weird lows. Like life, you gotta take the highs with the lows.

Day 12: Old RPG I Still Play / Read

I'm going to go with Call of Cthulhu. Though I haven't actually run the game in years, along with the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, this has had profound influence on me, inside and outside of gaming. I still read the material from time to time when the 'weird' mood strikes me.

The core system for CoC has changed very little I'm told between 2nd and 6th edition (the edition I currently read/play), so I count it as an old RPG in this case. Thus the rules are beginning to show their age; the impending 7th edition claims to be updating a few things for the times, but we'll see how much changes there are.

Despite some misgivings about the system (I feel that there are now simpler, more streamlined systems that wouldn't get in the way of the narrative as much; I'm looking at you Dread), you can't beat the writing of Chaosium's flagship line. Though many products are a miss, most tend do well to capturing the tonality and themes of Lovecraft's body of work.

Plus this is the game that wrought us such fan-favourite gems as Masks of Nyarlathotep, Delta Green, and Beyond the Mountains of Madness. Currently, over half of the top 10 RPG items on RPG Geek are Call of Cthulhu-related. This just further represents its popularity in the minds and hearts of gamers.

Day 13: Most Memorable Character Death

This is going to be split between two; comedy and tragedy essentially, neither of which are any of my own PC/NPCs' deaths, though I was privy to them: the death of Tim during a Ravenloft game, and Zogg's death from my old room-mates' campaign; both in D&D 3.5E.

Tim the Scribe gets a vote because his end was a series of critical failures that began with a pit trap that led directly into the River Ivlis. This was further compounded by another PC (whom we just introduced to our group and whose character the party had just met) diving into the water in a vain attempt to save him: he too rolled poorly and they both ending up drowning in the river.

What made this memorable was the hilarious string of horrible rolls and the fact that Tim was too stubborn to drop any weight to gain buoyancy so he and his would-be rescuer might have a better chance of surviving. Tim actually was given a lease on life from the reaper (at a cost) via a houserule, but his drowned companion's own good-natured player decided to roll up a new character.

(This also further cemented my belief the two most deadly things in nearly any RPG is respectively drowning and falling. Two excellent ways to quickly bring about character death.)

My second vote is more tragic: my good friend's PC named Zogg, whom he modelled after Ludo from Labyrinth. Zogg was eventually slain in combat by a critical dealing Umber Hulk, and his body was petrified into a monument by the citizens of a small underground community we had sort of became the residential protectors of. A loss felt deeply inside and outside character.

Zogg's affinity for stone allowed him to return from death later on, shattering out of his statue-like form with much gusto in our final bid to take on the campaign's BBEG.

We never did have that climatic battle. Regardless of his final fate, I do miss the big lug.

Day 14: Best Convention Purchase

This purchase wasn't exactly from a game convention, instead it was from a recent bi-annual hobby and toy fair held here in Victoria, hosted by local Cherry Bomb Toys.

The previous time I had attended the fair, I had picked up AD&D module I4: Oasis of the White Palm. I was hoping I'd be as lucky this year.

After a couple hours of fruitlessly scouring tables for any interesting RPG-related stuff, I was ready to leave when I discovered two boxes filled to their brims with old, mostly D&D material beneath a vendor's table. I had only the cash on hand for about a dozen items, so I carefully went through the boxes and picked out my choice ones; (there were several I had to leave behind but later picked up at the vendor's collectible toy store in town) mostly Basic D&D and AD&D 1e modules.

For the decent condition each module was in and the amount I paid for them, I think I made a pretty good deal.

Day 15: Favourite Convention Game

Another question where I'm going to split the answer into two parts: Favourite game I've GM'd and favourite game I've played in. (And I suppose one could go a third route by stating their preferred system/setting for convention play but I'm not going to go that far.)

Favourite Convention Game I've GM'd

This one goes to the first two times I'd ever GM'd at a convention, back during 2013's GottaCon Gaming Convention. During one slot I ran the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game to, I believe, a well-received table. The following day I ran the same adventure again impromptu for a group of gamers who were interested in trying out the latest SWRPG iteration. They also quite enjoyed themselves.

My first time experience boosted my confidence GM'ing games for strangers, and hooked me on running convention games in the future. I also got to showcase EotE's unique dice system that I was gaga for at the time and am still rather fond of.

Favourite Convention Game I've Played In

I've played in several memorable convention games, but the one that might stand out the most for me would be the Conan RPG I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing during the most recent GottaCon.

My buddy Ash is both a superb GM and lover of Conan, and the fact that he GM'd our session in his 'aquilonian' centurion kit that he'd been also wearing for most of the day was further testament to his dedication. His oratorian tone and demeanour enraptured his players into the epic tale we were together weaving. Each dice roll was kept interesting and the common issues I had with d20-systems faded away when adequately drenched with narrative and story. Our GM knew the setting and theme inside-out, and applied them perfectly.

The session was a blast, and I really hope he does another one next year.

Day 16: Game You Wished You Owned

If I play an RPG and enjoy it enough, I will go down to my FLGS and buy it, or order it in. Or I may just buy/order it without having played it if I think I'd enjoy it, even if it's highly unlikely I'd ever get to play it. I actually enjoy reading RPG books; seeing what makes them tick, how they're similar/different to others, absorbing their settings and themes, etc. Hence my collection has grown thus.

After a bit of thought, the game that I've wanted a physical copy of for the longest time but still don't own has to be Lamentations of the Flame Princess. The two Free RPG Day supplements with their stellar production values really sold me, along with the chance to try out the game proper at GottaCon this year (thanks again Jeff). This dark, gory, weird fantasy OSR game is right up my alley.

Originally, I've been too wussy about the cost to have a copy shipped here from it's native country of Finland, which is about $40 CAN, close to the cost of your average RPG here anyway.

But no longer! After a tiny bit more thought, I just went and ordered the book. After all, I own the two related Free RPG Day adventures and I've backed both designer Rafael Chandler's Lusus Naturae bestiary and No Salvation for Witches adventure. I thought it was high time I owned a copy of the actual associated system!

Day 17: Funniest Game You've Played

I enjoy making others laugh and I enjoy laughing, so it's to be expected the games I'm apart of tend to have at least a few humorous moments. So picking the funniest game in this case should to be geared towards an RPG that's comedic in its very nature. Again I'll split this answer between player/GM.

Funniest Game I've Played In:

A couple years ago I played in a first edition Paranoia game at GottaCon 2013 that loads of madcap fun, as any good Paranoia game should be. It was a late night slot, you had just spent the rest of the day gaming, so you became that silly tired that helped fuel the hilarity. Did our team of hapless troubleshooters accomplish anything? No! Did we laugh doing it? Hell yeah!

Eventually I'd like to run my own session or two of Paranoia for friends, and I also have a crazy dream of running a manic multi-table game at a convention...

Funniest Game I've GM'd:

My choice was also the only game I had a chance to fully GM at the most recent GottaCon: a little thing I called Benevolent Zodiac Delivery Force!

Because of my health concerns at the beginning of the year, I missed my chance to submit any events beforehand, but the awesome RPG coordinators gave me a table to run something during the con. I brought along something I had designed to be run using Fate Accelerated Edition, with a bit of homebrew ingenuity.

BZDF! was the basic setting I had designed around a mechanic I had developed for FAE; a group of individuals akin to the Power Rangers but based around Chinese Zodiac combat the wacky evils of the world whilst delivering food. There was flashy cooking in space, a rush through freezing Norway to deliver hot food to an infamous critic, and a battle with an army of fishbowl-wearing ghost-aliens and their giant mecha-mantis. And my custom mechanic uses the paper strips from within fortune cookies.

You can see how serious this game took itself.

As you may have guessed, the game was a hit; I certainly had many guffaws during it. I'm considering it a go-to for future con games I run, possibly on a Games-On-Demand roster.

For those inclined, an overview of the setting and my homebrew mechanic for BZDF! can be viewed on my blog here: [Link]

Feel free to give it a shot with your group; if you do, tell me how it went! I'd love to hear feedback!

Day 18: Favourite Game System

Okay, this may be the single most difficult question to answer for #RPGaDay, as I believe all RPG systems have their merits and flaws; some more so than others. I'm also a gamer who likes to select the right tool for the job so to speak; the system that best performs any heavy lifting in a given setting. Games where mechanics go smoothly hand-in-hand with set pieces are a big in my book. Like children I am told, it can be impossible to chose a favourite.

But I will list my go-to's for particular themes:

Action/Adventure - Any Fate derivative.
Gritty Fantasy - Torchbearer/Burning Wheel.
Heroic Fantasy - Dungeon World.
Tolkien-esque Fantasy - The One Ring.
Science Fantasy - Numenera or Star Wars: Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion.
Horror - Dread.
Group Storytelling - Fiasco.

That all said though, I think I'm going to have to go with Fate Core, and to a lesser extent its precursor Fate 3.0 used in Spirit of the Century and The Dresden Files RPG, and it's younger sibling Fate Accelerated Edition as my favourite all-round game system. As far as generic systems go, Fate Core has the potential to support a vast potential of settings without needing to reference any splatbook for rules, unlike most generic systems like the d20 System, GURPS, Savage Worlds, etc. Allow me list the other ways I dig Fate:

- It has simple rules for newbie and old guard players alike to easily grasp.
- Aspects are a brilliant mechanic. Pure genius.
- Small numbers for those not inclined to the maths like me.
- 4dF generates a gentle bell-curve result that supports the use of low numbers.
- All you need to know is neatly packed into 302 pages (or in the case of FAE, ~45 pages) of a highly portable A5-sized book.
- It's perfect for creative types who think 'gee, I have this great idea for a game but I don't what to run it in/have enough time to figure out the mechanics'.
-All of the rules are adjustable dials, allowing the GM to tweak the system to match their ideal setting.
-The PDF is pay-what-you-want. Can't argue with that price! 

Day 19: Favourite Published Adventure

Another tricky question as I have a bunch favourites. Well, potential favourites I've read and I'd like to eventually run, but haven't actually had the chance to do so. So I'll narrow it down to adventures I've actually ran, which then makes it obvious:


Both in the original AD&D I6 module and the later Expedition to Castle Ravenloft for 3.5e are just dripping with gothic awesome (I'm excluding the campaign setting for 2e and just focusing on the land Barovia and its' famous castle.) I was borderline obsessed with this. So many hours spent replicating maps on large graph paper for minis, crafting props, and building custom playlists. At one point I wanted to craft a level by level miniature-scale replica of Castle Ravenloft out of cardboard, or in Minecraft...

You can view all my hardcore dedication to it here: [Link]

I have also learnt from running EtCR multiple times in 3.5e, it has some big drawbacks; both system-wise and having too much additional material. Next time, if I get the chance, I'll try a system more simple like an OSR retroclone with vanilla I6 to prevent complex mechanics and bloated material from getting in the way of the amazing atmosphere and terrifying themes of Ravenloft. The random Fortunes of Ravenloft allow some replayability, which is great when you consider most adventures have zero replayability once you complete them.

My other choice would be the Basic D&D adventure: Quest for the Silver Sword. Despite being a glorified dungeon crawl with a basic plot, it's been hella fun to convert and run for my Torchbearer group, proving that the system can take a simple premise and spin it into an epic tale. Also it proved to me that conversions are entirely possible, so no need to feel confined playing an adventure in the original system.

I've also been considering Ravenloft converted into Torchbearer. A truly frightful prospect...

Day 20: Will still play in 20 years time...

Oh jeeze, a brain-buster. What RPG will I still play in 20 years? Heck, I haven't even been playing RPGs for that length of time!

As you may have guessed, I'm not a single system guy like some gamers. I own and play a variety of RPGs; different settings, different systems. My tastes change weekly at the least, monthly at the most. It's kinda my curse; unless I'm obsessing on something, I tend to change gears fairly frequently. So your guess is as good as my own where exactly my gaming interests will be a score of years from now.

And it's not like I have a handful of games to choose from, no, I have dozens. And that's not including the ones I might yet play or own!

For the purposes of this question I'm going to go with the very foundation of this hobby: Dungeons & Dragons. With multitudes of official editions and a veritable plethora of retro-clones and offshoots to chose from (and not counting any future incarnations) I'm sure I'll still be playing D&D as I enjoy it in some form when I'm in my 50's, if I last that long that is.

D&D has had a long interesting run since it was first published about 40 years ago in 1974 as a war-gaming supplement, and it'll be interesting where D&D, and more so the RPG hobby in general, go within the next twenty years. It might not be the game we know now then by name, but it'll be the game we knew and loved in our own personal ways.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't really care if I'm playing something particular in two decades time, more importantly that I'm still playing RPGs at all; having fun with friends and family, that's what it's all about for me. Whether it's a simple game of cops 'n' robbers with nieces and nephews or some futuristic hyper-VR-assisted RPG with old friends, perhaps playing a module from before the majority of us were born with a system that came out two minutes into the future. With house rules of course.

I'll still be playing pretend twenty years from now regardless of what game it is, as long as those playing with me are having at least as much fun as we are now.

Ubi Amicitia, Ibi Victoria, gamers.

Day 21: Favourite Licensed RPG

Those who know the rabid fanboy inside me might have bet money that my answer for today, like many gamers, was purely going to be Star Wars; believing it'd be a sure thing. But after a bit of thought I think I'm going to go with something else (and because I hate to be so predictable):

The Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game is quite possibly my favourite licensed RPG. It introduced me to both the amazing setting within gorgeous graphic novels by David Petersen and a slimmer version of the Burning Wheel system. Though I don't own the boxed set (just the hardback rulebook), my buddy does; we played with it and I must say it's phenomenal. It was one of those RPGs that broke the mould for me both in terms of mechanics and setting potential.

You play as tiny mice in a world full of gigantic predators and huge catastrophes, trying to do what's best for your fellow rodents! Tell me that's not as heroic and epic as fighting a colossal dragon or saving the world from certain doom, and I'll call you a boldfaced liar. There's an revised version in the works that should improve some of the rough parts; I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully it'll contain new story material from the recent Black Axe story-arc as well.

Star Wars would be my first overall favourite RPG license if it's track record was completely spotless; but sadly the system WotC first produced after they took over the license from WEG was pretty awful until they got it right with Saga Edition. FFG's current SWRPG lines of Edge of the Empire, Age of Rebellion, and the upcoming Force & Destiny are poised to give the classic d6 system a run for its money in sheer brilliance, especially with the innovative dice mechanics. 

Day 22: Best Secondhand RPG Purchase

I think I've come across some nice second-hand RPG finds at thrift stores and whatnot. Today's choice is going to be something that I think I should have owned a long, long time ago: The Star Wars Roleplaying Game: Second Edition - Revised and Expanded.

This was THE Star Wars book I should've owned back when I was a fanboy in growing up in the nineties, when I lived and breathed the original trilogy and the expanded universe that had formed around it. It wasn't that I was completely ignorant of it; no, I was well aware of the game, I just never saw it anywhere locally to acquire it. I'm quite sure my interest in RPGs would've been kindled much sooner if I had owned a copy then. I've amassed Star Wars ephemera throughout the years; but this lone text eluded me.

It wasn't until last year I finally came across it in my favourite curio shop and promptly added it to my collection. In a way I think it kinda represents a part of my past I miss; a time before the prequels, when Star Wars wasn't quite ingrained in pop-culture as it is today.

Though I've never actually played the d6 system, the book itself represents to me a piece of nostalgia of my past; a time before life became so complicated. 

Day 23: Coolest Looking RPG Product / Book

Decisions, decisions...
Another tough one as I have many RPGs that are cool in their own ways, and I really enjoy games that break the mould to terms of design, art, or writing.

The 30th anniversary edition of Call of Cthulhu I had shown before has a very posh leather cover, which looks good paired with the fabric-covered hardback of Masks of Nyarlathoteop. Though unfortunately the art contained within both is decent B&W images; evocative, but nothing special.

Spiffiest art I think would go to my Legend of the Five Rings - 4th Edition Roleplaying Game and to Monte Cook's Numenera. Both have some of the slickest art I've seen in any RPG product line; Numenera has some really good layout and cartography to boot.

The most cleverly written game I own has to be The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchhausen (Gentleman's Edition). The entire book is written as if by the Baron himself (with occasional assistance from his publisher), and is rife with all the pomposity, exaggeration, and digression of an 18th century nobleman. The book itself is a hilarious read, and helps set the mood for a raconteur of 'true' flights of fancy.

Coolest non-book product would probably have to be the narrative dice used in FFG's Star Wars RPG line. The non-binary results they generate are as innovative as they are awesome!

But if I must cast my vote for THE coolest looking product / book I own, it'll be The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild, because it encompasses nearly all of these traits.

The whole product is a nice thick slipcase that contains an Adventurer's Book, Loremaster's Book, two sets of maps of the wilderlands (one for the players and GM respectively) and a set of customized dice with tengwar script on the d6s, and Gandalfs' cirth rune 'G' top of the d12 and the Eye of Sauron on the obverse.

The art in this line is just phenomenal, as to be expected when one of the illustrators is legendary John Howe. Designer Francesco Nepitello really dug deep into Tolkien's lore when he wrote this, and even though I've only had the chance to play it a few times, the system appears to be well intertwined with the setting of Middle-Earth, which is a huge plus for me. The whole package just looks amazing sitting upon my shelf. Top notch.

Day 24: Most Complicated RPG Owned

I enjoy a 'crunchy' system from time to time, but not that often. For example, the d20-system is complicated; Burning Wheel can be complicated; Eclipse Phase is complicated; same with The One Ring. I generally prefer lighter games, but complexity isn't necessarily a bad thing depending on your group. It's when a game is needlessly complicated it's a bad thing.

A friend of mine thought that I should go with my copy of GURPS Vehicles as my answer to this question; as jam-packed as it is with high-level math, it's only a supplement to the core game and thus can be ignored.

Whereas Enforcers: A Super-Powered Science Fiction Role-Playing Game, is a stand-alone product that is supposedly playable on its own. I don't think it actually is, or rather I don't want to constantly stop play to tabulate formulas:

E.g. Velocity Damage = ({ CC x .33} - Object Weight) x 2

If that seems fairly tame, they only increase in complexity beyond that. (See the attached photo for another "fun" example.)

I think it's a good sign that an RPG might be 'too complicated' when a computer program can be utilized to aid character generation. Well, Enforcers was probably one of the first to make use of the burgeoning technology of 1987 by including several pages of listed code that you can input into any Lotus-compatible spreadsheet program for your 'convenience' during character sheet calculation. You know things are really bad when doing an hour or so of rudimentary coding can save you time in the long run.

The only reason I'm keeping this game is as a testament to how absurdly convoluted RPGs can get, and as a reminder that math has never been fun.

Day 25: Favourite RPG No One Else Wants To Play

This one is difficult; in my case, it's pretty much is the same as Day 6's question: Favourite RPG I Never Get To Play, which would again be: Spirit of the Century.

There's not a fine line in this instance of differentiating the two, and it's not a matter of having a game rejected by a playgroup, it's not having enough free time to have one rejected in the first place. And because I don't like to repeat items on this list, I have to come up with something new.

I think out of all my RPGs, the setting that may be the most difficult to pitch to players is Space: 1889. Think if the empires of the Victorian Era began establishing colonies on a Barsoom-like Mars. It's sort of a proto-steampunk setting with a dash of Edgar Rice Burroughs; which I totally dig.

As unique in concept as the setting is, the original system is just awful, so I'd have to run using another system. A while ago I picked up the Savage Worlds conversion Red Sands; I've flipped through it and it seems descent, so I have that option for a conversion.

Still, I may be surprised by a group who actually wants to play it, if it every gets the chance to be an option.

Day 26: Coolest Character Sheet

Yay! Let's talk about pieces of paper, because that's fun!

Don't mind me. Okay, current consensus seems to be split down the middle in between two common camps for 'coolest character sheet': ones that look spiffy, but might not be that functional for some; and those that are more utilitarian but spartan in design. Form vs. Function.

In the former (pun), we have the character sheet for Numenera. Just Gorgeous. And designed so you could fold it into thirds like a pamphlet. Now that's neat.

In the latter, we have the beautifully simple sheets used in Fate games, and the playbooks used in *World's games. The really nice thing about these is how tailored they are for immediate or convention play.

And this is common consensus that I also agree with, so there goes me being original. I've got nothing interesting to say.

Wait! Maybe the coolest character sheets are custom sheets! Like those designed by John Harper on his blog, The Mighty Atom: [Link]

Mr. Harper also made a sweet retro-inspired sheet/game for Dungeon World: [Link]

Or perhaps these incredible character sheets fashioned for AD&D by renowned artist Tony DiTerlizzi, that can be found here: [Link]

The coolest character sheet I actually possess is for Torchbearer; lightly embossed, detailed with gold ink, and printed on thick, textured cardstock. Very posh. My pal Larry was nice enough to grab one for me when he visited the Burning Wheel HQ. booth at PAX East this year.

Okay, I tried my best to make character sheets seem interesting. I'm done now.

P.S. Form-fillable PDF sheets are also handy.

Day 27: Game you'd like to see a new / improved edition of...

It seems that every game I think of that could benefit from a new edition is just about to release one or just has: D&D's 5th edition; Call of Cthulhu's 7th; The One Ring is coming out with a revised edition, and so is Mouse Guard.

For any other game where I enjoy the setting, but dislike the system, I'm apt to running it in a system I prefer.

Though it's a game I've mentioned before this month, I think Spirit of the Century could use an update using the new Fate Core rules; although billed as a pickup game, I think SotC is a little too heavy on rules and stunt selection to be something easy to play-on-the-fly. Fate Core took the system laid out in SotC and slimmed it down further into a lean, mean, pickup machine. In turn I think this forerunner deserves the same treatment.

The companion book Strange Tales of the Century, has rudimentary rules for converting SotC to Fate Core, reaching a happy medium between the amounts of aspects, stunts, and refresh in both; and renaming a few skills and actions.

This is all well and good but I think the price point for the book is way to high in this case for just a single chapter of info. (Personally I find most of the writing in STotC is a little too dry for my tastes; I was expecting more pulpy goodness, less historical reference.) It's easy for the system savy to come up with they're own conversions as the gap between both isn't that wide, but I think an officially updated edition would be nice.

I think what I'm really getting at is I believe Spirit of the Century should at least have an updated character sheet with adjusted stats for Fate Core users!

(Attached below are the listed concerns and suggestions I directed at Fred Hicks of Evil Hat Productions why using a Fate Core character sheet doesn't quite cut it for SotC characters converted using the suggestions on STotC:)

"It'd be fine if you're playing a SotC game using just the rules given in Fate Core, Fred Hicks, but the adaptation notes in STotC suggest that centurions should have seven aspects, five stunts, and five refresh; FC sheets have space for only five aspects, and it'd be a tight fit writing five stunts into the place provided. 
Additionally, it's suggested high action pulp characters should start with three stress instead of two, meaning that additional stress bonus' granted by skills may require another stress box. 
All these changes could be done by filling up blank space on the sheet I suppose, but IMHO that makes the sheet messy and defeats the point of using a printed character sheet in the first place. It makes things easier running adapted SotC at conventions and one-shot games. 
I'm also a fan of the PC background 'phases' used to fashion aspects in SotC (also used in Dresden Files). Since there are five 'phases' (Background, The Great War, Your Novel, and two Other Adventures) meant to generate two aspects each for a total of ten in original SotC, how about creating a single aspect from each to make five, add the High Concept and Trouble aspects, and boom: seven aspects for your Centurions.
And like High Concept and Trouble, place faded out text on the sheet for each phase as easy reminders during chargen?"

To any designers out there: Impress me of your skills by making a snazzy updated character sheet!


Day 28: Scariest Game You've Played

I can't recall ever being scared playing an RPG. Perhaps I've just never had the fortune of being in a game that actually made me, as person, feel fear; perhaps because most of the players I've gamed with tend to shy away from horror RPGs in general. Or in the back of my mind I still know it's a game.

I've played a few games where there'd been tense moments for sure, like Call of Cthulhu, but never anything I'd call scary.

That said, tension is the best way to simulate fear in a RPG, and the best game I've experienced that creates tension is Dread.

Some of you may know Dread as 'that game that uses jenga'. Yes, it does use the stacking block game as the core mechanic and that may seem silly at first but it uses this concept to brilliant effect: the best way to make players feel characters' fear is by putting the player themselves under tension. And what better way to do so than making them manipulate an increasingly challenging physical puzzle knowing that their PCs' lives are at stake should they cause the tower to fall? Good scary stores are all about mood and atmosphere, but the rules and mechanics of RPGs tend to disrupt that. Not so much with Dread.

I love Dread, it's innovative but beautifully simplistic, and my go to game for if I want to run anything horror related, regardless if the setting has any 'official' systems; I know I can tell a better story with Dread.

Day 29: Most Memorable Encounter

Like many gamers, I have too many to choose from. And I'm too tired today to pick one.

So I'm gonna cheat and say the Torchbearer session we had last night contained the most memorable encounter, because it's the most recent in my memory and I just finished committing the session to text.

Which encounter was it? Go ahead and guess...

Day 30: Rarest RPG Owned

A little story: Last month, when I was taking a trip up island to Tofino with a couple co-workers, we stopped at the Coombs Country Market (a.k.a Goats on the Roof) to grab some picnic supplies. We also browsed a local second-hand book store that happened to have a few boxes full of old RPG material; mostly old issues of Dragon and Pyramid magazine. There I picked up my copy of the Basic D&D Expert Rulebook by Frank Mentzer.

I also came upon a very notable find and what I believe is the rarest RPG I own; a spiral-bound xeroxed copy of Elemental Axes, a fantasy game written and designed circa 1999-2001 by my friend Eric. I planned on further inquiring about the details of his work when I was going see him face-to-face that following Friday, but unfortunately his work schedule had changed and he has been unable to make our Friday games since. Well the story's no longer secret now thanks to #RPGaDay.

It's kinda humorous too because he just called me out a week or so prior that I don't own a copy of Elemental Axes in my collection. Well now I do, albeit I don't know how legit it is.

I know and have seen that Elemental Axes has its 2nd-edition printing perfect-bound with more art and some added errata, which I should still acquire a copy of from a FLGS. I don't know if the 1st-edition/printing was spiral-bound, or if what I have is a draft or illegitimate copy. How many copies of either edition where produced during their print run? Both Elemental Axes' website and wikipage have gone defunct within the past month, so what's the story Eric?

Also, sign my copy!

Day 31: Favourite RPG Of All Time

Thirty days of entries and it has finally come to this. We've already seen my examples for all other kinds of favourites when it comes to RPGs and things related to them, now it's the big question, and quite frankly I don't know if I can, or rather if I want to answer it. This is like asking what's your favourite song of all time to a music aficionado, or a gourmet what's their favourite food of all time.

My tastes ebb and flow like a primordial ocean under the influence of several moons orbiting around a planet looping a binary star system; and how appropriate because my current top two favourite RPGs of all time fall under the same genre: Science Fantasy.

I'm sorry but at best I can narrow this choice down to two options; I just can't choose one over the other, but if I must, one may slightly beat out the other, but only slightly. And just because they're my favourite games doesn't mean they're without flaws; I'm just so much enamoured with them I accept such faults and am willing to see past them.


First: Numenera.

Numenera is brilliant. From system to setting the entire thing might be as close to a masterpiece one might get in this day and age. I've already gushed on my blog at length on how incredible I think this game is, so I'll paraphrase what I've said before:

To me, this game strikes a perfect balance between traditional RPGs and indie RPGs, making it easy for either player of to grasp the simple concepts and mechanics, and thus design, develop, and customise their characters how they'd like. The system really places the power in the hands of the players by making all the dice rolls player driven, and never keeping the game bogged down by counting mods or in the dark with hidden numbers.

I love the setting of The Ninth World, possibly more than the system itself; it's a blend of far future science-fantasy, a setting that has been little explored in RPGs, and it truly instils a sense of wonder in me. It doesn't have to conform to either fantasy or sci-fi tropes to explain-away anything; and that is liberating to both players and GM. There are very few RPGs I've heard of let alone seen that have such a unique setting as Numenera.

Additionally, the community that has sprung up online around this game is nothing short of amazing.


Second: Star Wars: Edge of the Empire.

Ever since I saw the first film over 25 years ago, I've been a devoted fanboy ever since. I can't help but not love Star Wars, and any RPG based upon it has me hooked. But the line being produced right now by FFG has me hook, line, and sinker. And what really has me is the narrative dice; they're just so innovative and full of possibilities.

I've cooled a bit from my initial craze now seeing how FFG is handling their Star Wars RPG line: some decent adventures, but most of the same old mechanics in Age of Rebellion and career splat-books that makes me wonder if the publisher isn't going to break much from the mould of previous SWRPG lines. Less rules minutiae and more new general mechanics I think are in order.

And that's where the dice come back into it: At the end of the day, I could throw all these extra rules and fluff out the window and still tell an epic story worthy of a galaxy far, far away with naught but a handful of these dice. Success, Failure. Advantage, Threat, Triumph, Despair. Light side, Dark side. All the elements of a great Star Wars tale are in the palm of your hand.

A big thanks to Dave Chapman of for coming up with #RPGaDay. It's been a blast posting my own thoughts, reading comments, and seeing what other enthusiasts have been submitting. I look forward to possibly doing this again next August.