Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Certainly uncertain

Our world is thawing and the retreat of the pandemic age is revealing a changed world and a changed people. One of the most difficult things about separating people is getting them back together again and whilst there have been murmurings about another club meet I am a little skeptical of the outcome. In a sense its really just a comment on the passage of time but many role players, including myself, have sought out on line experiences which for some are more that enough to fit the roleplaying fix and for those who do not enjoy the company of photons may well have formed other routines either in households or local meetings where they can match with those in similar situations. Of different generations we have those with one jab, those with two and potentially the dreaded unjabbed, who should be urgently turned by the NHS. The world in fact did not stop during Covid, its just that in many cases people may have just moved on.

In what is now the traditional vein then one of the many Daves has suggested a D&D bash having climbed down from a more ambitious suggestion of Cthulu, although which edition I am unclear, although I would think that madness hasn't changed much since the original Victorian era. It is the beginnings of our rummagings so the press will just have to hold person for a blogging round but hopefully there will be a roll call shortly followed by a call to arms followed by a drunken board game followed by everyone trying to remind each other who they are.

Its a time of change, possibly permanently, as club memberships will have to be reforged or more properly purchased and we will have to chance whether we can recognise each other through the beards of time. For those who's beards cannot be penetrated and for those who's memories are shorter than they are then its an opportunity to meet new people who have been met before.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Never Heard if it

Having been in a sci fi mood recently, and by recently I mean about 35 years, we were engaging in the usual pre Star Trek game banter this last weekend when one of the players commented on the Fading Suns system that she was playing in. Whilst I never got the fax back in the mid nineties when it was released I have remained blissfully ignorant on this one ever since. To be fair a lot of people have a lot of systems - too many to play in one lifetime which is certainly no deterrent where game master collectors are concerned.

Either way, being a big fan of the big epics I brought myself up principally on Frank Herbert's Dune, The Foundation series together with all the books in its extended universe, the dystopias of Silverberg, the satirical take on life in Douglas Adams Hitchhikers works and the emerging cyberworlds of William Gibson. The list goes on and that's not even to mention the TV productions of Star Trek, Stargate, Starwars, Babylon5 and Farscape. I was less drawn to Moorcock's mashing of SciFi and fantasy as I do think they are somewhat oil and water - if you have magic then why use technology ? Which brings me to the Fading Suns approach..

If you take all of the above, throw in a topping of Warhammer and blend them together you get a sort of SciFi smoothie that is the D20 based system of Fading Suns. It seems like a post imperial imperium albeit somewhat fallen from the grace of greater days where medieval like houses remain to vie one another in a galaxy spanned with jump gates long abandoned by an ancient civilizations. Opportunity and adventure abound across the Known Worlds for a capable party, human or otherwise, and with  the blessings of the Universal Church of the Celestial Sun, what could go wrong ?

It does all sounds like a roleplaying bucket challenge to me but perhaps a pleasant throwback from the more existential approaches of  Eclipse Phase, Tales from the Loop and Numenera. More importantly and speaking of loops as I have not been kept in the aforementioned exactly how many roleplaying systems are there ?

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Winnging it


Now as far as I am concerned one of the nine layers to Hell should have been the layer of Twitter where Devils become Trolls and spells have to be cast in 140 characters orless. It is not somewhere I would seek to adventure and I would be unsure of a remedy if I were cast there via a portal or otherwise deplatformed. Nevertheless whilst its not contained in any D&D worlds thankfully, the world of Twitter does contain D&D and it seems that recent tweets by Ray Winniger offer tantalising glimpses of re-modernised realms. We have been expecting this for some time given the passion that the fanbase has for some of the old D&D genres but we are left deducing somewhat deliberately as to which systems are getting re vamped. here is an extract of the tweet

As I've mentioned on a couple of occasions, there are two more products that revive "classic" settings in production right now.

The manuscript for the first, overseen by [Chris Perkins], is nearly complete. Work on the second, led by [F. Wesley Schneider] with an assist from [Ari Levitch], is just ramping up in earnest. Both are targeting 2022 and formats you've never seen before.

In addition to these two titles, we have two brand new [D&D] settings in early development, as well as a return to a setting we've already covered. (No, these are not M:tG worlds.)

As I mentioned in the dev blog, we develop more material than we publish, so it's possible one or more of these last three won't reach production. But as of right now, they're all looking great.

So I would summise that there are two "classic" realms out of a possible three that I can think of that may be receiving attention - I am gambling on two of Spelljammer, Darksun and or Planescape. As I am a fan of both Planescape and Darksun I would be happy with either or ecstatic if both got the treatment. There is the hint of a new format but not the implication of a new version so I am unclear if this will end up being a disjointed collection which would not be my preference as I do like a consistent approach within a release. But as with all scrying, there may be much interpretation of the entrails involved - I am wondering if like Apple and Microsoft we will end op with a D&D X which just receives continuous updates rather than a running re-releases.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021



Every time I say I am not going to do another dice review, I end up doing another dice review. Don't get me wrong, I am not particularly obsessed with random number generators; I do at least make half an effort to chat about interesting things. Whilst there have been some amazing dice implementations it will always be that case that artists will keep generating fascinating and beautiful artifacts. Behold then the Orbice. Three dimensional circles of fate and finely sculpted themed spheres for those who are geometrically challenged and have grown weary of the usual boxy clatter. I have historically remarked on the D30 and single D100 before now which approach the pure surface from a sort of calculus angle by systematically cutting off edges although an infinite sided dice will remain a kickstarter goal for now I feel. I do note that in this case with a target of roughly 20k they have raised nearly one third of a million dollars so I think we can promote this obsession into an industry now.

In fact I will raise an important point for those who do not want their dice mis gendered as technically speaking they may not be dice at all, the etymology indicating that for late fourteenth century use 'Dice, Dyce or Dyse' refers to 'cutting into cubes' but as our six sided friends have been witth us for thousands of years the true origin of the word obscures the provenance.

Perhaps the pursuit of spherical solutions to problems has more deep seated roots in some peoples psychology and I would always recommend facing ones fears rather than running from them no matter how futile it seems. Either way, I wont be doing another dice review.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Awfully Cheerful


I suspect that after our Star Trek concludes, albeit in a long long time ahead in a galaxy very very close, I would be up for something a little more light hearted. There are a few parody's around that provide a relief from the stark universe of Starfleet protocols and whilst there are classics such as Space 1889 and Paranioa there are also some new systems brewing. Among them is the Awfully Cheery Engine (ACE!) which is "an irreverent, affectionate parody of pop-culture tropes and a love-letter to 80s roleplaying games."

Looking at the team that put it together, this is not surprising: Russ Morrisey, who began his career at the age of 14 has been hugely proliferate in the industry and the surrounding media over the last 30 years including systems such as Judge Dredd as well as running the EN world RPG website and podcasts. Dave Chapman is the author of the Star Trek Adventures core rulebook that we are currently playing as well as the lead writer of the Dr Who RPG. Marc Langworthy is the third collaborator on ACE also co authored the recent Judge Dredd with Russ Morrisey as well as the Hellboy RPG. AS much as some kickstarters seem to be good ideas shoddily thrown together, this team have a heritage that will stand it in good stead.

ACE! is D6 based and has the narrative structure of a film production akin to It came from the Late Late show where fast cinematic action and comedy set the tone. Each player has a hero bar the GM who is the Director and there are a number of cliche adventures packaged along with the core rules. A bit like the zones in the Crystal Maze each adventure is a take on the classics: Spirits of Manhatten is the crossover for Ghostbusters, Montanna Drones & the Raiders of the Cutty Sark is clearly the missing film in the Indianna Jones frachise, Strange Science parallels the film Weird Science where fitness freaks do a lot of body snatching and of course Beam me Up charts the voyages of the starship Brazen on its highly illogical adventures.

Basically if you were around in the 80s you can be around in the 80s again.