Monday, March 31, 2014

The circle is now complete. (March Madness Day 31!)

31 What out-of-print RPG would you most like to see back in publication? Why?

Well, I started this month long challenge out with Star Frontiers, it makes sense that I come back to it for the finale.

Yes, I know, the Starfrontiersman web site has their “digitally remastered” version for free on their website with WotC's blessing. And lots of additional content through the Star Frontiersman zine. But having the actual box set of Alpha Dawn back in print would be cool. The digital remaster version doesn't have the cool fold-out map or counters, for one thing (although I think they do have a scan of the counter sheet that you can use to make your own... or at least somewhere you can get it, as I did make a duplicate set when I was in Japan).

No, it's not the best sci fi game out there. It's “futuristic technology” is really dated. The options for character creation are limited by today's standards. But you know what? The game works. It's fun. It's well designed for game play that involves exploring of alien worlds and/or combat against bad guy aliens like the Sathar and their terrorist agents. It's not designed to be a generic sci fi game. It has its subgenre down fairly pat, and does a good job filling it.

If it were to come back in print, I'd definitely pick up an extra set or two (probably the Knight Hawks expansion that I never had as a kid as well). Heck, I'd probably even spring for a reprint of Zebulon's Guide to Frontier Space even though I don't like how they tried to revise the system to use the Marvel color-coded chart for resolution, or the even sillier cast of alien races it adds.

It would be great to have all that stuff in order to play with my son, since my own original books and poster map are really worn out.  It might also make it a bit easier to get new players into the game, especially kids who might dig the maps and counters more than they would a pdf of a 30+ year old game.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Move along, nothing to see here (March Madness Day 30)

30 Which non-D&D supplemental product should everyone know about? Give details.

I've never been much of a supplement guy. As a relatively well-read and imaginative kid (and a poor one to boot), we just made up everything for our D&D and Star Frontiers games. We didn't have many modules. We had few supplements. So when I grew up and started making enough money to buy other games, I never went overboard with buying supplements (with the exception of the original run of 3.0 splat books – Sword & Fist, Song & Silence, Tome & Blood, etc. and yes, I feel like I got kinda burned by them).

So I don't know of any supplements that I consider a must have. I've used supplements for inspiration, but it's usually just cherry picking what I like and leaving the rest.

So, no recommendation from me here, I'm afraid.

But if I ever put out a supplement for Flying Swordsmen or Chanbara, let me just say that it will rock your world on toast or whatever the kids say these days and you should definitely pay me large amounts of money for said future supplement, if and when it ever does appear. ;)

I promise, though, even if that mythical supplement appears, it will NOT lead to a vast churning pile of splat.  Not that I don't have the ambition, I just really don't have the time!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

This one's a no-brainer (March Madness Day 29)

29 What OSR product have you enjoyed most? Explain why.

Flying Swordsmen RPG.

What, I can't use this month long blog-a-rama to promote my own game? Well, I'm gonna, because creating FSRPG was a ton of fun for me. Playing it, on the few instances where I have played it, was also really fun. I just wish I had more time to run games, or better yet, someone else actually wanted to run Flying Swordsmen and I could be a player!

That's right, I, like many other DIY designers, created the game I want to play. One of the reasons I enjoyed creating it so much.

Back when I started working on it, I had a lot of notes left over from my run at a d20 Oriental Adventures game campaign world. That work became the foundation of the Zhongyang Dalu setting (the map is different, the non-human races have been removed, Japanese/Korean/Vietnamese/Indian/Thai cultural elements have been removed or marginalized, but a lot of the provinces are more or less as they were.

Lots of folks were working on retro-clones. Basic Fantasy and OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord were all popular. Dragon Fist had a small but dedicated fan base clustered on the Green Ronin message boards, for the most part, yet none of them were talking about doing a retro-clone of this quirky little wuxia freebie.

So I decided to do it myself. Glad I did, and hopefully Chanbara will get just as much praise as Flying Swordsmen has.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A bilingual wish-list (March Madness, Day 28)

28 What free RPG or what non-English RPG did you enjoy most? Give details.

I've already talked a bunch about free RPGs on this blog, since I'm into the OSR's DIY and give it away free or cheap philosophy. And I don't think I've played in a non-English RPG, despite my living overseas for the past 16 years. So let me tell you about one I probably should have played.

When I was a junior in college, I had a crush on Naomi Matsumoto. The crush never went anywhere, since it was one-sided, but we did become good friends and still keep in contact today. One of the reasons I liked her was that she was also a gamer, and she played Sword World.

You've probably heard about Sword World. It was made by the guys who made the Record of Lodoss War anime (which, if you've seen it, you know is pretty much D&D). I guess the story is that one of the creators studied in the U.S. and became a fan of D&D. Although the Mentzer box sets were translated into Japanese and sold there (I still kick myself for not picking up the Basic Set in nihongo when I had the chance), he had no RPG resources when he got home, so he and his buddies sort of reconstructed D&D from his memories and played it. They published the record of their campaign, it became popular, and was turned into an anime. And they published their home brew as Sword World.

Despite living in Japan for a decade, I never found a copy of Sword World to pick up, and never thought to order one over the internet. I guess I still could. Shipping from Japan to Korea is cheap. Of course, if I were to order it today, it would just languish on my bookshelf. I really should have picked it up when I was still single and in Japan.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A rose, a key, a door, a revolver (March Madness, Day 27)

27 What IP (=Intellectual Property, be it book, movie or comic) that doesn’t have an RPG deserves it? Why?

Stephen King's Dark Tower novels.

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

How evocative is that? Add in vast tracts of desert, a tough kid from late 70's New York, succubi/incubi, slow mutants, a wise-ass heroin addict, lobstrosities, heroin kingpins, sadomasochistic psychopaths, a multiple personality disorder demure civil rights lawyer/foul-mouthed cracker-hating nymphomaniac, giant cyborg bears, irradiated wastelands, deranged AI trains, The Wizard of Oz, Marvel comics, Star Wars, vampires, an evil organization dedicated to using psychic slaves to destroy the world, robot banditos, references to many of King's earlier and subsequent works, universe-hopping doorways, cthuloid horrors, evil crystal balls, cowboy knights-errant, Randall Flagg, six-guns forged from Excalibur, IT, and at the end of the path, in End World, surrounded by a vast field of roses called Kan'-ka No Rey, that tall black twisting spire, the Dark Tower itself.
An abstract map of a world where time and space have come unglued

Talk about a kitchen sink RPG! It's a Western post-apocalyptic sci fi fantasy horror transdimensional setting.

I had plans way back when (when King was finally finishing up the series) of running it with a mishmash of d20 system source books. These days, if I were to run it, and there wasn't a dedicated game for the setting, I'd run a mishmash of OSR stuff (Labyrinth Lord, Stars Without Number, Go Fer Yer Gun, Mutant Future).

The game could definitely benefit from a dedicated system/rule book. Mr. King, are you reading this? Or your agent? You've successfully marketed the series in book and comic book format, with talk of TV and/or movie deals. How about an RPG?

And really, this seems to me like a great setting for an RPG. Got just about any sort of character concept? Well, there are doors between all sorts of worlds. And the ruined mess that is Mid-World is ripe with adventure.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I like to keep this handy [click, click] for close encounters (March Madness Day 26)

26 What RPG based on an IP did you enjoy most? Give details.

Hmm, probably d20 Conan or d6 Star Wars. Assuming we're talking about RPGs based on IP BEFORE they were RPGs. Marvel Supers is fun, too. I guess if I had to pick, it would be the Conan game, but it's also pretty much D&D with no magic, and this is the Non-D&D blog challenge, so...

What RPG based on an IP have I never played but would like to try? That's a better question for me.

For a few years, I got the “Mail Order Hobby Shop”, TSR's mail order catalog (at least I assume it came from TSR's brick-and-mortar storefront, since it was from Lake Geneva and D&D and other TSR games were heavily featured). My brother and I would go through it, Killing Machine and my cousin Ben as well, from time to time, and we'd make wish-lists that for the most part never got fulfilled.

Listed in there was an Aliens RPG, based of course on the movie. Space marines versus xenomorphs sounded to us like a great way to spend some RPG time. Since we never had the actual licensed game, we made due with Star Frontiers. Our intrepid space explorers had several instances where we met up with a company of colonial marines (with the same names as the movie characters, even if they'd died the time before...which, just like in the movie, they usually did – although usually not in the same manner as they died in the movie) and trounce a nest of Giger xenomorphs.

Later, in my d20 days with the Ebisu group, as I mentioned, I used Michael Tresca's free PDF resources for Aliens, Predator and Terminator along with d20 Modern and Future to run an Aliens/Predator game. I've mentioned that before.

Despite all that, I'm still curious if the original licensed Aliens RPG was any good. Some day, maybe I'll get my hands on a copy, either digitally or in print, and find out.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum (March Madness, Day 25)

25 Which game has the sleekest, most modern engine?

Let's take a closer look at All Outta Bubblegum, since I haven't looked at it in a few years, and it's only one page long.

Each PC starts with eight sticks of bubblegum. All rolls are made with a d10. For non-ass-kicking activities, roll your bubblegum or lower. For ass-kicking activities, roll over your bubblegum. You may sacrifice a stick of bubblegum to automatically pass a non-ass-kicking activity. If you take damage, you lose a stick of bubblegum. When you're all out of bubblegum, you're unstoppable in combat, but completely useless for anything else. In this situation, if someone else succeeds on ass-kicking against you, they roll a d10, if it's a 10 you're knocked out. Non-combat situations may also confound you and lead to defeat.

That's fairly elegant, is it not?

The one time we played it, as I mentioned in a previous post, we had to come up with a suitable action genre to play in.  Zombies being popular these days, that was one of the first things we hit on.  Then, someone of course made the connection to the game's title to John Carpenter's "They Live" and suggested we play in that milieu.  Rowdy Roddy Piper starred in the movie, so someone suggested all our characters should be WWF wrestlers from the 80's.  Then we came full circle, with someone suggesting WWF wrestlers vs. zombies.   

Now, surely you could have a genre, milieu and adventures planned before hand with this game, but it is a true beer-and-pretzels sort of game, really.  There's no advancement mechanic, no "goal of play" other than to kick ass, and no rules for creating opponents/challenges.  Pretty much everything fits under the "not ass-kicking" category, or the "ass-kicking" category, determining your chance of success.  A clever GM could give opponents their own bubblegum, but there's not much point.  Pretty much everything rests on the players' side for rolling, so it's fairly easy to just wing the whole thing.  

At least, I managed to wing an entertaining, if overly silly, game while drinking beers in a dark bar!

Monday, March 24, 2014

A pirate's life for me (March Madness Day 24)

24 What is the most broken game that you tried and loved to play, warts and all?

Have I been lucky? Or am I just not so much of a discriminate gamer? Of all the professionally published games I've played, I can't think of one that was seriously broken. Sure, some play-test stuff, or some indie games I found unplayable, but even stuff that's full of possibly useless bloat, like some Palladium games I still find playable and enjoyable. All, that is, except for F.A.T.A.L., as I mentioned last post. So the only game I can think of that I consider “broken” is the one where we made characters for a lark, and took a brief look at the rules and laughed at how byzantine and unplayable they looked.

Oh, now that I think about it, there was that d12 based pirates game that Paul had. We played it a few times. I can't say it was broken, but it was clunky. It used the d12 only, which is a nice touch. The poor d12 needs more love. And it was pirate themed, which is always fun!

Hey, look at that. I've still got the rules in pdf on my hard drive. Pirates by Matt DeMille, published by New Dimension Games. Once I either finish my Ph.D or give up in disgust, maybe I should brush this one off and give it another try.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finish him... (March Madness Day 23)

23 What is the most broken game that you tried and were unable to play?


OK, don't judge me yet. 

In our Yamanashi group, a member who shall remain nameless (Jacob) had a copy of a computerized character generator for the game.  Don't ask where he got it.  You don't want to know.

You just made a few choices and the program rolled up your character for you.  The game was so dense it would have taken forever to do it manually.

Of course we went with full perv measurements for our characters. No, we never actually tried to figure out enough of the system to play, we were just in it for the laughs of having a 6” tall fairy with an anus that would allow penetration by a 10” thick, 2' long penis. Really, the game needed to know that. Wow, what a piece of crap game! Good for an immature laugh, not anything else.

And, um, if you didn't already know what F.A.T.A.L. is, you have probably just learned all you need to know about it.  Forget you ever heard the name!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The boy scout motto? (Hey, NOT a March Madness post!)

Well, we almost got a game going tonight.  Jeremy, Gino and myself were trying to organize something.  Everyone else is busy or AWOL. 

Jeremy wanted to run some grimdark fantasy.  I didn't feel like that.

I suggested Star Frontiers (Volturnus module stuff).  Gino thought that was OK, but Jeremy thinks SF is too silly (a.k.a. not all grimdark like 40k).

Jeremy suggested a Microlite Gamma World style game.  Seemed OK to me.  Then I realized he meant for me to run it.  Um, looked through my old GW files, but nothing was simple and easy.  Back then, I was big into running long narrative semi-railroads (I did give them places to stop and get off, or change track, since I'd prepare the next leg after the events of one session - but looking at it now it's all railroady, and long and convoluted).

We ended up not playing (obviously, as I'm typing this now).

I did come away from this with something of value.  While digging out old Gamma World stuff, I found a pocket notebook of graph paper with a few small D&D dungeons.

I realized, after the game fell apart, that I need a few small site-based scenarios for Gamma World, Star Frontiers, and other games that we could play as pick-up games.  Pre-gen characters, too (or get everyone to post them to our gaming group page for contingency purposes).  That way, if we have a night like tonight again, I'll be ready to run a small pick-up game.

Always be prepared.

You got your chocolate in my peanut butter! (March Madness Day 22)

22 What is the most gonzo kitchen sink RPG you ever played? How was it?

I've never played a true “gonzo kitchen sink” RPG like RIFTS, although there have been times when I almost got into one. A couple years go, Alex wanted to run an actual RIFTS game. He suggested I get in through a Heroes Unlimited PC sucked in, since I was more familiar with that system. But it never went anywhere. Jeremy tried a kitchen sink type setting as a playtest of one of his simple home-brew rule sets, but again it didn't go very far.

And what's the reason why I'm not so keen on RIFTS?  Megadamage.  Pure and simple, hearing reports of badass characters from Palladium Fantasy or Heroes Unlimited or whatever transported to RIFTS land, and all their massive powers are worth nothing so they get a megadamage pistol and megadamage bulletproof vest to survive, stuff like that.  Ruins it for me.

Again, file this one in the “one of these days” box for me.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hey, that's my baby, bring it back! (March Madness Day 21)

21 What is the narrowest genre RPG you have ever played? How was it?

Again, that would probably be Kobolds Ate My Baby. You can play a kobold, a kobold with a wooden spoon, or if you're lucky a kobold with a sharp stick. You can get killed fighting chickens, village children with sticks can pound you to death, and you have one mission and one mission only... King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) wants to eat that baby!

Now, this is probably not the sort of game you build massive campaigns around.  But if you don't have a quorum in your gaming group one night, or the DM has the flu or whatever, it's a nice little game to whip out and play.  It doesn't take a whole lot of prep, I would think (having only been a player, not the GM).  Char-gen is minimal and random and really in the big picture not that important.  Like I said, no matter how lucky you get with the random rolls, you're likely going to die quickly anyway.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

In a world... (March Madness Day 20)

20 Which setting have you enjoyed most? Why?

Published or homebrew? And non-D&D (because really, the most fun we had back in the day was with the Known World of the Expert Set/Isle of Dread, and more recently, I've had some good times with various other D&D worlds, including our sorta stalled out Vaults of Ur game).

Let me think of what non-D&D campaign settings I can think of that got more than just a session or two of play (sorry, WEG Star Wars, as much as I love original trilogy SW, I never got to play it much).

The Frontier Sector – Star Frontiers
Marvel (616?) Universe – Marvel Superheroes RPG
Gamma Terra – Gamma World
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – TMNT and Other Strangeness
Prequel Star Wars – d20 Star Wars RPG
Not sure if it has a name, but the dystopic future of Trinity RPG
Arkham, Mass. and environs – Call of Cthulhu
Aliens/Predator-verse – d20 Future
and tons of D&D settings (homebrew and canned) or settings that never saw play beyond one or two sessions (and actually I'm trying hard to remember if the Marvel game actually got that far or not...)

If I had to pick, though, it would be Gamma Terra. From my first introduction to it through the Endless Quest book Light on Quest's Mountain to our early 90's game with the old BECMI group, to my more recent games with the Busan Board Game Group, it's always consistently provided a strange, funny and dangerous place to adventure.

The Frontier Sector would have to come in second just from sheer numbers of sessions played within it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Alright, who let a fluffy? (March Madness Day 19)

19 What is the fluffiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?

My buddy Steve created his own “narrative” RPG, variously called Binary or SSS (Steve's Simple System). As with many Forge-inspired narrative games, it was short, simple, and to the point, and rewarded getting into character and embellishing the details. The game itself came with no fluff, but a large part of the game play was creating that fluff together with the other players.

Or at least in some versions of the game.  We had a lot of fun with it creating a cyberpunk setting for one game, although the game in the end fell flat because we never really had our characters crossing paths.

Another, more fun game, involved each of us creating a "culture" as a character.  I played magical boar-riding Celts, Pete played an undead legion, and Tim played decadent and actually alien seeming elves.  We had a big three-way war (I lost).

The system really rewarded creativity in world-building.  Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, the rules led to too much interplayer conflict.  Instead of crafting a story together (the intent of the rules), we were trying to "win."  

Again, the game itself wasn't "fluffy" at all, but it demanded that fluff be created as the initial step of playing the game.  And IMO, that was the best part about the game, too!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Feels like I step on fortune cookies (March Madness Day 18)

18 What is the crunchiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?

This would have to be various Palladium games. TMNT and Other Strangeness and Heroes Unlimited being the ones I've actually played, a few others I've poured over options, cross-checked other rulebooks, and endlessly pondered what sort of PC to make for char-gen, but then the game never got off the ground.

Palladium games are fun, but sometimes the crunch does get in the way. From my limited play experience, though, once you've made your character, playing it isn't so hard (unlike 3E/Pathfinder, where you're in char-gen mode every time you level up).

Monday, March 17, 2014

So I rewired it... (March Madness Day 17)

17 Which RPG has the best high tech rules? Why?

It's not OSR, but again I enjoyed the system presented in d20 Modern/d20 Future. It had different tech levels, modular additions to many standard items, and a well-presented system for creating different future settings by the styles and types of tech in the game.

Basically, I liked it because it took some normal base items, and then gave long lists of upgrades, modifications, and alterations that could be done to the items. Since d20 Modern used an abstract Wealth score instead of tracking actual cash on hand, it was fairly easy to work in such a system. If the alteration was big enough and high tech enough, it added to the price a set amount. If the base item was low tech enough, the price dropped, so additions could be added and you'd pay the same as in a 20th/21st Century game.

Again, the toolkit nature of d20 Future really hit my buttons, since when I think sci fi gaming, I may want something hard sci fi one day, space opera the next, sword and planet the month after...

There may well be better high tech rules out there, but in my limited experience, this was a good way to do it (as compared to Star Frontiers, which has a small selection of stuff that seemed high tech in the late 70's, or Gamma World where high tech items are loot like D&D magic items).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Vance in my Pants (March Madness Day 16)

16 Which RPG besides D&D has the best magic system? Give details.

First off, I really do like the Vancian system. It works well. It's simple. It gives the player options and choices that they need to make.

Also, as I've said before, I haven't played any fantasy games that aren't D&D derived. So I don't have a lot of experience with other magic systems, except in passing (or in video games). Lots of CRPGs use a spell point system well, and games like Retro Phaze look like they should work well at translating that to the table top.
This game (free, get it here!) emulates 8-bit CRPGs like the early Final Fantasy/Dragon Warrior/Ultima games.  It has a list of spells that you learn as you go up in level, and you also gain spell points each level.  Pay the cost to cast any spell you know, just like in the console games.  Yet another game I'd love to try out some day.

Also, in Chanbara I'm developing a non-Vancian system that I hope works out well. I don't want to say it's “best” yet, as it really needs to be put through the paces.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fortune and glory, kid (March Madness Day 15)

15 What pseudo or alternate history RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?

Can't remember ever playing one. I love Indiana Jones/Alan Quatermain style treasure hunter adventure stories and movies. There are several games that scratch that itch like the Indiana Jones RPG, Hollow Earth Expeditions, etc., I've just never had the good fortune to play one.  Do those count as alternate history? 

A time travel RPG like a Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure RPG, if one were to exist, could also be fun.

That's the best I've got for this question.  More actual meaty posts to follow the next couple days!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pi Day (and March Madness Day 14)

Happy Pi Day, plus White Day here in Korea and across the pond in Japan (mandatory artificial companion holiday to Valentine's Day to maximize profit by having girls give chocos on V Day and boys give chocos a month later).

Screw chocolate (unless it's a milk shake), but bring on the pie!

Oh, and today's very short March Madness post.

14 What historical or cultural RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.

I don't think I've every played one, although Go Fer Yer Gun, a Western themed OSR game, looks like fun. I'd like to give Boot Hill a turn one day as well.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Shadows over Ebisu (March Madness Day 13)

13 What horror RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?

In my limited repertoire of games, it's probably no surprise that the only dedicated horror RPG I've played is Call of Cthulhu (d20 version, this was with the Ebisu group and we were big into the d20 system). Of course, I've worked horror themes into other RPGs I've run, and played in a couple as well, but CoC pretty much rules the roost when it comes to horror RPGs.

Picture by Steve Burg
I'd like to try the original CoC, since d20 is really a system about level advancement, and CoC is not a game about level advancement.  At least, we didn't advance when we played it, and had no hopes that our PCs would survive or remain sane.  That's sort of the whole point of playing CoC, isn't it?  Seeing how your PC goes out of commission.

I remember doing a playtest of my friend Steve's narrative system with a zombie/alien survival setting. I don't really remember much about how it turned out, though. I wrote up a report for Steve, which I still have on my hard drive and just looked over. We had some fun with it, but in the end being new to “narrativist” style Forge-inspired gaming, we didn't make the most of the game. In the end it seemed to be a bit more aggravating than fun. One of the main reasons I tend to avoid “story” games these days.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Laugh it up, Fuzzball (March Madness Day 12)

12 What humorous RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.

Kobolds Ate My Baby. If you don't know, this is a game where everyone plays as a kobold serving King Torg (All Hail King Torg!!!), trying to not get killed. And you will get killed. IIRC, if you sit around doing nothing for long enough you have to roll on the death chart. And then roll up another kobold and see how it can get killed. 

This is a game where chickens and house cats are deadly perils (yeah, don't tell me again about AD&D house cats and level one MUs...), and a farmer's wife can seem like a dragon!  Yet, if you don't sneak into her lair to steal one of her delicious little brats for King Torg (All Hail King Torg!!!) to feast on, you will probably fall in a well or get mauled by squirrels or something, so you might as well take the chance and try to nab the little diaper-filler.

Also, although it's not necessarily a humorous RPG, the rules lite “All Outta Bubblegum” RPG was a crazy-fun blast to play. But that may have something to do with the fact that we decided the setting was 80's WWF superstars vs. zombies, and played at a “beer mart” (Koreans are adept at tax-dodging/red tape side-stepping, so these places are run as a “convenience store” on paper, but they're really bars) so we had our imaginations well lubricated.

In AOB, basically sticks of gum determine how well you do non-combat things, and lack of gum determines how well you do combat things. And you spend gum to get bonuses on rolls. Or was it re-rolls? It's been a while. Anyway, over the course of the game you get better and better at kicking ass, and worse at everything else. Fun game!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wasteland Raiders, Mutant Scum (March Madness Day 11)

11 What post-apocalyptic RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?

Gamma World, obviously, in various forms.
The only version I've owned as a physical book.
My cousin had 2E (or maybe he just borrowed it from a friend), but we never got beyond creating characters. Possibly because it had been borrowed and had to be returned (we're both sons of librarians, so the idea of not returning a book we borrowed was alien to us).

Later, the summer after I graduated from high school, I bought the 4th edition of the game, which added character classes to the game, and is the edition I've played the most.

As I mentioned in the character generation question (day 3), we tried out WotC's D&D 4E take-off Gamma World a couple years ago. It was also really fun. The random character generation, plus the switching of powers from round to round and combat to combat with the power cards was fun.

We've always done more “wild and wahoo” style games. I tend to prefer that style. Presidents of the Apocalypse (yeah, we'll release it some day...) is wild and wahoo turned up to 11. But some day, I do hope to play a more grim, serious post-apoc style game. The d20 Apocalypse splat for d20 Modern had some good systems and inspiration for that sort of play.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Gentlemen, behold: The Future! (March Madness Day 10)

10 What science fiction RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.

If you've been reading my blog posts this month, or my blog regularly for any length of time, you'll know the answer to this is Star Frontiers. The rules are just simple enough, the setting just evocative enough, that I was able to use it to run all sorts of sci fi themed adventures as a youth. Even now, I've still got designs to eventually run both a straight-up game in the Frontier Sector battling Sathar and exploring strange new worlds, and also a game set in the post-Judgment Day Terminator universe using a slightly modified version of the game (only human PCs, modified weapons/equipment list, otherwise the same).

I've never played Traveller in any form. Never played Twilight 2000, although I now have it on .pdf. Never played the Aliens RPG, although I sure wanted it in the late 80's.  Some day... There are probably lots of other classic sci fi games I've never played and just don't remember, or have never heard of.

What other sci fi games have I played?

WEG Star Wars – Killing Machine and I played one or two sessions of this. I liked it, but D&D and Star Frontiers were easier to run, and I tended to DM/GM anyway. This was KM's game.
d20 Future – the supplement to d20 Modern was well done, a good toolbox book that catered to a fairly wide range of gaming styles. I ran a kick-ass Aliens/Predator game with this for the Ebisu group.
Star Wars d20 – we played a bit of this with the Toyama group over Yahoo Voice Messenger IIRC right after I'd moved to Yamanashi. It was fun, but a bit clunky for Star Wars style gaming.
Trinity – White Wolf's low-powered supers in space game. Fun, evocative, and my only experience besides rolling up a character for the Street Fighter RPG with the White Wolf Storyteller system.
Stars Without Number – free OSR game, basically Basic D&D with lasers and robots. I like it a lot, obviously.

What I'm thinking about:
Some day, after Chanbara is published, Flying Swordsmen is revised, and Presidents of the Apocalypse is released, I'd like to work on a retro-future style RPG, probably titled "Rockets vs. Saucers" since in lots of old 40's~60's sci fi the humans flew rocket ships and the aliens had flying saucers.  Ray guns, heat beams, jet packs, bubble helmets, shiny suits, all that jazz.  I'm thinking it will be class/level based, but in a twist there will be no "Fighter" class.  Everyone will be equally bad-ass (or equally piss poor, depending on if you're a half full or half empty type) at combat.  Classes would be based around exploration of planets, space flight, science, and contact/communication/socialization.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

With great power comes great responsibility (March Madness Day 9)

9 What superhero RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?

The only supers game I've actually gotten to play (I've made characters for quite a few but as usual, the games never got going) is TSR's Marvel Superheroes RPG. The one with the color coded charts. It's fun, and since I was more of a Marvel fanboy than DC when I was heavy into comics, I enjoyed being able to have my heroes face off against classic Marvel bad guys like Magneto or Dr. Doom. And you could roll your own hero or play one of the classic Marvel heroes. Win, win!

Now, a game I'd love to play is Jeff Moore's Hi/Lo Heroes. This game is simple, yet flexible enough to run any sort of super you'd like. The big problem I have is that no one wants to run/play a supers game. When my son is a little bigger, though, I'm planning on pulling out this game to play with him.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I Spy, With My Little Eye (March Madness Day 8)

8 What spy RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.

I haven't played a dedicated spy RPG, although I did use some elements of Palladium's Ninjas and Superspies for a character for yet another game that was proposed but never got off the ground. The character was created to emulate Solid Snake from the Metal Gear games for a “mercenary” game Alex wanted to run. But as usual, no one but us really wanted to play Palladium system aside from RIFTS, the one setting I'm not too keen on from Palladium.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Gekokujo Heartbreak (March Madness Day 7)

7 What fantasy RPG other than D&D have you enjoyed most? Why?

It's not old school, and it's arguably still D&D, but I found the Mongoose d20 Conan game to be pretty awesome.

How is it different from D&D? Well, for one thing, there are a dozen or so classes, but only one can use magic. The magic system is fairly different from D&D, and no one tried it out when we played it with my old Ebisu gaming group. Dave C. had planned to run a game for our Busan gaming group a few years back, and Josh was thinking of the Scholar class, but we never got that game off the ground.

So we have a version of 3E D&D (a game designed around the “magic item Christmas tree” approach to gaming) without a lot of magic. Yet it worked.

The game captured the feel of the Hyborean Age from the original stories, as well as comic books and movie adaptations. It was heavy on combat (at least as we played it), with most classes being variations on Fighter types, and it was both high-powered yet challenging.

One of these days, I'll try some other non-D&D fantasy games, but for the most part, yeah, I've played D&D when I want to scratch my fantasy adventure itch.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Memorable Monsters (March Madness Day 6)

6 What non-D&D monster do you think is as iconic as D&D ones like hook horrors or flumphs, and why do you think so?

Gotta go back to Star Frontiers for this one. And IMO it's the most iconic monster (not counting the Sathar as monsters) from the game.

The Quickdeath.

This bad boy is genetically engineered to ruin your day. Literally. The Sathar twisted the genes of the common cat to create this monstrosity, and it has numerous ways to tear you limb from limb, chew you to pieces, crush you in its tentacles, and then deposit whatever's left in the kitty litter.

And since it's in the book, and anyone who plays through the Volturnus modules will likely face one armed only with a spear and a straw dummy to use as a distraction, players will fear this monster. It really fits its simple name.

I oughta do a conversion for Basic D&D and throw some in my megadungeon, now that I think of it...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

If I had a time machine... (March Madness Day 5)

5 What other old school game should have become as big as D&D but didn’t? Why do you think so?

Really, I have no idea. There's no game I love so much and wish more people had played, or game that I feel got overlooked by the masses and is brilliant.  There are games I love, or think are brilliant, but I can accept that I may be in the minority on that.  Besides, as a true nerd, doesn't mass acceptance sorta ruin whatever it was that was special about the nerd-love-object? ;)

So instead, I'll discuss the RPG genre that I think gets the shaft – modern day adventure (well, latter 20th Century, plus early 21st Century now that we're here already). And without anything supernatural. Sure, there are a few. Recon did Vietnam War games (well from what I read, never got a chance to play it). D20 Modern can be played without the FX (which I have done, and yes, it worked well and similar to what was intended – an action movie world style game), but the writers definitely intended for the game to include magic/supernatural/sci-fi elements. There are some James Bond or other espionage games, but the gadgets tend to slide them towards sci fi. Early 20th Century Indiana Jones style pulp adventure is well covered. Later 20th Century stuff, not so much.

Fantasy dominates the RPG world, thanks in large part to D&D being first. Sci fi comes in second, probably with horror taking the third spot. Most games are variations on one of these three (and horror often overlaps with fantasy, and there's sci-fantasy like Star Wars, and I could go on and on...).

So where are the A-Team, Macgyver, or Magnum P.I. RPGs? Where are the Days of Our Lives/Young and the Restless RPGs? Where's 90210 the Game? Where is Papers and Paychecks? Why do we love to escape to other, more exciting or glamorous or dramatic alternate modern realities through books, film and TV, yet ignore this for the most part with RPGs?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Literature? Technical Manual? (March Madness Day 4)

4 What other roleplaying author besides Gygax impressed you with their writing?

I'm not sure I have an answer for this one. Quite a few of the non-D&D games I've played were ones that friends had, so I never really read the books. And these days, even a lot of retro-clone books have a fairly dry tone to them. I don't think I've come across an RPG book as enjoyable to read as the 1E DMG. Hopefully some other people in this blogger challenge will have some good suggestions for me to check out in this regard.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Having fun before the game begins (March Madness Day 3)

3 Which game had the least or most enjoyable character generation?

Not counting my own Presidents of the Apocalypse (since only a handful of people have ever played it and it's not yet available to the public), I think WotC's 4E Gamma World game had incredibly fun (and sorta silly) character generation. Does that count as D&D, though? I'm not sure if 4E counts as D&D in my opinion (YMMV, save the rancor for another time, please), so I'll include it here.

You make some random rolls rather than carefully crafting your perfect “build” and the results are comical yet cool in many cases. When we played it, I rolled up a “seismic doppelganger” which meant I could do lots of bashing/vibration damage to things on the ground, plus create doubles of myself that ran around causing trouble. 

Random results tend to be more fun for me than flipping through rulebooks and supplements to build the perfect character (although I do enjoy that from time to time, too).

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dralasite, Human, Vrusk, Yazirian? (March Madness Day 2)

2 What was the first character you played in an RPG other than D&D? How was playing it different from playing a D&D character?

I don't really remember my first Star Frontiers character. He/She/It probably died trying to fight some robot or Sathar agents or something. I have a few memorable characters from my old SF game, but if one of them was the first I created, I couldn't say.  It was probably a Yazirian, since Larry Elmore's cover art featured them.

How was playing Star Frontiers different from D&D? Well, for one thing, the skill system meant that you could have all kinds of character types without much limitation. Sure, it cost lots of points for your Combat PSA character to learn robotics or become a medic, but it was allowed. There were no weapon/armor restrictions. The alien races for the most part felt alien, unlike demi-humans in D&D. That's not to say that we necessarily played them as truly alien, but I at least had a sense that choosing to be a vrusk was somehow more different from human than choosing to be an elf was from being human.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Spaceward Ho! March Madness Day 1

Yes, I'm participating in my first month-long blogging challenge.  Tedankhamen's Non-D&D OSR blogging fiesta.  I'll be posting mostly this month about games other than D&D or Chanbara, although I may find some time for some updates there, too, since I've already prepared some posts for some days.  
So let's get down to the first question:

1 What was the first roleplaying game other than D&D you played? Was it before or after you had played D&D?

Star Frontiers, TSR's sci fi game, was the first non-D&D game I played. There were ads for it in the back of the Endless Quest books and the back of the Mentzer Basic set, so I got it around 1986 or so. It was pleasantly different from D&D, being a “skill” game rather than class/level based in addition to the sci fi setting.
We played the heck out of the Alpha Dawn box set, but none of us ever got Knight Hawks or Zebulon's Guide.  We tended to base games either following the patterns of the sample adventures (Sathar agents/terrorists/criminals in Port Loren, monster on the loose in Port Loren, rescue/recovery of a downed ship etc.), or on whatever sci fi, Western or action movie we'd seen recently and thought was cool (Arnold movies, Aliens over and over, even Ghostbusters!).  And we had the Volturnus module included in the set, which we ran several times, sometimes just the initial battle with space pirates on the starship.

One other big difference with D&D was that it came with the 1/2 inch counters and maps.  This made our games somewhat more boardgame-like at times, since all we really needed to have fun were some stats for aliens or enemy agents, and just throw counters down on one of the maps.  It made for a lot of quick, simple games, but I didn't keep a lot of the notes, which is a bit of a shame.