Forbidden Lands Fantasy RPG Review

Forbidden Lands is a Fantasy Role Playing Game from Free League Publishing, the folks who brought us Mutant: Year Zero, Alien and Tales from the Loop. The game uses a variation of the Year Zero system, a system they are using in a lot of their publications. Some have called Forbidden Lands an OSR game which stands for Old School Revival which is sort of an unofficial term people seem to be using for games that are Retro-Clones of the older editions of the classic Fantasy RPG. Unlike many of the retro-clones out there this is a totally modern system and not only is the system very new and modern, but it takes some old gaming ideas and does some really new modern innovative things with those. For this reason, I have a hard time seeing how this game is considered “Old School” at all. (more…)

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Half Price Books, How the Mighty Have Fallen

In the 90’s I would go on weekly book hunts. A lot of what I was looking for was Role Playing game books. I would have a route hitting up book stores, game stores and comic stores. Along this route was Half Price books. Over the decades my half price books stops were more than weekly at times. I would go often to keep track on what kind of stuff local locations were getting in. I have to say I bought way too much from Half Price Books over the years. I loved it because I was always able to find great game books at half the cover price. Then, something changed. I noticed the same books that were being sold for 7 or 8 bucks suddenly going on the shelves for $50 or more. I was baffled. (more…)

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An Alternative Alignment Approach for D&D and other RPGs

The alignment system in Dungeons & Dragons has found its way into many Role Playing Games. Most retro-clones and lots of other systems uses the system. I don’t think it needs an introduction here, but to just bring everyone up to speed it is the chart you might see floating around in memes with Lawful Good and variations of Lawful, Neutral and chaotic coupled with good, neutral and evil. Some have expressed how inadequate this system is in reflecting real ethics or human behavior. (more…)

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What Makes A Good Dungeon Master?

What makes a good Dungeon Master? I saw this asked online recently, and I saw a lot of answers. My answer is simple. Fun, A good DM makes the game fun. Now, there are many ways that can be done. There are not really any wrong ways to do this, unless it stops being fun. A few years back I busted out my Tome of Horrors Complete. They have all sorts of nasties in there. I found the Oinodaemon. The idea of this guy was awesome to me. I had planned this whole session pretty much to be unbeatable, because, well, the Oinodaemon is unbeatable. A daemon who is pretty much of a god like level. The description made my imagination run wild. I loved this stuff. The Oinodaemon was more of a title, ruler of other Daemons, and other Daemons were locked in a power struggle for the great power of his staff. A magic item that would pretty much wipe out an adventuring party. I had a whole plot around the Oinodaemon, and how a big baddie was going to try to gain this power and place. I had evil cultists that I loved to role play and I was excited for the game. It sucked. I had great ideas in my head and I’m convinced if you read a book of it or saw a movie of it that it would be entertaining, but it did not make for a good game. (more…)

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Converting Between Different D&D Editions Part 1

Converting monsters across editions of Dungeons & Dragons can be quick and easy. It is so easy that I do it at the table on the fly. I do not find it necessary to figure out before game. The best way to do it is to understand what is going on with the monster stats, especially the Hit Points and Armor Class. I run my game often with Castles & Crusades, I consider it the Rosetta stone of D&D. It takes the third edition rule set and brings it back from the more complex elements and delivers a base game that is easy to convert back and forth with other editions. It is a great game to see where the changes occur between editions. It has an ascending armor class, which means the AC number gets higher and the players must roll equal to or over their opponents’ AC to hit. This means a higher AC was better and makes the monster or PC harder to hit. Editions before third had a descending AC meaning the lower the AC number the harder to hit they became. This was figured out a couple ways depending on the edition or rules you were using for the edition. To Hit Armor Class Zero (THAC0) is often brought up here. It might be interesting to note that THAC0 Was a newer element to the game which became an official rule in the late 80s with the release of 2nd edition AD&D. The editions prior to this used charts. The charts were easy for players because only the Dungeon Master had to pay attention to them. They made combat more of a mystery. Often players were not looking at the number they had to roll over but rolling and telling the DM to see if they hit the monster. The DM would look at the AC of the monster and the level and class of the PC and determine by the chart what had to be rolled to hit the monster. I personally find this the easiest of the two descending AC mechanics. (more…)

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Vaesen Nordic Horror Roleplaying Game Review

A few weeks back I found a new game that just came out. The game store had just got it on the shelf and I took a look. It was beautiful and the front described it as Nordic Horror. Vaesen is a game from Free League. If you are unfamiliar, they put out games like Mutant: Year Zero, Tales from the Loop, Forbidden Lands, Mork Borg and the new Alien RPG. Many of the games use the Year Zero System. It is an open system for other to use. Vaesen was my first chance to run the system. I picked the book up with Halloween in mind. We like to do a Halloween one-shot RPG with our game group, and I thought this would be a change from last year. (more…)

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Halloween Horror RPGs To give your game group nightmares

If you are like me, Halloween is one of your favorite holidays. It is all about having fun. One thing we have been making a tradition is our annual Halloween game. A spooky fun one shot adventure just for the night. So, we pick a system and go with an adventure. I used to just run a Halloween themed adventure for the night in our regular campaign. But I find it a great opportunity to try out all those great horror games out there now. There are so many good games that you never seem to find the time to start an ongoing campaign of one because of your regular game, or just lack of time. Well, Halloween is a great time to take one of those many games you have always looked at running but never get the chance to run.

This year we will be playing Vaesen. I have been rolling up pre-generated characters for the players to choose from to cut down on the time it takes to make a character so we can jump into the game. Last year I ran Dark Places and Demogorgons. When we were still meeting to play in person as a group before the COVID pandemic this was more of an all-around Halloween party with potluck style food, dinner, and lots of tasty treats. You could take it a step forward and have a costume party potluck for this game. (more…)

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Philip Reed: Delayed Blast Gamemaster & Fantasy Sites Books Review

When I look to buy Role Playing books I am mostly looking for things I can use as a Dungeon Master to make the game more interesting and engaging for the players. Philip Reed has given me that, and a lot of it. I stumbled on Philip Reeds books this last year on kickstarter. The first one was only a dollar and I got a ton of PDF’s out of it. I was impressed with the quality of content, art and overall product. I started backing the other Kickstarters he did over the last year. He has consistently delivered the products he made faster than any other creator I have backed on Kickstarter. I can not believe how fast I was getting physical copies of books in the mail after backing them on his Kickstarters. (more…)

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Palladium is Dead Long live Rifts

Palladium books has been plagued with problems over the years.  Many of us grew up on their games though. I sure did. While Palladium was not my first RPG, I was playing Palladium games years before I even picked up a Dungeons & Dragons book. The experience of Palladium was quite different than that of what I found when I finally played Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The design of the original Palladium Fantasy Role Playing Game led to many other games. My primary game that I played was Heroes Unlimited. They put out a lot of other games from Mechanoids, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Robotech, Ninjas & Superspies, Beyond the Supernatural and their most popular game Rifts as well as many others.

The Palladium system was Kevin Siembedia’s house rules for D&D essentially. It differed in many ways. One of the main differences outside of mechanics was that the Palladium Fantasy Role Playing Game encouraged players to play the monsters. The idea of the books was to play the most fantastic things out of the Monster Manuals, the outlandish characters that were not normally the heroes. With all the games being based on a similar system they were supposed to create characters that were compatible with each other, despite some of the rule inconsistencies across the books. On top of that, some of the content is really questionable at times, and maybe needs to be revisited or reconsidered. (more…)

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