inkwell and feather pen

April 2018 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

In light of what’s been going on in our lives, we haven’t produced any new material in awhile, but hopefully soon!

Continue reading April 2018 Reviews

The Tavern of the Deadworld

So many campaigns start in a tavern. It’s an easy way to put a bunch of characters in the same place at the same time. And even if you don’t start your campaign there, your players are bound to end up there at some point right?

(Very true in our experience – it’s why we have a whole line of products dedicated to making tavern visits easier!)

What about post-apocalyptic campaigns though? After watching a few different shows, we ended up playing a Deadworld campaign. It was full of zombies, ghouls, savage scavengers claiming to be saving the world, and ruins of settlements.

You know where we never went though? A hospital.

The game started some years after the world ended as we know it, and we never had a reason to visit a hospital, or what remained of one.

In our weeks (and weeks) of hospital stays over this month and last, I have been up and down so many hospital corridors and stairwells, and, especially over in Victoria (the building we are in at BC Children’s Hospital is super new) all I could think about as a door closed with an ominous noise in a seemingly deserted stairwell was: “What if there were zombies here?” (A bit over the top maybe, but being suddenly removed from everything normal in your life does weird things to you.)

As our time progressed in Victoria I realized ward doors were sealed in the evenings, I discovered new rooms, and I learned some areas of the hospital can’t be accessed from other areas – even more fuel for the apocalypse fire. My mind would wander in the hopes of not spending 24/7 worrying about my really sick daughter I could do nothing to help (though worrying about zombies lurking nearby might not have been the best use of time, or the most reassuring thing to think about).

We had a huge stash of unopened 2-cracker packages in our room, plus our own bags of granola bars, crackers and other non-perishables hidden out of view of our diet-restricted-rugrat. What was hiding in other people’s rooms? How about that snack cupboard down the hall with its own collection of single packaged crackers and digestive cookies? And that’s before you even hit the cafeteria or smash the vending machines (should you dare to make that much noise).

And medical supplies… you’ve got bandages and gauze, sterile wipes, braces, crutches, gloves, the list goes on. And wheelchairs could serve as a great way to move bundles of goods (or you know, a person unable to move easily). Plus on a pediatrics floor don’t forget the stashes of formula, wipes and diapers. No kids in your game? Diapers are still super handy for absorbing a lot of blood on an open wound, or filling with warm water and applying to the body to make accessing a vein easier. And I’m not recommending anyone try formula, but come on, if the world ended, I think we’d all take the calories we can get… and I might be more likely to try formula than roasted rat captured in the basement…. but that’s just me.

Plus, you’ve got beds, blankets and flat rubber pillows galore! These beds could be slept on for sure, but don’t forget you can use them to barricade areas, and blankets don’t just keep you warm, they can be used to block the light from the windows, ripped apart as more bandages, used to to wrap and carry items, or even altered and pinned as make-shift clothing if those open backed hospital gowns aren’t your thing and your other clothing is trashed.

So now Ken and I are thinking about returning to Deadworld, but exploring the early days, or scavenging for medical supplies in a seemingly long abandoned hospital.  (Come to think of it, one of our inspirational shows used a hospital as a home base for a time, and of course The Walking Dead starts off with Rick leaving the hospital he was admitted to for a gunshot wound, only to find the world isn’t the way he remembers.)

Except, we have no time to game as we continue to be separated by a (small) body of water.

So instead we continue to wait to be free of the hospital that is beginning to feel more like a prison than ever…

Which means we need you to let us know: have you played any post-apocalyptic games?

Were any scenes set in the hospital? And if so, did they feature Rugrat #3 and I lurking in abandoned halls, desperate to make our exit to the outside world?

The Reason For Silence

Hello! Wondering why we are so quiet?

No, we haven’t gotten sucked into a new run Netflix programming, nor have we so fully immersed ourselves in a new gaming campaign we forgot to come up for air….. (Usual reasons for our absence to be sure!)

First off, we had big plans for near future. We were going to bring a fun collection of Flawed Foes for April fools. You can already find some of these characters on our website, but many of them are all new.  We’ve also been looking at some Starfinder content. And another Tangible Tavern. We were working hard at this while juggling our less exciting day jobs and life with kids, and then something happened….

Our youngest child, Rugrat #3, got sick. Really sick.

She was incredibly puffy, lethargic, and just not herself at all.  That was about four weeks ago. She is having kidney issues that are being attributed to post-infectious GN. Her kidneys are not able to process the liquid in her body, causing her tissue to become incredibly puffy. Her face is swollen to the point her eyes barely open, her feet are too big for her shoes, she is wearing clothing two sizes bigger than she should be. There is little the doctors can do but manage the symptoms until her kidneys start working again, but typically this should have happened after about ten days. We aren’t making progress.

It’s heartbreaking.

And we’re shattered.

Long story short, she and I are currently staying at a children’s hospital in Vancouver, BC. Her brothers and father are currently visiting, but won’t be able to stay until we come home as it looks like we’ll still be here awhile.

We are so grateful to live in a country with universal health care, we are also grateful to the family and friends who were bringing us food and grocery store gift cards while we were still on the island, and we are also grateful to all those who have been sending healing thoughts, prayers, and well wishes.

Rest assured we love our fans, we love writing, and one day, when things settle down, we’ll be back with some of the projects we were working on before this happened, and some other ones we’ll be inspired to do.

In the meantime, we need to focus on our little rugrats.

We wish you and your family much health and happiness.

inkwell and feather pen

February 2018 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

Continue reading February 2018 Reviews

flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Robert “Robbie” McGee

Some NPCs make excellent allies, others are debilitating nemeses, but some are just sad. In this series of posts we bring you Flawed Foes.  These NPCs may once have held great potential, alas, their flaws have created substantial hurdles.  Don’t let that stop you from enjoying some good old role-playing fun though!


“It is important to engage in one’s pleasures, is it not?”

Robert McGee was born to an average couple in an average city. His home was small, but still fairly average for commoners; he had a reasonably warm bed and enough clothing and food to get by. His parents worked long, hard days at their import shop, which sold a variety of strongly scented herbs, overly perfumed soaps and oils, and other exotic items. Robbie spent much of his time helping out at the family shop sorting and refilling spices, the smell of which embedded itself in his clothing and made his nostrils burn.

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

The family earned enough to get by, but it was no fortune. The McGee family ate a lot of grains flavoured with some of the herbs from the shop, as well as bread and what meat they could afford (which was often poorer cuts his mother marinated in herbs and liquid to mask the quality). Robbie and his parents worked well into the night each day and began again early the next morning. Hygiene was not a huge priority as finding time to visit the local bathhouse was difficult and costly. As a result, Robbie was teased mercilessly from a young age for his poor hygiene and strange odour. Children would chant “Stinky McGee” in his presence, and very few children ever played with the pungent adolescent.

The growing boy distanced himself those around him, assisting his parents or exploring the fields outside of town alone. Over the years Robbie learned how to turn his emotions off, deadening himself on the inside to the world around him. He passed more time than he would ever admit to his parents inspecting the carcasses of creatures he found, and even killing some wildlife, and once a stray dog, he happened upon. The cold distance with which he performed these acts is what would have troubled the McGee’s more than anything else, but the parents remained blissfully unaware of their son’s pastime.

When Robbie grew older he decided to leave town. Taking a supply of goods from the shop, the youngest McGee thought he might have some luck as a traveling merchant. He knew his parents would need him in the coming years, but Robbie wished to see life outside his hometown, and secretly also wondered if he might be able to move the business somewhere else. With his parents’ blessing, Robbie set out.

What Robbie came to find was that there was indeed a market for goods such as his family’s out on the road. In a very short time, Robbie sold the majority of what he had set off with, and, having noticed the eager faces of many potential patrons, had done so at a higher cost than his parents normally charged in the shop. The days were just as long, and time on the road perhaps less pleasant than in town, but Robbie enjoyed the solitary nature of it.

Pleased with his progress, his bags near empty of their goods, and his pockets laden with coin, Robbie found lodgings at a nearby inn and decided to treat himself. Rather than order the least expensive food items available, Robbie decided to savour his success with a strong glass of ale and a meat and cheese platter. The smoked meat was delicious in the way so many roasts of his youth had not been, but it was the cheese with its strong flavours and unusual texture that delighted Robbie.

After enjoying much of the tavern fare Robbie stepped outside to the back ally to relieve himself. Here he inadvertently found himself listening to the end of a negotiation between two parties. One, a well-dressed man with a hood pulled low, was bartering with the other, a poorly dressed half-orc with several knives at his belt. From what he could gather, the half-orc was trying to increase the rate of services he was offering, and the human was frustrated by this. At Robbie’s appearance the half-orc appraised him, scowled, and looked back to the human stating if he changed his mind, he knew where to find his services. The half-orc rounded the ally toward the main street and the human looked in Robbie’s direction. A brief conversation ensued where the human became frustrated with Robbie for interrupting his business deal. While not always the canniest of people when it comes to people’s emotions and motivations, Robbie quickly determined less than reputable dealings were transpiring in the ally. Robbie cared very little for anyone but his parents, but he was distantly curious, full of satisfaction from his job well done, and emboldened by the copious amounts of food and drink he celebrated with, and so somehow, he convinced the man he might be able to help. That evening Robbie walked away with the first job in his new career.

The execution was easy; he simply slipped into the house via a window, dispassionately murdered the woman, and left the scene. Robbie found his ability to feel so little for so many, to be so distant from everything around him, was a huge asset in this line of work. The fee was substantial, and the work even easier than travelling with a large volume of goods and speaking with people long enough to convince them to purchase said goods. Robbie wanted to return to his parents; he wanted to help them with their business. He also wanted to do this.

That night, after he returned to the inn, his blade wiped clean on some discarded clothing, Robbie felt ill. At first concerned he had been poisoned, and then perhaps cursed, and so the next morning Robbie made his way home. Travel was slow at first, but as the days passed and Robbie ate the rations procured some days prior, the pain began to subside.

Feeling intrigued with the possibilities of completing more jobs like the one he recently done, Robbie returned home with the funds he had received the goods he left with. His condition cleared up while he resumed living with his parents, dining on seasoned meat and vast quantities of rice and other grains. He told his parents of the success of travelling with the goods, and the three of them agreed that for as long as Robbie wished to, this would be a good business practice. Within a few days Robbie set off once again, travelling here and there and peddling his wares, but he also kept his ear out and made contact with a few less than savoury people in the various places he visited. Before long Robbie had built himself a reputation with the “right” people, and had begun a second business of sorts – a hired hitman.

All the while the traveling merchant found himself obsessed with cheese and other delicious milk products, seeking out more varietie s in each town he came across, and enjoying it with every meal he could. Along with his new-found love of cheese, Robbie discovered something else about himself: his body had trouble digesting the milk protein. The malodorous man, who was used to the foul looks of those around him, realized he hadn’t been poisoned that first night, not exactly at any rate: from what he could tell his new favorite food caused him minor gut pain, and the most flatulent of farts.

For some time now, Robbie has travelled from town to town, completing jobs for those need to simplify their lives or have messages sent and peddling his parent’s wares, all the while indulging in the fare that causes him (and those around him) such anguish.

I Never Thought I’d Enjoy Pretending To Be A Cheerleader This Much!

A Review of Bubblegumshoe

It’s no secret that I love Veronica Mars. It retains a place of honour on my list of favourite tv shows, despite its cancellation over a decade ago. It may be less known that I actually love the entire teen-girl-sleuth genre, as pioneered by the series of Nancy Drew Mysteries. There’s just something intrinsically interesting to me about sassy girls that solve mysteries, I suppose. Where am I going with this? Well, a while ago I picked up the .pdf of Bubblegumshoe while it was on sale and, having two games on the go at the time, promptly let it sink to the back of my mind unread. Recently, needing to come up with something new for Kelly and I to play, and really wanting to take a break from the (to me) slog of Pathfinder RPG, I downloaded the book and gave it a read.

Bubblegumshoe cover

What’s It All About?

Bubblegumshoe is Evil Hat’s (publishers of FATE Core, among other games) take on what they call the high school noir genre using Pelgrane Press’ excellent GUMSHOE system. If you don’t know GUMSHOE, the short of it is that it is an investigative system wherein the investigators never have to roll to discover a clue. If they are in a scene that contains a clue and they have a ranking of 1 or more in an investigative ability (split into Academic and Interpersonal abilities in Bubblegumshoe specifically) that pertains to that clue, they get the clue. Every time. No need to roll. An investigator can then spend points from that investigative ability, if they have any, to add some context to the clue or glean some additional useful-but not-vital knowledge regarding it. There’s more to the system than that, but that’s it in a nutshell. Bubblegumshoe’s big adjustments to the system are the replacement of Health and Stability with Cool; moving to a short damage track to model the health of the teen sleuths; the addition of Relationships as an ability category; and the addition of the Throwdown as the primary dispute resolution system.

It’s Alright, Mom, We’re Just Gonna Netflix And Chill.

Relationships in Bubblegumshoe aren’t just a list of NPCs that an investigator knows. They are NPCs that a character can leverage to their advantage in some fashion and are allotted points just like an ability. Unlike other Investigative abilities, Relationships are further striated as Loves, Likes, and Hates with more benefit being gained from Loves than Likes, and Hates give the GM permission (and mechanical power) to mess with the investigators’ lives.

Relationships, when called upon, can be used in a number of ways, from allowing an investigator to use an ability they don’t have, to improving an investigator’s chance to succeed on a relevant General ability test, to allowing an investigator to deflect some Cool damage suffered in a Throwdown by throwing their Relationship under the bus. The use of Relationships as a form of mechanical currency in Bubblegumshoe is flavourful and flexible, and frankly one of the best mechanical uses of the PC-NPC dynamic I’ve ever seen in an RPG.

 

Sick Day!

Since the genre ideally doesn’t deal with a ton of (PC) death and dismemberment, character health is changed from its usual pool of points to a simple four point damage track. Investigators move from fine to scuffed to injured to dead as they suffer physical harm, though the damage track hasn’t been used in our game at all as yet. It is interesting to note that Fighting is listed as a General ability in the book (with plenty of admonishments about the consequences of violence both in school and in society) but is not listed on the character sheet at all.

Be Cool, Soda Pop.

In Bubblegumshoe, Cool is the resource that replaces both the Health and Stability used in most GUMSHOE games. A person’s Cool measures both their ability to keep a cool head in tense situations, as well as their general… um… Fonzieness… A person can lose or spend cool in a number of ways, from being caught in the act of doing something that maybe they shouldn’t, to getting into a location that would generally be off limits, to getting into a full on Throwdown with one of their Hates. Just beware though, your reputation will take some time to recover from the screaming, snot-bubbling melt down you have when you reach -10 Cool.

If I Want You To Speak, I’ll Wave A Snausage Over Your Nose!

The Throwdown is the classic social combat that we’ve seen in teen media from She’s All That, to Gossip Girl, to the aforementioned Veronica Mars. The Throwdown rules can be used to adjudicate events ranging from a showdown between the sleuths and that meathead from the bodybuilding club over his bullying of the Mathletes, to a rap battle, to a food fight. Indeed, it took little tweaking to use them to model the cheerleading tryouts in our own game. There is a Throwdown General Skill, but the really interesting thing about throwing down is the way investigators can leverage their Relationships to help them out, though doing this too often could alter or even destroy a Relationship… this is high school after all.

Wait, There’s More!

In addition to the rules, a decently detailed town, and a number of mystery seeds (including one fully fleshed case), the book is rounded out with a number of Drifts… or as I would call them, alternate campaign settings. There are quite a few of these, ranging from a prep-school setting that emphasizes player vs player conflict, to a supers-in-training setting, to a middle school setting more in the vein of Encyclopedia Brown, or The Boxcar Children than the default PG-13 setting.

In Conclusion

I can’t comment on the physical book, but the .pdf is well bookmarked and generally easy to use, though the organization wasn’t perfect in my opinion. There have been a few instances that I’ve had trouble finding a piece of information. The cover is colour and is a bit too cheery for a game that dubs itself high school noir. The interior art is black and white and is all done by Rich Longmore, I believe; it ranges from alright to good, and along with the text, it portrays people of a good range of ethnicities and social standings. The single column text is easy to read on a phone or tablet.

Now you’re wondering if the book is good… and the answer is a resounding YES! This game is excellent. It’s obvious that Emily Care Boss, Kenneth Hite, and Lisa Steele did a ton of research, and it paid off. It’s been a long time since a game had me playing from 6:30 pm to 2am, but Bubblegumshoe had me in just that position on night one, and I’ve had to fight the urge to stay up too late each game night since.

Everything about Bubblegumshoe works to achieve that fraught feeling you get in a hostile and alienating environment…. The modern North American high school.

Overall Bubblegumshoe gets an A (5 out of 5)!

Go grab your copy on DriveThruRPG and tell us what you think of playing a teenager!

But For a Bite of Breakfast

Playing one-to-one game sessions, Ken and I have logged more hours gaming than I’d care to calculate. It’s really easy to pick up a set of dice and a character sheet and fit in some gaming once the rugrats are sleeping on vacation (or on weekends, or when the game is hot).

My love of gaming is almost always strong, but there have been waxes and wanes that got me to thinking about what I like in my RPG sessions. I believe any RPG lover still has something specific about gaming they love, and what’s more, some sessions are memorable, some story points frozen in our mind, some characters and their deeds living on forever. Why? What was it that made some sessions make me want another game session asap, while others left a sour taste in my mouth.

I thought I knew, but after numerous muddied attempts to explain to my gm, I had a realization that helped me explain it a new way.  So often I have tried to explain it is the relationships, but it is really more than just that.

What I like is the exploration of how a character evolves. Sometimes these big changes come from a success (or failure) in combat or another specific part of the written (or home-brewed adventure). Other times it can be smallest detail that sets a tone for a relationship which has huge effects on a character.

But For a Bite of Breakfast

One of my first characters, and the first iteration of my most beloved PC, believed the world owed her whatever she was willing to take. In the beginning of the campaign she thought she was hot stuff. This character was willing to flirt with just about anyone to get whatever she wanted, and with a super high charisma and max ranks in Diplomacy, it just about always worked. (When that failed she just did what she had to.)

In the early days of the campaign she and the other PCs (technically GM-NPCs) were still getting their footing with each other. They’d been forced to work together after fleeing prison and, thanks to a signed contract, had to cooperate with each other despite their less than wholesome natures. Before long, my character began a casual relationship with one of the others, trading her skills as a former courtesan in exchange for his magical knack to clean garments.

One morning as they stayed in a tavern, getting ready to head out into the nearby woods in search of their quest, my character made her way down the stairs into the tavern where the sorcerer was already eating a plate of breakfast. She ordered, but helped herself to a bite of his. Or tried to. He moved the plate away, called her on it, and said in no uncertain terms he wasn’t sharing. As minor as this moment might have been, neither my character, myself, or my husband, could have predicted how this small moment set the tone of their relationship from then on.

Who had what? Who was willing to give what for something the other person had? And who had the power?

By the end of the campaign those two had been manipulating each other almost as much as they manipulated their enemies. One of the hugest revelations in the later home-brewed portions of the adventure was the master manipulation the sorcerer had done to make my character’s husband nothing like he was before. He’d made me and my character hate one of my favorite NPCs. Once a strong, determined, no-nonsense inquisitor of Asmodeus, that NPC had become a meek kitten who couldn’t even put his foot down with traitors in his church. My character was deep into plotting his demise when the sorcerer’s trickery became evident. After some dealings with divine heralds, she got the sorcerer back by enslaving him for the rest of time.

There’s more to all of that, big moments and small ones, (and the sorcerer did get free of it, but ended up so shocked by his tricks being turned on him he turned over a new leaf), but the point is that bite of breakfast, or lack of one, created a ripple effect that echoed through the course of a 20-level, 10-mythic tier campaign that was played for about two years.

Taste of Your Own Medicine

In another campaign that same PC was re-portrayed in a different reality with different abilities. My mesmerist teamed up with a new version of the Asmodean inquisitor, who was now not that different from Sam or Dean Winchester, zigzagging across modern America in search of occult anomalies that could use his attention.  They were very different characters than their original versions (not just because they weren’t nearly so evil), but a lot of who they were remained the same.

I couldn’t let go of the character, and this allowed me to explore “what if.”

At any rate, at one point in the campaign, my mesmerist, who had become capable enough to use charm and suggestion type spells, came up against another mesmerist. She had no idea who he was or what he could do.  This ruthless, conniving, evil man (actually modelled after Kilgrave from Jessica Jones) managed to land his domination spell on my character. Things happened. And my character changed.

She changed in a few ways, including being more serious about her road partner, but one of the big changes was her unwillingness to use overly powerful or long lasting mind-affecting spells. I think this was good for the GM since investing supernatural cases becomes a lot easier when you can quickly get to the bottom of things and hit the road before your spells wear off. (There were numerous times my character’s spells made too-short of work of his planning and mystery.)

It also made sense from a character perspective though. If you could do all of those same things to a person, would you? After you’d experienced them yourself? Could do it in the worst case scenarios? At all?

What was meant to be a small thing in a case, a saving throw she probably should have made, dramatically changed how my character viewed the world, how she treated people, and what she was willing, or unwilling to do. Rest assured she eventually managed to hunt down the other mesmerist and with the help of a couple of close friends, managed to take him down, though a few good NPCs almost died.

If she had made that saving throw, if she defeated him then and there, she wouldn’t have spent months looking over her shoulder afraid of the only person to have controlled her, she wouldn’t have felt bad dominating people for “the greater good,” and she would have become a very different person.

No Evidence, No Crime

In another iteration, my character was ripped from her “perfect” life and thrust into ancient Golarion. Everything she had always done was done with purpose and because it was the way it should be done. She always did her best to live up to expectation. And the fear of being caught doing something she shouldn’t (her father was a notable man and she herself was a minor celebrity as a result) didn’t ease her desire to be “perfect.”

When she was thrown into ancient Golarion she met a man who was so different than her fiance, and each time she was dropped back into the past, there he was. She quickly developed feelings for him, but worried she shouldn’t act on them because it wasn’t who she was, it wasn’t what she should do, she didn’t want to hurt her fiance, etc.

Then one day, after a bit of back and forth, and the realization that there were no cameras to catch her, that no one there really knew who she was or cared, she suddenly kissed him. Which led to other things. The conversation had been ending, the two were going to retire to their own rooms, and something in the conversation made her act without thinking. It was a huge moment for her, and to have hand-waved that evening would have meant it didn’t happen.

Who she was was altered somewhat as a result. She suddenly realized she had to follow her heart and her passions, not just do what was expected. The plot of the campaign (which was saving the universe, and was tied into the time travel) carried on of course, and they more or less succeeded, but how she dealt with it and the decisions she made and wrestled with, were tied to the decision that night.

A Tiresome Trio

Most recently we’ve been playing Wrath of the Righteous. My once neutral evil rogue trickster has been reborn as a shining paladian champion of Erastil (yes, that’s right, a paladin of Erastil – it is totally working).

Quick backstory: she lost her husband before the game started. He joined the crusade a couple of years prior, unknowingly leaving her pregnant. The baby died at 6 weeks. It was all a depressing start, but it made her ready to kick some demon butt. Fast forward a bit of time, she’s got her group of companions, a childhood friend and two guys she met during the attack on the city and they are pushing back against the incursion. It’s all good, and she realizes she might almost be having feelings for one of these new guys. She doesn’t give it much thought. Then she learns her husband might be alive. They save him. Happy reunion. Only the demons keeping her beloved force the 3rd wheel to admit his feelings before they can go. He does. She’s shocked.

For weeks she struggles with this knowledge, her own feelings for him, and the return of her beloved. The other guy has to go into a super dangerous situation.  She admits her feelings to him while they are telepathically linked, before he starts his mission. It’s intense. He goes in. The link gets severed. He gets tortured. They get him back, and learn he succeeded on his mission. Hooray!

A few days later she and the companion are hunting for stray demons, and they get to talking – about how some things can’t be, about what is, about her husband being back, about what they both admitted to each other etc. He says things that he thought were no big deal, but she takes his mention of likely growing tired of her in the future to heart and right there shuts down any feelings she has for him.

Where I think my favorite PC (or a reborn version of her) is about to get into a tangled threesome (one much more messy than the Starfinder one), one small interaction where an NPC doubted her and said some hurtful/inconsiderate stuff, changed the direction I saw things going, and changed who the character was, or may have been. When the campaign started I thought it inevitable they’d end up together.

I’m actually disappointed by the lack of romantic relationship between the two characters, but it was organic and made sense to me. Their “almost something” happened because of the role-playing interactions between them, and their “never going to happen now” happened for the same reason. And given the tragic beginning, the surprise return of her husband makes a better ending.

Despite years apart, the loss of their child, and everything else they have been through, this PC is now 100% completely devoted to her returned beloved and there is nary a person or beast who could convince her not to be. Her beloved sees her as his light, as a creator of the goodness in his life, and she needs that with all of the demons she destroys, the carnage she leaves.

With the Wound closed, she’s now going to throw herself body and soul into slaying every last demon she can, hopeful that once the job is done she can settle down with her husband and try for a family again. Had she ended up a love triangle, or with other guy, the end of the adventure may have see her travelling the countryside, constantly looking for another mission – and I’m not sure where the guys would be. Sure, the plot of the written story would have ended much the same, but isn’t the point of playing through it to learn about the characters too?

The plot of the story – be it demon slaying, investigating occult anomalies, or saving the universe from destruction – affects how a character develops, but so do the small details.

Too often, I think, small details, role playing details, are glossed over. Combat and grand missions are integral, yes, but those other details can have long far reaching plot hooks, character development and just fun times.  Don’t hash out every conversation, but throw in details here and there because you never know how they’ll alter a campaign.

After all, if you just wanted the bland characterless version as written in the book, why are you running it?

Can you think of a time a small thing had a great impact on the direction of your campaign?

January 2018 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

Continue reading January 2018 Reviews

NPC: Shades the Blade (Blade Slinging Mercenary Goblin)

Looking to add an NPC to your Starfinder session? Look no further!

Shades the Blade was originally featured in 5e NPCs: Goblins! Goblins! Goblins!, but has been lovingly crafted into a Starfinder NPC. If you love Starfinder, keep an eye out for our upcoming Tangible Tavern: ICON.


Shades the Blade

Blade Slinging Mercenary Goblin

What, that? That’s just a fracking flesh wound, chum, it’ll be gone in a tick.”

Tarrgk Facegump was like every other member of the Flayback Tribe: vicious, impulsive, greedy, and short-sighted. The day the burning ship fell from the sky onto the Flayback camp he ceased to be impulsive and short-sighted. That was the day that Tarrgk Facegump died and Shades the Blade was born.

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

When his tribe’s camp was destroyed, Tarrgk and a small band of warriors were returning from an unsuccessful raid, laden down with their dead companions. Upon seeing the burning craft strike their home like the finger of a vengeful god, Tarrgk’s companions fell to their knees and begged forgiveness for their failures. Tarrgk, however, did not. He had seen something break off the crashing structure and arc to the east, and after the crash, he could see a faintly blinking white light some distance in that direction. Sensing opportunity, he snuck away from his companions to investigate.

About a mile away, Tarrgk found his prize: a segmented metal cylinder the size of five goblin tents. As he approached the cylinder, a door sized portion of it folded out into stairs with a hiss, creating a softly glowing entryway. The goblin cautiously hefted his spear and entered the cylinder with a mixture of trepidation and excitement, sure that he had discovered something truly valuable.

As Tarrgk passed through the door, a terrifying, man-sized creature with a smooth, glassy black face lunged at him, stabbing him with some kind of fine spear attached to a liquid filled shaft. Tarrgk thrust his weapon at the thing reflexively, stabbing it deep in the thigh and killing the already mortally wounded monster. As the rush of adrenaline subsided, Tarrgk’s head began to swim, and he passed out.

When he awoke mere moments later, Tarrgk was changed. He understood the cosmonaut he had killed had not intended to attack him; she had injected him with a nanite solution that connected Tarrgk’s brain directly to the escape capsule’s central computer, effectively making him smarter and more canny than he had been. The connection also informed Tarrgk that the nanites would work to keep their host safe, knitting almost any injury suffered and making his body and mind hardier.

Tarrgk used his enhanced knowledge to assemble a resonant blade, an extraordinarily sharp knife that doesn’t suffer the effects of friction, and that returns to his hand at his mental command, and a pair of tinted goggles. He also found the craft’s stealth module and rendered the ship invisible to all but the most advanced sensors, though he can always locate it due to the nanite’s connection to its central computer.

Finding his fellows far more limited than himself upon his return, Tarrgk quickly abandoned them, and his name. With the new name, Shades the Blade, he set out into the world ready to sell his services to whomever was willing to part with sufficient funds. Shades takes on nearly any task, regardless of the danger, as the nanites heal even the most grievous wounds rapidly, though he is quick to retreat in the rare instance that his injuries are slow to disappear.

 

ruined building

5 Great Inspirational Sources For A Post-Apocalyptic Game

The end of the world. A new beginning.

Due to its popularity there is a plethora of media exploring this genre. From television programming to movies to books to comics to RPGs, there really is no shortage. It’s a genre that has been used and used again because it’s fascinating. What would you do if the world ended tomorrow? Could you survive? Would you want to?

Role playing games are the perfect avenue to explore our adaptability, our creativity, and worlds we are unlikely to ever experience. There are some game systems built specifically for a post-apocalyptic world (and Ken shared his experience running one back here), but maybe your group is hooked on a game system, maybe you want a little inspiration, or maybe you are hoping to adapt something to be exactly what you want.  So then the biggest question becomes, where do I use to draw inspiration? And are there any awesome resources I’ve missed?

The first thing you need to think about, of course, is what sort of post-apocalyptic world you are looking to create. There are so many ways for the world to end or change. Some are subtle – more of a cultural apocalypse, while others are full on death-is-rampant-this-is-end kind of apocalypse.

Ken talked before about Y, the last man – a comic book storyline about a world where all but one man has perished, and whether you love it or hate it, I’m not sure there are people who haven’t heard of The Walking Dead and the “walker” filled zombie world. And, of course, there is always the gonzo-over-the-top-action-packed Mad Max film series.

But options hardly end there, and I hope the following media helps inspire you to create the world you are looking for.

Tomorrow When the War Began (book)

This series of books, written by John Marsden, was turned into a movie in 2010.  The books focus on a young girl who goes camping with friends in a remote location.  They return home to discover the residents are missing and the livestock are dead or dying.  As they start to investigate, the group learns Australia (where the book is set) has been invaded by an unidentified force, who are holding everyone captive.  The teens have to find a way to survive in this now-hostile environment.

While is isn’t the end of the world as everyone knows it exactly, discovering your entire country has changed, your family is missing, and everything as you know it is no more is world shattering.  This series was written for young adults, but is worth a read no matter your age, especially if you are thinking of flipping your PCs lives on end.

Lazarus (comic)

Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus is set in our near future. Following a catastrophic economic and ecological collapse, society has reverted to a strictly controlled feudal caste system. Every human falls into one of three categories: family (fewer than 1% of the remaining population belongs to one of the world’s sixteen ruling families), serfs (approximately 10% of the population falls into this category of skilled professional), or waste (everyone else). The title of the comic refers to the biologically and chemically engineered, near-immortal super soldiers that each family may have one of, if they are lucky. The world-building in this series is truly fantastic, and the characters are well developed and compelling, which is the norm for Greg Rucka in my opinion.

Unlike a lot of post-apocalyptic literature, the world of Lazarus is largely intact, though vast portions of it have been abandoned. Gaming in this world would be compelling to me, especially in a one player, one GM situation. Each families’ lazarus is a mixture of diplomat, commander, and ass-kicker. The nature of the families’ relationships with one another could easily lead to some great social interplay and scenery chewing. And then some good old fisticuffs if diplomacy breaks down!

 

The Stand (book)

When a modified strain of the flu is accidentally released, it spreads across the country quickly, killing just about everyone and causing the total breakdown of society. This book, written by Stephen King, dates back to the 1970’s and is told from the perspective of various characters.

It’s admittedly been a long time since I read this book, but one of the things I recall loving about it was how it explored the fact that not everyone who survives the mutated virus named Captain Trips can survive in the world that remains. Opting out becomes the only option some people feel they have, and it’s a good thing to keep in mind when running a campaign. Give your PCs a world that’s hard, but a) remember to show them not everyone can handle what remains and b) don’t make it so dreadful your PCs will be in a place they feel this have no option but to opt out themselves.

This lengthy novel is a good read if you want to set your game during an apocalypse sans zombies.

The 100 (tv)

The world is no longer habitable. The human race has been successfully living on a series of space stations, but the systems are failing. A group of teenagers, all guilty of something, has been sent to Earth in the hopes of discovering if the human race can return.

This TV show explores what these delinquent teenagers encounter in the world they have only heard stories about. Things are much different than they expect (naturally), and there are countless hurdles to overcome, including figuring out how to work together. What else would you expect with 100 young adults on their own for the first time in their lives?

This could easily be used in any game system, but could make a great setting for Starfinder.

Jericho (tv)

After a nuclear attack on 23 cities across the US, the country is left in a post-apocalyptic state. The show initially focuses on the small town of Jericho and what it does post-attack, but by the end of the second season it is a roller-coaster ride of exploring the rule of the Allied States of American and trying to save what remains of the American dream.

With only two seasons on investment (plus two season of graphics novels for those interested in continuing the plot), this is a small investment for those looking to get a feel for a post-apocalyptic world. And again, with a nuclear attack, you’ve got a different basis for exactly why the world ended.

Have you read or watched any of the above? What did you think?

Have you ever run a post-apocalyptic game? How did it go?

We’re gearing up to see what has happened to the next generation in our deadworld campaign. In its original form the group had to carve out a safe haven, but generation two has that. With a relatively stable home, a cure for the zombie plague distributed, and those ghouls under control, what sorts of deadly forces can they encounter?

What made your world post-apocalyptic?