RPG a Day: Finding Reviews

10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I check out a lot of reviews from friends in my social media feed on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. When I know I have a lot of tastes in common with the reviewer, I check their new write-ups as soon as they are posted. If it sounds like my cup of tea, I put the title on my list of games to try.

If I’m looking for reviews of a specific game, I usually start with the official website of the publisher, then big distributors like DriveThruRPG or even Amazon, then do a general search to see what the word is. If it’s an older title, I also check RPG.net’s Game Index; if it’s a small press/indie/non-traditional sort of game, I’ll search a bit on the Forge and Story Games forum archives.






RPG a Day: Ten Episodes

9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

If you know you’re planning for a mini-series rather than a campaign that goes on indefinitely, it helps to have some scaffolding to help pace the overarching story.

One type of scaffolding is a campaign like that provided in Night Witches where the duty stations are outline along a timeline but your airwomen’s adventures at each point, and how fast you move from one station to another, depends entirely on your group’s choices. Then there is a game like Blowback that provides tools for escalation of the plot with certain preferential paths but still leaves you free to make the choices that will shape the overarching story.

A more structured type of scaffolding might be the Plot Point Campaigns included in many Savage Worlds games such as Low Life, Mars, Necessary Evil, Sundered Skies, Slipstream, Thrilling Tales, etc.—although their length varies and you may have to pick only a few of their many episodes.  Continue reading “RPG a Day: Ten Episodes”

RPG a Day: Two Hours!

8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2 hours or less?

[Wherein I give up on picking a single option.]

If you’re going to plan on a 2-hour game, you had better use a streamlined system with rapid character creation. Systems that are well-suited include Fate Accelerated, The Shadow of Yesterday, PDQ, Wushu, Over The Edge, etc.

Continue reading “RPG a Day: Two Hours!”

RPG a Day: And… Scene!

7. What was an impactful RPG session?

I spoke last year about an emotionally charged, intense session of Night Witches, so I’m not going to repeat it but it certainly is a good answer to today’s question. But again, because I’ve been gaming for a long time I have many possible answers.

Let’s pick a memorable episode of 7th Sea back in 2002, which I chronicled on my now-defunct website (Wayback Machine link). We were six heroes from Castille sent on a secret mission to the port of La Reina del Mar, occupied by Montaigne forces, to assist the still-resisting Castillan underground.

We had a rich tapestry of subplots going on after playing for two and a half years, including many pursued by PCs in secret. For the big climactic episode of the story arc (the portion of the chronicle that is only in bullet points because so much was going on), the GM—my husband Edmund—not only allowed us to split the party, something that still went against most GM advice you could find in those days, but he let us split three-way, then four, then five! Some of us were creating a distraction on the wharves, some were rescuing prisoners, some were blowing up the enemy flagship, etc.  Continue reading “RPG a Day: And… Scene!”

Racism I Can Do Without: Low-hanging fruit for the white ally

OK, Ramanan S pointed out to me that we have not had significant discussions of race in tabletop roleplaying games since The Thing last year. I take that as an indicator of the chilling effect, but nonetheless it’s not a good excuse. We need to talk, and even more so we need to act.

This is not a post to examine the root causes and come up with an overarching plan to eliminate racism, tokenism, erasure, etc. I can’t be the one to tell you all about race problems in the tabletop gaming community. I’m not on the receiving end, and my white privilege means I will, by definition, not be able to see all the instances.

But there are some things that are obvious enough that we can see them, and react to them, as white allies and tabletop gamers. I can speak about what I do see, and what I can do about it.  Continue reading “Racism I Can Do Without: Low-hanging fruit for the white ally”

RPG a Day: Sweeps Week

6. You can game every day for a week. Describe what you’d do!

I used to game five days a week on a regular basis. In the mid-1990s, when I had just arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and busy making new friends, I played AD&D, Hero/Champions, Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, and pretty much anything my new friends would run for a one-off; and I ran Mage: The Ascension.

Continue reading “RPG a Day: Sweeps Week”

RPG a Day: Judging a Book by its Cover

5. What’s an RPG item cover that awesomely captures the spirit of the game?

Today’s question is another toughie. A lot of roleplaying games have excellent, imagination-grabbing covers that really convey the feel of the game. To name a few from the top of my head: Castle Falkenstein (R. Talsorian Games), Burning Empires (Burning Wheel Headquarters), Young Centurions (Evil Hat Productions), Blue Rose (Green Ronin Publishing), Hollow Earth Expedition (Exile Studio), Xcrawl (Pandahead Productions/Goodman Games), Deadlands (pretty much any edition—Pinnacle Entertainment Group), etc.

However, I have to select Tianxia: Blood, Silk & Jade (Vigilance Press), with a cover so delightful that it convinced me back in 2013 to change my Kickstarter pledge from PDF-only to hardcover. This cover turned out to be very truthful to the play experience, which in turn was so much fun that I ended up writing for this game line.

Why do I think it best captures the spirit of the game? Because it shows two very different characters, both very true to the wuxia genre; because it is explosively dynamic; because it is structure around a taijitu (yin-yang symbol), representing a balance which really does infuse the game; and because it really makes me want to play these characters.  Continue reading “RPG a Day: Judging a Book by its Cover”

Play Report and Review: Relicblade

On Thursday my husband Edmund, our friend S., and I got to try Relicblade, a miniatures game from local company Metal King Studio. This is a skirmish-level, 35mm-scale game pretty much conceived and executed by one person, Sean Sutter: he wrote the rules, drew the art, and sculpted the minis!

The Relicblade had been Edmund’s birthday present this spring, but we had not tried it yet because Edmund wanted to paint the minis first. The basic game set comes with two factions, the Heroes and the Pig Men. Edmund had immediately declared them to be social justice warriors and male chauvinist pigs, respectively. The colour scheme of the heroes was selected to reflect his official team name, the Rainbow Warriors.  Continue reading “Play Report and Review: Relicblade”

RPG a Day: What I’ve Been Playing

4. What’s an RPG item you have played a lot since August 2016?

The roleplaying game I most played since the last instance of #RPGaDay2016 is probably Dungeon World because my husband has been writing and playtesting a hack called “Land of Ten Thousand Gods.” I have been included in three different groups of adventurers, first playing Rahi the Relic-Bearer (~fighter), and more recently Jewel the Wilderness Guide (~ranger) and Sabitri the Shapeshifter (~druid).

All three groups met or are meeting online via Skype or Google Hangouts. I really hope Edmund gets the hack to a point where it can be released for general consumption because it’s such a rich setting, full of marvels and interesting monsters, with player characters that feel important to the story.


Our Heroes - Ram, Rahi, Merit, and Kanta. Art by Claudia Cangini.
Our Heroes – Ram, Rahi, Merit, and Kanta. Art by Claudia Cangini.

RPG a Day: I Heard it on the Grapevine

3. How do you find out about new RPG items?

I usually hear about them in my Google+ or Facebook feed. I pay attention to the ravings of friends with whom I have a lot of preferences in common. And I am weak-willed…

I try to buy either directly from the publishers or from my friendly local gaming store, so the money can go to the people I want to support and not to multi-national corporations.