Monday, November 14, 2016

Actual Play - Numenera

I donated some of my time to run Numenera as part of Button Mash Bash.


It's a charity marathon video game stream that plays unusual games. Numenera certainly fits in that category.


I adapted Vortex for the run and the Technophiles helped me cut it down to three short episodes. You can still make donations if you enjoy the actual play.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Shadowrun Classic - Fate Core Hack


I've noodled around with a few fate hacks of Shadowrun before, but a mixture of circumstances allowed me a little time to put down my thoughts on the matter in more detail. This time of year is innately frustrating for freelance designers since projects talked about at Gen Con are slowly rolling into production but much of the time is spent waiting for that pivotal "Okay, go!" email. There's a lot of unpaid words here, but sometimes you have to clear the decks before you can focus on new work.

This hack was built for running Shadowrun during the 1st through 3rd editions of the game, set during the 2050s and 2060s. My intent was to run classic Shadowrun adventures like Bottled Demon without houseruling the hell out of the original rules. It doesn't have everything out of every book, but it has enough that converting your favorite piece of equipment should not be difficult. Fans of technomancers should be able to do them by reskinning Magic as Resonance, but I didn't tackle them here because they fell out of the time period. (I may return at a later date to do it.)

The rules for setting up the run take a lot of inspiration from +John Rogers amazing CrimeWorld setting from Worlds in Shadow. You should read it anyway if you're planning on running any game where your protagonists are criminals, because its densely packed with information and inspiration.

I wrote down these rules in advance of the next meeting of Adventurer's Guild Local 42, a series of RPG events I'm running at 42 Lounge in downtown Milwaukee. I'll be running it on Sunday, November 13th at 3 pm. You might also see it added to the mix of games I run at conventions.

Click here to check out the complete Fate Shadowrun Classic rules.
Click here for characters ready for aspects based on some of my favorite classic Shadowrun archetypes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Geek and Sundry - Vengeance

A game's theme is an important draw. If a game is about something, it needs me to feel like I'm doing that something. That's why I never got into Magic - I never felt like a wizard in a duel.

Vengeance has theme oozing out of every corner of the box. I love how it handles the roaring rampage of revenge genre, so I wrote it up.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Geek and Sundry - Shadow of the Demon Lord

One of the best RPGs from 2015 was this dark fantasy game from one of the developers of D&D. I talk about why I like it over at Geek and Sundry.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Geek and Sundry - Deadlands Kickstarters

One of my favorite RPGs has not one, but two Kickstarters running at the same time!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Geek and Sundry - Online D&D Resources

I found some great websites for use with D&D 5th Edition while prepping my Curse of Strahd game. I collected a few and shared them over at Geek and Sundry.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Geek and Sundry - Tiny Epic Games

I've really come to love this series of games from Gamelyn. Small, fun, but offering plenty of replayability and strategy. They're kickstarting an expansion of Tiny Epic Galaxies, so it seemed like a good time to talk about the whole line.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Geek and Sundry - Bizarre Board Games

Video games have a bad rep for licensed tie-in games that suck, but back in the day board games weren't much different. I had the Pac-Man game as a kid and found it difficult to play because the marbles would shoot everywhere.

Geek and Sundry - Flick Your Way to Victory

Flick 'Em Up was my favorite board game experience of Gen Con 2015. I talk about it and a few other games in this article.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Geek and Sundry - Big Games

Mixing football and board games seems weird, but one of my favorite sessions of Imperial Assault last year took place during a Packers game. I suggest some big board games to play this year for folks who like board games and sportsball.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Kickstarter - Mecha and Monsters

I'm a part of this Kickstarter as a setting for the game. Ever want to play in a world where Monday Night Raw meets Pacific Rim? Back Mecha and Monsters today!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Geek and Sundry - Social Combat RPGs

The idea of social combat has been around for a while. I highlighted a few games that do it very well.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Geek and Sundry - College Board Games

The important point here was picking games that could easily work as drinking games without making it explicit.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Geek and Sundry - Board Game Upgrades

That time I turned my envy of a friend's board game organizer into an article.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Geek and Sundry - Star Wars Canon

Today's article is about the influence the Star Wars RPG has over the Star Wars canon. Yes, even the new one.

Friday, September 2, 2016

7th Sea Second Edition - Villainous Intent


Memorable heroes need memorable villains to battle. What are Batman with out the Joker, Luke Skywalker without Darth Vader or, closer to the genre point, the Musketeers without Richelieu? The first edition of 7th Sea was no slouch in the villain department. Richelieu got a worthy mirror on Esteban Verdugo, the arrogant L'Emperuer is just itching to lose his head and Reis terrorizes the sea with his murdery band of pirates and his tricked out Syrneth scythe. I'm putting together a one shot for some friends soon and I was a little surprised at just how streamlined villain design was in the game. Two stats? That's it? (I know there's a bit more, like Villainy Rank and Advantages, but this was my gut reaction.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Geek and Sundry - Pokemon GO

Milwaukee ran into a wee bit of nerd controversy this week because of a conflict over Lake Park. There are a few other places around the nation trying the same thing, so I looked into it for Geek and Sundry.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

7th Sea Second Edition - Story Options

I was inspired by +Rob Donoghue 's excellent hacks for incorporating Dracheneisen back into 7th Sea as a noble trait and using the Sorte Deck to develop 13th Age Icon-like relationships with the big names of the setting. (Rob also did a thorough review post on the game that echo most of my feelings as I read the book.)

7th Sea has always been a game of hacks, tweaks and house rules for me. Now that I'm a game designer, that hasn't changed. I offer a trio of hacks for the player stories after the jump.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Geek & Sundry - John Rogers Interview

Five years ago, I got to talk to John Rogers on my silly little Leverage RPG blog about how gaming influenced his writing and vice versa. I got to do it again for Geek & Sundry this week.
And, if the article proves popular enough, I'll get to do more of these with other professional creatives. So please share.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Geek and Sundry - World Wide Wrestling

This game was responsible for my favorite campaign last year. So I thought a write-up for Geek & Sundry would be nice.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Geek and Sundry - TimeWatch RPG

My first post for Geek and Sundry just went live. I'll be talking about RPGs a lot, of course but hope to explore my other nerdy loves too!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fate Hack - Star Trek Prime Accelerated

TNG is my jam, but this hack should work for any era/series.
I am sad I won't be at Gen Con this year. It seems like Star Trek is coming back in a big way thanks to a variety of board game releases and the recent announcement of the first licensed RPG in a decade. Much of these products focus on the so-called "Prime Universe", the long-standing one not affected by the time travel shenanigans of the reboot film series. I did a hack set in that universe a while ago, so it seemed like a good time to try something for the original.

More often than not, Fate Accelerated is my base of choice for any hacks involving media. It's much easier to interact with characters when you don't have to calculate XP based on the amount of books and films and shows those characters are in. TV shows are also relatively static, which matches the idea that Fate characters change faster than they grow. Finally, Accelerated shines when all the characters are the same thing (like officers on a Starfleet vessel, or wizards at a boarding school) and approaches can really show the differences between them.

Special thanks to +Morgan Ellis for suggesting approaches that split infinitives!

We boldly go to the hack after the jump.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Appearances - May 2016

I have two appearances coming up!

First at 42 Ale House, on Friday, May 20th, I'll be hosting another edition of Dungeons and Dragons and Drinking. I'll be talking about a variety of RPGs, then mingling with everyone. It's there for players looking for groups, groups looking for players and the curious who want to know more about pretending to be an elf.

Then, over Memorial Day Weekend, I'll be a guest at this year's Nexus Game Fair. I'll be running Firefly and CHILL at the convention, and sitting on a few panels too.

Come say hi!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Milwaukee Record - Tabletop Day 2016

I wrote an article for Milwaukee Record showing the easy path of extending Tabletop Day this Saturday throughout the whole weekend.

I'll be running Vault of the Dracolich on Sunday with the help of some very talented Dungeon Masters. A few tickets are still available!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Girls' Heist Out - The Outhousers

We funded the project today. Be sure to click on the link to the left and check out the updates page with information on stretch goals. We'll be adding pages and art prints every 500 bucks from here on out.

Or, read this excellent profile on the project over on The Outhousers.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Girls' Heist Out - Manuela Speaks!

We have a little less than a week to go and about 3K to raise. I am confident we'll hit it, but the sooner the better.


Be sure to back us today by clicking on the link in the video...or the one on the left...or the one right here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Girls' Heist Out - The Designer Experience

One of the best ways to connect with backers is to offer unique rewards. This can be a tricky part of a Kickstarter, because unique often means higher overhead or delving into additional logistics problems. Early wave Kickstarters were awash in T-shirts, mugs and other traditional promotional items. I didn't do any of those because, quite frankly, there are still some Kickstarters I'm waiting on years after the fact that never got off the ground because that stuff got underfoot. 

I considered talking to the companies I design for to offer PDF packages of the games I've done as rewards. I decided against it for a few reasons. Not everyone would go along with it easily. It seemed counter productive to talk about breaking into comics but reward people with RPG products. Most of the people supporting the Kickstarter likely already own whatever work I've done that they want to own. My licensed work might be a big draw but could get wrapped up in legal issues. Ultimately, much of the work I've done as a designer I don't completely own, which is why I'm doing a creator owned comic in the first place.

But my time, on the other hand...  my time is something that I do own. What my rewards didn't have were that elusive experience one where a backers gets to do something few people rarely get to do. How often do you get a chance to play a game with someone that's made something for the game? The opportunity usually only comes at a convention once or twice a year, if you luck into tickets for the event. Why not offer the people who keep asking how to play Fate or Firefly a chance to see how the pros do it? 

Backers have an opportunity to play in a game that I run over Skype or Hangout which is pretty cool. You can pick from any game that I've worked on in the past fifteen years of my design career. Big or small. Licensed or original. The idea started as a reward tier for international backers who wanted to get a little more than just the digital basics but more and more people have asked me about this reward than any of the others. Outside of the Ella Fitzgerald, which I still can't believe someone took, it's the most unique reward I have for the project, because it offers me as the reward directly.

There are opportunities within these opportunities. The big one is that for backers near me, which the overwhelming majority of my backers are, I'm happy to set up a time and place to run the game in person. Beyond just playing Shadowrun or CAMELOT Trigger, I rarely get a chance to talk design and theory in person and I love doing it. It's why I enjoy hosting D&D&D events at 42 Ale House. Book one of these sessions and you have me as a resource for GM advice, game structure and whatever else you might want to talk about relating to RPGs. 

It's also one of the few rewards you can really share comfortably. Whether that means splitting the cost between your players (which comes out to about what you'd spend for a night at the movies) or picking it up as a gift for your spouse who doesn't get out to game as much anymore.

I'm excited about all the rewards I have to offer, but this one intrigued me the most. Con games are like Christmas presents to me. The backers who book my time and who want to see more of my work make me feel a little like Santa Claus.

Girls' Heist Out runs for the next two weeks on Kickstarter. I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Girls' Heist Out - Fate Core

While discussing Girls' Heist Out the other day, Fred Hicks asked me a question.

"How would you build the main characters of in Fate Core?"

The project is steeped in gaming because of my background. A few of the characters are adapted from my Leverage RPG series. Manuela Soriani is a fellow Fate alum. Many of the stretch goal artists I worked with on Firefly. And I still get questions about making characters in Fate on a regular basis. So let's look at how I would make the main characters in my comic book.

Let's start with the leader of the gang:
Julia Pryce
High Concept: Glamorous Mastermind
Trouble: Blindsided By Love

Aspects
High Dive Artist
Cool Under Pressure
I Know The Mark Better Than He Knows Himself

Skills:
Good (+3): Expertise
Fair (+2): Rapport,  Notice
Average (+1): Physique, Athletics, Will

Stunts:
Planned Ahead: Once per session, may swap Expertise with any roll to Create an Advantage based on previously established facts involving the mark.
Unflappable: Gain a (+2) bonus on defending against Provoke attacks using Will
Fast Friends: Gain a (+2) bonus to overcome suspicion with a Rapport roll on people you've not met before

She was also recently betrayed by her partner and lover. she's convinced herself she can beat him at his own game, but she might still not see a few twists coming, She's the one who creates advantages on the marks but can also talk her way into and out of trouble.

Onto the muscle:
Dawn Montana

High Concept: Trash-Talking Muscle
Trouble: Punching Above Her Weight

Aspects
Gearhead
Cranky
Not Paid What She's Deserves

Skills:
Good (+3): Fight
Fair (+2): Physique, Provoke
Average (+1): Athletics, Drive, Stealth

Stunts:
Now it's On: Gain a (+2) bonus on attack rolls using Fight when you have at least one stress box checked off.
Hit Me Harder Than That!: Once per session, when you inflict a stress level using Provoke, clear your right most physical stress box off instead.
Exceptional Car Thief: May use Drive instead of Burglary to overcome the security systems on a automobile

Dawn's a heavy hitter but she also likes to psych out her opponents. This is her first job with a crew that's not petty thieves and criminals, so without a proper plan, she can be a bit lost.

Next up, the tech:
Tina Echevarria
High Concept: Punk Hacker
Trouble: Eat The Rich

Aspects
Flirty
Sarcastic
Never Without Her Laptop, Daniel

Skills:
Good (+3): Information
Fair (+2): Investigate, Empathy
Average (+1): Notice, Rapport, Stealth

Stunts:
Daniel Tells Me: Gain a (+2) bonus on create advantage rolls using Information to search the Internet
Ugh, No Back Door Jokes Please: Once per session, may gain access to a secure system while using Daniel
I'm A Lover not a Fighter: Gain a (+2) bonus to create advantages such as Hidden and Diving for Cover.

Tina gets the information for the targets. She has a bit of a Robin Hood bent that brings her into conflict with Dawn and even sometimes Julia. If things get violent, she's more likely to create advantage rather than attach directly.

And finally, the face:
Century Cho
High Concept: Mysterious Grifter
Trouble: Untrustworthy

Aspects
One Hundred Aliases
Stoic
Friends In High And Low Places

Skills:
Good (+3): Deceive
Fair (+2): Contacts, Rapport
Average (+1): Burglary, Will, Empathy

Stunts:
Of Course I'm a Doctor: When Century succeeds with style on a Decieve roll, she may create a Totally Convinced aspect with one free invoke
I'm Sorry, Lover: Century may use Deceive as an attack in the first exchange if the target does not expect it.
Never Flinches: Gain a (+2) bonus to defend fight attack actions

Century slips into a variety of disguises, so nobody really knows her true self. She disappears into identities.

Feel free to use these characters as examples or in one of the many suitable fate worlds. +John Rogers CRIMEWORLD, for example, would be an excellent place for them to live.

Also, if you've ever wanted a chance to play Fate with me (or any of the other games that bear my name) I'm offering Skype games as an add-on to the Kickstarter!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Girls' Heist Out - 40% Funded

After two days, the Kickstarter just hit 40%. That's a great start, but we need to keep moving forward as we enter the slow-but-steady part of the Kickstarter.
We've already had some big names chime in with their support:


We are a Kickstarter Project We Love! Someone on their team loves us.
And we've had some coverage from Milwaukee RecordComics for Sinners and Comic Bastards.
There is more to come, but we are already closing out the big backer rewards. Click below to get on board.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Girls' Heist Out - Kicktraq

Girls' Heist Out -- Kicktraq Mini

I know Kicktraq is something of a siren song that doesn't really match up well with how a Kickstarter goes. But, for the first day, that song is sure dang catchy.

Girls' Heist Out - Kickstarter Launch


I've been a part of several Kickstarters over the past few years. It is a roller coaster ride to be part of one as a stretch goal or as a team member. But, ultimately, if things don't work out, it's okay because you weren't the maniac who thought it was a good idea to ask the internet for money. Now it's my turn to be the maniac. Girls' Heist Out is a comic project featuring my words and Manuela Soriani's art. It's a crime caper comic inspired by a lot of the research and work I did for this game. Girls' Heist Out features witty banter, exotic locales and four kickass leads looking to get their revenge the best way they know how - by stealing it.

I've gotten great feedback on my script and Manuela's art. I've got coverage lined up from other websites. I have some awesome stretch goal artists lined up. But this is completely out of my comfort zone. I've built my career as a writer carefully picking out handholds and footholds as I climb. Girls' Heist Out is me taking a running jump to land on an entirely different mountain.

If you enjoy reading this blog, please check out Girls' Heist Out, You already know how much I enjoy telling stories. I hope you will help me take the first step into telling them in a different medium.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Girls' Heist Out - Kickstarter Video

video


All throughout March, I'll be running a Kickstarter for my first creator-owned comic book project. I need funding to pay the artist and print the books. I've uploaded the video here as a preview. The Kickstarter is live right now!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Milwaukee Record - NXT Preview

Today's article talks about why Milwaukee is a good fit for NXT's first live tour.