Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Rucht Hour: RPG Retreat

So, right after ManCabin, I had the privilege of going to a gaming event of another kind. A very old friend of mine who works in the video game industry ran a small gaming con out of his house. Unlike ManCabin, where boardgames are the flavor, this was a scheduled RPG con. It was neat to play table top RPGs with some big names from the video game industry, and gratifying that the designers of many of our favorite video games play table top RPGs as well. But the highlight of the weekend was spending time with old friends, some I had not seen in at least six years. So, what did we play?

Alpha Wolf Pack

Yes! I got to playtest our budding system twice over the weekend and got strong, positive results. There were plenty of compliments all around and lots of great constructive criticism. Probably the best thing that happened was that I started hearing the thing that I was hoping to hear. And that's that it AWP scratched a particular gaming itch. It's narrative and cinematic. But at the same time, it's tactical. It addresses both of these desires, as far as I can see.

I was excited about AWP before, but I'm mega-excited now. So, that's the big news out of the way.

Amber Diceless Roleplaying 

The first game that I got into was Amber. The Amber system has been around for a long, long time and is sort of famous for being diceless. In fact, that's all most people know about it. I'm not familiar with the Roger Zelazny books, but fortunately the game master and a fellow player brought me up to speed.

As inhabitants of Amber, your characters have god-like powers. For example, each character has the ability to reach through the multiverse and pull something from one of the infinite realities. Each of them has superhuman strength, speed, and skill as well. So, the setting ties into the system. If your fighting ability is such that most of the great warriors of history are just shadows to you, then there's no point in you rolling to hit something. You just do it. When up against people who also have god-like abilities, you simply compare ability scores to determine who wins. The trick is, you never know what abilities the other guy has. Also, to add some nuance to the game, when up against an equal opponent, there different "stances" you can take like all-out attack, all-out defense, feint, etc, which adjust your ability score up or down in comparison to your opponents. All-in-all, a fantastic time. I definitely want to do it again.


If you've followed the Minions of the Monster Master, you'll know that these guys are no strangers to Fiasco. I had the very distinct pleasure of playing Fiasco with Jason Morningstar, who wrote the game. We basically was the ref and aide for two different groups of us who were playing the game and would jump in from time to time as an NPC. I would highly recommend checking out one of the Minions actual play podcasts of the game, since its so easy to follow and is always highly entertaining.

The basic mechanic of Fiasco is the giving up of control. You can either stage a scene and have everyone else at the table resolve it for you, or have everyone stage a scene for you, and let you resolve it. What is best about Fiasco is that it's very non-geek friendly. You could easily play this with a bunch of non-geeks, family, or new initiates to role-playing.


If you are into indie games at all, you're probably familiar with this game. Dread is another diceless system that uses a Jenga tower as the mechanic. Each time you want to attempt something hard, instead of rolling, you pull from the Jenga tower. When the tower falls (and it will), your character is either dead or basically going to die very soon. If you knock over the tower of your own accord, you can at least determine the circumstances of your death, and you buy a free success.

The character creation for Dread is also top-notch. It consists of leading questions like, "Why are you afraid of water now?" "How did you recover from that terrible incident two years ago?" Stuff that makes you fill in interesting and engaging backstory.

All right folks, all for now. Next week, we talk about the Warmachines.

1 comment:

  1. Great to hear positive feedback for alpha wolf pack. Im looking forward to supporting it.