RPG-a-Day: Day 27

What are your essential tools for good gaming?

Image result for writingI’m thinking of this in that “You are on a desert island and you only have essential tools” sort of way.

It would have to be writing materials of some kind.  I think that would be even more important than things like randomizers.  Randomizers you can make out of coconuts or fish bones or something, but stuff to keep records with is far harder to produce (although, take just a moment and imagine the Lascaux cave paintings as a chronicle of some group’s RPG campaign – it’s pretty awesome!)

“Crit. for 27 pts. damage!  You’re dead Bob, and for God’s sake wear pants next time!”

I’m not really a big fan of bells and whistles.  Since I run mostly a) online where physical tools are not all that useful, or b) at conventions where any tools I decide to bring I have to lug around all weekend, I really prefer to go minimal whenever possible.  I am partial to good quality character sheets though – particularly when I can get the players to actually fill them out and update them…  wait, that never happens*.  I think mostly it is a holdout from the old days of complex character sheets when there was so much technical information about the character that as GM I needed a standardized place to look for the information.

Image result for GM screen

After character sheets I love a good GM screen.  Again I think its largely a throwback to the days when there were a million zillion charts to keep track of and it was nice to have them all in front of me.  These days I like the GM screens that you can slide charts and tables into.  I honestly find the layout of a lot of GM screens to be baffling – they frequetly have charts and tables that I never use featured prominently, and charts and tables that I DO use crunched down in a corner on the lower right side.  They also waste up to 50% of their available space putting a big illustration on one side announcing the name of the game system – which totally makes for an awesome photograph of me as GM with my head poking above the illustration at conventions, but is USELESS for anything other than my ego.

While I am on the subject, let me just give some Kudos to Green Ronin, which actually supplies some extra double-sided, laminated charts for Mutants and Masterminds that are suitable for putting into those plastic table sign standie things.  This was an act of sheer genius that I am surprised hasn’t been widely copied.  Even if you don’t want to invest in plastic table sign standie things, most conventions now have them sitting around holding table signs, and you can easily procure a couple for your convention game.  I invested in some, and one of the big reasons that I am running “League of Extraordinary Felines” at Big Bad Con this year in the Mutants and Masterminds 5th system is that I can plunk those charts on the players side of the GM screen and everyone at the table can have access to them without having to flip through books or squint at the screen.  Damn that was a fine idea.


*My beloved wife is a notable exception to this.  As a player, I confess that I am not.

Big Bad Con 2017 – Making Plans

Image result for Big Bad Con 2017

I have submitted my games for Big Bad Con 2017.  This year I decided that instead of trying to run a variety of games in the different time slots I would pick one game and run it twice as my scheduled game, and pick two games and offer them twice for Games on Demand.  This means half the work of previous years, when I tried to prepare two games for the schedule, and four games for GoD duty, but I will need to put in extra effort to make sure that what I run is worthy of being run twice.

Scheduled Game:  League of Extraordinary Felines – 1854

Last year my League of Extraordinary Felines game went well and I wound up running it twice, so I thought I might as well make it official this year.  For those who do not recall, League of Extraordinary Felines is a game about super-powered cats who serve Queen Victoria in a somewhat steampunky England.  Last year had the League defending England’s first cat show from the Cheshire Cat and a mind-controlled Charles Babbage.  This year the League takes on ghoulies, gheisties, and other supernatural threats when the newly opened London Necropolis Railway Company starts experiencing weird paranormal phenomena.


I’ll once again be running this using Mutants and Masterminds 3rd edition.  Most people are familiar with D20 systems in general, and it is pretty easy for me to take on the responsibility of telling players what happens for those not familiar with the M&M system specifically.  This year I will also remember to bring the plastic standies so I can put all the charts on the table for the players to refer to.  Finally, I hope to have actual paper minis this year for all the members of the League and their opponents.  Since I can build upon last year, and I already have the characters made, I should have plenty of time to do bells and whistles this year.

(I am also hoping to convince my very talented wife to do a group portrait of the League, but we’ll see).

GoD Duty I:  War of Ashes – Fate of Agaptus

Since Mutants and Masterminds is a rather crunchy system, I decided that for GoD duty I wanted to run games that were easy for me.  I considered something powered by the apocalypse, but in the end decided to go for Fate games because 1) a lot of people know them, 2) they are easy to teach to people who don’t, 3) Fred Hicks is an awesome individual who has been very kind to Sophie and I, 4) Sophie works for them (nepotism for the win!).

For the first of the two possible games, I selected War of Ashes – Fate of Agaptus.  Sophie and I both worked on the game (it was her baby, but I helped a little), I was involved in playtesting it, and we have two boxes of WoA minis kindly donated by Zombiesmith that were used for Sophie’s games to promote the product.  All these factors will make it easy for me to write up a scenario, and the minis should make it visually exciting to play.  Plus I can just use the main characters from the book (Rustica Bibulus, Iva the Stubborn and her fawn Kuri, Ulf Long-Tooth, and throw in Bura Bibulus Ven Proudheart if I want a fifth character).  I even have minis for them all!

Image result for War of Ashes

GoD Duty II – Ehdrigohr

This Fate game produced by Council of Fools focuses on a dark fantasy setting based loosely on Native American mythology and culture.  We have had the game for awhile now, but I have never tried to run it and thought that this would be my opportunity to finally do so.

Ehdrigohr departs in several places from the core Fate system, and has extensive background material to the setting, magic system, etc.  As such it is almost certainly the game I will spend the most time on for the convention, both to master the setting (the core book is 346 pages long, and you know that the rules section for Fate isn’t that extensive, so there is a lot of flavor and setting there) to get comfortable with the rules variations, and to come up with interesting characters that work well together (starting with a decision on which of the nine tribes to include as Player Characters and which to exclude – or alternately the decision to include nine pregenerated characters and let players pick).  There’s also setting jargon to master.

But it looks like a lot of fun to play and run in, so I am willing to give it a whirl.  Particularly since I am saving myself a lot of effort by running the same games twice, I feel like I can afford to tackle something a little bigger and more complex than I usually want to run at a convention.

Image result for ehdrigohr rpg

So there you have it in sum – the games I am going to run at Big Bad Con this year.  I hope that they pique the interest of players and attendees, and help provide Big Bad Con with a small amount of the diverse and colorful gaming opportunities for which it is well known.

Misha B

Just your friendly neighborhood ego striker.

ED WRITES STUFF (and nonsense)

I used to have a lot of blogs. Now I have one.

monochrome moments

a view through a black and white window

Ming Wang Photography

Memory to Remember

Ed Writes Poetry

Words on a webpage

Doubting Mark

An atheist's adventures in a land of faith

Living Sustainably

Sustainable living in the 21st Century

The Reef

An aging geek girl's personal blog

Pastor Chris Owens - - Musings, Rants, and Reflections

My thoughts on following Jesus in the here and now

Art for the Sake of Art

The Art Club Site