Channel your inner Han Solo with Evil Hat’s Scum and Villainy

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

Long since the days when renowned smuggler and scoundrel, Han Solo graced the silver screens in the first Star Wars movies, would pop culture be dazzled by the soon-to-be-iconic trope of the space cowboy. The trope would carry on into many films, television series, and books include such notables as Firefly, Dark Matter, the Expanse, Guardians of the Galaxy, and anime series like Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star. The “space western” genre grew from the space opera scene and told stories of anti-heroes or heroes with attitude in a cruel, unforgiving universe. With Evil Hat Production’s open-game license of Blades in the Dark into the Forged in the Dark branding, we are presented with a unique space adventure known simply as Scum and Villainy. The title pays homage to a particular line from Star Wars: A New Hope from the late Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Mos Eisley spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

Fans of Blades in the Dark will find familiar mechanics.

  • Progress clocks make a return with new additions like “race against the clock” and faction clocks for those pesky rivals.  
  • The game structure remains the same but includes new mechanics for upkeep to maintain your ship. The ship takes center stage compared to the lair from Blades.
  • Dice rolls and resolution remain unchanged but with twelve new actions for all the space heist high jinks.

The new things in Scum and Villainy include:

  • Seven new playbooks (or classes) that resemble typical sci-fi tropes such as the mechanic, the muscle, the scoundrel, and pilots. Essentially, all the critical roles from Joss Whedon’s Firefly if you wanted to be specific.

    The crew of the Serenity, Firefly
  • Armor to reduce to nearly lethal consequences.
  • The Way is the mystical energy that acts like magical ley-lines across the galaxy. What’s a space opera without some supernatural force that no one can explain? Did I mention there are cults for it too?

    When mysticism meets the weird, Outlaw Star
  • What’s a crew without their main attraction, the ship? Unlike the crew’s lair in Blades, in Scum and Villainy, the ship is a character too and requires upkeep to stay functional for your band of scoundrels to make their heists.
  • Rules for science and the strange mystic forces that bind the universe together. Everything from advanced tech, to elusive precursor races, and even the mystical Way.
  • Androids and drones. Sadly, you cannot be an Urbot character, but maybe in a future installment?

    Who wants to this upcoming Star Wars movie?
  • Speaking of advanced technology, crafting has a more significant role as a downtime activity. In many sci-fi series, you will always find someone tinkering away on a new device or modifying an existing one.
  • Is there honor among thieves? In Scum and Villainy, there are some added suggestions for crafting your trust mechanics along with tips for those massive spaceship battles. 

    Space battles!

Pre-orders for hardcover copies of Scum and Villainy are already underway with an expected shipping date in early August around the time of GenCon. Due to Evil Hat Production’s PDF purchase policy (something several indie publishers have started the practice), anyone who pre-orders the rulebook gets immediate access to the digital PDF so you can start playing right away. I adore this practice, and if you’re interested in Blades in the Dark, you can read the Forged in the Dark SRD and start your adventures with your motley crew of scoundrels and heathens trying to make a name for yourselves.

Scum and Villainy Preorder Link: https://www.evilhat.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79&products_id=336

Forged in the Dark SRD Link: https://bladesinthedark.com/

Gnine Gnomes your Game Gneeds

Gnome is one of my favourite Dungeons & Dragons races. I’ve played a gnome druid in a couple of one-shots, and I played as a gnome warlock in a Planescape mini-campaign.

Actually, I think everyone likes gnomes because the group I dungeon master for has had three gnome player characters as well as a number of svirfneblin (deep gnome) non-player companions.

 

I’ve made a list of Gnine Gnomes your Game Gneeds, so now everyone gets a gnome. You could use these as concepts for player characters or DMPCs non-player characters.

1. The gnome who always talks to animals.

This gnome prefers the company of small forest creatures over other humanoids. If you choose the forest gnome subrace, you automatically gain the ability to talk to small animals, so it wouldn’t matter what class you choose. However, I reckon it would make the most sense for this character to be a druid, ranger or barbarian.

2. The gnome who is always making contraptions.

This gnome is always working on a new invention during downtime. Rock gnomes can make a few simple mechanical devices. If your group is okay with it, I would suggest choosing a spellcasting class and re-flavouring each spell as a contraption. Invisible servant becomes an automaton, mage hand becomes go-go-gadget-hand, et cetera.

3. The gnome with the golden gun.

Because why the hell gnot? Actually, check if your group is okay with this one too, because, let’s face it, guns could really break the mood of some games. You could use the gunsmith subclass from the artificer playtest material or you could use Matt Mercer’s gunslinger class. I let one of my players go with the gunsmith, but maybe I shouldn’t have. If you do manage to convince everyone this is okay, I’d highly recommend saying that the gun is encrusted in gems and shoots slugs.

4. The thief who is just a little bit magical.

Choose the forest gnome for their ability to cast minor illusion. Another other option is to go svirf and choose the svirf magic feat. With either of these options, you can work your way up to a level 20 rogue (a.k.a. super sneaky boi) who is also just a little bit magical.

5. The gnome with a silly gname.

Gnomes often have ridiculously long, funny-sounding names. When you’re making your character, ask everyone in your life to put a few words into a hat. Pull a few out in a random order and stick them together to make your gnomish gname. Everyone is going to love Spongespindle Wafflebadger.

6. The gnome who likes to do jokes and pranks.

I think either a rogue with the arcane trickster subclass or an illusionist wizard would lend itself to gnomish mischief.

7. The gnome sculptor.

This gnome is a bard from the college of whispers, who sculpts small, grotesque effigies of others in order to mess with their minds, playing on every insecurity.

8. The gnome who the rest of the party doesn’t know about.

This character is probably a svirfneblin rogue using the svirfneblin magic feat. This gnome might be secretly following the party in order to protect them and keep them out of trouble. Or they might be stalking them, looking for the perfect moment for an ambush.

9. The gnome who makes traps.

If the rest of your group is okay with it, you could choose a spellcasting class and reflavour some spells (eg. acid splash, poison spray, web) to represent traps.

 

Why you should be excited for Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th edition

by Ex_Libris85   Twitch   Twitter 

 

Cubicle 7’s release of the next installment of the popular Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game is imminent and we over here at Encounter Roleplay couldn’t be more excited. Warhammer’s grim and dark fantasy world of survival and corruption holds a special place in our hearts.

Here is why we are excited:

 

They are keeping a lot of the things that make the game great

The D100 percentile system returns as well as the recognizable Warhammer stat block. This is a very well rounded and well-thought-out block that served the previous editions well for decades.

Careers are also making a comeback as they are one of the most unique things about Warhammer RPG. They help immerse the player in the world and allow for more nuanced character choices.

She is lucky her GM lets her pick instead of roll

 

They are making smart changes to the stat block

Something new is the addition of a “dexterity” stat. This is to stand out from “agility” which is general acrobatics and ability to move and dodge quickly, while dexterity is more about meticulous and delicate work with the hands, like lock picking or jewelry crafting.

This is an agility check and not dexterity

 

Combat is more interactive

Combat in previous editions of Warhammer was brutal and very tactical, but suffered from several problems, the biggest of which was both players and enemies missing round after round.

To alleviate this Cubicle 7 has created the “advantage” system, which lets the combatant gain bonuses to their rolls, and by making a single attack action opposing rolls between both combatants. In a round of combat attacker and defender both roll against weapon skill and measure success. If attacker wins he does damage and gains advantage, if defender wins no damage is done and he gains advantage.

Artist’s depiction of 2nd edition combat encounter

 

 

GMs have more freedom on resolving player actions and rolls

The designers have created 3 separate ways to help keep the pace of the game up while allowing for complexity of action.

  • Simple pass/fail

Sometimes the best way to resolve an action with a possibility of failure is to just roll and see if you make it or not.

That’s a fail

  • Degrees of failure/success

Things such as climbing a rope on a tower, if you fail do you fall? Or rather how far do you fall? If you succeed do you simply make it to the top or do you make it up so quick you can gain a surprise attack on the wizard at the top?

When you make a low roll on a D100

  • GM Fiat

Need to make a 4 ft jump? Do you have both legs? Okay you pass, no need to get dice involved here.

mom get the camera

 

 

 

I think Cubicle 7 have nailed the sweet spot of keeping the spirit of the popular older editions while making important updates to the ruleset that make things a bit smoother to play.

I am incredibly excited for my character to be burned at the stake for religious heresy and thank you to Cubicle 7 for bringing the game I love into the modern age.

The Mountain Witch is a Samurai RPG of Trust & Betrayal

What I love most about Kickstarter is finding new RPG projects being designed brought into the world, but what I also about Kickstarter is that it serves as an excellent platform for other tabletop RPGs to get the chance to be crowdfunded for reprints or even new editions. This presents opportunities for indie RPG authors and game designers to reintroduce their games during this tabletop renaissance. With so many indie RPGs out there, finding them all or knowing all of them is quite a feat. So when I stumbled upon Timonth Kleinert’s Kickstarter for the second edition of Mountain Witch, I was intrigued by the medieval Japanese setting, the mention of the horror and noir genre, and this daring assault against a powerful mountain witch.

Mountain Witch is a self-contained roleplaying adventure where players assume the roles of ronin, or masterless samurai, that accept a deal to assault the dreaded O-Yanma, the Mountain Witch of Mount Fuji. The game utilizes primarily a six-sided (d6) die to resolve conflicts across gameplay. Typically, players declare their intent through a freeform narrative, where contested rolls are done with a single d6, the winner gains control of the story, while the losing die is used to subtract from the value of the winning die to determine degrees of freedom to measure the overall success for the winning character. I genuinely enjoy this mechanic as a way to bridge the concept of contested rolls, which keeps the game dynamic but also present a method to determine degrees of freedom to reward and incentivize the storytelling. Unlike typical RPGs where characters test their skills and gain progression through gameplay, the Mountain Witch assumes competent characters and instead implies that under normal circumstances the characters to be able to perform any reasonable action within their ability. Conflict in this game is more of a conflict of interest between characters. The degrees of success grants players the metaphor of two samurais in a duel to the death with one strike for one kill.

In a game where character death is very probable over the course of gameplay, Kleinert skillfully incorporates a meta-game mechanic referred to as Trust wherein even dead player characters (PCs) can accrue this currency to continue influencing the narrative. Trust as a currency grants a player influence over another character’s conflict rolls. Additionally, it is given by a character to be on them in a future conflict, which is a very dangerous double-edged sword that invites betrayal. At specific points in the story, players rate how much their character trusts other members of this company. At character creation, players designate one of six grim fates for their character that act as open-ended descriptions that reveal a samurai’s past while providing ulterior motives. Both the Fates and Trust mechanic create a tense atmosphere where the samurai characters must trust one another to survive but cannot trust all of them for they all have ulterior motives.

The current Kickstarter campaign has already met their $10,000 USD funding goal which will produce a published instruction book of the game with full-color illustrations, and the ability to provide game cards that contain the dark fates and zodiac signs to be used during character creation. Additional stretch goals, which at the time of this article have been achieved, include other writers to contribute a few chapters and instructional videos on GMing the game. Some of the sections include commentary and alternate settings and rule variants. After purchasing a digital PDF of the game for myself, I look forward to the updated version and have my physical copy to add to my RPG collection.  

Kickstarter link: http://kck.st/2LocRrI

 

Elements – The Guild of Windmill

"Is it worth it? Should we allow these wizards such free reign in our lands simply because we are lazy? And what happens to the wind? Do they destroy it?"

Founded by the great wizard Alphonze, the Guild of Windmill holds the secret to harnessing the power of wind to preform tasks that would take your average unskilled laborer many hours to do themselves. It is for this that any village for whom the Guild decide to bestow their strange, magical towers upon find themselves incredibly grateful and pay significant funds to the magicians for their great services.

While the villagers are allowed to work the windmills, much of their inner workings remain a great mystery, requiring the services of the great Guild to keep maintained. Entering the inner chambers of the towers requires a person capable of great magics to protect themselves from the errant energies that turn Nature’s great wind into milling energy. Also, any non-guild member entering said chambers is liable to incarceration, and sometimes death if it is believed that person has been “contaminated” by the magics inside. The knights are known as the Staring Steel by most local populations for their vigils of staring at windmills day and night.

This leads to some questions: if the windmills are so dangerous, why should they be allowed in their towns? Alphonse himself has assured the populace that as long as the common folk do not enter the forbidding chambers that they shall be fine, that the lumber cut from only the most magical forests protects them from the energies inside. But it does not protect them from curiosity. And for that reason, knights are deployed from the guild to patrol their towers, to watch over them and ensure their safety. And also to make sure the locals pay their dues, rent, and maitanence fees.

These windmills require three things before they are built in any town. The first is ample wind, which is converted into milling energy through the windmill’s tower. The second is permission from the local governer, lord, or shaman. The third is is a significant donation to the Guild. Once that has been completed you too can have your own windmill!

 

Important members of the Guild of Windmill

Guss T’blohard – Current leader of the Guild, said to be able to talk for hours without ever taking in a breath. Most would rather pay the man rather than converse with him due to his generally unpleasant nature. Alphonze finds this to be a boon to the buisness, although the great wizard has not been seen in his company for many years.

Bre Z’fan – Captain of the Staring Steel and Dues. Shrewd both in money and manpower, Captain Z’fan knows how to keep the Guild running on the least amount of resources possible. Her knights are often under appreciated and ill equipped, often leading to malnourishment and dillusions. They are then promptly fired and filled in with fresh recruits looking to make an easy silver.

Donald Quote – A local knight in a small village, Sir Quote is certain that something about the windmill is trying to communicate with him. He watches it dilligently, hoping that the purpose of the whisperings will be revealed. He hopes that this happens before he is driven insane and tears into the mill himself to discover the mystery. His trusty horse Gunther is his only other friend.

Enjoy Elements? Let Ethan know on Twitter (@superrobotbear)! He’d love to hear from you and what sort of stories you have. Or if you are interested in his other works, including a dnd5e module or a podcast about RPG shows, you can find it all over on linktr.ee/superrobotbear.

SOURCES OF THE UNKNOWN: Delta Green

SOURCES OF THE UNKNOWN

 

MICHAEL BERTOLINI

 

DELTA GREEN: THE ROLE-PLAYING GAME

DELTA GREEN: THE ROLE-PLAYING GAME (includes The Agent’s Handbook and The Handler’s Guide) by Dennis Detwiller, Adam Scott Glancy, Christopher Gunning, Kenneth Hite, Shane Ivey, and Greg Stolze for Arc Dream Publishing [$99.99 PDF (on sale at time of writing for $49.98)] WATERMARKED PDF

 

Born of the U.S. government’s 1928 raid on the degenerate coastal town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts, the covert agency known as Delta Green opposes the forces of darkness with honor but without glory. Delta Green agents fight to save humanity from unnatural horrors—often at a shattering personal cost.

In Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game, the players are those agents. They fight to save human lives and sanity from threats beyond space and time. Delta Green’s percentile-based rules are compatible with 20 years’ worth of Delta Green scenarios and sourcebooks.  In my opinion and experience, it is always good for creators to make their systems backwards compatible when updating rule books; people can’t always afford to buy new material for their games (I’ve also bought earlier system rule books that I’ve seen on sale and converted them myself to current rules).

Two books are included in this game set from Arc Dream Publishing; the Agent’s Handbook and the Handler’s Guide.  While expensive, most game masters that I know prefer to own all of the system books and putting the entire game into one bundle is useful.

The Agent’s Handbook includes rules for creating agents, including dozens of professions that the players can utilize, rules for players to survive in a tense, horrific world, and information on some PCs that the players may encounter.

The Handler’s Guide is meant to be used by the game-master to lead the agents.  The book includes a history of Delta Green, horror-fueled rituals that connect it to the world created by H.P. Lovecraft, rules for creating monsters, guidelines for creating worlds, and a ready-to-play adventure to get started.  It is important to note that Delta Green is NOT meant to be use as part of the Call of Cthulhu game by Chaosium; the rules from one game system are not necessarily compatible with the other (though, if you have the time and patience, anything is possible).

Arc Dream Publishing has also released several Delta Green adventures including ‘Night at the Opera’, ‘Music from a Darkened Room’, and ‘Viscid’.  The entire Delta Green game, including this bundle and a variety of adventures, is available for download at drivethrurpg.com.

 

This series will give you insight into games and expansions that you might not have ever heard of before.  Most of these titles are exclusive to certain online retailers and can be applied to games that you currently play or add more to your home-brew games.  If you know of a book or game that’s just released or about to be released let me know on Twitter; @mbertolini

 

Step into the Dystopian Universe in Evil Hat’s Uprising

Step into the Dystopian Universe in Evil Hat’s Uprising

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

The classic and iconic tropes in dystopian, cyberpunk settings tend to have an oppressed populace ruled by nearly untouchable leaders with a growing band of freedom fighters that form an underground movement in the hopes of liberating the world. One of the most iconic board games, The Resistance by Indie Boards & Cards, has made considerable headway in the tabletop board game arena. Later games such as Coup and One Night Revolution expanded the board games’ setting to the current presentation of Uprising: the Dystopian Universe RPG. Like other DU games, there will be government agents and cunning spies, along with iconic caveats such as trust and betrayal, and combating the institutions of the world hellbent on quelling a populace full of unrest and rebellion. Uprising utilizes the Fate Core RPG system with players assuming the roles of characters behind the game cards or creating their own to form their core members of the resistance against their corporate overlords.

According to the Kickstarter description, character archetypes are based on familiar DU cards (based off Coup: Rebellion G54), some playsheets are modeled after particular archetypes or tropes that players can assume but provides apparent customization to personalize the experience. While familiar Fate mechanics will be seen in this game, new ones have been included as well, such as secrets (which is an integral part of the Dystopian Universe setting), new downtime activities to utilize accumulated Fate points, new actions, and an advancement system using character-specific goals to mark milestones. Such goals may cause characters to clash with one another, which only adds more to the story.

Backers have instant access to a preview PDF that contains all of the text found in the finished book but lacks most of the artwork. Having read the document myself, I found the setting to expressed vividly and yet familiar, for someone who has played many of the Dystopian Universe games. One noticeable difference from traditional Fate Core rules would the be character/playsheets. Unlike other Fate games with a wide array of skills, four main skills or actions grant modifiers when rolling Fudge dice. There are new conditions such as compromised, blacklisted, or marked for death; death is a common occurrence in the DU setting according to the disclaimer at the very front of the book. There are nine character playsheets divided into three categories which players can select and customize. Players choose secret cards into a secrets deck, and the GM adds spy cards to it; afterward, players draw two cards from this makeshift deck and pick one of them to be used as their secret during gameplay. Each playsheet has five unique stunts and players can choose two of them at the start of character creation. Like most Fate games, players and their GMs spend time setting up details for the Resistance before moving onto developing the oppressive government the players will fight.

Backer rewards include a digital download of the rulebook PDF at $20 USD with a hardcover copy at $35 USD with a planned shipped date in late 2018. The project is already fully funded and is in the process of unlocking stretch goals. Presently, backers will have a print-on-demand copy of the secrets deck included with their rewards from DriveThruCards. Additional supplements for a corporate catalog, hotspots, and safe houses are also added as digital rewards for all backers. The promise of more stretch goals provides an excellent incentive to spread the word and bring this game to more eyes. If you’ve been a long time fan of the Dystopian Universe board game series from Indie Boards & Cards, you will not want to miss this opportunity to snag a copy of Uprising using a system that provides depth in a beginner-friendly system for any potential Game Master.

Uprising: Dystopian Universe RPG Kickstarter link: http://kck.st/2GFQCPx

Digital Dragons, Synth Wave & neon lights – Enter the Retroverse D&D Campaign Setting

Digital Dragons, Synth Wave & neon lights – Enter the Retroverse D&D Campaign Setting

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

There’s a certain appeal for neon lights, electro/synthetic wave music, and the sound of dial-up: all were products of a bygone era. Those who grew up during this period or even shortly after that may often develop nostalgia for the brightly colored and often futuristic aesthetic. The idea to bridge iconic fantasy elements such as Dungeons & Dragons and this retro-futuristic style leads us to the Retroverse, a D&D 5e compatible campaign setting. Created by Chris Lock (@snickelsox) and Lluis Abadias Garcia (@LluisAbadias), the Retroverse is primarily inspired by the music, games, books, movies, and fashions between the 70’s and the early 2000’s. Narratively, the Retroverse is a world where old memories of poorly remembered songs, lost childhoods, terribly cheesy styles have gone to be forgotten. While utilizing many of the core aspects of the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition ruleset, it does possess a series of unique core classes tailored to the feeling and style of the setting. Currently, the Retroverse is undergoing development and test trials, with a recent sample of the game on YouTube. According to their website, the Kickstarter for the Retroverse is expected to launch on April 10th, 2018.

I was granted a sneak peek into this nostalgic yet unique world, include some playtest material which showcased some of the new races and classes players could use to create their heroes of the Retroverse. The playtest materials add new rules and mechanics, along with creatures, items, and even a short campaign to sample. Some of the iconic races included the wolf-like Wo’nari, the anthropomorphic dinosaur Cerans which range from Tri-Cerans, Sty-Cerans, and Pa-Cerans. Dragonborn receive new variants available only in the Retroverse which are separated by four types: Neon, Laser, Xenon, and Tesla.

For the playtest, the De-Fragger, Goreangyr, Holo-Knight, and Synth Weaver were available to be reviewed. The De-Fragger is a champion against digital corruption. They are a half-caster class that shares mechanical similarities to a Paladin but with the durability of a Barbarian. You may attribute this class to be the system antivirus software for your computer. The Holo-Knight is another half-caster warrior class that can create holographic weapons on demand, if you’re a big fan of Green Lantern or the Fate/Stay anime series, you will feel right at home. The Synth Weaver is a blend of bard and rave music, calling up the flavor of being a roller-blading disc jockey rhythm enthusiast. Thinking back to the 90’s, one cannot forget the nostalgia of Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which was an Americanized adaptation of Toei’s Super Sentai series, and we are presented the Goreangyr class. Combining the notion of a familiar or animal companion with a class that becomes empowered with a real costume change, and a tremendous sized mechanical robotic ally, this particular character class hits all sorts of nostalgia buttons for me.

One of the new mechanics implemented in the world of the Retroverse is the breakdown of digital matter called corruption, and it causes effects that resemble code decay, dissemination, and just an overall unpleasant experience. The playtest also featured new spells that thematically fit within this vibrant universe, including spells such as party ball or Mom’s spaghetti to name a few. A short campaign was included and hits all the buttons of nostalgia with callbacks and references from the 80’s and 90’s. The monsters in the Retroverse are diverse and exemplary such as pizza cubs or even karma chameleons (yes, I kid you not).

The Retroverse is a love letter to some of the favorite time periods of the many gamers and players within the tabletop RPG community but also an excellent introduction for newer players to a world of bright colors, cheesy puns, and fantastical combinations like laser velociraptors. As the Kickstarter campaign’s launch date approaches, more material will be unveiled by Chris and Lluis, along possible playtest streams. Interested backers can currently sign up on their website Lasers & Liches for a newsletter.

YouTube link: https://youtu.be/ilEursS85R8

Lasers & Liches Website: https://www.lasersandliches.com/

 

From Breaking Bad to Narcos – Welcome to Cartel RPG

From Breaking Bad to Narcos – Welcome to Cartel RPG

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

Step into a world of danger, drama, and narcotics in Mark Diaz Truman’s Cartel RPG, a Mexican narcofiction tabletop game. In Cartel, players assume the roles of narcos, their spouses, and even dirty cops tied to a drug cartel in Mexico in the mid-2000s. It’s a dangerous game of drugs, money, and power. The game is inspired by adult fiction such as Breaking Bad, The Wire, and El Mariachi which captivates fans of crime dramas and Mexican melodramas. Previously published as a 50-page preview for Gen-Con 2015, Cartel is now officially ready to be released as a finished product, full-colored and packed with stunning art.

Using the Powered by the Apocalypse engine in its core, Cartel has the mechanics and narrative flexibility to tell tragic stories with a sense of dark humor within the backdrop of what seems like an eternal drug war. Powered by Apocalypse is used in other RPG systems such as Apocalypse World, Urban Shadows, Bluebeard’s Bride, and more. Players take a playbook, which consists of their character sheet and relevant archetypes. Each character has a distinct role, each packed with their mechanical abilities and narrative choices. The base game includes six playbooks, with possibly more pending stretch goals. At the time of this article, three additional playbooks will be added to the game with a possible fourth soon. Truman assures backers that Cartel can facilitate a variety of ways to play, whether it be short or long-term campaigns. The game sports a key-advancement system within their playbooks, each key provides a condition to earn experience points and advancement but at the cost of losing the key. By fluctuating their keys, players can tailor their characters by adjusting how they earn experience points. The campaign provides a quick start PDF on their Kickstarter page for interested backers to review the content and embrace the visual aesthetics of the setting.

According to Truman, Cartel allows players to tell compelling, tense stories through character actions that inevitably ends in a possibly bloody climax. If you’re a fan of other tabletop games such as Fiasco or have seen any of the previous television dramas listed, most of those do not always end with happy endings. Admittedly, Truman was inspired by an episode of Breaking Bad, as it featured his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. After completing Urban Shadows, Truman expressed his wish to create a game with a connection to his Latino roots. In the end, Cartel serves to tell a story of the drug war from the perspective of the Mexican people and capture the sprawling human moments amidst the War on Drugs.

Besides the Cartel core rulebook, the Kickstarter also offers the Amigos y Enemigos NPC supplement. Both can be acquired at the $20 pledge level, along with all stretch goals from the campaign. Additionally, backers can pledge $150 for a unique edition cover of Cartel which contains the exclusive print of El Aguila y El Serpiente CIA supplement. Additionally, a location deck can be purchased as an add-on or included in higher pledges which provide details of the setting within Mexico without any gratuitous foreknowledge or prep on the Game Master.

Quick Start link: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/225344/Cartel-Quickstart

Kickstarter link: http://kck.st/2FmP8G1

Pathfinder Playtest

Pathfinder Playtest

It’s ten years on from when the original Pathfinder playtest began in 2008, and Paizo are about to start the process all over again. The playtest for Pathfinder 2nd Edition will begin on August 2 this year. In the meantime, Paizo are previewing some of the features of the new iteration.

I think it makes sense to develop a new ruleset at this point because the pool of people who play tabletop roleplaying has changed (it’s become larger and broader). I think that’s partly because of the accessibility of Dungeons & Dragons’ 5th Edition rules, which I think have lowered the barrier to entry for many people, myself included. I think the original Pathfinder rules still create a high barrier to entry, like previous editions of D&D. It sounds like Paizo wants to make sure Pathfinder 2nd Edition is more easily accessible while still offering plenty of crunch.

So what do we know at this stage? Alchemists will be included from the start as one of twelve iconic classes. Goblins will also be included as an option for player characters from the outset. I think that makes a lot of sense since goblins are one of the most recognisable things about Pathfinder. 10th-level spells will also be included from the beginning.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition will focus on exploration and encounters (encounters means combat, punctuated by breaks for downtime. Hazards such as traps, poisons and diseases will be more dangerous. There’ll be traps that player character have to actively fight against in order to survive. Rangers will also have the ability to set traps. It should also be easier for game masters to design or modify monsters.

In the leadup to the beginning of the playtest, Paizo are publishing regular previews on their blog. Here’s what I’ve gleaned from them so far:

Actions

In this new ruleset, Paizo is trying to simplify actions. In combat, player characters will be able to take three per turn. If they choose to they can use all their actions to move or use all of them to attack. (If you use all your actions to attack, the attacks will grow progressively less accurate, though.) Most spells take two actions to cast, but some only take one – so I’m guessing player characters will be able to cast two spells in a turn if they have a one-action spell available? Player characters also get one reaction (such as making a classic attack of opportunity) each round, which can be used outside their turn if the circumstances are correct.

Levelling up

In Pathfinder 2nd Edition, player characters will level up whenever they earn another 1000 experience points, and there will be choices to make each time. Every time a character levels up they will have the opportunity to choose feats rather than getting set abilities. The feats a player chooses for their character will determine that character’s abilities and actions. It sounds like there will be a lot of options from the beginning. Paizo say they’ve created a formatting system which should make it easy to see what feats do with just a glance. If a player changes their mind about the feats they’ve chosen for their character, they will have the option of retraining.

If you want to participate in the playtest you will be able to download the playtest rulebook and the playtest adventure Doomsday Dawn on August 2 2018. If you want to make sure you get your paper copies, you will be able to preorder from March 20 (that’s Tuesday next week). Pathfinder 2nd Edition will officially launch in August 2019.

By Chris Booth Twitter  Instagram  Website

Sources of the Unknown: Xanthar’s Guide To Everything Else

SOURCES OF THE UNKNOWN

 

MICHAEL BERTOLINI

 

This series will give you insight into games and expansions that you might not have ever heard of before.  Most of these titles are exclusive to certain online retailers and can be applied to games that you currently play or add more to your home-brew games.  If you know of a book or game that’s just released or about to be released let me know on twitter; @mbertolini

 

XANTHAR’S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING ELSE

This sourcebook provides a plethora of scribbles, scrolls, and schemes curated by Volothamp Geddarm’s protégé, Aladair, pilfered from Xanathar prior to publication of his Guide to Everything. Presented in the crime syndicate’s unique style, including a high fashion collector’s cover, the DMs Guild Adepts bring you new player options, including subclasses for every class, backgrounds, magic items, a race, DM rules options, and an adventure!

This book, written by several members of the DMs Guild, is an expansion on what the DM and players can do, further expanding on other supplemental material.  The book includes 25 subclasses, 5 new backgrounds, 1 new race (Feyblood), 6 new rules exclusively for DMs, and a plethora of new magical items to be used.

It has been available since the holiday season and remains one of the latest releases in the DMs Guild D&D Adept League.  This book is available for download AND/OR physical purchase at DMsGuild.com.

 

GOING BEYOND THE GAME: PLASTIC OR PAPER

GOING BEYOND THE GAME

 

PLASTIC OR PAPER

MICHAEL BERTOLINI

With the growing popularity of web servers like Roll20 there is something to be said concerning the use of visuals in some tabletop RPGs; especially focused on the use of miniatures.  Games that were traditionally pen and paper are blending with games of miniature armies.  I’m not going to attempt to discuss the merits of that evolution in this article; however, what I am going to talk about is this: if you choose to use miniatures in your tabletop game, should you use plastic miniatures or paper miniatures?

I’m of the opinion that the deciding factor in your choice will come down to one thing: cost; the cost of the miniatures, the cost of supplies, and the cost of time.  The cost of plastic miniatures amounts to price of the miniature (which can range anywhere between a few dollars and a little time to most of your paycheck and a week’s time) versus paper miniatures which amounts to the cost of cardstock and something to weigh the miniature down like a washer.

You may choose plastic miniatures because paper miniatures may be good for your home but aren’t allowed in most public tournaments; keep that in mind.  When starting out, consider buying pre-painted plastic miniatures.  You can buy new miniatures with a fair amount of ease but the cost of a handful could be well over $10.  I recommend buying them used; they might not be current but they’re still legal for most public use.  You can also get a lot of miniatures for the same price you would have just been able to get a few.

If you’re experienced in the art of painting on such a small scale consider buying an unpainted miniature or a miniature from a different game and rebasing it.  There are plenty of videos online regarding painting miniatures and rebasing miniatures from other games, so I won’t get into it here; just know that if you choose to paint miniatures, you will be able to customize them as you need (in the event that you’re building a small army, this might be appealing).  Unpainted miniatures are available at various price points, plastic cheaper than metal.

If you’re building a large force to use at home, or the miniature you’re looking for is too expensive to justify, consider paper miniatures.  Unless blessed with extreme artistic talent and an enormous amount of free time you’ll be limited in what you can create by the imagination of others.  I won’t go into the details concerning how to make paper miniatures (suffice it to say you need a good printer), there are videos available on Youtube for that; the overall cost is minimal.  If you’re on a strict budget, and you already possess the essential items needed to make paper miniatures, this is the way to go.

In the end, do what suits you best.  If you don’t want miniatures anywhere near your gaming table, don’t bother with either option; but if you do want miniatures, cost will determine what route you take.  If you want my advice, consider plastic miniatures (that you’ve painted, if you can invest the time) for important characters like PCs and often-used NPCs; make paper miniatures for bulk usage like filler NPCs and low-level enemies.  There’s no rule saying that you must choose one over the other, do whatever suits you best and works best for you.

 

This article is part of a series I’ll be writing concerning what other approaches to take to role playing games; if you have any ideas or things that I should look at, let me know on Twitter (and if you do some of your own crafts related to gaming, feel free to share photos): @mbertolini