30 Days of RPG a Day in One Day

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I’ve spent the last three days blitzing you with a series of articles – 15,000 words worth of articles – about how to sit down with your players and plan your campaign. And man, I’m f$&%ing beat. Today, I’m going to do something fun. For me. Hopefully it will be interesting for you. Let me explain.

About four years ago, writer and game designer David “@autocratik” Chapman came up with #RPGaDay on his design blog. Frustrated by the level of negativity in the online RPG community, he created a list of 31 questions about RPGs that gamers and bloggers could discuss. Positive s$&%. S$&% like favorite games and cherished memories and all of that sort of bulls$&%. Each of the questions was assigned to a particular day in the month of August. Hence #RPGaDay. He did it the following year too. And the next. And this year, he partnered with the RPG Brigade online community to create the RPG a Day website and gather all of the various discussions in one place. It’s pretty awesome.

Every f$&%ing year, I notice #rpgaday just a little too late to participate. Two or three weeks into August, I see it pop up in my social media feed and remember that it’s a thing. August also tends to be a busy month for me overall. Among other things, I attend GenCon every year. And that falls right in the middle of August. The one year I didn’t go to GenCon, I was busy moving across half the f$&%ing country and then got robbed shortly thereafter. And I’m always sad that I didn’t get to participate. Not sad in a pussy way. Sad in a manly way. Sad like you’d be sad if you spilled your beer on your favorite sports jersey and missed the Lesbian Motorcycle Championships because you had to go home to change. That kind of sad.

But, you know what? F$&% it. I’m doing it. I’m going to do it the way I do everything. Five f$&%ing minutes before the deadline, I’m going to crank out thirty days of work. That approach got me through high school. It got me through college. It kept me employed as an accountant. And it’s the one thing that actually ensures that I do manage to get four articles a month onto this website.

This is pure fun, though. I’m just going to bang out the answers. I’m not going to polish too much or edit too much, beyond making sure it’s f$&%ing readable. I’m just going to give you some unfiltered Angry. Because that’s what I want to do. And because the assignment is due today. Here we go.

August 1: What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?

First, let me just say that whenever I see the word “play,” I’m going to replace it with “run.” I don’t play. I’m far too clever and creative and witty and talented and sexy to be a player.

I could take the easy way out here since I’m not actually running any RPG right now. I’m typing a blog thing. And because I’ve been having a blast running Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition for an amazing group of my loyal Patreon supporters, I could just say I wish I was running a game for them right now. But that’s kind of a cop out. Truth be told, while D&D 5E is a decently fun incarnation of my favorite RPG, there’s things that do excite me more.

Due to my crappy planning and hectic schedule, there’s two things I missed trying at GenCon. And they are both related. So, let me say I wish I was running one of them right now. First, I’m curious about Paizo’s Starfinder. I have paid exactly zero attention to Starfinder. I only know it was a thing they were doing. And I am really curious what they did with it. What I’m hoping for is the sort of “dungeon-crawler in space” type adventure game I would love to use to run games about space adventurers fighting monsters in the vein of the Space Hunters in the Metroid universe. I will eventually check it out. But I haven’t yet.

By the same token, I also wanted to try Sasquatch games updated Alternity. Alternity was a generic sci-fi game released by TSR during its dying days. It was a really cool system that could be used to run a lot of different science fiction games. Near-future cyberpunk, science-fantasy, exploration-based space-opera, and even modern supernatural games. Considering Sasquatch includes one of the two people who actually developed the original Alternity, I’m very excited to see what they’ve done with it.

August 2: What is an RPG you would like to see published?

I could be flippant and say, “the RPG I am most definitely not developing myself,” but that’s not really in the spirit of this crap, is it. There is one RPG I would LOVE to run that doesn’t exist. I want a goddamned relic hunters game. And I have for years. What do I mean? Well, there was this SyFy series called Warehouse 13. It was actually based entirely on the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where the Ark of the Covenant is locked away in a secret government warehouse. The idea was that the government maintained a secret facility to store dangerous supernatural and extraterrestrial artifacts. Sadly, Warehouse 13 – while it had fun characters – was pretty poorly executed and did a lot I didn’t like. I always felt I could do it better. In RPG form.

Meanwhile, TNT produced a series of movies along the same line and turned them into a cute little TV series. You can check out the three Librarian movies, starting with Librarian: Quest for the Spear. I felt that did a lot of things better, but I still feel I could pull it off. And that is the RPG I’d like. I even started building one using the Cortex system that drove the Leverage RPG, but I never finished. Because, like every GM, I have more dream projects than I have time.

August 3: How do you find out about new RPGs?

Believe it or not, I’m bad at this. Really bad. I have very little knowledge of what’s going on in the RPG space beyond what the big players are doing. I know lots of independent publishers are doing lots of interesting things. But, to compare the RPG industry to the video game industry, I’m a console gamer and I’m into the big AAA titles. That isn’t to say I don’t check out other games. I do. I just tend to lag a few years behind everyone else. I tend to find out about new games on social media. And I tend to find out about them fairly late.

August 4: Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?

Dungeons & Dragons. Unsurprisingly.

August 5: Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

To be honest, I’m totally bad at this too. I had this conversation at GenCon. I just don’t notice art. I mean, it’s there and I see it, but I don’t really pay much attention to it. But out of curiosity, I started pulling out the rule-books on my game shelf and looking at the covers. And I noticed something. There’s basically only three types of covers among the various hardbacks I own. First, you have the “here’s some characters” cover that shows you a few of the characters you can make in the game. 13th Age and D&D’s 4th Edition Players Handbook are perfect examples. Here’s some characters. You can be those characters. The Deluxe Edition of Savage Worlds does the same thing. It has a knight and an astronaut. Second, you have the action scene. Well, the fighting scene, really. It’s always a fighting scene. Or it’s about to be a fighting scene. Shadow of the Demon Lord has a bunch of tiny characters about to kill an enormous, bloated demon. The Pathfinder Core Rules have PCs fighting a dragon. Shadowrun has a bunch of Shadowrunners fighting what appears to be a gang of corporate storm troopers led by a vampire and backed up by the ghost of a bug monster. In a cityscape. The third type of cover is one or more images of the world-and-or-universe. Numenera, for example, just has this landscape. The Strange has a montage of images from different alternate universes that exist in its world.

Of those three types of covers, I think action scenes capture things best. Static images of the world and static character images are both a load of bulls$&% when it comes to the “spirit” of an RPG. Because an RPG is about the actions of the characters, not stunning visual depictions. I don’t care what the game’s world and its people look like because it’s all going to be imagined in my head anyway. What do I care about is what the players will be doing in the world. And so, I’m giving the prize to the Shadowrun, 5th Edition Core Rulebook released in 2013 by Catalyst Game Labs. You’ve got a bunch of weird misfits in a shadowy alley using magic and guns and technoswords and drones and holographic computers to hold off supernatural monsters and corporate goons while a modern every-city looms over them imposingly and uncaringly. And one of the guys has pointed ears. Mother of f$&% did they get everything into that one picture.

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

Here’s a weird thing I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do. I want to run a five-part D&D adventure. But each part involves the descendants of the heroes from the previous adventure. And each part takes place in the same setting with time advanced a few decades or whatever. Sort of a Rogue Legacy setup. But, and this is the kicker, I want to run each adventure in a different edition of D&D. Sort of a weird meta march through time thing.

So that’s what I’d do if I could run a game every day for a week.

August 7: What was your most impactful RPG session?

So many. So, f$&%ing many. Emotions run hot and heavy in my games. Even though I’m just an action-focused, casual console-tard of gaming, my worlds have f$&%ing heart. And the problem is that explaining any of these sessions takes a lot of time because of the interconnection between the characters and the world. It’d be hard to explain the story of the monk’s lover who was discovered to be a doppelganger after she got killed helping the party escape from a rampaging monster. The impactful scene was not her death or the discovery that she had been a doppelganger. The impactful session came later when they rescued the original woman who had been replaced by the doppelganger only to discover that they had never met her. In the weeks, they had known the woman, and in the weeks in which the monk came to love her, she had been a doppelganger the entire time. And the party never learned what her true plot had been. The only thing they ever knew that, whatever her plans, she had given her life to help the monk save a bunch of kids. That session was so impactful because it made the players reexamine everything. They had assumed that the doppelganger had only replaced the girlfriend recently in a purposeful attempt to get close to them and had screwed up and overestimated her abilities when she joined the fight. They felt betrayed and heartbroken. The discovery that the doppelganger had been a doppelganger all along and that her plot apparently had nothing to do with the party and that her sacrifice may have been genuine changed everything.

I guess I did explain it okay.

August 8: What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

I like Dungeon World for this. It’s pretty easy to throw together a game and character generation takes a few minutes. But I hate to say that because Dungeon World – and all of the Apocalypse World games – have a fan base that I absolutely hate to interact with. I also find lots of people misunderstand the Dungeon World game and hold it up as a poster-child for how zero-prep gaming automatically leads to great stories. It’s pretty prep-lite, though. And it plays quick.

For the same reason, I also love a free game called Old School Hack. You can find it at OldSchoolHack.net. In some respects, it did Dungeon World before Dungeon World. Just with a lighter tone and less pretension. If Dungeon World stopped taking itself so f$&%ing seriously, it’d be Old School Hack. Fun as hell.

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

This is an interesting number because it’s about three months of weekly sessions. And three months is my target for playing anything that isn’t a one shot. Three months is a great length of time to test out a system. It’s a great length of time for an adventure path. It’s a great length of time for a campaign if you don’t want to commit to a big honking epic. Anything that doesn’t lend itself to ages and ages of campaign play is perfect for this sort of time slot. Given that, I could say almost anything here.

But, if I had three months to run an RPG, starting today, I’d run one of two things. Either I’d run a Star Wars game set between Episode IV and Episode V, ignoring the prequels and Disney’s recent garbage installments, and just focused on the Rebel Alliance in that time after the destruction of the Death Star when the Empire was retaliating and forcing the various Alliance cells on the defensive while the Alliance desperately tried to capitalize on that big victory and weaken the Empire. If not that game, I’d run Bruce Cordell’s The Strange.

August 10: Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I don’t read reviews, really. I prefer to judge games for myself. And the state of RPG reviews today is pretty awful and preachy and overly political. It’s so hard to find people who can just talk about mechanics and game design and setting details without preaching at me about how the game fits into their goddamned worldview. Like I give a f$&%.

August 11: Which ‘dead game’ would you like to see reborn?

TMNT. I would desperately love a modern remake of Eric Wujcik’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. Without involving Palladium or Kevin Simbieda. Because that game – and all of Palladium’s RPGs – was a mechanical mess that no one could figure out how to play right. Not even Simbieda. But, the game had a really awesome system for creating your own hero by starting from a template animal and mutating it. And it wasn’t heavy or overly complicated. I would love to see a creation system like that inside of a well-designed, modern action RPG. WITHOUT going f$&%ing overboard like Mutants and Masterminds or the HERO System did. Seriously, I just want to make a mutant hero without a goddamned spreadsheet.

August 12: Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

Shadowrun again. Seriously. That book is f$%&ing gorgeous.

August 13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

I know this is sort of a cop-out, but every game experience has changed how I play. And it’s really hard to look back and isolate one big learning experience. And, honestly, there’s a good lesson here. Forgive my digression while I wax poetic about the Myth of the Moment. Because it comes up in a lot of stories and RPGs and video games.

Character development in stories tends to focus on defining moments. Those big events that change everything about the character. Those moments that send the character down a completely different path. The ones that kick the story into gear. The ones that turn heels into faces and faces into heels. And that works in stories because stories are all about conflicts and a very direct cause and effect.

But people don’t really work that way. They think they do, but they do. Because our brains are wired to search for cause and effect as a survival tool, we try to distill our lives down into moments and their consequences. And that’s why our stories do that too. But the truth is, those moments are lies our brains tell themselves to make it easier to make sense of the world. I could say that my ending up in the hospital with diabetes and high blood pressure six years ago made me change my life. Lose weight, quit smoking, change my diet, start exercising, and so on. And, sure, it was a catalyst. But the fact of the matter is that if I hadn’t been in such a bad place to begin with, if I hadn’t been growing increasingly unsatisfied with myself, it would have been easy to go back to doing everything the way I did after a few weeks of good behavior. I’ve watched diabetics die doing exactly that. That moment is a myth. It’s an easy event I can point to in the story of my life. But if I’m honest with myself, I can see a lot of things that came before it that made me so miserable that that event wasn’t really THE Moment. It was just the last straw.

Real change is gradual. Big changes driven only by single moments don’t stick. They are like News Year’s Resolutions. Real change has to be driven by a growing weight of experiences, by ongoing and continuous self-examination. The way I run games today has been changing for thirty years. It’s been changing since I started running games. And I know it. But I don’t have any big revelatory moments I can point to and lie about. My GMing has never had a crisis moment. It’s never been in the hospital. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t evolved.

August 14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

Dungeons & Dragons. I know, easy answer. But it’s honest. I’ve run more D&D than anything else in my life. And D&D is great for long-running, adventure-of-the-week crap.

August 15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

I could say D&D again, but honestly, I’ve had this little side project going for a while now – that will probably never get finished – in Savage Worlds. Savage Worlds is a very fun game to adapt. It’s got a lot of tools.

August 16: Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

It might shock you to learn that, in my home games, I don’t make nearly as many permanent changes to the game system as my blog might imply. Sure, I do test out new rules and new systems, but I mostly just stick to games the way they are written and just polish the rough edges as I need to during play.

August 17: Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?

The Farscape RPG. So, Farscape was this weird series that came out of the Sci-Fi Channel before it was spelled SyFy. It was produced by Rockne S. O’Bannon and Jim Henson Studios. And it was hard to describe. It was a very character driven space-opera. I wouldn’t call it dark. Not entirely. But it was, at times, very raw. It had wonderful moments and it had terrible moments and it wasn’t afraid of emotions. Nor was it afraid of consequences. The problem was that it like to experiment. It liked to push the envelope. That meant that sometimes, it just didn’t work. Sometimes, it was just bizarre. Sometimes, it was outright disgusting. And sometimes, it was just stupid. I loved the series, but on the occasions when I rewatch it, I skip about a third of the episodes.

During the heyday of the d20 System and the Open Gaming License, everyone and their cousin was publishing their own d20 System. A lot of weird tie-in games appeared. As did a lot of clones and lookalikes. It was an era when anyone could publish a game easily and get it on store shelves. It was an era of crap. But it was also an era that gave birth to some big publishers today. Publishers like Green Ronin and Goodman Games and AEG.

Farscape was a d20 clone. It was a crappy TV show tie-in crammed into a file-the-serial-numbers-off version of D&D 3.5. And I bought it. And, the thing is, I would love to run it. As a short thing. Maybe a three-month thing. Not using the characters from the show. Just a different ensemble of characters on their own ship in the Uncharted Territories. But I never have. Mostly because I’ve never found three or four people who liked Farscape enough to know the universe and want to play in it.

August 18: Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

Dungeons & Dragons. AD&D 2nd Edition if you want to be specific. The close second is D&D v. 3.5. I ran AD&D 2E for about eleven years. I ran 3rd Edition and 3.5 for the eight years of its collective run. Then ran 4E for two years. Then switched to Pathfinder in 2010 or 2011. And then, in 2014, I switched to D&D 5E. While I have also run other campaigns in other systems as well, I’ve always had a D&D game going too.

At this point, it occurs to me that it’s a good thing I’m not doing this as an RPG a Day thing. Because I can’t avoid saying “D&D” over and over.

August 19: Which RPG features the best writing?

Writing? Like actually engaging writing? That I want to read? I can’t think of any. Seriously, can you think of an RPG you’d be like “man, I really want to sit and read this from cover to cover?” Is there an RPG you would consider good bedtime reading?

I’ll say this. The Shadowrun rulebook does have a lot of really cool prose in it. And the setting details in The Strange are fun to read. But they are both surrounded by RPG textbooks. In terms of adventures – that is actual storylines and s$&% – let me shock you by saying that Paizo is REALLY GOOD at writing adventures. They are great at writing engaging storylines and actually doing interesting things in their adventure paths. If that counts as writing, I’d have to say Pathfinder.

August 20: What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?

I certainly don’t know where you might be able to download PDFs and scans of various out-of-print RPGs that you can’t buy anymore. That would technically be illegal even if it would be entirely fine from a moral perspective given that there is literally no way to purchase said games in a way that transfers money to the original publishers and authors. So, I can’t answer this question.

August 21: Which RPG does the most with the least words?

I’m going to assume that this really means “what’s the shortest RPG rulebook out there that still presents some interesting depth.” And let me offend a bunch of you with my answer. There is this game called Panty Explosion Perfect. It’s a game about magical anime schoolgirls who fight demons and monsters. It has also been the subject of a lot of scorn because of the name. Which was meant to be a joke. The game has literally no sexual content at all and the title was an in-joke between designers Jake Richmond and Matt Schlotte of Atarashi Games. I bought it specifically because people were getting bent out of shape over how offensive it is and I like buying stuff that other people think shouldn’t exist just to protect the market from shrieking, pearl-clutching nannies who can’t just not look at something that offends them. And what I discovered is that it actually has a very unique action resolution mechanic based entirely on social interaction. The game is simple, but it very effectively handles interpersonal drama in a way I’ve not seen in other RPGs, through use of a single simple mechanic based on friendship and rivalry.

By the way, the same reaction to shrieking nannies is how I ended up discovering that the card game Tentacle Bento is an absolute f$%&ing delight and includes no overt sexual content, though it is HIGHLY suggestive and laden with innuendo and anime art. I still find it less offensive than any game of Cards against Humanity.

August 22: Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

Say it with me: Dungeons & Dragons. You can’t run a system for 30 years and not eventually be able to do it in your sleep. Though I do still get a rules crossover in my head and forget which specifics go with which editions, sometimes.

August 23: Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

When I saw the layout and editing in 13th Age by Pelgrane Press, my draw f$&%ing dropped. I have never seen a game handle layout and visual design worse. Holy mother of f$&%. You have to buy it. It’s worse than the layout and design in D&D 5E. And it’s the only thing that keeps me from calling 5E the worse visual mess of an RPG ever published by a major game designer.

See, 13th Age tried to ape 4th Edition D&D in a lot of ways. And one those ways involved using a lot of rules chunks. That is, there’s a lot of small blocks of mechanics like powers and feats and abilities that are all self-contained. But 4E used things like layouts and colors and headings and distinct iconography to visually emphasize the blocks of rules and set them apart against each other and communicate things about them. Powers were coded with icons and colors that instantly told you what they were about. And they were set off from each other. 13th Age cleverly decided to ape the mechanics without the visual design. The whole book looks like it could have been done in MS Word. By someone who was taking a course about using MS Word at their local library. As a practice exercise. The monster stat blocks are even worse. They are inexpressibly bad. But the icing on the cake is this one table in the book. The table is missing a column. And the text next to the table indicates they left the column off purposely because they couldn’t fit it properly into the layout. I s$&% you not.

August 24: Share a Pay-What-You-Want publisher who should be charging more.

Chris “@Pangalactic” Bissette put this D&D adventure on the DM’s Guild for free. It’s called Bulette Storm. And it is a crime that you can’t pay him for it. It’s a neat adventure. But what is absolutely amazing, and the reason why every D&D gamer needs to get it and PAY HIM FOR IT SOMEHOW, is because he actually thought about the medium. He actually thought about the presentation. He actually took the time to think about how a GM would use the product he was making. And he did some pretty slick stuff to make it work.

August 25: What is the best way to thank your GM?

Cash. Alternatively, just say thank you. Honestly, it doesn’t take more than that. Say thank you. Why is this even a question. The best way to thank anyone for anything is just to say thank you.

August 26: Which RPG provides the most useful resources?

You know, honestly, I don’t use a whole lot of stuff outside of the core rules of the games I run. I run homebrew stuff. It’s hard for me to answer this in any sort of useful way. But, again, I do have compliment Paizo. Paizo is amazingly good at supporting their products and making resources available. And they make them available in a variety of formats. And they make it easy to get them. They have their own online store where you can not only order their physical products or digitally download them, they also sell a lot of other people’s stuff that works well for their games. But that’s also not surprising. After all, Paizo is really just a third-party publisher who happens to own the game they are supporting.

Though, if Starfinder is any good, I may have to revise that snarky bit of backhanded complimentness.

August 27: What are your essential tools for good gaming?

I know this is where I’m supposed to mention my favorite way of mapping or which miniatures I like to use or the brilliant way I handle initiative in games or whatever. But honestly, none of that crap matters. None of it is essential. Apart from the rules of the game and the dice, of course. But those aren’t the essential tools for good gaming. Those are just the prerequisites for ANY game. There is, however, one essential tool for good gaming. Attitude.

The right attitude – for a GM – is absolutely everything. And that doesn’t come down to all those bulls$%& quotes about “being a fan of the PCs” and “loving your players” and all of that crap. You can be a hard-assed, adversarial GM who makes your players work their a$&es for every victory and still run a damned good game. I know. I do. Every f$&%ing week. That all comes down to style.

When I say attitude, what I mean is a dedication to running the best damned game you can. And then doing it better next week. You have to want to do it well for no other reason than you want to do it well. And not for your players. But because you believe that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. If you’re reading my blog, you have that attitude. I know you do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t read the thousands of words a week I spew out. Whether you agree with me or disagree with me, the fact that you’re willing to make the effort to think about what makes your game good and what might make it better, that’s the important part.

But beyond dedication, attitude also means courage. You can’t run your best game if you aren’t willing to risk running your worst game. Running a game is taking a risk. At best, you might waste a lot of hard work that never sees play. But at worst, you might spend a lot of time working on something that everyone at the table – you included – agrees is a pile of crap. It happens. I’ve run crap. No truly good GM only runs good games. If they only run good games, they aren’t taking risks. And that means their good games are never going to be great.

As the GM, your attitude sets the tone for the entire game. Own your game, love your game, demand the best from yourself, and dare to fail gloriously.

August 28: What film or series is the most-frequent source of quotes in your group?

I started gaming in the eighties. And that means there are two movies that have been quoted so often at my gaming tables that I would have them memorized even if I had never seen them. Two movies that have been quoted to such a degree that I can’t even watch them anymore. Two movies that, despite once loving them myself, I have now been driven to pure, visceral hatred of them and everything related to them.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the Princess Bride. If I never see those movies again and never hear a single quote from either, I can die a happy man. Well, I can die a slightly less angry man.

August 29: What was the best-run RPG crowdfunding campaign you have backed?

I’ve only backed a few RPG campaigns on Kickstarter. And none of them has really made me rethink my common remark that Kickstarter is a wonderful way for talented people to discover that running a business is an actual skill and all those business people at various companies exist for a reason at the expense of a bunch of people who aren’t very good with their money.

That said, I did provide some marketing support for one Kickstarter that proved that there are some people in the world who possess both creative talents and business acumen. And that was my friend Jim “@GMJimMcClure” McClure’s Kickstarter for his two-player samurai RPG Reflections. The game itself was great. I got to play it with Jim at GenCon in 2016. And he fulfilled the hell out of that Kickstarter. Not just on time. But early.

Keep an eye on him. He’s got more projects coming. And he’s one of the only people I feel safe recommending as a Kickstarter creator on his name and reputation alone.

August 30: What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Genre mashups actually don’t do a whole lot for me. Mainly because, to me, the genre is less interesting than the actual setting and the story being told. Remember, a genre is label for a mix of setting elements and themes and tone. It’s descriptive rather than prescriptive. Given that, the problem with genre mashups is that they are usually unapologetically focused on the genre AS the setting and the story. To me, a genre becomes interesting when a setting starts to push against it a little bit. Or to deconstruct it a little bit. Otherwise, the genre really doesn’t have a place in the story at all. It’s just a way of describing elements of the story. Genre mashups play with their genres simply by smashing them together. They rarely have anything interesting to say about the genres themselves that warrant me giving a crap about the genre as anything other than a marketing blurb.

That said, one thing I would like to see is a modern world based on fantasy or mythology. For example, take the world of Ancient Greece. Assume the myths about the gods and monsters and magic are all true. Now, assume that militarism and overexpansion didn’t give them technological tunnel vision. Assume they had a renaissance. And then an industrial revolution. And then a post-industrial period, like an information age. But assume that beyond the borders of that world are strange societies and magical other worlds. What would that world look like? Note that I’m not just saying “add fantasy to the modern world,” here. What I’m saying is “build a modern society from a fantasy world.” In a deep way. Don’t just throw Final Fantasy VII at me. Now, let me take a modern genre – for example, procedural crime drama or espionage thriller – and put it in that world. Modern cops consulting with mediums who can speak to the souls in Hades for example. That would be pretty cool. I guess I could enjoy that. But man, that would be hard.

August 31: What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

Damn it, I was doing so good there for a while. Once again, I really don’t follow too much of what’s coming and what’s new. Nothing stands out to me in terms of big announcements this year. I got nothing, really. Except that, hopefully, I will have something published by then. That’s the plan anyway. Does that count?

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23 thoughts on “30 Days of RPG a Day in One Day

  1. Favorite lines:
    “Own your game, love your game, demand the best from yourself, and dare to fail gloriously.”
    “…I can die a happy man. Well, I can die a slightly less angry man.”

    This month was really hectic, but you outdid yourself, Angry.

  2. I’m glad you were able to do something fun just for yourself, even if you still provided multiple nuggets of wisdom for the readers. I am curious if the thing you are hoping to have published by next year is related to the RPG you are most definitely not developing yourself?

  3. For August 30th: have you read the novel Celestial Matters by Richard Garfinkle? It’s basically hard SF if the science was Aristotelian biology and Ptolemaic astronomy. And it treats the mythology as true in a way that comes across as really numinous; when the main character prays to Clio, the muse of history, the experience of being inspired is the experience of the divine. It isn’t a police procedural in that world or anything like that, but it provides the “ancient society advanced” feel. And there are other societies, too; their big war is against the Middle Kingdom, i.e. China, whose science is instead based on Taoism etc.

  4. I need to know the brilliant way you handle initiative. (I’ve read the two examples popcorn and angry speed factor). Initiative makes or breaks the game for me.

    Thank you!

  5. Question: How do you pull of something like the Monk’s lover doppleganger thing? I assume it wasn’t all planned beforehand and it emerged as the players interacted with her and as they maybe failed some checks to see that she is a doppleganger and the Monk’s PC choose to make it romantic etc.

    But I also assume you had _some_ sot of plan with the doppleganger. Did you just “roll with it” and made some lucky good choices and it all played out well in the end? How much planning was involved in that?
    It seems like something a noob could learn from if you could find the time and the means to make it into a lesson.

  6. RPG a Day is a thing? I didn’t know! Glad that the first time I heard about it was here.
    It was cool to read your answers. I like this kind of thing (this questions, your article about the GM creed, etc). Makes me think about what GMing is to me. Not the “how to”, but the “why”.

    On a side note: when I read the question of day 31, I imediatly knew my answer would be “the RPG Angry is most definitely not developing himself”. I hope 2018 brings us the 1st edition. Glad to see your answer seems to be the same.

    Finally: thanks for your effort this August, Angry!

  7. Warehouse 13 and Farscape on this site?
    Way to derail me getting to sleep and not yearning for a game system that can do justice to the premise of either.

    And I agree, Farscape pushed itself, and dared to fail gloriously. Some episodes it certainly did.

    Thanks again, and see you at the Tops.

  8. So, August 21st, heh. I recall a while back when there was a whole “thing” about Panty Explosion Perfect. I remember that some people were outraged at the game and other people were outraged at the people outraged at the game and still other people were outraged at people who weren’t outraged about the game. Or the people. I forget, it was a lot of outrage to keep track of.

    I saw the title and said, “Huh, doesn’t sound like my sort of game.” and moved on.

    I only bring it up because that answer mentioned Cards Against Humanity and how it is (to you) more offensive than Tentacle Bento. I’ve never played Tentacle Bento, but I still find CAH highly offensive. Perhaps I’m too “tender”, but still.

    Loved reading this blog post. It spurred me back into my desire to finally figure out how to run a Dungeon World game. My research into that system got side tracked as prep for my upcoming new D&D 4E campaign started gearing up again. I really do want to learn DW. I think I need to see some people play it so I can get my head around it.

    Anyway, thanks again for some wonderful posts!

    • Of course, this is the very definition of judging a book by it’s cover. You know that, right? You literally saw only the title. In fact, almost all the outrage was over the title.

      • Absolutely. I know that’s what I did. And, unlike many people, I was not outraged (or even upset).

        CAH, on the other hand, I’ve seen played several times. I don’t particularly care for “party games” in general, and seeing it played showed me that the things I typically don’t like about party games were present in CAH as well. There are specific aspects that I’ve seen in the dozen or so times I’ve seen the game played that I find problematic. However, there is no need for me to go into those reasons here. This page is about the 30 days of RPG.

  9. “It’s so hard to find people who can just talk about mechanics and game design and setting details without preaching at me about how the game fits into their goddamned worldview. Like I give a f$&%.”

    Damn. Every once in a while you drop a quote that makes me want to give a standing ovation.And it’s not only in RPGs but in every single thing in fiction(movies reviews, books reviews).

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