A Person, Place or Thing
now browsing by category
Here’s where we just talk about an old Person, Place or Thing that catches our fancy
If I could only use one word to describe the Poly Hero Dice Wizard Set, it would be enchanting! The Poly Hero dice folk take the normal polyhedral gaming dice sets we know and love and craft them into class specific items or accouterments.
For example, a simple d20 becomes a mysterious orb, a run of the mill d12 turns into a magic wand and ordinary percentile dice are transformed into potion bottles. How cool is it to roll for damage on a Fireball spell with five d6 dice in the shape of flaming red fireballs? The answer is VERY!
(Below: Look at our sets on the table at our latest Circus Chimera game session)
These character driven dice add another level of immersion and fun to a game driven by imagination. I am of course, a self-proclaimed dice addict. I love dice in all variety of colors, sizes and now shapes! They can take a few rolls to get used to the feel and rhythm as their shapes are dramatically different from traditional dice but who doesn’t like to warm up a new set of dice before a game anyways? In my humble opinion, every time I roll my Poly Hero Dice, they give me another opportunity to put the “Role” back in role playing.
We also own the earlier Warrior Set too! Check these out:
(Previous sets Include the Poly Hero Dice – Warrior Set which included 1 D20 Shield,
1 D12 Helmet, 2 D10 Gauntlets, 1 D8 Mace, 1 D6 Sword, 1 D4 Dagger)
I definitely rate this a CRITICAL Hit and a natural 20all the way!
Also if you hurry now you can get in on the awesome Poly Hero Dice – Rogue Set that’s on Kickstarter now! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/polyherodice/polyhero-dice-rogue-set
Blades in the Dark is a new Genre Blending narrative Tabletop RPG designed by John Harper (also creator of Lady Blackbird) and published by one.Seven design in early this 2017, following his very successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2015. Currently materials and game aides are being published by Evil Hat Productions. Blades is a game of desperate criminals meeking by in an industrial almost steampunk dystopia, taking heavy inspiration from TV shows like Peaky Blinders, video games like Dishonored, movies like Gangs of New York and novels like The Gentlemen Bastards. Players take on the roles of a criminal crew trying to survive on the streets of Duskwall as they are squeezed between the law and rival criminals on all sides as they attempt to build a place for their ‘Crew’.
The main setting in a fictional post-apocalypse, gaslight fantasy London-Venice-Prague mashup called Doskvol. The world essentially ended long ago with the destruction of the gates of death, with the land masses breaking apart to form the massive island nations of the Shattered Isles. No one has seen the sun clearly in ages. The dead never seem to find rest. The seas are a black ink full of horrors but the blood of those horrors is needed to power massive lightning barriers around cities that try to keep out the dead.
The game’s mechanics are deeply rooted in Apocalypse World, but in a completely unique and original system. It puts a heavy emphasis on fiction-first gameplay which I enjoy but also makes sure to sport a high level of crunch. How well does that combination work? I can tell you it makes for one smooth Criminal!
Blades in the Dark pulls a high class heist in regards to character creation! They use a style that as a Game Master I like more and more as more games are now utilizing Player Character Playbooks. Once a player picks their class, nearly everything they need to know is right there on the Class Playbook sheets. Every skill in the game is on the sheet, as well as all their special abilities. This speeds up the Character creation process considerably and makes everyone’s life easier.
The Class Playbooks much like in Mutant Year Zero provides a good balance between structured career and free-form character creation. Each class defines what special abilities a character has and what they have access to. Players are then given skill points to customize and flush out their characters. One player’s ‘Cutter’ might be a smooth talker as well as the classes default fighting skills, while another player’s ‘Cutter’ has the special ability to fight ghost with his bare hands! The game gives players just enough points to make very playable characters, and rules on how those points can be spent prevent the risk of super-specialized Min-Maxed PCs who can only do one thing, which is a good thing when your a prowling the streets up to no good!
There’s no HP’s on this street!
Blades in the Dark doesn’t use traditional Hit Points. Instead it uses Stress and Harm. Stress is both the game’s meta currency and a major consequence of any failed or partial success rolls. Player Characters give themselves stress to get extra dice or to help out their friends, and they gain stress when they choose resisting taking harm. Players must play a dangerous balancing act, deciding if they should just accept the broken leg or risk the stress needed to avoid it. The broken leg comes with some serious penalties, but getting too much stress can take the character out of the action completely.
This resource-management angle adds a great tactical element to play, making sure the more mechanically oriented players always have something to do. It also shows that a character is deeply affected by their experiences. Plus there’s a FLASH BACK Mechanic that uses stress but more on that later.
Now Stress is a pain to clear but, Between heists, Characters have an opportunity to reduce their stress by indulging in vices. These vices are your characters favorite indulgences and run the gamut from traditional favorites like Alcohol or drugs to truly bizarre options like locking oneself in a room and staring at a creepy alter for a few days straight. Whatever your vice, just like in real life, indulging in it carries a few dangers. A Character might overindulge or get pinched by the Bluecoats. There’s even a chance that the character could go on a multi-week-long bender, and their player will need a backup character for the next game session. But this is a great opportunity to add another proper villain to the crew! Characters that ignore their vices accumulate more and more stress until they are in real trouble and can suffer truly traumatic consequences. It’s both great to roleplay and offers a meta level of play.
And Now its time for a Flashback…
Actually this is the coolest rule in the game and one that should be used in so many other RPGS! The Flashback Rules Are Fun! Blades in the Dark really discourages players from planning, or over planning their scores ahead of time. Instead, the GM is supposed to start things off when the Player Characters run into their first obstacle in the heist: a locked window, a Bluecoat walking the beat, an angry ghost, etc. The group then deal with each obstacle as it arises, and they can add planning via flashback typical of heist shows like Leverage and oceans eleven.
For example: If the group encounters a locked cellar door, one of them can say “Ahhhh, but I got the key for this door before we went on the mission.” Then they’d narrate how they stole the key, made a wax impression and filed a copy… but they need get the GM’s approval, and roll to see if they were successful.
The flashbacks are a blast to use, no question about it. They make the score feel like a classic heist like Ocean’s movies and since each flashback can cost stress depending on complexity, they add to the stress management system as well. Players must decide if an obstacle is difficult enough to justify a flashback or if they’ll deal with it in the here and now.
The rules say that flashbacks can’t override anything that’s already been established in the group narrative especially if they fail their roll in a flashback. If they take an injury as a result, the GM and Player should reflect it that they were hiding that they had the injury or consequence the whole time. GM’s this is a time to be really creative!
In practice I’ve seen flashbacks can be frustrating to players who enjoy planning out every detail of a score and I know those players! Those players can end up feeling like they’re being charged stress for something they would have taken care of ahead of time if the rules had let them. But honestly after a few game sessions they will love the idea of planning for flash backs, or even suggesting them to there fellow villains! Flashbacks are a ton of fun, especially the get out of cliff hanger situations!
Now lets talk the Dice!
Now is the part of the system I’m not a huge fan of but success and failure and degrees of success have to be rolled some how…
It has all the problems of the system used for Masks and Dungeon World, Players roll a number of d6 equal to the skill they’re using, with a few opportunities for extra dice. The only die that matters is the single highest one. If it’s a six, that’s a complete success. If it’s a 4-5, that’s a partial success. A 1-3 is a failure.
Once players get a hefty 4 to 5 dice pool. Which for the most part they can not do in character creation, unless they try really hard and set their minds to it. Their chances of total success exceed 50%. Blades adds two mechanics to effect every roll. The first is position, the worse a character’s situation is, the bigger their penalties for failure, and the second is effect, a general measure of how much impact their roll has on the narrative.
I like this as these two mechanics mean every roll has a bunch of possible outcomes, now there are no solid guidelines for deciding which outcome to choose but this is something I like as it leaves the options in the GM’s hands so it can mean a partial success and the PC suffers a wound, or it can mean a complication occurs, their effect is reduced, and their position is worsened. It’s entirely at the GM’s discretion which is great! This allows more difficult tasks to carry greater risks, but only in what happens if the character fails. A six is still always a success and two sixes is a critical success!
Like other loose game mechanics I feel many a new GM may feel Effect will be difficult to manage as it’s not always clear what extra or reduced effect can do. As advice to fellow GM’s just relax and flow with the narrative and just roll with it as there are multiple factors to consider when deciding if a character’s abilities will grant them extra effect. Until you dive in and just play with it and I’m sure you and the Players will find your stride and have fun. The whole system is a bit complex an not what I call a starter level RPG.
Finally a proper bunch of villains…
To be honest the game takes the stance and flavor that the group will pick their ‘Crews’ theme and almost all will be villains or Anti heroes with options like Assassins, Cult, Smugglers and Bravos to name a few that will lead you into wielding blades in the dark, see where I went there 😉
Now in normal RPGs it can be a struggle to keep the party from dipping into dark and heinous behavior, Blades in the Dark is the exact opposite in theme, feel and gameplay. It encourages the PCs to be proper villains. This has a good chance to end up with a group that’s less like the characters of Assassin creed syndicate, Taboo or Gentlemen Bastards and more like a group of serial killers but then they will pay for it in generating to much ‘Heat’, a metric sort of like Grand thief auto and hitting 5 stars.
Not all groups will succumb to the dark side (or they cover their tracks well), and not all GMs will have issue with dancing in the dark streets and allies, but be warned if you’re considering this game and don’t want to run the Evil League of Evil, spend some time thinking of a premise that will give your group more noble ambitions and goals. The PCs could be part of a revolutionary movement, good lost religion or a bunch of Robin Hoods, so long as it provides some pushback against the worst of the streets.
Blades in the Dark has so much going for it and so much a ton of game testing put into it and I adore it, meaning I recommend it a lot. The faction rules are amazing and worth reading even if you never plan to run the game but can be used in other games to breath new life into them. GMs who can tap dance around the dice mechanic can have a lot of fun with the game and rolls. Players will enjoy their abundance of success, but eventually it can get boring if your GM doesn’t use all his tools. The game makes it difficult to provide effective opposition as it’s normally just players rolling to act, attack or defend. Please as a GM insure that your players meet effective opposition or the game might not be very interesting. It puts a heavy emphasis on fiction-first gameplay but also has a high level of crunch. How well does that combination work? Let’s find out!
Check out the maps here: https://www.evilhat.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/blades_sheets_v8_1_Doksvol_Maps.pdf
“For centuries, wars and climatic catastrophes have ravaged the surface of the earth, making it uninhabitable by all but the mutated and monstrous. Humanity, searching for refuge, combs the world’s oceans and finds sanctuary…and more. Welcome to Polaris!”
– POLARIS, the RPG.
POLARIS is a French tabletop RPG, set in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi atmosphere, where survival is first and foremost. What attracted me was the sci-fi with a seasoning of horror and weirdness setting. Thanks to a very successful Kickstarter Campaign in early 2016, Black Book Editions are finally able to expand the product line and publish this game for the first time ever in an English language edition and now it has begun to wash up on our shores across the pond!
As you might have guessed from above description, the world of Polaris is a dark, cold, wet place. Mankind in its folly has rendered the surface of the earth uninhabitable, and even with the help of some ominous benefactors known as The Geneticians, they fled beneath the waves to survive in any way possible. However Mankind’s baser instincts gets the best of them and before long, war and bloodshed begin to stain the seas as red as the toxic surface! New factions rise and new grudges evolve as the water becomes spotted with the blood of both the innocent and the guilty. Unknown centuries of squabbling ensue ever diminishing resources, and it seems the end is nigh until a phenomenon known as The Polaris Effect instills select individuals with powers that science cannot adequately define or explain.
There is zero question that Polaris is gorgeous. The layout and art are a testament to the care and craftsmanship the good people at Black Box Editions bring to the table. The world map is beautiful and very impressive – something big happened to the Earth’s surface, and sizable chunks of the surface are completely submerged. There’s an ocean through the middle of North America and Australia both, Greenland’s heart is submerged, and much of South America is gone. It’ll be very interesting to see if we get to find out what the heck happened to the world, or if it’ll be a mystery of the ages…
The default game setting takes place after all of this has transpired and more, The Geneticians are in hiding…or gone. The great city of Equinox is the oceans last best hope for peace…or disaster as it is the hub of all the political powers and controlled by the powers who wield the Polaris effect!
In this post-apocalyptic sci-fi atmosphere, where survival is key the Player Characters can take the role of the usual post-apocalyptic types: mercenaries, soldiers, doctors, as well as devotees of The Cult of Trident, whose members tend to be proficient in the manipulation of The Polaris Effect to create amazing feats. The group can encounter as much or as little political and cold war intrigue since there are a several major powers settled about the globe, as well as groups can either align themselves with one of the smaller geographically locked factions or open the engines up and travel The Seven Seas in search of adventure. But beware for under the sea man isn’t the only thing that lurks beneath the surface as it is so not safe to go back in the water as mysterious monsters, mutants and nature await the adventurous and foolhardy.
One thing I could so see one of our groups doing is use something like Mutant Year Zero’s Ark rules to build the groups own community under the sea and doing missions to help the community as a whole to grow and evolve.
Here is a quick over view of the books and items out as of this post, don’t worry I will so do more detailed and visual reviews over the next few months as all of these products are all beautifully illustrated and laid out, and that includes the PDFs
Now to be honest this is an abridged version of the adventure in Core Rulebook 1 and the Pre gen Characters are great and its FREE on DriveThruRPG.Com!
A great and free teaser to the Polaris setting
Fiction, World Setting with a ton of plot hooks, Character creation, and Rules!
Mystery, Underwater combat and Vehicles, Mermaids (Not those kind!) and other sea creatures, Tech and most importantly fixing gear, and ‘Advanced Rules’!
Together both rulebooks do come with a lovely cardstock ‘Slipcase’ to keep them both safely in. Between the two you have everything your need to play the Polaris RPG! Together over 500 pages of full cover loveliness!
Another lovely hardcover book weighing in at 48 pages, that goes further into the equally mysterious and majestic city of Equinox. This neutral Freeport of a floating city in the sea is home to the ‘Cult of the Trident’ the systems mysterious users of the Polaris Effect! It does a good job of giving a ton of good plot hooks as well as including the adventure “Industrial Espionage”.
I LOVE these for you Polaris players! This 16-page full color Character folio have EVERYTHING a player needs to play including rules and charts from Core Book 1! Just check out the publisher’s description:
A gaming aid for all Players of Polaris RPG! It introduces in a few pages the world and timeline of the game, and describes the major factions and the most important nations of the Deep. The helpful summary of Character Creation and basic Combat Rules helps players and GM’s alike speed up the gameplay!
On the 8 pages dedicated entirely to your Character’s abilities and equipment as well as your progression you get plenty of space to detail your Adventurer!
The woodfree paper lets you write and erase on the pages! This booklet is aimed at Polaris RPG players, supplied in packs of five Character Files, shrink wrapped together to accommodate a whole gaming table.
16 pages, softcover, woodfree paper, full-color • Map of the World of the Deep • Character Creation Summary • 8 page character sheet • Essential Rules Reminder
This pack contains 16 different location maps where underwater adventurers are likely to roam! Each map exists in a version with full captions, and a spoiler free plain version so players can discover it during gameplay.
The locations included in this pack:
- Equinox: Level 1
- Vessek Rental Hangar
- Vessel Assembly Yard
- Combat Arena
- Mining Zone
- Experimental Hydro-Farm
- Secret Laboratory
- Isolated Station
- Network of Infested Tunnels
- Surface Bunker
- Light Frigate Class
- Unknown Ship Wreck
Style up your game with a set of these Polaris dice! Contains 7 dice (3d6, 3d10, 1xd20)
Check out their awesome website HERE!
Polaris RPG nominated for 4 ENnies in 2017!
As more detailed reviews come outI will link them here, plus see our earlier Summer one shot article HERE.
Post-apocalyptic is a Genre I’ve always enjoyed and thankfully its still pretty big these days, but Black Book Editions‘ Polaris gets a special points for its focus on a part of the world we don’t get to pay enough attention to – the oceans that cover the vast majority of earth. As a big fan of 20,000 leagues under the sea, SeaQuest DSV and Voyage to the bottom of the sea I was definitely looking forward to this game! Honestly, no matter what the source of the of End the world is, the survivors will almost certainly need to look to the seas for survival, jus don’t jump on a ship like in Fear the Walking dead!
“For centuries, wars and climatic catastrophes have ravaged the surface of the earth, making it uninhabitable by all but the mutated and monstrous. Humanity, searching for refuge, combs the worlds oceans and finds sanctuary…and more. Welcome to Polaris!”
From the French publishers of the award-winning Pathfinder RPG comes the Polaris RPG. A brand new post-apocalyptic sci-fi RPG system and setting from Black Book Editions.
Take part in the political intrigues, action, exploration and the quest to survive. An all new and revised english version with over 400 full-color pages, split in two books that are sold in a slip case.
Core Rulebook : 1
280 page, hardcover, full-color
• The World of the Deep – Setting
• Character Creation
• Game System
Core Rulebook :2
208 page, hardcover, full-color
• Technology & Equipment
• Advanced Rules
• Quickstart Adventure
ATTENTION: You need Core Rulebook 2 to play!
The Artwork is fantastic in these books as well as the free quick start on DriveThruRPG! Check these out and let me know what you think? we most likely be doing a few one shot games in a share universe but if you’d like a regular podcast let us know!
So seems it’s been one of those wired Moon kind of months where I’ve seen and joined in May conversation-flame Wars on a touchy subject in the RPG world and that’s Game Mastering for pay, of Professional GMing!
Ok let’s call them a Game Coach, or Game Tour Guide would you pay a sports coach or tour guide?
Now I know at this very point theirs nerd rage bubbling up and possibly tempers flaring, but wait I want to know real world reasons why paying some one to put 10-12 per-game hours, who know how much in photo copies, paper and paper and game books (more to that below to come), then the actual 4+ hours around the game table leading the story that you all will weave. Why is asking for less then the ticket price of a two hour movie a crime? I don’t think so and yes I even have a level of support on our Patreon page for a GM for a day.
Ok so now let’s talk game books:
D&D 3 core book $50 a pop, $150 for the GM maybe 2-5 player buy their own copy and if you’d like one of the published adventures that’s $50 more, ok so that’s a $200 investment (Don’t ask how much all the Edge of Empire or Force and Destiny costs!!!) so is you had 5 players chipping in $5 a game in eight sessions you would have paid your GM back for investing in your good time, but wait theirs more…8 sessions times 4 hours at minimum wage of we’ll say your home state is $6 that’s $192 more you owe your GM not counting mileage and food/drinks or time put in planning the game (remember that 10-12 hours GM’s put into writing). So please think of that before you flame a GM for looking for $5, a meal, ride home or book from from the group from time to time. GMing is a skill like writing, film directing, flipping burgers and programming a PC game. It’s amazing how it’s not ok to pay a story teller who pours themselves into a game, just like I know Photographers and artist who have their works stolen with not even a thank you.
Now I’ve heard a ton of complaints of what if the game sucks or it devalues the story or the GM will have to pander to the players well tough! So your telling me a GM has never pandered to his players that’s the whole point of the game to focus and be a fan of the players, and just like the social contract of gaming applies to the story, dice and natural game progression you discuss in advance of any play to pay game of what kind of game do the players/customers want to play (genre, pg rating, etc) as well as rules that can get a player kicked out (being too aggressive, abusive behavior etc) and deal breakers for the GM.
Now of course like I tell all my friends all the time in gaming and buying vote with reviews and your dollars you like a store, support it whenever you can with reviews and buy and preorder from them! The same comes from GMs! I’ve played with great GMs, some Bad GMs, some Inexperienced GMs, some Killer GMs, and heck I’ve played with Great GMs on an off day of running a game. Heck I know I’ve been everyone of those one time or another. So my best advise is just like going to a bar or steak joint if you order and eat, pay tip appropriately (and yes sometimes 0 is appropriate) and tell your friends and don’t patronize them again!
So I’m glad your still reading look at Wizards of the Coast their Adventure League has GMs and game stores running the same one hour session with the same pre written material provided by the stores to GMs with usually 3/4 provided and the last 1/4 for purchase. For all of this thrill for $3-$10 each person depending on city/store. Now this is great and the stores take care of the GMs in materials and normally some store credit which is awesome! Heck that’s a perfect symbiotic relationship between GMs and Stores generating supply for players needing a fix. Now this reminds me of an argument for paying GMs in that they are willing to pay for books and supplies but not ‘cash’ to a merc GM! Ok so how about next time you play how about you secretly pass the hat and pick your GM up a gift card as a group and invest in your GM to have him invest in your gaming and investing it you fun and hobby after all GMing is entertaining players is job full of pressure!
The more you invest in your game with stories, backgrounds, helping give story ideas, bring snack and please please please get your GM some drinks, hell take time and pay attention to your gaming table, your GM is doing the lions share of talking and asking questions that’s a fast way to get yourself dehydrated!
All in all support your GM in some way, even a bad GM puts a lot of time, money and energy into a past time we all love and enjoy as much as we can and if they ask to get paid maybe it’s worth the price of a fru fru drink or meal to spend time at the table and seeing their style, heck you may have to get on a wait list for a really good GM or Adventure League table!
Please comment and share! But before you say Chris Perkins or Matt Mercer know they get paid for what they do and it’s not just in exposure for their other projects.
And if your a GM remember to always guide all your players along a heroic journey to glory and victory!
Join Kellie (The Dwarf Tempest Cleric Anvilsprark), Anaia (The mysterious Gnome Druid), Talia (The Roguish Bard o Bardish Rogue…), and Judi (The loved Noble elven Wizard).
“I don feel pain…”
“She knows the gender of the…”
“Your not looking at me I’m hiding!”
“There’s a HIIIIIISSsssssss….”
Wow! Just Wow! I am already Sooooo looking forward to season 8 this Fall!
I wanted to wait to post this so that all my friends who wait till the next weekend to catch up on Tivo/DVR could catch up J
Ok so one of the first thing I have to say is if I wrote my RPG Adventures like the writers have been writing the Walking Dead story since the Saviors joined the series every one of my players would leave my game table and I would not blame them!
One bad thing that is really bugging me is that the Saviors are infallible and always in the loop of all the plans against them and the going on’s of all the small groups. For a few seasons now the writers are so over playing the trope of the bad guys having the “perfect luck” in every situation and I’m definitely sick of it!
All in all though it was a great season finale and a powerhouse of emotional wrap up of the season making you want more walking dead and some Talking dead to help get the feels out and see the guests cast on Chris Hardwicks couch!
Plus keep an eye out for Chris Hardwicks new show its going to be a great addition to the Walking Dead off season!
As usual, there are still many questions to ponder as fans embrace next season. Gregory’s intentions for leaving The Hilltop is still unknown. Now that he has been shaken up a bit, curiosity peaks as to what Negan’s next play will be seeing as he had upper hand for quite some time.
Interesting note over 200 weapons were used by the prop team for the finale!
Keep on Keeping on Walking dead!
Creative play and podcast network: Number of current plays- 11,578 plays.
Our new weekly podcast of Edge of Empire: Sunday night Scoundrels at Tucson Games and Gadgets; set in post a new hope era.
Ragnarok and Roll: Number of current plays- 20,805;
The Groups not been able to make it to game mostly my job killing our gaming schedule, but we’re defiantly thinking talking about how Vikings is something we enjoy!
DnD Journey of the fifth edition: Number of current plays- 127,001!
Our Adventures have infiltrated the water cult while the Lady Knights of Adventure get deeper in the Castle of the Master! Our newest group the Dark vision Dames will be on our Patreon at the moment but will soon been added to the podcast too with some new voices you will be hearing more of!
Also if you haven’t had a chance please help others find us on iTunes and RPGPodcasts.com by liking and reviewing us on the below links:
Thank you to our Patreon Patrons!!!!!
We’re going to be adding some additional patreon things this weekend so check back soon!
Let us know what you think of our podcasts and please shoot us any suggestions of games you’d like to hear us play.
Were looking for listener feed back for our adventures and well be using our Patreon site since it seems Facebook is hiding our polls and want us to pay to show them 🙁
So we love your feed back plus I personally enjoy letting you all have impact in the stories were collectively creating!
I’m going to try and roll out at least two or three polls for at least 1-2 of our player groups:
The Season two DND Journey of the Fifth edition (D&D)
The Lady Knights of Adventure (D&D)
The Dark vision Dames (D&D;currently only on Patreon but coming soon to the podcast)
Sunday Night Scoundrels (Edge of Empire)
Orphans of Order 66 (Force and Destiny)
Dresden by Gaslight (Fate/Dresden Files rpg)
Keep an eye out on our Patreon site at https://www.patreon.com/cppn once a week or so…