Vaults of Vaarn is Really Great, Ok?

Joseph Erwin - Freelance Dungeon Master

I’ve been poking around the RPG scene for a while now, and I find the OSR tradition interesting. It’s neat to see how in a gaming culture which is embracing structured RP-based storytelling, there is still a strong desire for rule-governed emergent storytelling in a world whose story doesn’t revolve around the characters.

That said, OSR tends to get a little too “rules-y” for my taste. They get so obsessed with replicating the feel of old crunchy AD&D that they forget to use modern RPG techniques which have been pretty universally accepted, like fast skill resolution or character sheets which have less info than an accounting spreadsheet.

Vaults of Vaarn (DTRPG link) is the best balance I have found. It’s wild and creative, with a few solid rules to give a sense of structure. It’s gritty, but the rules apply to everyone pretty much the same way. Power…

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D&D Diary – The Forge of Fury – Session 6

Game Night Blog

The adventure ends with epic fights against unique undead, a sly succubus, and the ubiquitous black dragon.

Forge Fury 5e Foundry thumbThe end of Adventure 2 in Tales From the Yawning Portal. Last time I’ll look at these bored dwarves. 

When last we left our heroes, they had finally found the uninspiring Forge of Fury, made friends with the surprisingly not evil duergar, and made mincemeat out of several oddly animated household objects, such as tables and carpets. It’s like the magic castle in Beauty and the Beast but with more murder and fewer song and dance numbers.

They also discovered a new version of an old puzzle that directly links this dungeon with the one from The Lost Mine of Phandelver. It was a good call back to an excellent adventure that my players really enjoyed, even for the players who hadn’t been there the first time around. The puzzle unlocked a…

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School Club Update

Roleplay Rescue’s Blog

Session 3 was held today at the school D&D Club, and it was a blast! Sixteen students showed up and one of them, the lad who took the D&D5e Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual last time, rocked up to run a game. I gave out three more sets of products – two Starter Sets and another Basic Fantasy bundle – and it looks like some of the other six students who now have product may begin to run games too.

My favourite moment was talking to the aspiring GM who said, “I’m not sure I know how to run this game, but I do have a cool idea.” I told him to set a scene and describe the opening situation, ask the players what they want to do, and if he needed to roll to adjudicate make it a D20 roll with high being good and low being bad…

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Winter Is Coming

Roleplay Rescue’s Blog

Back in September, I realised that I was moving towards winter and there was a likelihood that I would need to hibernate – at least in terms of my hobby. As we enter the first week where temperatures outside have dipped below 5 degrees centigrade and my days have finally become bracketed by darkness and moonlight, it seems my prediction was correct. I have begun to slow and even stop playing.

In recent weeks I’ve taken the decision to park my Mystamyr game and I’ve even shifted away from other games in which I was planning to be a player. The last remaining area of play is the Sunday solo sessions which have themselves been reinvigorated by the fact that this play is entirely for me. No one else is involved and so I’ve been feeling liberated to play whatever I fancied.

But I am also hungry. As the activity…

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20 Great PC Games That Actually Deserve a Remaster

Fine Aged Gaming

Remasters are all the rage these days, aren’t they? In concept, the idea of updating an older game to be enjoyed by current generations is fairly popular among gamers, and it certainly has a better track record than doing the same to, say, movies(as a thousand “Han Shot First” T-Shirts can attest). But in the last few years, the gaming market has become increasingly oversaturated with remasters, and the games that developers choose to update don’t always make sense. I don’t think The Last of Us for instance, released in the distant year of 2013, on a console that’s still being sold in stores, was desperately in need of a facelift. More and more, I see people becoming increasingly frustrated with the idea of remasters, which is a shame, because there’s plenty of games that could genuinely use some love. I have gathered some of them here. They aren’t necessarily…

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My Time With The Gameboy Advance

Tales From The Backlog

This is it. This is the device that kept me in the gaming sphere until the mid to late 2000s. While most people were enjoying the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, or whatever the hell the N-Gage was, I had this pocket sized gaming machine by my side. 

Growing up in a low income household had its challenges; one of them being not being able to afford some of the things other kids your age had. We were very fortunate to have a mom that worked her hardest to allow me and my brothers to have some of the things that we wanted. We had every Nintendo system up to the Gamecube at the time, but finding time to play is hard when you have to share one system and tv with two other people. That is where the Gameboy came in handy. Instead of fighting over who’s turn it was…

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On Creating Characters

Roleplay Rescue’s Blog

When I was a teen, I used to spend a lot of time in my bedroom, door closed, playing games so that I could escape the attention of my parents. I didn’t want to watch TV (at least, not their choices) and I certainly didn’t want another lecture on how inadequate I was as a son, brother, and student. I’d go to my room and, especially once I was at secondary school, I’d spend many an evening creating characters.

I have notebooks filled with old character ideas. I found one featuring Star Frontiers characters some months back and it was fascinating to peruse. I remember designing character sheets too – drawing them out by hand with a ruler and pencil, then filling them out. This was, of course, before photocopiers were widely available in the UK and I could afford to design a sheet and get a bunch of copies.

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Retro Arcadia Weekly Spotlight #58

Retro Arcadia

Time for our regular roundup of quick-fire reviews and impressions of everything under the spotlight at Retro Arcadia this week, old and new and a bit of both…

Something brand new to start with though… Apart from stuff we’re still waiting for (Hollow Knight, I’m looking at you!), there wasn’t much I was more excited about getting my hands on this year than Gunvein, which finally arrived on Steam last week! It’s a vertically scrolling bullet-hell shoot ‘em up, not a million miles from something like DoDonPachi but bringing plenty of its own to the party too. There’s so many modes that you’re going to experience its absolute exhilaration whatever your play level, from entry-level genre tutorials to objective-based missions, a story mode and the relentless arcade mode, where there’s no let up to the destruction – which, by the way, also never ceases to look great! Up there with…

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GURPS 3e: Primal Beginnings

Roleplay Rescue’s Blog

The goal in my forthcoming gaming is to offer players as deep an Otherworld-immersion as I can manage while at the same time making life as easy and enjoyable for me as the Referee. If we want players to achieve such an Otherworld-immersion, then we need to remove all of the distractions, helping players to maintain focus upon their character’s perspective. This means a big shift in gaming methodology, away from the regular way of doing things and towards actions which support our goal.

To make life easy for the Referee, we need a stalwart and reliable set of mechanisms which are easy to learn and memorise while being detailed enough to help them adjudicate the decisions player’s make with their characters. We must have consistency of effect because inconsistency will jar the perceptions of the player and push them out of role, out of the Otherworld. Therein lies the…

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GURPS: Renaming Skills

Roleplay Rescue’s Blog

The key intent for my fantasy world is to create a primal, primordial, prehistoric, and deeply primitive Otherworld. Given that my chosen rules set is GURPS, the biggest realisation I’ve had is that I need to customise my game in ways I’d not considered… like changing the names of skills.

In GURPS Basic Set: Campaigns, it says:

Rules are guidelines . . . Many things are left up to the GM to decide. A game world gets realism from its completeness. The GM adds all the details that make it come alive. With a good GM, even a bad set of rules can be a lot of fun. With a good set, the sky’s the limit. We semi-modestly believe that GURPS is a very good set of rules indeed – but without the GM, the rules are nothing.

GURPS Basic Set: Campaigns, page 486

Underneath that, in an outbox…

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