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#RPGaDay 2019 Day One – First

It’s August, and that means #RPGaDay! This year is a little different. Instead of daily questions, this year RPGaDay uses one word per day as a prompt. With, of course, a beautiful graphic that turns it into a boardgame-style branching path. I began my RPG journey by starting on Day One’s prompt (‘First’) and then rolling a scatter dice to decide where to go next. I had to take some liberties to ensure I hit all the topics (I just stuck the outliers in at the end), but for the most part, this is a randomly generated journey through the RPGaDay topics.

I’ve talked before (back in 2014, wow) about the first RPG I played, so I want to look at something different this time. Right now we’re in a really exciting period of growth for gaming culture: there are more boardgames and cardgames than ever, wargame manufacturers are innovating and the RPG scenes, indie and mainstream, are booming. This means a lot more people are likely to want to try RPGs, but it’s so hard to pitch a introductory session right. Over the last couple of years, I’ve volunteered to run a one-shot game for new players at our local university’s Game Society. The game I feel most confident about running for people I don’t know is Masks: A New Generation. But PbtA is hard to do as a single session, and the rules are a lot to get your head around. My question then is: what makes a game good for new players?

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Review: ‘Strings’

CW: Discussion of death, brief references to suicide and abuse.

I’ve recently been going through my Kickstarter backlog to make sure I’ve downloaded all my rewards, etc. and I’ve come to the realisation that I have *checks* roughly seventy thousand zines, independent games and weird little RPG hacks. So many zines. I may have a problem.

Strings is an RPG supplement by Barack Blackburn and Ellie Hills with Egg Embry and Jack Berkenstock Jr., from zine-focused RPG publisher Density Media. Strings is summarised as ‘A TTRPG supplement and zine about death, life, and the fallacy of memory’ and hoo boy does it deliver on that. This brief but beautifully-formed pamphlet is filled with quotes about death and by those on the brink of death as well as some lightweight rules designed to give gamers a tool to explore character death in RPGs.

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GG – Alan Wake

Introducing the challenge.

Alan Wake
Publisher/Creator: Remedy Entertainment, Microsoft Game Studios
Format: Action game
Released: 2010 (Xbox One), 2012 (PC)

Available on: PC, Xbox One

Platform Played: PC (via Steam)

What is it?

Alan Wake is an action horror that definitely tends towards the Uncharted style of cinematic game, with lots of cut scenes, big set pieces and genre homages. If you want to step into a Stephen King novel or play an action monster-fighting version of Twin PeaksAlan Wake is a surprising amount of fun. Plus it’s both pretty and atmospheric, which covers a multitude of sins for me. Continue reading

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Review: ‘Variations On Your Body’

I’ve been tussling with a review of Monsterhearts 2 that has been sitting in my drafts folder for months. It’s not because I don’t like the game – I love it, I’ve loved playing it in a campaign and analysing my reactions to it. I’ve enjoyed the resistance to change that has broken in play to reveal secret genius and the resistance that’s grown more stubborn and pushed me to hack moves for myself. But I have too many thoughts and too many feelings about it, far more than would be interesting or engaging to read unless you want a paragraph on every core mechanic and move in the game. (Looks at the length of this post. Gives a hollow laugh.)

So, while I wrestle with my love of one Avery Alder game, I’m going to write a review of another. Or rather, it’s a review of four games: the newly-collected Variations On Your Body: Four Pervasive Games. I guess this is less of a review and more a self-reflective piece on my reaction to it. That seems appropriate for such an intensely personal, intimate work. Continue reading

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GG – Akaneiro: Demon Hunters

Introducing the challenge.

Akaneiro: Demon Hunters
Publisher/Creator: Spicy Horse
Format: Action RPG
Released: 2013
Available on: Not really available any more, in the sense that it no longer seems to work due to the old servers going down.

Platform Played: PC (via Steam)

What is it?

An action RPG based on Little Red Riding Hood, set in a fantastical version of feudal Japan. And, of course, Red Riding Hood gets to kick a lot of ass. Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly given Spicy Horse’s unstable history as a developer, the company’s closure has left fans stranded with an unplayable game. While this might not be a great loss as a free game, it was both a Kickstarter project and a free-to-play title with microtransactions, so those who have invested monetarily in the game may find that frustrating. A lone developer from the company has been attempting to provide support and workarounds via the Steam community page, but without official patches going out, and only some unreliable workrounds, I consider this title to be defunct. Good for that one developer, though – gotta admire their dedication. Continue reading

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Review: ‘Shadow of the Century’

Disclaimer: This post is based on an advance review copy of ‘Shadow of the Century’ I received from Evil Hat. I receive no money from Evil Hat and they have not influenced the content of this review.

Shadow of the Century is Evil Hat’s much-anticipated new Fate setting, originally seeded as a stretch goal during the massive Fate Core Kickstarter in 2012 and now hitting both virtual and physical shelves. Shadow of the Century is a neon-soaked leg-warmer-wearing extrapolation of Evil Hat’s classic Spirit of the Century setting that recasts the pulp adventure of the original as an 80’s action film in a dark future where the Centurions have been forced underground and shadowy conspiracies rule the world. Continue reading

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GG – Age of Empires III

Introducing the challenge.

Age of Empires III
Publisher/Creator: Ensemble Studios, Microsoft
Format: Strategy game
Released: 2005

Available on: PC, iOS, some mobile platforms apparently

Platform Played: PC (via Steam)

What is it?

A follow-up to the classic historical strategy game, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, bringing the same innovative concepts to a more modern style of strategy game. Instead of the historical figure campaigns of II, Age of Empires III follows a fictional family as they try to weather significant historical events. Continue reading