Two Pulps. Two Science Fiction Campaign Ideas

Against the Darkmaster inspired me to begin a survey of the fantasy fiction that has informed its rules, a project that quickly encompassed the most well-regarded, Tolkienian secondary-world novels published during my lifetime. Perhaps the endeavor is too ambitious, particularly when I’m also committed to keeping up my reading of the classics (with an emphasis on those handsome omnibus editions published by the Library of America) and the two magazines Asimov’s Science Fiction and Analog Science Fiction and Fact.… Read the rest

And the Rest: Movement, Travel, Wealth, Experience and Magic in Against the Darkmaster

As with most games, Against the Darkmaster (VsD) tracks Encumbrance Levels—five of them, ranging from Unencumbered to Over Encumbered. Generally, the GM and players use a few simple criteria to eyeball what might be a character’s appropriate Encumbrance Level. An encumbered PC moves more slowly during overland travel and takes penalties on physical activity.… Read the rest

Background, Passions and Drive in Against the Darkmaster

One of my favorite features of Middle-Earth Role Playing is its Background Options Table. Oh, man, how fun it is to put those points into rolls on the Special Abilities and the Special Items charts. I allow my player-characters to roll only once each on these tables, but how disappointing if the player rolls something mundane like +5 to a primary skill or +15 to a secondary skill or something just weird or out of concept such as “Infravision”?… Read the rest

Vocations and Skills in Against the Darkmaster

Now, in this ongoing series exploring the QuickStart rules for Against the Darkmaster (VsD), we cover Vocations and Skills.

The QS is but a portion of everything the designers have written for the game, and often the tables in the QS give some hint of what else is out there, since, I suspect, to avoid having to make all new tables specific to the playtest, the QS charts have been repurposed from master documents.… Read the rest