#RPGaDAY2017 26th, 27th and 28th

26th Which RPG provides the most useful resources.

Having read other people answers to this already it is funny how they all cancel out. Some say Pathfinder has the best resources and then others that Pathfinder is a victim of its own bloat. Some say the new D&D 5e online service is amazing but then admit that none of their players have even made an account so paying more to be able to share resources was money down the drain.

I am a less is more sort of person and for me most of the companions I junked anyway even when playing RM2. When I started afresh with RMC not having the companions was a blessed relief.

I am going back to my old time favourite of Car Wars again. There were loads of expansions for it but none of them made the game more complicated. There was an expansion for trucks but that just added a new vehicle type. The game remained the same but players got to face new challenges. Half of those little plastic boxes were filled with battle maps such as Truck Stop that were big enough to cover your dining room table. There was a periodical, Autoduel Quarterly, that released regular new material. I think everyone eagerly awaited any new equipment! There were also adventures, there were two that I remember buying Turbo fire and Hell on Wheels. Hell on Wheels ended up becoming the launch point of an entire campaign as the starting character had a really cool Lamborghini Countach which has to be the best starting equipment for a new character ever!
So that is my answer, Car Wars again.

27th What are your essential tools for good gaming?

Post-it notes! I love them and with the best prep in the world you are still going to have to make and record changes on the fly and that is where Post-it notes come in. I also use them for recording NPC turns of phrase when talking, key strategies when in combat and important magic items so I don’t realise AFTER they are dead that they had a staff of teleport and would have bugged out long ago!

A post-its and pencils are the things I cannot do without, even dice are optional but those are my essentials.

28th What film/series is the biggest source of quotes in your group?

I think the answer is probably anything by Monty Python, absolutely anything and everything they have ever done is likely to come up at some point.

#RPGaDAY2017 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th.

Not sure I said this last time but I think I am missing the point somewhat by doing #RPGaDAY in bi-weekly chunks. Having said that I will freely confess that the point for me was to get rolemasterblog mentioned on the twitter feed for #RPGaDAY. Anything that raises Rolemaster’s awareness has to be a good thing.

So to the questions…

22nd Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

This seems like it is going to be which ever RPG the GM is most familiar with. Given the writers and audience here any answer that is not RM would be a little weird. On the other hand Rolemaster is not a ‘thing’ it is many things or even a whole library of things. Anything that requires me to dive into book after book to try and find the right ruling for this or that situation is not really my thing. I think that drives my style of GM prep where I insert the rules for each situation/hazard into the game notes and my desire for an ever more minimalist ruleset. I want to reach the Lagrange point between a full RM experience and no rules. I was once told that the car brand JEEP was an old army acronym for Just Enough Essential Parts. That is what I am looking for in a game and the ones that I find the easiest to run, for me at least.

23rd What RPG has the most jaw dropping layout?

I have the advantage of seeing other people answers to this question and there are some brilliant page layouts around now. By contrast Rolemaster, every edition from the originals to the newest core rulebooks for RMC are boring! The most attractive book  in the RM stable I have seen is the Shadow World Players Guide. I don’t know if all of Terry’s Shadow World books look the same but I suspect they do not. Somehow I think RM’s design is stuck in the 80s.

I personally hate the FATE rules. They are just not my idea of fun but look at this page. There is no art, which is often sighted as one of the real barriers to having great looking books. Art is a real expense I admit. We have discussed that many times and at length.

First and foremost the most striking this is that they have rejected the ‘norm’ of the two column layout that just about every RPG rule book I have ever seen has used. The box outs are  striking and add both to the clarity of the rules and the visual impact of the page. The useful navigation in the margins is an excellent addition making it easy to find related sections.

I am certainly going to adopt many if not all of these features into my future publications. I have always been a bit of a revisionist. I create things that are probably a bit crap but then I go back and improve and improve. I am no designer but I can recognise good design when I see it and I am not above borrowing other peoples great ideas and using them to improve my own work.

So on the basis that FATE has made me change the way I am going to create everything else I think FATE has to get my nomination.

24th Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

My answer to this is Nemo Works. I think the effort they put into their products is superb. I simply cannot draw so anything that allows me to create layouts and floor plans is an absolute god send to me. Their core product is just $8 but they have a number of PWYW addons that you can use to expend the core product into many different genres.

Pay What You Want serves a couple of different purposes. For many of the bigger games such as FATE and Shadowrun it is a loss leader. They are prepared to give away some products to get you hooked. For smaller and independent publishers they are not really in it for the money and may not even know how much to charge. I put out my house rules using PWYW so I could say I was not charging for a RM product. I see any payments as donations and entirely voluntary. I typically get between $1 and $2 per download and that is fine. I wanted to share the rules not make my fortune. If I wanted to make money I would be selling to the D&D audience not Rolemaster.

25th What is the best way to think your GM?

I think leave your lawyers hat by the door on the way in. I am certainly not perfect and I do not remember every rule, word perfect every time. We all make mistakes and we are all human. Most of the time I am super prepared and as I said above I actually include the pertinent rules in my game notes. The most likely  cause of needing an on the spot decision or adjudication is going to be a player trying to bend the situation, spell or skill in a way which was not how it was intended. I don’t have a problem with this. This is the beauty of table top RPGs and what a computer RPG can never match. You can do anything you can imagine in that situation to survive or succeed. Sometimes that is going to stretch the rules. I like to think of myself when GMing as being on the players side. We are all their to have fun, the game was created to help them have fun. What I don’t like is when the game breaks down because a rules lawyer decides to argue with the GM. I don’t care if I am a player having to stop playing while the argument takes place or if I am the GM having someone disrupt my game and the other players. So the best way to thank the GM is enjoy the game and don’t go out of your way to break it!

#RPGaDAY2017 19th, 20th and 21st

I am sure that bulk answering these questions twice a week completely misses the point of #RPGaDAY but to be honest I don’t care.

Yesterday Sparta commented on a post I wrote at the beginning of July. The significance of that is that we are obviously reaching new people and they are looking at what we are writing. This is a good thing. I have no idea but it is entirely possible Sparta and others found the blog through the #RPGaDAY hashtag.

Insidentally one of the most most common good search phrases that brings people to the blog is [shadow world amthor]. The busiest day so far this month was the day that Brian mentioned the fanzine on the RM Forums!

Anyway, I digress.

19th Which RPG features the best writing?

This is a really subjective question. What is best writing anyway? The D&D Basic box set (red cover) that got me started had a life long impact on me so that must have been pretty good I would say.

I am actually going to put forward Champions as my answer though for this question. That was a brilliant system and the rulebook was a pleasure to read. It also changed the way I thought about RPGs and character generation forever.

20th What is the best source of out of print RPGs.

The only sites I have ever looked at for these are ebay and amazon marketplace. I guess the point of this question is that if you scanned twitter for the answer to this question then you are going to find a few gems of sites that are little known but will worth knowing about.

I bet scribt has a load of old RPGs uploaded as illegal copies, you seem to be able to find just about anything on there!

21st Which RPG does the most with the least words?

I assume they do not mean shortest rule set. I know there are tons of one page ‘rulebooks’ out there. I am going to answer with CarWars again. We used to role play it ans I think the game has a single character stat for your life which was 3 if you were healthy and maybe three skills driving, combat and mechanic if I remember rightly. So your entire character sheet was 4 words long and 4 numbers. The vehicle character sheet was a box with maybe 6 sets of initials, MG for machine gun, RR for recoiless rifle, PR for puncture resistant tyres and so on. It has to be the game with the least vocabulary of them all!

That was a brilliant game and we spent months playing a CW campaign with just these couple of skills. The next game I played after that was champions and the game after that was RM2. Champions and RM2 were all about skills (and powers), that is what what defined your character, that is what allowed you to craft exactly the character you wanted to play. But that was the impression I got with just Character Law and shortly afterwards Companion I. So at that point there were maybe 45 skills. Over the years we added every companion and all the Laws but with 200 skills the characters were no more unique. In fact I think the most skills that were added the more similar the characters became. Some of the skills became essentials such as tumble attack and tumble evade, two weapon combo and iai strike, at least in our games. The same was true of herb lore and sense ambush.

I suspect that that experience of playing CW with the 3 word (4 words if you include the characters name) character sheets may have stayed with me and gone some way towards inspiring my super light RM variant. You never know.

#RPGaDAY2017 12th, 13th & 14th plus more!

So I am continuing with the #RPGaDAY but I have more exciting news!

The August issue of the Rolemaster Fanzine is now for sale on RPGNow and this is the Shadow  World special.

This issue has a reprint of two of my favourite BriH Shadow World articles from the blog, the interview with Terry and chapter one of the Loremaster Legacy, Terry’s novel.

Whilst not RM related I am really pleased to be able to link to my game on Amazon. This is my latest achievement and it is really nice to see the book in print. The PDF and print version should be on OneBookShelf this week and the Kindle edition the week after.

So with that out of the way here are my RPGaDAY questions.

12th Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

One of the funny things about these questions is that it makes you think about things that you may otherwise not given a thought to.  I think the original MERP art was probably the best I have ever seen and was definitely in keeping with the original LotR books.

13th Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

I think I have told this story before. We were meeting for the first session of a spacemaster game. Rather than all sitting around creating characters together we were split up and the GM started us playing our characters, describing the scenes and we started role playing before the characters were rolled up. The GM shuttled between us nipping from kitchen to living room and I had drawn the short straw and had the bathroom! This was the first time I actually knew my character before I put pen to paper and picked skills. Now I always have that really strong concept before I even start. Incidentally, that was the shortest campaign I ever played in as we all accidentally killed each other at the first meeting after only one character uttered just one word. There had been a sort of cat and mouse game going on with each character thinking they were being followed or were following a bad guy. We ended up in a mexican stand off but with concealed weapons in a taverna until one character who seemed to be oblivious to all of this walked in, came to our table and said “Hello” at which point everyone opened fire. I was using an assault blaster at point blank range and I remember rolling a straight 66 for my critical. I also ended up bleading about 8hits a round from several wounds by the end of the round, stunned and about to pass out. I don’t think anyone survived beyond fire phase A of the first round.

14th Which rpg do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

This has to be Rolemaster and RMC for me and to further clarify my level-less and profession-less variant. I am not going to bang on about it because you have all heard it before.

#RPGaDAY 8th, 9th, 10th and11th

So this is my third instalment of #RPGaDAY. Most of the questions this week seem to be about different systems so it will be hard to relate them Rolemaster.

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

This depends on how you read the question. I think RM is a good candidate for this. One of the cool things about RM character sheets (booklets?) is that they hold just about everything you need to play. This is especially true if you include combat tables and spell lists in the character sheets. Bolt on things like Combat Minion and you get a game that you can get into and start playing very quickly. If you need to create characters in that 2hrs then having the first session exclusively dedicated to character creation will get all the characters made with time to spare. So my answer is RMC.

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

This time I don’t think RM fits the bill. As a rule of thumb is seems that most GMs are levelling characters up every 3 sessions or so. In a mini campaign of 10 sessions that would advance the characters three or 4 levels. There is not really that much difference between a 1st and a 4th level character. At those lowest levels fighters are king and even the pure spell users have little more than shock bolt. Looking at the time, some players take forever to level up their characters so levelling up 3 times in 10 sessions takes a fairly big chunk out of your available playing time. So RM is not a good option for this particular format.

What does work well (shameless plug!) is my own game 3Deep. The game is set up for emulate TV series and episodes. With that in mine you can easily turn a 10 session mini campaign into 10 related one shot adventures and the whole into a ‘season’. Character creation is fast (roll five stats, pick a culture, spend 7 skill points and then flesh out the backstory) and there are no levels, experience is handled by improving stats and/or skills. While I am blowing my own trumpet the latest version of 3Deep will be available to buy from RPGnow and Drivethru from next week!


10th Where do you go for RPG reviews?

For me, my favourite RPG blog is http://www.stargazersworld.com/ which gives me a mix of reviews, news and opinion. they have a small team of bloggers and interestingly they like to experiment. Right now the blog is experimenting with being sponsored by Patreon.

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

Do games die? If that were true then there would be no RM2 players. The game is going on for 40 years old and has not had a new book published in decades and yet it is still probably the most popular version of RM there has ever been with many actives groups. Even in my previous answers I harked back to Car Wars with is a game from my youth. I honestly do not believe games die as long as people want to play them.


I was tempted to try and post every day for August but that would have crashed a lot of other people’s posts so instead I am going to do a few days at a time in my normal, regular slots.

So here goes.

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

I have had a hankering for a while now to play Car Wars, the Steve Jackson Games game from the 80s. I know it wasn’t released as a RPG we we always played it as one. The original rules are available for free. All I am lacking is another player or 5. It is one of those games where you could while away a lot of down time just designing and building cars. Fast and simple mechanics, what not to love?

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

This has to be RMU. I think all of us would like to see the finished product and to see that particular production bottleneck cleared so ICE can get on with releasing more and more varied products.

3rd How do you find out about new RPGs?

For me it is from other bloggers. In particular http://www.stargazersworld.com/. I don’t have enough players that meet often enough to try every game I would like to play. Like most of us we have shelves of games we have bought and played a handful of times, if at all. I find it more interesting to read the opinions of people who have actually played a game rather than the marketing hype put out by the games designers.

4th Which RPG have you played most since August 2016.

This has to be Rolemaster Classic. In a close second is my own game, 3Deep, which is due to be released in print as a 2nd edition. There was a lot of play testing of that in the last year.

Third in line is RMU.