Shifting What I’m Working On… Again.

I’m putting my Monster of the Week and GI JOE RPG plans on the back burner for the time being. I love both games, but time constraints are kind of an issue and I want to be able to give my full attention to both when the time is right.

In light of recent events, I’m putting a couple of things on the back burner.

I know what it probably sounds like. It’s okay. There’s a plan in motion here.

First, I’m changing my offerings on Fiverr. I haven’t pushed to get my offerings on the page just yet because I’m trying to figure out what Gigs I can use to make money with.

Second, I’m putting my Monster of the Week and GI JOE RPG plans on the back burner for the time being. I love both games, but time constraints are kind of an issue and I want to be able to give my full attention to both when the time is right.

Third, I’m planning to continue working on my OSR fantasy projects for Dungeon Crawl Classics and other Old School material. The Ogrenomicon will be appearing on my Projects Page sometime in the near future. Other plans include a “Book of Lairs” style publication of short adventures and small dungeons playable in one or two sessions.

Fourth, Power Rangers RPG Super Lightning Force Campaign Season 2 adventure highlights and bad guys are on the way. I’m also going to try to showcase some of the new Ranger abilities I’m working on and their new Zords. I can’t go without running some kind of superhero campaign.

Fifth, there is a possibility of me making some videos for YouTube. We’d be talking about current issues in gaming as well as reviews, GM Tips, planning sessions and more. I’ll be posting more on this if/when it develops.

Sixth, I may be finally exploring Patreon. I’m not sure what to produce that people will want to pay for monthly, but we’ll work on it. Patreon is a popular platform and I see a lot of good coming from it. There’s also my Ko-Fi page.

Next, I’ve been wanting to do some Sci-Fi/Space gaming again. While I love Shatterzone dearly and there are so many other possible games to choose from, I may be creating a 10 episode mini campaign for Star Frontiers IF I can get away with it. As long as I’m not charging for it, I think we’re safe? Otherwise, work on my own brand new space game will commence. Alternatively, I might possibly be making it a generic sci-fi game.

Also, I’m putting most of my 5E creator ambitions on hold until we see what the next evolution of the game looks like. D&D is a-changing again. Until then, there’s plenty of Old School Revival gaming to be found.

Fear not, I’m still going to be doing game reviews of new and old products as I get my hands on them. Transformers RPG is coming from Renegade as well as Spelljammer for D&D by WotC. I’m also going to rock out some reviews of a few old favorites and why they mean so much to me.

Last, (then I promise I’ll stop,) I’m going to work even harder to promote myself on Twitter, Instagram and some other platforms. I haven’t been putting myself out there 100%.

Thank you for listening. This list was as much my sounding board as actual planning. I have a lot on my mind. Lots of stuff to explore. Til then, stay safe and keep rollin. I appreciate you.

Doing What I’m Passionate About.

I still love Role Playing Games wholeheartedly. I love writing. I like money, but we’re still working on that part. But a friend reminded me once that joy is a way bigger priority than money.

When last we left our hero…

July 19th was kind of a rough day. The day before was challenging because I went round with Imposter Syndrome yet again. I’ve had a bit of time to process. I’ve also had a TON of loving input from friends and and a certain amazing mentor.

Also, a huge shout-out to Space Freighter One on Twitter. He’s been encouraging the heck out of me before I’m even awake most days. I think it’s the benefit of being a sentient starship. Thanks!

Thanks always to Laura DiBenedetto as well. Without The Six Habits, I probably would have lost my marbles completely during the year that was 2020. Thanks for keeping me sane and reminding us it is possible to find joy. Laura on LinkedIn. If you ever need a Life Coach or just a good friend who’s unafraid to give you a swift but caring kick in the butt when needed.

Laura jumped right in with all kinds of suggestions and helpful ideas. I keep forgetting to mention, I own my failures. My successes I owe largely to The Six Habits and lots or great advice from its author.

I still love Role Playing Games wholeheartedly. I love writing. I like money, but we’re still working on that part. But a friend reminded me that joy is a way bigger priority than money. That feeling of being in my own zone every day is worth a million dollars and then some.

I knew it would be less than a day before I became inspired again.

Laura responded to both of my prior posts that went to LinkedIn.com. This amazing, talented, CEO with God-knows-how-much going on took time out to respond to my posts. Knock me over with a feather. Holy crap.

I watch a lot of YouTube when I’m not doing anything else. Or at least listening to podcasts while I’m in the shower. I shave my head while listening to Russell Brand talk about how messed up the world is or my friend @jedion357 talking about Star Frontiers and old D&D. Tom’s YouTube Channels are Table Top Taproom and Star Frontiers Gamer.

The thing I admire most about Laura, Russell Brand and Tom (aka Jedion) is their passion for what they do. Admittedly, Brand has something akin to 5.7 million followers. Tom has maybe 135 total? But regardless of follower count both of these talented and passionate individuals put out phenomenal content almost every day.

Tom is especially passionate about Star Frontiers and just listening to him talk about the game makes me want to run it. He’s been into the game a very long time and I admire his dedication to what is definitely considered part of the Old School Rules family. If he can stand so firmly behind this older game, I can certainly write about/run/play Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Let’s talk about Old School Rules.

Disclaimer: I want to clarify this is not about a specific product, but a category of RPG products. OSR and OSRIC are a line of RPGs that closely mimic rules of original fantasy and other games from the 1970’s, 1980’s and early 1990’s. Dungeons & Dragons is the main focus of many of these games, but not the only one.

My goal in life is not to refresh the infamous Edition Wars of D&D past. Some of us are very passionate about games gone by. Whether it’s Basic, B/X, White Box, 1st Ed AD&D, Star Frontiers, Gamma World, or even something slightly more obscure- you can still find a solid fan base for it somewhere on the Internet.

The #RPGTwitter sphere covers all sectors of the RPG spectrum from OSR to 5E, and more Indie designers that ever. Unfortunately, a lot of the OG, Old Grognard, bitterly jaded, spiteful OSR crowd lurk all over social media. On any given day it depends on who you run into as to the reaction you might get. Some of us are pretty darn friendly.

Huzzah!

I’d run AD&D 1E or Basic from the Rules Cyclopedia tomorrow IF I had players and those players had a copy of the rules. Obviously a fresh 5E PHB is much easier to pick up. But, Dungeon Crawl Classics is firmly rooted in the OSR tradition and it is widely available.

I’d love more opportunities to run DCC. The potential for unexplored territory and old school huzzah! moments is great. But, I ran into my fears of imposter syndrome at the sheer amount of material that exists for this game already. Goodman has been going at it steadily since the 1990’s. Third Party publishers who came over from D&D 3rd Ed or Pathfinder 1E have been putting out their own material almost as long. How can anyone compete?

Competition.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

This is also why I’m not trying to cash in on the D&D 5E market. Yeah, it’s hot right now. But that’s also why some third party publishers are selling at $.99 or less. Many times it’s Pay What You Wish. Or even free. I can do free here on my blog. Easy.

I firmly believe there is still plenty of untapped potential in DCC and OSR in general, really. Sure, there’s plenty of well-trodden territory out there. But, I think I have some things that maybe haven’t been done as much in mind.

There’s a well known Law of Attraction saying, “There’s no such thing as competition.” I’m a fan of the saying, “There’s plenty of room for everyone.” Quips aside, I believe it’s possible to still create even in a crowded market as long as I’m having fun. The goal becomes having fun. Money is a very welcome side effect.

With that having been said, I’m going to keep making DCC stuff here on my blog for sure.

Love you, Family!

I’m going to stop looking at other third party publishers’ material, though. Just because someone else has done a thing, doesn’t mean I can’t do it differently or maybe better. Right now I just want to have fun with it and strive for personal growth.

Would I like to be the next Gygax or Arneson? Yes and no. Popular to the point of other writers and game designers quoting me regularly- heck yeah! Would I like to be dragging around some serious ethical and philosophical baggage long after I’m dead? Aw hell naw!

Update: New avenues of discovery.

After conferring with some very wise people, I’m going to start looking at >gasp!< non-TTRPG work again. Like it or not, my skill set does apply to more that one occupation. Now if I can stave off sheer terror and existential anxiety, I’ll be fine. Keep on keepin on til then.

Thank you for being here on my journey. I’m staving off the imposter syndrome again. Folks like Laura, Russell Brand and Tom have inspired me to keep going. I am grateful to all of you every day.

Tales of the Des Moines Remote Viewing Society.

This is night number two of the fairgrounds case with the missing chainsaw carver statues. We’re going back today to see if we can set up trap cams after they shut the booth down for the night. The footage from last night is pretty compelling stuff. Dan and I believe Tom may have gotten distracted while on duty.

Case 2. Dead Wood in Des Moines.

From the Journal of Brenda Hart, Secretary/Treasurer of the DsMRMVS.

Wanted to jot down some findings on our first two “cases.” I had to remind the boys that we’re not detectives and we’re not getting paid for any of this yet. I don’t think any of us are doing this for profit. More for truth, justice and disclosure.

This is night number two of the fairgrounds case with the missing chainsaw carver statues. We’re going back today to see if we can set up trap cams after they shut the booth down for the night. The footage from last night is pretty compelling stuff. Dan and I believe Tom may have gotten distracted while on duty.

Dan is replacing Tom on the fairgrounds stake out. We’re also rearranging some of the cams from the cemetery to the fairgrounds and vice versa. The cemetery has been a huge bust so far with some minor electromagnetic phenomena and a few notable EVPs. It will be exciting watching both locations from the van as long as Dan doesn’t get arrested.

Additional note from Dan about night number two:

Re: Cemetery next to the fairgrounds- we’ve gotten a few significant EVPs and a few electromagnetic hits, but no sightings or other activities. It’s Tuesday of the Fair and we’re hoping activity will pick up soon.

I’m swapping out with Tom on the stake out of the Chainsaw Carver’s booth. We got permission to put up trap cams under the guise of trying to catch the thieves. Noticed Sutton’s sales assistant, Julie, is big into Wicca. Could there be a connection?

Additional note: Someone removed all of the locks from the mausoleums in the cemetery today. Not sure who it is. His back was to the cameras in every shot. It’s kinda creepy and strange, but so far no other activity to report. Tom and Brenda are going to have their hands full tonight in the van with both sets of cameras reporting in constantly. Doubt we’re getting a lot of sleep.

The next morning, Dan returned to his van, the monitoring center for the operation. Both the driver’s and passenger’s side windows had been smashed with considerable force. There were fist sized dents down the passenger’s side. Brenda and Tom were huddled in the back with rear doors bound tight. Somehow the equipment kept recording.

Tom and Brenda were pretty shaken by what had transpired during the night. It was if two entities wanted into the van. Tom described a wooden fist going through the driver’s side window. Brenda went into shock and needed medical attention, claiming some force wanted her to leave. Tom’s Gopro didn’t capture anything beyond the van shaking violently and windows being smashed. It really did look like a wooden fist with black feathers went through the window.

From Tom’s Journal:
Brenda and I were nearly taken out last night. At about 3:00 AM Brenda suddenly went into deep trance and began bleeding from the nose. A short time later the van started rocking and the windows up front were smashed. Had Brenda been functional, I would have stepped out to confront whoever it was. At least the cameras in the fairgrounds and the cemetery kept going. Hopefully something productive will come from this.

Dead Wood in Des Moines for Monster of the Week RPG.

That night’s stakeout of the cemetery was manned by Dan and Brenda while Tom somewhat illegally wrangled his way back into the Fair with some surveillance gear and provisions. (The cemetery investigation is detailed elsewhere.) The next morning, the entire team reviewed Tom’s bizarre, inexplicable footage

The Des Moines Remote Viewing Society picked up their second “case” much sooner than expected.

It was a dark and stormy night at the Iowa State Fair on the Monday after the fair opened. The Des Moines Remote Viewing Society snagged their second unofficial case. They were walking around the fairgrounds together discussing the cemetery case, eating funnel cakes, and not taking anything too seriously. They stumbled upon an unusual flyer on their way by the Frontier Village.

The Strange Case of AJ Sutton, Wood Carver.

The Case of the Missing Chainsaw Carvings.

The crew wandered down to the Chainsaw Artist’s booth and took in the 1:30 show. The crowd peered on as a man turned a fairly ordinary hunk of log into a statue of an old farmer wearing a straw hat and holding a corn cob pipe. The artist’s only tools were five sizes of chainsaws and his imagination.

He buzzed and grinded away for over an hour and a half, taking a few breaks for water and to talk to the crowd. The artist, AJ Sutton, said the statues just appeared to him in the wood. It was almost as if the statues wanted to make an appearance on their own. Most statues were polished and stained after the show, then given to whomever commissioned them or sold at the Woodcutter’s Tent.

Birds, wolves, cats, as well as school mascots like Cy the Cyclone and Herky the Hawkeye were popular. The statues usually sold for around $65.00 or more.

After the show, Dan and Brenda talked to AJ backstage while Tom poked around the scene of the crime under the pretense of buying a statue. The empty bases of where the Cy and Herky statues were on display remained intact, almost as if the statues had walked off on their own.

“It happens almost every year.” AJ explained.

“Usually it’s just some college kids playing a prank,” he continued. “Watch. They’ll turn up trying to milk the Butter Cow in a photo later or magically show up at a concert on the last night of the Fair. Happens almost every year.”

Tom discovered one anomaly that didn’t make a lot of sense. Usually the statues were stolen with their bases. The statues weren’t balanced well enough by themselves to stand on their own. Yet there was no sawdust on the grassy ground near the scene. Tina, the girl in charge of selling the statues said there had never been an incident where the bases were left behind before. There was bare wood under where the mascots had been posed.

Further investigation revealed one of the Fair sanitation workers had seen two “young kids in what looked like mascot costumes” running away from the scene.

Dan’s “command center,” a 2012 Dodge Caravan loaded up with cameras and electronics for the cemetery stake out was pressed into service as soon as the group rounded out their day. A quick Internet search revealed several pranks from years past as AJ had described them. In every photo, the statues were still on bases and many appeared to be heavy enough to require two or more people to move them.

That night’s stakeout of the cemetery was manned by Dan and Brenda while Tom somewhat illegally wrangled his way back into the Fair with some surveillance gear and provisions. (The cemetery investigation is detailed elsewhere.) The next morning, the entire team reviewed Tom’s bizarre, inexplicable footage.

No obvious signs of tampering. The camera aimed into the statuary sales area turned itself off and on three times during the night.

It got freakier from there. A lawn gnome and the farmer in the straw hat appeared to move around the area random during the night. Each time they moved, they reappeared in different poses. Each time they moved, they were still on their bases in a different pose!

Tom said he didn’t see anything strange at the time. No EVPs. Thermal was normal. He also did not notice the camera shutting down for half an hour at a time. The next morning he observed the statues back in their original places as if nothing had happened.

Closer to morning two “kids in mascot costumes” were seen climbing the fence on the University Ave side. A state trooper followed up on the report, but did not find anyone matching that description. There was some damage to the fence where someone heavy had climbed over and apparently used a piece of wood to get around the razor wire at the top of the fence. No blood or serious damage, however.

Donut Hut across the street on University from the fairgrounds also reported a break-in and vandalization during the night. The only anomaly was the presence of wood splinters in the broken glass of their front window, but no bat or other piece of wood found at the scene.

To be continued…

Disclaimer: People and events depicted herein are fictitious and intended for entertainment use only. Any similarity to persons living or deceased is unintentional. There is no Des Moines Remote Viewing Society. This is a work of fiction. No one was harmed in the making of this blog.

Legal Stuff: For use with with Monster of the Week by Michael Sands. Monster of the Week is copyrighted by Evil Hat Productions, LLC and Generic Games.

Tales of the Des Moines Remote Viewing Society (MotW TPG)

This is some of the backstory for my MotW RPG campaign. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is unintentional. This is a work of fiction.

Disclaimer: This is a fictional organization.

From the notes of Brenda Hart, Secretary of the Des Moines Remote Viewing Society:

Aug 3, 2016: Making it official tonight. Dan, Tom and I are going to start looking into the odd phenomena occurring here in Des Moines. I’m new here, only having moved from Colorado a few short years ago after my husband died. Ironic that I’m the one with the most experience in the field and the only trained remote viewer of the bunch.

Dan is our resident parapsychologist and tech guru. We wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for him and his website, The Midwest Monitor. He lives here in Des Moines and has seen a lot of strange things, more as of late. Most of his journals are on video in one form or another going back to the early 1990’s. He’s done a lot of investigations of local haunted houses.

If Dan is our parapsych and tech guy, Tom Ross is the exact opposite. He’s our resident spiritually conscious conspiracy guy. His intuition has led us to the tunnel network. (More on that later.) He’s also convinced Des Moines, IA is a popular stop on the extraterrestrial superhighway and a visitors center for the Reptiloid population. He also things a lot of the local happenings are eyeballs deep in the Illuminati, Freemasons, Nosferatu, shadow government, demons, Men in Black and so on. Tom’s notes are regularly mailed to my address as additional proof along with copies sent to friends, relatives and a random PO Box.

We have an unofficial fourth member named Lewis. He’s strictly on the Internet and goes by Big Lou 42 on most things. He’s a nice guy, but a lot secretive. I think he might be former government or a shadow corp employee turned whistleblower. He doesn’t live here, but he sure knows a lot about DsM. We have other internet friends, most live in BFN Iowa, MO, or MN. The local MUFON folks know we’re around, too. Dan used to be a member.

Tonight’s meeting was very informal. We met at Dan Miller’s house for pizza. It was our way of getting to know each other. Dan recently caught onto some sketchy activity in the cemetery over by the State Fairgrounds. It happens every year when the Fair crowd starts coming around.

Some teenagers were out partying near the cemetery when they saw some strange lights and bizarre fireworks coming from within the graveyard. They may have been drunk. They might not be credible. But I did manage to dig up some old newspaper files from the 1970’s and early 80’s of similar sightings.

In 1993 four college kids attempted to hold a seance in the middle of the night with a Ouija board. A week later, one of the teens died of an apparent suicide, two in a car accident, and the fourth went missing a few short years after college having been hospitalized in a mental institution suffering from multiple delusions and a nervous breakdown.

This year we’re going to do a very passive stakeout with cameras, trail cams and night vision gear mostly off the premises. If things look promising, we might move closer in toward the last nights of the Fair or after it’s all over. I’m going to do a reading three nights into the stakeout to see if I can determine where the disturbance might be coming from.

Tom says he has a lead on a bunch of activity near the cemetery in Pleasant Hill. That’s probably going to be the next destination just because of the close proximity and similar reports. Should be creepy fun.

-End of Entry.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Have a great week. See ya soon!

Monster of the Week: Continuing the Conversation

I’m loving Monster of the Week more every day. This game is well-designed and has so much to offer new Keepers.

Monster of the Week by Evil Hat Productions.

MotW is a fascinating RPG.

I really dig this game, but it’s taking a little bit of getting used to. Specifically, the Keeper’s section. I’m probably going to have to run a couple of mysteries before I get the hang of the system.

I still feel like it’s a little stiff and rigid from the Keeper’s side of the table. Then again, I’ve always felt that PbtA in general is a push toward GM-less roleplaying. As I say often, if that’s what you’re into, go for it.MotW would be a tough run without a Keeper because someone has to come up with all the cool monster and plot stuff, right?

I keep coming back to Page 131.

I actually think MotW is great for new GMs (Keepers.) They give you a play-by-play how to way to run a game session. They give all kinds of really solid advice on running a #ttrpg. The core book gives two mysteries and walks the reader through how to run them.

How awesome is that if you’re brand new? I would have loved this back in ye olden days. I’m still wrestling with it mentally now. It’s like learning to run a game all over again.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It’s the same thing I’m already used to doing, but I never referred to it as “using moves.” Up until this came up, I never had a strict list of principles to stick with in order to run the game.

My long standing way of setting up a campaign (*Oops! Not supposed to say, “campaign” any more. Now they’re “plot points.”) So, my long standing way of setting up plot points is episodic in format. I plan 24 sessions/games. At one episode per week that’s about half the year give or take. It rarely works that way, but that’s how I plan it.

My original planning for this game was to set up 24 episodes with pretty specific agenda. So, I hit rewind. It’s going to be more of a sandbox now, kinda like I planned Power Rangers RPG campaign. (Which is also still in the works, btw.)

I’m going to build a set of case files that the group can fall back on for clues and in-character advice. They’re following a group of three hunters that have vanished or moved off grid for mysterious reasons. Not really X-Files, but more like Giles’ school library in early Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The group’s mystery files won’t cover every mystery, though.

I already know who the first season BBEG looks like and what they’ve got going on. We’re going to touch on some real world conspiracies and paranormal events. I already know who most of my Bystanders, Minions, and Monsters are going to be. I have most of the behind-the-scenes stuff worked out. I think we’re still going to do episodes, but they’re going to be more like story arcs and done similarly to the way they’re described in the MotW core rules.

They have a very nice template worked out for writing mysteries. They walk the reader through all of the steps of mystery creation. It’s brilliant! Other game companies could learn from Michael Sands.

In short, with any game system, harvest what you like, pass on the rest. There is no one set way to run a game, as many, many of us have said. I’m personally just struggling to learn and adapt to the PbtA way of doing things.

I’m going to be dropping some of my mysteries on here, since I’m not expecting my players will read my blog. Bwah Ha Ha. I’ll put trigger warnings on the really gruesome stuff. I have an in-game calendar of events in my head, depending on which hooks get a bite. <“evil” Grognard Keeper noises.>

Thanks for being here all. I appreciate you! Have a great weekend!

Birth of a Dungeon Crawl?

DCC/MCC project is intended to be a work in progress. I’ll be posting one or two dungeon rooms at a time here on my blog, useable in OSR games. I’m also looking at popping out some items, spells, classes and races for both DCC and MCC.

I’m contemplating a new series of articles.

I recently got turned onto Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) and Mutant Crawl Classics (MCC) by Goodman Games. DCC has been around in its current form since 2012, but its roots extend back to the good old 3rd Ed D&D days. (*Editor’s Note: I still have many of the old modules and treasure them dearly.) DCC in its current printing is very much in the vein of Old School Revival (OSR) as it looks a LOT like old B/X D&D. (*Editor’s Note: I’ve written more about it here.)

MCC is a little newer (2017?) and is a throwback to Metamorphosis Alpha/Gamma World in so many ways. It also reminds me a little bit of Palladium’s Rifts with its mix of magic and technology. DCC and MCC are fully compatible with one another, which is awesomesauce when designing creatures. While I’m not huge on post apocalyptic genre games in general, I like MCC because of its old school charm and simplicity. It also uses the same character funnel 0 Level play as DCC only AD Terra style.

One thing that really jumps out at me about both DCC and MCC is the incredible amount of third party support that exists for both games. Goodman even goes so far as to list many of them in their books. I have not begun to dig through the various websites to look for what am looking at creating. I have ideas for several character classes/races. Much like other OGL endeavors, I’m certain anything I come up with is going to resemble material that already exists somewhere.

It will be a work in progress.

Similar to my Power Rangers RPG campaign, my DCC/MCC project is intended to be a work in progress. I’ll be posting one or two dungeon rooms at a time here on my blog, useable in OSR games. I’m also looking at popping out some items, spells, classes and races for both DCC and MCC. Anything I put on the blog is always free to use anywhere. I might eventually cobble together an entire book for pdf publication on DriveThruRPG or my Ko-Fi Page.

My plans from there in regards to OGL endeavours is to either do more on DriveThruRPG or possibly consider starting up something on Patreon. There are a staggering number of RPG startups out there. Honestly, I’m not sure what’s going to set my work apart just yet, but I’m going to do it anyway. Because DCC/MCC are an OGL venture, I may eventually veer off into other systems such as D&D or ICRPG.

What can I say? I love RPGs. I love monkeying with different systems.

Thank you for being here. I appreciate you. More to come. Take care. Have a great week. Game on!

Mixing the Genres

Some concepts mesh very well together. Others require a bit of work on the part of the designer, such as Spaghetti Western Mecha. It is possible, however.

I think we all do this to some extent.

My personal favorite is Cybernetic Kung Fu Mecha Jocks in Space. Not surprisingly, the Lords of Kung Fu actually appear in several of my RPG campaigns. I’m a big fan of martial arts movies and TV. Of course, that fits right in with anime and before you know it, everyone’s at the party.

Let’s list most of the major RPG genres:

  • Fantasy. (Low, Middle, or High magic.)
  • Horror. (We’ll come back to this one…)
  • Science Fiction. (Low, High or Fantastic Tech, Hard Science, and Space Opera.)
  • Superheroes.
  • Cyberpunk/Shadowrun.
  • Anime. (Most commonly mixed with something else such as Mecha.)
  • Modern. (Crime, Military, Spies.)
  • Post Apocalyptic.
  • Western.
  • Steampunk. (I might be stretching a bit with this one…)
  • Comedy.
  • Catch-All. (Games such as RIFTS that defy most other categories.)

I’m sure I’m missing one or two that will dawn on me mere minutes after I hit “publish” on this article. I think of all of the categories Fantasy is probably the one most people are familiar with and have the easiest time getting into. Elves, dragons, swords and sorcery are the stuff many tales were made of long before we started rolling dice to them.

Dungeons & Dragons has become synonymous with fantasy roleplaying games.

But it’s only one system of literally dozens. D&D is one of the grandparents of the industry, but there are a handful of other games worthy of mention in another article. Fantasy genre mashes up well with a lot of things, like the humble potato. Almost everything blends with fantasy in some way.

However, the company that started D&D also pioneered into other genres. Where would we be without Boot Hill, Metamorphosis Alpha, Top Secret SI, and Marvel Superheroes Roleplaying?

Ravenloft was probably the first D&D module to really feature a mix with horror as a genre. We have the mighty Strahd Von Zarovich and his minions in Ravenloft. Players figure out very quickly that they can’t just hack and slash their way through, really bringing out some of that fear element. Not to mention good old Strahd is a vampire and all.

Coming back to Horror as a genre…

I have a love/hate relationship with a lot of old White Wolf games. Vampire the Masquerade being probably the biggest standout for games that churn my stomach. I liked Werewolf a lot. Mage and Hunter were sort of okay-ish. The rest could go rot in a pit for all I really care. I just wasn’t into all the twisted weirdness that came with some of it. Even games like Beyond the Supernatural, Chill, and Don’t Look Back, Terror is Never far behind kinda turned me off of the genre a little.

Vampire, actually most of the old World of Darkness stuff does one thing exceptionally well- faction politics. But, at that point is it really horror? I mean, you can change Vampire’s clans over to political parties, corporations, or even magic guilds leaving the backstabbing and scheming to be just as intense.

Horror is one of those big Session Zero red flag “No” squares for a lot of people. Most of us have had trauma in the real world and don’t necessarily want to play around in gore, fear, paranoia, or even jump scares. Horror elements in any game should definitely meet the approval of the rest of the group before they are implemented. I’ve had a couple of experiences where they weren’t, expectations didn’t mesh, and trauma followed. I highly caution the use of horror with almost anything.

Anime is a good genre to blend with almost everything.

Many anime stories inevitably fall under some other category; especially fantasy, cyberpunk, mecha, and superhero. It is very easy to take almost any campaign, add a ruleset that includes bold, flashy maneuvers, intense action scenes, complicated relationships, and put it into the Anime category. I see Anime as a sort of attitude in gaming more than a specific genre.

The other fun thing about anime is bringing some unlike concepts together in art. Cowboys in Space? Fantasy martial arts superheroes? How about Post Apocalyptic Steampunk Spies? Anime is super flexible.

Almost anything can end with “In space.”

Think about it. (*Editor’s note: I love doing this!) You can take almost any campaign setting known to RPGs and end it with “In space” and it will take on a whole new meaning and perspective. It also gives clever GMs an excuse to recycle old modules.

I sometimes think Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had it easiest. Take any plot from any TV show ever made and set it in space. Feel like a western? Well, these “aliens” over yonder have a heap a trouble with them space horse rustlers. Next week we’re fighting an imperialist socialist dictatorship over on Planet Beta Nine. We’re overcoming real Cold War tensions with starships and space stations the next week. The week after that our captain will fall in love with a beautiful elf-like maiden while battling orcs and amnesia on a fantasy world.

Science Fiction, space and time travel in particular, lend themselves exceptionally well to crossing over and amongst everything. Think about all of the things shows like Red Dwarf and Dr Who accomplished. I hear most Brits consider Dr Who to be a national superhero.

Space Opera focuses less on science and technology and more on plot and characters. Star Wars is a blend of science fiction, fantasy and martial arts. All of the subgenre stuff supports the characters and the plot.

I’m probably going to revisit the concept of blending genres again farther down the line. This article was mostly intended to get the creative juices flowing. The one amazing thing about tabletop roleplaying is that almost anything can happen and usually does.

Thank you for being here. Hope you have a great week.

Multiversal Misadventures

Reality is fluid. Different reality timelines are created with every decision. Chicken and waffles for lunch? Somewhere in the Multiverse you became Vegan. Somewhere in the multiverse, a version of you is a billionaire.

It’s becoming more common in RPGs.

One of my favorite comics of all time is Crisis on Infinite Earths because I read a lot of the comics before and after the big change happened in the 1980’s and I’ve tried to follow most of the DC reality shifts since. There have been many. More recently Marvel has gotten into the act with all the Infinity Gauntlet business. Okay, so it’s been a few decades. Anyway…

I used to bemoan Star Trek for their reality/time screw plots. The only true reality mix-up of the Star Trek: Next Generation series that I truly enjoyed was All Good Things Parts 1 and 2 and that was the end of the series. Dr Who was a different story because monkeying with the timestream and reality is the Doctor’s main thing. Yet Star Trek is a far easier game to run for me.

But I see this coming up more and more in RPGs these days. Power Rangers RPG from Renegade Studios actively encourages players and GMs to change the canon storyline and mess with major villains. Power Rangers has alternate realities built into its canon. My first campaign takes place on Earth 129, where Rita and Zed won’t be making an appearance right away.

If you’re interested in this sort of thing in the real world, it’s not just science fiction.

My wife thinks I’m nuts, but at least I’m harmless.

I promise, my coffee isn’t spiked and the mushrooms on my pizza are very normal. In the spiritual community especially, we talk about higher timelines. Try to imagine an Earth where the dinosaurs never became extinct. Or maybe a certain US president was never assassinated. Or maybe an Earth where the alternate version of you insists on eating toast for breakfast every day.

If this sort of thing appeals, please look up The Mandela Effect. Some of us remember certain products having a different label. The Berenstain Bears had a different spelling. Nelson Mandela died in prison following a hunger strike. Basically, some of us get certain history facts “wrong” because we remember it differently. I experienced one of these shifts directly once and it was brief, but incredibly intense. Deja vu is another example of this effect.

Another similar theory is parallel to the movie The Matrix. If you look up David Icke, he explains it well. Basically our reality is a simulation from an extraterrestrial or extradimensional beings, or possibly humans from the future trying to prevent global catastrophe. It’s a bit deep for some. Whenever you hear someone talk about “a glitch in the Matrix,” alternate reality theory is what they are referring to.

Back to RPGs for now.

A good friend of mine once ran a Star Wars campaign where the PCs killed Darth Vader and stopped the Emperor in his tracks after the first Death Star was destroyed. Reality shifts can be fun in some RPGs because it makes the PC’s actions matter much more to the overall story, which is ultimately what we all want as role players.

The same GM and I were also building a Mutants & Masterminds game where a city was leveled by a nuclear blast. A terrorist supervillain went supernova and wiped out a sizeable number of mainline story characters, so the PCs were going to have really big shoes to fill. Picture something akin to Marvel’s New Mutants taking over for the Avengers. Like I said in the beginning, this kind of thing happens in comic multiverses all the time.

More later. Or at least in my current reality timeline. (Wink wink.) Have a good week.

Day 20: Dream

The internet has long been my vision board. This is how I picture retirement, some day after the kids have all graduated.

#FlashFicFeb although this is only “fiction” because I’m not presently experiencing this reality in a purely physical sense.

Day 20: Dream #FlashFicFeb

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

I intend to live in a cabin; near a lake; in the woods; with a view of the mountains; where I can sit in a hand built wooden chair next to a stone fire pit where I cook many delicious meals. I will befriend as many animals as I can. I will walk around the lake at least once per day.

I want to be within an hour’s walking distance of a small town. Other than electrical and water, my cabin will be mostly off the grid. I only need to go into town to use the WiFi occasionally and buy supplies. I might get one of those fancy recumbent tricycles if I get tired of walking. My car is going to be parked and probably covered most of the time.

I want to enjoy fresh air at night outdoors as often as possible. I want to watch the sun rise and set next to the lake. I’ll watch the geese and the ducks come and go. With some luck I’ll even get to see the deer occasionally, and maybe a raccoon. I don’t hunt or fish anymore, so they have nothing to fear from me.

I might become more of a vegetarian than I am now. I plan to make pizza, chili, maybe some eggs now and then. I’ll roast corn, zucchini, potatoes, and onions over the fire pit. I’ll pop popcorn in a pan. I can’t go fully vegan because I love cheese, eggs, and butter too much.

My days will be filled with writing roleplaying games and novels. My weekends will be filled with conventions for roleplaying games or Ufology. I’ll never need to go on a spiritual retreat because the cabin will be far enough from traffic that I can rest and meditate without noise from traffic or other nearby houses.

I want to be able to fall asleep occasionally in my chair next to the fire pit with a blanket over my legs for added warmth. I’ll meditate regularly in almost any weather. My cabin will have a solid roof and a wood stove for cold, rainy nights.

I might get a cat for company. Otherwise, I don’t really need or even want a lot of companionship. I’ll still upload my blog. I’ll e-publish most of my stuff, anyway. It’s not that I don’t like being around people, I just want as much peace and quiet as possible.

Don’t pinch me. I don’t want to wake up. This is real for me.

Photo by Spencer Selover on Pexels.com
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