Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Submissions Open: Knights of the Dinner Table

Knights of the Dinner Table (in my not so humble opinion) is a great publication to write for. The rate of pay is 3 cents per word, which is competitive for the RPG market. I've been writing game material and reviews for two years. Writing for KoDT has and is a positive experience. Yes, I'm biased.

The Submission Guidelines

KoDT accepts submissions for a host of RPG writing, from magic items, monsters, dungeon traps, as well as a host of GM features and game reviews. Submitted material can be "system neutral" or be written to cater to Kenzer & Companies main systems: HackMaster and Aces & Eights. KoDT has a host of regular contributors, but features new talent all the time.

Worse case? Submit a comic/gag idea and get a free issue (if it publishes).

Best of luck!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Parting Shot Contest Winner Featured Gag Comic #237 KoDT

Congrats to Jonathan Richards! A bit of a belated congrats, because I totally (and obviously) missed it. His fill the comic idea on the contest for parting shots which I submitted is featured in issue #237 of KoDT from last month.I will have to come up with another... hmmm...?
Anyone got any ideas?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

RPG Review: Baker Street


Baker Street Cover
This issue we review Baker Street, published by Fearlight Games (site). Baker Street is a role playing game (RPG) involving the most famous of Baker Streets, based upon the work of the late-great, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This review concerns the Portable Document Format (PDF), which is available at DriveThruRPG.com and RPGNow.com. The game was successfully brought to life via Kickstarter to the tune of just over $31k.

Disclosure: This review is property of Kenzer and Company, republished here with permission, and may Links to product pages include my RPGNow.com
affiliate identification. I receive token % if you purchase something on the landing page. Baker Street was provided by Fearlight Games free of cost for the purpose of this review.  
“The year is 1891, and Dr. Watson needs your help. Holmes is missing and cases are pouring into Baker Street. It is up to you to select a Victorian profession and put your brain power to work against Sherlock Holmes’s greatest foes.”  (Pg. 5)
The player characters will be thrust into the spot light of consulting detectives in the stead of the most famous consulting detective of all time. The timeline of Baker Street is the Victorian era, shortly after Holmes and Moriarty have had their (perhaps) deadly confrontation at Reichenbach Falls.

The mechanics of Baker Street involve the use of standard six sided dice (D6) and a special D6 named the Sherlock Die. This dice is numbered one thru three, on three of the sides and with a Holmes, Watson and Moriarty icon on each of the other faces of the D6. Though I don’t possess the Sherlock Die this is easy enough to simulate with a different colored dice.
Something to understand is that the characters (investigators) in Baker Street don’t have attributes. Actions and conflicts are resolved with skills. The number of skill points indicates how many standard D6s are rolled to determine whether the skill attempted was successful. Rolling the standard D6s for a skill check, fours, fives and sixes indicates a success. The amount of success needed for a specific skill check is determined by the Mastermind (Game Master/ Referee), though a difficulty chart is provided and entails the basic idea of how this works.  

Two nuances to this are that using a professional skill (listed with a specific profession) allows the investigator to roll additional dice and that any sixes rolled may be rerolled (similar to dice penetration or an explosion mechanic) for an opportunity to roll additional success and add them to the total, with no maximum of successes.
In addition to the standard D6s-the Sherlock Die is rolled. With this dice if the player rolls a number (1-3) they can change any standard dice of the same number from a failure to a success. If the Holmes icon is rolled they get to choose which of the dice they change, while rolling the Watson icon allows one extra success or to distribute the success to a fellow investigator on their next roll. Rolling Moriarty removes successes equal to the number of rolls which did not succeed. Brutal-I love it!         

This really is a wonderful dice system. I wasn’t sure at first-so I broke out the dice and did some experimenting. Also the choice to design a skill based system over any other sort be it attribute or ability based system eliminates number crunching and focuses on exactly what this game is-a detective fiction RPG.
Creating an investigator in Baker Street is broken down into four easy steps, the first of which is selecting a profession, which there are a total of thirty-five to choose from. Professions run the myriad of Victorian social casts from street urchins to the middle class and wealthy. The number and variety of professions in Baker Street is a definite plus, be it in creating a diverse party of player investigators or the Mastermind needing a few NPCs to fill into a scenario. Each professional profile has a list of skills and specialties that make it unique as well as a social class and status rating, which are elements to add to the flavor of role playing.

Superheroes - Available Now @ RPGNow.com

Second, after a profession has been selected players get to distribute thirty Investigator Points be it towards the improvement of professional skills-new skills, specialties and/or item characteristics for their investigator. The Skill list and Specialties do a very adequate job at giving a glimpse of the setting and the manner of gameplay. Item Characteristics is an interesting section and gives the player an opportunity to create special items which may work exceptionally or not so exceptionally as well as these items may impact resolutions.
Players will later be able to improve their investigator abilities by distributing experience points that have been awarded at conclusion of their cases. This serves as the games experience point system a good deal is outlined in how the Mastermind should decide to distribute points among the players, as well as what cost involves for character improvement.

Third, players are tasked determining the characteristics of their investigator. Every player investigator is tasked with coming up with two characteristics for Personal, Professional, and Negative. There is an ample list provided to get players started in the right direction for each category, as well as with Mastermind approval they can create their own. Characteristics provide both the opportunity for role playing (and the accumulation of experience points) as well as a potential boom or bust toward skill rolls.
The last step is completing the investigators profile and giving the basic details of character such as name age and a few other details.

Beyond creating investigators, there is a great amount of detail to towards the Victorian setting. Laws as well as sections regarding custom and status-even a good sized list of criminals to add to the mix; these sections really help fill in some of the details and bring the setting to life. How action and initiative functions brings a fresh approach to game mechanics. It is a turn based system with the first character acting being able to select the next.
Investigation in Baker Street feels like a game unto itself. Like a mini-game-within a role playing game, and adds an entirely different dynamic. To be fair-the investigation element of Baker Street is hard to simulate how it works without actually playing it. I haven’t yet had the opportunity, but I will. Just reading how it works, the investigation pays homage to the investigation elements present Sherlock fiction.

"Investigation Scenes play out in a series of rounds. During these, Observation, Reason, and Deduction Rounds, investigators make Skill Rolls to uncover clues, weed out false clues, and uncover possible leads to aid in their investigation. Players can choose to take additional scenes after the first - each extra scene taken increases the Threat Meter of the Adventure." (Pg. 64)
Observation, Reason and Deduction are skills. One player for each of the three phases of investigating a scene will become the player groups lead investigator-corresponding to the higher skill total and/or player decision. The lead investigator also borrows some skill ability of the overall group to conduct the phase.

An important element of the investigation (though most obvious) is the actual scene of the investigation, the Masterminds narrative. There is also the matter of who is giving the case to our investigators and what they say etc. Investigators can (usually) ask four questions per scene to help them narrow down clues.  

Clue cards are provided with the Observation phase of the investigation. A chart is provided which mitigates a roll difficulty for a scene corresponding to the number of clues-which may be discovered and the appropriate number of successes to maintain balance. Clue cards each provide three potential leads which will be further scrutinized in the Reason and Deduction phases. Some of these clues are false leads and will need to be scrutinized using reason and deduction.
Investigations will have a number of scenes, typically four per investigation (case). An investigation scene works as described above but the investigators may take on another scene (in the same place) to gather more clues/leads. However doing this raises the Threat Meter.

The Threat Meter in Baker Street is meant to provide tension to the story. Basically, the higher the threat meter gets-the more difficult the investigators will have in solving the case. As the threat meter rises, investigative rolls become more difficult in an addition to other possible difficulties-determined by the Mastermind. There may be points in the investigation where the investigators may have to decide to forgo the gathering of clues, in order to avoid raising the Threat Meter-this can happen if the rolls for gathering clues are really awful etc.
Baker Street comes with an investigation. The Case of the Jilted Bride is based on Mr. Doyle’s Fiction. This is very essential to the game itself-showing a future Mastermind the ins and outs of the game itself. Reading through it, it really helps to put some of the pieces of this game together in a meaningful way.

I don’t do scores for my reviews. If I did, Baker Street would get a pretty high total. I like this game. I’m also a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle-so I can’t help but wonder if that makes me a bit biased.
That said, Baker Street has a bit of everything. The dice mechanics and system is unique. The setting material is well presented, which a Mastermind can build more than a few cases around. I wouldn’t like printing out this PDF (full color and costly)-though the pages of parchment look rather excellent on my screen. There is respectable amount of illustrations used from the Doyle estate and quotes of Sherlock and other characters from these same works.

Overall, the game really does what it sets out to do and does it very well. Baker Street is an excellent game with a unique style and resolution to ins and outs of detective fiction in an RPG. The game as we say, is most assuredly afoot!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Review Burp: Cults of Chaos

Old School RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com"

Cults of Chaos
Disclosure: Links to product pages include my DriveThruRPG.com
affiliate identification. I receive token % in compensation if you purchase something on the landing page.

My review of Dark Albion Cults of Chaos is featured with Indy Game Scene in issue #238 of KoDT this month. Cults of Chaos is a GM toolkit for running cult antagonist in your OSR/D&D campaign, suitable for just about any hi or low fantasy RPG or setting.

This is one awesome product. Easily, among the top three that I've reviewed for the column. Certainly, worth the asking price.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

RPG NEWS: What’s Up Robotech RPG Tactics?

Robotech RPG Tactics obliterated its initial funding goal of $70k, to the tune of just over $1.4 million. The campaign ran April 18th thru May 20th 2013 and was funded by 5,342 backers. That’s 3 ½ years, since I very nearly backed this Kickstarter project. I didn’t back it for a few reasons most of which to do with the level of funding the project had reached by the time I was about ready to pledge (over $500k at that time). In short I thought the funding level of this project was far above the capabilities for Palladium Books to handle. I tried to convince a number of friends to not back it for the same reason. About half heeded my words, in one fashion or another. Some backed it for less, some not at all. Unfortunately, I was right. I also didn’t pledge because of how they handled a crowdsource project the previous year (or so) for Northern Gun 1&2 supplements. I can’t remember the details and I can’t find them-but this was a much smaller project. The third reason and most relevant to this post, was what I read in the Risks and challenges section. You should certainly consider looking closely at what the creator says here and if it meshes with their history. Certainly my experience and knowledge of Palladium Books helped me avoid this train wreck-but all the more reason that if you see a Kickstarter you like-it would be good to take a very close look at the company, its history and what they note as Risks and challenges. Basically you are looking to see if all of this meshes. Lets take a closer look, I’ve highlighted (Intentional or not) what I found misleading:

Risks and challenges

“A project of this scope requires the successful collaboration of artists, sculptors, writers, game designers, and manufacturers. Managing this complex process and minimizing delays are the largest challenges we face in bringing Robotech® RPG Tactics™ to market. We have learned from past experience that success requires careful planning and a full understanding of the scope of the project. In order to facilitate the timely delivery of Robotech® RPG Tactics™, Palladium Books and Ninja Division have brought in a host of new talent to work on the project.
Angry Nird
1)      At this point, the past experience of Palladium Books includes a lot of delayed (RPG) books & Books which were never finished. They haven’t fulfilled a self-created release schedule or delivered products on time since the inception of the company. They aren't just occasionally late in delivery... They are ALWAYS late. They may have learned that success requires careful planning, but given the history-delivering on time (which they don't) seems another matter entirely...

2)      So far as I’m aware a host of new talent seems misleading. Palladium hired one person (I could be wrong, but as far as I know) which they have since let go. Ninja Division didn’t hire any new talent but continued with what they have. If I’m wrong on this please leave a comment. One additional hire is hardly what should be defined as a "host of new talent."

To help ensure realistic deadlines, we have completed the vast majority of our development before launching the Kickstarter. Sculpts for the game pieces are almost entirely complete. The rulebook and game components are deep in development and will be ready for layout soon. Our manufacturers are also ready and have reserved factory time for the project. This means that as soon as the project is funded, we can lock down a timeline with our manufacturers to get the game produced.

3)      A red flag went up here on these last two sentences. Manufacturing in most industries does not work this way. A manufacture does not reserve factory time before locking down a timeline. This makes zero sense. This seems to be the case of Palladium putting the cart before the horse (hindsight especially being 20/20) in how they “think it’s going to work.” Still it’s misleading.

It is our commitment to you, the Kickstarter backers, that we will maintain consistent communication throughout the process. This means regular updates, product photos, and plenty of behind the scenes insight as we complete the creation of Robotech® RPG Tactics™.”

4)      No red flags here, but again in hindsight any of the above is hardly the case.

Palladium Books broke the delivery of this Kickstarter into two waves and after continually pushing back the release of the first wave after supposedly being 98% complete, Robotech RPG Tactics finished international shipping May 13th 2015. Complaints are numerous and often in the comments section due to the part count and lack of transparency about of the project. Though certainly most comments are owned by a vocal minority this has to be the most commented Kickstarter in the history of Kickstarter for sure as wave 2 has been again pushed for a non-concrete date in 2017, the comments which are at 97k will certainly break 100k before completion; despite losing a considerable amount of steam.  

In the meantime while Palladium Books continues a complete lack of the transparency in regards to delays. Just about every update starts out with, “sorry about the long silence-and-still getting quotes for miniatures.” The bottom line is that if Palladium Books still hasn’t got the price quotes for the completion of wave 2-the longer this delays the less likely it will be completed at all. I for one believe that Palladium would like to do right. The question: At what point will Palladium Books surpass the financial capability to do so?   

In the last few days Kickstarter has at least come to their senses to at least remove the tag: “A Project We Love.” They have their money no need to rub salt in the wound I suppose, but then again this project is still counted (by Kickstarter) as a success. A lot backers would certainly disagree.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

RPG REVIEW: Labyrinth Lord

I can’t imagine an RPG more “Indie,” than Labyrinth Lord. Goblinoid Games (site) has done their part, featuring a complimentary artless version of Labyrinth Lord, as well as the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion, as an absolutely free PDF download on their website. For the purpose of this review these two books shall be abbreviated henceforth as LL & LL (AEC). If free doesn’t encourage you to blast over to Goblinoid’s website or DriveThruRPG.com and give the appropriate letter icons a couple of button mashing clicks, then I’m not certain what will. Print & Hardcover as well as full PDF B&W (illustrated) versions of the LL core books are available for $ sale.
Disclosure: Links to product pages include my DriveThruRPG.com affiliate identification. I receive token % in compensation if you purchase something on the landing page. This review is property of Kenzer and Company, republished here with permission, and may have been modified by the author.

If you want to check it out the artless (free) versions of Labyrinth Lord, as well as the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion click on the title links of this very sentence.

Something worth mention is that there isn’t a large stable of writers at Goblinoid Games to produce content for LL. Goblinoid uses an open game license and anyone can create game material. This encourages freelance writers/publishers to create adventures and setting supplements, of which there are quite a number of both.
LL is known as a retro clone of original Dungeons and Dragons, one of many games which embrace Old School Roleplaying (OSR). To say it simply, OSR games have that old school feel or are in fact, old school. Typically this equates to games which feature simple rules and game mechanics, and are usually an offshoot of D&D.

Though I’d love to get into a Doc Brown time machine or deeply contemplate what gaming was like in that obscure dimension known as the early to mid, 1980s; as well as use this platform to pepper you with colorful eighties analogies… Who wouldn’t love that? I’m going to try and avoid comparisons between LL and D&D as much as possible.  
Why? Well first, I was born in 1978 and I didn’t slay my first dragon until 1991. Ignorance is bliss and that much applies to this reviewer. I was never cognizant of a world without pen and paper RPGs, that’s my reality. I did indeed play and Dungeon Master, D&D all the way through second edition (many years ago) but, I’m not a sage of D&D and have no desire to pretend otherwise. Or matter of point; make this review about obscure/subtle rule differences between the two RPGs (yawn). As I said, the game is absolutely free, so if you want a comparison, mash some buttons and it will be yours.

Old School RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Second, I don’t desire for this review to come off as an English 102 Compare and Contrast paper. Enough said? These games are so close that once I started down that path I’d most likely be trapped in reviewer hell forever… Ever… er… r
Like I was in a labyrinth… Oh yeah, Labyrinth Lord 

So, Labyrinth Lord as much as humanly possible on its own merit? Let us begin…
LL features a simple and easy to learn RPG system. This is a good thing. Some games get a bit lost in what I like to call, “fiddly bits,” otherwise known as game mechanics. LL does not do this. Character creation is crisp and simple to complete. Sections for the Labyrinth Lord (or GM/DM) are well organized, present basic concepts and have tons of useful reference tables. No adventure hooks or plots are included but the ideas presented are adequate enough to get a game of LL going. The monster and spell sections boast the highest page counts of the entire book. And this also, is a good thing.

The author’s tone in LL and LL (AEC) does a sufficient job of emphasizing role playing. LL is a ruleset, minus emphasis on complicated mechanics. That’s not to say the writing is missing something or that there is not a good deal of rules contained therein, to the contrary. For the most part both books are decently written; and rules? I would estimate that +90% of the content of each book is either a rule or guideline in how play should proceed. The mechanics of the game are just straight forward, result A = outcome B, type of stuff. 
As you might guess based on the title, LL (AEC) expands on the rules of LL and makes things a little crunchier while offering additional rules and player options. For example, in LL dwarves, elves and halflings are both a race and a class while in LL (AEC) these races are able to choose a class, though there are some restrictions. There are also additional demi-human races added to the pool of potential player characters such as the half-orc, half-elf and gnome. For those acquainted to fantasy games and editions, this will be very familiar. Additionally, LL (AEC) introduces a decent amount of new spells, monsters and animals.
The games Tolkien style medieval fantasy setting is more implied than specifically written. In a bubble, this is not such a good thing, but most likely players that have interest in this game are familiar with what’s expected, or at least conceptually understood, to a certain degree. I’m aware that my own personal preference clouds my judgment in this regard, but even just a short section about a setting would be better than nothing. How about just a generalized paragraph?

Well then, I will write it myself!

“The world is a place of enchantment and mythical beings… Dark labyrinths and horseflies the size of mountain trolls-that poop magic and eat characters for brunch…    
Seriously though, I really didn’t find much of anything; but there was this in the Adventure Section:

“Many adventures the characters undertake will take place in monster-filled labyrinths, in the wilderness, or in a town.”
Completely by accident, but something other than content is wrong with that sentence.

Back to point, I get it and the game doesn’t boast a setting. The setting is implied and it’s the Labyrinth Lord’s (GM/DM) job is to create one, such as I did. I just would have liked to see more hints at a setting. Being a gamer I get a lot of ideas from fluff and I know it sounds corny. How could you not love fluff? That’s the stuff pillows are made of!
Even minus the fluffy stuff, LL & LL (AEC) weigh in at 140 and 160 pages. Each book’s cover art and interior illustrations are pure old school excellence. Titles and section headers are presented in a bold black Calligraphic font with regular text in a simple, easy to read double column format. Tables are plentiful, listed in the table of contents and easy to discern the relevant information from.

One omission I noticed in LL is that the Spell List Table is (I presume) missing from the Table of Contents (PG 42). There are many tables shown on the Table of Contents so I’m not entirely sure whether what’s missing is an actual mistake or if the Spell List Table is just not considered a table? Well, I think it should be.
I also noticed one game mechanic that I didn’t entirely agree with or I should say, upon deep consideration, found to be out of order. The mechanic involves the thief class’s ability to find and remove traps. I don’t claim (ahem!) savant-ism regarding labyrinth traps but dungeon traps, I think I’ve come up with some pretty deadly (at least I hope they were) trappings for KoDT.

Okay, stop me if you heard this one (dramatic pause) but a fighter, a dwarf and a thief walk into a labyrinth. Sounds pretty ominous, I know. At the very first passage there’s a trap. All characters involved are first level and if the Labyrinth Lord consults the rulebook he finds that…   
The fighter has a little better than a 16% chance (rolling a 1 on a D6) of finding the trap.

The dwarf has a little better 33% chance (roll of 1 or 2 on a D6). Not too shabby.
However, the thief? The one character class who has Find and Remove traps listed as one of his special abilities. The thief, has the exactly a 14% chance (D100 roll) to find the trap. Wait-Huh!?!

I’ll try and keep my rant brief but having every other character type with a better percentage chance to succeed at an ability the thief is supposed to be skilled at is; putting it politely-completely off. I even went back over to the LL (AEC) to see if the mechanics were had been put right. They hadn’t. *Shrug* 
I guess that’s about it. I waited until now to say this (and patting myself on the back for making it this far) but this game feels very-very much like the old school D&D I knew and loved. Being fair, there were also some things I really despised about D&D too, but not to be outdone; Labyrinth Lord has some of that as well… Such as it should.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Review Burp: Redemption RPG

Redemption RPG
My review of Redemption is featured with Indy Game Scene in issue #237 of KoDT this month.

Redemption is a military/science fiction RPG. Though the game itself wasn't my cup of coffee and I had a number of criticisms, it is a silver seller over at drivethrurpg.com.

Disclosure: Links to product pages include my DriveThruRPG.com
affiliate identification. I receive token % in compensation if you purchase something on the landing page.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

RPG Fanzine The Codex Needs Writers

The RPG Fanzine, The Codex is looking for writers. Rate is 5 cents per word. Writing for each issue follows a theme.

I sent in my query and will fill this update once I lock down any further information for submitters. This is the same group that produces The Gauntlet Patreon.

Interested? The G+ Page has all the information and a free download of Blood to get your started.

Friday, October 14, 2016

RPG NEWS: Kickstarter Isn’t Accountable, Loves Money, Chump!

Angry Nird
In a timeframe just less than two years a “certain person” was allowed to “complete” eight (8) Kickstarter campaigns under two different entities: Ken Whitman Games & D20 Entertainment. As many in the gaming community well know, these campaigns didn’t generate much beyond a double handful of broken promises and gamer angst.

As far as Kickstarter is concerned (which it doesn’t seem to be) a project is “complete” once it has reached its funding goal. Beyond this and whether the project creator delivers, is not their concern. While I can certainly understand the failure to deliver once or twice, perhaps concerning an overzealous creator. At what point should Kickstarter take some responsibility? Apparently, never. These projects are all small potatoes, but cumulatively they add up. Certainly, the creator must pass some sort of criteria to post more than one or two campaigns?

Also not Kickstarter's concern, is that any failed creator can apparently launch not only one or two or three projects, but eight (8). Eight? Eight projects in less than two years and mind you by Kickstarters own definition these were likely considered successful. Despite the fact the campaigns themselves were absolutely unsuccessful. The comments (at the bottom) sections for each tell a more accurate story; happy backers are few and far between. Not only does Kickstarter not think it’s accountable for these farces, it’s so not accountable that it didn't stop this creator at project five or six. Two additional turds were needed, because as it turns out, eight was enough. (after all)   
In total these (mostly) unfulfilled projects generated over $180k from backers. What is most troubling and which was previously noted by notanotherdime; is that Kickstarter allowed this "certain person" to start many of these campaigns after a handful of the prior campaigns remained (& remain) unfulfilled. It’s not Kickstarter's job to notice whether or not a concurrent project creator is fulfilling his/her previous project obligations. "By all means," says Kickstarter, "start up another and some hapless chump will back it." (Disclaimer: my words/humor; not actually stated by Kickstarter) 

We end this blog post with a chronological list of Kickstarter activity concerning Ken Whitman Games & D20 Entertainment. It’s a good research point. The summary (as many, well know) is that though funded, these projects didn’t meet a satisfactory end. Many bloggers have pointed out the owner of these two business entities is a bad, horrible human being. Whether this is true-is not the focus of this post. What is the focus is that you should be very careful in what you back in regards to Kickstarter, because Kickstarter doesn’t have your back. I can't say it loud enough, so I'll bold it: KICKSTARTER DOESN'T HAVE YOUR BACK! 
A fool and his money are easily parted, don't be a fool. Kickstarter thinks you’re a chump and so far they’ve been spot on. And they’re not afraid to take a percentage of that action. Oh-yeah that’s right Kickstarter isn’t accountable, but it will happily collect its 5% fee and 3%-5% processing fee based on pledge level. What else should it do? Nothing. About the only thing Kickstarter seems accountable for is accounting the pledges, or more adequately taking their cut of the $. Good for them. (no not really; shame on them) What about accountability?

Kickstarter 101 Page that notes Accountability

Kickstarter Basics: Accountability

"Who is responsible for completing a project as promised?
It's the project creator's responsibility to complete their project. Kickstarter is not involved in the development of the projects themselves.

Kickstarter does not guarantee projects or investigate a creator's ability to complete their project. On Kickstarter, backers (you!) ultimately decide the validity and worthiness of a project by whether they decide to fund it."


Second Sentence:Kickstarter is not involved in the development of the projects themselves.”
How is it possible (even factual) that Kickstarter considers funding as not "a" part of development? Especially, since most creators beyond the idea itself, would be hard pressed to say it wasn't the most important part. If raising money is not part of development-would project creators, (looking to get their project funded and in front of as many eyes as possible and did I mention funded, so they can produce said project) say the same? I doubt it. Kickstarter may say whatever, apparently. The truth is another matter.  

According to Kickstarter money has nothing to do with development. It doesn’t matter what is added to the project based on funding beyond the goal, or that Kickstarter encourages project creators to use stretch goals and backer rewards as a means to generate funding. As monetary goals are met, the project gets bigger. True, Kickstarter doesn't control the scope of any project as many have been known to balloon well beyond feasibility, but how is this not about development?
A bit of an aside, but I nearly backed Robotech RPG Tactics. However, after it tripled through its funding goal and eventually raised over $1.4 million I was glad I didn't. Given that Palladium Books is a small company I thought it was going to be an ambitious project. 

The emphasis here is that Kickstarter allowed a project creator to conduct funding for different projects, 8 different times. At some point someone should have realized some of those projects weren't being finished. The project are practically (and some are in fact) on top of each other as well. And for it's part Kickstarter policy takes the stance that they are not accountable?
That is a ridiculous position. I hope I'm not the only one who thinks so. (comments are open) And what say you Kickstarter?
Post Links & Credit

Many bloggers and forum contributors have done good work in order to notify the gaming community of a “certain person” and have blogged about the failure of each of these Kickstarters. I hope that this post will encourage others to take a closer look at Kickstarter itself. Here is a list of those folks, which have kept fighting the good fight. If you know of more that have blogged about this leave them in the comments and I’ll update this post:

BlogSpot Shout Outs! 

Ken Whitman Games & D20 Entertainment Present! (no, not really) 
First to Last Kickstarter Projects: July 2013-April 2015
Kickstarters Launched: 8 (1 suspended); 2 by Ken Whitman Games, 6 by D20 Entertainment
Funding Total: $186,329

Knights Quest Family Card Game

Created By: Ken Whitman Games 
Funding period: Jul 17 2013 - Aug 6 2013 (20 days)
Blurb: Knight's Quest game conjures tales of Dragons, Fair Maidens, Brave Knights, in an easy to learn out of the box family fun! 
Damage Report: 196 backers pledged $9,234 to help bring this project to life.
Comment Status: Some products delivered in various states or presentation. A backer notes being refunded, another notes receiving a package that was smelly…

Knights of the Dinner Table: Live Action Series (KODT:LAS) 

Created By: d20 Entertainment
Funding Period: Dec 8 2013 - Feb 5 2014 (59 days)
Blurb: B.A., Bob, Dave, Brian & Sara are ready to go live - Live Action Series that is! Help make the KoDT Movie a reality!
Damage Report: 795 backers pledged $69,525 to help bring this project to life.
Comment/Delivery Status: Partially delivered, sorta, but unfinished. Most did not receive pledge rewards. Though others have reached out to assist in completing the project it remains uncompleted.

Dice O'Matic (Suspended)

Created By: Ken Whitman Games 
Funding Period: Unsure as it was suspended Date Noted: July 15th 2014
Speculative Reason for Suspension: Not an Original Project and/or concurrent with Spinward
Traveller & D20 Entertainment. 

Spinward Traveller (T.V. Pilot)

Created By: d20 Entertainment
Funding Period: Jun 1 2014 - Jul 15 2014 (44 days)
Blurb: Spinward Traveller is based on the award winning role-playing game. Launch your imagination into the Traveller universe at Jump 6
Damage Report: 827 backers pledged $49,588 to help bring this project to life.
Comment Status: No rewards sent. Pilot remains to be seen.

Castles & Crusades: Beyond the River (T.V. Pilot)

Created By: d20 Entertainment
Funding Period: Oct 3 2014 - Nov 2 2014 (30 days)
Blurb: Based on the RPG Castles & Crusades, this fantasy TV pilot focuses on a retired knight who solves crimes for kings and noblemen.
Damage Report: 125 backers pledged $6,001 to help bring this project to life.
Comment Status: No rewards sent. Pilot remains to be finished.

Pencil Dice

Created By: d20 Entertainment
Funding period: Jan 29 2015 - Feb 28 2015 (30 days)
Interesting Note: “Project We Love,” says Kickstarter.
Blurb: Adding dice pips to a six sided pencil can turn a regular pencil into a valuable game aid! You never know when a game might break out!
Damage Report: 1,351 backers pledged $38,161 to help bring this project to life.
Comment Status: Nothing to see here, move along. Similar to the Dice O'Matic the IP of this idea has already been developed.


Created By: d20 Entertainment
Funding Period: Feb 18 2015 - Mar 10 2015 (20 days)
Blurb: Sometimes Random Stuff happens in a RPG! Be Prepared!                                
Damage Report: 337 backers pledged $8,623 to help bring this project to life.
Comment Status: Nothing to see here, move along. Similar to the Dice O'Matic the IP of this idea has already been developed. What’s the difference between this project and the above?

Deck Dice

Created By: d20 Entertainment
Funding Period: Mar 8 2015 - Apr 7 2015 (30 days)
Blurb: Adding random polyhedral die rolls to a deck of cards can turn a regular deck of playing cards into a valuable game aid!  
Damage Report: 184 backers pledged $5,197 to help bring this project to life.
Comment Status: Nothing to see here, undelivered.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

RPG Review: DarkFast Dungeons

Welcome to a review of DarkFast Dungeons Basic Rules Edition, published by OKUM Art Games, and henceforth abbreviated as DFD. Though DFD Basic Rules Edition is a complete game in of itself, the publisher was kind enough to provide four prop set supplements, which I’ll include, a brief mention of within the review. DFD Basic Rules Edition along with a good deal of game and tabletop prop set supplements are currently available at DriveThruRPG.com and RPGNow.com in full color PDF, formatted for PC as well as Macintosh. DFD is a cooperative dungeon crawl adventure game that features dynamic gameplay and vast amounts of replay ability. First and most important, replay ability is key with this game because DFD is a PDF print and play product. That is, some work is required on the part of the purchaser to get the dungeon and player icons, various tokens, character as well as game cards; printed, cut and set to adequate virtue.

Disclosure: This review is property of Kenzer and Company, republished here with permission, and may have been modified by the author. Links to product pages include my DriveThruRPG.com affiliate identification. I receive token %, if you purchase something from the landing page. It is one way to support this blog. Thank you. The PDF of DarkFast Dungeons was provided by OKUM ART GAMES free of charge for the purpose of this review. 

Standee Characters
For the purpose of this review and consideration of my delicate fingers we will assume the labor involving the scissor and Exacto knife has been completed without any loss of hit points. Judge not, lest ye have exacted thyself before. Though I was tempted by the excellent looking character card icons, I will be testing mechanics of DFD dice and pencil style. The game can be played with one to six players (yes, even solo) with the particulars of game mechanics relying on the use of a few handy-dandy D6s.

Before the start of the game each player selects a character card of their choosing and the corresponding character standee icon, to represent them on the yet to be determined-game board. The characters available in DFD are the Cleric, Dwarf, Elf, Fighter, Mage and Thief.

Looking over the stat numbers as a new player would, the characters in DFD seem at first to have very subtle differences in ability. In part, this is the reliance of D6s for mechanics, but these small differences are deceiving as each character has a certain set of Abilities and Powers which carry over significantly in gameplay.

Once characters have been designated, players can either select or randomly draw (most likely depending on player group preference) the number of additional Talent Cards indicated, as well as are required to draw a specific number of Dark Secret cards. In addition to this, clerics by luck of the draw select two Miracle Powers while mages begin the game with three Magic Spells. Each player receives one Hero Point Marker which despite its gracious title is a dice roll mulligan-(or forcing an opponent’s reroll), in Hero’s clothing. Additional Hero Point Markers can be collected by achieving a critical success, which is rolling a 6 on a D6.

Talent Cards give special abilities to characters, such as specific dice roll advantages to attack or defend as well as special healing gifts, extraordinary movement capabilities and knowledge. Characters already have a certain amount of talents to begin the game with and only the Dwarf character does not select an additional Talent Card-though fret not; the dwarf is balanced with more innate advantages.

A Mission is then designated of which, DFD gives the details of five, but another option provided is to run two missions at the same time. For the most part missions determine the number of (dungeon) tiles used and the length of the game, as well as the player group’s overall goal. Missions have relatively familiar themes to those accustomed to Dungeon style games being pretty self-explanatory; they are The Crawl, Stop the Dread Event, Treasure Quest, Clear the Hex & Rescue. The game is ready to begin when the first tile has been randomly selected.
Before we go further, a couple things to mention, first is that DFD is a cooperative game. The game is played without one player being tasked with assuming the role of a typical Dungeon or Game Master. Second is that the game can be won by an individual player, regardless of mission success or failure by accumulating Victory Points. Points are accrued in a variety of ways, defeating monsters collecting treasure-and so on etc. and tallied at the end of the game.

While the Mission determines the player characters group goal, Dark Secret Cards determine individual goals. As you may have guessed Dark Secrets are not shared with your fellow party members. For the most part Dark Secrets give the characters… Well, umm… Some character! What’s my motivation? Consult your dark secrets…  The cards provide some intrigue but also a bit of character depth.

Though DFD is much more of a tactical tabletop game than say an RPG, Dark Secret cards provide a second layer of play as some cards include conditional behaviors which are sometimes counterproductive to the group’s mission, if played properly. Some cards provide bonuses or penalties based on “past” transgressions, while others like the Nemesis Card give a character the task of assassinating a fellow party member. The cards come into play in relation to Victory Points and if not played appropriately the player characters individual points are halved at the conclusion of the game.

The game begins with a tile chosen randomly and placed on the table which is designated the starting tile. This tile also provides as the way out from the spawning point which is required by some missions. Each tile varies in size but the tiles are squared by the inch to gauge character movement.

From beyond the spawning point the next tile is placed when a player steps directly onto the square that is in front of an entry way. A new tile is placed but the room won’t be activated until a player moves (from one room to another) onto the new tile. What occupies the new tile is determined at random (roll) with six possibilities: nothing, gear, treasure, trap, opponent or event.

Nothing is indeed not-a-thing; gear and treasure is provides a chance for players to accumulate something useful. Traps and many of the Event cards are brutal (but not all) and rolling an opponent spawns forth a random opponent, perhaps even a boss opponent-which is typically left to the final tile of the mission.

Character movement is broken into Game Turns (GTs) under the condition that players act first, followed by the allies (those bewitched or being saved), then opponents, with finally traps and events occurring last. The game has no initiative change between players, from the first tile players roll a D6, add their ability score to the total and play commences from the winner in a clockwise motion around the table.

Movement and how it functions is something interesting in this game. A D6 is used to determine how many Action Points (AP) a player has on his Game Turn (GT). The Action Points for movement allow a player to move an equal amount of squares, of the total number rolled. A tile may have 8 to 16 squares (spaces) for movement.

Action Points in regards to combat is balanced by having a higher AP roll awarded with an additional attack or +1 chance at a successful attack, while if the player has only one AP to use (rolled a one) the attack is -1 to strike. Overall combat in DFD is tactically heavy, with character talents (as well as what players selected) being vitally important. The DFD rulebook has a good deal of succinct rules which exemplify how in combat functions.

Ability Checks are used to roll against undesirable effects, such as unfriendly magic, Traps and Event Cards and are rated on a difficulty scale, but also play into many other things including some Dark Secret, Talent, and Ability Cards.

I have to admit when I first contacted the publisher about this product I had it wrong. DFD is a game that is not quite as simple as it at first seems. Though admittedly it took my mind sometime to grasp, there is a bit of a learning curve present with DFD and overall is a good thing.

Character and Talent choices are very important in this game. One aspect of this has to do with Health Points. Characters in DFD don’t naturally recover Health Points. The cleric has two chances (at: 16% and 18%) to draw or select if 12 is rolled, the Miracle Power Heal; while if selected the Medic Talent can only heal a specific wounding once within the game. There is a small chance that an additional talent or miracle power(s) may be acquired, but it is a slim chance.

The enemies that are not bosses are rated a little less comparable than the Characters and encountered one at a time, but with how healing works, the brutality of traps and events and how one collects Hero Point Markers (mulligans), the game is less reliant on encounters being the focus of the game, at least until the boss level is encountered. Survival is the focus of DFD-and with how the mechanics work it rings true that it is indeed, a 1-6 player game and truer than many other games that make such claims.

I like DarkFast Dungeons Basic Rules Edition very much. As a product, save a couple of very minor layout errors in the rulebook, this is a quality product-conscience and easy to understand. The game features tons of replay ability. The additional prop set supplements which provide easy to read and understand comic book style instructions are well worth the few extra bucks. The art with every aspect of this product is exceedingly pleasing to the eye-and something not common with many independent products-consistent. If you’re in the market for a tabletop game and don’t mind a bit of extra effort to put it together, DFD is defiantly worth a buy.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Rite Publishing: Pathways E-Zine Will Keep on, Keeping On

Pathways #57

The future of Pathways was a bit in the air these last couple of months and understandably so, with the happenchance passing of Rite Publishing's CEO Steven D. Russell.

Disclosure: The banner above and Links to product pages below include my DriveThruRPG.com affiliate identification. I receive token % in compensation if you purchase something.

The good news, is that this small press publication will be keeping on, and continue to produce quality Pathfinder content in PDF through RPG.now's Pay What You Want program, as well as offer a Print on Demand option which isn’t much above cost. 

From the Pathways Patreon Page:  

"Hello Patrons and Future Patrons
We have made the final determination that we will be continuing Pathways! I'm pleased to announce that the amazing Dave Paul will be managing the development of Pathways on a go forward. He's worked on this project from the very beginning and so there is no one more fitting to take on this role! Please continue to share the word with your fellow gamers about the magazine and of course the Patreon! We appreciate all of the love and support and patience we've received from everyone and look forward to bringing you more fun comic strips and crazy monster templates."


Miranda Russell

Submissions Open:

Pathways is a virtually (pay what you want) free E-zine full of Pathfinder Open Game Content, supplement reviews, including interviews with artists and creators, and not to mention game articles for Pathfinder. They also accept unsolicited queries for writing and art:
Once I finished up a couple of Hacklopedia of Beasts Submissions; I’ll be blowing the virtual dust off a couple ideas and sending them a query or two.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Review Burp

Dead Reign
My review of Dead Reign is featured with Indy Game Scene, in issue #236 of Knights of the Dinner Table this month. 

Criticisms included, Dead Reign is my favorite Zombie Apocalypse RPG. I play it with a modified system to give it more of a Walking Dead feel. I love illustrations in this book by Amy Ashbaugh. I even had the pleasure of contributing some game material, which published in the Rifter #64. I'm I biased? Somewhat-though the review certainly lists my criticisms. I'm surprised its a silver seller, despite getting a 2.5/5 review score at drivethru.  

Disclosure: Links to product pages and the banner below, include my RPGNow.com affiliate identification. I receive token % in compensation if you purchase something.