#RPGaDay, Day 16: Longest Game Session Played

Currently, the only time I play for what would be considered a really long time are either: a) Gen Con, where I can sometimes end up GMing three Pathfinder Society scenarios in one day which adds up to about 14-15 hours of play; or b) Extra Life, when I game for 24 hours straight.

But back in junior high, my pals and I would get together for our weekend-long sessions of D&D, hosted at one of our houses. Friday after school we’d pack our games, dice, and obnoxious amounts of junk food over to whichever home had accepted the Horde that weekend. And we would play RPGs until the parents got sick of us and sent us home Sunday afternoon. Usually we’d blast through whatever the latest AD&D module was (the weekend we played G-1-2-3 Against the Giants still lives as one of my favourite memories), but these weekends were also when we’d take a break and try out other games: Paranoia, Skyrealms of Jorune, Car Wars, GURPS; we ran the gamut.

These days, of course, carving out that kind of time for gaming is well-nigh impossible. But I like to think that maybe, someday, we’ll manage to ave one of those weekends again.

#RPGaDay, Day 15: Longest Campaign Played

Recently my regular Thursday night group took a break from our long-running Rise of the Runelords Pathfinder campaign. I’ve been gaming with this particular group of guys (with some additions and subtractions along the way) for over 8 years. Of that time, we’ve been playing Runelords long enough that we started in D&D 3.5 and switched to Pathfinder. That may seem like a long time, especially since we aren’t done (currently a third of the way into Book 5 of the adventure path). But in that time we tried out other games, took breaks for summer holidays, missed nights due to work, illness, and “holy hell the rods are covered in HOW much snow and ice?!”. And our sessions, while fun, are generally only 2-3 hours long, so enough time for them to find trouble but not always enough time for them to finish it off.

But for all that, I really love gaming with these guys. There is something that happens, when you have a long running gaming group, that I’ve never been able to describe. I imagine it happens with any small group of people who share the same experiences over time. I feel connected to Ron, Scotty, David, Ben, (and now Matt) in a way that I just don’t get with a lot of my other players. Sure, friendship is part of it. But even though it’s imaginary, the experiences we’ve shared give us a weird common bond. And while we have had to put in some effort to make the group work, it’s nothing we’ve ever had to force. I’m not describing it well, but like I said, I have yet to adequately describe it to myself, never mind other people. If you’re in a long-running group you know what I mean.

#RPGaDay, Day 14: Favourite RPG Accessory

A battered reminder of good times.

A battered reminder of good times.

Dice. Don’t even have to think about. Dice are my hands-down favourite gaming accessory. You give me a cool, weird, awesome set of dice and I am your friend for life. If a game has a cool set of custom dice with it, I am immediately interested.

Games like Zombie Dice and Cthulhu Dice, which use custom dice are among my favourite. So are King of Tokyo and King of New York. Why? Pretty coloured dice! Plus, they’re awesome games.

I love to collect them, I love to look at them, I love to roll them and decide the fates of my players.

Pictured: Steampunk d6 (left), Elvish d10 (centre), Elvish d6 (right)

Pictured: Steampunk d6 (left), Elvish d10 (centre), Elvish d6 (right)

Dice, man. Dice.

#RPGaDay, Day 13: Favourite RPG Podcast

cover170x170My current favourite gaming podcast is actually for a game I have yet to play, Numenera. Numenera: The Signal is a brilliant example of making a piece of media useful both in and out of game. Each roughly twenty minute episode focuses on some aspect of the Ninth World, the setting for Numenera. It includes rumours, encounter ideas, NPCs, and so on, and is definitely a boon to any GM running a Numenera campaign. But even better, the podcast is recorded as if it were a pirate radio signal just barely managing to get through on whatever receiving device you are next to. And it’s narrated by Vaux, an Informed Jack who Tells Tales, which gives the GM a shadowy NPC to populate their game world, and a piece of media they can play during sessions to heighten immersion.

Full disclosure, Numenera: The Signal is the brainchild of my friend and fellow gamer, Scott C. Bourgeois. But I’d think The Signal was a brilliant podcast even if it weren’t created by my friend! (Did I get that right, Scott, your hand-writing is awful.) But seriously, even if you don’t yet play Numenera, you should give the podcast a listen. I know it’s got me thinking of ways to use different media in my games.

Honourable mention go to Fear the Boot, which is the podcast I’ve listened to the longest. I could listen to those guys argue about games all day (and have).

#RPGaDay, Day 11: Favourite RPG Writer

I completely missed the start of this for this year, so today I’ll be catching up, working back from today’s topic. If you want to see my answers to the previous day’s questions, keep scrolling down.

 Day 11: Favourite RPG Writer

This may be one of the hardest questions for me to answer. And no, no tired “Sophie’s Choice” comparison; no one is going to execute the writers I don’t pick. Are they? No, that would be awful. They wouldn’t…no, I’m sure it’s fine.

I’m going to fudge this a little bit, and give my gaming material and fiction answers. So for gaming material, and limiting myself only to stuff I’ve read this year lest I go mad, I’m going with Kenneth Hite. I picked up a tentacle-load of Trail of Cthulhu books from a friend this past spring, and I love everything about the system and the source books. The GUMSHOE System lends itself particularly well to Cthulhu Mythos gaming, by cleverly removing the possibility of NOT finding necessary clues; you will always find an answer, but you may have to put in a bit of extra effort (and/or stability and sanity) to make that clue really pay off. It is such an elegant and simple mechanic, and made all the more clever because, used properly, it heightens the role-playing experience. If you haven’t looked at the system, do yourself a favour and check it out.

My favourite RPG fiction writer is Dave Gross. I’ve been a fan of Dave’s work for…*looks at calendar, shudders at the math*…a long time. But the work which cemented me as a life-long Dave Gross Fan Club Member was the Radovan and the Count stories found in the Pathfinder Adventure Path Council of Thieves, and the ensuing five novels.  Dave gives us, in the relationship and adventures of these two characters, a story which is at one and the same time immensely personal and intimate, and grandly heroic and sometimes tragic. That isn’t to say these elements weren’t present in earlier works, or aren’t present in his other current works. But in the Radovan and the Count stories they come together so well, the books are a joy to read and re-read. (Nerd Confession: Every time a new book in the series comes out, I go back and re-read the novels before reading the newest one. I’ve never regretted it.) If you want to read an exciting, fun story with characters you’ll love, find yourself a copy of Prince of Wolves and read yourself through the series up to the latest, Lord of Runes. You’re welcome.

Day 10: Favourite RPG Publisher

Overall, Paizo is still my favourite RPG publisher. I’m still continually impressed with how open and inclusive they are with their world-building, and their customer service and customer contact are second to none. There aren’t many companies where you can comment in the forums and get and answer directly from the lead designer on a game, never mind the CEO of the company. I often wonder when (if) they sleep, what with an already busy publishing schedule.

Since the publication of D&D 5th, though, WotC is getting better. The new edition is good, and I’m starting to like interacting with the company’s site, something that was not true for years. So they’re worth keeping an eye on.

Day 9: Favourite Media You Wish was an RPG

I’m watching some new sci-fi shows right now, and my current fav could so easily become an RPG campaign. Killjoys is all about the gritty world of reclamation agents (bounty hunters) navigating their pasts, relationships, and the twisty world of sector politics. Reclamation agents even have levels; depending on what skills and personality you bring with you to the evaluation when you sign-up, you are assigned as Level 1 (small-time courier and transport work only) up to Level 5 (Kill Warrants). It would be fun to pick a system like Fate or even AGE, and then assign each character their level based on what they develop during character creation. Hmmm…

A close second, Dark Matter is a great, slow-burning story about six people who wake up from stasis aboard a busted starship, with no memory of who they are or how they got there. Sounds like the classic start to a space-based RPG campaign to me.

Day 8: Favourite Appearance of RPGs in the Media

There are more and more of these all the time, but the line from the X-Files, “I didn’t play Dungeons and Dragons all these years and not learn a little something about courage.” remains my favourite. And yes, I do like the Community Episodes where they play D&D. Even though the first time they play, Abed is clearly not using the right map; that was obviously the map from Q1: Queen of the Demon Web Pits, so I don’t know what…ahem. Sorry. No, I’m good, it was good. All good.

Day 7: Favourite Free RPG

They’ve supplied it for the last few years of Free RPG Day, but I really like Cosmic Patrol from Catalyst Game Labs. It is a very rules light game, and delivers exactly what it promises. It definitely requires players who will jump in to the spirit of the game with both feet, but if you have those players you are going to go from picking up the book to a rollicking good time in about 10-15 minutes.

Day 6: Most Recent RPG Played

Pathfinder. My regular Thursday night group has started the Jade Regent Adventure Path, and at our last session we got stuck in to some good old goblin killing action and mayhem. Good times!

Day 5: Most Recent RPG Purchase

My most recent purchase was Odyssey: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Campaign Management from DriveThruRPG. It’s a really good primer on how to organically organize your campaign. Even if you think you’re an old hand at running an RPG campaign, it’s worth a read. I’ve been doing this hobby for over thirty years, and there are some things I found useful.

Day 4: Most Surprising Game

I’m maybe expanding the spirit of this question, but my most surprising game recently was playing D&D 5th edition for the first time. I was surprised at how much it felt like playing the game I had played as a kid, but at the same time was very grown up and with a lot of the sharp edges I remember from back then smoothed off. If you haven’t played it yet, put aside your partisan feeling and give it a try.

Day 3: Favourite New Game of the Last 12 Months

I don’t really have a new game of the last 12 months. This past year I’ve spent a bunch of time delving back in to my gaming roots, so my focus has been backwards, not forwards. But as I said above, the GUMSHOE System, and Trail of Cthulhu in particular are great. I’ve already got a campaign idea in the works.

Day 2: Kickstarted Game Most Pleased I Backed

I’ve backed Ernest Gary Gygax Jr.’s Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter, and I’m excited about that. It’s already passed a bunch of stretch goals, so it looks like it’s going to be gorgeous. As I said earlier, I’ve been looking back at my gaming roots a lot lately, and this came along at the perfect time. If you want to get your hands on a campaign setting with old-school feel, check them out.

Day 1: Forthcoming Game I’m Most Looking Forward To

Again, I think I’m interpreting the question broadly, but I’m really looking forward to the first game two of my friends, Scott and Stanley, are setting up. Each of them is GMing a different Pathfinder Adventure Path, and then playing in the other, with four of us playing in both. I think it will be a ton of fun; I really like playing RPGs with these guys, and as long as we can keep the momentum going I think it will be great.