Archive for the ‘Shadowrun’ Category

Scarefest Preview

October 20, 2015 Comments off

scarefest3-logo2-horizontal1This weekend in Black Mountain, Scarefest 2015 brings an awesome weekend of gaming to the campus of Montreat! Tons of RPG sessions and board-gaming from the 23rd to the 25th, and a $10 pass gets you a seat at the table for all three days. The outstandingly active Asheville Pathfinder Lodge would hold a Halloween-themed costume game event that started as one day at our Friendly Local Gaming Store the Wyvern’s Tale, in subsequent years grew in to a weekend of gaming, and this year has expanded to it’s own location.

Like previous years there will be lots of Pathfinder Society sessions, including the “specials” that are typically only run at big conventions and include coordination of several concurrent tables of players working together towards a common goal. This year, the scope of Scarefest has expanded to include other RPGs like D&D Adventurer’s League organized play, as well as Dungeon Crawl Classics and Star Wars (both run by yours truly), and World of Darkness (can’t get more on-theme than that!), Shadowrun, several flavors of Savage Worlds, Bolt Action, Dread, Numenera, and a truly impressive collection of board games. Once you’ve purchased your ticket, sign up for games on the event’s warhorn.

Scarefest-MainPromo-webI’ll be representing DCC with two adventures: The 13th Skull and Bride of the Black Manse.

13th Skull synopsis: Thirteen generations ago, the ambitious first Duke of Magnussen made a fell pact with an unknown power, who asked for but one thing in return: the thirteenth daughter born to a Magnussen duke. Now, generations hence, the daughter of Duke Magnussen XIII is stolen away by a hooded executioner riding a leathery beast. As it wings back across the city walls to drop behind the Duke’s mountain-top keep, all who watch know it alights in the Magnussen family crypts, where the devilish secrets of thirteen generations have been buried and forgotten – until now…

Bride of the Black Manse synopsis: Centuries past, Lady Ilse ascended to scion of House Liis by trading the archdevil Mammon what he wanted most: her immortal soul – and a diabolical betrothal. The triumph proved hollow, for every year on the eve of her fell covenant, she was beset by visions of Mammon and her foul promise. Seeking to save herself, she was buried alive, swaddled in the holy symbols of a dozen divergent faiths. This desperate ploy held Mammon at bay for centuries…but a devil can afford to wait a very long time.

After hundreds of years, the last of the holy wards has fallen. The devil has come to collect his due. Tonight a storm crashes against the ancient manor house and forgotten spirits rise from the muck and mire. The fallen belfry tolls once more, announcing the hellish fete. As the adventurers arrive to explore the Black Manse, Mammon calls for his winsome bride. He will leave with a soul at the end of the night. The only question is: Whose?

The Star Wars adventure I’m running caught my ear on the Order 66 podcast from d20 radio. They created a horror-themed Star Wars adventure that features the “fear check” mechanic, and should be really fun to run! Not many people would associate Star Wars with a creepy Halloween gaming event, but Ice Station Zulu does well to bring some darkness and fear to a galaxy far, far away.

It looks like quite the impressive line-up, and is a pretty awesome value. Come out this weekend and roll some dice! Costumes are highly encouraged, but not required. See you there!

Free RPG Day

May 19, 2014 Comments off

freelogo2014Free RPG Day is just one month away! If you haven’t ever participated I would suggest finding a store near you and joining in on the fun this year! It also marks the 3rd anniversary of our local FLGS The Wyvern’s Tale opening their doors. If you’re joining me at the ‘Tale, be sure and sign up for a seat at the table on the warhorn. This year I’ll be running the offering from Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics Elzemon and the Blood-Drinking Box! I was disappointed to see that Fantasy Flight didn’t contribute a Star Wars module for their new Age of Rebellion, but I’ll be running the beginner box anyway.

Despite FF not contributing, the offerings this year look pretty awesome. Pelgrane Press is offering an adventure for their 13th Age system called Make Your Own Luck. I’ve never tried it myself, but I’ve heard very good things, and the maps and factions in the core rule book are really cool. They have a lot of great games going for them, including Timewatch, a kickstarter for a time-travelling RPG.

There are a ton of great books from Catalyst Game Labs this year. If you missed them last year, Battletech and Shadowrun are sharing a book with quickstart rules for each game, and the Cosmic Patrol quickstart is back! New this year is the Valiant Quickstart which looks like a really cool superhero game for the Valiant comic universe. It looks like they’ll be releasing a lot of free stuff in the coming months in support of this game, so keep an eye out!

It’s a great day to support your local friendly gaming store, try some RPGs, and have an awesome time! If I don’t see you around my table, I hope you participate this year and tell your friends! Game on!


Bending the Game: Shadowrun 4th Edition House Rules

August 26, 2013 Comments off


Please welcome our guest blogger, Brian Braddock:

No game is made perfect. Everyone hits a bump in the road in their gaming lives where the rules are getting in the way of the action. Maybe you’ve been in the middle of a major combat, have come up with a great improvised move that would be brilliant, but has no mechanical effect. Maybe you and your troupe find a great game with an amazing world, but the rules are just for the dogs. Maybe you’re happy playing your wizard, except for that one rule about conjuring that just doesn’t make sense. We’ve all been there.

When the rules get in the way of the fun, it’s time to reach in the GM toolkit and break out house rules. House rules are powerful tools that, if used correctly, can improve the flow of any game and tailor a system to meet your needs. For example, if your player has put in the time, energy, and engagement to come up with an inventive combat move, and there are no rules to back it up, make something up. Give them a penalty to do the amazing thing, but a bonus to damage if they pull it off. In some cases, it’s just that simple. Your player feels like their work is rewarded, and other players feed off the example and become more invested. When that happens, everyone has fun.

When creating house rules, however, you have to be careful. Most popular game systems are playtested rigorously and refined to maintain balance. When you create a rule that fundamentally changes the game, the balance can be changed as well. Let’s take the wizard as an example. Your player is running a Pathfinder Conjurer. Based on the style of play within the troupe, the Conjurer can’t summon anything without being interrupted. You could shorten the casting time from a full round action to a standard action. This fixes the first problem (interrupted casting), but opens a whole new can of worms, with the player able to exploit a host of loopholes. As a general rule, I’m conservative with the number of house rules I make, especially if I’m in a system I’m not familiar with. You pay people good money to refine the rules–change only what you need.

When you use house rules you learn more about the rules in general, which becomes a self-perpetuating process. Eventually you get a deep enough understanding of rules systems that you know what you can tinker with and what is best left alone. When you do this with multiple games, you start to recognize rules trends that can apply across systems. You may have a house rule for rewarding inventive combat, and then you see a better version of it in the Exalted system–which happens to be close to your system. This kind of house rule understanding ranges from intermediate to advanced, and prepares you for the biggest challenges.

Sometimes you find games that have great stories, great worlds, and rules that are tougher than a UFC fighter. This may be fun for troupes of rules lawyers, but not for the general group, and especially not for new players. This is when house rules take another step. If you like the world but not the rules, and you really want to play, then change the rules.

One of the most iconic examples of this is the Shadowrun system. Shadowrun has a detailed setting that is imaginative, inventive, and unique. It also has a rules system that is massive, ponderous, and daunting to new players. Even GMs with strong rules understanding have difficulty with Shadowrun. I’ve played every iteration of the game, and while it’s gotten easier, it is by no means user friendly. However, I love the game, and I want my troupe, a mix of drama gamers and old school dungeon crawlers, to play with me. So, in an effort to make things easy on them, I streamlined a rule here and there, over and over, just to keep the action running. One player even went so far as to talk about the ease of Matrix rules online, not realizing that the smooth rules weren’t the game makers, but mine. Eventually I created an entire set of house rules that presented different degrees of play for Shadowrun. One set works for newbies, one for intermediate players, and the advanced level is the core game as written. Since creating these rules we’ve told some great stories and had some great combats, all within the Sixth World.

All of this, however, came about for one reason alone: we wanted to have fun. Rules are there to give us structure and to keep fights from breaking out. Dice add that flavor of fate that keeps things interesting. But in the end, they’re all tools for you to tell stories and have fun with your friends. If the rules aren’t working towards this goal, then it’s up to you to make them work. Once you do, you’ll be working within a game system tailored to you—and frankly, there’s nothing quite like it.

Here are some House Rule suggestions for the Matrix 4.0 and more! ShadowRunHouseRules