Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

Related Post Roulette

19 Responses

  1. Alan Scott says:

    I think the best work right now is being done in games that break from the D&D tradition and don’t focus the bulk of their rules on combat.

    One of my favorite systems is the one developed for the Smallville RPG–though it’s a superhero game, the focus is on dramatic interpersonal conflict rather than superpowers combat–It’s designed to be a game where one person can play Clark Kent, but another could play Lois Lane or Lex Luthor.

    Right now, I’m prepping a Wonder Woman adventure to run at my local games day, looking at Arrow & the Flash and figuring out what a Wonder Woman starring CW show would look like.Report

  2. ScarletNumber says:

    THAC0 foreverReport

  3. James K says:

    I’m in the final phases of preparing a campaign using Adventurer Conqueror King. It’s a retro-clone based on BECMI D&D (which was a simplified system that ran in parallel with AD&D.

    The whole thing is set up to take a party of aspiring 1st level murder hobos and the ones that survive end up being able to claim land as a lord (or become a crime lord, depending on the class).

    The thing I love about it is that all of the systems have been designed to interlock. The mass combat system can be scaled up from individual creatures, even the large scale construction rules are derivable from the crafting skills PCs and NPCs can take. And yet it does this without making things too complicated.

    Add to the fact that the lead author has written posts on how many Hit Points Julius Caesar had, and that he considers the field of Law & Economics an inspiration for his game design, and the whole system is basically me-bait.Report

    • Alan Scott in reply to James K says:

      I’ve heard good things about ACK. I’m not always one for retro-clones, but I get pretty excited about any RPG system where you can go from squire to king, and not just 1st-level squire to 30th level squire.

      Can you talk about the sorts of appeal it might have (or turn-offs it might have) for folks without old-school tastes?Report

      • James K in reply to Alan Scott says:


        Bear in mind my experiences are from reading, not playing so far:

        For one thing, its deadly. Unlike modern editions where being reduced to 0 HP is basically a nuisance (unless the entire party is KOed), in ACKS being dropped to 0 HP can mean crippling injuries and lengthy periods of bed rest, assuming you don’t die outright. And magic healing items are rare and expensive.

        Also encounters are set randomly meaning a party can run into something that is just out of their league (this especially happens in wilderness encounters which are large, and not balanced for player level at all). Players used to later editions don’t consider running or parley as options when presented with a monster encounter, but if you attack everything you see in ACKS you will die quickly.

        Then there’s the domain rules themselves. If you don’t want to build a kingdom or a crime syndicate (and do the bookkeeping that requires) then ACKS is not the right system for you.

        But the big upside relative to modern systems is that its sandbox, limited-balancing approach to challenge means that rewards (monetary, items and XP) in ACKS are earned, rather than being bestowed by the adventure. Your level 14 character got that way by being awesome, not because the adventure writer wanted you to reach level 14 by this point in the story.

        Also, the domain system makes high level characters feel more powerful in ACKS than in other systems. High level Pathfinder character can kill bigger monsters, but they don’t really affect the rest of the world very much. A high level ACKS character can reclaim the wilderness, start wars and change the way the game world works. They can be powerful in the way Alexander the Great was powerful instead of being powerful the way Superman is powerful. Because, as strong a punch as Supes has, he doesn’t really change the world the way Alexander the Great did.Report

  4. Zac says:

    I have a comment stuck in moderation (due to a link I suspect). If it could be moved out, and this post subsequently deleted, that would be most appreciated.Report

  5. Morat20 says:

    FATE. 🙂

    Social, Mental, Physical combat — all run the same way. You take damage, as it fills up you can remove/mitigate it by taking consequences (minor, critical, severe, etc). Minor consequences are things like “being winded” (physical), or “embarrassed” (social) or “confused” (mental). They’ll go away as soon as a fight/encounter is over.

    The more severe the consequence, the longer it lasts. Some last until the end of a gaming session. Others can last for many sessions, becoming basically a part of who your character is. Permanent (or close to it) physical disabilities, crippling phobias, stains on your name that will never fade…

    When you play, it’s all very simple and straightforward — but it is absolutely fantastic to run an diplomatic or social encounter between two people who are literally getting into a battle of wits.

    And if you lose — if you can’t (or chose not to) take any more consequences and have no more capacity to absorb punishment, you’re ‘taken out’. What that means depends — you might determine it, or the GM might. Anything from fleeing the scene, to comatose, to dead.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Morat20 says:

      Dude, we’ve got a Fate game set in Vornheim! The DM intended to create a really dark universe for us but, for some reason, the game ended up being slapstick comedy. (My character has two powers: minor power being healing spells, major power being “hears voices” (my condition was “don’t let the voice be Baphomet or whatever. It doesn’t have to be the forced of good, necessarily, but don’t let it be the voices of evil” and the DM shrugged).)

      We also have a Dresden game set in the Fate Universe that’s pretty cool… sigh.

      But the guy involved with both of those is on hiatus until the summertime.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Jaybird says:

        I don’t think fate does a very good job of handling dark, gritty environments. Fate probably gives a player more control over the outcome of a scenario than any other rpg that’s not diceless. I converted a 3e D&D Ravenloft game to Fate, and it instantly went from Dracula to Indiana Jones.

        If you’re looking for something story-focused and easy-to-use, Dungeon World is a great system. But by default it only supports characters who match D&D archetypes.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Alan Scott says:

          If you think FATE doesn’t handle dark and gritty, I can only conclude: You are doing FATE wrong.

          FATE is a storytelling. If your story ain’t dark and gritty, it’s because your GM and your players didn’t want it to be that way. (Stock FATE settings or variations — like Spirit of the Century aren’t necessarily dark, though).

          But seriously — the whole FATE system is designed to create storytelling — both from players and the GM. Your GM and your players construct the world in tandem.

          If it’s Indiana Jones, that’s what they built together. (Unless you were playing a specific FATE variant, of course).Report

  6. Zac says:

    So…I can finally dork out about what I’ve been working on in my spare time for the past few months.

    A couple years ago I discovered a game/setting called Eclipse Phase, which pretty much hits all of my nerd sweet spots: transhumanism, hard sci-fi, conspiracies and Lovecraftian horror. I’ve never actually played a pen & paper roleplaying game before, but recently I managed to shanghai five of my friends into letting me run a campaign for them that will kick off in June, and so I’ve read through all seven sourcebooks to teach myself the setting and rules, put together a three-chapter introductory campaign along with a series of “touchpoint” campaigns (basically, detailed plot threads they can pursue depending on where they choose to go at the intro campaign’s conclusion), created a bunch of custom equipment to add to the game’s relatively meager gear list, built about a dozen named NPCs and worked up many pages of notes.

    I’m really excited about this, in case it isn’t obvious.Report

    • Zac in reply to Zac says:

      Also, if anyone’s interested, about 90% of the game’s source material (including the core rulebook) is available free of charge from the game’s creator, via the Creative Commons license:

    • morat20 in reply to Zac says:

      Have you looked at the RPG based off Stross Laundry novels?

      It’s Call of Cthulu (same D100 system, in fact) meets IT-based spy thriller, with a side of math.

      If you like the idea of fighting Lovecraftian horrors using an iPhone, and then having to justify your actions to three different managers (the Laundry runs on Matrix’d management) and then argue with procurement to get a new iPhone, it’s for you. 🙂Report