I admit I was both curious and anxious when I read that there was a Doctor Who RPG. The child inside of me was gleeful that people had put the Doctor Who universe into a form that can be played by many and then the adult in me grew very cynical indeed. I wondered how they would deal with the Doctor as a character, will this be played by a player or is the Doctor like a super cool NPC.
Will there be references to the Doctors companions from the series? Which ones and indeed which Doctor/s are we going to interact with? There really was only one way to find out and so in a recent Humble Bundle sale, I picked up the RPG and some companion books to go with it. The following will only deal with the main rulebook and will try to look at it with a fresh pair of eyes with no expectations. This is going to be hard!
I found out about #UrbanHeroes from an email that hit my inbox, just before we went to UKGE. Tin Hat Games were promoting their new board game called Dungeon Digger, so I went digging into their history and found out about this superhero based RPG. The last RPG I looked at was Pugmire, which was not a full review, but rather an introductory look. By contrast, this article is a more in-depth look at the #UrbanHeroes RPG; All that I am aiming for here is an overview of the book, and how I feel about it as a person who has played a fair bit of D&D. I aim to introduce you to the “world” so to speak and give an opinion of what I think a game of it might be like.
As Joel (terraphi) mentions in his article we were at UK Games Expo 2017. Over the three days I spoke to a lot of people and walked several miles wandering around the show but we both walked away feeling like the show was generally very good. Joel and I sat down and had a little chat at the end of day 2 about what we liked and didn’t like about the show.
Let’s start with awesome Polish publisher Board And Dice, I managed to get a bit more of an in-depth look into two of their games. Pocket Mars is a worker placement game where you aim to take all of your astronauts from Earth and place them on Mars and bills itself as a big game in a small box. From the explanation I got I can definitely see why and it’s gone onto my wishlist for the future. The second game of theirs was SuperHot a card game based on the computer game of the same name. SuperHot is a deck building game with a difference, where you can play in a solo mode, co-op or against a second player who plays as an AI and there is even a 2 on 1 mode where two players can try to take down the AI. It’s very true in the way the game looks and feels which is a huge credit. The game and the designer have even implemented a mechanic that attempts to simulate time moving when you do.
Next, we will move onto Brain Crack Games, who are based in Southampton. I played their corporate greed based card game called Down Size where you have to build up funds in a company as fast as possible and then think about firing all of your employees. I also played a fantastic little exploration game called Mined Out where you mine for gems in a very unstable mine, both of these games again appeal to me because the boxes are quite small and portable and there is enough gameplay in there.
I also had a go at a nearly complete version of Grublin Games heist game called Perfect Crime. This one is a bit more long form but is a very novel new concept and as far as I know, the only board game that uses blueprints as part of the design. As suggested by the title you play the part of bank robbers who set out to plan and execute a perfect heist. One player plays as the bank and then all other players (maximum 5 including the Bank) act as the robbers to try and find their way to the vault. The team at Grublin are looking to get this complete for September and even though I don’t do long form games that much this one has me rather intrigued.
The thing with RPGs at a show like UKGE is that you have very limited time to absorb them. That is unless you have done some research beforehand, so I tend to go on instinct with these things. I did come across two RPG’s that caught my eye and with any luck, we might be able to get hold of copies of them to give them a full review.
First off we have an RPG called Sins. Sins is a really interesting sounding game with a simplified dice system that I feel really works with its premise. It’s being billed as “a high-octane, dark and driven game of cinematic proportions“. I love the fact that the creators have already embraced that music can be very influencial in setting a tone and they have released a few Spotify Playlists to help players and the GM alike. I spoke to the designer Sam who is a really nice guy and very enthusiastic about his own product. Rightfully so, the demo book he had was beautiful and when he explained the dice system my interest really accelerated.
The second RPG that I found is from the Italian game designers Tin Hat Games who we hope to get hold of their new board game Dungeon Digger that was kickstarted in an amazing 3 days. They have a really nice super being based RPG called Urban Heroes. Having seen the actual print book again I must say it’s beautifully put together. Urban Heroes has been around for a while and if we can’t get hold of a copy for review then I am more than willing to dig into my own pocket for a PDF version at only $19.99 (USD).
That’s not all folks?
There is so much more and Joel and I will be working on getting more posts up related to UKGE over the next few weeks/months. Trust us when I say we have plenty of content to write up. I certainly would say that UKGE was a great expo and well worth checking out. Speaking to some of the people who attended it I got confirmation from them that it was well worth the money even if you only went for a day trip. Did you go to UKGE and if so what was your experience of the show? Did you manage to pick up any bargains from the show? Tell us all about it in the comments section below or over on Facebook.
I’ve been trying some list writing lately, a means of putting dozens of idle and fragmented ideas into some kind of order, and aiming for a nice round number gives me the drive to come up with something new. Things like:
- Ladder leading to a trap door, the mimic strikes when a creature is halfway up.
- Corpse with a gleaming sword in the back.
- Freestanding mirror that gives slightly inaccurate reflections.
- Chest in a shipwreck. Because who’s going to check while holding their breath? AHAHAHAHAHAA ~cough~
- Writing desk with locked pigeon holes, or possibly with a map spread across it.
- Vault door embedded in a stone wall.
- Table or shelf stocked with fresh food.
- Shovel stuck in a freshly turned over mound of soil.
- Music box with key, it chimes intermittently to coax creatures closer.
- Velvet upholstered throne occupying a low plinth.
You get the idea (and feel free to use those by the way). I’ve been spurred on by people like Raging Swan Press or the Hyper Halfling’s Book of Lists, as they’re immensely useful and a great inspiration for any fantasy based game. I’m also trying to write some for sci-fi based games as I can’t seem to find many free resources that aren’t bound to a particular universe – and I have a Borderlands RP under way – and here’s where I’m coming undone.
It’s actually amazingly easy to write for generic fantasy compared to how difficult it is to write for generic sci-fi because there is no generic sci-fi. Fantasy draws from various mythology and the Tolkein stereotypes wrought from old Norse mythology, elves and dwarves, dragons, giants, demons, the gothic horror classics like vampires and werewolves, mages and witches, knights and brigands. Science fiction is broadly missing these fundamentals to fall upon, with every new sci-fi writer bringing in their own interpretations and semi-original concepts.
We covered a few of the old sci-fi stereotypes a few years ago, and I can build upon this a little with the observations of other students of the genre. We tend towards a human-centric universe with common races either representing some aspect of human society, or being copies of fantasy stereotypes. Minbari, asari, vulcans, and eldar can all be accused of being space elves, narn, krogan, and klingons are space orcs, and Warhammer has abandoned pretence and given us actual Orkz. Fall-back phrases to use when creating generic sci-fi resources might include the use of robots, technology, the advanced aliens, the ancient aliens, the militaristic aliens, any form of descriptor that might set a species apart, but even then it leaves you with little to work with, a very narrow foundation on which to build.
For example, I’ve been attempting to write a fairly common list type, 100 trinkets. Now this can’t include anything that might give a character a major advantage, nothing that can be used as a weapon, but perhaps a curio that highlights some of their backstory, or carries its own story. Something that can easily be shoved into a pocket or doesn’t take up too much space in a backpack. Shouldn’t be too hard right? For fantasy it’s not a problem, there are thousands of items between the various lists on my computer or on my bookshelves:
8. A small sea conch with the words “From the beginning” painted on the lip. – Elemental Evil: Trinkets; Dragon+ Magazine, Wizards of the Coast
51. (Dr) Blood and Laughter, author’s name is an unintelligible symbol. A terrifying collection of scenes involving torture victims and gruesome deaths. It is difficult to tell whether the volume is historical or fictional. – Books; The Hyper Halfling’s book of Lists
6. The red flowers painted on this ceramic vase bloom, wilt and die over the course of a day. – 20 things to find in a bag of holding; Raging Swan Press
Well so far I have forty sci-fi trinkets. In the mean time my collected encounter tables, unique treasures, and cruel encounters all keep getting expanded upon. Despite a dearth of sci-fi properties to inspire and steal from I find myself falling back upon tiny single-purpose robots, holograms, galactic curios, and assorted technojunk. Still I persevere because little projects like this encourage creative thought and give me something geeky to moan about.
I hate Neutral Good.
As a player it’s an easy pick, all the advantages of heroism without the need to be tied down by an ideology like the rule of law or the right to be free, ignore the rules whenever you please – oh sorry, whenever the cause is just – without suffering the wrath of the police. On the bright side it allows players to explore ideologies and philosophies more readily than might a lawful or chaotic bound player, and different perspectives on what one must do to be considered “good”. As a player it needn’t be a cop-out, claiming to do the right thing just because it’s the right thing, it can be a chance to explore what can drive someone to a life of heroism. (more…)
The much maligned moral alignment system has something of a bad history. In past editions of Dungeons & Dragons it’s been too restrictive, poorly explained and interpreted worse still, but take some time with it, break free of its constraints and bend the rules a little and it can actually be as useful a method of categorising and guiding the decisions and progression of a character as giving them a Myers-Briggs personality type, or a background. And of course it needn’t be restricted to a D&D or fantasy character.
Lawful Good! The alignment most commonly associated with the gleaming warriors of god, the Paladins and Clerics, or the guy who inevitably gets attacked by the barbarian for getting in the way of unrestrained carnage once too often. Having an LG character in the party can often feel like being lumbered with a chaperone or a policeman, everyone has to be on their best behaviour because the LG can’t stand by and simply watch as the less restrained members of the group do what needs to be done. An LG might be so inclined to hand over inordinate amounts of loot to charities and those less fortunate because it’s the “right thing to do” which is often a major source of conflict. (more…)
“Joel,” you say to me in a thinly veiled premise, “why have you never reviewed Grim Dawn?”
I say nothing because there is a hot mug of set-up to my face.
“I mean,” you continue “You’ve spoken about it, ranted about it, shoe-horned it into a Top 10 wherever you could. It’s been a year since the Hack-and-Slash ARPG by Crate Entertainment was released and you’ve clocked seventy hours of game-play, and yet I still haven’t read a review from you.”
“Look over there!” I point. You politely indulge my poor deception and turn in your equally fictitious seat, “Never mind it’s dead now. Hey, look at this!” (more…)
It has been a couple of years since the release of the core set – Players Handbook, Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide – and in between we’ve mostly seen the release of campaign books that have added their own flavour that a half-awake DM can implement to great effect in his/her own games.
Across the last two editions we’ve seen something of a template in terms of extra material, and the same with independent adaption Pathfinder; more monster manuals, more player options, flavour books that add new worlds or mixed materials that play to a theme, accompanied by campaign modules which are primarily focused on a playable adventure, rather than adding usable material for anyone to use. (more…)
As I sit here, finishing up the very last of Westworld, I find myself with far too much to pick apart and discuss for a mere review, but I find myself wanting to review it from an unusual perspective.
The series is fantastic, well written, brilliantly performed, layers of philosophy woven with drama, all brought to a satisfying conclusion that ties loose ends neatly but leaves a whole new string to unravel. And yet above all, I’m left with a complaint that makes me strangely unsatisfied with the series as a whole.
Westworld is a bad game. (more…)
So on a recent quest to scour the internets for interesting things to talk about for this site I sometimes come across things purely by accident. If you’re a fan of RPG games in the style of Dungeons and Dragons then stay tuned because today I introduce you to the world of Pugmire.