#RPGaDay2015 – Favourite RPG Setting? Homebrew Campaign Settings

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 29th day, 21th question:

Favourite RPG Setting?

Homebrew campaign settings. I almost never play by the book. This applies to game systems and especially to settings. I like to disassemble and recombine „compatible“ background elements. For example, a (non-player) character like Thieves World’s One-Thumb is excellent to pimp up Warhammer’s Old World. Both idea suppliers spiced up our Tunnels & Trolls campaign a lot.

For one of our Vampire: The Masquerade (The Onyx Path) campaigns we included some Pendragon/King Arthur legends. We never uncovered the secrets of Morgan le Fay. This lady kept us busy until she vanished to nowhere. I still think she was an Antediluvian who tricked us. As expected, „The Once and Future King“ was also undiscoverable. My Vampire campaign was influenced by the Abrahamic „Dance Around the Golden Calf“ and Kult’s Metropolis. Yes, we played a lot World of Darkness in the early 90s.

No offence, some player types are just incompatible. I really abhor endless discussions over rules or setting specifics. The flow of the game is much more important to me.
One „positive“ side effect of „my“ approach is that a certain type of gamer (aka munchkins or rules-lawyer players) has to accept that the publishers game material is not the one and only truth – at least at my table. Expect to be surprised or leave …
From time to time, I need to explain my play style instead of the typical rules discussion. Nothing is perfect – sometimes I fail.

I am unable to pick just one traditional roleplaying setting. So, here is my incomplete and unsorted list of esteemed commercial game worlds that come to my mind.

Fantasy: Glorantha (Moon Design), Rokugan (L5R, Alderac Entertainment Group), the Old World (Games Workshop – not the Fantasy Flight Games products!), Planescape (TSR), Barsaive (Earthdawn, Fasa Corporation) Tri-Kazel (Shadows of Esteren, Agate Editions), Midgard (Verlag für Fantasy- und Science Fiction-Spiele (VFSF)) and the obscure Thennla (The Age of Treason, The Design Mechanism)

Horror: Unknown Armies (overall one of the best settings you can buy!), SAVE (Chill 3rd Edition, Matthew McFarland), Metropolis (Kult, Truant Verlag), World of Darkness (The Onyx Path), Night’s Black Agents (Pelgrane Press) and Delta Green (with some reservations – Pagan Publishing) and as expected the Cthulhu Mythos.

Scifi: Cyberpunk 2013/2020: Hardwired & When Gravity Fails (R. Talsorian Games), Transhuman Space (Steve Jackson Games), Dreampark (R. Talsorian Games), Cthulhutech and The Void (Wildfire)

Others: Castle Falkenstein (R. Talsorian Games), TORG (West End Games), Rifts (Juicers!, Palladium Books) and Paranoia (just as an intellectual game – Mongoose Publishing)

Autocratik’s answer:


#RPGaDay2015 – Favourite Horror RPG? tremulus, In Nomine Satanis/Magna Veritas & Unknown Armies

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 25th day, 20th question:

Favourite Horror RPG?

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

I am repeating myself: tremulus (Reality Blurs), In Nomine Satanis/Magna Veritas (Siroz) and Unknown Armies (Altas Games)

Honourable mentions: Setting-wise: Cthulhutech, The Void (both Wildfire)
I would avoid both game engines.

The Void is reminds me of Alien(s) meets Dead Space meets the Cthulhu mythos. You can get it for „pay what you want“ (/free).

Actually, I think Paranoia (West End Games) could been seen as horror roleplaying game. Happiness is mandatory is in my opinion a very seroius and dark concept.

Autocratik’s answer:


Wired: „Rollenspiele haben 2015 keine Chance mehr? „Das Schwarze Auge“ plant trotzdem sein Comeback“

Wired. Das deutsche Wired über deutsche Rollenspiele, genauer über Das Schwarze Auge 5 und andere deutsche „Indie“-Rollenspiele wie Splittermond und Aborea.

1984 als Das Schwarze Auge zu Weihnachten noch 100.000 Mal unter das Volk gebracht wurde, da war die deutsche Rollenspielwelt noch in Ordnung und „Rollenspiele werden nie wieder das frühe Niveau erreichen — wenn nichts Außergewöhnliches passiert.“

Nein, ich werde das nicht weiter kommentieren. Zwei, drei rhetorische Fragen erlaube ich mir dennoch.

Klingt „Obwohl das entschlackte 416-seitige Regelwerk von DSA 5 in die richtige Richtung geht, wird es die meisten Kinder und Jugendlichen eher demotivieren, nicht faszinieren, … [d a m a l s (TM)]“ irgendwie attraktiv?

Was ist heute(!) eigentlich cool – motivierend und faszinierend – daran, ein Rollenspieler zu sein?

Was ist die Definition eines Indie-Designers?

Wenn ich solche Comeback-Artikel lese, dann stimmt wohl die These tatsächlich, dass sich das Hobby weit unter Wert verkauft.

Aber schön, dass Rollenspiel wieder ein Thema in den Medien ist, denn: There is no such thing as bad publicity.

Wired, danke.


The Expanse: Conspiracies, War, Zero-G Sex & the River of Heaven RPG

Syfy. James S. A. Coreys Science Fiction-Romanserie The Expanse, kommt ins Fernsehen. Für den 14. Dezember 2015 wurde die amerikanische Premiere anberaumt.

James S. A. Corey ist ein Pseudonym der beiden Autoren Daniel Abraham und Ty Franck. Tyler Franck assistiert George R. R. Martin, der mittlerweile sicherlich bekannt sein dürfte. Franck entwickelte The Expanse zunächst als Rollenspiel-Setting. Ich finde, beim Lesen des ersten Romans Leviathan Erwacht (Heyne Verlag) ist eine gewisse stilistische Nähe zu seinem Arbeitgeber augenfällig. Es geht recht düster und verschwörerisch zur Sache. Menschliche Interaktionen stehen im Vordergrund. Das Technobabel hält sich in Grenzen.

Die erste Staffel wird wohl auf die Initialzündung aufsetzen: Die Menschheit hat das Sonnensystem besiedelt. Eine junge Frau reicher Eltern verschwindet. Ein Eisfrachter entdeckt ein havariertes Raumschiff. Bei der Bergung kommt es zu unerwarteten Komplikationen. Der Frachterkapitän, natürlich ein ehemaliger Kriegsveteran, und der Detektiv, der die abhanden gekommene Dame sucht, laufen sich schließlich über den Weg. Die Angelegenheit ist selbstredend viel größer als zunächst gedacht … Verschwörungen, Krieg, usw. Der Roman unterhält.

Anhänger der Macht müssen jetzt ganz tapfer sein. Unfassbar, aber wahr, nicht jeder bekommt feuchte Träume, wenn er an Luke denkt, der bald wieder auf der großen Leinwand salbadern und mit seinem Laserdildo rumfuchteln darf. The Force, my a$$. Glücklicherweise gibt es noch Science Fiction wie etwa Babylon 5. Wenn es nicht mit der Mickey Mouse zugeht, könnte das Angebot von Syfy eher an diesen Genrelichtblick anknüpfen und etwas mehr als Zero-G-Sex bieten.

Newt Newports kleiner Verlag D101 Games bietet seit Ende des letzten Jahres das Science Fiction-Rollenspiel River of Heaven an. Das Setting soll ein wenig an die Hard-SF-Romane von Alistair Reynolds (Revelation Space) erinnern. Unendlichkeit, den ersten Band, fand ich nicht so berauschend. Nach ein paar hundert Seiten brach ich ab. Das River of Heaven RPG macht hingegen auf mich einen recht sympathischen Ersteindruck. Die verwendeten OpenQuest-Regeln erinnern sehr an Basic Roleplaying, also z. B. an Runequest und Call of Cthulhu. Die beiden mit vorgefertigten Beispielcharakteren versehenen und einfach gehaltenen Abenteuer Reunion und The Last Witness scheinen Convention-tauglich zu sein. Ersteres gefällt mir besser.

River of Heaven (Image: Jon Hodgson/D101 Games)

River of Heaven (Image: Jon Hodgson/D101 Games)

„It is the dawn of the 28th Century.

The Third Renaissance, or Bright Age as future historians will call it, is at its zenith.

After the catastrophic first contact with extra-terrestrial life that led to the horrific Solar System war, humanity clawed its way back from the brink and finally reached the stars. For millions of people, Earth’s sun is no more than another star in the night sky, a mote of light, a spiritual birthplace that they will never visit in their lifetimes.

It has been over a century since the Machine Civilisation gifted humanity technological marvels such as the Visser Cube, allowing wormhole travel across the vast chasms of interstellar space. Now interstellar distances grow ever shorter. How the myriad of splintered cultures view this gift varies. Some see it as a blessing, a way to draw humanity into a united whole. Others see it as a curse, robbing them of their individuality. And then there are those who would use it as a means to subjugate humanity and impose their own will upon all…

Across the river of heaven, humanity clings to a scattering of islands in a sea of stars. Players can take on a multitude of roles in this future: a crew member on an interstellar trader, a member of the mysterious Engineers’ Guild, a body-hopping Intercessionist agent – out to manipulate human cultures to its own secret ends, a Renouncer Zealot – intent on destroying Artificial Intelligence in all its forms, or perhaps one of the Reclaimers – planetary engineers dedicated to terraforming any viable planet they happen upon…“
River of Heaven blurb (24th August 2015)

Leviathan Erwacht macht Lust auf Science Fiction. Ein schlankes und leicht adaptierbares System wäre da sicher nicht das Schlechteste. So etwas wie The Expanse könnte auch am Rollenspieltisch Spaß machen …


#RPGaDay2015 – Favourite Supers RPG? None, but …

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 23th day, 19th question:

Favourite Supers RPG?

Before I answer, a comment of a friend:

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

’nuff said, or? I worked for some years at the ‚US department‘ of two comic shops in Frankfurt. At this time, Spawn (Image Comics) was a huge success. In all these years, I tried to like superheroes. I failed epically. Yes, I know this is an unfair generalization, but 99% of the genre is complete garbage. Your mileage bla bla.

If I have to pick one superhero roleplaying game, it would be Wild Talents 2nd Edition (Arc Dream Publishing). The game continues the World War II superheroes game Godlike. Wild Talents offers also ideas and rules for any superhero setting.

PS: Before I was aware of Alan Moore’s Watchmen comic book I played Rorschach (DC Heroes Role Playing, Mayfair Games, late 80′) at a convention and I liked it. No rule without an exception.

Autocratik’s answer:


#RPGaDAY2015 – Favourite SF RPG? Cyberpunk 2013 with Hardwired, Transhuman Space & Cthulhutech

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 22th day, 18th question:

Favourite SF RPG?

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

It is no secret Walter Jon Williams‘ Hardwired is one of my favourite Cyberpunk novels and I like the RPG sourcebook by R. Talsorian Games also. As far as I know, the author was part of the playtest of the original Cyberpunk 2013 game and he helped to expand his material for the campaign book.

I also recommend Transhuman Space (Steve Jackson Games) and Cthulhutech (Wildfire) setting-wise.

I only have the Transhuman Space core book, and in my in opinion it is a benchmark for thoughtful and carefully developed roleplaying settings. I never played it, but this is one of my ‚go to‘ books for near future and transhumanist ideas. Sorry, fanboys and -girls, but I don’t like Eclipse Phase (Posthuman Studios). I expected too much. In my opinion, David L. Pulver and SJG did much better than the Shadowrun authors and editors, but everybody likes GURPS.

Transhuman Space feels a bit like a ‚halfway credible extrapolation of our world‘. Cthulhutech is the opposite. This is a wild mash-up of Japanese mecha animation and Cthulhu themes. I especially like the Tagers stuff. These superhuman warriors are a magical symbiosis of mortals and aliens. These monsters fight the sinister Children of Chaos and their shapeshifting monsters (Dhohanoids). The cult seeks the return of the Old Ones …
If you like very imaginative scifi horror, I suggest you check this game line out, but I would avoid the clunky game system.

Autocratik’s answer:


#RPGaDay2015 – Favourite Fantasy RPG? Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 20th day, 17th question:

Favourite Fantasy RPG?

I cheated a bit. Tunnels & Trolls (Flying Buffalo) is my all time favourite. This game is unrivalled. I am looking forward to the upcoming Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls.

For #RPGaDay2015 I pick the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game (Alderac Entertainment Group). Honestly, I played the first edition only a few times, but since then it is one of my fantasy heartbreakers.

System-wise: I like the Roll & Keep mechanic. „Roll“ some 10-sided dice and „keep“ some of them. Compare the sum of the kept dice with a target number. There are some tweaks, but basically that’s it. Very easy with interesting outcomes.

Setting-wise: Rokugan – the fictional Japanese and Asian inspired Fantasy setting simply rocks! Beside the great old one Glorantha this is probably one the most adorable roleplaying backgrounds. The emperor and the seven, ahem, eight Great Clans struggle for supremacy.
Demonic Oni, reclusive Naga, the struggle of the minor clans, the Kolat conspiracy or the mysterious Living Darkness offer also great adventure opportunities. This is not your Monty Haul (D&D) campaign setting. Culture and social conventions are occasionally more important than fighting skills and magical prowess.

Finally, Glorantha (Moon Design Publications) is my close second. Look at Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, look at Earthdawn – everywhere you will find striking similarities to Greg Stafford’s classic Bronze/Iron Age fantasy creation. Even renowned Dungeons & Dragons designers like Jonathan Tweet or Rob Heinsoo are fans and heavily influenced by this „insider tip“. I often think Runequest (The Design Mechanism), the original Glorantha RPG, is far better known than the world.

Autocratik’s answer:


#RPGaDay2015 – Longest game session played? T&T, Cyberpunk 2013 & others ~ 16 hours

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 19th day, 16th question:

Longest game session played?

Pardon, what is the reasoning for this question? Anyway, as a kid of the ’80s my life looked like school – (homework) – roleplaying – preparing the next session or creating a new house rule – sleep – school – …  I think you get it. On weekends we played even more. At peak times 16 hours with a few(!) breaks were not a problem. Back in the ’80s roleplaying was the thing!

As mentioned before, we played a lot Tunnels & Trolls (T&T, Flying Buffalo). Other systems were a marginal phenomenon for us. We pillaged them for adventures and ideas. In the late ’80 and early ’90 Cyberpunk 2013 (R. Talsorian Games) became more important. Neuromancer was nice, but Hardwired by Walter Jon Willams and the roleplaying sourcebook with the same title blew us away. Fight the Orbitals! Joe Haldeman’s Worlds: A Novel of the Near Future (German: Kreisende Welten) were also a huge inspiration.

Today, after work we play(ed) around 4 hours with a „pizza break“. Unfortunately, often too little time for a meaty game. I prefer sessions with a length around 6 to 8 hours, otherwise there is a good chance that the concentration will be lost. There is always a mobile ringing, an important email to check, etc.

Autocratik’s answer:

PS: Sorry, these „longest“ questions are in my opinion unnecessary.


#RPGaDay2015 – Longest campaign played? Tunnels & Trolls ~ 10 years

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 16th day, 15th question:

Longest campaign played?

Tunnels & Trolls (Flying Buffalo, Schwerter & Dämonen (Fantasy Productions)) was our first real roleplaying game. We tried other systems, but we didn’t like them. T&T met our requirements – the rules were easy and we loved the tinkering and creative possibilities. We constantly added and changed rules. The world was also our shared creation – heavily inspired by Asprin’s Thieves‘ World anthologies, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (Games Workshop), Midgard (German RPG, Verlag für Fantasy- und Science Fiction-Spiele (VFSF)) and Runequest (Avalon Hill), etc..
The campaign came after about 10 years to an abrupt end, when I left town and began to study.
In the meantime, other things like personal career and relationships became more important. Furthermore, other roleplaying games like Cyberpunk 2013 (R. Talsorian Games) and Vampire: The Masquerade (White Wolf Publishing) and Shadowrun (Fasa Corporation) drew more and more of our attention. We never invested so much effort and time in a game again.

Lessons learned: K.I.S.S. = Keep it simple and straightforward.

Today, I prefer one shots or brief campaigns. Even the television serial format with around 7 – 13 episodes (sessions) is not always manageable. Shorter campaigns with attainable objectives are more satisfying than open ended stories or even unfinished business. If there is enough interest, there will be an opportunity for a second season …

Autocratik’s (and Robin D. Laws) answer:


#RPGaDay2015 – Favourite RPG Accessory? Dice & Magazines

#RPGaDAY (Image: Autocratik)

#RPGaDAY2015 (Image: Autocratik)

Autocratik (David F Chapman). #RPGaDAY2015 – 16th day, but for me the 14th question:

Favourite RPG Accessory?

I like standard 6-sided dice. I prefer d6-based systems like Tunnels & Trolls (Flying Buffalo), West End Games d6 system or Apocalypse World (Vincent Baker). I do not any wild polyhedrals.

I really miss good hobby magazines like the late Zauberzeit (German, Laurin Verlag), the Arcane Magazine (English, Future Publishers) or the great fan made and Warhammer related Warpstone Magazine (English, John Foody).
The internet is a fine thing, but I do not know one blog or website which offers the good old print media mixture of news, reviews, adventure and campaign materials. I am open for suggestions.

Autocratik’s answer:

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