Friday, May 15, 2015

[GenCon 2015] Atomic Robo Wants You (And Vice-Versa)

Get your wishlist and your sense of disappointment ready, because GenCon event pre-reg opens this Sunday morning!

There are actually quite a few Atomic Robo: The Roleplaying Game games happening, which is extremely cool to see. In an effort to reduce my usually overstuffed GenCon schedule, I'm only running one of them. It's called Operation Crossover, and it's on Friday the 31st at 10am. It's a Majestic 12 game, using the soon-to-be released Majestic 12 supplement.

If you've been searching for it in the schedule, you may not have found it. I'm not listed as the GM, and ARRPG isn't listed as the game system. I'm working with GenCon to get those omissions sorted out.

(I will probably run a game at Games on Demand, too, but I don't know when yet.)

As for the other Robo games, there are these, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, which are all $8 for some reason (I seriously do not understand why these are double the price they should be, but whatever), and this Dr. Dinosaur-centric one on Saturday night. I don't think I'll be attending any of these as a player -- for scheduling reasons, not just because those three are overpriced! -- but I dunno, maybe. I definitely won't be at the Saturday night game, because I'll be at the Indianapolis Indians game instead. Tradition! Ish!

Speaking of Atomic Robo, you know about this new Kickstarter to get all of it reprinted in gorgeous hardcovers, right? And that it funded within 12 hours and still has, like, three weeks to go? And that one of the backer rewards is getting yourself name-checked in the comic? And that it's on a freight-train to the stars? Hop aboard! It's the Science Hobo way!

Friday, May 1, 2015

[Gamex 2015] Fate On Demand

Gamex is coming up over Memorial Day Weekend. That's just a few weeks! Event pre-reg opens tomorrow, so if you're planning to attend or just thinking about it, here's a roundup of the scheduled Fate games thus far. Not as Fate-heavy as some Strategicons past, but still plenty of variety. And you may notice there's something a little odd about this list of games. Can you guess what it is?

Voyages of the Starship Loki (Friday 2:00pm, GM: JiB)
Deep in the farthest reaches of the galaxy, far from the security of the Federation a lone Peacemaker class starship explores the unknown parts of the galaxy. These are the voyages of the starship Loki. Will the crew survive the dangers so far from home space? Voyages is a sci-fi game set in a Star Trek-esque future where humans have spread out to explore the galaxy using the Fate Core Rules.

JiB's all Fated-up for Gamex! He's normally a Hero kinda guy, but for this con he's going all-in for Fate. And all it took was years of positive experiences! Anyway, this sounds fun, right?

Kingsman (Saturday 9:00am, GM: JiB)
Welcome to Kingsman, tailors to the finest of gentlemen for over 100 years. MI6 has reported a potential threat to the crown. Arthur is certain that the government wankers won’t be able to do anything about it, so it’s up to Kingsman to save the realm yet again. Kingsman is a modern super spy game set in London using the Fate Core rules. Can you save the queen and the realm?

Hey, it's that movie everyone liked but me! Regardless, it's a super-solid premise for an RPG -- exactly the sort of thing that appeals to me. Clandestine private paramilitary problem-solving agency, secret history, fancy umbrellas... it's all there. You should be there, too!

Neon Rose: A Cyberpunk Mystery (Saturday 2:00pm, GM: Patrick Thompson)
A mystery set in a post-apocalyptic, futuristic world where corporations rule and technology is abundant.

So... cyberpunk, in other words. Patrick, playing it close to the vest! If you like Fate, cyberpunk, mysteries, things held close to vests, or GMs named Patrick, this is the game for you. And if you like all of those things, this is the game you've been waiting for your whole life.

Spirit of Hyboria (Saturday 2:00pm, GM: Seth Halbeisen)
Rippling Muscles, dark shadowy cultists, and way too many snakes. What every great struggle in begins with, except for you! Bring you sword, your skill, your subterfuge, your spells. Vanquish the rising tide of evil. Save innocent sacrifices. Barbarians always welcome.

Didja hear about that new Conan RPG coming later this year? Well who needs it! Seth's running this thing in just a few weeks! This is a Fate Accelerated Edition game, which seems perfectly suited to Conan to me, and Seth's been running plenty of Fate at Strategicon -- not to mention an ongoing Atomic Robo campaign at home -- so check it out. Enough talk! *throws dagger*

Aeon Wave (Saturday 8:00pm, GM: Patrick Thompson)
Discovery of an ancient Martian radio signal known as the Aeon Wave has led to the development of advanced technology called Aeontech. The shift of technological power toppled governments and gave rise to the megacorps who currently wage war over the priceless secrets held within. Hidden in the shadows of the megacorps freelancers battle to save humanity from the fate portended by the Aeon Wave.

Did you back this on Kickstarter? Either way, it exists now, so here's your chance to play it.

[UPDATE] The Wages of Despair (Saturday 8:00pm, GM: Morgan Ellis)
How you ended up on this worthless rock of a planet in the ass end of space is your own tale to tell. Another day paradise living on borrowed time and maxed out credit. But now OrbitOre Interstellar needs to move 80 megatons of unstable Anti-Matter across dangerous, uncharted space. They have a ship, all they need now is a crew. It’s a suicide mission, but a hell of a payday. What else have you got to live for? (Come play Bulldogs! Sci-Fi That Kicks Ass)

See here! Morgan's running not just a Fate game, but a Bulldogs! Fate Core game. (Did you back that?)

Vinternacht (Sunday 9:00am, GM: JiB)
People don’t travel away from Ebbe in the winter. But, then Ulrich was murdered and now none of you are safe. The Jarl’s thugs are searching through the town for you, but you escaped into the forest and climbed the Trollvegge. Now the weather is turning bad and it’s going to be hard enough just to survive the winter night. Vinternacht is a Viking age game using the Fate Core Rules.

JiB's really got a thing for Norse stuff, am I right? Anyway, this sounds like a fun game about camping.

Aeon Wave (Sunday 2:00pm, GM: Patrick Thompson)

Kinda the JiB and Patrick show, huh?

And then there's Games On Demand, running all day Saturday and Sunday. I don't know exactly what'll be on offer there, but odds are Fate games will be happening at least once or twice a day, so if you miss out on everything else somehow, go take advantage of that. RPG coordinator Jim Sandoval really wants Games On Demand to be a big thriving thing at Strategicon, and you can help get it there simply by playing a game on demand.

Anyway, did you spot the odd thing about this list of games? It's that I'm not on it! Yeah, for the first time in I don't know how long, I'm not running a Fate game at Strategicon. I am running a game -- Star Wars: Blood Moon, Friday night -- but it uses Mini-Six, not Fate. Change is good. Plus I have all of these other games that I don't often get a chance to explore. Plus it's just good to play a variety of games. Okay, I think I've justified that well enough.

If more Fate games get added, I'll update this list. Like I bet Morgan's probably planning to run something. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

[Atomic Robo] News You Can Use

In before May!

I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I've been busy with a variety of things -- many not even gaming-related! But I did want to post about a couple notable recent... things.

First off, Atomic Robo: The Roleplaying Game has been nominated for an Origins Award for Best Role-Playing Game! It's a real honor. Even more of an honor is the crazy list of other nominees: Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook, Firefly, Icons Assembled, and The Strange. As you can see, those range from pretty huge to as huge as they get. Two of them I own and like, one I've only played, and the last I admittedly really know nothing about other than it's from a highly respected, well-known designer and its predecessor cleaned up at the ENnies last year. (Guess which one is which!) Seeing the team behind ARRPG on that list... it's surreal.

To say that I do not anticipate that ARRPG will win is something of an understatement, but that's fine! It's amazing to see it up there with those other games. If you'd like to help it along, though, go here and vote for it. Or any of the others! They're all great! And there are other things to vote for, too, so vote for those. I... don't really know what this online voting means -- I coulda sworn there was a judging panel or something, and that the fan favorite award was voted on by Origins attendees -- but hey, it can't hurt.

Second off, what'd you do for International Tabletop Day? (It was April 11th.) Me, I playtested the Sparks Nevada Thrilling Adventure Game for four Thrilling Adventure Hour die-hards, then saw the final monthly Largo show. Bittersweet, but I'm so glad I got to be there.
Pow. Sniff.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in LA, the man known as the Dungeon Bastard, aka Bill Cavalier, aka Tom Lommel, and Lyndsay Peters, who has the audacity to face the world without a single alias, let alone two, ran a demo of Atomic Robo at ITT HQ. I wasn't able to attend, but it went well. Pretty cool, that thing happening at that place for that event. The best part? I wasn't even involved! Always gratifying when you discover that someone else likes your work enough to actually use it.

That bat'leth is a dry-erase surface -- perfect for any Fate game!
What's more, Mr. Bastard has kindly put his materials for the game online. It was a little nonstandard, and certainly deviated from one or two standard ARRPG standards and practices, but it worked, so who cares about that. Maybe you can make use of the Bastard's work to run a Robo convention demo of your own! In fact, go do that.

And that's it for the news, I think! Oh, I ran a Majestic 12 playtest at Kingdom-Con in San Diego last weekend, and it went well. The supplement's mostly done, barring a minor but important change as a result of the aforesaid playtest and some adventure hooks by Brian Clevinger and myself that we thought would be handy. Plus, new modes! New skills! New mechanical bits to make things extra-Majestic! New Scott Wegener art! Tons of background material from Brian that may never make it into the comic! I'm looking forward to getting it into your hands. (If you don't have hands, we'll work something out.) Should be out in June.

Coming Up: Gamex is happening soon! I'll do my usual roundup of Fate games so you can schedule accordingly.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Dork Forest!

Hey, I'm on this week's episode of The Dork Forest with Jackie Kashian!

Are you familiar with this podcast? Every week Jackie has a guest come on and talk about, in great detail, something they're really into -- a.k.a., "dork out." This week it's me, talking about RPGs, drum corps, and current kids' TV.

This is kind of a big deal for me. I mean, I've been on a few podcasts here and there, and they've been great and I've had fun on every one of them, but The Dork Forest... I mean, Dana Gould's been a guest on this podcast. Eddie Pepitone. Maria Bamford. James Urbaniak. Jimmy Pardo. Mary-Lynn Rajskaub. Paul F. Tompkins. If you're a comedy nerd like me, those are big-deal names. So it's a kinda sorta huge honor to be able to say that I have this in common with them.

And as long as I'm naming names like a comedy nerd, there's Jackie Kashian herself, who killed on Conan the night after we recorded this episode. That was so weird to watch after having had a conversation with her and her husband Andy in their living room just the day before.

Anyway. It was a real pleasure to meet Jackie and Andy and record this. Thanks to Brian Tatosky for making it happen.

RPG-wise, I talk about Atomic Robo, Smallville, D&D, and OVA, among others -- this was the Monday after OrcCon 2015, so OVA was on my mind -- but, the rush of things, didn't mention nearly as many small-press games as I'd wanted to, so just pretend you heard me plug Fiasco, Dungeon World, Primetime Adventures, and many, many more, including your favorite small-press game in the event that it wasn't included in the brief list earlier in this sentence.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

[OrcCon 2015] Fate With a Side of Fate

Hey, OrcCon's this weekend! And, as usual, there's a whole whack of Fate games happening. Pre-reg for these events has already closed, but the majority still have open seats for sign-up on the day.

Friday the 13th
"The Rule of Magic" (Fate Core, GM: JiB)
Crown Jewel of the Free City of Aescerlon, the Schola di Magii rises glittering above the streets of the mighty city, and from there are all real decisions made in Aescerlon. Will you survive the plots and intrigue of the most powerful magical conclave in the world? Schola di Magii is a high fantasy game where magic is the force that gives both power and position but at what cost.
I don't know anything about this other than what's in the description, but it's JiB, so it'll be fun and you should get in on that. Is this an established setting, or is it something he made up? I don't know either! Find out!

"Star Wars: The Dark Times" (Fate Core, GM: Morgan Ellis)
It is a dark time in the Galaxy. The Republic has fallen and the evil Galactic Empire has risen. The Jedi have been outlawed and all knowledge of them has faded into legend. But now rebellion against the Empire has begun and civil war threatens to consume the galaxy.
Morgan and I were both bitten by the Star Wars bug this OrcCon, thanks to Rebels. As I've related many times, our first experience with Fate was Colin's Star Wars hack of Spirit of the Century, back before I knew either of them, so this is a very natural turn of events. I'm not sure what time I can get there on Friday, but hopefully I can make it to this game. If not, you must play in it for me.

Saturday the 14th
"Scum and Villainy" (Fate Accelerated, GM: Seth Halbeisen)
A smoky bar, strange music, and rare exotic drugs. This is where you live, when you're not on a ship. Maybe it's your ship, maybe it's someone else's, but it's a ship, and that means freedom to do what you want, where you want, and blast things if you want to. Until the Empire steps in, they piss on everybody's parade. Maybe this is the big score, the one that gets you out of debt for good.
More Star Wars Fate! Seth's a Fate mainstay at Strategicon, so between his expertise with the system and a can't-miss premise -- you are Han Solo! -- this is obviously worth playing. Do so!

"Thieves' World" (Fate Core, GM: JiB)
Thieves’ World is a gritty street level fantasy game set in Sanctuary, the location of the Thieves’ World Series of books. Sanctuary is always dangerous, but something dark is moving in the shadows and narrow alleys, something that has even the most hardened of Sanctuary’s denizens afraid. Many people have left or are making plans to leave and those that remain talk of the end of the world.
Hey, JiB's back with another Fate thing! If you're not familiar with it, Thieves' World is a very cool setting created by a Robert Lynn Asprin bunch of hippy D&D-playing authors in the '70s who essentially wanted a shared home for their communally shared fantasy characters. Chaosium produced a multi-system boxed set for it back in 1981, but, tragically, Fate was not included because it didn't exist at the time. Thankfully, JiB is here rectifying that error.

"Hana Academy" (2:00 pm, Fate Core, GM: Jesse Butler)
Welcome to Hana Academy! This is a game about relationships and finding yourself in a magical high school setting. You will be playing one of the Gifted, someone apart from the bulk of the student body who will be able to engage with the supernatural elements of the setting. Each of the gifted can be easily identified by their unique symbol, or garland. Midterms approach, will you be ready?
I don't know this setting or where it might be from (other than the Elemental Plane of Anime), and I'm not sure I know this particular Jesse, but y'know, that sounds like a thing! Go check it out.

"Funkadelic Dance Off" (2:00 pm, Fate Accelerated, GM: Seth Halbeisen)
It's a meme catastrophe! A wish -mash of 70's bling, 80's indigence, and 90's criminal grit. Everything goes down at the Roxy, where anything that's hip happens, including Sex, Drugs, and Extreme Violence! Pick a meme, and save the day, all while swinging a nunchuck and sipping a Mojito... Lots of bad guys, Ninjas, and you, being awesome. Period.
I have no idea what's going on here, but it really sounds like Seth does. Memes! '80s-style poverty, which I'm sure isn't what he intended to say there! Ninjas! "Pick a Meme" sounds like he might be repurposing (or maybe just renaming) approaches in an interesting way. On an unrelated note, it's the second game from him to mention drugs in the description. Is he trying to tell us something? Something about drugs?

"Star Wars: The Dark Times" (8:00 pm, Fate Core, GM: Morgan Ellis)

"The Kaiju vs. Mecha Power Hour" (8:00 pm, Mecha vs. Kaiju, GM: Ira Traborn)
For you, it's just another day of killing evil kaiju (or other people, whatever). But then something different happened. A pair of twin fairy priestesses calling themselves the Cosmos summon you and other kaiju fighters to their dimension to battle a great evil that they need help with fighting. Can you and your allies face this great evil to save a world not you own, but similar? if you didn't get in on the Mecha vs. Kaiju Kickstarter that wrapped up about a year ago and want to see what it's about, this is the game for you. I don't know this Ira Traborn guy, but he's running a few cool-sounding games (like this one) at OrcCon this year, so good on him.

Sunday the 15th
"Carnivale du Malheur" (9:00 am, Fate Core, GM: JiB)
Carnivale is a gothic horror fantasy game set in Ravenloft, the Domain of Dread. As members of the Carnivale you travel the highways and byways of the lands of Barovia. People call you gypsies & worse but you call yourselves Vistani and you have seen things that the townsfolk fear to utter even in the safety of their homes. But, will even the mighty Vistani survive the storm brewing in the mists?
Hey JiB! Why do you insist on doing this to yourself? Just run the same game three or four times! This is too much work. He must be doing it for a good reason, though, and that reason is probably "Fate Ravenloft." Play in it! You won't have a malheur. That's the Mike Olson Guarantee*!
*Not to be construed as a guarantee.

"Operation Crossover" (9:00 am, Atomic Robo: The Roleplaying Game, GM: Me!)
Since 1947, the brave soldier-scientists of Majestic 12 -- that's you -- have toiled in the shadows, waging a secret war against threats the average civilian doesn't want to believe exist. Whether securing rogue Tesla-tech, apprehending dangerous terrorists, or exploring other dimensions, you keep America safe from things that go "ZKZZRAK!" in the night. Today's mission: saving the world. Again.
Yes! One of these games is actually run by me! (For the record, I'm running two other games in two other systems this weekend.) This is a playtest of sorts of the Majestic 12 supplement Brian Clevinger and I have been working on. Would you like to see the PCs for it? Well, here they are anyway.

"Hana Academy" (2:00 pm, Fate Core, GM: Jesse Butler)

"The Kaiju vs. Mecha Power Hour" (8:00 pm, Mecha vs. Kaiju, GM: Ira Traborn)

And that's it! Twelve Fate games. Not bad. Come out and play-yee-yay.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year, Let's Dogfight

Okay, I've really let this go until the last minute here. I can't believe I haven't posted anything in four months! That's ridiculous. A lot's happened in that time. Like just two days ago, I went to Legoland.

Unfortunately, that's another story for another time, because I have to leave for a NYE thing in like 20 minutes -- well, more like 30 minutes, but I still have to get dressed and dig Banzai! out from our boxes of board games -- so I'm going to get right to this thing I've been meaning to post about nearly all year: my Fate dogfighting rules.

The thing I realized about dogfighting is that while I love the idea and the imagery of it, I don't actually know anything about it. I just want it to sound cool, and for everyone at the table to feel like something dramatic and awesome has happened. So instead of choosing maneuvers and spending time hemming and hawing over strategic decisions, I've opted for a system that determines that stuff randomly, then delivers a dramatic finale.


  • A Deck of Fate, minus the approach and arcana cards
  • Dice
  • Uh... this whole list-format may have been unnecessary.
Anyway, this subsystem breaks the dogfight up into two parts: a contest to see who gets into position first, and an attack, made by the winner of that contest.

Airplanes have four skills: ControlGuns, Speed, and Profile. You use some combination of the first three in the contest, Guns to attack, and Profile to defend. You'll use them in conjunction with the pilot's skills -- in my Crimson Skies ARRPG games, those skills were Fly and Gunnery, both under the Pilot mode. Each of the first three plane skills is associated with a suit in the Deck of Fate (Control is blue, Guns black, and Speed red).

Then follow these instructions. I'm not going to type them out again. Time, man, time!

You'll also need this dogfight matrix, which uses a table that's similar to the Fate Triangle, but not quite. Don't worry, the instructions explain the whole thing.

(No, I don't know what eclipses do. I'm not fussed about it.)

(Yes, I'll post some airplane write-ups in a day or two.)

Happy New Year! I look forward to reading some comments in 2015.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

[GenCon 2014] It's Over, Go Home

This is funny, trust me.
Well. GenCon 2014 was one for the books. Yup. Some high points:
  • The State of the Hat panel on Thursday. Fun way to kick off the convention. (I like doing panels. Are you doing a panel for a thing? Maybe you want me on it!) Some cool stuff on display there, including the Campaign Coins fate point tokens and a spiral-bound copy of the War of Ashes playtest rules. Finally got to meet Fred, Rob, and Sean in person. At least, I'm pretty positive Sean and I have never met. Anyway, also got to meet my personal savior, Adam Jury. Plus, the panelists didn't outnumber the audience this year, which was nice.
  • Three very successful and fun playtests of The Sparks Nevada Thrilling Adventure Game, including one for a table of four superfans and one for aforementioned Evil Hat project manager Sean Nittner. Good feedback all around. This new version really feels like the show, and it's faster-playing to boot. One of these had the best aspect I've ever come up with (pictured above).
  • An equally successful and fun game of Atomic Robo that let me playstorm ideas for training and planning montages for Shadow of the Century -- plus my players included Dave and Liz of Nearly Enough Dice, all the way from Scotland, which was very cool. Great to meet you guys in person! Wish we could've found time to do an interview face-to-face, but oh well. Hangout it is.
  • The fastest ARRPG game of my or anyone's life at Games on Demand -- about 90 minutes, after introducing the PCs and explaining the basics of Fate -- but still managed to squeeze in two fun fights, a brainstorm, and, y'know, general roleplaying and farting around. Felt like a sprint from start to finish, but we did it, and everyone had a great time. I really enjoyed conceding on behalf of those last two NPCs.
  • Playing in a Tunnels & Trolls game run by childhood idol Ken St. Andre. I told him later at the Flying Buffalo booth that T&T was a formative game for me, and that I was now a famous game designer. I don't think he believed me on either count. But it was still nice to tell him anyway, even if only one of those things is true.
  • A drum corps fan I met Thursday morning while making our D&D characters for the convention. Most of the rest of the gamers at the table were fairly unpleasant, demeanor-wise, so it was cool to be able to talk drum corps with this guy (marched Cadets '92, son marched SCV in... 2011, I want to say), let him look up stuff in my PHB, and ignore those other people entirely.
  • My first D&D game of the convention, when the DM had everyone go around the table and call out their race and class. After "Fighter, fighter, fighter, wizard, cleric," it was a pleasure to say "Bard!" The looks on their faces... priceless. But they changed their tunes the first time I handed out an Inspiration Die. Take that, unbelievers.
  • My second (and, unfortunately, last) D&D game of the convention, when the tweenaged girl at the table got to strike the killing blow against the monster with her magic missile. I just like it when first-time players get to do cool stuff, especially if they're kids.
  • Seeing ARRPG on the rack at the IPR booth and hearing that it was selling like hotcakes.
  • Getting interviewed (on video!) about ARRPG, and suggesting questions to the interviewer, who was -- admit it, Spencer! -- more enthusiastic than prepared. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It was flattering. Cool guys, those guys.
  • Played a demo of D&D Attack Wing. Like X-Wing, but with dragons. I... may be in trouble.
  • Signing books! I feel like I signed a lot of books, including one copy of Jadepunk. No Fate Core, though. I guess that was a 2013 thing.
  • Meeting a few industry-types who either wanted to meet me or felt they had no other option once I had been introduced. Regardless, hey, meeting new people.
  • Talkin' business! Business business business! Numbers!
  • Every single time someone told me they liked/loved/were excited about ARRPG.
  • You! That time I saw you there and we talked about, I dunno, some gaming thing, probably.
  • Going to the ENnie Awards the night that Fate Core, Fate Accelerated, the Fate System Toolkit, Fate Dice, the Fate SRD, and Evil Hat itself won ALL THE ENNIES. And also John Adamus and Ericka Skirpan got engaged on stage, which was a thing only one of them knew was going to happen. I'd never been to the ENnies before -- never really felt like I had a reason to go -- so I can only assume they're all like that.

Low points!
  • Only getting to play games for 3 hours. Boo.
  • That T&T game wasn't actually, like... good.
  • D&D DMs being stingy with Inspiration. I'm roleplayin' my face off over here! Gimme the Inspiration already! Sheesh.
  • Staying at a hotel out by the airport and having to take a 40-minute shuttle there and back every day. This was a bigger hassle than just the time lost. The shuttle only ran once and hour, and at night there was just a 10:00 and a 1:00 -- so if you didn't get the former, you had to wait around for three hours for the latter. Say, if you're at the ENnies and the thing lasts until 10:30.
  • Being constantly aware the whole four days (five, including traveling Wednesday) that Gateway's in two weeks.
  • Not getting around to meeting you. Yeah, you! I meant to meet you, honest.
Looking forward to next year, when I will make good on my promise to myself to not schedule so much stuff. See you there.