Report: Shadowrun: 10/18

Some of the best role playing experiences I’ve had have been in Shadowrun with my friend, Phil, as GM. So when he made it known that he was gearing up to run again, I signed up. This was a few months ago. Since then, he also let slip that he was going to work in some Dungeons & Dragons (4th edition). How? The Shadowrun PCs would all be players in that world’s equivalent of an MMORPG, like World of Warcraft. So, while playing the game, we’d be using D&D for our Shadowrun characters’ avatars. Kind of a cool idea, and one that would have me worried that the GM could pull it off, but I have faith in this particular GM.

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The Scare Game

My apologies for the non-RPG related post, but I really want to spread the word of this great new web series to anyone and everyone I can. The first episode is now live. Watch it here then go to for the uncensored version. And I do mean it when I say to watch both. The YouTube version below, while censored, is important because more views = more interest from potential financial backers, and more financial backing means, well, more of The Scare Game!

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Unknown Armies (2nd Edition)

Another game from Atlas Games, I pretty much just stumbled upon Unknown Armies. John Tynes was the first name I had any interest in that was associated with RPGs. On his old website, he included some old design notes from this game. I read them, and was immediately interested to learn more. So when I encountered the second edition of Unknown Armies in a store many months later, I had to buy it.

The premise of the game (co-created with Greg Stolze) is that the world we live in contains an occult underground, inhabited largely by outcasts who just don’t fit into regular society. These individuals each hold an obsession that colors they way they look at everything, and which can lead them to insights into the way the world really works. Of course, they each have their own different obsessions, so they still can’t quite agree on what that means, even with each other. This short description does the game no justice, but we’ll touch on some more details of the setting as we explore the book.

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Fourth Edition for Five Rings?

I recently learned about the upcoming release of Legend of the Five Rings, fourth edition (published by AEG). I’m still not entirely sure what I think about this. L5R has been among my favorite games since my friend and I bought our first starter decks for the CCG sometime in the late ’90s (Jade edition starters, though that story arc was nearing completion). I noticed books for the RPG soon afterward, and started picking those up just as the 1st edition line ended. Since then, the game has been a standard among my group of ever-shifting players, both with 2nd edition and then 3rd. The L5R CCG remains the only CCG I’m even willing to consider playing anymore, and the RPG is one of the few games that I’m equally excited to run or play.

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Ars Magica (5th Edition)

Ars Magica, 5th editionArs Magica (published by Atlas Games) is one of those games that I’ve heard of, over and over again for many years, but never read or played. The basic premise is pretty simple. The setting is basically Europe in the year 1220. The catch is that this is a “Mythic Europe,” where myths and legends are true. The game is centered around an organization known as the Order of Hermes, which is a loose confederation of wizards of various sorts. The game is known primarily for its comprehensive magic system, and its “troupe” style of roleplaying, both of which will be discussed.

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Report: SIF: 8/29

This is an odd place to begin play reporting, since we’re several sessions into our campaign of A Song of Ice and Fire, based in the world of George R.R. Martin’s books. It was also the last session for at least a month, as the GM has some other obligations that will keep her busy on our gaming nights for a bit. I’m tempted to write up a back story, to bring my readers up to date, but I don’t think I will. I’ll just do a quick introduction of each of the PCs, and then get into the thick of things, breaking to explain events from past sessions only when necessary. More information on this campaign can also be found at Out of the Night, We Still Come! (which is a blog set up by me for our GM).

One of the great things about SIF is that players are encouraged, even expected, to create their own minor house. We did that, and ended with a very old house that’s fallen on some very hard times. The house is named Straasa, and our motto is “Out of the night, we still come!” which suggests the tenacity that is fairly characteristic of this house. By the end of house generation, both our Population and Wealth traits were ridiculously (and dangerously low). Are lands are technically part of the North, but only barely. Our keep, Castle Swampstone, lies in the swamps just north of the Riverlands, near the Saltspear. Here’s a brief rundown of the PCs, who make up the majority of the major players of House Straasa:

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Music in Gaming

It’s no longer uncommon for a GM to select specific music to play during a game session. Even in my earliest days of gaming, I’d often put on some CD or other, just to provide some background noise. But more and more, GMs are looking for something along the lines of an actual score for their games. Why is this?

The reason is actually pretty simple, even if many GMs don’t consciously comprehend it (I suspect most of them do, however). It’s the same reason video games feature music, or television shows, or film. Hell, it’s the reason behind opera (plays with music, essentially). Music is not just sound, rhythm, tone, melody, etc. Some of it is, don’t get me wrong. But the best music, the music that lives through generations, is the music that conveys emotion. It could be happiness, frustration, elation, sadness, fear, or any other emotion. And when used properly in any of the media mentioned above, it can kick the emotional punch of the story into overdrive.

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