Without really trying my RPG calendar has filled up nicely with the following:
Mondays: I am continuing to play in Booby's Tyranny of Dragons for D&D, now into the second half. The GM has shown an interest in playing in one of the FFG Star Wars adventures once we are done.
Thursdays: Due to some anticipated changes, I am now running a short (12 sessions or so) campaign of Ryuutama. Once done, I hope to either run Mutant Year Zero or Godbound, or play in Urban Shadows, next.
Saturdays: I am also continuing to play in James' Tyranny of Dragons for D&D, but with a number of expected breaks this year, I am running Shadow of the Demon Lord when those breaks occur. The first is this Saturday.
Cons: For Buckets of Sand, I have Skyreach for Godbound ready to go, and Far Away Land for the younger crowd (using my 3, 2, 1, point system for scenario creation). I may also look to run Godbound at Not-D&D Con and even Kapcon, if it proves a success.
Family: With Imperial Assault behind us, I am planning on running Lost Mines of Phandelver for D&D for the family on the weekends.
This is subject to change, but I think my plans for Kapcon 2016 will be as follows. Nothing as big as last years' Vault of the Dracolich, but a couple of easy to run and lower prep con scenarios instead. This year, Sam, Ayla, and Sophie will be helping out with GMing Adventure Squad, so that leaves me with some room to play with.
Round 2 and 6 - "Kish Kaisei" for Tenra Bansho Zero: I have been enjoying a lot of samurai tales this year and Tenra Bansho Zero is a perfect RPG to emulate them. As with my previous TBZ scenario, its easy enough to tone down the OTT and anime elements for something a little more traditional. Something closer to Rurouni Kenshin, Sword of the Stranger, or Vagabond.
Round 3 and 4 - "Handful of Dust" for Urban Shadows: I planned to run this in round 4 last year, but it didn't arrive in time and I didn't have sufficient chance to playtest it. It has now arrived and it looks excellent.
Round 5 - Adventure Squad: In the round that I am not running Tenra Bansho, I will be in Adventure Squad. I will have Epyllion and Icons ready to run. However, I am hoping to just support Sam, Ayla, and Sophie. Sam will have Ryuutama, Ayla will have Lone Wolf and Far Away Land, and Sophie Far Away Land.
I ran Ryuutama for the first time over the weekend for Sam, Ayla, and Sophie. We created PCs. This was a lengthier process than anything we have done before but I think it really helps set up the tone of the game.
Sophie was keen on having animals, so she created a merchant. She was sad when she found out that she didn't start with more than one animal, but this passed when she was told that she could trade in goods to make a profit to buy more animals. It became a driving force for her in the game as she peddled in sleeping bags until she could afford a dog.
Ayla really blew me away. She is coming on in leaps and bounds. Not only did she embellish her healer character with things like her father's compass being her favourite item, but also during the game when she enthusiastic helped create details of the town that the PCs were travelling to, including its name of Goochi-Googi.
Surprisingly, both girls chose Technical type PCs (using their mind and skills to overcome problems) over Martial type and Magic type, when even Mum couldn't resist the lure of Magic :)
I really enjoyed making my Ryuujin PC as the GM, taking the blue dragon that allowed the PC to be present as a mascot (a big white fluffy dog) and also reward the PCs for selflessly helping others. It felt like I was a part of the party as well as a GM.
We managed to play through half the scenario, establishing the problem and deciding on how to tackle it. The best part of the game though was just the everyday actions of travelling and camping. Getting a good night sleep, good food and being prepared were the focus for much of the game and the PCs were rewarded as a result.
We will play the second half next weekend, but I am already impressed at how different from most fantasy games it feels, whilst also feeling natural. Its a well designed RPG that really knows itself.
Given I didn't get chance to run it last weekend, I hope to run Ryuutama for the family this weekend. I have high hopes for it with my girls. To be honest, it's wonderful to be thinking on a fantasy game in which violence and victory are not forefront in the mechanics and setting. The "heart-warming" approach is so ingrained in this game that it seems to influence every part of it and the choices available. And it never really does so being cheesy or obvious about it. Also, it doesn't do this and divorce itself from other fantasy RPGs in the process. Instead, the material is intertwined naturally with very familiar D&D like concepts. The end result is delightful.
I will be playing the scenario that was made available with the Holiday Package but it already has me thinking on YA fantasy stories that I can draw on, as well as revisiting classic D&D adventures through the heart-warming lens. I will be interested to see how quickly the girls take to the whole thing. There are several unusual concepts for an RPG that I expect are only unusual due to the weight of my experience with more usual RPGs. For example, the idea that the GM is an actual character in the setting with a goal to help the PCs is oft seen in stories and makes a lot more sense in some ways than the absence arbiter or antagonist of a more traditional GM. I will also be interested to see how seamlessly worrying about best attire for a journey may surpass worrying about the best choice of weapons :)
I have just received the first cut PDF off Ryuutama. This is the fifth Japanese RPG to be translated into English. I had no doubt it would good (I am arranging a syndicate of 7 pledgers in Wellington alone). The non-violent fantasy RPG tag line seems to be something that appeals and is relatively unique.
Leaving aside that core appeal and the amazing presentation, there a few of things that really jumped out from the PDF at me. These are:
1. The GM runs their own PC, with special powers and abilities that straddle in-game effects and out-of-game GM duties. This PC is common in the types of stories that inspire Ryuutama and are akin to Dragonlance's Fizban. The PC also gets to advance and eventually obtain abilities to pass on the GM duties to other players. The concept is sweet and different, and I look forward to seeing what its like in having a presence direct in the world that I am running games in.
2. Travelling is a big part of the game and the mechanics are the best for this task that I have seen. Simple yet compelling. Suddenly, PCs with logistical abilities are more important and spotlighted more than warriors. Supplies, pack animals, camping, condition of PCs and more all factor into the adventure.
3. Setting creation is collaborative. Though not a new thing, the process in Ryuutama looks to be a good one, allowing players to contribute to the world and help share that burden with the GM.
There are other elements that look cool too, including combat. It has tactical choices without being detailed, grid based or complex.
I can't wait to get the physical book. It looks definitely to be in my top three RPGs this year, alongside Far Away Land and Urban Shadows.
Between a 6 week break in Exalted and the last month or so being hellish at work, my LJing has got a little quiet of late. This was partially by design as I timed most of my RPGing to wrap up in July culminating in Tenra Bansho Zero at Confusion. Now I am through that period, I am slowly beginning to heat things back up again.
This starts with my first run of Edge of the Empire on Saturday. I see a lot of potential in this line of Star Wars RPGs and I am impressed by the material I have seen so far. But I am not sure if my enthusiasm will be shared by others, so I have resisted making much noise about it. The scenario I plan to run is also quite straightforward, so it may not shine as brightly as it could. However, I hope that it will provide a solid base from which I can highlight a few aspects of FFG's approach and also create a somewhat sandbox experience.
Like with Tenra Bansho Zero, I am experimenting with less restrictive convention games. I plan on using Edge of the Empire's Obligation mechanic to provide a variable in my story map for the scenario, ensuring that each run is different and also helps tailor it to certain player choices. Though not a full "story game mechanic", I think Obligation makes for an interesting way of bringing the PCs together and managing each PC's subplots, and also is an instantly recognisable "Star Wars" device for scoundrel characters.
Outside of Edge of the Empire, my only other gaming plan is to begin prepping for Adventure Squad more. I am hoping to run Lone Wolf for Ayla in the next month or so as along with some variant of Star Wars. I have also had some inspiration strike regarding season 3 of Alchemicals after watching Legend of Korra, and I should really look at plotting that out some more if I run that after Kapcon next year. Finally, indications are that the Kickstarter for Ryuutama may land next month, and that is likely something I will jump on with glee.