Of Tables and Games: What I’m Playing Now

Before I start, a little Chatty update:

Winter and Spring have been my crazy freelancer months for a  few years now. I’m knee-deep in pushing the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide to layout. Dave and I released the preview version of the Fantasy Heroic Roleplaying game to backers and the response has been both positive and enthusiastic.

I’ve also started doing work on the Firefly RPG, I can’t say much about it, but in time more detail will come out of this.

Remember my last post where I prescribed myself 3 weekly sessions of cardio exercise a week? Well it worked, the habit is well established and I’ve been biking for the last two weeks in some gorgeous weather. I’ll be moving on to a new life habit change as of next week. I’m very proud of myself, it’s been a good month.

Now back to our regular programming.

It’s been ages since I’ve written about the games I run, much to the chagrin of my players. They like to see their stories immortalized (often with great artistic license). So lets catch up a bit and talk about the RPGs I’m running.

Spidey and Luke

It’s not a campaign per say but shortly before Xmas, I was hired by a local fan (and his 10 y.o. son) to teach the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. Here I was, somewhere in the Montreal suburbs, being paid to run a game I helped create! That’s not all,  fun ws had by all.

We played through a few scenes where Spider Man and Luke Cage, newly minted Avengers, hunted down some escaped super-convicts. I introduced Cortex Plus concepts like assets, complications and stunts to a shy boy and his enthusiastic father. I was just called for an encore, that a good sign.

In the next session, Cage and Spidey will have to stop a Harlem crime spree perpetrated by a gang of super-criminals calling themselves The Night Circus. I wrote a 6 scenes adventure that should entertain the players. It also allows me to pay a tribute to a game that died way too early.

Nico’s New Adventures

A few months ago, my 11 y.o. son asked me to run a D&D 4e game with his  friend Felix. We made PCs (Nico. a mage, Felix: a ranger) and we started adventuring in Logan Bonner’s The Slaying Stone. We played for a few hours. I was convinced that Nico would shrug the experience off and go back to playing Minecraft. I’d long since accepted that he (along with his whole generation) might not become a tabletop RPG fan.

That was underestimating the “observation” effect. Nico has seen me play, write and create RPGs ever since he was born. As he grows older, he seems willing to explore beyond his usual pastimes to participate in mine. Last week he asked me if I’d run another game with some other friends. While things didn’t work out (his friends were unavailable) I was touched that he asked me. It demonstrates his interest. Next time, I’ll make sure to talk to the other parents (some are ex-D&D players) to ensure everyone is available.

While looking for a new level 1 adventure to run, I’ve found Andy Collins’ Village of Hommlet. It’s a 4e remake that was posted in Dungeon Magazine a while back. I’ve ran that adventure so many times in the past, and loved it every time. I’m sure the kids will too.

The Fantasy Heroic Roleplaying

After a few playtesting runs, I got to to plan my first campaign of FHRP. My Marvel RPG crew was ready to return to gaming in a Fantasy setting. Most of us didn’t want to return to 4e after playing it for a few years.

We started discussing about character options, themes, alternative mechanics and the game’s implied setting.

We hacked the basic FHRP. In fact, some of the optional sidebars found in the rulesbook will come from the mods my players and I made. The implied setting, which we co-created in an awesome brainstorm session,  features a post-war humano-centric world slowly on the mend. The main continent features 2 ideologically-opposed nations. On one side sits a tenuous union of kingdoms that harness the magical powers of bound Elementals to run steam-age military and civilian technologies. It is euro-centric in inspiration, with touches of the American Wild West.

On the other stands a theocracy, a stern empire forged on the binding of Spirits and Souls to power techno-organic machines and monstrosities. We’re drawing heavily from Japanese inspiration for that one.

My players have asked for a Intrigued-laced campaign and have asked me to stay away from my natural “Save the World from Impending Doom” approach to plot arcs. I’ll be working plots that involve stealing secrets, uncovering disturbing truths and forcing excruciating choices on characters.

I can’t wait to play this. We’re planning to play twice a month!

The Dungeon Reality Show: Season 2

Originally planned as a “notice me” stunt with some local media geeks, this occasional D&D game grew into a serious and dedicated playing group. Its premise is simple: all characters are semi-willing participants in a Hunger Games-like dungeon crawl. The game is filled to the brims with TV references and meta-tropes. There’s product placement, confession cams, b-rate actors as NPCs and union woes. I love this universe and it suits my tastes when it comes to playing D&D 4e.

We’re currently 2 sessions into the Basic D&D Red Box adventure and we’ve broken the fourth wall so often it hurts. For example, in the last session, our out-of-dailies-and-healing-surges party tried to face the adventure’s Boss and were pushed to the brink of TPK. As it happens, one of the last characters standing was a guest star. One of our players couldn’t make it so we invited another friend from local media to play a replacement mage, named Generica.

In the last moments of the game, seconds before impending doom, Generica used his Mage Hands power to grab the evil Necromancer’s staff from the laboratory’s table.

Necromancer: What the hell are you doing Generica?

Generica: You’re playing my role chump, I never wanted to be stranded with these idiots!

Party: Wha?

Generica (To the producemancer): Call my Agent, I want a complete reshoot of this scene. This time, I get to play the necromancer!

Producemancer: Fine, but the heroes get to rest before facing you next session.

Generica: Fine… Whatever… As long as I get that cool staff!

Yeah, it’s that kinda game.

So what are you playing. Yes, I’m asking you to tell me about your games. 🙂


  1. Good to read a Chatty post, I should get back to blogging too. 🙂 I am currently running a d6 Star Wars adventure set about 10 years before the original films. The pc’s just won a junked cargo ship named “Millennium Falcon”…….. I am also a player in an online 13th Age game, a system I plan to devote a bit of attention to, as I’m linking what I’m seeing. In july, when Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars rpg debuts, we may switch out home game from d6 to that system.

  2. I’m currently playing in three Fate games in two different play groups.

    The first game is a Dresden RPG set in modern L. A. The characters have just pierced the veil and discovered that some supernatural things are real. Nick Hart is the former child star (think Kurt Cameron from Growing Pains) who is coming to realize that he is more than human.

    The second game is running Fate Core, though we used the world generation system from Diaspora. Its a Space Opera game with high adventure and some political intrigue. Alexander “the Great” Hunter is the cocky, hot-shot pilot who aced a first impression role to gain the “Cold-Ass Honky” aspect a couple weeks ago.

    My other group just started up a Fate Core game set in the Wild West just after the American Civil War. The group is playing as members of the Blackcoats, a special division of the US Marshals dedicated to keeping the supernatural in check. Conor Sheridan is the free-spirited, gambling, kid brother of Capt Liam Sheridan, who heads our group of Blackcoats.

  3. TheJollyDM says:

    Just ran our first session of 13th Age last week. A lot of the party were fairly new to tabletop RPG’s (although veterans of other genres of tabletop games), but they seemed to have fun. Admittedly it’s been a while since I ran a game, so I was a little rusty, but the game’s loose mechanics made it fairly easy to improvise.

  4. I’m running a 4e game for my regular gaming group right now. 4 Pc’s at level 7 and I’m running into a lot of the same problems that have plagued my 4e experience of late – endless combats, painful skill challenges, and a very “tippy” party that is either walking over encounters or at death’s door.

    I’m hungry for a new system! We need something with a fair bit of tactical combat, because that’s what the majority of our players like, but I’d love to find something that doesn’t take 2+ hours to run a single encounter.

  5. Derek, check out 13th Age. It may fill that space you are looking for. It’s familiar enough to keep the 4e players happy, but without a lot of the weight that the system brings to the table. I REALLY enjoyed it. And character generation is AWESOME.