Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes

Aside from being a table top roleplaying aficionado, I also love to play computer games of all kinds. Recently I’ve started a couple of games from my youth including Ultima IV, one of the classics from the CRPG genre. Eventually I started working on my own Ultima-inspired game using a LUA framework called LÖVE. If you want to learn more about this project, feel free to check out my other blog.

While researching these games of old and the tricks their programmers used back in the day, I stumbled upon “The Digital Antiquarian”, a very interesting blog about old computer games. If you are into retro gaming or just interested in the history of this hobby, you should definitely check it out.

Especially in the early days of both computer gaming and tabletop roleplaying games there were a few designers who worked in both fields. While reading the Digital Antiquarian’s article about the post-apocalyptic CRPG Wasteland, I learned that Tunnels & Trolls designer Ken St. Andre and Michael Stackpole who is nowadays mostly known for his various novels worked on that game. In fact the mechanics in Wasteland were based on Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes (aka MSPE) which was actually based on St. Andre’s Tunnels & Trolls.

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As an avid collector of roleplaying games I immediately picked up a copy on DriveThruRPG. The 117-paged PDF is a scan of the 1983 rules and looks pretty nice. I haven’t had the time yet to read it thoroughly but it looks quite intriguing. Since it’s based on T&T the mechanics are pretty lightweight, even though skills and modern firearms are added to the basic T&T formula. Reading the game is definitely worth is, especially if you are not only interested in playing the games but also learning a bit about the history of roleplaying games. And for a 1980’s roleplaying game it actually doesn’t look that outdated.

Curiously there never was a Wasteland sourcebook for the Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes game, or at least none that I know off. I am pretty sure a lot of fans of the computer game would have eventually liked to continue their characters’ exploits at the game table. But I guess the fact that Electronic Arts owned the intellectual rights to the game back in the day, made this impossible. Luckily nothing prevents us to use the MSPE rules and adapt it for the wastelands of the South Western USA ourselves.

Blogs vs. Social Media–From a RPG Blogger’s Perspective

Since I started this blog almost 10 years ago, a lot of fellow RPG bloggers have stopped blogging or moved their activities from their blog to social media. I am quite active on Facebook as well,but even though I haven’t blogged that often recently, I am not planning to close down the blog anytime soon. There are a lot of reasons why I will not do so, and I’ll use this post to share some of my thoughts on the matter.

RPG Bloggers of all countries unite … 
Back in 2008 the RPG Bloggers Network had just started. If I am not mistaken it were mainly the people behind the Critical Hits blog and Philippe-Antoine Ménard who started the whole thing. The RPG Bloggers Network was meant as a community of like-minded RPG bloggers and featured a central site which aggregated all member sites’ blog posts. The site was a hot mess consisting of a WordPress page with a RSS plugin which more often crashed and burned than not. But all these technical issues aside, it was my #1 place to go if I was looking for RPG-related news, interesting articles, reviews, interviews et cetera.

In addition to that the small, but growing community was very active. Everyone read everyone else’s posts, commented, gave advice, and helped new voices to be heard. It was an exciting time. Quickly the network had become quite large and reading a day’s worth of posts from the RPG Bloggers Network was akin to drinking from the proverbial firehose. It was not perfect, but it worked. A lot of people who started blogging in these days actually made the jump into the RPG industry.

Unfortunately the RPG Bloggers main site was exploding all the time. Maintaining it was obviously a chore, and adding new sites, editing member entries, etc. was a very manual process. It was pretty clear that this was doomed to fail eventually. I don’t exactly remember how things went down, but the RPG Bloggers Network changed hands eventually and the new owner announced a lot of improvements. But unfortunately not much, if anything at all, happened. The network still existed, but slowly it started to fall apart at its seams.

Continue reading Blogs vs. Social Media–From a RPG Blogger’s Perspective

Reading Up On 7th Sea 2nd Edition

I noticed after my last post that despite being a fan of 7th Sea I had never gotten around to reading the new edition of books. Michael gets to list his “Currently Reading” as he is head honcho. So I hopped over to RPGNow and I saw this…

After a couple of sessions I can say with great certainty, that the 2nd edition is a great disappointment. 
The rules are mishmash of FATE, Houses of the Blooded, 7th Sea 1st edition and multiple tacked on sub-systems without any cohesion. The resolution system is a marginal improvement at best. The backgrounds are artificial limitations much like classes, totally unnecessary for a fiction simulator. Story rules are a more complicated version of the first edition backgrounds. Now you have Virtue and Hubris (why do I have to have them?), Sword schoools have one rule each, and duellists are and advantage, loosing much of their flair, etc. All in al not very elegant.

I know full well that when you create new editions of games that people know and love that you are not going to please everyone. What is the saying?  “Some of the people all of the time or all of the people some of the time but never all of the people all of the time.”

I don’t really care about this reviewers opinion too much but what caught my eye was the reference to FATE. I surprised myself by enjoying Ghost Ops recently with FUDGE at its heart is it possible that this could be my way into something FATE-like?

So right now I am reading up on 7th Sea Second Edition and I admit that yes it does feel very different but so far it seems to be different but better.

How many of you have tried the new 7th Sea? How do you feel about it?

Incidentally, does the guy in the image above remind anyone else of Leonardo DiCaprio?

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