All posts by Stargazer

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team.

In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games.

Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

No love for WaRP?

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In May 2012 I wrote a short blog post about the then recent release of the Wanton Roleplaying System (aka WaRP) under the OGL. Most gamers probably never heard of said system before. WaRP is the system which was used in Atlas Games’ Over The Edge roleplaying game which is supposed by many to be the grand daddy of many of today’s indie roleplaying games.

When Over The Edge came out in the early ’90s, free-form systems with player-defined traits, lacking most of the common RPG tropes felt like something from another planet. Nowadays it would fit right in with games like Fate Core, Apocalypse World, just to name a few.

In the WaRP system each player character is defined by four traits: their core trait, two secondary traits, and a flaw. Each trait is ranked in d6 (usually 3 or 4). Each trait is also accompanied by a sign which is a visual representation of its trait. Someone with the trait Soldier may have “Army fatigues” as sign. The traits are player-defined but the OTE rules also included a list of examples to choose from. The whole rules section of the book was about 20 pages long and the basics could be compressed onto just one letter-sized page.

Over The Edge’s setting was also delightfully different. The game is all about the fictional island of Al Amarja, a place where everything imaginable may be true. The player characters in OTE might stumble upon ancient gods, alien conspiracies, weird cults, or anything else the GM might come up with. It is also a place which feels like a cyberpunk city, but from the 1980s. It has all the drugs, and rock’n’roll but none of the cyberware… It was a far cry from what gamers were used to back in the day. So it’s probably no surprise that some gamers still speak fondly of OTE, while others have never even heard from it.

When WaRP was released under the OGL a couple of years back I was hoping to see at least a few games powered by it. Unfortunately people were too busy hacking Apocalypse World, Fate, or many other modern indie games while giving WaRP a cold shoulder. Over the last few days I have been reading the Over The Edge core rulebook again, and I really would love to either try this game out or at least give the WaRP system a try. Hmm, perhaps I’ll add this to the list of games I want to run after my GM break…

Review: Tales From The Loop

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imageI don’t remember when I first learned about Simon Stålenhag‘s work. It might have been the article from The Verge in 2013, or a random blog post I stumbled upon while aimlessly surfing the web. What I remember is that I thought someone should create a roleplaying game based on these images. Simon Stålenhag’s art shows the ‘80s that never was. A world where the mundane reality of that decade meets the extraordinary. The protagonists in these pictures were often kids, perhaps 10 to 12 years old. Exactly the same age I was back in the mid ‘80s. Perhaps it’s what makes his art so compelling, he shows the years of my youth exactly as I wished they had been.

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In 2016 Fria Ligan, the Swedish publisher behind games like Mutant: Year Zero and Coriolis, joined forces with Simon to create a roleplaying game based on his works. The Kickstarter campaign for the Tales From The Loop RPG was unsurprisingly highly successful. A lot of gamers had just watched the Netflix series Stranger Things which was about a group of kids confronted with technology gone awry, and a world stranger than we deemed possible. The time was definitely right for the Tales From The Loop RPG!

Disclaimer: This review is based on the digital edition which I got from Modiphius as a complementary copy. Thanks again, Chris!

Plans For After The Pause

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am currently taking a break from GMing. I hung my GM’s mantle on the hanger and for the next few weeks at least I’ll just lean back and be a player for a while. But of course I am already making plans for the time after my hiatus. So what are the plans for my glorious return?

If you have read my reviews of Coriolis and Mutant: Year Zero you might have noticed that I fell in love with Fria Ligan’s games. They are all very well written, gorgeous to look at, and I am pretty excited about running and/or playing them. I am currently playing in a Mutant: Year Zero group, so I doubt I’ll run this game after my hiatus, but Coriolis and Tales From The Loop (expect a review soon) are very high on my list.

A game I want to revisit in the future is Monte Cook’s Numenera. I ran a very successful Numenera campaign in the past, and recently I have considered of returning to it. I love the Cypher System, because it works great with my improvisational GMing style. I also love the fantastic Ninth World setting because it’s a great canvas for all my twisted ideas. I’ve already hinted the prospect at my players and it seems they would love to dust off their old characters and board their fantastic airship again.

Even though Fantasy Flight Games hasn’t revealed the release date yet, I assume their upcoming Genesys RPG should be just around the corner. GenCon would be a great opportunity for a release but I reckon it should be out before Christmas this year. If it arrives in time, I might actually use this to run a game in one of the many homebrew settings I came up with over the years. I already know the mechanics well enough from playing their Star Wars RPG, so this should be easily done.

Last but not least I want to give D&D 5th Edition another chance. It’s definitively my favorite D&D edition, but when it came out I was a bit burned out on standard fantasy fare, so I didn’t put it to much use. But at the moment I wouldn’t mind chasing my players through the Forgotten Realms for a while. There’s also some Eberron material available for D&D 5E available online which may help me to run a short campaign in my favorite D&D setting. Regardless of what I pick, I will surely run some D&D in the future again.

Of course there are countless other RPGs I am currently reading, leafing through, or thinking about. I doubt my GM attention deficit disorder will never be cured completely. There’s always a shiny new game just around the corner. But the games I mentioned before are those which are most likely to be run by me in the foreseeable future.

But before that, I’ll enjoy having less responsibility for a while. Smiley