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.

More Thoughts on Finding the “Perfect” RPG

At first I want to thank everyone who commented on my last post on this topic – either here or on Google+ and Facebook. Thank you guys! I have been thinking a lot about the various RPGs at my disposal and at the moment I am unhappy with most of them. Yeah, it’s one of these days again. Luckily there’s a silver lining at the horizon: I am determined to get back at designing a new game or at least hack an existing one into submission. Yeah!

The main question is what makes a game “perfect” for me. As with all important questions it’s not easily answered and I am not sure if I actually know. Using “perfect” is probably not a good idea. I guess we are rather looking for something with is ideal for me and my group. There just is no perfect. Ok, back to the subject at hand …

Continue reading More Thoughts on Finding the “Perfect” RPG

Why is there no “The Expanse” RPG?

“The Expanse” is an exciting and rather new sci-fi TV series on SyFy. The second season has been confirmed a while ago and I am extremely excited about it. The series is based on a novel series by Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham.

The setting was initially developed for a MMO which never materialized, so Ty Franck decided to actually use it for a roleplaying game. There’s an article on io9 which goes a bit more into detail. The story which later turned into a successful novel series was actually born on a post-to-play gaming forum.

When the authors where asked in a Reddit AMA if they have plans to release a RPG for the Expanse setting they said the following:

“Not yet! But we’re open to the idea. It’s not like we don’t have a giant notebook full of notes from the Expanse’s RPG days…”

This was actually three years ago and unfortunately there’s no Expanse RPG in sight. So the question remains: why is there no “The Expanse” pen & paper RPG?

I guess there are several reasons. Generally licensed settings are always a risk. And usually license holders have strange ideas how much a RPG license can be worth. In addition to this there’s a bias towards fantasy settings in RPGs. So licensing a pretty unknown sci-fi setting is a risk – even with boost in interest because of the TV series.

If I understand the quote from the Reddit AMA correctly Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham are not actively looking for someone to write an “The Expanse” game for them nor are there plans to work on it themselves. So our best chances are that someone from the roleplaying industry approaches the guys and buys a license from them.

In the meantime we can of course run our homebrew games in the setting or play games with similar settings. If you don’t mind the mecha, Jovian Chronicles comes pretty close. WildFire’s Chthonian Stars setting for Traveller should also scratch that particular itch as long as you like the Lovecraftian undertones.

For what it’s worth I’d definitely love to throw my money at any RPG publisher releasing a “The Expanse” RPG!

Finding the “perfect” RPG vs. Writing it Myself

There are days when I feel torn apart between finding a RPG I feel truly comfortable with and writing it myself. And most of the time both goals are equally far away.

For many years I have been looking for that special game, a game I could pick up and play anytime. Sometimes I think I’ve found it, but more often than not I quickly move to the next one. There are days when I think I should “just” write that game myself, but this feat is even more daunting.

My fantasy RPG “Warrior, Rogue & Mage” has been praised by many fans and critics alike, but for me it hardly feels perfect. I am pretty sure there are hundreds of people who got more enjoyment out of this game than me. Yes, I tend to be my worst critic.

Recently I started working on a Scifi RPG – again – just to reach a point where I would rather start from scratch than carry on – again. I guess the fact that I am a perfectionist when it comes to such things doesn’t really help.

At the moment I am trying to find out what I am actually looking for. I want a game which is pretty rules-light, but which also allows interesting and varied characters. The game should also not focus on combat and have support for scifi settings.

Other Worlds and HeroQuest are at the top of my list at the moment, even though I have the feeling that I don’t fully understand how these games are supposed to work. I also looked into a few other games with strong narrative focus. I am pretty sure a lot of people will at this point recommend Fate Core which has a lot of strong points speaking for it, but it seems I am just not meant to get comfortable with it. The system Over The Edge uses also sounds awesome on paper. It seems that at the moment I am leaning towards pretty freeform systems which feature player-defined traits.

I also looked briefly into some Cortex Plus games. Leverage looks pretty cool even though I haven’t watched a single episode of the TV series. But I guess it should work for any game focused on heists. It should even be possible to hack it into a cyberpunk game. The Firefly RPG also looks pretty sweet, but I am not sure how easily hackable it is.

The thing is I am looking for a different experience in RPGs right now and I also want to find something generic or hackable enough to use it for various settings and genres – even though I would love to run a Scifi game next. Sometimes being a GM and wanna-be game designer is very hard. Especially if you are also a perfectionist of sorts. Smiley mit herausgestreckter Zunge