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.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition available as PDF

228084Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition was the first roleplaying game I’ve played for an extended period of time, and it’s to this day one of my favorites. Recently there was a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition RPG Book Bundle at Humble Bundle which included a PDF of the 1st Edition rules, but this was only a limited offer. But since yesterday or so, this classic is available on DrivethruRPG to everyone and hopefully for at least a few years to come. I am really glad that Cubicle 7, which is currently working on a 4th Edition of the classic dark fantasy RPG, has decided to bring this old game to the digital age.

For just $9.99 you can get your hands on a piece of roleplaying game history. WFRP 1st Edition may be clunky in parts – especially the magic rules were always a bit bonkers – but it’s a great game nevertheless. The 385-paged PDF contains everything you need to run a full campaign: countless careers, an extended bestiary, a huge number of spells from various schools, a complete setting for you to play in. I really hope they’ll add a POD option, too, since I’d love to get a hardcover version of this book even though I still own the book in softcover back from the days when it was published by Hogshead. Ahh, the memories …

Fate Accelerated And Fallout

Last weekend I wanted to give Fate another chance. Even though I have given up on Fate several times before, I wasn’t happy with that decision. In theory I love what Fate Core and Fate Accelerated represent. If I just could get into the right mindset, Fate could become one of my go-to games especially because of its endless flexibility.

My players were all fans of the Fallout series, so I decided to run a Fallout one-shot using the Fate Accelerated rules. This is something I’ve actually done before, but last time I replaced Fate Accelerated’s Approaches with Fallout’s S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes. This time I decided to use Fate Accelerated basically rules-as-written to make things easier for me. If you’re not 100% comfortable with a system you always should run it RAW instead of writing and using house rules.

I actually had a lot of fun preparing the game. I created an awesome Fallout-themed character sheet (you can download the PDF here) and made some notes on how to implement weapons, armor, chems, etc. from the video game series using Fate Accelerated rules. Unfortunately I didn’t have as much time as I hoped preparing, so I had to improvise a lot of the adventure.

One thing I noticed is that Approaches work well for active use but things become a bit more muddy, when you’re making passive tests. Often we had a hard time to decide which Action and Approach to use for detecting enemy presence, resisting radiation, or something similar. If you, my dear reader, have any advice, this would be very much appreciated. As I said before, I am still in the process of learning Fate.

Things actually worked great. We didn’t get to try all aspects of the Fate system, but that’s fine. At least noone disliked the system so far and everyone has said that they are open to playing another game using Fate in the future. One thing I noticed is that it’s very handy to have poker chips or something similar to represent Fate points. If you don’t have a physical representation of the FP lying in front of you, you tend to forget to use them, which is vital for Fate to work as it should. Next time I’ll make sure not to make the same blunder again.

But overall I was happy with how things turned out. I’ll definitely run a few more games using Fate Accelerated to get more familiar with it.

A Look At Awaken

Awaken_CoreA while back Zoltan Lečei from The Games Collective, a Croatian game developer,  contacted me and told me about their game Awaken which had been successfully funded by Kickstarter in 2015. Awaken is a Dark Fantasy Roleplaying Game with awesome artwork and an intriguing setting. Over the last few days I have been leafing through the book multiple times and I have to admit, I like what I am seeing.

The 217-paged book (Disclaimer: Zoltan provided me with a free PDF copy) is a sight to behold. What immediately becomes obvious that a lot of time and effort were put into the look of the game. As I mentioned before the quality of the exterior and interior art is awesome. Same goes for the layout. I’ve included a couple of art pieces from the book as examples throughout this post.

Awaken_BloodRitual

The game itself focuses on the Vasalli, people who spontaneously developed powerful abilities which go along with minor cosmetical changes. The supernatural powers of the Vasalli are said to be a gift from God, but their usage comes at a price. Vasalli unable to control their powers get corrupted in mind and body.

The setting is the Alliance of the Great Cities, eleven nation-states situated on a large peninsula, which barely survived a war against the underground-dwelling Vargans. These very-same Vargans have now returned and are a threat to the Alliance once more.

Awaken_Liboria

From what I’ve seen so far Awaken takes inspiration from many sources. The Vasalli are somewhat reminiscent of the Exalted. The Vagrans remind me of Dragon Age’s Darkspawn. The rules and some of the concepts are cleary inspired by White Wolf’s Storyteller games, but instead of using ten-sided dice, Awaken uses pools of d6. There are also huge colossi created by terrible rituals which transform multiple Vassali into one huge creature giving up their lives and individuality in the process – body horror at its finest.

Even though some inspirations seem obvious, from what I’ve seen so far, Awaken manages to mold everything into a coherent setting combined with a set of simple rules. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to read the game thoroughly or even play it, but I looks intriguing enough to warrant a closer look.

Awaken_Battle

If you are into dark fantasy settings there are currently many games to choose from. Aside from Awaken, there’s Dragon Age, Shadow of Esteren, Symbaroum and many, many more. What speaks most in favor of Awaken is the awesome artwork, an interesting setting which is its own thing despite being inspired by many sources and the rules-light mechanics. Of course there are also a couple of problems. The book definitely needs some more editing. I noticed several small typos, and sometimes it becomes obvious that the texts were not written by native speakers. But my first impression of the book is definitely positive.

Again I have to stress this is not a proper review, since I haven’t had the chance to really get into the finer details of both Awaken’s setting or rules. I can only recommend that you check out Awaken for yourself. You can get the game in print or digital form from the official website or from RPGNow for $19.99 (PDF) or $49.99 (Hardcover) respectively. There’s a also a Print+PDF deal for $49.99.
If you want to check out what Awaken has to offer, there’s also a free (or rather PWYW which includes free) quickstart PDF.