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.

Hell froze over: There will be a new Alternity RPG

Wow! I actually haven’t believed this day would come, but Sasquatch Game Studio (veteran game designers Richard Baker, David Noonan and Stephen Schubert) is releasing a new Alternity RPG in 2017.

alternitylogowhiteonblack-1024x171What is Alternity? It was one of my favorite Sci-Fi RPGs, which unfortunately I never got to play, released by TSR around the time it was bought by Wizards of the Coast. It not only featured a pretty cool mechanics but was also a great Sci-Fi toolbox. With Alternity you could easily run any kind of SF game from the near future techno-thriller to a far future galaxy-roaming space opera.

sasquatchwithtype640-300x135Unfortunately WotC didn’t do anything with Alternity and never made the books available again once they sold out. From the announcement post we learn that they even let the trademark run out. While the original Alternity game is still owned by WotC, Sasquatch Game Studio acquired the trademark and the designers of the original game will help create the new one.

It might not be the same game as before, it will probably have different mechanics, but I hope that the spirit of Alternity will still be alive in the 2017 game. I am wishing Sasquatch Game Studio all the best and I have to admit I am cautiously excited!

I Think I’m Done With Fate

I’m finally back from being in the hospital for over 5 weeks where they treated me for my depression and anxiety issues. Now I feel a bit better than before and hopefully I now have new strategies for dealing with stress in the future.

I also had a lot of time to think about the roleplaying hobby, about what worked for me and what doesn’t. One thing I realized over the last weeks was that I probably shouldn’t bother with Fate anymore.

Yes, I said it: I am done with Fate. While I always tried to like it, it never really clicked with me. There were moments when I thought I got it, but then I realized that my approach to Fate was not as the designers intended it. For some reason Fate also feels a bit too “meta” for me. I don’t like the idea of having to write down situational aspects on index cards and laying them onto the table for everyone to work with. But if I avoid those, I remove a large aspect (sorry, no pun intended) from the game.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say Fate is a bad game. It’s definitely well written and a lot of people enjoy it tremendously, but for me it always felt like a struggle. Yes, there were sessions where I had a blast with it, but then there were situations when I felt that it just didn’t work for me. In the end the game actually caused stress for me.

So, long story short, I think I’m done with Fate (for now at least). Perhaps I’ll give it another chance in the future, but for now I prefer to stick to games which work better for me.

Of Hermits, Snakes and Near-TPKs

Recently I started a Titansgrave campaign using the Fantasy AGE rules. If you haven’t heard of Titansgrave before, I wholeheartedly recommend you to check it out. It’s a Sci-fantasy setting conceived by Wil Wheaton and the campaign which has been available for purchase quite a while now, has been run by him on YouTube. I’ve embedded the introductory episode below.

Since I had the impression that one of my players knew the campaign by heart, I decided to not run this campaign, but start with “The Hermit’s Road” which was recommended for players of 2nd to 4th level. After that I planned to write my own adventures and use the adventures in the Titansgrave book as inspiration.

Character creation took us several hours, not because the rules are hard, but because I had to do a lot of explaining and translating for my players. We also followed the recommendation in Titansgrave and I asked my player several background questions like: “Who contributed most to your last adventure? Now who REALLY contributed most and why is the other person getting the credit?”
My players had a lot of fun coming up with cool answers and everyone was excited to finally start playing.

181895The Hermit’s Road is basically a simple dungeon romp, so it felt perfect for an introductory adventure. Alas the encounters don’t really seem to be well-designed or my inexperience as a FAGE GM shines through. The first combat encounter in the adventure really went bad and a well-rounded party of six players was almost wiped out. I had to pull all my tricks as a GM to keep them alive short of cheating. After a hour-long character creation process I really didn’t want them to be killed by some snakes especially since it wasn’t their fault. I don’t want to spoil that much here, but just let me say, that an encounter with 2 enemies per player character, which fall from the ceiling, cannot be run from and which can constrict the PCs easily was perhaps not the best decision. I get the feeling that this adventure has been designed for players who already played through the Titansgrave: Ashes of Valkana campaign and are more experienced.

But aside from that very frustrating combat everyone is really enjoying both the Fantasy AGE rules and the Titansgrave setting. I really hope Green Ronin finally releases a proper setting book later this year. I’ll post more thoughts on Fantasy AGE and Titansgrave in the future, so please stay tuned.