Category Archives: 2d20

Games I am excited about: 2018 Edition

Yes, I am easily excited. There are a lot of gamers who are wary of new things, who stick to their old and well-tread ways, but I am not one of those. I love new games. If I could I’d get a new game every day. Leafing through a new rulebook makes me excited about all the games I could run with it. Sure, most of the time, the book ends up on the shelf unused, but if I got at least some excitement out of it, the purchase was IMHO not wasted. And you can always come back to a game later.

2018 is still young, but I thought this might be the right time to talk about a couple of games I am looking forward to. Let’s start which was actually funded on Kickstarter last year: Forbidden Lands.

Forbidden Lands
Forbidden Lands is the latest game created by the people behind Mutant: Year Zero, Coriolis and Tales from the Loop. This time around it’s a fantasy roleplaying game designed with sandbox play in mind. The Forbidden Lands are actually said sandbox where the players can explore countless locations, fight the bad guys, make a name for themselves and build their stronghold. It seems like the perfect combination between everything which makes MY:0 great (check out my review!) and a classic fantasy world. Recently the first three chapters of the rules have been released to backers in English (the Swedish version is almost done), but hopefully the complete package will be available in the early months of 2018.

The Expanse Roleplaying Game
Last year Green Ronin announced that they have secured the license to create a roleplaying game based on the popular book series (and TV show) by James S.A. Corey. If you are at least remotely interested in Science Fiction you definitely should check out the books or the show. I could now add paragraph upon paragraph why I love the series, but this would be way beyond the scope of this article. Let’s just say that it was a breath of fresh air, because of its believable world and characters, and the fact that the authors really cared about the underlying science of space travel (aside from a few aspects like the super-efficient Epstein drive).
Green Ronin is going to use it’s Fantasy Age ruleset adapted to science fiction, which will probably a variant of their upcoming Modern Age game. I have to admit I am a bit skeptic if these rules are really a good fit for a science fiction setting, but I am still looking forward to this release. Even if the rules are not to my liking, the corebook and any sourcebooks will probably worth it for the background alone!

John Carter of Mars
Modiphius is currently raising funds for the production of a roleplaying game based on a streamlined version of their 2d20 system set into the world of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ book series. I wouldn’t call myself a huge John Carter fan, but I’ve read and enjoyed the first book of the series and I totally loved the 2012 movie. It’s a shame there will never be a sequel.
John Carter of Mars sounds like it could be a very fun game. Barsoom is a great setting for adventure stories and planetary romance is a genre we don’t see that often in roleplaying games nowadays. The 2d20 system is solid, if a little slow at times, but the more streamlined version used in John Carter might do the trick. Modiphius also has a pretty good track record when it comes to Kickstarters, so I was not surprised that the goal was hit in no time and it seems they hit a new stretch goal every other day. Exciting!

These are three upcoming games I am excited about! What are you looking forward to? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Conan II

I have based this look at the Conan rpg on the quick start rules and the Conan Free RPG Day 2017 version Pit of Kutallu.

When Michael reviewed the full rule book the overall impression I came away with was ambivalence towards the game but then Michael is not a real Conan fan. Conan was my way into RPGs in the first place.

So putting the 2d20 system aside (more about that later) how has Conan and Hyboria been treated? With the greatest respect is my impression. The books are littered with vignettes taken from Robert E. Howards original works and these set the scene and bring the setting to live. The quick start book even starts with an essay on what is canon and who Howard’s creation was taken and expanded upon.

I have read through two adventures; Pit of Kutallu, which showcases the dark Cthulhu-esque shared background of Hyboria and To Race The Thunder which is set on the very edges of Aquilonia.

I may be somewhat biased here but these adventures are written in the same style as I tend to write my own. I am not a lover of maps and room by room descriptions. These adventures describe challenges or encounters and the GM may use or ignore them as they see fit or are needed to challenge the players. There is another quality to them and this is ‘relative encounters’.

‘Relative Encounters’

In many classic published adventures; a location will be described and then you are told there are 5 guards stationed here, what they are carrying and any treasure. When the PCs roll up they meet or avoid the guards depend on their choices. These static encounters have the danger of being over powered or under powered depending on the make up of the party. We play a game based upon dice and random things happen.

All the adventure encounters in these publications use a more relative way of describing the numbers encountered such as ‘one less than the number of characters’ or ‘three times the number of characters plus two more’. It doesn’t matter how many characters are in the party, the danger level of the adventures self-regulates. I don’t know if this is a Conan ‘thing’ or just a modern adventure writing ‘thing’, either way it is excellent and I will adopt it for all my future adventures.

Another feature, this may just be because the sample I have looked at are intended to be single shot adventures, but NPCs are designated as being suitable for use as PCs. Should a player die in the game session they can take up the reins of one of these NPCs to complete the adventure. This points to the adventure being well written. It also gives the GM a free hand relating to danger. I am not a ‘killing’ GM. I do not go out of my way to stack dangers against the PCs. At the same time I like to let the dice fall where they may. I am running a game set in the Forgotten Realms right now and the party have two possible options for raising a fallen character, both of which are single use, one is a scroll and the other will be consumed when used. Giving them that ability means that my hands are free to play my monsters and NPC opponents to the best of their ability. Seeding the adventures with potential pregen characters also frees up the GM.

So, as published Conan is a 2d20 system but Modiphius also publish a d20 to 2d20 conversion document to help those moving from the Mongoose Conan game. WotC incidentally publish a D6 to d20 conversion guidelines document relating to the StarWars franchise. This means that junking the 2d20 system, the only element that I don’t like, and adopting either d20 or an OpenD6 system are viable options. My D6 bookshelf has grown to 5 books now and I like what I am reading.

Conclusion

So will I buy Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of core book? It is a relatively cheap book and certainly good value for money at nearly 500 pages. I think this is a good possibility and kills two birds with one stone, to use the cliché, I could tempt my main group of players with Conan and feed them the D6 system at the same time. So right now Conan is on my ‘I want to play’ pile.

5 Reasons Why You Should Get The New Star Trek Adventures RPG

A couple of days ago Modiphius released their eagerly-awaited Star Trek roleplaying game. Star Trek Adventures is the latest game in the long line of Star Trek games which have been pretty much hit or miss. Luckily Modiphus’ game is one of the winners. Here are five reasons why you should check it out:

  1. It’s Star Trek
    Sure, that’s what it says on the cover, but it’s also one of the best reasons why you should get it – especially if you are a fan of the franchise. Star Trek Adventures also does a great job of introducing the setting to people who haven’t watched every single movie and TV episode. I also think that Modiphius managed to create a game that definitely feels Star Trek.
  2. It’s a Modiphius game
    Games published by Modiphius always have one thing in common: awesome production values. Their games look great, if printed they feel great, and overall they also play great. Sure, there are exceptions, but Modiphius has managed to churn out high-quality products in such a short time that it boggles the mind. The Star Trek Adventure game is definitely one of their best-looking books to date.
  3. It uses the 2d20 System
    Initially I was not sure if the 2d20 System was a good fit for Star Trek. But what I didn’t know at that point was that Modiphius always make sure they adapt the system to the settings. While the core mechanics stay intact, they totally pull apart the system to make it fit to the setting at hand. This especially worked great with Star Trek. I played several of the playtest adventures and with each new rules iteration, it got better and better. The final result is definitely one of my favorite 2d20 implementations.
  4. It supports all eras
    One issue I had with other Star Trek games was that they didn’t support all the eras I was interested in. Star Trek Adventures will be the first game to support everything from Enterprise to Voyager. The only omissions are the new Kelvin timeline and the upcoming Discovery series – which I don’t mind at all. I am especially excited to be able to play in the Enterprise era.
  5. The PDF is very reasonably priced
    Often the PDF versions of games with similar sizes and production values set you back $20 or more. Modiphius chose another route this time and released the digital edition of their core rulebook for about $15. That’s actually a very good price for a game book of 350+ pages.

If you want to learn more about this fine game, I recommend checking out my friend Jay’s extensive article series about Star Trek Adventures.