Category Archives: RPG

Kickstarter: Mindjammer – The Roleplaying Game

Sarah Newton’s Mindjammer is one of my favorite roleplaying game settings. It’s one of the few transhumanist SF settings which I can wrap my head around. One reason is probably that Sarah’s novel “Mindjammer” is a perfect introduction to this far future world, and a perfect example of how a modern SF novel should be: exciting, cinematic, but also thought-provoking.

The Mindjammer Roleplaying Game, a hardcover book with the full Fate Core rules included, has been out for quite a while now, but Sarah has a lot of exciting ideas for the setting. So she recently started a new Kickstarter which is not only meant to help her fund the release of her latest adventure “The City People” in full-color softback but also as a way to fund future supplement, adventures way into 2016 and beyond.

Within a short few hours the Kickstarter project was funded and eventually reached over 11,000 £ (more than double the initial goal). Stretchgoals include (but are not limited to) a new Mindjammer short stories, maps and handouts for “The City People”, a Mindjammer Player’s Guide, a Mindjammer companion, and even a rulebook that allows you to play in Sarah’s universe using Traveller rules!

If you love Sarah’s work as much as I do, you should definitely give the Kickstarter a look!

Is Anyone Still Playing Alternity?

TSR’s Alternity Roleplaying Game is one of my favorite games which I never actually played. It’s a generic science fiction roleplaying game which has some interesting mechanics, is somewhat related to AD&D, and powered a couple of interesting settings. If you want to learn more about this out-of-print game, I can recommend checking out or Shaun Welsh’s review here on the blog.

So why am I writing about a rather obscure and out-of-print roleplaýing game today? I guess I am in a somewhat nostalgic mood and I am always thinking about this great SF campaign I want to run someday. When it comes to systems I could use for that project, Alternity is pretty high on my list.

The majority of games I enjoy are rather rules-light but Alternity is an exception. I guess you could call it rules-medium, especially if you add in all the optional subsystems like FX (supernatural abilities like magic etc.), psionics, space combat and so on. In Alternity every weapon causes different damage according to the degree of success of the attack roll, and armor has different armor values for each type of damage (low impact, high impact, energy). For some this might be a tad too fiddly, but I think it fits the genre nicely.

The skill system is also quite intersting with broad skills (think of skill categories) which can only be bought once (and will not be improved afterwards) and speciality skills which allow the characters to specialize within these broad fields. Again this is a bit more complex than my usual fare, but it fits the scifi genre perfectly, especially if you’re favoring realism.

For several reasons Alternity never was a huge success. It had been released at a time when WotC had already been bought by WotC (or shortly before that) and WotC obviously favored a 3rd Edition of D&D over continued support for Alternity. At least some of the elements from Alternity made a reappearance in WotC’s d20 Modern line. Sometimes I wish they would at least make the Alternity books available in PDF form, as they’ve done with older editions of D&D. But I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

Since I am thinking about using Alternity as the rule system for a campaign I want to run in the future, I am interested in your thoughts on the system. Is anyone still playing Alternity? Has the system worked for you so far, or do you houserule a lot? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let’s Play Vampire

After talking to several of my players and thinking it through for a while, I came to the conclusion that I should run a short Vampire: 20th Anniversary Edition chronicle in the future. So why Vampire and not one of the other major World of Darkness games?

Vampire is – in my humble opinion – the easiest game to get into. Even though the game’s vampires are not like the ones you know from books and movies they are close enough that they don’t feel totally unfamiliar. Werewolf and Mage feature a way more complex cosmology and Mage’s magick system is powerful, but not exactly easy to grok. So Vampire it is.

Back in the day, when I first played Vampire, our chronicle was set into 1990s Chicago. I still have fond memories of this chronicle especially of the first dozen sessions or so, and I think Chicage could be an exciting city to play in. I also considered Los Angeles as presented in Troika Games’ Bloodlines computer roleplaying game, but eventually decided against it, mainly because at least one of my players is familiar with the setting.

Unfortunately Chicago has a pretty large Vampire population which is also involved in some heavy politicking. This could easily be too overwhelming for players entirely new to the game, so I decided to look into Gary, Chicago’s neighbour and rival. The city of Gary was given a pretty solid treatment in older editions of Vampire and is a good introduction to the greater Chicago area. Its Vampire population is not as large and the rivalry with Chicago’s Prince Lodin offers a lot of opportunity for the players. Do they ally with Gary’s Prince Mordius, or rather with Lodin? Do they try to stop the downfall of the once rich town or do they even speed up its demise?

Depending on the players interest it’s pretty easy to later move the focus to Chicago or to stay in Gary and introduce Kindred from Chicago if needed. What I like about Vampire is that you can treat a city like a sandbox. You don’t need GM-designed plots but the player characters should have their own agendas – and the NPCs react (or act) accordingly. Exciting times are ahead!