This posts’ title is a quote from the Dead Alewives’ famous “Dungeons & Dragons” sketch. When I recently listened to the sketch again this line made me think. Usually when I run a game as GM I make sure I describe everything as meticulously as possible, especially when I want to set a special mood by this particular scene. But the Dead Alewives’ sketch reminded me that I often forget to describe what the player characters can smell (or even taste).
But smell can be a powerful tool in a GM’s arsenal (By the way, I advise against using smells as some kind of prop in gaming. Putting a piece of rotting flesh under the table will not set the mood but will probably make your players sick). But you should try to remember mentioning smells and sometimes even tastes in your descriptions. Smells are tied to emotions and memories like no other sense.
And as a GM you can use this fact to your advantage. In a scene where the players are operating in a modern day hospital mention the antiseptic smell. Or use the aforementioned smell of mildew (and other unpleasant odors) in underground dungeons. A bazaar will seem much more interesting if you describe all the exotic spices and how they smell. And if you remind your players that their characters have an olfactory sense, they will probably make more use of it, too. And this will add a lot to the atmosphere of your game in the long run.
After several months looking at the same old theme I got tired of the look of my blog and so I decided to give it an overhaul. I’ve already found a new theme that’s pleasing to the eyes and that can be easily modified to suit my whims and I am currently playing around with some options. So, please wear your helmet at all times!
UPDATE: The Ratings plugin and the forum are gone for good. Both weren’t up to my expectations, so I removed them. I also removed the Google Friend Connect because it was almost impossible to integrate into the new theme. I hope you guys can live without it.
I have quite a few roleplaying books including dozens of rulebooks, a plethora of sourcebooks, campaigns and even a few adventures. There are some games I am very fond of, although I haven’t played them yet. My favorite games I have never played are:
- FATE (www.faterpg.com)
FATE is a very impressive game. It completely does away with attributes and replaces it with aspects. To fully explain how aspects work would probably too much for the scope of this post, so you should check out the FATE website or my review of FATE for details. FATE doesn’t come with any setting and can be used for any genre you can imagine. It’s based on FUDGE and can be quite crunchy at times but it’s very fast to learn and it’s IMO a perfect game for roleplaying newbies. Having a character that is a “good swordsman” is much easier to grasp for the novice player than having a “base attack value of +1, and a martial weapons proficiency”.
IMHO it’s best suited for campaigns that are focussed on roleplaying and don’t feature a lot of combat, but perhaps that’s just me. I have some ideas for a detective campaign, that I would like to run using FATE, but that’s a topic for another day.
- True20 (www.true20.com)
True20 is one of my favorite rules systems based on Wizards’ d20 System. Instead of having dozens of classes, the game is built around the three classes of warrior, expert and adept. You can freely multiclass between theses classes. Another change from classic d20 is that the attributes were replaced by their bonusses and every roll (even damage rolls) now use the same mechanics.
True20 can be used for almost every genre out of the book especially if you own the revised edition of the rulebook which includes everything from the True20 Companion. In many ways True20 reminds me of Mutants & Masterminds, another great game from Green Ronin, although it’s probably a bit better suited for non-superheroes-games than M&M. I am currently thinking about using True20 with my two “campaigns under construction”: Asecia and Ad Astra!
If you are looking for converting your current campaign to True20 you should check out the official True20 forums. You’ll be surprised how many campaigns have been successfully translated to True20 already.
- Mutants & Masterminds (www.mutantsandmasterminds.com)
If you have followed the RPG Bloggers Network for some time, you probably have already read about Mutants & Masterminds. Our fellow blogger Greywulf is an expert on all things M&M and he has shown us that you can use the excellent M&M rules to play just about everything. Like True20 M&M is based on d20. But the Mutants & Mastermind rules have done away with classes altogether. Characters are created using a point-buy-method and although M&M was created for superhero campaigns you can use it for other genres too.
I am a fan of superhero comics, movies and games and I would LOVE to run (or even play) M&M some time in the future. I am not sure if my group would be interested in doing so too and since we haven’t that much time anyway, we will probably stick to our current campaigns. But a man can dream, can’t he?
- Monte Cook’s World of Darkness
MCWoD is what happens when you let an exceptional game designer like Monte Cook reinterpret a setting like White Wolf’s World of Darkness. It also uses a heavily-modified d20 System. In MCWoD Earth was almost destroyed by an attack of the otherworldly Iconnu. When they tried to devour our reality, a few humans called the Awakened uncounciously fought them back. So the Iconnu sent their agents to Earth to destroy the Awakened.
Players can choose to play Vampires, Werewolves, Mages, Demons or Awakened in that game. These are the available player types which are a mix of class and race. Vampires used to be common people until the inconnu forced the soul of a dead evil human into their bodies. This soul is in constant battle with the one from the host. Sometimes they cooperate, sometimes one of the souls has total control over the body. Werewolves are feral spirits from an alien world inside human bodies. Aside from the memories the human soul is totally oppressed and the newborn Werewolf is bent on destruction. Demons are pretty much what you expect them to be. Mages are ordinary humans that have found out that the old rituals and spells suddenly work. And the Awakened are the humans whose souls were strong enough to fend off the iconnu attack.
The MCWoD world gives a lot of opportunities for roleplaying and you can have adventures from different genres within one setting. Since a huge area in the american mid-west was utterly destroyed and the “Intrusion Point” is a place where the laws of reality break down you can have post-apocalyptic adventures there or you can run more “classic” urban horror adventures in Chicago or elsewhere on our world. I planned to run MCWoD on New Year’s Eve but we decided to play Dark Heresy instead. But MCWoD is still high on my favorite games list!
- Jovian Chronicles (www.dp9.com)
Jovian Chronicles is a SF RPG by Dreampod 9. JC combines “hard science” with influences from mecha anime like Gundam for example. JC uses DP9’s Silhoutte system. Instead of a lot of other SF settings out there, Jovian Chronicles doesn’t feature FTL travel, Psi or other un-scientific elements. That’s what made me interested in JC in the first place. The Silhuette rules are pretty easy to learn and include rule variants for roleplaying and miniature gaming.
Alas it’s pretty hard to get your hands on the JC books. There’s a 2nd edition of the rulebook that features updated rules but as far as I know there are no updated sourcebooks for the 2nd edition yet. From what I’ve seen, Jovian Chronicles is pretty much a dead game. Nevertheless I like the setting and the rules and would pretty much try it out sometime.
So, what are your favourite RPGs you never played? Or do you have some comments to the games I wrote about? Let your voices be heard and write down your comments below!